In the last three weeks we have seen unprecedented global change, both in terms of the scope of the change as well as its speed, and we are sure that more is coming. Nobody is exempt from its effects. It feels like somebody pushed us all into class five rapids at the same time, or strapped us into a rollercoaster without any brakes!
When circumstances get to be such as they are, human nature is to search for something solid, something stable, something we can count on; in other words, something that isn’t changing. So many people depend on their politicians or their possessions, their feelings or their fortunes to get them through.
Fortunately, Christians know from God’s Word that there is not something – but Someone – who is stable, dependable, and strong, like a large rock in the middle of a raging river. We know Someone who, when all else fails, still holds true. We know Someone who not only does not change and will not change, but also cannot change even when everything else is changing.
Let’s think very carefully about what it means that God does not change, and the implications that truth has for us to consider. This doctrine simply means that God does not change in primarily three ways: His essence, His character, and His purpose.
First and most importantly, God does not change in His essence. We could also say that God does not change in His nature. In other words, God never stops being God, and He never stops being all the things that make God who He is. Malachi 3:6 says, “For I, the Lord, do not change.” Also note Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
So not only is God holy, infinite, eternal, real, true, sovereign, and so much more, but He will never stop being those things!
One implication of this truth is the fact that God’s almighty power is not in a recession because of a pandemic. A pandemic, as terrible as it is, does not alter who God is or any of His attributes. Are we thanking God for that today?
Secondly, God does not change in His character. In other words, God never stops being good. James 1:17 says, “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.” God can only give good gifts, and He will never stop doing so. He’ll never stop giving, loving, showing grace, or being just.
How different is this from us? We are so often driven by our feelings as if we had no absolutes to base our lives on. The hymn writer described us so well when he wrote, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.1” Until we see Jesus, we will continue to have to deal with our flesh and the temptation to wander from God, as Paul explains in Romans 7. Thankfully, God does not treat us according to how we treat Him and others. He does not base His faithfulness to us on our faithfulness to Him. Rather, God is like the father in the parable of the prodigal son we read in Luke 15, ready to receive and forgive and to help us with our needs.
Especially in this season, we need to be asking for God’s help to make our character more and more in line with His. Are we asking God for help to be more loving, giving, gracious, and just today?
Thirdly, God does not change in His purpose. In other words, God never stops getting His plans accomplished. Psalm 33:11 says, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Also note Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We all love our calendars, planners, schedules, and to-do lists, and these are certainly helpful tools as we aim to redeem our time each day. But who is the only One in the universe who always gets His entire to-do list done each day without exception? God. Right now, God’s overarching plan for this period of human history is to build His Church (Matthew 16:18). And if the very gates of hell will not prevail against that, neither will COVID-19.
Another huge part of God’s plan for this period of human history is to make us like Christ sooner or later, one way or another. Are we trusting that His plans for growing us are better than ours? Are we trusting that God will do that? Finally, are we trusting that God will use this to bring more people to Himself and join them to His body, the Church?
Christians, we must remember that we have an unchanging God who, despite our ill-fated attempts at trying to do His job for Him, will never stop being God; despite our doubts when something hard happens to us, will never stop being good; and despite our tendency to fail at following through on our commitments, will never fail to be faithful to His.