Posts Tagged ‘Unchanging’

Attributes of God: Eternity and Immutability-Book 2- Chapter 2- Section 4

Book Second




In our knowledge of the objects which surround us, we include not only their present state, but their continued existence, and the changes which they undergo. Some things pass before our eyes, as visions of the moment; others, as the rocks, the sun, the stars, outlast many generations of men. Few living creatures remain in life as long as man; but the shortness of his life is a subject of daily remark, and of impressive scriptural representations.[27] The duration of the deity is exhibited in contrast thus: “Lord, make me know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as a handbreadth, and mine age is as nothing BEFORE THEE.”[28] A thousand years, include many of the ordinary generations of mankind; yet, in comparison with God’s duration, they are said to be “as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”[29] Tomorrow, while future, may appear to our view, as a duration of considerable length; but yesterday, when it is past, how short it is! An hour of the day, filled with a great variety of incidents, which it might require many hours to narrate, is lengthened out in our view; but how short, how contracted is a watch of the night, in which we sleep and awake, and know not that time has passed! Such to the view of God is the long period of a thousand years. To heighten our conception of God’s eternity, it is contrasted with the duration of those natural things which appear to possess the greatest stability: “Thou, Lord, in the beginning, has laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment: and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou are the same, and thy years shall not fail.”[30] But when we have enlarged our conceptions to the utmost, they still utterly fail to comprehend the vast subject. We stretch our thoughts backward and forward; but no beginning or end of God’s existence appears. To relieve our overstretched imagination, and to stop the unavailing effort to comprehend what is incomprehensible, we bring in the negative idea–no beginning, no end. Duration without beginning and without end, becomes the expression of God’s eternity.

That every thing, except God, had a beginning, is a doctrine of revelation: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”[31] This doctrine, philosophy cannot contradict, and perhaps cannot fully demonstrate. But there are manifestations of design, even in unorganized matter, in the kinds and quantities that exist, and the uses to which they are adapted. If matter is eternal, or a production of chance, why is it not all of one kind; and why are the kinds of it, and the proportionate quantities of each, so apparently the result of design? Revelation answers this by declaration, “In wisdom thou hast made them all.”[32]

In contemplating God as the First Cause, we consider his existence uncaused. As we look back through duration past, till we find one existence that is without beginning, so we look back through the long chain of effect and cause, till we have found one existence that is without cause. Sometimes, however, the conception is clothed in language, that has not merely negative import. Not satisfied with the merely negative idea, without cause, learned men labor to assign a cause for God’s existence, and represent it as the cause of itself, or as including its cause within itself. They express this, by saying, that God is self-existent. This mode of expression accommodates our tendency to philosophize; but it perhaps conveys no other intelligible idea, than that God’s existence is without cause.

Another philosophical expression, God necessarily exists, seems to possess some deep meaning; but when we labor to explore its depths, we shall, perhaps, find in it no other intelligible idea, than that God exists, and has always existed. His existence has always rendered his non-existence impossible, because it is impossible for anything to be, and not to be, at the same time. If philosophy goes behind the existence of God, in search of a cause necessitating his being, she wanders out of her proper province. We may permit her to trace the relation of cause and effect, as far as that relation is to be found; but when she has arrived at the uncaused existence of the eternal One, we should say to her, thus far shalt thou go, and no further.

The eternity of God has been defined, existence without beginning, without end, and without succession. Time with us, is past, present and future; but God’s existence is believed to be a perpetual now. The subject is beyond our comprehension; but it is most reasonable to conclude, that God’s mode of existence differs from ours, as it respects time, as well as space; and that, as he exists equally at every point of space, without division of his immensity, so he equally exists at every moment of time, without division of his eternity. Possibly this may be intimated in the Scripture phrase, “inhabiteth eternity.”[33] We dwell in time, a habitation with its various apartments; and we pass from one to another in order; but God’s habitation is undivided eternity. Our lifetime has its parts, childhood, boyhood, manhood, and old age; but God’s life is as indivisible as his essence.


