So often these days we hear people talking about the God of the Old Testament versus the God of the New Testament, as though the Bible presents us with two separate and distinct Gods. One, they say, is an awesome, fierce, angry, Mount Sinai-law-giving, fire and judgment-breathing God; the other is a “turn the other cheek,” “bless those that curse you,” and “love covers a multitude of sins” God, as manifested by Jesus. These folks tend to portray the God of the Old Testament as mean, cruel and vicious. He’s stern—just very, very heavy. On the other hand, they depict the God of the New Testament as syrupy-sweet, liquid love.
In reality, of course, Scripture presents only one God, not two. From cover to cover, the Bible clearly shows us one God with two primary sides to His nature. Thank God He is loving and gracious and merciful—the Old Testament, by the way, reveals Him as such! But He is also a holy and righteous God who brings judgment upon the ungodly—which the New Testament reveals.
The Bible presents us with one God who, in His great love, sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for our sins so that He might rescue us from the terrible judgment we deserved. Never allow yourself to fall for this “Old Testament God” versus “New Testament God” blasphemy! The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament—and that is precisely why we can completely depend upon the salvation He offers.
What if God really did change over time? Would that be good news for us? Not in a million years. In fact, it would be the worst news imaginable.
If God changed with the passing of time, He might easily promise us one thing today and renege on His commitment tomorrow. We couldn’t rely on anything He said. We could place no confidence in His Word. So I rejoice when I hear the Bible say, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).
The Scripture insists on the faithfulness of God—that He will certainly fulfill all of His promises to us—based on His unchanging nature.
Toward the very end of the Old Testament, in fact, it is the fixed character of God that God Himself calls upon to assure us that He will save us, just as He promised: “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob” (Malachi 3:6). If God did change, then we would have something to worry about. But since He does not, He will surely keep His word to save all those who come to Him in faith.
The prophet Malachi did not invent this idea. Centuries before his day, an unidentified author wrote to God, “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27). One New Testament writer considered this passage so important that he quoted it approvingly (Hebrews 1:10-12).
Another New Testament writer, James, called God the “Father of lights” and assured us that with Him “there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The Bible also calls Jesus the “brightness” of God’s glory and “the express image of His person” and then insists, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 1:3, 13:8).
Like Father, like Son. Be very, very glad that God never changes!
- excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith