THE UNCHANGING CHANGING GOD
The book of Malachi is “The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.” (Malachi 1:1). The Lord by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20, 21) had Malachi to pen these words, “For I am the Lord, I change not;. . . .” (Malachi 3:6). Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” The Psalmist proclaimed, “But thou art the same.” (Psalm 102:27). From these three statements in God’s word, some have concluded that God always does whatever He has done in the same way. One commentator suggested that God changing anything about Himself or His way would be equal to saying that He was imperfect in what He had done. Question: Does the unchanging God still do things the way He has done them? Let God answer this question.
First, one should ask, “Who is God?” Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God. . . .” God is from the Hebrew word ELOHIYM, a plural of ELOAHH, Deity. This word includes Jesus (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1, 2), the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2), and God the Father. (Isaiah 42:5; 45:12). 1 John 5:7 embraces this truth, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one.” This is the God (Deity) Family, made up of three separate and distinct personalities. John 14:23-30 confirms this conclusion. Observe, “Jesus” (Verse 23) spoke of “my Father” (Ibid) and “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name.” (Verse 26). In verse 28, Jesus says, “I go unto the Father”, not myself. In verse 31, Jesus said, “I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” He did not say that He loved Himself, and did what He had commanded Himself. He (number 1) spoke of another (number 2). John 15-17 also pictures three separate and distinct personalities. Please read John 15:1, 8-10, 23, 26, to see the three. Read chapter 16:7, 8, 13-16, to see the same three. In John 17, Jesus (Number 1) prayed to His Father (Number 2). Please notice in verse 1 of John 17 that Jesus did not pray to Himself, asking Himself to glorify Himself with the glory that He had with Himself before the world began.
Second, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the same in character, and that will never change. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8). Of Himself, Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Examples of God’s love is seen in the gift of His only begotten Son (John 3:16), His longsuffering (2 Peter 3:9), His eternal purpose to save lost man through the church (Ephesians 3:10, 11), which Jesus promised to and did build (Matthew 16:13-19; Acts 2; Ephesians 5:21-33), His grace, peace and mercy (2 Corinthians 1:2, 3), and all else. Neither of these traits will ever cease. God would always be ready, able, and willing to save repentant Israel. He will ever be there to save repentant mankind today. His character does not change. (Hebrews 13:8).
Third, though Deity’s character does not change, “the godhead” (Colossians 2:9; Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20), Father, Son, Holy Spirit, has done many things in various ways throughout time. Read Hebrews 1:1, 2, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,. . . .” Please look at a few things God has changed in the way He does things from the beginning. Read Genesis 1. Is the earth supplied with water today as it was at creation, or does it come from water, clouds, and rain? Are plants today from seed, or the way they came about on day 3? Are air, land, and water creatures created in the same way they first came, or by reproduction? Man was created from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), and woman was made from a rib from Adam’s side. (Genesis 2:18-22). Did the unchanging God bring you here that way, or by a different means? (Genesis 2:28; 4:1). God erased sin from the earth by a flood in Noah’s day (Genesis 6-8), but He dealt with sin in another way thereafter. He does so by the blood of Jesus today (Matthew 26:28; Romans 5:9), when one obeys Him (Hebrews 5:8, 9), when one hears the word of God (Romans 10:17), believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God with all of one’s heart (Acts 8:37), repents of sin (Acts 17:30, 31), confesses one’s faith in Jesus (Romans 10:9, 10), and is buried in the watery grave of baptism (Romans 6:1-5; Acts 8:38) for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:20, 21) to enter the body, the church (Ephesians 1:22, 23; 1 Corinthians 12:13) of Christ. (Matthew 16:18, 19; Romans 16:16). “Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:21-33, especially, verse 23). No one was told to do this from Genesis through Malachi. However, the unchanging God has changed His plan to save lost mankind.