The doctrine of God’s eternity, and that of his unchangeableness, are nearly allied to each other; and if his eternity excludes succession, it must also exclude the possibility of change. Unchangeableness applies not only to his essence, but also to his attributes. His spirituality is ever the same, his omnipresence the same, and so of the rest. His purpose, also, is unchangeable; it is called “his eternal purpose.”[35] He says: “My counsel shall stand.”[36] He is said, in Scripture, to repent; but, in the same chapter[37] in which it is twice said that God repented, it is also stated: “He is not a man, that he should repent.” We cannot suppose that the sacred writer intended to contradict himself palpably in the compass of a few verses. In accommodation to our modes of speaking, God is said to repent when he effects such a change in his work as would, in human actions, proceed from repentance. Repentance, in men, implies grief of mind, and change of work. The former is inconsistent with the perfection of God, but the latter is not. To destroy the world by the deluge, no more implied a change in God than to create it at first. Each set effected a great change, but in both God remained unchanged. No other language could so impressively represent God’s abhorrence of man’s wickedness to be the cause of the deluge, as that used by the sacred historian: “It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”[38]

When we contemplate the shortness of human life, and the incessant change of everything with which we have to do on earth, and of ourselves, as we pass from the cradle to the grave, we may well exclaim, as we look up to the eternal and unchangeable God, “Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him.” A sense of our comparative nothingness is eminently conducive to humility. A view of God’s eternity and unchangeableness is necessary to the due exercise of confidence in him. It is folly to trust in uncertain riches, and in the things which perish in the using of them; but we wisely put our trust in the living God. The men with whom we converse are passing away; the condition of life is perpetually changing; we are, in all our relations to earthly things, as if we were on the surface of a restless ocean; but God is as a rock amidst the fluctuating waters; and, while we repose unshaken confidence in him, our feet stand firmly, and we can look without dismay on the troubled scene around us. Men of age receive our reverence, and the counsels of their long experience are highly prized. Who will not reverence the Ancient of Days, the eternal God; and who will reject the counsel of Him “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”?[39]

The immutability of God has been made a pretext for restraining prayer before him; but this is wrong. Even if the giving or withholding of the blessings desired were unaffected by the prayer, there still remains sufficient reason for perseverance in offering the petition. The devotional feeling is acceptable to God, and profitable to the soul. If prayer will not bring God to the soul, it will at least, bring the soul to God. A man in a boat, on a dangerous water, may be saved by means of a rope thrown to him from the shore. When he pulls, though the rock to which the other end of the rope may be fastened does not come to the boat, the boat comes to the rock. So prayer brings the soul to God.

But it is not true, that the giving or withholding of the blessing desired is unaffected by the petition presented. Though God is unchangeable, his operation changes in its effect on his creatures, according to their changing character and circumstances. The same sun hardens clay and softens wax. Adam was in God’s favor before he sinned; but afterwards was under his displeasure. When a man becomes converted, he is removed from under the wrath of God into a state of favor with him, and all things now work together for his good. In all this, God changes not. God has, in time past, bestowed blessings in answer to prayer, and his unchangeableness encourages the hope that he will do so in time to come. His whole plan has been so arranged, in his infinite wisdom, that many of his blessings are bestowed only in answer to prayer. The connection between the prayer and the bestowment of the blessing, is as fixed by the divine appointment as that between cause and effect in natural things. The unchangeableness of God, therefore, instead of being a reason for restraining prayer, renders prayer indispensable; for our weak petitions have their effect with God, according to his immutable purpose; and, to deny the possibility of this, would be to deny the efficacy of Christ’s intercession.

[26] Deut. xxxii. 40; xxxiii. 27; Ps. ix. 7; xc. 2; cii. 27; cxlvi. 10; Isaiah lvii. 15; lxiii. 16; Jer. x. 10; Lam. v. 19; 1Tim. i. 17.

[27] 1 Chron. xxix. 15; Job vii. 6: Job ix. 25, 26.

[28] Ps. xxxix. 4, 5.

[29] Ps. xc. 4.

[30] Heb. i. 10, 11, 12.

[31] Gen. i. 1.

[32] Ps. civ. 24.

[33] Is. lvii. 15.

[34] Num. xxiii. 19. Ps. cii. 27; Mal. iii.6; Heb. i. 12; xiii. 8; Jas. i. 17.

