God’s Immutability Secures Ten Thousand Promises

God’s promises to his people are “precious and very great” (2 Peter 1:4). Some of his promises are explicit in Scripture, and some are implied, but all of them are vital to everyone who needs hope in the world.

What is God?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives an answer to this most important question.

What is God? 

God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. (WSC, Question and Answer 4)

It is God’s unchangeableness—the theological term for this is his immutability—that has recently struck me as being precious. Until recently, God’s immutability mostly stood out to me because it was so unlike me. In so many of his attributes, but especially in this one, I could see how different God was than any human. We change all the time—in our preferences, moods, philosophy, morality, and ethical behavior. But God does not change! The way he is now is the way he always has been and always will be.

While this is still a bit outsized for my brain, I’ve been learning how God’s immutability is even greater than I previously thought.

Is God Immutable?

Before we dig into this feast, perhaps we should set the table. Is God actually immutable? Just because a catechism claims something about God does not make it so.

There is excellent Scriptural support for this doctrine.

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

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)

These texts are all making slightly different points, and they should all be examined in context, but they all point to God’s immutability.

Additionally, there is a philosophical argument to make, one advanced by the ancient Greeks. Any change to God’s nature or character would imply some move from or into greater wholeness, goodness, or glory. But if God is perfect and complete, any such changes introduce a contradiction. Therefore, God cannot change. (I understand that I am oversimplifying. There are better sources than me to consult for a proper philosophical treatment.)

Implications of Immutability

If God is immutable, then this gives Christians some wonderful, implicit promises. For every aspect of God’s character and nature will exist in perfection forever.

God is holy and he will always be holy. God is sovereign and he will always be sovereign. God is faithful and he will always be faithful. God is patient and he will always be patient.

As I am growing to treasure God’s promises more, I’ve found his immutability to be a silver tray on which are served an abundance of promises. And all the promises of God find their “yes” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).

This God who is unchanging in his holiness and sovereignty and faithfulness and patience (and a thousand other qualities) is for me. The work of Jesus, planned out before time, is the evidence and the decisive act of this immutable God to rescue me.

God is merciful and he will always be merciful.

And that’s exactly the sort of sure promise we need.

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Links for the Weekend (2022-06-24)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

The Best Ten Minutes of My Week

I really enjoyed Aimee Joseph’s warm reflection on taking the Lord’s Supper.

Our ten-minute meal fuels us for the week ahead where we will fumble through our days attempting faithfulness. Our ten-minute meal gives us a taste of the abundant love we will need to remember if we are to cover over each other’s faults and foibles in the coming few days (1 Peter 4:8). Our ten-minute meal levels the classes and divisions that the world will use to categorize us as soon as we walk out the doors. It makes us siblings and peers at the table of our impartial heavenly Father.

Come, He Needs Nothing From You

Faith Chang makes a helpful distinction between what God requires of us and what he needs from us. She writes about the implications that God needs nothing from us.

The Scriptures are punctuated with this welcome: come to me, come to the waters, come eat, taste and see. There is more that I’ve been mulling over regarding God’s self-sufficiency, implications for what this means about his pleasure in what we do offer him, how graciously he receives from our hands what he doesn’t need. But for now, I want to sit on this, the way burnt out laborers, haggard moms and dads and sons and daughters, and all the weary and wary souls who come to him, will find that he gives and gives and gives, grace upon grace. 

When Groaning Is Our Best Prayer

Here’s an interesting article anchored in Romans 8, focused on how we get from groaning to glory.

We groan when we encounter sin and brokenness. We groan when we face bodily sickness, weakness, and death. We groan when relationships are strained or broken, or when we see those we love struggling. We ache for an end to pain. We long to be made whole and set free. We’re groaning for the day we’ll see, share in, and shine with God’s glory as he intended.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (2022-06-17)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Why Self-Help Is Not Encouragement

Sadly, much of what passes for encouragement among Christians is more like self-help mantras. Lindsey Carlson helps us understand what Christian encouragement is all about.

