Friday, October 3, 2008

The One Who does not change


It's funny how certain political seasons are epitomized by the constant promise of change. We are witnessing this phenomenon ad nauseoum during the current presidential race. The promise of change is welcomed by most as there is a dissatisfaction with the status quo. Still, ironically, change is the chief contributor to the stress and anxiety people feel. Certainly we live in changing times laced with uncertainty.

The truth is change is an ever present part of our earthly existence.

- People change as does our relationships with them. Relationships with our spouse, children, friends, and co-workers all change.

- Temporal "securities" change with great regularity, just look at the current financial crisis. Jobs change. Stock portfolios change. Various extraordinary events litter our experience and bring change- legal issues, unforeseen bills, and material loss.

- There are changes that occur in our physical well being that are life altering. In addition to all that comes with normal aging (non stop change), there can be sizable health trials that confront us which alter our perspective on life. Accidents, sickness, and violence can bring unsettling fluctuation.

Temporal security is an illusion when we consider the rapidly fluctuating nature of human relationships, the many financial variables that can affect us, and the uncertainty of our physical well-being. Fluctuation, variable, change, uncertainty, shifting, temperamental, transitional, variational, alterable are all words that describe human experience.

So what's the answer? What comfort can we have? In the context of God's gracious keeping of covenant with His people, the Prophet Malachi wrote:


"For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed." Malachi 3:6

The particular reference here is to the logical action of God to destroy Israel for their disobedience but instead, due to God's gracious covenant promises, He will keep His word and restore them. In other words, Malachi is saying "I should destroy you, but due to my promise to redeem, I will not". In the face of all the aforementioned change and uncertainty, the redemptive plan and action of God continues. We may be anxious about temporal change, however we should also gain real security from knowing God does not change.

The unchanging nature of God is captured in the doctrine of God’s Immutability. Immutability is not some esoteric study that has no practical value- it is the essence of our security. It breaks down to a simple statement made by Spurgeon-

There is one place where change cannot put his finger; there is one name on which mutability can never be written; there is one heart which never can alter; that heart is God’s, that name is Love.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism captures the Bible's teaching on God's attributes, particularly His immutability

What is God?

God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

God's essence doesn’t change, His attributes never fluctuate, His personality doesn’t vary, and His plans are never altered. God is never on Plan B, His plan of redemption is never thwarted, and ultimately there are no mistakes in time/space history. His promises don’t change, His love doesn’t change.

Practically speaking, why is the immutability of God so important?

When you experience a change in someone’s love for you- a spouse, a child, or a friend- you are loved by the One who does not change. When you experience a loss of material or temporal security- you lose your job, home, car, the value of your stock portfolio, or your worldly status or whatever- you haven’t lost the promise of God, that does not change, to supply for all your needs. When your health begins to fail...when those you love experience the failure of their health, when tragedy strikes, violence affronts, or you get that call telling you that someone near to you has been injured or killed in an accident, or some other variable that will happen in life, we are drawn to the reality that the One Who does not change will provide grace sufficient today and a future grace that will include none of these earthly toils. We can count on this future grace because of the immutable character of the one who provides it!

Everything changes…except our God.

Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

2 comments:

Rick Calohan said...

Tony,

Again so timely, in my Psalms and Wisdom Books class the question for this week is: What are some themes that stand out to you from the Psalms based on your experience? How have these themes impacted your life and worship?

My response was this:

I think that throughout the Psalms themes may change but our God does not. As it is written in Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more

For example, when I look at Psalm 14 and 53, I think of those who are being shaped in our current culture by books, movies, music, and television that denounce the Bible and people of the Christian faith.

Both Psalms are similar in scope and words they are a proclamation, and explanation, a lament and praise, a question and answer all in one that sums up the world then and our world now.

However the Psalms remind me that He is Holy, Sovereign, Just, and I rejoice in the Psalms they sustain me, they remind me that even when we stumble, and fall His Grace and Love is with us and He shall deliver us from evil. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

I also wrote this week regarding this question in response to my fellow students.

When my father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer on of all days September 11, 2001, I reviewed what I wrote to friends and family and these verses of scripture came to mind and I had placed them in that email.

Exodus 20:1-3
Psalm 23
Psalm 46
Psalm 102
Zephaniah 3:17
Matthew 18: 12-14
Mark 12: 29-31
Luke 12: 2-4
John 3:16
John 14
Romans 12
1 Corinthians 13
Ephesians 6: 1-3

You will note that Psalm 23, 46, and 102 came to mind. He is the Good Shepherd thou shall not want, He is our Mighty fortress and even our Laments, He remains the same, and His years have no end.

Frontier Forest said...

Thanks Pastor! Thanks Rick! I must release the stress and view my business situation, as in God’s Sovereign Hands. I know He is in control, but must confess, I am very nervous of where things are going. Our economy is in total turmoil, the election has turned to corruption, folks are just downright angry and afraid. I really need to remind myself today, of the mighty prayer of Brother Bob Albright so powerfully pontificated yesterday. The “control” promise of God from King David we all memorized the second week of Crown Ministry.
“Everything in the heavens and earth are Yours O’Lord and this is Your Kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from You alone and You are the ruler of all mankind. Your hands control power and might and it is at YOUR discretion that men and made great and given strength.” II Chronicles 29:11-12 (LB)