[35] Eph. iii. 11.

[36] Is. xlvi. 10.

[37] 1 Sam. xv.

[38] Gen. vi. 6.

[39] Micah v. 2.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Objections to K. Scott Oliphint’s Covenantal Properties Thesis Article

by James Dolezal

Paul Helm has recently offered criticism of certain aspects of K. Scott Oliphint’s book, God With Us (Crossway, 2012), and Reformation21 has published responses by Oliphint and Nate Shannon. (1) It is striking that neither Oliphint nor Shannon offers much discussion of Oliphint’s central thesis and arguably his most innovative proposal, that God relates himself to the world by taking on “covenantal properties” in addition to his essence.(2) Shannon’s article in particular contends that Oliphint advances the Reformed commitment to Scripture by rejecting presumably corrupt elements of the classical Reformed doctrine of God. In my estimation Shannon’s criticism of the tradition is somewhat overwrought and misguided. The question of the Reformed scholastics’ doctrine of God, and especially of divine simplicity, has been settled. They deny that God can add properties to himself. (3) And while the merits or demerits of that position may be debated, the issue at hand is whether or not Oliphint’s own doctrine of covenantal properties is a suitably orthodox alternative to the classical Reformed teaching on God. It is my contention that it is not. In what follows I aim to briefly set forth what I perceive to be the leading difficulties with the covenantal properties thesis. This critique is here stated tersely for the benefit of those just tuning in. (4) My objections are theological in nature and do not require that one adhere to any particular school of philosophy.




Read the entire article here.

Chapter 7-The Immutability Of God

January 22, 2014 1 comment

Chapter 7-The Immutability Of God


By the immutability of God is meant that he is incapable of change, either in duration of life, or in nature, character, will or happiness. In none of these, nor in any other respect is there any possibility of change.

1. This is implied in his absolute perfection. Perfection permits neither increase as though he lacks, nor decrease as though he can lose. Change must be for the worse or for the better, but God cannot become worse or better.

2. It arises in like manner from the pure simplicity of his nature. That which is not and cannot be compounded cannot be changed.

3. It is expressly taught by the Scriptures in the following as well as in other particulars. A few passages out of many are referred to in support of each.

(a) They declare him to be unchangeable in duration and life: Gen. 21:33; Deut. 32:39, 40; Ps. 9:7; 55:19; 90:2; 102:12; Hab. 1:12; Rom. 16:26; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16.

(b) They affirm the unchangeableness of his nature: Ps. 104:31; Mal. 3:6; Rom. 1:23; James 1:17.

(c) They also assert that his will is without change: Job 23:13; Ps. 33:11; Prov. 19:21.

(d) His character is also said to be immutable, as for example his justice: Gen. 18:25; Job 8:3; Rom. 2:2; his mercy: Ex. 34:7; Deut. 4:31; Ps. 107:1; Lam. 3:22, 23; Mal. 3:6; his truth: Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Mic. 7:20; Rom. 3:3; 11:2, 29; 2 Tim. 2:13; Titus 1:2; his holiness: Job 34:10; Hab. 1:13; James 1:13; and his knowledge: Isa. 40:13, 14, 27, 28.

The immutability thus set forth in the Scriptures and implied in the simplicity and absolute perfection of God is not, however, to be so understood as to deny in him some real ground for the Scripture statements of emotional feeling in the exercise of love, pity, longsuffering and mercy, or of anger, wrath and avenging justice. We could as well deny some real ground for the attributes of love, justice and truth which are at the basis of these emotions. We must never forget that we know but little, if anything, of the mode of operation of the divine mind. We are sure that we have to think and speak of it erroneously when our thoughts or words involve successive emotions in God or such as have beginning or end. And yet the only way in which change in him in such emotional acts could occur would involve both beginning, and end, and succession. Wherefore, we know that whatever possibility of change in God appears is due only to our own imperfection of knowledge and in-capacity to form true conceptions.

It is also true that the unchangeableness of God is not incompatible with such outward activity and relations as exist in connection with Creation, Providence and Redemption. But as this has not been so readily admitted, it may be well to consider more particularly the objections which have been made.

I. It is objected that a change must have taken place in God in the creation of the universe. It is claimed that he must then have formed a new purpose, and must have passed from a state of rest to one of activity.

(a) But this objection is based upon a forgetfulness of the fact, that in him there is no succession, and no change of time from one moment to another. The creation of the universe is no less an outward act than is the time in which it has existence. It appears in time and with time. But with God there is no time and no relation of time, exclusive of time itself. There was not before its creation. There will not be when there shall be no more time in creation. We may not be able to understand how this is, but we know that the fact must be so.

It is on this account that the purpose of God to create was not a new one, formed at one time and not at another. On the contrary, that purpose, and, indeed, his whole will is eternal. Whatever may have given rise to that purpose, does not exclude this fact.

(b) There was nothing outside to influence him. He was moved entirely by his own will. Whether that will was altogether voluntary, or arose from some necessity in his nature, we need not now consider. If it was either the one or the other, in either event it was eternal, for if his nature be eternal, then any necessity of his nature is an eternal necessity, and any purpose he forms, whether of necessity, or voluntarily, must be eternal volition. So much for the objection, based upon a supposed new purpose.

That from a transition from rest to labour is equally baseless. It supposes labour and toil in God. But the Scripture account of creation, as well as the dictates of reason, forbid this. There was no laborious work of God. There never is; there never can be. His infinite power compasses his infinite will, in the mere wishing. Neither in the creation nor in the sustentation of the universe is there in God any of that busy, careful thought, and protracted weary effort by which man maintains government or sustains the lives of those dependent on him.

This view of God’s creation accords with reason. It alone is worthy of an all-wise, all-powerful, independent and self-existent God.

It is established by Scripture. Heb. 11:3. “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear.”

The whole account of the creation in Genesis, Chap. 1:1, to chap. 2:3, is full of this truth. In every case it is simply, “And God said,” &c.

Psalm 33:9. “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.”

When it is said that he rested on the seventh day, no more is implied than that he ceased as to further creation; for the sustentation of the universe requires constantly the same exercise of power and will as its creation.

II. It is again objected, that the Scriptures represent change in God, when they speak of him as “repenting” of the acts which he had done.

Gen. 6:6. “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

1 Sam. 15:35. “And the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.”

Ps. 106:45. “And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitudes of his mercies.”

Amos 7:3. “The Lord repented concerning this: It shall not be saith the Lord.”

Jonah 3:10. “And God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them.”

In reply to this objection, it may be stated that these are merely anthropopathic expressions, intended simply to impress upon men his great anger at sin, and his warm approval of the repentance of those who had sinned against him. The change of conduct, in men, not in God, had changed the relation between them and God. Sin had made them liable to his just displeasure. Repentance had brought them within the possibilities of his mercy. Had he not treated them differently then there would have been change in him. His very unchangeableness makes it necessary that he shall treat differently those who are innocent and those who are guilty, those who harden themselves against him and those who turn toward him for mercy, with repentant hearts. So far as the first of these passages is concerned, it is simply a protest against the great wickedness into which the race of man has fallen. The Scriptures show that God has had a purpose with reference to such sin, which, from the beginning, contemplated the fall of man and the different stages of wickedness by which in various ages that fall has been accompanied. These statements differ widely from those which declare love, pity, or anger, for there is no emotion in God correspondent with the outward declaration.

III. Again it has been objected that God must be changeable or he could not answer prayer. It is said if his purposes stand forever and he changes not his will, then there is no place for prayer.

It is unquestionably true that God promises to answer prayer. It is also true that prayers have been answered, and that the course of human events has thus been different from what it would have been had there been no prayer and no answer to it.

But the mistake arises from supposing that there has been change in God’s purpose or action from what he always contemplated.

The difficulty is not one that affects prayer only; it arises as well in connection with labour, or with any other act, by which, through man, a new force is introduced into the universe.

It proceeds from the fact that man, being a voluntary agent, may act according to choice at any moment of his life. That choice puts his action outside of the mere mechanical movements of the universe. Over these it is admitted that God has absolute control, and that his purpose relative to them has no change. But it is thought, that if man can choose one thing, or another, or can do, or not do, any special act he pleases, then so much of the future being dependent upon and resultant from his act or volition, God must change his purpose to correspond with that act or volition.

