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The Unchangeable God

by R. H. Boll

Robert H. Boll (1875-1956)

Robert H. Boll (1875-1956)

(Reprint from Words in Season in the 1917 February Word and Work Magazine)

There is uniformity in the ways of God. From everlasting to everlasting He abides the same and changes not. Given a certain situation God’s attitude toward it is always the same, wherever and whenever it may occur. His principles are never altered or alterable. Circumstances may change; dispensations come and go in the progress of the ages; forms of worship may be commanded and discontinued; and rites and ceremonies that have fulfilled their purpose may be discarded, as the scaffolding is taken down when a building is completed; but through all God remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. He always acts upon the same principles. His character does not and cannot change. From of old His attitude toward sin has been that of implacable antagonism. of infinite wrath and righteous judgment; for God is holy. From the gate of the garden of Eden where Abel by faith brought a bleeding sin-offering, down to this day when of the Lord’s redeemed church pleads the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God— God’s attitude toward true Faith has been unchangeably the same: namely, an attitude of grace and of abundant mercy. As for the word that has gone forth out of His mouth— He will not alter it, nor will He fail of His covenant. He is not man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent. “If we deny Him He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.”

Our God is a Rock. It is upon this unchangeableness of God’s way and character, and the immutability of His counsel that we can rest our confidence. The unwavering steadiness and steadfastness of His character is the one and only sure ground of reliance. For this cause it is told us over and over again in His word that God is a Rock. Upon Him alone can we build. Everything else changes in the ebb and flow of time, and shifts and fails; but God is an everlasting Foundation. Every other confidence and refuge must perish; but those who have buiided upon God and have found refuge in Him are eternally secure. This quality of constancy in God’s nature is called His faithfulness. And upon it hangs all our hope and prospect. God’s Faithfulness in Nature. The faithfulness of God is constantly pictured to the eyes of men in the uniformity of natural law. “Forever, 0 Jehovah, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations : thou hast established the earth and it abideth. They abide this day according to thine ordinances; for all things are thy servants.” (Ps. 119:89-91). The forces of nature in their accurate and uniform action portray the Creator’s settled mind and constant course. The stars forever move in their appointed cycles. The sun is His faithful witness in the sky. (Ps. 8 9 :3 7 ). Day by day He arises in the East and runs in stedfast time and rythm His circuit unto the ends of heaven. The march of the seasons in their order proclaims God’s faithfulness. “While the earth remaineth,” said Jehovah, “seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Gen. 8 :2 2 ). The word has gone forth out of His mouth and none shall annul it.

The physical forces operate in the same regular order and uniformity. Any seeming irregularity is itself in strict obedience to law. Since the world was made until yet, now and always and everywhere in the physical universe, it is true for example, that “every particle of matter attracts every other particle of matter, directly as the mass and inversely as the square of the distance.” If in Adam’s day a stone was dislodged and fell 144 feet, it struck the earth at a velocity of 96 feet per second, just as it does now. If water boils at sea-level at 180 degrees Fahrenheit in our day and land we may be sure it did so in the days and land of Abraham. If on the first day of Creation there was brought about a union of hydrogen gas with oxygen, two atoms of the one to one atom of the latter, the product was simply water. It is this uniformity and certainty of natural operation that makes all man’s work and life itself possible. For men could do nothing, accomplish nothing, could not adjust themselves to conditions on earth, if the universe were run on the hap-hazard plan of chance and lawlessness. “Blind Unbelief is Sure to Err.” So well-known and certain is this working of natural law, that the blind have misread the book of Nature, even as they have misread the Bible; apd they have concluded that since natural law operates without variation or exception that therefore God has no hand in the world’s affairs. “Where is the promise of His coming?” asks the scoffer: “for since the day that the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Pet. 3:3, 4 ). With other words, things always have run as they run now, and always will run so. God will do “nothing arbitrary.” In fact God will do nothing one way or the other. (Zeph. 1 :1 2 ). To all practical purposes there is no God. There are no miracles, never have been, never will be. It is always law, law, the reign of Law. Man, the earth, creation; the world with all it contains; the Bible and Christianity itself— all is the product of law: natural forces operating in eternal regularity, have issued in things as they now are.

