God is Unchanging, 27 May 2018

God is Unchanging
D6 Series—
None Like Him
Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17

Series Overview:
This topical series focuses on the attributes of God.

Big Idea: God does not change…and that’s a wonderful thing!


In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except…death and taxes.”

There’s actually one more than that is certain in this world. It’s a word that
will trouble some of you. It’s a word that will terrify some of you. It’s a four-letter word that actually has six letters, but it can disrupt like few words can do. It’s…


You may think I’m being a bit facetious, but I’m quite serious. Many people hate change…of any kind. Sure, nobody likes change if it means a salary reduction, decline of health, or loss of a loved one. But even so-called good changes can be unwelcome or have negative consequences.

Would you want a winning lottery ticket if I had one to offer you? You might be surprised at how many lottery winners later file for bankruptcy…or worse!

I used to think stress only applied to bad change, but any change can be stressful. It can be disruptive to our lives. Many people tolerate miserable work conditions, unhealthy relationships, or even abuse because they’re simply accustomed to it and afraid of how even a change for the better may cause them a loss of the known.

Since some of you are already uncomfortable at the mere mention of the word change, take a moment and think of the things that have changed in the past twenty years. Actually, let’s only say eighteen. We are approaching graduation season and these are a few things that can be said about the Class of 2018.

1. They’ve never lived in a world with monthly texting limits.
2. They might not understand if you say, “You sound like a broken record.”
3. They’ve always had GPS.
4. “Roll down your window” has no meaning.
5. They’ve never untangled a phone cord or straightened an antenna for TV reception.

Change. Personally, I love change…except when I don’t! I love changes I make, but not necessarily those imposed upon me.

Whether you like it or not, this world is full of change.

Our presidents change.
Our weather changes.
Fashion changes.
Music changes.
Our bodies change.
Maps of the world change.
Children change.
Relationships change.
Our favorite sports teams change.

Fortunately, there’s one thing that never changes…or should I say one Person: God.

We’ve been devoting several Sundays this month talking about the attributes of God. There is None Like Him. Amen? First, we looked at the holiness of God. We said God is holy, set apart, and we are to be holy, too, fully devoted to God while being present in the world, bearing witness to God’s presence, power, love, and glory.

Last Sunday we looked at God’s sovereignty. Whether it feels like it or not, God is in control…and we’re usually not! In fact, control is just an illusion, a temporary state, but God is in control…and that’s a wonderful thing!

Today we are looking at how God is unchanging—the technical word is He is immutable—and why that’s also a wonderful thing.

“In a world of change and decay not even the man of faith can be completely happy. Instinctively he seeks the unchanging and is bereaved at the passing of dear familiar things.” - A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

That’s the bad news, family. We live in a world of change and decay where not even followers of Jesus can be completely happy. And you thought you were the only one!

But here’s the good news: God is unchanging.

Charles Wesley wrote, “And all things as they change proclaim
The Lord eternally the same.”

But how do we know? The Bible declares it repeatedly. God declares it repeatedly.

Our scripture reading for today featured not one, but three passages from various parts of the Bible.
Moses wrote in the book of Numbers:

God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

Humans can lie. Have you noticed?
Humans can change their minds.
Humans can be hypocritical, saying one thing and doing another.
Humans can break their promises.

But not God! If we stopped with this one verse, we would know enough about God to worship and adore Him for eternity.

God cannot lie.
God is consistent.
God is trustworthy.
God is unchanging!

One of the frustrating things about change is when it wreaks havoc with our expectations. Have you ever gone to get gas for your car expecting one price, only to find the price went up? How does that make you feel?

Have you ever had your heart set on food at a particular restaurant, only to arrive and find them closed?

Have you ever waited for someone to arrive at an appointment, only to discover they forgot?

God never does this! Although we were created in God’s image, He is not human! He is dependable. He is unchanging.

In the last book of the Old Testament, God declares:

“I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)

God is speaking about His judgment of those who do not fear and revere Him, but God made a covenant with the nation of Israel…and that covenant will not change. They will be delivered in the day of the LORD. God is saying, “I keep my promises. My Word does not change. I do not change.”

We also heard Jesus’ half brother, James, who wrote:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Our God who created the starry universe—the heavenly lights—gives good gifts to His children, including salvation and life. He is also unchanging. Because of the movement of our planet with relation to the sun, shadows move and shift…but not the One who created earth and the sun!

Throughout the Bible we see evidence that God is unchanging.

So What?

OK, so God is unchanging, but what difference does that make? Let me count the ways!

God cannot improve.

He’s as good as He’s going to get. He is perfectly holy. He will never get stronger, wiser, or more perfect. He is the zenith of holiness, knowledge, and love.

