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Answering the Hard Questions About Immutability

We talked about God as in his greatness, as immortal spirit. As in immortal Spirit God is life giving. He is one. So, we talked about a lot of, you know, the doctrines of obviously monotheism, but also simplicity; in that doctrine of God being one and then God being unchanging; that all comes out of the fact that God is immortal spirit. So God does not change. His unchangeableness is manifest in a couple of doctrines that are related, doctrine of divine immutability, and divine impassability.

 Divine immutability meaning he doesn’t change. There is no change in God because any change in God would imply a change for the worse, which would make him less than what he is and any change for the better would imply that he wasn’t what he should be.

 So any processed theology is, or open theism is all destroyed by the doctrine of divine immutability, which is why it’s under attack and under assault today. Also, divine impassibility. divine impassability, again denying any change in God’s passions. God’s so passe the, the Latin word meaning to suffer. It implies this doctrine of impassibility. Again, we’re not talking about God being passionless or emotionless, but we’re talking about God not being subject to mood swings or subject to man’s effect on him, so that he’s just heartbroken and, and, weeping in a corner, because of what we do to him.

 But is there, is there, is there a change in our perception of how God deals with us? And we’ll get to that in a second. So, those, those doctrines of divine immutability and divine impassability are under assault today and especially with all those who are, what we call, process theologians and open theists. And, and, also I’m finding the evangelicals who are trying to interact with process, theo, theology and open theism are often swayed, even in that interaction, to have more sympathy and more understanding. But we’ll talk about that.

 So it’s important, I think, to reassert these classical doctrines, once again, and it starts with divine simplicity, which is where we started and everything flows out of divine simplicity. To talk about the, the, timelessness of God, the immutability of God, and all that, all the rest; that, that’ll help build us up from a proper foundation in theology proper.

 So, I’m going to summarize just briefly what we talked about last time regarding divine immutability and impassibility; just to kind of get your minds, I, I, know you’ve studied this and you’re, you’re very well acquainted with these doctrines, but it has been a couple of weeks, so let me, let me, just take a, a, couple of minutes, excuse me, to, to, to, refamiliarize us with these doctrines: immutability and impassibility.

 Immutability, just basically, means immutable. Immutable, meaning change. God does not change. We, we, refer to Exodus 3:14, Malachi 3:6. God does not change either in his essence or in his will, in his thinking. In his essence, God is always the same. He’s the first, the last, he’s perfect, immortal, eternal, simple. Not, that is not, composite Being.

 His, he’s perfect being, and so any change in God’s essence would, would, either deny his current perfection or lead him to less perfection. So, we say that in his essence, God does not change; in his will, God’s character, his choice, his plans, promises, gifts, even his threats, don’t change, even though there are some apparent exceptions, that seem like exceptions to us in Scripture. And we’re going to talk about how to understand those in a few minutes.

 Impassibility means God is not affected, which means, and when I say affected, A F F E C T E D, which refers to the affectability or affectation of God. God is not subject to change in his emotions or feelings. That is to say, his will and his emotion are not reactive, but are indications of what we called a predetermined orientation.

 Now the word predetermined makes it sound like God decided beforehand. You know, he predetermined beforehand that he would be oriented a certain way. And perhaps we should just say rather than predetermined orientation, we just say that God, in his essence, is oriented a certain way. Okay.

 So, God is in his Holiness. He is such that he will always be negatively oriented towards sin, and out of that will come judgment, will, action, emotion. And he will always be positively oriented toward righteousness and out of that will come his judgments, his will, his action, and his emotions. We, I read to you, and I’m not going to go over that ground again. You can listen to the audio if you’d like from May 20th and get all that information.

 But we read several trustworthy voices on that matter. Louis Berkhof, Charles Hodge, Stephen Charnock. There are others as well. We could add John Owen, Francis Turretin, Augustin, a lot of faithful voices. I also read to you from Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology on it’s, its, a section called, The Question of God’s Impassability, and he rejects it. Okay. So he and others. Including Thomas Morris, Ronald Nash, John Feinberg, William Lane Craig.

They take exception to these classical presentations of divine immutability, impassibility, and divine simplicity. Some of them even saying that God is bound within time to some sense, you know, and he’s subject to time. Hey, Dennis. So we want to answer some of the hard questions this morning about immutability and impassibility. We can’t get into all the details, but we’re going to try our best here. And all of these are under the category, the same heading of God’s unchanging essence.

 Let’s talk about some objections. There are passages that seem contrary to the doctrines of divine immutability and divine impassability because they seem to portray God and even use words like, God repented, he relented, he changed his mind, he was sorry, he grieved. We mentioned several passages, Genesis 6:5 to 7. Exodus 32:9 to 14, I Samuel 15:10 and 11, Jonah 3:1 to 10. I’m also gonna add, I don’t think we talked about it last time, but I’m gonna add Ephesians 4:30 to that list, which says, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.” So we’ll, we’ll, talk about what that means as well.

 And in full sympathy with Wayne Grudem and others, we want to be clear about what we do not mean by God is unchanging. I think that some of the older theologians, that we’ve read before, sometimes could speak in ways that sound like God is this immovable object, this stoic presentation of a cold, lifeless, indifferent rock of a God. And I think that whereas they probably wouldn’t have thought of themselves as speaking that way, that’s how their words have been interpreted by us living in 21st century America, where we’re very sensual, and very feelings, and relationship oriented.

 So, we don’t, when we come up against that language in older theologians, it offends us. We don’t like those kinds of, that kind of language. That gives us a sense that God is somehow not sympathetic with us. And we certainly don’t want to communicate in a way that makes God sound immovable, immobile, inactive, dead. We don’t want to communicate that way either. So we’re not. Immutability does not mean immobility, Okay? I read out of Berkhof. I read out of Robert Reymond, about that, that God is active, is an active God, always active.

 impassability. So that’s immutability. Impassibility does not mean indifferent. Does not mean emotionless. It does not mean passionless. Robert Reymond. We’re going to spend some time reading out of Robert Reymond this morning because he provides a really helpful explanation of this doctrine. He provides four responses to modern theologians who object to the doctrines of divine immutability and impassibility. And first I’m going to go through some of this. If you would open your Bibles to Jonah 3. Let’s start by looking at that, that text.

 Okay. Haven’t been in that section for a while and I’m having a tough time finding it. How about you?

Audience: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah.

Travis: Yeah, that’s right. There we go. Everyone sing along. So, the first thing that we want to recognize about immutability and impassibility, let’s see here. Find my place. We, God, we need to understand in all these texts that seem to imply, I mentioned a number of them, and all these texts that imply a change in God or something like that. We need to recognize God’s immutability, his immutably certain response.

 I’ve called that, God’s predetermined orientation, or we could just say the orientation of his holiness, his holy essence. He’s always negatively oriented towards sin; he’s always positively oriented toward righteousness, and this helps us understand passages like Jonah 3:1 to 10, is immutably certain response. Let’s read that. Let me, actually, get a reader so I can take a drink of water.