To this it may be replied that, even without explanation, we know that such cannot be the case, for this would take away the independence of God. It would make his volitions dependent upon those of man. If it be therefore true, that man cannot be a free agent, without such mechanical action, on his part, as would leave God free, we know that free agency does not belong to him. But we are so fully conscious of our free agency, that that consciousness becomes to us the highest revelation from God that it has real existence. If prayer then be offered, the only doubt about it, as a power and force, the effect of which does not change, is whether God answers it. And, in his word he has so plainly taught this, as to leave no room for doubt.

In what aspect, then, are we to regard prayer? Evidently in this simple way; that it is a secondary cause, which has a place, like all other secondary causes, which, like other such, is necessary to produce the result, to which God has given means of efficient entrance into the working of the universe, the existence of which has been as fully known and purposed as any other secondary cause, and the presence of which can in no way take God by surprise, nor render any new purpose or action on his part necessary. So far then from changing his purpose when he answers prayer, God is in reality only carrying out that purpose. But even if we he not able to explain how any will or act of ours can be at the same time as fixed and certain with God, as if it were a decree about some mechanical action of the universe, or were his own personal purpose, and at the same time he perfectly voluntary with man, so that man can either will or not will, do or not do, as he may himself choose, we are perfectly sure that it must he so, from our consciousness of ourselves, and our certainty of what is the nature of God.

IV. It is further objected, that there was change in God, in the act of the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity.

The objection is met here, because this is the most suitable place in our course to do so, though the explanation may not be fully comprehended, until we have discussed the Trinity, and the relations of the persons of the Godhead in it.

It is based upon a misconception of the scripture doctrine of the incarnation.

1. It was not the divine nature, which became incarnate, but simply one of the persons subsisting in it.

2. No change took place in the divine nature. The human and divine natures of the Son of God were so related to his person and to each other, that while he was truly God and truly man, possessing every characteristic of each, the two natures remained entirely distinct, each with its own peculiarities and properties. The divine nature was in no degree affected. The Son of God, therefore, was as truly divine after, as before the incarnation.

3. So distinct were these natures, that in becoming man, the Son took not simply a human body, but also a human soul. These were united with the personality with which he subsists in the divine nature, but not with the divine nature itself. Christ lacked nothing to make him as separate from God in his human nature as any other man, except separate human personality. He united his human nature to himself by subsisting in it in the same personality with which he subsists in the divine nature.

4. The Son has not divine nature separate from the Father and the Spirit, so that we can say his divine nature in the exclusive sense, in which we speak of the human nature of Paul and Peter. Human nature is distributed among individual men, so that each one has his own, and in no wise partakes with another. But the one divine nature is common to the three persons.

These statements will show why God has not been changed in the act of incarnation.

(1.) There would have been change, had the human nature been so united to the divine, as to add to it such qualities, properties and conditions as do not belong to God. These may be possessed by a divine person in the human nature he has assumed, for thus is there no change in his nature as God, but they cannot be transferred to the divine nature without making it finite as well as infinite, material as well as spiritual, fallible as well as infallible, mortal as well as immortal. These contradictory states may exist in the one person, but cannot in any such compounded nature.

(2.) There would have been change, had the divine nature become the soul of the human nature. This would have made that nature subject to human passions and appetites, to human frailties and imperfections, and liable to pain, suffering, and temptation, and to limitation in goodness, knowledge, power and wisdom.

The knowledge therefore of the true doctrine of the incarnation shows conclusively, that in it there has been no change in God.

V. It is alleged that God cannot be without change, because he suffered during the incarnation of Christ.

The argument is that the declarations about Christ’s suffering are made, not simply of the human nature, but of both natures combined, and that thus we are taught, that it was not merely man, but God also that suffered. This position is assumed by some who maintain that Christ had a complete human, as well as divine nature, not a mere human body, but also a rational soul. It is necessarily also the position of those who claim that he had no human soul, but that his divine nature took the place of a rational soul.

