In the Psalms, we read, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants. (Psalm 119:89-91; ESV)”
One of the wonderful things about the Word of God is its unchanging nature. Even as God Himself is unchanging (cf. Psalm 102:27), so the word of God is eternal. We read elsewhere, “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. (1 Peter 1:24-25; ESV)”
The laws of men, when based on the wisdom of men, and the changing whims of the times, are rather subject to alteration, mistakes and missteps.
Take for instance the current situation with masks. There is a great deal of confusion on the part of many concerning whether they should wear a mask or not and a great deal of the confusion stems from the fact that messaging and rules concerning the utility and necessity of mask wearing has been somewhat all over the board. Entities which now tell us they are good things once said they were not necessary. Officials who mocked others for wearing masks now claim that their own wearing of a mask is an act of patriotism. At one point wearing a mask was a voluntary sort of decision, now it is being mandated in multiple locales.
This is not to in any way disparage those who might have been mistaken or changed their minds on the subject, rather it is merely to point out that human rules can change and what might have been compliance at one point becomes noncompliance else when.
Multiple examples could be gathered to prove this point. Experts struggle mightily to keep up with current tax law. Speed limits periodically change according to the whims of those in charge. Various things that might once have been criminal become legal and those things that once were legal become illegal.
Thankfully, God’s Word is never like that. God knew His own will from before the foundation of the world and, as the Psalmist declares, God’s word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
This truth is of great encouragement to God’s people, who can trust that if they obey God’s word, God is not going to capriciously change the rules further down the road. If we do what God says today, God’s expectations tomorrow will remain the same. It is this confidence which allows the Psalmist to declare, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. (Psalm 119:92-93; ESV).”
When we trust God’s Word, we will be well rewarded, gaining life and salvation.
The truth of God’s unchanging Word is likewise something of a warning to those who might seek to change it. Even as the laws of men are malleable and subject to change, so too the religions of men. We can have some certainty that if a religion’s doctrines change from year to year, or are subject to a popular vote so as to better reflect the mood of the times, such a religion is not truly from God, for God’s Word does not change. Such a religion is the creation of men, no matter how much lip service those within that religion give to God’s authority.
Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day for their failure to be pleasing to God because they were doing this very thing: making up their own rules for religious conduct. He said, quoting Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:8-9; ESV).”
Returning to the Psalms, we read, “I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:102-104; ESV)”
If we truly believe that God’s Word is unchanging, even as God is unchanging, we will never be satisfied with anything but what God Himself has actually said. We will understand that only in God’s Word will we be able to have confidence eternal, and we will likewise know, that to change God’s Word, to make alterations to His precepts according to our own desires, is to make our religion hollow and vain. We will also know, that when we find a difference between what any given man is teaching, and what God has taught, we always go with what God says.
The church of Christ invites you to come worship and study God’s word with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, OH. Likewise, if you have any questions or comments, please share them with us.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.