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Doctrine of God - Immutability and Eternity Print E-mail
The Doctrine of God
Sunday, 10 February 2008

I.  Introduction

 How would you respond to this question: how old is God?  The only correct answer is that it cannot be answered because age is only a quality of a being that it is confined by time, which God is not.  God is eternal.  He has no beginning and no end.  The Bible also affirms that God does not change.  He is not changed by time because He is above it.  There is much to be said about these attributes of God and we cannot cover it all.  Yet, as we transition from discussing Godís person to discussing Godís attributes, I want to begin with Godís immutability and His eternity.

II.  The Baptist Faith and Message:

 The B, F, and M says this: ďThe eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy SpiritÖĒ  In this way it references Godís eternity.  However, it does not reference specifically Godís immutability.

III.  Passages:

 A.  Immutability:
  1.  Psalm 33:11 Godís counsel of the Lord will stand because He does not change from generation to generation.
  2.  Isaiah 46:8-11 It is Yahweh who declares the end from the beginning.  Again, Godís counsel shall stand and His purposes shall be accomplished because He does not change.
  3.  Malachi 3:6 The Lord has declared to His people that He will not change in regards to His covenant love.  He is a covenant keeper even though they have repeatedly disobeyed.
  4.  Hebrews 13:8 Jesus, who is God, never changes.  This passage is referred to most often in relations to Godís immutability.  It teaches that Jesus is the same forever, which speaks of His being eternal as well.
  5.  James 1:17 James affirms that there is no change in God, the Father of lights. 

 B.  Eternity:
  1.  Genesis 21:33 Abraham calls the Lord the Everlasting God.  God is not God for a certain time.  No, He is the everlasting God.  He has always been God and will always be God.  He is eternal. 
  2.  Deuteronomy 33:27 Moses is giving his final blessing to the twelve tribes of Israel here in Deuteronomy 33.  Within this blessing he calls God the eternal God.  Israel can take hope in the fact that no one can dethrone God or defeat Him.  He has always been God and He will always be God.
  3.  Psalm 90:2 In speaking of the Lordís greatness, Moses declares from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  In other words, God was God before creation and He will always be God, from eternity past to eternity future.
  4.  Psalm 102:25-27 The psalmist is comparing the fact that the earth is temporary but God is not.  These verses also speak of the fact that God does not change (immutable).  In contrast to everything that we know that is constantly changing, we can say of the Lord: you are the same (immutable), and your years have no end (eternal).
  5.  Isaiah 57:15 Isaiah tells us that the Lord inhabits eternity.  We inhabit the earth and time, but the Lord inhabits eternity.
  6.  John 8:58 (Exodus 3:14) Notice that Jesus uses the present tense here.  He does not say ĎI was.í  No, He says, even when referencing a time in the past (before Abraham was), I am.  The language here is similar to that of Exodus 3:14 where Moses asks for the Lordís name and He answers him: I am what I am.  Thus, Jesus the Son and God the Father always are.  They have always been and they will always be.

IV.  Implications:

 A.  God is unchanging in his ďbeing, perfections, purposes, and promises.Ē   Grudem and others state it this way because there is in some sense a way in which it could be said that God changes.  For example, the Ďrelentí passages in the Old Testament (see Exodus 32:9-14, Isaiah 38:1-6) seem to indicate that God changes.  Yet, the explanation that Grudem offers for this, which I agree with, is the following:

  These instances should all be understood as true expressions of Godís present attitude or intention with respect to the situation as it exists at that moment.  If the situation changes, then of course Godís attitude or expression of intention will also change.  This is just saying that God responds differently to different situations (italics original).

In other words, God often warns of impending judgment so as to lead men into repentance.  Once they repent, He then responds to such repentance with the canceling of the judgment.  We see this clearly in the book of Jonah.  Yet, in none of these instances is God changing in His being, perfections, purposes, and promises.  The doctrine of Godís immutability is used in the Scriptures to encourage His people as they face the uncertainty of life.  He is our Rock and we can trust is His unchanging ways.

 B.  God is eternal and therefore we need not fear that time will change Him.  God is not like us in that we are changed by time and the passing of time.  In saying that God is eternal we are saying that God is in fact above time.  He knows perfectly what has come and what is to come.  We do not have to fear God being fickle like we are.  His eternity grounds that hope.  Likewise, we should affirm that God has existed and will exist as Father, Son, and Spirit eternally.

V.  Christ and the cross:

 How do we see Godís immutability and His eternity in Christ and the cross?  We can start by saying this: the eternal Son became man and died on the cross.  We see in this the uniqueness of the incarnation: God became a man.  Going further, the immutability and eternity of God makes the sacrifice at the cross, the Son bearing the wrath of the Father, that much greater.  In one sense the eternal triune God did not change.  Yet, in another sense the Son was forsaken by the Father because of His becoming sin for us.  In this sense, that moment was eternally unique.  The weight and glory of such truth should drive us to our knees to worship the One who left His Fatherís side (where He had been for eternity) to die on a cross for our sins.  Because we know that the Father accepted this sacrifice for our sins, demonstrated in the resurrection of Christ, we should take great hope in the Rock whose mercy toward His people will never end.  The eternal God has promised us eternity with Him through Christ and His promises will never change.  Amen! 

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 February 2008 )

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