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.