Does God change in essence? Does God change his mind? To ask this question in a more relevant manner, is it theologically possible for God to no longer be eternal? Is it theologically possible for him to learn something new and decide not to save his elect? This is what is at the very core of the understanding of the immutability of God. To answer this question I am going to assemble the clearest verses on the topic.
Immutable: “not mutable; unchangeable; changeless”
“6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Mal 3:6 KJV
Notice that the promise associated with the immutability of God above is that the sons of Jacob are not consumed. They can rest sure in God’s promise and that it will come to pass. God is not going to change his mind.
“19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Num 23:19 KJV
“25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.; 26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:; 27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.; 28 The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.” Psa 102:25-28 KJV
“11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” Psa 33:11 KJV
“10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” Isa 46:10 KJV
“10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isa 43:10 KJV
“8 The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” Psa 138:8 KJV
“14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Exo 3:14 KJV
“29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Rom 11:29 KJV
“2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” Tit 1:2 KJV
“17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 KJV
“8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Heb 8:13 KJV
There is a great deal of nuance to this doctrine that I don’t think it is helpful to delve into, certain details should be held in a degree of tension. I am going to touch on it anyways though as the question always tends to come up.
“5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.; 6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.; 7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” Gen 6:5-7 KJV
There are some important questions to ask based on the above text. Did God not know what was going to happen in such a sense that he regretted making man? To that I would answer no because it is clear from other texts that God knows everything, even the future, as he is omniscient. But do such events grieve his heart? To that I would say yes, so much so that he conveys this grief to us in his Word. Likewise we know from other texts in the New Testament that he had a purpose in the flood to be fulfilled.
“18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:; 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.; 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 3:18-21 KJV
We see in the flood types and shadows of judgement of the wicked and salvation of God’s elect. If one were to argue that the flood was a knee jerk reaction God didn’t anticipate then so too is that which it prefigures. I would argue that such a notion would conflict with many clear texts in scripture.
That said, the important question is could God learn something new that would lead him to change his mind about saving mankind from sin? Is it possible that one day he will just throw his arms up in the air in frustration and send everyone to hell?
This is an important question because it is a Gospel related one. To answer that I would say NO. One point stands out above all others in the texts I have posted and that is that God has declared his gospel plan from before the foundations of the world.
“8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev 13:8 KJV
And in this we can rest in the finished work of God’s salvation.
“6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” Php 1:6 KJV
“13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 Jhn 5:13 KJV