Author Archives: Pastor Mark

The Immutability of God

The Immutability of God

Immutability is one of the Divine perfections which is not sufficiently pondered.  It is one of the excellencies of the Creator which distinguishes Him from all His creatures.  God is perpetually the same; subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations.  Therefore God is compared to a rock (Deut. 32:4, etc.) which remains immovable, when the entire ocean surrounding it is continually in a fluctuating state; even so, thought all creatures are subject to change, God is immutable.  Because God has no beginning and no ending, He can know no change.  He is everlasting “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

First, God is immutable in His essence.  His nature and being are infinite, and so subject to no mutations.  There never was a time when He was not; there never will come a time when He shall cease to be.  God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved.  All that He is today, He has ever been, and ever will be.  “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6) is His own unqualified affirmation.  He cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.

Second, God is immutable in His attributes.  Whatever the attributes of God were before the universe was called into existence, they are precisely the same now, and will remain so forever.  Semper idem (always the same) is written across every one of them.  His power is unabated, His wisdom undiminished, His holiness unsullied.  The attributes of God can no more change than Deity can cease to be. His veracity is immutable, for His Word is “forever settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

(Pink, The Attributes of God, 37-38)

Starting Over

How many times have you wanted to start over?  Have you ever wanted to erase everything and do it again?

Kind of an interesting idea when you think about it.  You can keep all the wisdom and knowledge you currently possess and give it another go.  But we can’t really do it can we.  When the urge comes to reset the clock on the old human hard drive, we have to do some major retooling in our brains and souls to have a fresh start.

So many times I have heard the Bible verse which talks about Father giving us a new heart and putting a new spirit on us.  It is an awesome idea.  The verse is “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

In reading through Ezekiel this B90X2012, that same idea of new heart and spirit popped up twice before the chapter 36 reference.

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19) and “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31).

In looking up the word “new,” on all occasions it is the word chadas. It doesn’t mean anything other than what it is- ‘new, fresh.’

So according to the word of God, it is possible to get a fresh start.  I like that.  Just like his mercies are new every morning, we can have a fresh outlook, a brand new perspective on how things will go that day.  We can love folks, forgive folks, walk away from ugly situations with a different perspective on it all.

The “New” Testament reiterates this idea over and over- new wine, new teaching, new tongues, new believers, new way, new body, new creation, new humanity, new self, new covenant, new birth, new heaven and a new earth.  Thank you Jesus.

Eternity matters!

It isn’t just another article about young people fleeing the church.

Eternity, past and future, is a real deal.   Something we must all reckon with. The truth about eternity is not subjective, is not circumstantial, and is not a ‘soup du jour.’

There are lots of reasons why the crew Thomas Rainer calls “The Bridger Generation,” is less likely to attend a church on a regular basis.  His data says that anyone born between the years 1977 and 1994 have a 4% chance of have a substantial lifestyle of faith including church participation.

Tragic.  Church attendance isn’t the tragedy as much as how secular and post-modern our culture is becoming.

If you are a Christ-follower, how do you respond to this article?  Are his points valid?  What are you doing to apply your Christ-followership to ‘make disciples?’ What are you doing to change ‘old school’ perceptions while keeping fundamentals of the faith? How are you Christ in the flesh to your school, neighborhood, factory, family, and community?

You are the salt of the earth.  This is a statement of fact.  Become what you are.

B90X2012 “Ezekiel”

Without a doubt if there is anyone in the Bible any more dramatic than Ezekiel it has yet to be seen.  His vision, making maps of Jerusalem, eating scrolls, lying on his side for over a year, then flipping over and lying on the other for 40 days, eating Ezekiel 4:9 bread, shaving his head with a sword, cooking with human dung (changed to cow fortunately), cooking pots and meat, repetition of words and pictures, not mourning for his wife’s death, useless vines, comparing Jerusalem to prostitutes, it goes on and on.

No other author is more exact than Ezekiel.  Everyone of his stories is in perfect order chronologically, unlike Jeremiah.  There are thirteen date stamps recorded by Ezekiel through out the book.  Nearly each one of them can be narrowed to an exact day.

