What Difference Does It Make That God Is Immutable?
What difference does it make to us that God is immutable? Immutability is a key attribute of God and without that He wouldn’t even be God. It would be hard to have a personal relation ship with Him. As well as our relationship suffering our knowledge of God would be severed also, and who is to say if our salvation would be as secure today? But first to understand completely what is in question we must define immutability and come to a conclusion as per its reference to God.
Immutability defined in Webster’s Dictionary is quoted as, “unchangeable; unalterable” . The same word defined in Unger’s Bible Dictionary states, “ The divine attribute of unchangeableness” . Again defined in Nave’s Topical Bible, “ the perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change in essence, attributes, consciousness, will, and promises” . In all three instances, secular and religious, the word is clarified as unchangeable, but only one gave it as an attribute of God. Now as a back up point to clarify, immutability declares that God is unchanging, but it is not to be confused with immobility. God acts, and His actions vary with reference to different ends. His affection changes according to how that person’s attitude changes toward Him. So gathered from that we can state God is constantly the same in His essence, in the mode of His existence, in His perfections, and in the principles of His administration. Now that we have come to a conclusion on what the immutability of God is we can ask ourselves what it would be like if He weren’t immutable?
If God were not immutable He wouldn’t even be God. Just like all the other attributes of God place Him high above all else so does immutability. To state the fact that God is unchanging helps to create a foundation on which we can base other claims to our belief, such as the truth of God and imperfection. God with out this unchanging attribute is now given in to human likeness and that includes sin. He could change His ways to appeal to Him what ever He desired without any cares about man because when you remove immutability you remove the possibility of Him possessing benevolence or righteousness. If you remove the truth and benevolence of God you are left with imperfection. It is a big cycle with attributes, once one is removed they all may collapse without definite proof or backing. So lets look and see what a God without immutability would seem like.
Well the attribute of immutability is essential the deity of God. “To think of God otherwise than as unchangeable is to think of Him otherwise than perfect” . With that said we must then ask how does that effect my relationship with God? Well if God were not immutable our relationship would definitely suffer. We wouldn’t know first of all how to talk to Him because His attitude would be like ours and half the time I don’t even know how to talk to others because of their attitudes. Imagine a God with stress. I mean how could we as puny humans be able to deal with a God who has drastic mood swings. We would all be busy hiding from God unknowing if this is the day He enjoys our company or not. Basically our relationship would be brought down from the level it is now with a loving Creator who saved His creation, to a High Commander and His miniscule microscopic beings, who better not make Him mad. But now to answer the question from the quote above, what if God isn’t perfect, how do we know our God isn’t changing? If you look in Psalms 102:26-27 He tells us, “They will perish but You will endure; Yes, all of them will grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years have no end.” This passage shows us that our God is unchanging, but also that He has control over all things changing and that He changes them. Also James 1:17 states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”. That is pretty self-explanatory I think, all good and perfect things come from our Father who has no variation. These two scripture verses help explain how God’s immutability would effect our relationship with Him, but how would it effect our knowledge of God?
Our knowledge of God would definitely be at risk if He were not immutable because His divine constancy involves many aspects. Our finite minds can only grasp so little in the realm of God and his attributes but we do know God cannot increase in anything because He is perfection, nor can he be decreased because that would remove His deity. Our basis of our knowledge of God is found in His word, but if God were changeable then His word would be useless and out of date. Because with a changing God we would need up to date information on His will and what He wants from us, not what He required from our ancestors thousands of years ago. Also the Ten Commandments may as well be labeled as “nice rules to have”, but otherwise non-profitable and meant only for the early Hebrew church. All of our knowledge of God that we have today would be found as futile in terms of knowing our God who has changed. Another point of dispute could be the knowledge of God’s will on our lives. If God has changed since His inspiration of authors then maybe the Great Commission was only for those in the day of Jesus. Well thank you that God is immutable, because Numbers 23:19 states, “ God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” This scripture plain out states that our God is a God of perfection and He will not lie. Therefore all He has promised in His word we can assume is now knowledge we can posses to learn more about Him. Now there is only one other major thing left about the immutability of God in reflection to us, our salvation through God.
Now in keeping in context with which I stated previously about God’s immutability confirming the Bible, I can propose the question, what about our salvation if God can change? The answer is quite simply, who knows. I mean God could always turn back and use the salvation as a tool to black male us into performing tasks that He asks. Like your parents reward you for a job well done. Here you go son, here is your salvation now play nice or I’ll take it away. We would have no conclusive statement that would guarantee eternal life in paradise. We wouldn’t know if Jesus died for us, for the people at that time, for all man, or for no reason at all. If God could change His will, then He could just take salvation away at any given point. Now to counter this argument I will use Psalms 33:11 which states, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations”. So there we see that scripture noted again that God is unchanging. Not only that, but the plans of His heart art for all generations. Therefore Jesus’ crucifixion is not just for the people in the past or in the present, but for all generations.
Now these instances have shown why God must be immutable and how His intentions as well as His plans are always constant. But also if we look in the Bible there are many examples given of God’s unchanging and parenting will on our lives. For example, God’s fulfillment in His covenant with Abraham, whose offspring would be the chosen people of God and reach all nations (Gen. 12:2,3). Also God’s using Moses to achieve freedom for His people (Exodus). His faithful covenant to David that his house would be known as the house of the Lord and the lineage in which a Messiah would be born ( Sam. 7:4-17). And of course His gift of salvation to us all in Christ Jesus ( Luke 24: 1-9).
With all of these things promoting God as an immutable God I am so glad He is. Because when you think of how life could be if He were as flimsy our sinful as us it is almost impossible to comprehend. And if God could change His mind we wouldn’t have a steady relationship with our God because of His erratic human-like behavior. We wouldn’t be able to determine His will on our lives and what He wants us to accomplish. But most importantly we wouldn’t know if salvation were really for us or not.
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Unger, Merrill F. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Moody Press, 1988.
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