Most of us are seeking to grow and develop. Some of you spend time at the gym, seeking to improve your figure, reduce your waistline, or build your muscles. Others of you are in school, expanding your knowledge and understanding of the world and prepare for a career. The simple fact you are listening to me says you want to grow spiritually and improve your relationship with God and others. This past Wednesday I was honored to be in the company of courageous men and women who are committed to enhancing their mental and emotional health, attending Celebrate Recovery and dealing with their hurts, hang ups, and habits. I believe every one of us could benefit from Celebrate Recovery because we’ve all got stuff. We’re all messed up. We all face grief, loss, and/or addictions because of sin and living in a broken world.

But not God! He’s not messed up! He doesn’t have room to grow. God cannot improve. As the saying goes, you can’t improve on perfection!

Second, not only can God not get better,
God cannot decline. He will never lose His mind, His love, His power. He won’t get Alzheimer’s, cancer, or the flu. He won’t stop being in control or begin to forget things. It’s impossible for God to get better—or worse—because God is unchanging.

God is reliable. He doesn’t change His mind. He is consistent and reliable. If He says something, it’s true now and it will be true tomorrow.

Since I got my driver’s license, I’ve studied the annual April car issue of
Consumer Reports magazine. The top thing I look for in a vehicle report is reliability. I don’t really care how fast it goes, how comfortable the seats, or even how good the stereo sounds…if it’s going to break down, leave me stranded at the side of the road, and cost me a fortune to repair. I want a dependable vehicle, one I can trust with no surprises.

That’s like God…except the brakes will never wear thin, the oil doesn’t need to be changed…He doesn’t even need gas or insurance!

One reason I love the Bible is it is God’s Word and what God said and did in the Old Testament is true in the New Testament and is true today…because God is unchanging.

If you were to read a biography on Bill Gates, you would learn about the founder of Microsoft, but no matter what you thought of him, it’s possible that if you were to meet him, he’d be different than you expected. In fact, it’s possible that he has changed since the book was published. People change, but God is unchanging and reliable.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “But didn’t God change His mind when Moses asked Him to spare the people of Israel?” There are times it appears God changes, but I believe it’s a matter of perspective. Let me explain.

When my children were little, I insisted they use manners when they spoke, especially when they asked for something. One of them might ask, “Dad, can I have some ice cream?” to which I would reply, “No.” Then if they said, “Please” I would say, “Absolutely!” Did I change my mind? No. Did I know what they wanted and what they would do in that situation? Yes.

Because God is God and we’re not, it may appear that He changes, but in reality His character, His attributes, His Word, His promises never change. He is reliable. He doesn’t play guessing games or surprise us. He is consistent. He is unchanging.

There’s another thing that doesn’t change about God that we should all find sobering.

God’s justice and His hatred of sin never change. Have you ever been pulled over by a police officer, begging to be let off the hook? Did you ever try to weasel out of a punishment as a child? Have you ever bargained with someone, compromised, negotiated?

God is always just. He always does the right thing. Always.
God always hates sin. Public and private, big and little, He always hates sin.

He doesn’t make exceptions.
He can’t be bought or bribed.
He doesn’t show favoritism.

God always has and always will be just and He always has and always will hate sin.

Is this a good thing? Yes.
Is this a good thing for you? Maybe.

See, we all want to see justice served. We want Hitler to be condemned. We want sex traffickers punished. We want murderers to be sentenced. One day, God will exercise the ultimate justice. On Judgment Day, all wrongs will be righted, all sins will be penalized, all of the guilty will pay.

But where does that leave us? Sure, we want corrupt politicians and bank robbers to be served justice, but since all of us sin and all of us fail God’s standard of perfection, is God’s ultimate justice good…for us?

This is where the gospel comes in. The gospel, or good news, is Jesus. Jesus is LORD. God sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to our planet to pay for our sin, to receive the punishment we deserve. Since God couldn’t bend the rules and make exceptions, He had to create an alternative to eternally separating sinful humans from His presence. His plan was Jesus. Grace. Unmerited favor.

Today, every man, woman and child on our planet is given a choice to receive or reject Jesus Christ. Because God is just and hates sin, somebody has to pay the penalty of sin, which is death. We can accept Jesus’s payment or bear it ourselves.

But make no mistake, you’re not good enough. You can’t buy it. You can’t negotiate it. You can’t achieve it by trying harder. Either you pay or you let Jesus pay. But God’s unchanging justice must be satisfied.

This leads to my final point: because God is unchanging,
God’s love is unchanging. Earlier we sang “One Thing Remains.” I love those lyrics:

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

The Newsboys have a song with a similar message entitled, “Your Love Never Fails.” They sing:

Nothing can separate Even if I run away Your love never fails I know I still make mistakes You have new mercy for me everyday Cause your love never fails
You stay the same through the ages Your love never changes

Paul wrote to the church in Rome:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

God’s love is unchanging, leading Philip Yancey to famously write,

“There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”

Why? Because God is unchanging. God’s love is unchanging. And that’s truly good news!

some ideas from D6, Robert Saucy, John Ortberg, A.W. Tozer

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
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