WHY CAN’T GOD EVER LEARN?

When our daughter Rebecca was little, she asked lots of questions, most of them good and insightful. For example, one day she asked me as I drove her to school, “Daddy, how old will God be when we get to heaven? 20 years old?” I knew she was getting at something, but I wasn’t sure what. So I said, “What do you mean, Honey?” “Well,” she explained, “God never gets older. So I was just wondering, how old will He be when we get to heaven? About 20 years old?” That sounded pretty old to her at the time. (She’s now 28, so I doubt it still seems old to her.) I encouraged her, “You’re right, Honey! God doesn’t get older. He always remains the same. So that means He won’t be any age when we get to heaven, because in heaven there is no age. No matter how long we’re there, we’ll be as young as the moment we arrive!” (Good news to those of us who are getting older!)

I don’t know if you appreciate the sophistication of her question, but she was touching on one of the most difficult concepts for the human mind to grasp, for this is one of the great differences between God and His creation. Hebrews 1:10 says, “In the beginning, O Lord, You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

We age. We adapt. We change, hopefully for the better. But God never changes, matures, or develops. Nor does He ever get stronger, better, or wiser. Why not? Arthur Pink explains it like this in his book on the attributes of God. He writes, “God cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect, and being perfect, He cannot change for the worst.” The great hymn puts it even better:

Immortal, invisible, God only wise; in light inaccessible hid from our eyes; we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree; and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.”

For that reason, it is theologically accurate and entirely reverent to say that God never learns, for He has always been, is now, and forever will be omniscient (all-knowing) and omnisapient (all-wise) forever using His perfect understanding to advance His holy purposes and meet His children’s needs. That’s why in pouring out our hearts to Him in prayer, we should be as specific as possible, but not for His sake. It is for our sake—so we can rest assured, having fully cast all our cares on Him, that He will care for us. For He Himself already understands our needs far better than we do, as well as the very best means for meeting those needs. Furthermore, God is unable to improve, for He is already as good, as kind, as wise, and as powerful as He can be—infinite in all His attributes.

Therefore, given how perfectly complete and consistent He is, what should we do and how should we live? We should invest our lives, not in things that wither and change and perish, but in this one “thing” that will never let us down. Think again about those things people typically depend upon for their happiness and security—their health, their home, their work, their savings, their family—most of which seem as if they’ll last forever. But live a little longer and examine them more intently, and you’ll soon see how quickly these things change.

11 years ago, when we returned from the mission field, our girls were in high school and living at home. My mother and my wife’s parents were still living. Our retirement fund was growing. And both my wife and I were in good health. But 11 years later, things have changed. Our daughters are college graduates living in other states with families of their own. Our parents—except my wife’s father who is in an Alzheimer care facility and not expected to live long—are in heaven. My wife has been battling cervical cancer this past year, and winning! And I don’t have to tell you how our mutual funds have been doing lately.

What are we learning from these changes in our lives? There is nothing in this world that we can absolutely count on. Consequently, we need to find our hope and happiness and security, not in the things this world offers, but in the never-changing love and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father, because this is the one “Thing” that will never let us down. In fact, I believe this is His reason for letting us suffer the trials and disappointments of life. It is not to discourage us, but to remind us of what is lasting. As C.S. Lewis warned, “Our Father refreshes us on our journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” Make this one eternal thing, then, your true source of dependence, more than you ever have before. Learn to rely upon the changelessness of God Himself, for He is the one “Thing” that will never let us down.

Tomorrow we continue with the changelessness of God’s character.

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