The Attributes of God – Immutability

Yesterday my family and I considered the immutability of God, His not changing, in our after breakfast Bible reading time. Because the book that we’re using in our family reading, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), calls it “unchangeableness” instead of “immutability,” we used that name for it in our consideration of it. However here I’ll use its traditional name.

Grudem specifies four ways in which God doesn’t change–His being, His character, His purposes, and His promises. Bible verses affirming that He doesn’t change in these ways are:
– (His being) “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV).
– (His character) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
– (His purposes) “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11).
– (His promises) “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19).

“God is not…a son of man, that he should change his mind” seems to be contradicted by God’s not bringing threatened punishment, such as judgment on Nineveh (Jonah 3:4, 10), and His expressing sorrow over a previous action of His, such as making Saul king (1 Samuel 15:11). (See my March 2 post, “Scriptures Suggesting a Partly Open Future,” for more examples.) However in each case the change in God’s action or attitude came in response to a changed situation, the people of Nineveh’s having repented and Saul’s having disobeyed God. Thus none of the changes represents a change in God’s being, character, purposes, or promises.

God’s not changing in any of those ways means that we can put our trust in Him, knowing that He will remain wholly good and that He will fulfill the purposes and promises that He has revealed to us in the Bible.

Because of the length of the section in “Systematic Theology” on God’s immutability, we read only three of its six parts in our family reading and I’ve shared on just those three parts here. The parts that we didn’t read are called: The Question of God’s Impassibility, The Challenge From Process Theology, and God Is Both Infinite and Personal. If any of you wants me to share on any of those topics, please let me know in a comment to this post or by e-mail.

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6 thoughts on “The Attributes of God – Immutability

    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      “God’s impassibility” is His not being subject to emotions. Both Grudem and I think that God does display emotions and thus is not impassible.

      Reply
    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      Grudem explains “Process Theology” as “a theological position that says that process and change are essential aspects of genuine existence, and that therefore God must be changing over time also, just as everything else that exists.” I first encountered it when I was studying the problem of evil in my studies with California State University Dominguez Hills and rejected it because its originators viewed God as limited in power.

      Reply

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