When we talk among ourselves about miracles, gifts of the Spirit, or the covenants of God, some of us are apt to remind the others that, according to the Bible, God does not– and cannot change. Others are likely to point out that, over time, the God of the Bible has changed the ways in which he has progressively revealed himself, and related to us.
This is one of the many truths of the Bible that come to us with a healthy tension and balance.
There are two sides to the coin:
A. God does not change in character (Mal 3:6; Num 23:19; Heb 13:8; James 1:17). And yet,
B. He does change in his response to us— because he does not change in character. Since he is forever good and faithful, his thoughts and affections change in ways that are lovingly appropriate to what he sees in us. To show us how involved he is with us relationally, he even takes the risk of being misunderstood by portraying himself as One who changes his mind, not arbitrarily, but in ways that show how much he cares about us (Gen 6:6; James 4:6-10).
Another healthy tension lies in the fact that,
A. God does not change the principles on which he forgives and helps us. He has always accepted by grace those who put their faith in his offer of help (Eph 2:8-9; Rom 4:1-16). At the same time, though, it’s important to realize that,
B. Over time, he has progressively changed the ways he has asked his people to express their faith in him. (Gal 3:23-29).
A third balancing set of truths is that,
A. God warns those of us who are ignoring or resisting him that he will not always be as unresponsive as he now seems to be (2Peter 3:1-10). And,
B. God comforts those who are trusting him by reassuring us that he will not always be as unresponsive as he now seems to be (2Peter 3:11-15).
Nowhere is this balance of character and personality more clearly seen than in Jesus who, as the image of the invisible God, shows us how He, his Father, and his Spirit respond personally to self-righteous, tired, and broken people.
In a few exceptional periods of Bible history, God openly and miraculously intervened in the course of normal human events, with signs and wonders. For the balance of history, however, he asked his people– as he now asks us– to believe that he can and will intervene in what now looks like the ongoing, everyday, common laws of nature.
So in this light, let me ask you, does it make sense to you that, as a rule, our God seems to reserve the right to test our trust by hiding his supernatural control over the “predictable” laws of nature? Is it just as clear that God’s ability to provide for us in ways that he can make strikingly clear to us is not limited to the kind of visible suspensions of natural law that we see in the days of Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Jesus, and his apostles?