Ezekiel is part of the second wave of deportees who make the trek across the desert to Babylon.  Daniel and his friends are in the first one around 605 B.C. after the first attack by Nebuchadnezzar.  Ezekiel goes around 598 B.C. and speaks from Babylon to his friends there regarding what happened to them and what will happen in the next thirteen years back home, precisely what Jeremiah is living through.  Ezekiel names names and places with uncanny accuracy.

Whenever one studies a book, patterns are looked at, words, combinations of words, structure, etc.. Those different studies provide information on purpose and intent of the author.  And as we have seen and focused on throughout B90X, what is being said about Father in all of these words?  There is a signature statement found 53 times in Ezekiel of the 63 uses in all of the Old Testament- those words are “will know that I am the LORD.”  It is super obvious to us that Father is loud and clear in His message of covenant and faithfulness between He and His nation.  But for some reason, to them it was not so clear.  Ezekiel is making it as obvious as possible the God is God and attention should be paid His direction.  Knowledge leads to response.  When one truly knows Father, hopefully, an appropriate response follows.

“Ezekiel is ruthless in his exposure of sin in all its gruesome abhorrence.  Reading his language from the comfortable distance of those not directly targeted by his rhetoric, we may at times wince at the coarseness of his imagery or query the one-sidedness of his portrayal of Israel’s whole history (e.g. in chs. 16, 20, and 23). Once we recognize, however, that Ezekiel was engaged, not in a detached academic debate, but in passionate evangelistic persuasion, we can understand his tactics.  He was faced with people who refused to acknowledge their own sin,… Ezekiel’s tirades against Israel’s sin was necessary to bring at least some of his listeners to a more realistic assessment of their condition, and thereby to a genuine repentance.” Christopher J.H. Wright, “The Message of Ezekiel” in The Bible Speaks Today.  (Leicaster, IVP: 2001), p. 32.

B90X2012 “Lamentations”

Lamentations-  Originally the title of the book was “Ah, how!” from the Hebrew words ‘ek ah.

This short book is not connected to a specific author or prophet, however, tradition puts it in the lap of Jeremiah.  It is mainly composed of funeral songs for Jerusalem.  Since Jeremiah does not deport in the exile, he has time to survey the damage left by the departure of the presence of Father.   The year is 586 B.C., the Babylonian King is furious with his Vassal Zedekiah who would not keep his word.  The temple is completely sacked and the city is left in piles of rubble.  The people weep from the feeling that God has abandoned them.  The poems show the people’s sense of guilt, confession, and repentance as they realize how deeply they have hurt God by their sin and unfaithfulness.

Structure-  The book is made up of five chapters or sections.  Each of the sections is an acrostic, meaning that the Hebrew alphabet is used to start each verse or line of the section.  So verse 1 is starts with the letter ‘a’, verse 2 starts with the letter ‘b’, verse 3 starts with the letter ‘c’, and so on.  Since there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, you see the number of verses in chapters 1, 2, 4, and 5.  The only one which is different is chapter 3 which repeats the pattern three times, hence the 66 verses.  Also look for patterns of three.  Either three lines in each verse or three verses clumped together.

The laments express the full impact of the covenant curses and prophetic pronouncements of judgments at the horror of the people’s loss is realized.  The city was the place God had chosen for his temple to be built and his presence to be manifest.  Its destruction represents not only the loss of homes and life but also the abandonment of the people by God.  He withdrew his presence and his favor as he said he would if the people were unfaithful.

Key concepts-
Lament targets not only one’s situation but one’s spiritual condition.
Any circumstance in life can provide an opportunity to know God better.

The highlight of the book is in chapter 3 where, in first-person form, the full grief of the poet is revealed.  He gives voice to the despair of the corporate people and the personified city.  But at the bottom of his grief he turns to the unfailing faithfulness of the LORD and his compassion toward his people.  The call to repentance anticipates God’s acts of deliverance and mercy for his people and judgment on the enemies who carried out the destruction.  The book ends in a fervent prayer of restoration.

Key Teachings about God-
God’s wrath is terrible.
God is righteous and will judge.
God’s faithfulness and compassion never fail.
God is good to those who hope in him.

The key verses of hope are found in 3:22-27 “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion’s never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’  The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.  It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.”