Audience: I’ll read it.

Travis: Thanks Doug. Go ahead, read out, 3:1 to 10.

Audience: “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you. So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city. Three days journey in breath. Jonah began to go into the city going a day’s journey. And he called out yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

“And the people of Nineveh believed God and they called for a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes, and he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh.

“By the decree of the King and his nobles, let neither man nor beast, heard nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hand.

“Who knows God made turn and relent, and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”

Travis: So does this, does this appear to you to be, just on first reading, appear to be a change in God?

Audience: On first reading.

Travis: On first reading. What about the text implies that God might relent concerning what he said he would do to them? Joe.

Audience: He sent him to say it.

Travis: He sent, he sent Jonah the prophet. He called out for how long?

Audience: Say, forty days. He said it would happen in forty days. He went halfway through the city and said you had forty days and I mean it.

Travis: Forty days in the city.

Audience: Well, that’s a terrible prep, preaching. He was horrible at it. But it worked.

Travis: But considering a, a, prophet of Israel, who is who is taught in the Old Testament law? What would he know about God?

Audience: God is merciful.

Travis: God is, Exodus 33 and 34. Right. God is merciful, gracious, he will.

Audience: And he mentions that in

Travis: In, in Deuteronomy, if anyone.

Audience: It’s, why I left because I knew you were gonna do this.

Travis: Yeah, exactly.

Audience: Because I wanted them wiped off.

Travis: So, we see, we see here, obviously not Jonah’s entire sermon. But we see a summary of the, his, his, bottom line. So, what you said, Joe, that there is an implication, there is a, something implied here in this, even in the text itself, that should get us ready to expect, if they repent God will not do what he said he would do.

So I’m going to read out of Reymond here, “First where, upon a superficial reading, the biblical text seems to suggest that God did in fact alter his course of action away from a previously declared course of action, one should understand that his” quote, unquote, “‘new course’ is only his settled, immutably certain response- in keeping with the principles of conduct respecting himself which he himself enunciates in Jeremiah 18:7-10- to a change in the human response to his Holy laws:”

 Here’s where he’s quoting from Jeremiah 18,7 to 10, “‘If at any time I announce that a nation or Kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if, at another time I announced that a nation or Kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.’

 “In other words, God always acts the same way toward moral evil and the same way toward moral good. In his every reaction to man’s responses to him, the immutable moral fixity of his character is evident. If men and women alter their relations to him, he will always respond in a manner consistent with his immutably holy character. This being true, God does not deem it necessary to attach to every promise he makes or to every prediction of judgment he issues the conditions for human weal or woe.” That is human blessing or cursing, right?

Audience: What was the Jeremiah quotation?

Travis: 18,7 to 10. Those, those, you know those, these, this statement about his immutably certain response “are always operative, so that whatever men do, God responds accordingly. And if the biblical interpreter does not realize this, that these conditions are operative, even though unstated, he may conclude that God has broken a promise or has failed to carry out a predicted judgment.

“A case in point is his dealings with Nineveh through the preaching of Jonah.” With the message he instructed Jonah to proclaim to Nineveh or “while the message he instructed Jonah to proclaim Nineveh appears to be unconditionally absolute in his declaration of Judgment (“forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed”),the fact that the judgment was not to fall for forty days implies that if during that period of time Nineveh repentant of its evil, the ‘promised’ judgment” would not, “would be withheld.

“In other words, the full import of Jonah’s message was: ‘You have forty days to repent. If you do not, Nineveh will be destroyed. If you do, God will not afflict you with this threatened judgment.’ This is precisely the point that God himself enunciates in Jeremiah 18:7-10. We may be sure that God will always relate to his creatures with a moral fixity grounded in perfect justice. As the Psalmist declared: ‘To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty(Ps. 18:2-27).’

“Does this mean that God’s relationship to his creation is to be viewed always and only as cast in a reactionary mode, that is to say, that his actions are always and only penultimate reactions to man’s more original and ultimate actions? No.

“As I’ll argue in Chapter ten, ‘God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy council of His own will,” that he’s quoting the Westminster Confession of Faith here, “freely, and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass’, having decreed nothing ‘because he foresaw it as future’” and having decreed nothing with respect to the creature’s” will or “weal because of ‘any foresight…of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or” causing, “causes moving Him thereunto.”

That’s, those are all quotations pulled from the Westminster Confession of Faith. “That is to say, he decreed nothing in reaction to some foreseen ultimate action of the creature.” Again, he doesn’t look down the corridors of time and then determine his actions here based on what he sees out there. “Accordingly, in keeping with his eternal purpose he grants or withholds repentance as he pleases, ‘having mercy on whom he wants to have mercy and hardening whom he wants to harden” (Rom.9:18), this granted or withheld mercy as it comes to reality and is reflected in the life of the creature causing him joy or grief, respectively.

 “What I have said here is simply” taking, “taking seriously the character of God who as holy can never approve of evil and who must always recoil against it even though he decreed its existence; who as just must always approve of obedience, pronounce it good, and rejoice over it even though, where it actually exists in the creature, he is ultimately the author of it; and who, simply because he is good, must always respond to the sinner’s evil with grief and to the sinners repentance with delight.

 “In other words, the Bible simply will not endorse any theological construction that permits the eternal decree of God to loom so large, and so to dominate everything else in it that God himself is represented within the construction as unmoved by the actual sin and or actual repentance of his creature. Rather, we must be willing to say that God has willed all the actual conditions of the world in order to accomplish the particular ends he has determined, even though some of those conditions (because he’s good) would offend and grieve him.”

Let’s stop there. It’s a mouthful, but I wanna make sure you understand what we’ve talked about here. Just in this point. Yes? No? John?

Audience: I just have a question. And he said there that God decreed evil.

Travis: Yes?

Audience: But there are some that say God. Is that the difference that they’re saying God allowed evil?

Travis: No, it’s, it’s, more forceful than that. It’s to say God decreed all things. He decreed, we understand that the lamb was slain when, “from before the foundation of the world.” So he decreed, in his decree, his eternal decree, he decreed the, the, the, killing of Christ. Was the killing of Christ a righteous act by men? No, it wasn’t. There’s a lot of sin involved in that. It’s the greatest injustice that ever was. He decreed it, and yet

Audience: James says what I’m thinking too.

Travis: and yet he’s not morally responsible for it. Okay? So, it’s not to say God is responsible for evil or he caused evil. So say, he decreed evil and creatures caused evil. See the difference between primary and secondary causes? Listen, I want to, I want to say here, just to set your mind at ease, that there is a, there is an incomprehensibility about these doctrines we’re talking about.