God told Israel to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8). John, the writer of the book of Revelation said, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” (Revelation 1:1-4, 10). That would be the same day those met at Troas to observe the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:5-7), and the same day Paul gave order to the churches of Galatia and Corinth to give (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2), the first day of the week. Hebrews 7:12 says, “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” The unchanging God has also changed the priesthood from Aaron and his offspring to Jesus. (Exodus 28:41; Hebrews 3:1). The covenant made with Israel at Sinai was changed at the cross. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Colossians 2:14-16; 2 Corinthians 3). The offerings of the various sacrifices of the Old Testament were discontinued. (Colossians 2:14-16; Exodus; Leviticus). “Saints” (Romans 1:7) are told, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1, 2). Jesus selected twelve apostles to work with Him during His earthly ministry. ( Matthew 4:18-22; 10:1-5; Acts 1:2, 13, 25). However, we have no God appointed apostles today. The God of unchanging character has made this change also.
God did many miraculous things from the beginning, even into the New Testament. The creation of Genesis 1 was a miracle, making all from nothing. Making man from dust cannot be duplicated by man. Dividing the waters of the Red sea (Exodus 14:21,22; Joshua 2:10) was the miracle that enabled Israel to escape the Egyptians. God performed many miracles in the Old Testament. (See also. Numbers 14:22; Deuteronomy 11:3; 29:3). Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. (Matthew 1:18-25). He began His miracles in Cana of Galilee. (John 2:11). The gospels of Matthew thru John list a number of the Lord’s miracles. These miracles were to show that Jesus was “approved of God” (Acts 2:22), and did. (John 3:2). They were also to produce faith (John 20:30, 31), and did. (Acts 8:5-12). The Gifts of the Spirit were given to others (1 Corinthians 12:1-11), and was “God bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.” (Hebrews 2:4). Many believe that God continues to use miracles today, that He has not changed.
What does God say about miracles for our time? One who believes the scriptures must believe in every miracle of the Bible. They were real, and served a purpose. For example, in addition to producing faith (paragraph preceding), the miracles were given to bring the newly established church or kingdom to adulthood, unity. Ephesians 4:10-16 tells us why the miraculous was given (Verse 12), for how long (Verse 13), the reason (Verse 14), and the end result (Verse 15). Note especially, the words “for”, “till”, “unto”, “that”, and “but.” 1 Corinthians 12 defines the gifts. Chapter 13 speaks of their duration. Chapter 14 allows us to see the discharge of them. Were miracles to last until the end of time? Read on, and determine for yourself. Did the unchanging God change or end miracles? Notice. The gifts of
the Spirit were in part. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). The gifts of the Spirit given in part were to “fail”, “cease”, “vanish away”. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). The Spiritual gifts would cease when the “perfect is come.” (1 Corinthians 13:10). “The perfect law of liberty” has come. (James 1:25). We have been given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness”. (2 Peter 1:3). The rich man was told that his brothers had the scriptures to teach and save them, and that one raised from the dead (a miracle) would neither be needed nor sent, and that they would not be convinced by a such a miracle, if they would not believe Moses and the prophets. (Luke 16:27-31). Such is the case today with regard to miracles. The conclusion based upon the word of God is indisputable: Miracles have ceased. God saves all today through His word, which includes the evidence of the recorded miracles. This stands to reason, for the infant church needed this scaffolding, but came to stature as a grown man, and is no longer needed, except in record.
God has done various things in different ways throughout time in the unfolding of the mystery He had kept secret from other ages. (Ephesians 3:1-10). All that God has done was a part of His plan for redeeming lost mankind.
Does God’s character change? NO!! NO!!! However, we have seen that God has at times changed what He has done or the way He has done so. The gospel (Romans 1:16), the truth (John 17:17), the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9), has been given to develop belief (Luke 1:1), and is once and for all time given, to the end of the world. (Jude 3). With the completion of the word of God, the unchanging God will not change anything else, and He will destroy any and all who do. (Revelation 22:18, 19; Galatians 1:6-9).