Roots of the Faith - The Incommunicable Attributes of God: Immutability - 1/18/23
“The incommunicable attributes are God’s characteristics or perfections, as revealed by Scripture, that God does not communicate, or share, with human beings.” (Gregg R. Allison, page 73)
“The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture. An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshipped.” A.W. Pink
When we get our view of God right… then we can get our life right.
Right Belief – Right Living
God’s immutability is his perfect unchangeability in his essence, character, purpose, and promises. - MACARTHUR, PAGE 169
God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations. This attribute of God is also called God’s immutability. GRUDEM, PAGE 192.
God does not change.
God is the first and last.
God brings all things to completion.
Does the Bible contradict this?
Does God change His mind?
1 Samuel 15:29 – NO
A good way to understand God’s apparent changes in Scripture is to consider that God reveals himself in his relations to people. They perceive only one aspect of God at a time. God never changes, but creatures do change, and they perceive God’s perfections and actions according to their current state. Thus, God’s actions do not imply a change of essence or purpose. - MACARTHUR, PAGE 170
There are several points to consider. Firstly, when Christians describe God as unchanging, this is to say that He is unchanging in His being and character. What is not meant is that He is static or paralyzed. He is not like the king or queen of the United Kingdom who reigns but does not rule. The God of Scripture is constantly acting. That God is unchangeable should not be misconstrued as meaning that He cannot and does not act.
Secondly, while the above texts talk of God as changing, there are numerous texts in the Old and New Testaments that tell us that God does not change in His being (Psalm 102:25–27; c.f. Hebrews 1:10–12; Malachi 3:6; James. 1:17) and that He does not change His mind (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:17–18). This is not to play different texts against each other but to know that we need some interpretive principles to help us understand the Bible. There are two reasonable interpretive principles that can help us understand these passages:
Difficult passages should be interpreted in light of other clearer passages.
Passages which are found in the historical narrative in Scripture should be interpreted in light of the didactic (instruction/teaching) passages (such as the epistles.).
Lastly, we also must understand that the Bible uses human ways to speak about God, the technical term for which is anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphic language represents God’s unchanging attributes in the changing circumstances and different moral conditions of His creatures. Passages such as Genesis 6:6 need to be taken into consideration with Numbers 23:19. In doing so, we will understand that from our human viewpoint God seems to change His mind about people, but He is only represented to us that way that we might relate to our omniscient God.
Again and again the Bible describes God in human terms. Why? Because they are the only terms we have to communicate with. For example, the Bible speaks of the “arm of God” (Deuteronomy 5:15) with respect to His power while Psalm 50:10 says, “[God] owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” We know, however, that this is metaphorical language. The Bible isn’t trying to tell us that God is a cosmic cowboy who is in the cattle business. That God owns the cattle on a thousand hills is a human way of describing the vast riches that our Creator possesses. This language is perfectly useful to describe God’s activity among us; but when the Bible uses human language to describe God, particularly in the narrative sections of Scripture, the didactic portions of the Scripture give us the corrective explanation. This is not corrective in the sense of error, but in the sense of qualifying the meaning of the text so that we do not fall into serious error.
- SIMON TURPIN. ANSWER IN GENESIS. DOES GOD CHANGE HIS MIND? HTTPS://ANSWERSINGENESIS.ORG/WHO-IS-GOD/DOES-GOD-CHANGE-HIS-MIND/