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Immutability

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
June 13, 2022 12:01 am

Immutability

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 13, 2022 12:01 am

Whether we perceive it or not, we are always changing. But our Redeemer is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Today, R.C. Sproul considers the security and stability we have in our immutable God.

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Coming up today on Renewing Your Mind. We have a creator.

We have a Lord who is consistent in his government over us is looking to command us to do something and then turn around and change his mind and leave us in confusion. There is a consistency in his rule, which gives us a sense of security, a sense of stability. We talk about the attributes of God. We often think of this justice is love and his mercy but what about his immutability. In fact, what is immutability today at all this week on Renewing Your Mind. We are reaching back into the early days of winter ministries to hear lessons that we haven't aired here on Renewing Your Mind before and there's a reason for doing this, we want to highlight the support of a very special group of people we call the ministry partners. Those who come alongside us and pray for us and give him a monthly basis presidency join me here in the studio to record a special greeting to our ministry partners. This could go back and reminders of why we do what we do and why are ministry partners are such a critical point. There's a portion of what Scripture were reminded of legionnaires outreach to every age and stage of the Christian life.

It's really what were doing what Dr. Strohl did for all the decades of his ministry. And that's really what we continue to do seeking by God's grace to be faithful to that mission that's been given to us to introduce more and more people to the holiness of God because it really helps us to understand who we are and our need for a Savior, and we can never fully explore the depths of God's riches and mercy through his word, and so were pushing out that teaching every day through looking at ministries and were so thankful for our ministry partners. We know you are praying that the Lord would take the message as it goes forth that it would fall on good soil and bear good fruit. There's so many millions more people that we need to reach. Indeed, billions so that's what were engaged in here and ministries. That's right. In one of the pillars of what we hear is theology.

Dr. Sproles message today will help us understand that God never changes and I hope you stay with this set for the end of the program today because I'll be joined here by my colleague Nathan W.

Bingham to talk about this very special week of programs right now, there's RC concept of God's immutability simply has reference to the fact that there is no change in the nature and personality of God himself. There are no mutations to God. There is no growth from immaturity to maturity or from imperfection to perfection.

There is a consistency in God and a constancy that is characteristic of the infinite. When we say that God is immutable. We say he is not changeable to point out that way in which God is different from humanity, where saying he is not like us in the way in which we undergo change in terms of generation and decay growth and all the rest. Concretely, the Bible uses other kinds of words in preference really over such technical terms is immutable. Phrases like we read in James for example, that there is no shadow of turning in God we just read that passage to you from James 117 and this is from the new American Standard Bible. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow of this idea of a shifting shadow or shadow of turning connotes that which is less than straightforward less than open and honest, but something that's a little bit shady, so to speak. There's none of that in God. God is perfectly consistent in all that he is and all that he does with himself with his holiness with his righteousness.

Now it's this principle of consistency. But practically speaking, is at the heart of the doctrine of the immutability of God and the word I think that is most frequently used the biblical terms to describe this is not a description of ontology or metaphysics, but it's a description of a relationship here where it speaks of God's faithfulness is fidelity. That's what I mean by consistency. In fact, the fundamental difference between the creature and the creator that we run into in Scripture again and again and again is at this point man is the infidel man is the one who is unfaithful man is the one who violates the covenant. He is characterized by covenant breaking over and over and over and over again man fails to keep his word.

He participates in untruth and falsehood and deviation in falling from his commitment but God abides infidelity. He keeps the face so the spec he keeps his promise to his people. He doesn't lie, and we see this. Of course most characteristically in the person of Christ, he is the one who is covenant keeper is the one who remains faithful, consistent, etc. I like the again point to another passage of Scripture to Hebrews 6 which of course is one of the most somber and serious warnings against the falling away against infidelity, but that is followed then by the contrast that is found in God himself.

For when God made the promise to Abraham since he could swear by no one greater. He swore by himself saying I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you and seven patiently waited, he obtained the promise for men swear by one greater than themselves and with them and I was given this confirmation is an end of every dispute in the same way God desiring even more to show the heirs of the promise the unchangeable notice of his purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement. We who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the cell hope both sure and steadfast, and one which enters within the veil level estimates that the confidence of the Christian.

