David Jeremiah - Knowing a Changeless God
God created the universe, the world, and each of us with distinct purposes in mind. His plans were established from before the foundation of the world. His intentions and decrees don't evolve with more knowledge for he is all-knowing. He doesn't second-guess himself like we do. The fact that God is changeless is a source of profound security for you and me. Because it's the opposite of how we live, we can take hope in knowing that when we are afflicted, overwhelmed, and encircled by our enemies, we can turn our eyes to him who is always the same. In today's message titled, "Knowing a Changeless God," I will share with you how God's promises, purposes, and provisions cannot and will not ever change. So stay tuned for today's edition of "Turning Point".
Our planet is facing an onslaught of global threats but there's one menace that you and I face every day and we probably don't even know it. We feel it but it's hard to grasp all of its implications. Experts call it ROC, "rate of change". That's an appropriate acronym because it's not just the change but it's the rate of change that's rocking our world. We're in a world that changes every single moment and we can't seem to keep up yet the consequences of not keeping up are very frightening. Now don't get me wrong. I'm all for the right changes at the right times. In fact, the greatest change we'll ever experience in this world in which we live is the change we experience when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. He forgives us, he pardons us, he gives us eternal life.
And the Bible says when we put our trust in Jesus Christ he comes into our life and we are different people: "Old things pass away and all things become new". You talk about change. When we come to Christ we are redeemed from the inside out. We're made new in light of the Word of God. We literally pass from death to life when we are born again. The Bible says when Jesus comes again, we shall all be changed. One mortal moment and then an immortal eternity. 1 Corinthians 15 says: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet we shall be changed". And we're gonna be changed to be like Christ. We're gonna get a body like his Resurrection body. Change is at the very heart of redemption. And that's very encouraging because if you're like me, you've noticed you could use a little changing here and there, amen? Amen.
Even in human civilization many of our changes are good. I mean, who wants to go back to the days before indoor plumbing? Do we need to vote on that one? We all love the benefits of electricity and medical advances and instant communications with people that we love. But some changes are not good. Some change is for the worse. In the midst of all of this change, enter God. Unchanging, unchangeable, immutable, forever, and unalterably steadfast. Our God never changes. So, in light of that, that we have this unchanging God, I would like to give you five things that this means to us and how it affects our lives today. Yes, God is unchanging. What does it mean? First of all, it means that his promises are unchangeable. The terms "unchangeable" and "immutable" are hard to grasp.
You've probably heard the word "immutability". Maybe you wonder what in the world that is. Well, I'll help you understand that word and you'll never forget what it means. If you've studied science at all, you've heard about mutations. Mutations are changes. Immutability means no change. It's changes with the "imu" on the front of it so there's no change. The word "immutability" is about change and the Bible says God does not do that. He does not change. The promises of the Bible are just as sure as the character of God. Because God does not change, his promises do not change.
I remember when I was growing up, we had this little tradition in my house. I don't know if this was my mom or my dad, but I rather suspect it was my mom. She brought home one day and what she called the promise box and stacked together in this box were promises. And she put this on the kitchen table and every time us kids would get ready to come to dinner, we would sit down for the prayer and, before we would pray, she would get this box out and she'd hand out one of these to everybody around the table and we would read a promise from God before we prayed. And then we'd gather them all up and put them at the back of the box so they didn't circulate too quickly and we'd go through that box. And over the years that I grew up, one of my memories was constantly being exposed to the promises of God. And here are some of the cards from our kitchen table. I'd like you to help me remember them. Maybe some of them are what you need for today.
So as I put 'em up on the screen, let's read 'em out loud together. Shall we do that? Let's go. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go". "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you". "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand". "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him". "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". To grow stronger in our faith we must focus our mental energy on the unfailing promises of God, on the unchangeable God who is behind those promises.
There was a man who owned a company and he was a Christian man and he had a young laborer who worked for him who was also a Christian. And this owner began to notice that this young man who was a Christian was handling life a whole lot better than he was. They went through some trouble and some difficulty and it was tearing apart the owner, but the young man who came to work just came every day with a smile on his face and never seemed to be moved at all by what was happening. And one day the owner couldn't take it any longer and he went to his young employee and he said, "What is it with you, sir"? He said, "You don't seem to be bothered by anything". He said, "Well, the secret is the promises of God". He said, "Well, I have them too. I stand on the promises of God". He said, "That's your problem". He said, "You can't stand on 'em. You've got to lay down on 'em and hold on to 'em with both hands and embrace them". He said, "If you stand on 'em, the wind can blow you off of 'em but if you hang on with both hands and you hug it with all you've got to hug your promises," he said.
