Part 9 Here
Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Hebrews 13:8 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
“Yes, I know Leviticus says that God hates that sin but that was the Old Testament, man! The New Testament says God is love.” You might have run into this kind of argument before or have been the one tempted to make it. Since the early days of the church, Christians have run into people who have argued that God in the Old Testament was full of wrath and vengeance but changed in the New Testament. In the time of the early church, there was even one man who wanted to reject all of the Old Testament and keep only a select few of the New Testament books. He went as far as to say that God in the Old Testament wasn’t really the true God but that the New Testament revealed a different and true God. He was rightly rejected as a heretic and false teacher. But old heretical lies have a way of lingering around to be repeated in future generations.
In our Catechism questions definition of God, we are disavowed of any notion of God being different or changed from the Old to the New Testament. God is unchangeable. He doesn’t change his mind and he doesn’t change in his character. His justice and his goodness have always been the same and always will be the same. The God who hated evil in the Old Testament is the same God who hates evil in the New.
It’s hard for us to get our heads around something that is completely unchangeable. We are used to change happening constantly. But one of the reasons why God is unchangeable is because He is perfect and complete in and of himself. John Flavel puts it this way “The Immutability (unchangeableness) of God flows from the perfection of his Nature, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken away. If anything could be added to make him better than he is; or if anything could be taken away, to make him less good that he is, then he were not the chiefest Good, and consequently not God.” To be truly God, God must be complete in himself. For him to change would mean either that he lacks something which would mean he is not God or it would mean that he is having something taken away from him which would mean that He lost part of his completeness.
But God is complete, as the Bible teaches, and therefore there is nothing that can be added to him or taken away. He has infinite and eternal knowledge. There is nothing that can be added to his knowledge and he certainly isn’t forgetful. When God decreed something, there is no new information that can be found later that will make him change his mind. But wait a second, what about the verses that speak of God repenting? For example, what about when God doesn’t judge Nineveh but spares them. Thomas Watson is helpful. He says “Repentance is attributed to God figuratively because the Bible says 'He is not a man that he should repent' (Nu. 23:19). There may be a change in God's work, but not in his will. He may will a change, but not change his will.” The Bible at times speaks of God in terms that help us see his work in history. It is men who change but God who orchestrates history so that men will respond to His threats of judgement so that He will show forth his mercy.
So what do we learn from learn from God's unchangeableness? That he will accomplish his promises, Micah 7:20. That we can rest in his love, Zeph. 3:17. We can trust him to finish the good work which he has begun in us, Phil. 1:6. That God will judge the wicked and he will grant eternal life to the righteous. We can also have confidence in a culture changing its moral attitudes quicker than you can bat an eye that God’s moral standard has not changed. The culture may rave and rail against his commandments. They may despise the fact that there are only two sexes. They may try to redefine marriage and defend the murder of the preborn. At the end of the day, they are coming up against an unchangeable and unmovable rock. God’s law is fixed and the world will break before it does. We can have confidence that all the efforts to thwart the will of God will never work. We can also trust that if we live by faith and according to his commands, we will be living by the standard the world was designed to work with. Things go well in the land when God’s unchangeable moral standard is followed.