Knowing God, Chapter 7

The Unchanging God

One of the greatest challenges that we face when reading the Bible is the vast distance that separates us as modern readers from the ancient people whose lives are the subject of much of Scripture. How can we bridge the gap so that there experience becomes meaningful to us? Packer suggests, in this chapter, that we are often seeking the connection in the wrong place, that is, between their situation and our own. But how else can we relate to the word of God if we do not share the same experiences as those to whom it was first given? Packer states that the link between ancient Scripture and modern man is God himself, “For the God with whom they had to do is the same God with whom we have to do.” In other words, it is the unchanging, eternal God who provides the connection for those who read the Bible to understand and receive the spiritual benefit it contains. This aspect of God’s nature is sometimes called his immutability.

Packer explains the immutability of God with 6 statements of fact:

  • God’s life does not change. “The answer to the child’s question ‘Who made God?’ is simply that God did not need to be made, for he was always there. He exists forever, and he is always the same. He does not grow older. His life does not wax or wane. He does not mature or develop. He does not get stronger, or weaker, or wiser, as time goes by.”

  • God’s character does not change. “In the course of human life, tastes and outlook and temper may change radically…But nothing of this sort happens to the Creator. He never becomes less truthful, or merciful, or just, or good than he used to be. The character of God is today, and always will be, exactly what it was in Bible times.”

  • God’s truth does not change. “The words of human beings are unstable things. But not so the words of God. They stand forever, as abidingly valid expressions of his mind and thought. No circumstances prompt him to recall them; no changes in his own thinking require him to amend them.”

  • God’s ways do not change. “So we read of God dealing with his people in the Scripture record, and so he deals with them still. His aims and principles of action remain consistent; he does not at any time act out of character. Our ways, we know, are pathetically inconsistent – but not God’s.”

  • God’s purposes do not change. “One of two things causes a man to change his mind and reverse his plans: want of foresight to anticipate everything, or lack of foresight to execute them. But as God is both omniscient and omnipotent there is never any need for him to revise his decrees.” – A. W. Pink

  • God’s Son does not change. This is declared to be so in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” And again in Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

There is great comfort in knowing that our God does not change. His power and mercy are just as effective and available today as they have always been. But there is also a searching challenge in that thought, as Packer concludes, “If our God is the same as the God of New Testament believers, how can we justify ourselves in resting content with an experience of communion with him, and a level of Christian conduct, that falls so far below theirs?”

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