Immutable and Faithful
What we think about God reveals the depth of our spiritual maturity. No individual Christian and no church will ever rise above its understanding of God. We tend to become like the God we worship. Therefore it is crucial that we have a clear and biblical knowledge of God.
A correct understanding of God will be a sure foundation for our faith (Romans 10:17), an anchor for our hope (Hebrews 10:23), and a springboard for our love (1 John 4:7, 8). It will enhance our worship (Psalm 145:1-3), enable us to witness and bring glory to God in the world (1 Peter 2:9, 10), and it will strengthen us in our Christian walk and our service to the family of God (Isaiah 40:31; Ephesians 1:19; 3:20).
Our faith and hope will be strengthened by understanding two attributes of God: that He is immutable, and that He is faithful. When I say that God is immutable, I mean that He never changes. There was never a time when God was not, and He will never cease to exist. No change is ever possible in God. He will never evolve. He will never grow. He will never be wiser or more loving than He has been or is now. Nor will His power or goodness ever diminish. In Malachi 3:6a God says, “. . . I am the LORD, I do not change.”
Secondly, God is faithful, meaning He keeps His promises. God is not fickle or unreliable. He is unwavering in His will. The prophet Jeremiah declared:
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22, 23)
God’s faithfulness is great because throughout all of the ages, He has never failed to keep His Word. He is utterly dependable. You can count on God. He is more certain than the morning sunrise or the evening sunset. It is comforting and encouraging to know that God is immutable and faithful, especially in our current chaotic world.
Read any newspaper or listen to any news media and you will see that societies seem to stagger from one crisis to another. There seems to be no order or center in life. People don’t seem to have any certainties to hold onto anymore. People are confused. They’ve lost their way, and they’re easily swayed. We put our faith in people and institutions only to be disappointed. The values and ideals that once supported our culture are cracking and crumbling. Even nature changes—stars burn out, flowers fade and leaves fall.
So is there nothing of enduring value? Is there no one in whom we can place our trust? Those are good questions as our world and sometimes our own lives rush headlong to who knows where! But let’s read the words of the Psalmist.
Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. The children of Your servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before You. (Psalm 102:25-28)
In our world everything changes except God. He is ever the same. And because He is the same, God’s people are established and secure before Him. In a world where people go back on their word Psalm 119:89, 90a states,
Forever, O LORD Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations.
God will never go back on His Word. His heart towards His people will never vary because He is immutable and faithful. In a world where love sometimes grows cold, the Bible tells us that God’s love is eternal. In Jeremiah 31:3, the Almighty says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” In a song of praise for God’s faithfulness the Psalmist sings,
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5)
What tremendous truths to understand! God is good. His mercy is everlasting. His truth endures to every generation. Why is this so? The answer is that God is immutable, unchanging in His character and will. If God was ever merciful once, He will always be merciful.
Lord You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psalm 90:1, 2)
The author of this psalm was Moses. And he wrote this psalm when he and the people of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years. What is there in the desert that is permanent but sand? And even the sand is constantly shifting, so that today’s landmarks are gone tomorrow. But Moses knew that his compass, his center, his source of stability and his true home was the eternal God.
In life some changes are welcome. Losing the proverbial ten pounds that separates you from perfection is a welcome change. But some changes in life are not welcome like losing a loved one, losing a job, family problems, unexpected disappointments and troubles. Therefore a great comfort for us Christians living in the real world, in turbulent and troubled times, is the confidence that we have a God who does not change. He is as powerful and loving as He has always been and resolved to bless His people.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:16, 17)
The section of Scripture above presents a crucial truth in our understanding of who God is and what He is like. A very good translation of verse 17 is found in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. It reads:
Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no change, or shadow due to change.
The sun in the sky at high noon, shining in its full brilliance, casts no shadow. But if it moves even the slightest degree there will be variation, change and a shadow. Our God however, does not shift in His purpose and character. His goodness is always at high noon!
All that God was, He is and forever will be. If God was ever powerful once, He is powerful now. If God was ever merciful once, He is merciful now. If God was ever loving or full of goodness once, He is loving and full of goodness now. If God was ever a just Judge, He is and will remain a just Judge. If God ever responded to the cries of His people, He will respond today.
God never varies. He never grows weary. He never becomes wiser. He never loses interest in you or your concerns. Stars burn out, mountains wear away, governments rise and fall. People come into our lives and then go out. But God endures. His goodness and grace endures. And because God is immutable, those of us who have hope in Him have our lives built upon a solid foundation that cannot be shaken.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD . . . Surely he will never be shaken . . . He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (Psalm 112:1, 6, 7)
Secondly, not only is our God immutable, He is ever faithful.
Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)
The word “mercy” is translated from the Hebrew word hesed. This word can be translated as God’s steadfast lovingkindness. This steadfast love flows from the fact that God is faithful. God loves us with a passionate and deep love. But our security in this love is not based upon fluctuating emotions. It is rooted in God’s character of faithfulness. God is faithful to love His people even when they sin against Him. In Psalm 89, God warns the descendants of David that He will punish their sins, but He will still be faithful to love them.
If his sons forsake My law And do not walk in My judgments, If they break My statutes And do not keep My commandments, Then I will punish their transgression with the rod, And the iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. (Psalm 89:30-34)
God never fails His Word. He never falters. We may fail to keep our word even when we try not to fail. Even at our best we are limited in wisdom and strength. Often things beyond our control alter our plans. But God is faithful, steadfast and reliable.
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; 8 (Isaiah 49:14-16)
In a world where people may forget us or change their opinion of us as swiftly as day turns to night, it is wonderful to know that God is faithful to remember us. He will never fail us or forsake us. And He will faithfully enable us to live the Christian life. In his prayer for the believers in the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul said,
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
As Christians we have every good blessing and spiritual endowment from God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. When we look to God in faith there never will come a time when we will ever lack a spiritual or material blessing. If we need the ability to love bigger or serve more devotedly it will be given to us. If we need strength or peace or wisdom, we will receive it from God. God will work within us until the last day of our lives or until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? “God is faithful by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
When life throws troubles and temptations in our path, we can overcome these obstacles too.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Not a one of us ever needs to worry that we will ever be ill equipped to handle the challenges and temptations of life. There is nothing in our lives that we cannot bear or overcome. Godly wisdom and power is available to each and every one of us for all of the needs of life. God has promised to help us in every situation. What a difference we would see in our lives if our faith rested upon the faithfulness of God. And even when we fail to live up to the standard of God’s Word, God is faithful to forgive us when we confess our sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8, 9)
The glory of our heavenly Father’s faithfulness is that no sin of ours has ever made Him unfaithful. He never says to us, “Look, you sinned and you’ve sinned more than once. I know that you said you were sorry, but too bad! I’ve had it with you—you’re outta here!”
Our sin and unbelief is a horrible thing. It challenges God’s goodness. It rebels against His love. Yet even when we sin, God is faithful. He is faithful to convict us of our sin. He is faithful to forgive us. He is faithful to restore us to full fellowship with Him. And He is faithful to see us through to our full and final salvation at Christ’s return. Philippians 1:6 proclaims, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God’s promises are unchanging and faithful, because He is unchanging and faithful. 9
People today are shook up over the course of current world events. They are shook up over their present personal troubles. And too often we look for peace and stability and answers in governments, bank accounts, lawyers and doctors. We may find some help in those things. But if all of our troubles and the world’s troubles were solved today, tomorrow would bring more troubles. The only true source for lasting stability in life is our immutable and faithful God. He must be the center of our lives. This was the secret of all the great men and women of faith in history. They rested their bold faith upon the unchanging and faithful God.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25)