 This and, and, as we’re going through this, don’t pretend that you coming out of this, I certainly don’t pretend that I understand all that I’m saying, with full comprehension. It’s difficult. And that’s why we find even some good men, that we really respect, in some other areas veering off in another way. And I think we always, we need to take their judgments and compare them back to scripture and say, is that really what we’re saying about God?

So it’s, it’s a, it’s, a tough thing and it does scramble the brain and does unsettle the heart sometimes. But what do you prefer to understand about God? Is it, do you prefer that he is open and everything’s kind of open in the future, which is what processed theology and open theism teaches; which is really the import of Arminianism that’s gone to seed. It’s really the logical conclusion of Arminianism. To say that God is completely open about the future.

 Or do you prefer to say God is unchangeable. He’s unchanging, and he decreed all things. Now it’s not just about our preferences either. What we prefer, don’t prefer. It’s what really holds up to Scripture. And then in, in what holds up to scripture, we see God is unchanging. You were going to say?

Audience: The same topic in evangelism, speaking to an unbeliever or to somebody who was churched and decided to leave because they found this out. I’ve been guilty of saying, well, God’s not responsible for it or God, God didn’t call us evil, he allowed it. How? What kind of language can I use if he decreed it?

 Travis: Just, just, to say God decreed and man did? Man’s the morally responsible creature. God is the will.

Audience: They did, but God still created first.

Travis: Yeah, Yeah. You can say in the freedom of their will, within the sphere of their, their, within the sphere of their either deadness in sin or life in Christ, they did what they did, but to say, God allowed, just merely allowed it; you’re still not really getting God off the hook. You’re just kicking the can down the road just a little bit.

Audience: It never felt right to say that.

Travis: Yeah, it doesn’t. It doesn’t feel, it doesn’t feel right. We kind of know what we’re doing. Instinctively, we know, yeah, I’m just kicking the can down the road and hope they don’t ask the next question. Well, if God allowed it and God’s all powerful. Tell me how he’s off the hook. Yeah, you’re right. Is it you, Lee?

Audience: I had a comment, but I’ll just leave it.

Travis: You don’t want to scramble the.

Audience: No, no, because I don’t want you to get too far off where you’re going because we; He decreed Christ death Acts two, you know, but, also, men are culpable for the actions that they took in, in, causing that to happen.

Travis: Exactly.

Audience: So, it’s both and we can’t resolve the tension.

Travis: Well and, and, let’s, let’s, flip it around to not just, not just moral evil, but what Robert Reymond, just said are good. Yeah. Are we responsible for our good or is God? God is. God is the one who both, who caused us both to will and to do according to his good purpose. So, we don’t take credit for the good, God does. God doesn’t take credit for the evil, we do. Like wait a minute. Is that fair? Look, you want to talk about fair? What’s fair? Death in hell. Okay. yeah, yeah. Mike.

Audience: To me, if you look at the life of Joseph, you see a lot of things from Joseph’s perspective, they’re evil. But obviously if you read the end of the book, you go, ohh, it all turned out for good and he even knew that.

Travis: Right. Right. That’s exactly right. That’s, that’s, a great, that’s a great analogy in the life of Joseph. How you meant it for evil but God intended it for good. And so broadening out in this whole, let’s, let’s, broaden out to the entire story of creation and redemption. It’s all for the good. It’s all for the glory of God. And which is really the ultimate good is when God is completely glorified. Would God be completely glorified without the decree of sin? He would not be completely glorified because, th, there are parts of his, his, nature, his essence of holiness that would not be known. Like what? Like his wrath, his justice, even his patience, mercy; all those come, mercy, patience, all those things are known in the context when there’s already evil in existence. Okay. It’s hard.

Audience: When he said, Judas, better had that man not be born. That was always embarrassing statement to me, for him to say, better than, I mean, are we to say, well, it’s better for me not to be born?

Travis: Well, Job, said that, sometimes in his grief. Right? I’m better, I’ve been a stillborn child. Yeah, I think that’s just a, an understandable human way of looking at it, right?

Audience: And Christ said it.

 Travis: Yeah. And he was, Christ being son of man, right? Fully, man. This is where we talk about the, the full humanity of Christ, and the full deity of Christ and his humanity was very much man. And spoken to the perspective of man. Josh.

Audience: But saying that God allowed, per se, it’s not just instead of ‘he decreed it’, isn’t just, you know, not, not, any better. It’s actually worse. It makes God morally worse, because he’s not reacting to sin, that, the way that, that, he consistently does. He, it’s not morally better for you’re not, you’re not, in you’re not off the hook when it comes to your responsibility, if you sit and watch your kid play in traffic and be like I’m just letting them, you know, exercise their free will and.

Travis: Take, take, so to your comment. We do need to get back on track, but, no, to your comment. Take David and his reaction to Amnon raping Tamar and all he allowed. He didn’t do anything. He just sat back, and then Absalom took matters into his own hands. And just a total destruction of the kingdom that came out of all that. Because of

Audience: People dying because of that.

Travis: Because of parental neglect. Yeah. Because of the fact that he abdicated his parental responsibility to go and confront Amnon. Could have spared Amnon’s life, probably. Probably wouldn’t have, but could have spared his life. But he, but he didn’t. He just sat back. He was passive. Is he morally better for that? No. So he allowed it. Okay.

     So, so that’s the first thing we need to recognize is God’s immutably certain response. I called it predetermined orientation. We just could’ve called it, the orientation of his Holiness; always negatively oriented toward sin, always positively oriented toward righteousness. And this helps us understand the apparent change in Jonah 3 and other passages as well.

 Second, turn to Genesis 6, right here at the beginning and kind of what kicks off the Flood, Genesis chapter 6. We need to recognize, secondly, God’s immutable emotion; immutable passion toward good and toward evil. Again, this is the orientation of His Holiness, but this time it’s in reference to expressions of emotion in feeling.

 So, in Jonah, we just have the, we just see the response; that he relented from what he was going to do. But we don’t see so much his, we might say, his heart in the matter or his, his, internal thinking in the matter. Here in Genesis 6 we see some of that.

Audience: Is this some of the predetermined response?

Travis: Yeah, yeah, it’s, you could call it a predetermined orientation, immutably certain response, and this is an immutably certain emotion.

Audience: Attached to the response, maybe?

Travis: Now just let’s, let’s look at the passage. Someone want to read it?

Audience: “The Lord God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intention is thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he made man on the earth, and grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry, but I have made them.’”

Travis: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” Is just to round that off. It’s interesting here. That we, we, hear God’s, for lack of a better term, feelings, his emotions, his, his internal thoughts, his orientation in his, in, in his, yeah, his emotion, his passion on this matter. And, and what’s interesting, that in Jonah, we, Jonah the Nineveh had forty days to repent. How long did the world have to repent? 120 years. No 120.

Audience: Yes and it took Noah all of a century to build the boat.

Travis: No, 120 years. Is that right? Am I saying that right? Okay, yeah, 120.