Encouragement based on self-confidence has produced a world of under-encouraged Christians. Our confidence is too often in our own desires and feelings, both of which are subject to change. When our confidence is shaken, our heart grows quickly discouraged and we’re far less likely to endure the trials set before us.

Help! I’m terrified of evangelism!

If evangelism feels like a scary enterprise, this article is for you. It’s a simple, down-to-earth list of ideas about how we might start talking to other people about Jesus.

Don’t overthink evangelism. You don’t need to come to every interaction with a non-Christian with a checklist of items to include in the conversation. But don’t censor yourself. Talk about the church service you attended on the weekend. Pray for help from God for courage and clarity. Mention something you have been thinking about from Bible study. Thank God for the weather. Let your faith be seen by others, and you will find opportunities to talk about the One who matters most.

Should I Pray Someone Else’s Prayers?

Chris Woznicki writes about using The Book of Common Prayer to help him pray. Coming from a “low church” Baptist background, this wasn’t natural, but he has found it helpful.

You can feel free to adopt the words of biblically-based, gospel-centred, Christ-exalting prayers written by someone else as our own. I would encourage you to find written, historic prayers, like The Litany that help you to articulate the content of your heart as you pray to God. Doing so has been helpful for me and it might be helpful for you too.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Praying “God, Be With Us.” If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Praying “God, Be With Us”

It is a recurring request at every prayer meeting I’ve attended. God, be with her. Lord, please be with him.

I internalized this prayer early in my Christian life and adopted it just like those around me. But as I grew in my experience and knowledge about God, I got bored with this prayer. I looked down on those who prayed this way. It sounded so generic and unimaginative. Can’t we do better? Can’t we ask God for deeper things than this? In my misguided pride, I thought those who prayed this way didn’t care enough to think of more specific ways to intercede for their friends.

Praying for God’s Presence

What I once considered ashes in my mouth has now become honey. I thought I could pray better, holier prayers, but now I realize there’s nothing more essential to our well-being. At our deepest, most elemental level, we desperately need God’s presence, because we need God himself.

We need God to be with us.

We were made in God’s image and designed to be with him—near him—forever. (This is the whole story of the Bible!) But as a result of rebellion, God drove Adam and Eve away from him, out of his presence. The story of redemption is the story of a journey back into the presence of God. We needed Jesus—Immanuel, God with us—to suffer and die in our place, that he might bring us to God.

God’s presence is the believer’s destiny (Revelation 21:3). It is our present reality. And it should be our longing and our comfort and our strength.

Lament and the Absence of God

Our longing for God’s presence is good and holy, and this helps us understand the raw outrage we see expressed in Scripture when God seems absent.

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:2)

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1)

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1–2)

If you were a friend of these poets, what would you have prayed for them? Lord, be with them! Lord, let them know your presence with them!

God Has Promised

Not only is this prayer in harmony with the teaching of the Bible, God has promised to do this very thing for us. When he says “I will never leave you or forsake you,” we can count on it (Hebrews 13:5).

You might be wondering why we should pray for something God has promised to do. That’s a good question! However, we could easily turn that question around. How could we possibly pray for anything that God has not promised? As we reach toward the Lord with one hand, we should cling to the Bible with the other, pointing. You have promised; make it happen!

My Greatest Need

I cringe now when I think how arrogantly I judged those dear saints years ago. I wish I could go back to them and ask them to pray that God would be with me! This is what I need most of all. More than health or wisdom, more than safety or provisions—I need God to be with me, as he’s promised.

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Links for the Weekend (2022-06-10)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Let Nature Do Its Job

This article seems appropriate at this time of year, when we’re able to spend more time outdoors. Daniel DeWitt reminds us that nature was designed to point us to God.

