Ryrie in point 4, Ramifications in relation to God. He uses a quote “If self-existence should change, it would become dependent existence; eternity would become time; perfection imperfection; and therefore God would become not-God” (Gordon H. Clark, “Attributes, the divine,” Baker’s Dictionary of Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960], pp. 78-9).
This quote is one of those mind-bending statements that can give us headaches in trying to fully understand it. The “if…should” part of the quote is key. The author is saying that if our Self-Existent God was other than immutable; it would create all kinds of changeable permutations in His Existence. It would inject change as a permanent part of eternity. Because God is immutable, it means that God and eternity are fixed and constant, never-changing. Change can only happen within time and space.
Would you want God to be changeable and never know what the future (in time and space) and eternity would consist of? Yes, No, or don’t know?
Today, we will enlarge upon yesterday’s post and enlarge our comprehension of immutability. Ryrie’s comment starts with this statement: Meaning. Immutability means that God is unchangeable and thus unchanging. Immutability occurs only once in scripture (KJV), as follows: Heb. 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show (KJV shew) unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: The since here is that what God does is not going to be changed.
Also, another word that comes to mind along with unchanging or unchangeable is perpetual. The sense of these words is that of forever and eternal. That comes through clearly in the NT verse in Hebrews 13:8 which says: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
In the OT we see God making a couple of immutable statements in 2 Chronicles 7: 16: For now have I chosen and sanctified this house that my name may be there forever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. What God decides, he does not change. Again, in Jeremiah 5:22 (KJV), Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?
What God puts in place will never change! Our Eternal God decrees what is and what is not. No human being is going to change what He thinks, wants, or puts in place. In human thinking, He puts it in concrete and it will never change.
Repents: shows one possible choice or action and then shows the right and everlasting decision.
Ryrie makes the following statement under item 3: Problem. If God is immutable, how can it be said that He repents? (Gen. 6:6, Jonah 3:10). If there actually was a change in God Himself, then either He is not immutable or not sovereign or both. Most understand these verses as employing anthropomorphism: i.e., interpreting what is not human in human terms. In the unfolding revelation of God’s plan there seems to be change. However, this can be said to be so only from the human viewpoint, for His eternal plan is unchanging as is He.
Let’s expound upon his statement a little more. 1. God knows all things. 2. God knows the correct and final choice or action that we as humans need to make. 3. He will test us from time to time to see how strong our faith is or to help us grow stronger in our dependence upon him.
Knowing these three things, we should realize that God may put a choice before us that seems good, but may not be the best. Then at some future point, he will give us a second, better choice (he seems to “repent” or change his mind) however he is directing us to learn dependence upon Him and that He will provide that right and everlasting decision. He has not repented or changed, but helped us to see that His first choice offered is not the best and everlasting correct choice. So, has He changed (repented) his mind? No. He has put a choice before us and then shows us the right choice that will last for eternity.
01/25/18 post: The following point from Ryrie’s comments might raise some questions for us.
Point 5. Ramifications in relation to us. Immutability offers comfort and assurance that God’s promises will not fail (Mal. 3:6; 2 Tim. 2:13). Immutability reminds us that God’s attitudes toward sin, for example, do not change. Therefore, God can never be coaxed or compromised into changing.
Malachi 3: 6 for I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
2 Tim 2: 13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
These 2 verses tell us about God’s immutability. He does not change. He cannot deny himself. We might change but God does not. Who he is He cannot deny. God does not change His mind or His purpose. One of His purposes is not to allow any contamination in Heaven. This purpose of God’s is immutable and will not change. The following quote gives us an example of this.
“God could not allow contamination in heaven. Allowing contamination would mean eventual degrading of the perfectness required for Heaven to exist in eternity. Any contamination required that it be negated and disposed of before any Heavenly degradation began. Therefore, God’s Law of Disintegration was absolutely required to dispense with any possible contamination. It was put into place before God created any being (in Heaven or on earth) with an ability to make a choice.” (Blueprint Pg 10) God’s purpose of a perfect “heaven” is therefore immutable. He will not allow any imperfection in Heaven. But, His plan does allow for imperfect beings who believe in His Son, to be cleansed by his blood and in that, Jesus blood makes us perfect. This too is the immutable will of God and will not change.
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives the following definition for immutable: not capable of or susceptible to change. Two of the synonyms they give are unchangeable and perpetual. A scripture search for both reveals the following: one verse with unchangeable, thirty-one with perpetual. Of the thirty-one, one especially gives us good insight into the immutable mind of God.
In 2 Chronicles 7:16, God is speaking to Solomon and states: For now have I chosen and sanctified this house that my name may be there forever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. In this verse, we see God saying two things that are unchangeable and will stand forever: his name and his eyes and heart will be in the temple. When God sets his mind to put His Name in something, He will also set His eyes and heart on it so that what He has done will be there perpetually (forever).
We find one verse in the New Testament that contains the word unchangeable. Again, look at the sense of what this verse says: “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:24, KJV) The writer of Hebrews is telling us about Jesus and His position as God’s Son. He states that Jesus will continue in His position forever (continueth) and that Jesus has an unchangeable priest hood. Jesus position as God’s son is immutable. It will never change and His priest hood is perpetual.
For believers, these two verses put our minds at ease, because we have a relationship with Jesus and it will never change. Any doubts should be dispelled and any questions should be answered. In John 17:9, 10 Jesus says: “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” These two verses further confirm that our relationship with Jesus and God the Father will never change. God has said it and what He says is immutable and will never change.
We ended yesterday’s post with this statement: God has said it and what He says is immutable and will never change. Let’s dig a little deeper into what that means. In James 1: 17, we see the following verse: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” What God gives us will never have variableness, nor will God give any “shadow of turning” from what He has given us.
If we dig a little more into the meaning of immutable, we see this from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary titled: Did You Know?
Immutable comes to us through Middle English from Latin immutabilis, meaning “unable to change.” “Immutabilis” was formed by combining the negative prefix in- with “mutabilis,” which comes from the Latin verb mutare and means “to change.” Some other English words that can be traced back to “mutare” are “commute” (the earliest sense of which is simply “to change or alter”), “mutate” (“to undergo significant and basic alteration”), “permute” (“to change the order or arrangement of”), and “transmute” (“to change or alter in form, appearance, or nature”). There’s also the antonym of “immutable” – “mutable” – which of course can mean “prone to change” and “capable of change or of being changed.”
The antonym for “immutable” is “mutable” which as stated above means “prone to change” God can never be “mutable” or prone to change as we see in the James 1:17 verse. For Him to do so (be mutable) means that His word is changeable. God’s Word says again and again that His Word is true and will never change. It is because of this characteristic that God is perfect in His immutability. It means that we can be assured that the promises that God makes to us are forever. This thought alone should give believers security and stability.
Heb. 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: