13th May 2012

Does God Change? 

“I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”
Malachi 3:6 (NIV UK) 

Some Christians believe that God never changes in any way about any thing whatsoever. But it’s not true. When we try to depict God, the only tools we have are human languages with words that describe what we already know through our five senses. We have no choice but to use analogies and comparisons with created things, things we already know about. But remember, God is never exactly like anything we can compare him with. 

Even the pronoun he in reference to God is only an analogy. It’s a mistake to think of God as actually male or female. Even the term “Father” can be misunderstood. It refers to the relationship between the Father and the Son (John 1:14, 18, 34). The term “Father” also refers to the relationship between the Father and creation (Ephesians 3:14-15). But the term “Father” is only an analogy. It doesn’t mean that the Father is just like human fathers. Rather it means that there are certain ways in which the Father is somewhat like an ideal human father. 

So what about the question as to whether God can change? God—Father, Son and Spirit—is the source and cause of all being and existence. He brings everything into being without anything bringing him into being. He is pure Being, and all other being finds its source only in him. All things depend on God for their existence, and he depends on nothing for his existence. So when we say God is ‘unchangeable’ or ‘immutable’, we don’t mean that God cannot change as he, in his divine freedom, may choose to change. What we mean is that God cannot be changed by anything outside of himself, as though he were a created being. 

When God created the universe, he, freely in grace and love, became something new—Creator—and he did so in the freedom of his grace and love. Likewise, when the Son became flesh in the Incarnation, God became something new—human like us and for our sakes. God didn’t have to create, nor did he have to become flesh, but he did so in his divine freedom out of the abundance of his grace and love. 

And that is the all-important way in which God never changes, as noted above! This and other passages about God’s unchangeableness are declarations of God’s absolute faithfulness to his covenant promise. In other words, God declares that despite all our trials of faith and doubt, he will never change his mind about loving us and saving us

So, when we say that God is ‘immutable’ (unchangeable) and ‘impassible’ (incapable of feeling), we don’t mean that God cannot change or feel. Rather, God cannot be changed, or moved, or hurt against his will by anything outside himself. In his divine freedom as God, he can, and does, of himself and for his own loving purposes, both change and feel. The bottom line is that God loves you and God is for you, and he will never give up on you. 

Holy Father, we give you thanks that you will not change in your love towards us. That hope becomes the bedrock of being for a Christian, and we are grateful that we have that hope to cling to no matter what. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach 

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