Practically speaking, rests not in the context of the vicissitudes of nature or the tenuous character of human commitments of human covenant keeping because again that's characterized by the feature of infidelity and a lack of consistency but rather the confidence of the Christian community rests in the fact that God has taken an oath for his people swearing not by something outside of himself, not by the moon and the stars which themselves undergo generation and decay themselves. You know, depend upon something else for their permanence in their consistency and all the rest, their stability, but God swears by himself by his unchangeable mass by his consistency that he will perform what he has bought and the other is on the site that we have as the basis of our hope is an anchor that which gives stability that which gives concrete assurance to the Christian. In other words, the idea of God's immutability is of interest to the covenant community, not simply in terms of an abstract metaphysic, but it's of interest to us because the one who has sworn to us is the one who is not noted for changing his mind. He does not act impetuously arbitrarily does not relate to us in an unsure or unstable way. What God says he dies let's is a say of supreme importance because we have a creator. We have the Lord who is consistent in his government over us is not going to command us to do something and then turn around and change his mind and leave us in confusion. There's a consistency in his rule consistency which gives us a sense of security, a sense of stability of the philosophical problem does come up with the question of immutability is the question as to whether or not immutability implies necessarily a static deity, a deity who was paralyzed is at work in the context of being. If you go back to the classical problem in ancient philosophy between the question of being and becoming of ultimate reality is the ultimate reference point or the fixed part of the universe that which is in the state of immutability that which does not undergo change generation decay deterioration. All the rest of the philosophers say we have to find something to make sense out of all the things that are in the phenomenal world and one thing that we discover in all things in this world is that they are in a state of becoming. Now becoming safer example for Heraclitus in ancient Greece but coming is the chief characteristic of existence from the term access. There meaning literally X out of starlight to stand Texas very literally means to stand out of something, and what the term existence means particularly for the X specialist is something exists as it stands out of pure being is not on the level of absolute immutable unchangeable being, but it's in this process of change is not nothing, it's something that is not pure being so to exist is to stand out of being and to stand out of non-being a sort of having 1 foot in being and 140 non-bank is neither here nor there is neither absolute nor is it nothing existence is caught in between there always moving.

See either moving in the direction of being, or in the direction of nonbeing, nothingness, and aesthetic movement that is at the heart of the whole concept of dread and anxiety in modern existentialists of the Greeks try to solve that by postulating some kind of ultimate reality that would be pure being a member.

Heraclitus who some call now the father of modern extra specialists made the statement that the only thing that is permanent in the universe is change can step in the same river twice everything. Everything is in a state of becoming. The only thing that Solomon is becoming itself.

That's the creative existentialists but over against Heraclitus was Parmenides who argued that whatever is nice, her laugh was famous for that, but his point was for anything to be, it must be in a state of being, not just becoming. It has to be something that can't be just potential. It has to be actual sober him ultimate reality was pure popular being means not grab if there's a problem. Pure being means being with Mel becoming unit pure being means being without any becoming now pure being the Greek would be pure actuality no potential say because potential presupposes the ability to change the move to become.

There's not that in the concept of pure. So in Aristotle's concept of God.

We have God being defined in terms of what Aristotle calls pure form, which is a pure being, being within itself. No becoming pure actuality. Actually everything potentially nothing pure potentiality would be what potentially anything but actually nothing that in Aristotle's thinking in terms of God's being pure bidding was God's primary. In fact, only activity. What did God do in Aristotle system. Did God come down and enter into the affairs of men was a busily engaged in hearing the prayers and the petitions of his creatures, and acting in accordance with those in response, was involved in judgment was involved in redemption was involved in incarnation.

Let me know right.

He contemplated himself in fact his definition of him was pure thought thinking itself because not going to relate or to be involved.

In fact, for that God could do anything the Lord do implies action. Action implies motion Aristotle's God is unmoved that is unmoved mover, not in the sense of actively moving up on things, but simply staying there, and letting himself and having some kind of natural attractive force that move things toward him, but this God himself was taught only in art is the unmoved mover but do not think the rides but doesn't rule because he's in a state of pure being. And if you take that you know vocally that can only mean static existence. No room for action. It's precisely that kind of a situation that the Christian theologian is trying to avoid when he's talking about immutability, immutability, and on one hand, points to the consistency and the constancy of God and his relationship to us, but we are not allowed to draw that kind of universal inference from the concept of immutability that therefore God is static, disengaged, uninvolved, unrelated to his creation, known about the concrete expression of God in the Old Testament is the God who goes before his people was Emily about with his people face preeminently a God of action and his primary activity is that of redemption. And so I just want to you that when we talk about the immutability of God. We don't mean by that the universal goal metaphysical description of God is pure bidding in the Aristotelian sense. Our God is not a God who is played by some kind of ontological paralysis that makes him totally unable to work.

Nevertheless, the Bible itself continues to speak in terms of God's unchangeable nests Malachi. For example, tells us God says, for I the way change not. Again, this has reference not to an ontological situation, but to a relational posture towards us another one other question I'd like to deal with in terms of immutability because it's a classic problem is even in light of this concrete relationship of constancy and fidelity that immutability points to in our understanding of God, we still have to deal with the question of God's repentance. Here we have the Scriptures telling us that God doesn't change the debris abides in a constant state consistent relationship to us in a turnaround read the Old Testament that God repents, how we do this mean that God become sorry for his sins, and offer sacrifices to himself for his own transgressions, or does this mean that God simply makes an about-face corrects an earlier action improves upon it forth as it may, repented him that he even made me really. Here again we have to be aware of the kind of language that is used.

