The Prince of Preachers on Divine Immutability

From a sermon on Malachi 3:6:

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 for our salvation, and when from all eternity he marked out his awful plans?  Yes, and he is wise now; he is not less skilful, he has not less knowledge; his eye which seeth all things is undimmed; 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 his goodness, and generosity, and benevolence of his nature.  He is not become [sic] 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 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 fulfilment.  He loves as much now as he did then; and when suns 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” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Immutability of God,” in New Park Street Pulpit, vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007], pp. 2-3).

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One thought on “The Prince of Preachers on Divine Immutability

  1. If God himself never changes, still, many things about him might SEEM to change. For example,

    1) If God himself never changes, the things he does, do change. In part to suit the people he addresses. To a person dying of thirst, he gives water; while a drowning man gets less water, one hopes. One day he makes a sunny day; the next, rain.

    2) Cf. dispensationalism; or God giving different rules, a “new covenant,” to a different age.

    3) While then too, our perception of him changes.

    These things would partially account for any apparent changes in God himself.

    Given these APPARENT shifts, people might be forgiven for the “error” of saying that God changes; that could be generously taken as shorthand for saying that our perception is changing. Or we are seeing an unexpected side of him.

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