Audience: He preach from there.

Travis: Okay. All right. For some reason that’s like standing out to me is like: Error! Error! But it’s, it calls Noah. I can’t remember the text right now, about what a preacher of righteousness. So, what was he doing as he’s building this large boat? Hey, why are you building a boat? What’s that? What, what are you doing? God said, he’s going to judge the world. Ohh, you’re crazy. I’m going to go on sinning. So there’s, even in this, there’s an implication that there’s a time for men to repent, and yet he has a predetermined orientation.

 He has, a, an immutably certain response to their continued sin and wickedness, which, which, you see the wickedness described in Genesis 6:1-4. Don’t ask any questions about the identity of the sons of God, Okay? Stay on track. One, one problem at a time.

 So, so here’s, here’s, Reymond again on this, on this concept of God’s immutable emotion toward good and evil, “God being not only the God of infinite holiness but also the God of infinite goodness and compassion, we should not be surprised to read that, in reaction to the evil of those who refuse to obey him, he could be grieved that he had made them. In fact it would be strange if we did not hear him say that their sin and evil were a source of great grief to him. God himself declared, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turned from their ways and live.’ He’s (Ezekiel 33:11). Just as, because of his Holiness, God cannot look upon man’s sin with acceptance (Hab.1:13), so also, because of his compassion he cannot look upon the sinner’s doom with pleasure.(Ezek. 33:11). The creature’s obedience always brings him joy; the creature’s sin always grieves him, even to the point that he can declare that he regrets that he made those who disobey him. Buswell poignantly captures this point.

Quote. “‘God’s immutability is the absolutely perfect consistency of His character and His actual relationships, throughout history, with His finite creation. Does ever a Sinner repent, there is always joy in the presence of the angels (Luke 15:7,10). Does ever a child of God, ‘sealed’ by the” Holy “Spirit, fall into sin, the Holy Spirit is [always] ‘grieved’(Eph.4:30).’”

 Does that make sense? That God is always oriented in his Holiness negatively towards sin, positively toward righteousness? And whether it’s his response or his internal thinking, his heart, his emotion, always grieved towards sin, always rejoicing over repentance, rejoicing over righteousness. Nick?

 Audience: So is it, would we say that God? Okay, I don’t know how to say this fully, but like with our emotions, we, somebody does something and we respond to it. It’s, it’s, not like that’s a constant state for us. We’re saying more with God that it’s a constant state, right? But we see it come out in response to things. Okay?

Travis: Yes, that is what we’re saying. For us, we cannot think, but in terms of mutability. We can’t think and, but in terms of time and finiteness. We’re, we’re, we’re finite creatures. We can’t, we cannot escape our, our, limited creaturely limitations and our creaturely thinking. It’s how we put our world together and make sense. Even as we are going through this study, it’s taking us how many weeks to walk through attributes of God, and yet we’ve said it; in the simplicity of God that all is one.

 It’s, it’s, refracted through creation that one single beam of God’s light is refracted through creation to show many things about God, and we can only talk about them one at a time. So we’re forced to kind of breaking God up, so to speak, into attributes. And yet if we back it through the prism and see God is just, God. And all those, all those perfections are equal with one another. Yeah, it boggles the mind because we can’t help but think in the, in terms of, of, compositeness. Lee.

Audience: I was just going to say too, isn’t these two incidents we’ve looked at which are good examples of, God is revealing something about his own character, but he’s also accommodating himself to, to, us, and what we can comprehend and understand.

 He’s revealing his positive attribute of allowing people to repent by sending Jonah, by having the, the, king call his people to repent and so forth, and then granting them, that their, their, response is a good response, and, but all that is to help us to understand something about his nature.

Travis: Okay great. Thank you. That’s a segue into our next point, because that’s exactly, that’s exactly what we need to understand on every page of Scripture. We need to see that God is revealing. He’s revealing in all human actions there is an accommodation, and that you can say a condescension of God coming down to the finite creature to make himself known.

 And so he describes himself in analogous metaphorical languages, you know, you’ve come to take refuge underneath his wings. We don’t think God is some great bird in the sky. No, it just, it’s a, it’s a metaphor that helps us to understand the tenderness of God and the closeness of, of, that we can come to, and the protectiveness of coming underneath his protection.

 So those are all things that are him condescending to speak in language that we can understand. Though imperfect, we can still understand. We can apprehend some things about God, even though we don’t fully comprehend everything about God. We can apprehend truths about.

 So, that’s what we need to recognize, the third Point here. Second, first, we said we need to recognize God’s immutably certain response. Second, we need to recognize God’s immutably certain response of emotion, or his immutable emotion toward good and evil.

 And then third, we need to understand that God is always revealing himself. That’s what’s going on. He’s, he’s, glorifying himself. That’s what it is to glorify, is to reveal. He’s teaching us about his ways, and he’s helping us to come to the conclusions of his predetermined will. And this helps us to understand passages like Exodus 32:9 to 14. I need one person to turn to that, Exodus 32 to read that, Exodus 32:9 to 14. And also, I Samuel 15:10 and 11.

 Exodus 32:9 to 14. So, the fact that God is always revealing, teaching, instructing, helping us to understand, helps us to understand passages like Exodus 32, which shows the need for a perfect priest and a perfect mediator, and also I Samuel 15:10 to 11, which is about the need for a perfect king. All of those are pointing to Christ. Okay. Look at, someone who’s got Exodus 32:9 to 14. Can you read it, please? Loudly. Audience: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this

people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.’

“But Moses implored the LORD his God, and said, ‘O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth?’

“Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they should inherit it forever.’ And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.”

Travis: There’s Moses. He’s standing in the place of a mediator. He is from, do you guys know what tribe?

Audience: Levi.

Travis: What about his brother Aaron. What tribe was he from?

Audience: Probably Levi, too.

Travis: Levi. What did Aaron? What did Aaron done? Aaron had caus, brought the whole tribe of Israel around the golden calf. They’re dancing around the golden calf having a great time. Wonderful ball. It’s Pagan.

Audience:  And then he lied about it.

Travis: Right. Then he lied. Then he lied about it.

Audience: Just came out.

Travis: So, what are we seeing between? What are we seeing between Aaron and Moses? Contrast, right. We’re seeing an imperfect priest. And we’re seeing them, Moses acting in the role of a good mediator. And what is God doing here? Is he going to destroy? Is he really going to destroy in verse ten, “Let me alone, Moses, that my wrath may burn hot against them, I may consume them in order that I may make a great nation out of you.” What would happen?

Audience: He looked down into time. He saw that Moses was going to go ahead and ask him.

Travis: You’re, you’re, not getting it. But I appreciate the humor. But, but, so what is he? What is he doing there? He is trying, he is drawing from Moses, the righteous response. He’s drawing from Moses what a mediator, what a priest should look like; what a priest should do in mediating for the people.

