Yesterday, Today, and Forever
God is unchangeable, which makes His truth unchangeable, which makes His Word the bottom line.
It was a scam that worked for months. In 1849, William Thompson prowled the streets of New York City looking for “marks,” people to swindle.
His approach was simple, yet effective. Appearing to be a gentleman, sophisticated and highbrow, Thompson would approach a complete stranger and strike up a polite conversation. After a few moments, he would ask his target, “Have you confidence in me to trust me with your watch until tomorrow?”
Surprisingly, many people obliged. Placing their confidence in Thompson’s honesty, they handed over their expensive timepieces, never to see them again. Thompson continued this ruse unabated until one day, a former victim recognized him and had him arrested. The New-York Herald dubbed him the Confidence Man.1 The name stuck and was applied to any trickster who followed Thompson’s disreputable example. Later, the term was shortened to con man.
Many con men (and female con artists) have come and gone over the years with varying degrees of success. Even the Christian community has had its share of hustlers who either scammed people for financial gain or for other nefarious, ulterior motives.
Sadly, charlatans can be found in all walks of life, from presidents to televangelists to Christian apologists and everything in between. But they all have one thing in common: They are chameleons. They lead double lives: a public one designed to gain the trust and confidence of others and a private one where they indulge their appetites. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2), their word is not their bond. Like weathervanes, they change with the wind.
God Never Changes
People change all the time. God, however, never changes. Consequently, His Word remains the same century after century. What God loved 3,000 years ago, He still loves. What He despised 3,000 years ago, He still despises. God is not fickle, unpredictable, unreliable, temperamental, or inconsistent. When He makes a promise, He is bound by His character to keep it. So, we can read His Word with confidence, knowing it will stand the test of time.
God can change His plans and programs, as He sovereignly wills. But He cannot alter His Person. He is immutable. Immutability means “not capable of or susceptible to change.” In fact, God claims this attribute Himself: “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6). No one else can truthfully make that declaration.
Unlike us, God was never born. He never grew up. He never learned anything because He already knows everything. He never earned credentials. He has never been sick. And though He is the “Ancient of Days” (Dan. 7:9), He has never aged. Nor has He ever died.
The only exception is the Lord Jesus Christ who, in the mystery of His incarnation as the perfect God-Man, was born (Gal. 4:4), matured (Lk. 2:52), learned (Heb. 5:8), died, and arose from the grave (Acts 13:28–30). Why did Jesus endure this ordeal? So that He could become like us in every way, albeit without sin or corruption (Heb. 2:14, 17). Yet He still remains “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (13:8).
Because God never changes, He cannot lie (Ti. 1:2). He is the “God of truth” (Ps. 31:5). He cannot deny His own nature. God is completely unlike Satan, whom Jesus called “a liar and the father of it” (Jn. 8:44).
Neither is God like us—imperfect, sinful, changeable human beings who lie perpetually due to our fallen, rebellious natures. The apostle Paul said, “Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). Because God is Himself unchangeable truth, He can only speak unchangeable truth (Jn. 17:17). When God declares or reveals truth, it is truth forever (1 Pet. 1:25).
Because God never changes, He also cannot fail. Unlike politicians who rarely follow through on their grandiose promises, God always keeps His promises (2 Cor. 1:20). So, “if we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).
The Solid Rock
Over and over in the psalms alone, God is called our Rock. For example, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (18:2). In large measure, it is His immutability that makes Him our rock and impenetrable fortress, shield, and stronghold.
If God changed, we could have no confidence in His judgments or in His Word. To judge righteously, there must be a consistent moral standard by which to measure right and wrong, good and evil. Because there is no higher standard than God, He is the moral standard. Anything that contradicts or misrepresents His Person or His Word is sin; and it will remain sin forever.
What was considered sin at the beginning of time will be sin at the end of time, despite “those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isa. 5:20); and the wages of sin will always be death (Rom. 6:23). We can have confidence that “even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments” (Rev. 16:7).
If God changed, there would be no universal, consistent, objective moral standard. People would never know if they were offending God or pleasing Him. God’s judgments would be arbitrary, based on His whim of the moment.
If God changed, Scripture could not be settled in heaven (Ps. 119:89). We could have no confidence that the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. If God changed, He would be capable of error, and the Scripture He breathed out could be wrong. Why, then, would anyone make the Bible his or her only guide for faith and practice? The Bible would be no different from any other book on our shelves, and we would be left asking the same question Pontius Pilate asked: “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38).
If God changed, we also could not count on His promises. God has made more than 7,400 promises to us.2 What good would they be if we could not trust Him to keep them? We could have no assurance of His commitments, certainly not of our salvation or our eternal security. God could change His mind whenever He pleased and break His promises—which would make Him mendacious, capricious, and impotent.
The Anchor Holds
The good news is God cannot, does not, and will not change! His immutability is an anchor that gives us confidence in the Scriptures (Heb. 6:17–19). Because God never changes, we can believe Him when He tells us He loves us and when He promises us eternal life if we place our faith in His Son for the forgiveness of our sins.
Because God never changes, we can trust that His Word is truth. We can be assured that the Bible, like Him, is without error and is immutable and eternal—even if our culture wants to change or cancel it.
Because God never changes, we can trust in His promises. Consider Malachi 3:6 in its entirety: “For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” From God’s perspective, the sons of Jacob deserve to be consumed because of their sin. But God determined to show them mercy because His immutable character keeps Him from breaking His covenant with the patriarchs (Rom. 11:28–29).
Everything God says is true. Everything God promises will happen. Therefore, we should respond in faith as Abraham did, who was “fully convinced that what He [God] had promised He was also able to perform” (4:21). Even if you don’t believe, your unbelief doesn’t change the facts. God is still immutable; and His Word will never fail (Josh. 23:14; 1 Ki. 8:56; Rom. 3:3).
God’s immutability assures us He truly is the “Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17). He is not a charlatan. He is not a chameleon. He is not a con man. So, if He asks you today, “Have you confidence in Me to trust Me with your soul for all eternity?” you should have no problem telling Him yes.
- “Arrest of the Confidence Man,” New-York Herald, July 8, 1849, lostmuseum.cuny.edu (tinyurl.com/ConMan11).
- Dr. Herbert Lockyer, All the Promises of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1962), 10.