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Unchanging God


God himself does not change. He is as he always has been and will always be. But many Christians who would affirm that statement believe, on the basis of circumstances and experience, and even on the basis of a few passages of Scripture, that God does change his mind. How shall we answer them? J. I. Packer writes, “God’s purposes do not change.”

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“He who is the glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind,” declared Samuel, “for he is not a man who should change his mind” (1 Samuel 15:29). . . .

Repenting means revising one’s judgment and changing one’s plan of action. God never does this; he never needs to, for his plans are made on the basis of a complete knowledge and control which extend to all things past, present, and future, so that there can be no sudden emergencies or unexpected developments to take him by surprise. “One of two things causes a man to change his mind and reverse his plans: want of foresight to anticipate everything, or lack of foresight to execute them. But as God is both omniscient and omnipotent there is never any need to reverse his decrees” (A. W. Pink). “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Ps 33:11).

What God does in time, he planned from eternity. And all that he planned in eternity he carries out in time. And all that he has in his Word committed himself to do will infallibly be done. . . . No part of his eternal plan changes.

It is true that there is a group of texts (Gen 6:6–7; 1 Sam 5:11; 2 Sam 24:16; Jon 3:10; Joel 2:13–14) which speak of God as repenting. The reference in each case is to a reversal of God’s previous treatment of particular people, consequent to their reaction to that treatment. But there is no suggestion that this reaction was not foreseen, or that it took God by surprise and was not provided for in his eternal plan. No change in his eternal purpose is implied when he begins to deal with a person in a new way.

—J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 79–80.



Posted 2008·11·18 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Immutability · J I Packer · Knowing God · Omniscience
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2 Comments:


#1 || 08·11·19··07:32 || donsands

This is a very difficult doctrine in the Church today. Teachers like Greg Boyd have made quite an impact with his doctrine that God DOES change His mind, for He disn't see the future.

I have good friends who have embraced Boyd's teachings.

They say, if God didn't really change His mind when Moses pleaded with Him to not destroy all the people, then He was not being honest. And of course God wouldn't lie.

So, I see it as God did change His mind, because of Moses' prayer, but of course God never chnages His mind like man does. He changes His mind as an all-knowing eternal creator.

There were some fine books which did refute Boyd, but he still has a large following.
People seem to think God is more compassionate if He doesn't know the bad things that happen to us, and so He is just as hurt as we are when a loved one suddenly dies: Or what ever tragic thing may happen to one of His children.


#2 || 08·11·19··10:43 || David

Even in the days before open theism, I was taught that we can change God's mind through prayer or certain actions. But a genuine change of mind does require incomplete knowledge of the future, so I guess we were open theists without intending to be.


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