 So there’s a contrast going on here between Aaron and Moses, which points ultimately to Christ, because what did Moses do? He also failed. Instead of speaking to the rock as God told him to, he struck the rock. Yeah, Moses, you, you, you blew it too. God is drawing out, though, from Moses, what he wants recorded in Scripture about what a mediator should do, which is what Christ has done. Okay. Let’s look at I Samuel 15:10 to 11.

Audience: “The word of the LORD came to Samuel: ‘I regret that I have made Saul King, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.’ And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night.”

Travis: What did, what did God intend to do? Did he, did he intend to bring the Messiah through the tribe of Benjamin? No. Through the tribe of Judah. He’d always determined that. And so there he’s drawing on, evoking a response out of Samuel. He’s teaching Samuel not to look on the outward appearance. He loves Saul. Saul was a, sa, if we saw Saul, he’d walk in and be an imposing presence, and we’d say, wow, that guy should be king. He’s awesome.

 David, youngest of his brothers, he’s not even at war. He’s out there, in the, in the sheep folds, you know, and he has to kind of, kind of, look over the fence. Hey guys, what’s going on? You know, Goliath’s over there and he’s stomping around and wanting to challenge all the armies of Israel and Saul the, the, mighty warrior is doing what? He’s away from the front lines.

Audience: Waiting for volunteer.

Travis: Yeah, waiting for a volunteer, you know. Who’s going to be brave enough? So God’s purposes are being, he’s teaching us through what we see revealed. So with regards, “with regard to God’s threat to destroy Israel and ‘begin anew’, this is Reymond again, “With regard to God’s threat to destroy Israel to ‘begin anew’ with the Moses, while God’s anger against Israel was in no sense feigned,” that is it wasn’t faked, “he knew that his threat to destroy Israel and to make Moses into a great nation was in no danger of ever being actualized.

 “His words to Moses, ‘leave me alone…,’ that indicate that from God’s perspective Moses stood before him as Israel’s mediator. And God knew; because he had made Moses and had decreed”, credibly, “decretally determined” I don’t know how to pronounce that word, “decretally determined to give him his ‘mediator’ character, that Moses would certainly intercede on Israel’s behalf and that he himself in response to Moses’ mediation would set aside his” quote, unquote, “‘threat’ toward Israel for Moses’ sake.

 “By allowing his response to Israel’s sin to turn upon Moses’ mediation- as just one instance of biblical mediation. (See also, for example, Gen. 18:22-33, Gen. 19:29;” Those are Abrahamic texts. You know the, the, most bargain with God you know. If there are only 45. If there are only 40. “Exodus 17:9-13, Job 1:4-5, Ezekiel. 22:30).” So by allowing his response, Israel’s sin to turn upon Moses’ mediation, “God intended to teach that he always relates himself to men salvifically through a mediator.” That’s what he’s trying to instruct here.

 “When Moses made his appeal on Israel’s behalf to God’s own Covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and in order to ‘make atonement’ for Israel’s sin, declared that if God did not forgive Israel he wanted God to blot him out of the book which he had written (Exodus 32:30-32),

“He by his mediation was signifying the central redemptive principle of salvation through mediation, and” in doing, “in so doing, Moses’ mediation became by divine design an Old Testament type of Christ’s mediatorial work. So what many assert is an example of the as an example of the mutability of God’s purpose is in actually a remarkable example of God’s fixed purpose to relate himself to sinful men on the basis of intercession of an appointed Mediator.” End Quote

 So. I, I think what we could, I just want to stop and make this quick point before moving on, that we need to understand that a lot of times we tend to read texts very superficially and we just go off our first response. It’s that whole, let’s sit in a Bible study and just talk about what does this verse mean to you, kind of approach. You know, we read it, and it’s kind of our first unstudied response. We say, well, I think that makes sense. So, everybody got a consensus; makes sense to you. We all have the Holy Spirit, so therefore, let’s go forward with that interpretation.

 There’s a lot of superficial thinking going on about some of these very important texts, and I think we need to stop, reflect, and think. But we need to reflect and think based on some certain theology. You know theology has to inform our thinking when we come to text too. We can’t take every text as a brand new, like fresh clean slate and say I’m coming to this text questioning the deity of Christ, questioning the Trinity, questioning everything, and just to have an open mind about absolutely everything. No, we’re not allowed to do that. We are spirit filled, saved Christian interpreters of the text. Okay?

 So, we come in understanding some of those things. And so, if we’re going to go back to God’s fixed nature, his simplicity and his immutability; that’s how we need to start, by thinking about texts, Okay? It’s not an open ball game, every time you come to the text. Does that make sense? We need to be careful because on the other side of that, this is where I’ve seen in some good reform circles, they can superimpose on every text some kind of a theology.

And so, there is an error to be made in that direction as well. And that’s, th, when you’re, when you’re, when you’re having to, when you are stomping over a text to make your theological point, you’ve also committed a grave error. And that leads to another ditch on another side, on the other side of the road. Okay? We need to be careful on both sides now.

 So, we, the, the, last point I want to make here. So this is, we need to understand God’s immutably certain response. That’s the first thing, his immutably certain emotion. We can say it for second thing, we need to understand that God, and you know a lot of these texts, revealing himself to us, teaching us about his ways, about his fixed purposes, so we can understand him better, more clearly.

 The last thing I want to say here, is we need to humble ourselves before these texts. We need to recognize that God is all wise, he’s perfectly wise, in his decision to create the world, redeem his people, people, is always good and wise, and it’s perfectly so. Okay.

 So listen to this last little bit here, and then I want to talk, to talk about Ephesians 4:30. One that Reymond doesn’t address here. “To those who would respond by asking why God, if he is a God of compassion, made men in the first place if he knew beforehand (not to mention decreed) that some of them would insult him and cause him grief, resulting in his own eternal hostility toward them and in their eternal hurt.

“I say that before they find fault with God’s wisdom and love vis a vis the world that actually exists, they must be able to show that another world in which evil could not come to actuality would be richer in moral and spiritual values, would better accomplish his same ends, and would more accord with the entire range of his divine attributes. In light of the ultimate end, God has wisely determined to accomplish, namely, the glorification of his beloved Son as the ‘Firstborn’ among many brothers (Rom.8:29) and” therefy “thereby to glorify himself it appears impossible that any such imagined world could meet these criteria and thus justify itself.”

 That is gold right there. Don’t, don’t, think in criticizing anything in scripture that you could come up with a better plan to glorify God. God’s pretty good thinkin’ of plans like that. He didn’t go through, by the way, plan A B C and all the way through the alphabet and say, I’m going to go with K. I think that’s a good plan. No, God in the perfection of his essential nature planned, did, and it was absolutely perfect.

