When Times Change God Remains the Same
Christianity teaches us to look to the past as we seek for help in the present. It has laid the foundations of our faith deep in historical events and invites us to build on those foundations all the days of our lives. As believers we unashamedly take our inspiration from days gone by confident that in doing so we can be thoroughly contemporary in our thinking and powerfully relevant to our generation.
An obvious first example is the majestic truth with which the Bible begins: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (Gen. 1:1). It is the very first thing God did with reference to this world. He made it! Long ago! And yet how profoundly this most ancient of facts shapes our thinking and our lives. It’s not by chance that we exist. Not remotely. There is a God. He is our Creator. We trace our beginnings to him, to his sovereign planning and will. And what a mighty God! A Bible song, several thousand years old, celebrates how ‘he spoke and it came to be’, how ‘he commanded, and it stood firm’ (Psa. 33:9). Another one, equally old, reminds us that our ‘help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’ (Psa. 121:2), a strong helper indeed!
But is he the same God today? Some of you who are reading this can remember a time when you were far stronger than you are now. How do we know that God is not like that? All of us will fade and die. Will God do so too? Perhaps he’s well on his way! The ‘Maker of heaven and earth’ may have been a mighty helper to the author of Psalm 121, coming to his aid with undiminished power then. But that was thousands of years ago. How can we be sure that he is as able to help us now?
It is here that the great doctrine of the unchangeableness of God comes to our aid. ‘I the Lord do not change’ (Mal. 3:6). ‘You remain the same, and your years will never end’ (Psa. 102:27). Jesus Christ is the same, ‘yesterday and today and forever’ (Heb. 13:8). In sharpest contrast to ourselves, in whom there is constant change, God is forever the same. What he was at the beginning of time that he is today. And what he is today he will continue to be to the very end of time and all through eternity.
The title of this article connects the unchangingness of God with times of change. We certainly pass through such times as churches. The start of a new work can mean the separation from us of a precious portion of our congregation. We may face significant changes in our church leadership. And of course, in addition to these, there are all the changes of which we are conscious in our families and individual lives, some of them very difficult and painful.
It would be of little comfort to us amid these major changes if ‘the Maker of heaven and earth’ was no longer the God he was. But that is not the case. The mighty God who spoke creation into existence is not a single degree weaker than he was back then. Nor will he ever be. And so we take confidence from the past as we look for help in the present. Is it for our church that it might grow again, especially with new converts? Or for the provision of a new pastor? Or is it for help in difficult family circumstances? Or for personal spiritual betterment? It doesn’t matter. The God who in the beginning made the heavens and the earth has not changed. And because of that he is more than equal to the supplying of all our needs and the answering of all our prayers. Just as he has always been!
David Campbell is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
‘Christianity is Taught Not Caught’ July 19, 2019
Today more than ever attention focusses on young people. Newspaper headlines of their activities feature everything from revolution to drugs, student sit-ins to the generation gap, hooliganism to hijacking. Not that the news media are unfair or disproportionate: in a year or two the average age in America will be twenty-four. Most of these young […]
On Doctrine and Practice July 16, 2019
A charge that is made repeatedly against historic Christianity is that its stress on doctrine makes it authoritarian, theoretical, and cold. The Christian religion is a practical affair; putting the faith in terms of truth to be believed alienates or repels many who would otherwise be sympathetic. As John Robinson puts it, ‘the effect of […]