Thursday, October 6, 2011

Does God Change?

I have been reading through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology with our elders here at CBC. Last night, we spent some time talking through God's incommunicable attributes. These would be defined as those qualities that God does not share or 'communicate' with others. In comparison to these would be communicable attributes. These are those that God does share or 'communicate' with us. I like to say these are some that we can participate in, although, not to the degree of God. For instance, God is love and we can love. God is good and we can display levels of goodness. You get the idea.

But the concept of incommunicable attributes is that we do not share it with God. One of these characteristics is the fact that God never changes. In theology, this is often called the immutability of God. Grudem defines it like this:
"God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations." (163)
What does it mean that God is unchanging in his being? That is key to this entire discussion. Notice these several passages of Scripture that talk about God's unchanging character.
"Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment. Like clothing, You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end." (Psalm 102:25-27) 
"For I, the Lord, do not change." (Malachi 3:6) 
"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (James 1:17)
God does not change. What He said that He was is what He is. Here is the question: Why is this important? Grudem gives these examples:
"If God could change (in his being, perfections, purposes, or promises), then any change would be either for the better or for the worse. But if God changed for the better, then he was not the best possible being when we first trusted him. And how could we be sure that he is the best possible being now? But if God could change for the worse (in his very being), then what kind of God might he become? Might he become, for instance, a little bit evil rather than wholly good? And if he could become a little bit evil, then how do we know he could not change to become largely evil--or wholly evil? And there would be not one thing we could do about it . . . How could we ever trust such a God who could change? How could we ever commit our lives to him?" (168)
We change all the time in our being. I hope we do. I hope you do. I hope you are changing towards Christ more and more away from sin. But God, being perfectly perfect never needs to change and never does change. This is so liberating and freeing because what He has called us to be and do is the same today as it was when it was written. The means of salvation has not changed from what He communicated through the Apostle Paul. God does not change, which means He can be trusted.

Question: How Does It Make You Feel About God Knowing That He Does Not Change?

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