 And that’s where, I don’t know if any of you heard of middle knowledge theory or Molinism. It’s an attempt to try to find a, a, an avenue through Calvinism and Arminianism. Say, oh, there’s a mid, there’s a third way. God, God, had thought of all possible worlds and he, you know, it’s just, it’s speculative philosophical stuff. God didn’t do that. God didn’t sit back, like we would, and think of many different ways to, to, get to the end we want to achieve. One way and it’s the perfect way. It’s the only way, because God is wise.

I’m gonna come back to that point of wisdom in just a second. Go to Ephesians 4:30. This is a text that I think sometimes can be read with a, let’s just say, a sentimental response by us. And I, I, don’t deny that it should evoke some sentiment in us, some emotional response, but probably not. Probably not in the way we think. So in Ephesians 4:30. It says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Okay.

If we back up, it says, let you know this whole thing is verse 25, “Put away falsehood.” 26, “Be angry. Do not sin.” 28, “Let the thief no longer steal.” “Let no corrupting talk” verse 29, “come out of your mouths.” Verse 30, summing up, “don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Don’t sin and grieve the Holy Spirit. “Let all bitterness” in verse 31, and, and “wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. Be kind to one another. Tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”

 That pleases the Holy Spirit. That brings joy to the Holy Spirit. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit. Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, all malice, falsehood, living according to the lie, anger, unrighteous anger, stealing, corrupting talk, unedifying speech, grieves the Holy Spirit. We know that for certain. This is the only time in Scripture, the Greek word grief, lupeo, is the Greek word, refers to God as the one being grieved.

 There’s a lot of, you know, there are references to human spirit being grieved, but here it’s God being grieved. This is an important text right here in Ephesians 4:30. And Ephesians 4:30 alludes back to, this is actually Paul citing Old Testament scripture, goes back to Isaiah 63, verse 10. Go back to Isaiah 63 and take a look at that.

If we look at Isaiah 63 and back up to verse 7. Says, “I will recount,” you guys there? Everybody there, nobody. Anybody need a minute? Okay. Isaiah 63:7, backing up, and get the context. “I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, ‘Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.’

“And he became their savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” It’s a picture of a shepherd carrying a wounded sheep on his shoulders and walking. But verse 10, “They rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; and therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them.” Stop there.

The, the, ESV and a lot of modern translations, the CSP included, both translate verse 10 using the word grieve. That appears to be, as I could, as far as I can tell, a back translation which takes the word grieve from Ephesians 4:30 to translate the Hebrew word. They say, well, it’s, that’s the way it’s used when Paul uses it; so he’s interpreter of Scripture, and so let’s take that word and translate this word, grieve, here in, here in, in Isaiah 63:10. But that’s not the original Greek word used to translate verse 10.

What’s the original Greek translation of heb, of Isaiah 63, anybody know? It’s the Septuagint, right? So, it comes out of the Septuagint; the original, the first Greek translation of the Old Testament. Septuagint. Septuagint doesn’t use, lupeo, to translate the verb. The Hebrew verb atsav, it originally used the word paroxuno. Anybody know what a paroxysm is? An angry fit, right? Paroxuno, which basically means to pain or to provoke.

 So going back to this Hebrew word, did a little bit of a word study here atsav, can refer to material or physical pain that’s inflicted like in the curse. Genesis 3:16, the pain in childbirth. That’s this word, atsav. Or the, the, pain that will, that, that Adam goes through in bringing out fruit from the, thirn, thorn cursed earth. That’s pain. Ecclesiastes 10:9, Isaiah 14:3.

 All those referring to physical pain, but it can also refer to emotional pain. Let’s look up a couple of these. We got time. Look up a couple of these. And someone look up Genesis 34:7. Let’s just start over here, Dennis, you got Genesis 34:7? Yes, Genesis 34. Okay, Mike, Genesis 45:5. Scott, I Samuel 20:34. Joe, go to Nehemiah 8:10 and 11. Doug, Psalm 127:2. Max, you got a Bible? Proverbs 10:22. Nick, Proverbs 15:1. Okay, we’ll stop there.

 So the word, atsav, can refer to physical pain, but it can also refer to emotional pain. And let’s just start going around the room and hear some of those verses, Dennis.

Audience: “Now Jacob’s sons come from fields as soon as they heard what had happened.”

Travis: Just 34:7.

Audience: What?

Travis: 7, verse 7. Did I get that wrong?

Audience: I’m in Genesis 34:7. “Now Jacob’s sons come in from the fields as soon as they heard what” what “had happened and they were.”

Travis: Yeah, keep on going.

Audience: Okay. “They were filled with grief and fury because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s wife; a thing that should not be done.”

Travis: Yeah. That’s actually Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. That’s the rape of Dinah. Shechem did; he wanted her and so he took her. And so they came in the from the field. They were ver, they were indignant, my text says, and very angry. That’s, that’s, the word, atsav, there. Okay. Genesis 45:5, Mike.

Audience: “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Travis: Can you guys hear him back there?

Audience: I can, but I’m close.

Travis: Go ahead and read it out loud so they can hear. You want me to get it ?

Audience: Okay. “And now, do not be distressed or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Travis: Okay. So again, this is Joseph now revealing himself to his brothers who: What sold him into slavery, right? That was like a concession to the older brother who just said, no, let’s not kill him, let’s do something really merciful and sell him into slavery. Make a little money off of him. So Joseph says, look, don’t be, don’t be angry with yourselves. Like, don’t fight amongst yourselves. It’s the same word. Go to I Samuel 20:34.

Audience: “Then Jonathan arose from the” taberl, “table in fierce anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new Moon, for he was grieved over David because his father had dishonored him.”

Travis: Okay, so his grief, has feelings of sympathy toward David, but feelings of anger toward his father. Interesting how the grief that, that, that provocation can result in two different things. One Direction and another, Joe. Nehemiah 8:10 and 11.

Audience: “And then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing’” has nothing “‘ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’”

Travis: Okay, so again, grief over the restoration of the temple and all that and how it wasn’t as great as the old temple, and so don’t be grieved. This is not a day for grief. It’s a great day for joy. It’s not a day for regret. It’s not a day for, you know, lament. Doug, Psalm 127:2.

Audience: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

Travis: Okay, so they, the, it’s the bread of grief or the bread of, anxious, anxiousness. Yeah. And then proverbs 10:22.

Audience: “The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.”

Travis: Okay, there’s the word sorrow, and then even anger. Outright anger is proverbs 15. Did I say this? Proverbs 15:1. Go ahead.

Audience: A gentle anger turns away wrath.

Travis: “but a gentle answer turns away wrath”

Audience: “Answer.” I’m sorry

Travis: Just be gentle in your anger.

Audience: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Travis: Okay, so, so, notice, notice in all those terms, a lot of them have to do with anger, irritation. But it’s, it’s, talking about something that provokes something within us and out can come, sorrow, grief, sadness, anxiety, anger, all those things can come out. So it’s got a semantic range there, right?

