My favorite diner just around the corner recently closed. For years it thrived in our community. It had in large measure the same staff, same menu, and I even noticed many of the same customers. Then the diner, for reasons I don’t know, shut down. I miss its convenient, dependable atmosphere and tasty food.
This kind of change happens every day. Businesses change—a shop closes and another opens. Fashions come and go. The weather changes, often more than once a day. In the Caribbean they say if you don’t like the weather just wait a few minutes and it will change. People change; they change jobs. They change churches. On some occasions they change in completely unexpected ways. You think you know them well, then all of a sudden, they do something uncharacteristic. It could be a good change or an unwelcome one. People change their looks, their moods, their habits, even their basic worldviews.
The more things change…the more things change. I wonder if Adam said to Eve, “We are living in changing times, Eve.” From one day to the next, the world is a bit different…. and sometimes radically different. Covid was a major catalyst for unexpected changes globally. The new question added to many of our conversations is, “Was that before Covid or after?” The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus claimed it was impossible to step into the same stream twice. His point was that by the time you climb up on the bank and step back into the stream again, it is no longer the same water in that stream. Its ripples and currents have changed. We affirm that life is an endless stream with constant flux.
In the midst of this time of drastic changes, for the next few months I have decided that my monthly articles will be focused on that which is immutable. The word immutable means “that which is unchanging over time.” I would like to focus on some of the immutable qualities of God which are revealed squarely in Holy Scripture. The God of heaven and earth is like a granite boulder in the middle of the rapids of life. While all around is swirling change, Scripture reveals that he is unchanged and unchanging. And unlike the boulder in the rapids, God does not erode. “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal” (Isa. 26:4).
God is as the theologians say, Immutable. The Immutability of God is an attribute that says God is unchanging in his character, will, and covenant promises. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that “God is a spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.” God lives forever without mutation, alteration, variation, or fluctuation. He remains the same.
In his book on the attributes of God A.W. Pink writes, “He cannot change for the better, for he is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse. Altogether unaffected by anything outside Himself, improvement and deterioration is impossible. He is perpetually the same.” Philip Ryken in his book Discovering God in the Stories of the Bible says: “Nothing can be added to God—or subtracted from him. He is incapable of augmentation or diminishment. He cannot suffer loss or decay. He is incorruptible, which is what the New Testament means when it says that God is immortal.” Romans 1:23
The Bible uses many pictures to describe the immutability of God. The psalmist for example compares the universe to a set of old worn-out clothes. In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Ps. 102:25-27)
Eventually, the whole earth will need a change of clothes. But God himself does not become threadbare. He remains forever new. God does not change. He according to Holy Writ is not variable. His attributes do not have a dimmer switch. His glory is never eclipsed or overshadowed. God’s essence does not change. While I certainly have good days and bad days—and someone may say “He’s just not himself today.” Of the immutable God that we worship, I take comfort in believing His nature and being are constant. He is always all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. I draw both comfort and strength in knowing that according to Romans 8:39 “nothing shall separate us from His love.” His love is as unchanging as all of His other glorious attributes. I look forward to highlighting many of those attributes in the months ahead.
He told me to tell you!
Pastor Robert Zimmerman