If you have studied history or, more specifically, Western philosophy, you are most likely familiar with Plato, Socrates, or Aristotle, the greatest of ancient Greek philosophers. While the ideas of these men continue to be taught in colleges and universities today, several thinkers developed systems of thought before them. One of these men is Heraclitus.

Heraclitus is well-known for his statement, “Man cannot step into the same river twice.” As water flows, change occurs even if it is imperceptible to us. The riverbank slowly erodes, the molecules of the water advance, or, if nothing else, a person is older the next time he steps in the river, even if it occurs only seconds later.

Heraclitus, in his statement, was pointing out that change is a constant for us. Scientists tell us that a person’s DNA remains the same throughout their life, but we all know we age every day over time. Malachi 3:6 tells us that while creatures change, such change doesn’t apply to the Lord.

The Lord’s character is unchanging, which means He is immutable. The power of God cannot be diminished or deterred. The Lord never forgets or learns, and He cannot be anything other than perfectly holy.

The unchanging nature of God testifies that the Lord is at work in Creation (Hebrews 1:3) and that the unchanging righteousness of God results in His wrath toward the unrepentant (Romans 1:18-32). The unchanging love leads the Lord to call out to His people (Exodus 2:23-25). Jonathan Edwards once said that the unchangeability of God provokes sinners to rebellion. After all, the world hates the Lord because it knows His unchanging character guarantees He cannot overlook nor forget man’s rebellion. The unchanging nature of God for the Christian is the rock upon which they stand in every situation in all of life.

The Bible’s Teaching on the Immutability of God

The Bible teaches God does not change:

  • The Lord cannot change because He cannot improve on absolute perfection or decline in His eternally fixed nature. His person does not change: “‘For I the Lord do not change'” (Malachi 3:6).
  • His plans do not change: “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). 
  • His purpose do not change: “So when God desired to show more convincingly . . . the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath” (Hebrews 6:17).
  • God does not change His mind: “‘The Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret'” (1 Samuel 15:29).
  • His words never change: “The Holy One of Israel . . . does not call back his words” (Isaiah 31:1-2). 
  • His calling never changes: “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17).
  • There are absolutely no changes in God, no variations, and no surprises (Psalm 102:27).
  • God cannot change, His Word cannot change, and His purpose cannot change. His truth is the same because He is the Truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

The Immutability of God at Work in the Christian Life

The immutability of God challenges us because it means the sovereignty of God over us is total and absolute. Stephen Charnock shows how the immutability of God means that His knowledge and will are the cause of everything. This means that the Lord cannot grow in knowledge; He is “only wise” (1 Timothy 1:17) and “all is naked before him” (Hebrews 4:13). Charnock writes, “God doth not know creatures because they are, but they are because he knows them.”[i] Nothing in all the world or into eternity lies outside the unchanging knowledge and will of the Lord.

For the Christian, this is far from unsettling; it is our great comfort, since we know and have received the grace of God in Christ. If you are anything like me, you may nod with Charnock in approval when he says, “The nearer we come to God, the more stability we shall have in ourselves.”[ii] We need the divine help of the Lord, and the immutability of God is that rock upon which all the promises of God find their foundation.

Take some time to meditate on the unchanging character of God taught in the Scriptures. Even the most faithful and mature Christian among us doesn’t always live up to their maturity. The Lord is always faithful, true, and reliable. Every Christian can always trust the character of God. Reflect on of some ways in which the grace of God has been at work in your life. Then thank Him and tell others of the wonderful unchanging character of our God revealed in the Scripture that testifies of Christ alone!


[i] The Works of Stephen Charnock, 1:386.

[ii] The Works of Stephen Charnock, 1:417.

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