 That’s the word, atsav, when God is the subject of the verb. There are a few times when God is the subject of the verb and I want you to, we, go to, put your finger in, we’re already in Isaiah 63:10, but if you go to Psalm 78:40 and look at that. The other one, well, there’s also Psalm 139:24, which says, “See if there be any wicked way in me.” That’s the prayer. It’s, see if there be anything that provokes your grief; see, if there are any and “lead me in the way everlasting.” Like don’t let me be like, like, examine me and find that out.

 So Psalm 139:24 when God’s subject of the verb or the verb refers back to God, it refers to that which provokes his spirit negatively. That which irritates and leads to his wrath or judgment. Okay. So we’ve already read Genesis 6:6, “It grieved God that he’d made man.” That’s the idea, it’s a provocation. Gen, some, someone’s got Psalm 78:40. Read that.

Audience: “How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert!”

Travis: Right? So they, that’s a, that’s a context that talks about what happened when they grieved him in the desert. That’s the translation that comes out there. But it’s actually the word, atsav, and it’s talking about, it led to his judgment; led to him slaying them in the wilderness. Leaving dead bodies everywhere. Everywhere they went, they were judged.

 So Isaiah 63:10 is in that same vein. You got Genesis 6:6, Psalm 78:40, Isaiah 63:10, all using the word atsav, and they’re all using intensive Hebrew forms. The first one, Genesis 6:6, is in the hithpael form. This Psalm 78:40 is in the hiphil form, and 63:10 is in the piel form. All those are intensive forms of the Hebrew verb. They are talking about provocation. And that’s why the word, paroxuno is the right translation of that in the Old Testament, but we’ve gone back, translated and used the word, the idea from lupeo, which is grieve or sorrow. It’s more of an anger.

 I wanted to point this out, there’s a difference. I, I, looked up this as I was doing my study; a difference between the entries for, atsav, in the older and the newer lexicons, of, that I have of the, the, Hebrew lexicons. This is the theological word book of the Old Testament, which is a very faithful, but older resource. This is The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, have also a very good set, but with differing theological viewpoints.

This, this, is more consistent in its theological viewpoints. And I just wanted to, I won’t read this one for the sake of time, but just to tell you that the older one gives you a broader range of meaning. When I go to this one, this is what it says here. The verbal ends, there’s several entries here that don’t apply to us. This one here applies to us. “The verbal usage specifies an inner grieving the face of loss or failure in relationships with God. These are inhuman, or it names the injury resulting therefrom. Three instances have to do with God’s grieving, provoked by the sinful response of the human race, Genesis 6:6, and by Israel from its beginnings, Psalm 78:40 and throughout history, Isaiah 63:10.” Listen to this, “God is revealed not as the one who remains unmoved by the human response, but as the one who is deeply affected,” A AFFECTED, “deeply affected by what has happened to the relationship.”

Interesting. He doesn’t even bring out, no mention of the idea of anger, provocation, judgment, wrath, which we clearly could see. I looked up the, the, one who wrote this entry on, atsav, is Terence Fretheim. “Terence Fretheim is an Old Testament scholar and the Elva B. Lovell, Lovell professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary. His writings have played a major part in the development of process theology and open theism.”

This is just, I just pulled this off the Wikipedia page, but I start to read down through his bibliography and what he’s been involved in. Served on the Buddhist and Muslim task forces of the American Lutheran Church. He’s, he’s, just involved in all kinds of ecumenical and very liberal stuff. I just, I, I just point this out, to be careful when you, what experts you listen to, because if I just read this entry, and then took this into the pulpit and said this is what the word means. I’m gonna be leading you astray.

 This guy is one of the, he’s, he’s based up in Minneapolis, which is where Clark Pennock or Greg Boyd. I can’t remember, they’re all, I think, they’re all up there too. I think as you get up north, right, Max, I think as you get up north of the cold freezes the brain a bit. The brain freeze doesn’t produce good theology.

Audience: But how far north is Denver?

Travis: Are we, how are we? And listen, we are not helped by the purple haze that flows through our land, so we gotta be careful too. So the king, the King James Version, when you go back to the King James Version on, let me just tuck this away, on Isaiah 63:10 it does translate this word as, “they vexed his Holy Spirit.” The, the New English Translation does a good job too. It says, “they offended his Holy Spirit.”

 Whenever the word, if we take that word paroxno, paroxuno, which is the Septuagint translation of this into the Greek. And when you, whenever you look at that using the New Testament, it’s translated, provoked; as in Acts 17:16, when Paul walked through Athens, and he was provoked, and upset, and angered, and irritated in his spirit when he saw the mass idolatry, even sharp disagreements, in, in, comes out in Acts 15:39. It’s not grief, as in sadness and sorrow, but in, as in anger and provocation.

 Now I wanna, I wanna tell you why we don’t then use the word, parox, paroxuno, in the New Testament, Paul uses the word lupeo instead. It’s different. The reason, vexed, is or, offended, is a good translation in Isaiah 63:10. If for the Isaiah passage is because it fits the context. It’s, it’s, fit for Isaiah’s purpose.

 Vex is an appropriate word to use for this Old Testament community, which is a mixed group of believers and unbelievers. The majority of them were unbelievers. Rebellious unbelievers who always were provoking God to wrath and bringing about his severe judgment, but vexed or offended is not the appropriate word to use in the New Testament context in Ephesians 4:30.

 So when Paul brings Isaiah 63:10 and alludes to it in Ephesians 4:30 and he uses this word which does not mean vexed or, ang, or, or offended. All offensive toward believers has been removed in the cross. Isn’t that a blessed thing? So when he brings in the New Testament, he speaks in terms of grieve, which is much more appropriate toward us and the church.

 True members of the church are all believers, all children of God, and they’re forever rightly related to God because all offense and all vexation, all wrath has been dealt with in the cross; been dealt with in Christ. And we’re in a new relationship with God, as that of father to child, as a parent. So, grief can only happen in the context of a close relationship where love exists. That’s Paul’s meaning. That’s what then causes us as his children never to want to bring grief to the Holy Spirit.

 You can’t grieve someone who’s indifferent to you. You can only grieve someone who loves you dearly. Parents get this. Pastors get this. Elders get this. Husbands and wives get this. Dear friends get this. Violating, betraying those relationships cause deep pain, deep grief, deep sorrow. That’s what we don’t want to be guilty of in our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

 God is, back to the point though, about his unchanging nature. He is. He never changes. His character is set. And it is such that at anytime, an unbeliever offends his, offends his Holiness. He’s vexed. He’s offended. But at any point, a believer offends his Holiness, he’s grieved. It’s not a change in the unchangeable God. It’s a set orientation that His Holiness has towards sin and, and even our sin, and we don’t want to get on the wrong side of that. Okay.