The reply to this argument is that the Scripture statements do not teach that the divine nature suffered. This is nowhere said. They teach that the second person of the Trinity, who became man, suffered. But they plainly refer that suffering to his human nature only. They teach us, that in the relations of his natures to his person, he preserved unchanged the properties and qualities which belonged to them separately, and that this was especially true of the divine nature. There were, indeed, some communications from the divine nature to the human, but none from the human to the divine. But while thus distinct, they were united together in a single personality, and by such a union, that whatever might be said to be true of or to be done or to be suffered by either of the natures, might in like manner be affirmed of the person in whom they were united. It is because of this that Christ, the Son of God, is said to have suffered. He did this in his human, though not in his divine nature. The scripture declarations that Christ suffered, are no proof that God suffered, or that God can change in this respect.

But there are those who do not receive the above statements as an exposition of the teachings of Scripture on this point They claim, as necessary, an interpretation which asserts suffering of the divine nature. Those, indeed, who hold that the divine nature is in the place of the human soul, are forced to maintain such an interpretation. It is in reply to both of these that the unchangeableness of the divine nature is presented as conclusive against any such interpretation. Against their position are adduced the numerous statements of scripture asserting that God does not change, and that he is immutable in his nature, and in his various perfections. There are also arguments from reason, by which the same error may be refuted. So incontestable are these statements and reasonings that the objectors readily admit that there is no power or being who can change God contrary to his will, and that the idea of enforced suffering is revolting. The possibility of change and suffering in God, they conceive, therefore, to result from his own will and his own voluntary choice.

This raises the question of the possibility of voluntary suffering on the part of God.

If this be possible, it must arise in one of two ways; either the nature of God is essentially such as to admit suffering, or the will of God is capable of so changing his nature for a time, as to enable it to suffer. In the first instance the essence of God itself is supposed to remain unchanged, but to be capable of existing in different states at the dictation of his will. In the other, the essence itself is changed by the will, and made capable of that, which otherwise it could not have.

In the first case God could suffer, because of the contingent conditions of his life liable to the action of his will, just as we can inflict suffering upon ourselves.

In the last case, the nature of God would be so dependent on his will that be could change it at pleasure.

This last view, however, is based upon an erroneous conception of the relation of the will of God to his nature. That relation is not causal. The will does not create the nature nor confer upon it its powers nor exercise a controlling influence upon it. It is the nature that influences the will. It is because he is holy, just, and good, that he wills holiness, justice, and goodness, and wills these in himself, because he alone is the infinitely holy, just, and good. His will, therefore, so far from causative, is only approbative and complacent, and his essence can in no degree be affected by it. If this were not so, the nature of God must be the effect of the will of God as a cause, and must be dependent upon that will. The foundation of all excellence, righteousness and holiness would he, not what God is, but what he happens to will at any one time, and would make him differ again and again should he so will. And such will would be capricious; for in making the will superior to the nature, there is taken away all reason for choice in God to good or ill, or in one direction or another, and he is left, without motive, to accidental or capricious volition only. Moreover, if God is capable of this kind of change in any respect, he is so in all others, for the power of the will to effect one modification in the divine nature, necessarily involves the power to effect any or all other such.

As the will, therefore, cannot change the essence of God, but is itself controlled by that essence, it is not possible that it can confer the power to suffer, which otherwise God would not have. If, therefore, this power of suffering be not inherent in the divine nature, it can have no existence.

But if this be inherent in the divine nature, it must be a quality necessarily and constantly belonging to the nature of God, and must, therefore, be destructive of the blessedness so fully and eminently ascribed to God in the Scriptures, or it must exist there after the manner of the contingent conditions of our life, because of which we can pass from a state of happiness into one of suffering, and back to happiness again; and its passage from one of these states to the other, most be the result of the exercise of a divine volition.

But with God there can be no such contingent conditions.

1. The very nature of his necessary existence forbids this.

2. The language of scripture “I, the Lord, change not,” (Mal. 3:6), and “with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning,” James 1:17, is expressly contrary to such a supposition.

3. The contrast drawn in the Bible between God and men in respect to change, is distinctly based upon that contingency in man, to which there is no similarity in God.

4. The truth and faithfulness of God are magnified in the Scriptures by the fact of their exercise where man would thus change, but where God does not, because he is fixed and constant. The passage, “I change not” is presented in a context, where the will of God might be presumed to induce change, and the assertion that this is his nature is made to show why that will would not so affect him.

5. In addition to all of this, such contingent conditions or states are incompatible with the nature of his eternity, which, as being without succession, excludes change; as well as with his simplicity which denies separation between his essence and his attributes, and therefore gives no room for change; while they are absolutely excluded by the perfection of God, which cannot be always asserted of him if the states or conditions of his being can be changed, unless in all these states he could be equally perfect in all respects, which surely cannot be affirmed of the two states of happiness and suffering.


Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D.D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887 

God’s Infinity Proves Immutability

Again, there is the fact of God’s infinity, which puts change out of the question. God is an infinite being. What do you mean by that? There is no man who can tell you what he means by an infinite being. But there cannot be two infinities. If one thing is infinite, there is no room for anything else, for infinite means all. It means not bounded, not finite, having no end. Well, there cannot be two infinities. If God is infinite to-day, and then should change and be infinite tomorrow there would be two infinities. But that cannot be. Suppose he is infinite and then changes, he must become finite, and could not be God, either he is finite to-day and finite to-morrow, or infinite to day and finite to-morrow, or finite today and infinite tomorrow- all of which suppositions are equally absurd. The fact of his being an infinite being at once quashes the thought of his being a changeable being. Infinity has written on its very brow the word “immutability.”

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855

God’s Perfection Proves Immutability

Another good argument may be found in the fact of God’s perfection. I believe God to be a perfect being. Now, if he is a perfect being, he cannot change. Do you not see this? Suppose I am perfect to-day. If it were possible for me to change, should I be perfect tomorrow after the alteration? If I changed, I must either change from a good state to a better — and then if I could get better, I could not be perfect now-or else from a better state to a worse and if I were worse, I should not be perfect then. If I am perfect, I cannot be altered without being imperfect. If I am perfect to-day, I must keep the same to-morrow if I am to be perfect then. So, if God is perfect, he must be the same- for change would imply imperfection now, or imperfection then.

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855

The Very Existence of God Proves Immutability

August 9, 2012 2 comments

Thus having taken a great deal too much time, perhaps, in simply expanding the thought of an unchanging God, I will now try to prove that he is unchangeable, I am not much of an argumentative preacher, but one argument that I will mention is this: the very existence, and being of a God, seem to me to imply immutability. Let me think a moment. There is a God; this God rules and governs all things- this God fashioned the world he upholds and maintains it. What kind of being must he be? It does strike me that you cannot think of a changeable God. I conceive that the thought is so repugnant to common sense, that if you for one moment think of a changing God, the words seem to clash, and you are obliged to say, “Then he must be a kind of man,” and get a Mormonite idea of God. I imagine it is impossible to conceive of a changing God; it is so to me. Others may be capable of such an idea, but I could not entertain it. I could no more think of a changing God, than I could of a round square, or any other absurdity. The thing seems so contrary, that I am obliged, when once I say God, to include the idea of an unchanging being.

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855

God is Unchanging in His Love

We must just hint at one thought before we pass away, and that is-God is unchanging in the objects of his love- not only in his love, but in the objects of it.

If ever it should come to pass

That sheep of Christ might fall away,

My fickle, feeble soul, alas,

Would fall a thousand times a day.”

If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be, and then there is no gospel promise true; but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once, when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally. If God hath loved me once, then he will love me for ever.

Did Jesus once upon me shine,

Then Jesus is for ever mine”

The objects of everlasting love never change. Those whom God hath called, he will justify; whom he has justified, he will sanctify; and whom he sanctifies, he will glorify.

