God’s Word for You
James 1:16-18 God does not change
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Receive and Do What God’s Word Says
16 Do not be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 All giving that is good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like a shifting shadow. 18 Just as he planned, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Whether we receive a godly gift or have an opportunity to give one, both the gift and the opportunity come from God. He is the author of our good works, placing them in front of us like a buffet, and he does not mind whether we choose one or another gift or one or another opportunity to give. We are the instruments through which he blesses the church and the people of his creation. It is as if he has driven a truck filled with marvelous things into a poor village, and he tells us to open up the truck and pass out the goods to everyone around. Each of the gifts is good. If we give one person three items and another person receives just one, that’s still in keeping with his will. If we get help spreading out such wealth, that’s in keeping with his plan, too. If we get help and the helper turns out to be a rascal who wanted to line his own pockets, that’s that rascal’s sin, not ours. God’s will is that we use the gifts he gives to his glory.
How can I thank you, Lord,
For all your lovingkindness,
That you have patiently
Borne with me in my blindness!
When dead in many sins
And trespasses I lay,
I kindled, holy God,
Your anger every day.
It is our work alone
That I am now converted;
O’er Satan’s work in me
You have your power asserted.
Your mercy and your grace
That rise afresh each morn
Have turned my stony heart
Into a heart reborn.
(Christian Worship 460:1-2)
James brings God’s immutability into our minds, his changelessness, to reassure us that his plans for mankind do not change. How can we be certain of this?
1, God is immutable (changeless) as to his essence. “You remain the same, and your years will never end” (Psalm 102:27).
2, God is immutable (changeless) as to his decisions and purposes. “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind” (1 Samuel 15:29). “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a child of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).
3, God is constantly the same: there can be no change in his being (existence), his will, or his thoughts. “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind” (Psalm 110:4). “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?” (Romans 3:3).
Therefore: God planned in eternity for us to be his believing children. James confirms this by saying, “Just as he planned, he gave us birth by the word of truth.” Our coming to faith was not an accident, but the holy will of God. He moved and guided history so that you would be baptized when you were, so that you would learn the gospel as your mother sat on the edge of your bed and read it to you, so that you would sing his praises in worship, not only on Christmas Eve but all year round with your family, week after week.
James calls us “a kind of firstfruits” invoking the common and well-known practice of the Jews in the Law of Moses, to harvest the first green shoots in the springtime and offer them to God. This was always a promise of more good things to come, and so are we in our coming to faith. My baptism has led by extension to the baptism of my children, and God willing, one day, to my grandchildren and their grandchildren on down to the world’s end.
Pastor Timothy Smith