We have first of all, an anthropomorphic statement being used repentance. It is projecting upon God and human attitude and human feeling and human response but it also involves a change of perspective that is frequent in biblical writings. You recall when we talked in terms of the use of the word good in Scripture that there is a certain sense in which the word good is used to different ways in the Bible with reference to two different standards. There is a sense in which the term righteous is used a relativistic light on the horizontal level so that the Bible will speak of such and such as being a righteous man that is compared to other men.

He is righteous and there's an absolute sense in which men when they are judged by the total and ultimate standard of God's righteousness, then the judgment is a universal judgment against all men, that doesn't bring what no man is righteous. From that perspective. There is no talk of righteousness of men also sent kind of a thing it does business in repents of God. If you consider God's plan and God's activity from the perspective of eternity in terms of his own hidden counsel in terms of his sovereign will be no talk. Philosophically God's changing his mind can get biblical writers responding from their perspective from the temporal perspective speak of God changing his course of action. I think that's exactly how you have to understand these kinds of things and it's as I said before, from man's perspective man sees a change what he is describing. Frankly, is God's relationship to the covenant community as they repent, or as they change their course of action. There's a certain sense in which God is is even being consistent here and consistent to himself that when the people change to more unrighteousness. God will consistently deal with them a particular kind of what when the people change and repent of their sins. God then will spare them from an impending judgment. Only through the Bible, we have the descriptions of God in human categories and then added on to that the correct thing. God is not a man say his ways are not our ways. Don't confuse analogical language with universal life and so I want to leave the business of God's repentance simply in terms of a human description projecting upon God.

Human feeling human outpatient human motion but those terms have to be understood in light of the more absolute descriptions of God's essence, just give me another illustration of the kind of thing I'm talking about hermeneutic like when we look at the Scripture, we have to understand the difference between narrative passages and didactic passage and when we fail to make that distinction is when we get ourselves into all kinds of theological hot water and all kinds of contradictions and of course the basic rule here of hermeneutics. As I told you before, is that the narrative is to be interpreted by the didactic method didactic by the narrative, Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. What does God say to Abraham after Isaac is laid upon the altar.

Does God say now I know you say that you love me your faith forming all that business that we could infer from that narrative. Finally, what God works things they didn't know that ideal Abraham was going to do anything for God up there in heaven praying to him selfishly with her theological was shy and comes through.

But God himself is at the mercy of the vicissitudes in the fortuitous circumstances of time.

He is not to happen tomorrow, but he sure written for Abraham that's not what the text is all about that text if it's been a teacher, something states about the issue of obedience is not designed to be a revelation of the nature of God, and we learned abundantly elsewhere in Scripture. Through numerous passages. Something about God's knowledge and didactic sentence with the point of the writing is not to give us a narration that actually tell us something specifically about the knowledge of God is like RC Sproul of the message that that we've not heard for many many years here on Renewing Your Mind. Mercy taught literally thousands of messages in his 50+ years of ministry and we've set aside this entire week to bring you several of these rarely are gems from the archives pleased to be joined here in the studio by my colleague Nathan W. Bingham and Nathan as you know were sharing a week of these very special programs because we want to highlight the importance of our ministry partner program leader as rightly it's a great privilege to be in the studio with you and have this opportunity to talk to out listen as you rightly on ministry partners is such a special group of people and the special because of the communities that they join the their linking arms with tens of thousands of other like-minded Christians.

And yes, they receive benefits as being part of this ministry partner program early access or exclusive access to messages like they heard today. Receive tabletop magazine discounts to come to linking your conferences and special events. Just for ministry partners, but there special because of the way that they propel this ministry forward. It allows us to make bold great commission outreach decisions to lean forward as we see the way that the Lord is blessing the work of this ministry, as we grateful for every one of them ministry partners and as I said us the financial support, but also because of the way they pray and sustain the outreach of ligand ministries we wanted you to hear from one of our ministry partners.

His name is Skip and that he told us that the church that he grew up in, usually in your materials for Bible studies and Sunday school classes and now he and his wife regularly use ligula resources in their own family in their own home. I asked him why he prioritizes giving to look at her every month and here's what Skip had to say. I think what we can your guises.

They've got a great strategy in place for how they're going to continue to grow Christ's kingdom not only here but across the world and I think that you know between the curriculum conference is the trips the books you have the people that we can or has in place. They really got a strategy and a game plan for how to do that and into really continue to grow Christ's kingdom and they fit as we hear Skip's enthusiasm.

We hear that from so many of our ministry partners only absolutely lay it's a great privilege, the opportunities that we both have to travel with ligand here and speak to ministry partners face to face and hear a similar testimony just like we hear from Skip the teaching of Dr. sprawling out teaching fellows. The Lord is used it to impact their lives and they want to see that change and transformation that renewed mind happening for others, and so they joyfully support ligand ministries month in and month out. We invite you to join this very special group of people are ministry partners if you'd like to join us simply mention it to my colleague when you call us at 800-435-4343 if you prefer, you can sign up online by going to our website Renewing Your Mind.for and on behalf of all of my colleagues here regular ministries including Nathan W. Bingham, thank you for being with us today.

We hope you'll join us again for a another special edition of Renewing Your Mind


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