And that's not a bad truth. It's not just read it once and say, "Well, there it is". And take that promise to heart. Put your arms around it, hug it to your soul, and God will meet your need. His promises are unchangeable. His purposes are unchangeable. That's the second thing. Not only are God's promises unchanging, so are his purposes. Did you know that when God created you, he already knew what you were gonna be like because he saw you before the foundation of the world and his purpose for you was already in his mind. There's no one here that doesn't have a purpose from God. You may not feel very purposeful, you may not feel very close to God, but if you're a Christian, if you know Jesus Christ, if you've accepted Christ, Almighty God has a purpose for your life. And it's your responsibility to find out what that is. He's not gonna send you an email. You have to get that. You have to get in the Word of God and find out what God is up to in your life. It's part of the growth that you go through.
As humans, we have a hard time understanding this because let me tell you what we are. We're not immutable. We're improvisers. We improvise. I mean, we start cooking supper and we don't have all the ingredients, and so, we improvise. How's that turn out? We create a business plan but we forget there's some obstacles out there that we didn't see, so we improvise. We form a game plan for our team but the opponents call an audible and run a trick play, so we improvise. But God never improvises. He already knows all the contingencies and his providence marches toward his goals and his immutable decrees. Perhaps you're saying, "Well, I've read the Bible, Dr. Jeremiah, and I've read some verses and I got some questions". If you ever hang around young people, especially college-age kids, they know where all these places are. Somebody told 'em. They didn't read it in their devotional time. They heard it from some ungodly professor in a school they go to. But here are some of the things that you hear when you talk about the changeless nature of God.
"Does not the Bible tell us that God changes his mind"? For instance, when God saw the wickedness of the world before the flood he was "sorry that he had made man on the earth". Or this one is the one we're gonna talk about. The prophet Jonah delivered his message to the people of Nineveh. Here was his message: "Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown," and yet when you read Jonah chapter 3, God spared Nineveh. What do you say when people say to you, "Well, God told the people of Nineveh that he was gonna destroy them and then we found out that he didn't do that. Did God change his mind"? And I answer it like this. God's threat to wicked Nineveh was not unqualified and unconditional. God did not go to the king on the throne of Nineveh, hearing Jonah's message and the parliament as it met to discuss what might happen and the women as they wept at the well and the beggars as they wondered what to do. He did not go to them and say, "It doesn't matter how you change your ways, you repent deeply or cry for mercy and destroy your idols and trust in me, I am still gonna nuke you". God did not say that.
If God had treated them after their repentance in the same way as he was going to treat them in their cruelty and contempt, then God would have been an implacable and unjust God. I mean, why had he bothered to go to such lengths to get Jonah by hook or by crook, by storm or by whale, to come and preach to them if he intended just to destroy them? Why not simply kill the lot of them? The unchangeable nature of God means that God is always consistent, that he is always the same, that whatever happens in life, it is not God who is on the changing end of it. It is man. It is like the sun that hardens clay and melts butter. Is it the sun's fault that that happens? No, it's the character and quality of the object. He is changeless. He is always the same. He will always do the right thing. That is the consistency of the God that we serve. And then his provisions are unchangeable and I like this one best of all because I have needs like you do and we like to know that we have a God up there who cares about all that.
Here's what the Bible says in James 1:17: "Every good endowment that we possess and every complete gift that we have received comes from above, from the Father of all lights, with whom there is never the slightest variation or shadow of inconsistency". God is unchangeable and his grace never diminishes. From his hand comes one blessing after another. Are we blessed or are we blessed? The same God who provided a spring of water for Hagar created streams in the desert for the Israelites, brought bread by ravens for Elijah, delivered fish on the Galilean hillside and food for the widows in the book of Acts. He's the God who will provide for you. He's the father of lights and the maker of stars. He knows how to meet our needs and he always is faithful when we trust him.