This is the doctrine of evolution, man’s final attempt to get rid of a personal God, and of a belief in His interference in the affairs of the world. But God’s word quietly reminds these wilfully ignorant ones that He has interfered in time past, and that He intends to interfere again in His own time. (2 Pet. 3 :5 -1 0 ). For so blind are they as to think that the laws of nature deprive God of His freedom of will and action; and eliminate Him practically from His universe. But does He then after all break His laws? Are there after all ex­ceptions to the uniformity of its working? Nay— but He lives and acts, and manipulates all forces and objects in His universe as He wills: “For all things are thy servants.” (Ps. 1 1 9 :9 1 ). For the man who throws a stone does not interfere with physical law but acts in compliance with it, to accomplish his end; and the bird that mounts up into the air does not violate the law of gravitation, but its life and power enable it to ascend by a higher law. And so our God is a living God— not dead, never asleep. Whenever, wherever, however it suits Him He acts. “ Whatsoever Jehovah pleased, that hath he done, in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and in all deeps.” (Ps. 1 3 5 :6 ). In The Spiritual Realm.

But, to return to the constancy and uniformity of God’s ways — upon this does not only depend man’s physical life and wellbeing. but his spiritual life as well. Because God is ever the same and changes not it is possible for us to know Him and to trust Him. For there is a law— a method of operation— that works in the sphere of grace, and operates with the same inerrancy and certainty as the physical laws of the universe. This “law” is simply God’s unchanging way in His dealings with us, and He revealed Himself to us that we may take advantage of it. God would have to cease being Himself— His unchangeable character would have to be altered; the heavens would have to fall and the universe go to pieces before God could spurn a true faith, or deliver up to judgment a man who takes refuge in Him according to His gospel and His word of promise. Heaven would have to become hell before God could and would despise a broken and a contrite heart. (Ps. 5 1 :17). Sooner could God’s light become darkness, and His holiness be blemished than He would refuse to give His promise and gracious salvation to them that accept the gospel of His Son.

Our God is a Rock: trust ye in Him at all times, ye peoples.— And is it not a certainty as sure and true as God Himself that if, in the beginning of the present dispensation, a multitude of consciencestricken sinners cried out, “Brethren, what shall we do?” and the Holy Spirit (through Peter) replied to them, “Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”— that He would give precisely the same order to enquiring sinners in the same situation today? “They then,” the record goes on to say, “that received his word were baptized and there were added in that day about three thousand souls. .. .And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.” If those were thus saved, forgiven, added to the fold of God, the church— and if today a man should follow precisely that course— would God act in the same way toward such a one? Would He waver and vacillate about it now? Would He alter the thing that went forth out of His mouth? Would He add such a one to the church— to His church? We might as well ask whether if stones fell, whether if water wetted, if fire burned, if the sun rose, on that clay it would do so now. For that we might know God’s certain and faithful way and fall in with it that instance was recorded; and it cannot be otherwise then that God will act in precisely the same way toward people today who take the same attitude toward Him that those Pentecostians took. “0 Thou That Hearest Prayer!” Finally it must be said that this applies with full force to that subject which to the unbelieving is so puzzling and unaccountable: Prayer. God hears prayer. So characteristic is this fact of our unchangeable God, that it becomes a part of His name and title. ‘Ό thou that hearest prayer,” David calls Him. (Ps. 6 5 :2 ). He is “the Prayer-hearing God.”

This is as true and certain as “natural law.” Nay, natural law is less certain. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away.” After the heavens have waxed old as a garment, and have been folded up as a vesture and changed— He is yet the same. His attributes do not alter. The course of the ages do not affect His eternal Being and Character. Whenever a prayer— a real prayer— is offered to Him, He hears, and answers. The answer may delay; it may carry a form different from the form contemplated in the petition; but it must needs come. As God is God, He hears prayer. No petitions can go up to Him in harmony with the conditions He marks out (and His conditions are not grievous) and God ignore them. The man who proceeds upon this promise builds upon the unalterable nature of God Himself and he cannot therefore fail unless it were possible for God to fail. And this is true of all His word and ways. Men may err here and there in ascertaining the conditions and circumstances; but these once apprehended, the response of God comes with mathematical certainty; and it cannot be otherwise. “Have faith in God.” For this our God is “the Father of lights, ivith whom is no variableness nor sliadoiv of turning.” (Jas. 1 :1 7 ). THE FIGHT FOR PEACE. “When the strong man fully armed guardeth his own court, his goods are in p ea ce” (Luke 1 1 :21). This the Lord Jesus said of Satan and Satan’s goods and chattel. So long as Satan is left alone in his possession there is peace. But when he is interfered with, what a turmoil and trouble and strife! But that sort of strife is better than that sort of peace. No one loved peace more than the Prince of Peace; but He must needs be a man of strife and conflict; and He came not to bring peace on the earth but a sword, until he shall have sent forth judgment unto victory. And He “will not fail nor be discouraged till he have set justice in the earth.”

How long, O Lord our God, Holy and true and good,

Wilt Thou not judge Thy suffering Church, Her sighs and tears and blood?

Come, then, Lord Jesus, come.

-R. H. Boll (1875-1956) was Editor of “Word and Work” 1916-1956

 




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33