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855

God is Unchanging in His Threatenings

God is unchanging in his threatenings. If every promise stands fast, and every oath of the covenant is fulfilled, hark thee, sinner!-mark the word hear the death-knell of thy carnal hopes; see the funeral of the fleshy trustings. Every threatening of God, as well as every promise shall be fulfilled. Talk of decrees! I will tell you of a decree : “He that believeth not shall be damned.” That is a decree, and a statute that can never change. Be as good as you please, be as moral as you can, be as honest as you will, walk as uprightly as you may,-there stands the unchangeable threatening: “He that believeth not shall be damned.” What sayest thou to that, moralist? Oh, thou wishest thou couldst alter it, and say, “He that does not live a holy life shall be damned.” That will be true; but it does not say so. It says, “He that believeth not.” Here is the stone of stumbling, and the rock of offense; but you cannot alter it. You believe or be damned, saith the Bible; and mark, that threat of God is as unchangeable as God himself. And when a thousand years of hell’s torments shall have passed away, you shall look on high, and see written in burning letters of fire, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” “But, Lord, I am damned.” Nevertheless it says “shall be” still. And when a million acres have rolled away, and you are exhausted by your pains and agonies you shall turn up your eye and still read “SHALL BE DAMNED,” unchanged, unaltered. And when you shall have thought that eternity must have spun out its last thread-that every particle of that which we call eternity must have run out, you shall still see it written up there, “SHALL BE DAMNED.” O terrific thought! How dare I utter it? But I must. Ye must be warned, sirs, “lest ye also come into this place of torment.” Ye must be told rough things for if God’s gospel is not a rough thing; the law is a rough thing;Mount Sinaiis a rough thing. Woe unto the watchman that warns not the ungodly! God is unchanging in his threatenings. Beware, O sinner, for ‘it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855

God is Unchanging in His Promises

God is unchanging in his promises. Ah! we love to speak about the sweet promises of God; but if we could ever suppose that one of them could be changed, we would not talk anything more about them. If I thought that the notes of the bank of England could not be cashed next week, I should decline to take them, and if I thought that God’s promises would never be fulfilled it I thought that God would see it right to alter some word in his promises-farewell Scriptures! I want immutable things: and I find that I have immutable promises when I turn to the Bible: for, “by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,” he hath signed, confirmed, and sealed every promise of his. The gospel is not “yea and nay,” it is not promising to-day, and denying to-morrow, but the gospel is “yea, yea,” to the glory of God.

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855

God Remains the same in His Attributes

He changes not in his attributes. Whatever the attributes of God were of old, that they are now; and of each of them we may sing ‘As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen. “Was he powerful? Was he the mighty God when he spake the world out of the womb of non-existence? Was he the Omnipotent when he piled the mountains and scooped out the hollow places for the rolling deep? Yes, he was powerful then, and his arm is unpalsied now; he is the same giant in his might; the sap of his nourishment is undried, and the strength of his soul stands the same for ever. Was he wise when he constituted this mighty globe, when he laid the foundations of the universe? Had he wisdom when he planned the way of our salvation, and when from all eternity he marked out his awful plans? Yes and he is wise now he is not less skillful, he has not less knowledge, his eye which seeth all things is undimned, his ear which heareth all the cries, sighs sobs, and groans of his people, is not rendered heavy by the years which he hath heard their prayers. He is unchanged in his wisdom; he knows as much now as ever, neither more nor less; he has the same consummate skill, and the same infinite forecastings. He is unchanged, blessed be his name, in his justice. Just and holy was he in the past, just and holy is he now. He is unchanged in his truth;- he has promised, and he brings it to pass; he hath said it, and it shall be done. He varies not in the goodness, and generosity, and benevolence of his nature. He is not become an Almighty tyrant, whereas he was once an Almighty Father; but his strong love stands like a granite rock, unmoved by the hurricanes of our iniquity. And blessed be his dear name, he is unchanged in his love. When he first wrote the covenant, how full his heart was with affection to his people. He knew that his Son must die to ratify the articles of that agreement. He knew right well that he must rend his best beloved from his bowels, and send him down to earth to bleed and die. He did not hesitate to sign that mighty covenant; nor did he shun its fulfillment. He loves as much now as he did then; and when suns shall cease to shine, and moons to show their feeble light, he still shall love on for ever and for ever. Take any one attribute of God, and I will write semper idem on it (always the same.) Take any one thing you can say of God now and it may be said not only in the dark past, but in the bright future it shall always remain the same: “I am Jehovah, I change not.”

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855