And here's the good news, men and women. The same God who provided for the heroes of the Bible is caring for you. I love to think that the God who hears my cries for help is the same God who heard Daniel and David and Peter and Paul and all the rest of the people that I love to study in my Bible. The same God. His promises are unchangeable, his purposes are unchangeable, his provisions are unchangeable, and his personality is unchangeable. Let me just say this right up front. This is one of my favorite things about this point. God is never in a bad mood. Do you know anybody like that? You're not married to one. I know that for sure. God never has a bad day. There's never a place where you need to stop and say, "Well, let's wait until next week. Maybe God will be doing better by then". Our Lord possesses the same wisdom, grace, benevolence, compassion, power, glory, and attitude as he did when he walked on this earth. You know how I know that? Because Hebrews 13:8 says: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever". We change but God does not change. When we are afflicted and overwhelmed and complaining, when we can't sleep and we're encircled by our enemies, we have to turn our eyes to him who is always the same, whose years have no end.
Let me just add one little thought for all of us who are believers today. I hope you will grab hold of this. The Christian knows no change in regard to God. Listen to me. You may be rich today and poor tomorrow. You may be sick today and well tomorrow. You may be happy today and distressed tomorrow. But there is no change with regard to your relationship with God. God is not affected by riches or poverty, by sickness or wellness. If you are God's child you are with him. If he loved you yesterday, he loves you today. You are neither better nor worse in God than you ever were. Let all your prospects be blighted, let all your hopes be blasted, let all your joy be withered, you haven't lost anything with what you have in God because your relationship with God is above and beyond all of that other stuff that I mentioned.
And there's one last thought: his prophecies cannot change either. And I'm not talking about the promises that I mentioned at the early part of this message. I wish I could tell you that there is no dark side to the immutability of God. But there is. I would be less than faithful if I didn't tell you about it. Just as God does not change one word of his promise, you need to know that if you reject him, you will go to a Christless eternity when you die. His justice and judgment are unchanging. His warnings are consistent throughout the Scripture. At the beginning of the Bible he told Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed him, "You shall surely die". In the middle of the Bible we read: "The soul who sinneth shall die". Jesus warned in John 8:24 that if you reject him "you will die in your sins". In Romans 6:23 Paul wrote: "The wages of sin is death". Near the end of the Bible James describes how sin "when it is finished, brings forth death". At the final pages of Revelation, at the judgment before God's Great White Throne, we read: "Anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire".
Now listen to me carefully and hear my heart. I am so excited to tell you about the promises of God that never fail. But I am also frightened that if you do not listen to me, you will think that it's only the good promises of God that do not fail. When God tells us what happens when we reject him, he keeps his word at the same rate as keeping his word with his positive promises. He never can lie. God could not tell you these things will happen to you if you reject him and then not do them. The whole message of Scripture is bound up in God's wonderful plan: to reconcile humanity with himself. He wants all of us to be in heaven with him. It is his desire that we become a part of his forever family and spend eternity in heaven with our Creator. In Malachi chapter 3, we read these words: "For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob". Change and decay all around us but we have a changeless God.
If you're a Christian today and you know him, put your arms around him today in your time of devotion. Read his Word and rejoice and give him thanks that he is the one on whom you count. If you're not a Christian, take this moment to think seriously about your life. God loves you. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you on the cross so that you could be forgiven of your sin and get out from under those negative things that God said and get over on the side of God's good promise for your life. One thing for sure, everything is going to change and the change is gonna come faster and faster and some of these changes are gonna shock us and some will encourage us but if you know the unchanging God you are ready for whatever happens.
Lloyd Douglas was the author of, "The Robe". And when he was a university student, he lived in a boarding house. Downstairs on the first floor of that boarding house was an elderly retired music teacher. He was very infirm and could not leave his apartment. Douglas took a liking to this man and every morning they had a ritual they would go through together. Lloyd Douglas would come downstairs and he would open the man's door and ask him, "Well, sir, what's the good news today"?
And the old man would pick up his tuning fork and tap it on the side of his wheelchair and hold it up and say, "That's middle C. It was middle C yesterday, it will be middle C tomorrow, and it will be middle C 1000 years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat, the piano across the hall is out of tune but, my friend, this is middle C and that's the good news for today". And I wanna tell you Jesus Christ is my middle C. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The world in which I live is out of tune. The prognosticators got it all wrong. Everything I look at seems messed up but I take my tuning fork and I thrust it against the hard surface and I remind myself, "My God is my middle C". And he's yours, too. We serve and love an unchanging God.