So, let nature do it’s job this summer. Get out there. Don’t stay locked up. Put on the sunscreen and bug spray on and brave this beautiful world. George Washington Carver put it this way, “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”

God Gives Our Waiting Purpose

Vaneetha Risner writes about what she has learned from the Psalms about waiting.

Waiting patiently for the Lord (Psalm 40:1) is a common theme in the psalms. In those years of waiting, I was often impatient, ready to move on and move past my pain. If impatience is being discontent with the present moment, then patience is embracing the present and letting God meet me in it. I can enter into a holy experience with God in the deepest pain as I breathe in and out his presence. When all I had to hold onto was his presence and his promises, I discovered that he was and is more than enough. 

God Matures Us through Suffering, Not Miracles

This one was interesting to ponder. It’s hard, but true: our spiritual maturity comes through suffering.

Suffering, not miraculous deliverance, is the primary way God matures his children. A supernatural event can encourage us, of course, but it doesn’t mature us. Maturity comes through trusting God when things are really hard, even seemingly unbearable.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (2022-06-03)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Our Hope in the Ascension

Protestant Christians don’t always do a great job understanding the ascension of Jesus. Here is an article that explains why the ascension should give us great hope.

More important than history, of course, is the Bible. And here we find that Christ’s ascension is more prominent in Scripture than many realize. Luke describes the Ascension in the most detail, first in his Gospel and then in Acts. Peter’s Pentecost sermon is, in part, about the Ascension and enthronement of Christ. Likewise, John’s Gospel is full of references to the Ascension of the Son of Man and the importance of Jesus returning to the Father.

Submit Your Felt Reality to God

What we think and feel does not always match reality, and it takes some humility (and perspective) to realize this. I appreciated the language and categories this article gave me.

Reality and felt reality aren’t the same. Sometimes they align — what I think and feel fits with what is actually happening. Other times, my felt reality is out of accord with reality. In such cases, I might be believing lies, or framing reality wrongly, or overreacting. My perspective might be distorted by my emotions or my sinful desires or my own limitations.

Building Deep Community in a Lonely World

Here’s a podcast episode in which Collin Hansen interviews Jennie Allen about her book on building community. It’s hard to make and keep friends, and this conversation was helpful on the topic.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Christian Life is a Waiting Life. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

The Christian Life is a Waiting Life

Promises, by definition, require waiting.

If I approach my friend and promise him a coffee tomorrow, my friend needs to wait. His confidence in receiving that promised coffee will draw from the strength of our friendship and his understanding of my trustworthiness.

On the other hand, if I walk up to my friend and hand him a coffee, there’s no waiting required. My friend might need to find cream and sugar, or to express gratitude, but he does not need to wait. The gift is in his hands.

Christianity rests on promises from God to his people. Therefore, waiting is an essential part of life for those who follow Jesus.

Many Words for Waiting

So many words that are foundational to the Christian life imply waiting: patience, endurance, steadfastness, hope, faith, and trust. I’m sure the list could go on.

Waiting for God has been a central part of relating to him since the early pages of the Bible. Consider the call of Abram.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1–3)

After his commands, all of God’s verbs to Abram are in the future tense. A bit later in the story, Abram learns that God’s promises to him extend way past his lifetime. That’s serious waiting!

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:12–16)

But God’s call to wait extends far beyond Abraham. It is so central to a believer’s experience that we find it all over the Psalms.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God. (Psalm 62:5–7)

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities. (Psalm 130:5–8)

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul includes waiting in his short summary of the Christian calling.

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10)

Similarly, when Paul explains the way that God’s grace sanctifies God’s people, he writes that grace teaches us to wait.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11–13)

Once I started to think about waiting as a fundamental Christian task, I realized that it is everywhere. (See also: James 5:7 and 2 Peter 3:11–14.)

God is Patient

In learning to wait, we are becoming more like our patient God. We are more fully reflecting his image.

Notice all of the “waiting” words included in how God describes himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6–7)

As the perfect image of his father, Jesus also was (and is) patient.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15–16)

How to Wait

If our calling to wait is clear, it isn’t particularly easy. I don’t know many people who enjoy waiting or who would claim to be good at it!

That passage in Hebrews 12 (quoted above) provides great instruction on how to become more patient. We will be able to run the race with endurance by looking to Jesus, who undertook his task with endurance. Jesus serves not just as an example, but as the one who provides the power to change. Patience, after all, is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

One of the best ways we can grow in patience is to ponder what we are waiting for. We look forward to new heavens, a new earth, a new body, and an existence without the curse of sin. That is all glorious! And, best of all, we will be with God, face to face. God’s dwelling place will be with his people (Revelation 21:3).

Our ability to wait is strengthened by the magnitude of the glory for which we wait. I can stay in place far longer for peach pie than for a paper clip.

So as we meditate on heaven and on God himself, we strengthen our own weak, impatient hearts. We build up patience and endurance in the midst of hardship. And as we ponder God’s very precious promises, we grow our ability to do that most Christian of all things, to wait.

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Links for the Weekend (2022-05-27)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

The Psalms Know What You Feel

With distance, we might be tempted to think that the Psalms are repetitive, sounding only a single note. But this article shows how the Psalms offer something for all of our emotions and lead us ultimately to praise.

And through mountains and valleys, through trials and triumphs, through ecstasy and agony, we hear one common, beautiful thread: praise. In the throes of fear, praise. In the vulnerability of uncertainty, praise. In the darkness of doubt, praise. Even in the heartache of betrayal, praise. The praise doesn’t always sound the same, but we still hear it, in each and every circumstance. And so the book ends, after every high and every low, with a call: “Praise him. . . . Praise him. . . . Praise him.” Can you praise him where you are right now?

Did Jesus Have Female Disciples?

The short answer to this question is “yes!” But Rebecca McLaughlin’s article is still worth reading, as she shows us from Luke’s gospel what Jesus’s female disciples were like.

Luke notes that many of the women who traveled with Jesus had been healed by him—whether physically or spiritually—and that his ministry was supported financially by his female followers. This is significant. Luke often focuses our eyes on the poor and marginalized. But here we get a glimpse of the rich women who were drawn to Jesus—so captivated by him that they left their homes and followed him wherever he went. 

Not Enough Wisdom

How should a father answer when a daughter asks for his best wisdom for her college years? Here’s a touching attempt to describe that effort.

It is an earnest question from a humble heart. And all of a sudden I felt it. Her question hits me in the chest and my heart drops. What more wisdom can I offer? What bullets are left in the chamber? What gold nuggets are left in the chest? I search and come up empty.

Charles Spurgeon’s Battle with Depression

We may think of Spurgeon as simply a prolific preacher, and his sermons certainly offer us a lot. But we can also learn from his battle with depression.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (2022-05-20)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Lemons and Thorns

Sometimes our circumstances are really hard and it is a struggle to believe that God is for us. But he is!

They say that when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade. Pithy wisdom, though it rather assumes you’ve got the equipment, a ready supply of water and sugar and some customers. In my experience you just have the lemons and feel like you need to learn to enjoy sucking them. When life gives you thorns, and you’d give your left arm for a lemon, it is a fight to believe that God is for you.

Why You Should Read More Biographies

What is your reading diet like? Here’s some encouragement to consider adding more biographies to your intake.

There’s just something about reading a good biography that stirs my affections for Christ, awakens my passion for his glory, and reveals my need for his grace. Seeing God work in the lives of ordinary, flawed people like me softens my heart toward him. Seeing the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of history’s most admired (and sometimes despised) people causes my soul to long for his presence afresh.

For Christians Whose Testimony Seems Boring

On an episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper answers a question from a Christian whose testimony is not a flashy tale of deliverance from flagrant sin. If we are envious of those with more exciting testimonies, how should we adjust our thinking?

