A Question I Was Asked:

Can God Change His Mind? It Worries Me That He Might.

Can God change His mind? It worries me That he might. How can I be assured of salvation?
First of all we have Malachi 3:6:
'I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.'
But then we have:

The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, "I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created - and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground - for I regret that I have made them." (Genesis 6:6-7).
Thirdly, we have this:

Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. (Exodus 32:14).

How do you explain this?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, first of all Malachi 3:6 refers to God's essential unchanging, and reliable character. God does not constantly have various whims; He is not subject to 'mood swings,' nor passing passions, nor fads or fashions. He is sure and streadfast. His overall purpose of establishing righteousness throughout the universe is unchanging. We can count on Him! However, God is presently dealing with His creation, us human beings. It is we who are whimsical, unreliable and prone to change. Having all power, authority and wisdom, God is - thankfully! - able to adjust how He deals with us - else we would have all been destroyed a long time ago!

So whilst God changes not in character and overall purposes (Malachi 3:6), He is certainly able to change in how He deals with people at any particular time. For instance, Old Testament Israel were under the old covenant, but today we Christian believers live and exist under the New Covenant; just in that, there are quite significant changes!

But don't Genesis 6:6-7 and Exodus 32:14 suggest that God can be whimsical at times?

Absolutely not! Here we see the biblical principle of accomodationism at work. Sometimes God will, as it were, come down to our level of reasoning in order to teach us things. God 'knows the end from the beginning' (Isaiah 46:10) and He already knew that He intended to bring a great Flood to punish sinning men and women, yet in Genesis 6:6-7, He suddenly expresses Himself very much as we would. He regretted the suffering which He saw (but He also knew that this was purely temporary and all who would die in the Flood would eventually arise in the Great Judgement, death not necessarily be the full end for them), neverthless, a beneficent and loving God 'regretted' the Flood, and He regretted the sin which caused it. At that moment - in a sense - He 'regretted' that He had made His human creation but, of course, His purposes remained unchanging; He would proceed with His plan of salvation. The 'regret' did not amount to God feeling He had made some dreadful mistake! One might say that He 'sighed' at the suffering which sin causes.

Exodus 32:14, on the other hand, shows that God can withold some threatened punishment where people are suddenly repentant and respond to Him. However, none of these things can affect God's eternal purposes which are not subject to change. Also - and very importantly - God will not change His mind about those whom He calls, and equips for salvation. Let us look at three Scriptures:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10: 27-28).

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14).

It is not spiritually healthy to continually worry about whether one might not make it into God's kingdom (except, of course, that we should do all within our power to stay on course and should not be blase or boastful about it). If the evidence strongly supports our belief that - for all our failings - we are true believers, we can go ahead and have full confidence in our God.

Robin A. Brace. August 20th, 2015.