If you are new to this study you can find all of the previous lessons using the Knowing God category link. There are also study materials for the book available at william.meisheid.com.
Today we confront the God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the forever immutable [not subject or susceptible to change] to use the nice theological term. Section Two, in which Packer introduces the important attributes of God, begins with chapter seven God Unchanging. There are numerous Scriptures that deal with our unchanging God, but I want to focus on two:
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
The counsel of the Lord stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. (Psalm 33:11)
The practical issue behind the theological niceties is whether or not the God with whom we have to do is absolutely dependable. The pagan deities in the world around the Hebrews were not. They often appeared petty, vindictive, and completely unreliable, hence the need in their religions to make offerings to placate them or bribe them into action. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God of covenants, of agreements and they are as reliable as his Word.
The first Scripture, from Numbers, says that God does not lie. He is completely truthful and never has to take back anything he has said. In addition, his yes is yes and his no is no. So, when he says he will or will not do something, that is the end of the matter. The second Scripture, from Psalm 33, assures us that when God gives us guidance or direction, or tells us in his Word what we should do or not do, it is not relative or off-handed, but will stand the test of time and eternity. God’s heart does not change from generation to generation, so what he has told his followers in the past is applicable to us here and now. When Paul tells the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:11) that what happened to those in the past was written down for our admonition and benefit many years later, it is because God’s heart does not change.
With this in mind, Dr. Packer wants us to grasp the utter trustworthiness and dependability of our God, as well as the validity and reliability of his Holy Word. One of the ways Packer does this is by pointing out six aspects of God’s nature that do not change. These include his:
and his Eternal Son, our redemption.
These aspects of God are very different from what makes up who we are. Below you see how God’s aspects are contrasted with our own.
Life – We are born into death, waiting to die.
Character – Our character must be taught goodness.
Truth – We lie.
Ways – We must learn how to act and are pathetically inconsistent.
Purposes – While God’ are eternal our’s change daily.
and his Son – We are the prodigals, only his sons by merciful adoption and constant forgiveness.
God is the one who means what he says, keeps his promises, is utterly reliable, trustworthy, truthful, and dependable and not one jot or tittle will change from what he has declared until it has achieved its purpose.
This aspect of God is essential for our living out the Christian life, for our sanctification and ultimate justification; for it is Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith, the one who has begun this good work in us, and will himself bring it to completion. That gives us all hope, hope when we fail, when we sin and seek repentance, hope when it seems that what is arrayed against us is overwhelming, yet we still have hope. We have Jesus on our side and he told us that while we are in his hand, he is in the Father’s, and no one, not anyone, can take us out of the Father’s hand.
Without God’s unchanging immutability of what consequence are those promises? Might he change his mind tomorrow as the Gentile’s believed their pagan gods did? No, God assures us that he is reliable and that his eternal Son, our Savior, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Thank you for journeying this far with me today. I pray that God will grant you both the grace and the help required in your times of need and I pray that you may always rest in the assurance of his everlasting faithfulness and eternal loving kindness to you, and to all whom he has called unto himself.
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