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Whatever else changes, God will not

07 January 2020 19:56

Whatever else changes, God will not

What changed for you last year? Maybe a great deal. It’s so often how it is with us. Things can be very different at the end of a year from what they were at the beginning. And often these changes are unwelcome. A loved one no longer with us. A major loss of income. A drop in the value of our savings. A new and difficult boss. A breakdown in our health.

But not all change is bad. Sometimes we’re glad for the change. Sometimes we’re the better for it too. Becoming a Christian is a case in point. There is just no change more radical than that. And all for the best! From being guilty and condemned on account of our innumerable sins, for example, we come, through Christ, to be forgiven. That dramatically changes our standing with God. No longer need we fear his wrath. And our hearts change as well. We cease to be slaves to our old sinful selves and become instead God’s loyal and loving servants.

Then there are our prospects. They change too. Staggeringly. To use Jesus’ familiar imagery, we exit the broad road that leads to destruction and begin to journey along the narrow road that leads to life. And then there are the changes that are still to come (which are the best ones of all). True Christianity is profoundly forward looking. This earth will change when Jesus comes to renew it. Our bodies will change when Jesus raises them from death. Life on this planet will change as Jesus purges it of all wickedness. His people’s experiences will change as all tears are wiped from their eyes.

There is a very great, and, at first sight, surprising reason for all this change. It is God’s own changelessness. In contrast to us, God never changes. Through one of the Old Testament prophets, for instance, God announces, “I, the LORD, do not change” (Malachi 3.6). Contrasting him with the changing heavens and earth, Psalm 102 declares, “you are the same, and your years have no end” (v.27). Jesus Christ is confessed to be “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13.8). Or to reduce it to three simple words, God assures us through the prophet Isaiah (Ch.46.4), “I am He” – the God who simply is and is and is, unchangeably the same forever.

And here is how this changelessness explains the changes with which Christians have been and will be blessed. Take forgiveness. It is promised to all who turn from sin and seek God’s mercy in Christ. But how do we know the promise will be kept? And all the other wonderful promises made in the Bible? The promise of the Holy Spirit? The promise of Christ’s second coming? God is unchangeably faithful.

Or take the great changes that will happen at the end of human history – the resurrection of the dead, the judgment of the wicked, the transformation of the earth, the ushering in of universal peace. How do we know that God will be equal to effecting them? He is unchangeably powerful.

So we could go on. Might God die? He is unalterably immortal and therefore cannot die. Might he possibly make a mistake? He is immutably wise and therefore cannot make a mistake. Might he stop loving those whom he has begun to save from sin? His love is said to be everlasting. Or might he do us harm? It’s unthinkable. God can never be anything but good to us.

Hence our title: Whatever else changes, God will not. True for 2020. True forever. True for you.