 So, we need to learn from this. Hopefully you’re hearing this, that there is a consistency in God. There’s a surety and steadfastness in his righteousness and his thoughts, his feelings toward our thoughts and behavior, whether positive or negative. So, God is never subject to mood swings. He’s, he’s, never changing, never shifting. His emotions are not involuntary or necessarily reactive. You might say, affect, affectation attributed to him.

 His orientation toward sin and righteousness is always fixed. That’s something we can count on. Okay. That’s the point. Becomes a very powerful motivation to remain rightly reoriented toward God, provoking the joy of the spirit and not the grief of the spirit. Now I want to talk. We have just a few minutes left, and I want to see if there are any really burning questions, because I really want to talk about the practical import of all this, as we think of it as shepherds, Okay? Good. There are no questions.

Audience: I’m burning.

Travis: No burning. What’d I say? No burn. No burn.

Audience:  No Burn. No burning questions. No burning questions. Qualification, so that we can. Yeah.

Travis: I’m just trying to silence all questions. Thanks for playing along. What’s that?

Audience: We can divert divine wrath.

Travis: What are the, what, what can the wrath of man do to me right? So the first, the first thing I think there’s two things I want to point out, number one is that this, the fact that God does not change, should promote our assurance, okay, of several important realities. That is, first of all, the assurance of God’s salvation. God salvation for Israel when he says in Malachi 3:6, “I, the LORD do not change and therefore you are not consumed.”

 So it’s a, an assurance of Israel salvation. You see it come up in lamentations 3:22 and 23. You see Romans 11:1 God. And that’s why we, as in, in, our church and our theology, we see a future for Israel. Why? Because God’s promises are not going to change all of a sudden. What was taken before to be clearly, clearly refer to physical promises of restoration of the land and thousand-year literal kingdom and all that; all of a sudden are going to be somehow dissipated and spiritualized, as God changes. Changes his mind.

 So assurance for, of salvation for Israel for all the elect. We go back to Romans 8:29-30 and, and, see the chain of redemption there. Hebrews 6:11 to 20. Those are all passages that refer to our assurance of God’s salvation of us. The fact that God doesn’t change means his promises stand and he will not change, once he says, “I have saved you,” you can take that to the bank.

 Assurance, first of God’s salvation. Secondly of God’s judgment. You can have assurance that he will judge sin. All those who do not repent, but continue in wickedness. We saw in, jer, Jonah three. We saw the stay of execution on Nineveh. But the prophecy of Nahum shows that Nineveh returned to its wicked ways about 100 years later, and God followed through with the judgment that he had promised. So, judgment. Salvation.

 If God has pronounced salvation on us, he will save us. If God, us pron, pronounces judgment on those who do not repent, you be certain it’s going to happen. We can also be assured, thirdly, of God’s feelings toward us. If we want to put feelings in quotes, or however you talk about his feelings, his emotions toward us, whether positive or negative.

We, ne, we should never be in doubt about what God thinks or feels about us, never in doubt. If we examine ourselves in the light of what he has revealed, we know exactly what he thinks about us. We just have to trust the Word. We don’t need to be in doubt. We don’t need to wonder what’s, what’s, dad think, you know. What’s God think? What is, what are his thoughts toward me, whether good or evil. We never need to be unsettled about that. We just need to examine ourselves in the light of what his word says, and we know where we stand. He’s unchanging.

 So. Secondly. Promotes our assurance number one, secondly, the fact that God doesn’t change should promote humility in us. And this is where I mentioned this earlier: Humility. Great humility. That our creaturely finiteness and limitation should bow down and acknowledge at least two things about God. Number one is divine incomprehensibility and humility. We need to remember that we do not have this all figured out; least, least of which we don’t have it all figured out, least of which God. We don’t have God figured out.

 They’re intelligent men. Philosophers, theologians like John Feinberg. I’ve found so much help from his, his, little, his work, thick work on ethics. Ethics for a Brave New World, you should pick up a copy of that. It’s very helpful. But when he comes into some of these doctrines, like simplicity and immutability, he, he, leaves them behind, and I’m, I’m grieved about that. But he’s a very intelligent man, and he applies philosophical reasoning to these classical doctrines and a number of these guys try to reshape these doctrines, recast them, offer a middle way, reject them all together like in process theology.

 But even in reading some of those objections, I come away entirely unconvinced that I should abandon the classical articulation that we’ve inherited from church history. But at the same time. it teaches me great humility. Because even in the excellent ways of explaining these doctrines, that we’ve received from men like Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Francis Turretin, John Owen, Charles Hodge, Louis Berkhof, Robert Reymond, some of that have exposed you to, we still need to recognize that even those men as well as they explained it. Even they haven’t fully comprehended God or answer all the questions, which is why there are continued, you know, rebuff, you know, their arguments are rebuffed or, or, challenged or whatever. Because if they had gotten it down, and they had an airtight argument on everything, there would be no argument, and just settled that one.

 I think if I can only go to Psalm 139 and read this to you, I think we can do no better than David. I think all those saints I’ve mentioned can do no better than King David, who said in humility in Psalm 139, “Oh LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down. You’re acquainted with all my ways, even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

That’s David, who dealt with some profound theology in his writings and psalms. It’s incredible. And he says such knowledge is too wonderful, me, for me. He’s talking about God’s omniscience there. He’s talking about God’s omnipresence. He’s talking about massive doctrines about God. He says, “It’s too wonderful for me; it’s high, I cannot attain it.” So that leads to, we, we, acknowledge in our humility, divine incomprehensibility.

 We also acknowledge, we need to acknowledge divine wisdom in humility. We, we, need to remember that contrary to us, God does have it all figured out. He does know everything. We need to trust him and we need to worship him. And when you go through the wisdom literature, Job 28 is a great example. I love that chapter on divine wisdom. Psalm 94:9 through 11, Proverbs 8:22 to 31, Isaiah 40:13 to 14, Romans 11:33 through 36; all those are unpacking the wisdom of God, and we need to trust him and worship him for his wisdom. Hey, we need to return to his word and study it deeply, all the time. Why? Because we’re responsible to teach others. Any questions? Got a few minutes, John.

Audience: Yeah, to me the amazing thing about this, we’re talking about this God. He’s our Father. Think about that. He’s our Father. We talk about emotions and feelings and everything. That is just overwhelming. Our father is God in him.

Travis: This, this great God. We’ve talked in terms of simplicity and immutability. We’ve talked, in im, in terms of immortality, immortal spirit, life giving spirit, and all that. Right? He’s our Father. He’s our Father who commands us. He energizes us, strengthens us, and motivates us, lifts us up, saves us.

Audience: He loves us.

Travis: Loves us. Good.

Audience: He will finish what he started.

Travis:  He will finish what he started. That’s right. He who began a good work. Think when we have a large view of God like this, it, it, just sets our life. It just anchors us in. Nothing troubles us. We’re unflappable and unstoppable in his purposes.