God, unchanging and abundant

January 2, 2020

 For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

Malachi 3:6

 

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:16

 

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

John 5:26

 

Holy, holy, holy

Though the darkness hide thee

Though the eye of sinful man

Thy glory may not see

Only Thou art holy,

There is none beside Thee

perfect in power, in love and purity.

Reginald Heber

 

   At the beginning of the year, it is always helpful to refocus our attention to what is important. As Christians, it is essential that we remember who God is. We sing many wonderful songs as a church that teach us about God, his essence, and his works. Yet, I think it is important to meditate on a few things. This past week, I was struck, again, by the wonderful teaching of God’s unchanging nature. God is unchanging; he is immutable; he is impassible. This means that in his divinity, God never lacks anything and he never endures any change. How can this be the case? I was listening to a podcast this week, and one of the hosts, Carl Trueman, was describing it this way, ‘When we think of something unchanging, we think of a rock. It doesn’t change, but really that isn’t it at all. Instead, God is more like us than a rock. He is unchanging because he has this abundant life to which no more could be added.’ In other words, God is so full of life that he can’t undergo any change except in the sense of abounding. For the hymn to say ‘perfect in power, in love, in purity,’ is to say that he is absolutely complete in these attributes and couldn’t add any more power, love, or purity to him. In a similar way, he superabounds with grace and so we have received grace upon grace. The Father has life in himself, and so (of his abundant life) has granted it to his Son to have life in himself (from eternity). This means from eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s relationship has been one in which they cannot add to any aspect of their natures because they are so fully abundant. In this way, they don’t change or suffer because they can’t lose any of this abundance: it can only affect creation, which God spoke into existence.

 

   The difficulty comes when we talk about Jesus becoming incarnate. There is a real mystery in how the divine son adds to himself a human nature. But we affirm that he did, and in his human nature, he endured suffering, but not in his divine nature. Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, took on flesh and dwelt among us and suffered in his humanity. In his divine nature, he cannot suffer, but in his humanity, he suffered for us and fully experienced human temptations, emotions, and frailty. Yet, he did this without sin. But being truly divine, death could not hold onto him. Out of his abundant life, he burst forth from the grave in resurrection power, and now the Son gives life to whomever he will.

 

   This new year, may we reorient ourselves to begin always with adoring our triune God in his perfect abundance. May we adore him as we come to know him through his Word and may his Spirit enlighten our minds. May we grow ever deeper in our satisfaction that our unchanging God has given us the most abundant life, and we can find unending joy in him alone.

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