The church throws a party for one amazing convert out of a life of flagrant sinning — why? Well, doesn’t Jesus say in Luke 15 that one sinner who repents is more to be celebrated than ninety-nine faithful Rachaels? No, that is not what it says. These three parables are not about a church with ninety-nine godly, faithful, lifelong Christians who know they need grace, and who live by the mercy of God. That’s not what these parables are about.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Six Things Lament is Not. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Six Things Lament is Not

As I continue to ruminate on Biblical lament, I want to clarify and develop what this practice is and what it is not. Lament is new for many people, including me, and this short post is intended to clear up confusion and reduce unhelpful caricatures.

Lament is Not Unusual

Judging by the Biblical record, lament is a common type of prayer for God’s people. Roughly one third of the Psalms contain aspects of lament, there is an entire book called Lamentations, and laments show up in other places in Scripture. The Israelites lamented their harsh treatment in Egypt (Exodus 2:23–25), Hannah lamented her barrenness (1 Samuel 1:10, 15), and Jesus lamented the rebellion in Jerusalem (Luke 13:34–35). Significantly, Jesus himself lamented on the cross (Matthew 27:46).

The existence of lament Psalms and the book of Lamentations show us that lament was not reserved for occasional, tragic events. Lament is appropriate in those drastic times, but it was also part of the ongoing, regular worship of God’s people. As those living under the weight of the curse, these portions of Scripture give us words for our groaning (Romans 8:22–23).

Lament is Not Natural

It doesn’t take much for humans to grumble against the Lord. From small frustrations and disappointments to large tragedies and sorrows, our impulse is to find fault.

When we meet hardship, our natural state is grumbling. But it takes faith to lament. While grief may be the trigger for lament, its foundation is the goodness and sovereignty of God. Bringing our anguish and mourning to God wouldn’t make sense if he weren’t listening, caring, powerful, and similarly grieving at the broken state of the world.

Lament is Not Grumbling

Lament is a difficult practice for some Christians because they’ve been told from their earliest days not to complain. They should swallow their sadness and anger, put on a happy face, and be thankful.

But this betrays an important misunderstanding. Both grumbling and lament are examples of complaining—one is prohibited in the Bible and one is not.

Lament, properly understood, is not a rebellious raised fist. Lament is a complaint on the bent knees of faith.

Lament is Not Pessimistic

I sense that some people get tired of hearing about lament. We get it, lament is important. But must you focus so much on the bad stuff?

A fair question! I hope that in my personal relationships I am not overly mournful. However, it strikes me that lament is a very natural, honest response to living in a fallen world. Just as thanksgiving should be a regular occurrence for Christians, so should lament.

Lament is not pessimistic, because while it contains complaints it does not end there. The result of lament should be hopeful trust in the Lord. Those who think lament is wallowing in sadness have an incomplete understanding of the practice.

Lament is Not UnChristian

Lament is not only an ancient Jewish practice. Rightly understood, it is an explicitly Christian one.

In addition to godly complaint, lament involves bold requests and, ultimately, trusting the Lord. As Mark Vroegop explains, Christians know that God is good and that he keeps his promises—he is trustworthy. The crucified, resurrected, and exalted Jesus is the key to Christian lament, turning honest expressions of grief into worshipful trust.

Lament is Not Forever

Certain parts of our Christian experience will continue and even grow through eternity. Fellowship, thanksgiving, and singing fall in this category.

But lament will cease. We should learn and practice it now, but one day there will be no use for lament any more.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

There will be no more mourning or crying or pain. There will be no more curse because of sin. We will not feel the aches of loss and decay and desperation that are so much a part of our current lives. Be honest—it’s hard to imagine such an existence!

But this is the great end of lament. When we lament, what we long and pray and strive for is not just a resolution to the particular pain or grief we are feeling. Because of the great work of Jesus for us, in lament we stretch out for the end of all loss and brokenness.

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