I have a confession to make: I'm not the biggest fan of change. Just ask my wife. I'm very methodical, organized, and routine-oriented. So it would be easy for me to come here to Towne Church and change very little if anything. I could do that in order to please people, but I couldn't live with myself if I did. As I mentioned last week, churches have life cycles, and if we don't change the life cycle of our church, it could easily close in the next twenty or thirty years. You may not believe that, but it's true. This past Sunday, I had all those fifty-five or older to stand, and the majority of people were standing. In thirty years, these people will be in heaven or not be able to serve as actively as they are now. Therefore, changes must be made for us to reach more young families for Christ. So what I want to do in this devotion is provide a theology of change. I'm not going to deal with specific changes, but look at how the Bible supports the reality and need of change. I'm going to show that change is actually biblical.
God is the author of change. Change is biblical. Change comes from God. Think of the major changes in Scripture. There is the pivotal change from the old covenant to the new covenant (Jer 31.31-34). A covenant is a solemn agreement or relationship based on mutual promises. Formerly, God related to his people under the old covenant where animal sacrifices were necessary and the law was external to man written on tablets of stone. Now, under the new covenant, Christ has died to pay for sins once-for-all and God's law is written on our hearts and minds. Now we want to obey God and can through his indwelling Spirit. This is a terrific change. I'm glad I'm living under the new covenant rather than the old.
Salvation transforms and changes us from sinners to saints. Second Corinthians 5.17-18 says, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God" (NLT). Some Christians like to refer to themselves still as sinners, but that's not how the New Testament speaks of us. We are called saints around sixty times in the New Testament and never sinners unless speaking of those in a backslidden condition (e.g., James 4.8; 5.20). Paul wrote to the "saints" who were at Ephesus, not to the sinners (Eph 1.1). This isn't intended to espouse an unbiblical perfectionism. We are still human and we still far short. But at conversion we left our old, sinful life behind and started a new life. We were converted, and conversion means change. This change comes from God, for God is in the business of changing things and changing people.
The greatest change is yet to come and that is when we will be transferred from mortal life to immortal life (Rev 21.1-5). The word "new" is used four times in this passage in Revelation. If you don't like change, then why would you want to go to heaven? Heaven is all about newness and change. Heaven will be much different than life here on earth. And we thank God for that—no more sickness, no more temptation, no more sorrow or grief, no more natural disasters, no more death! That type of change will be incredible!
Growth implies change. We celebrate milestones like the birth of our children or grandchildren, the first day of school, graduation, and marriage. But all these milestones involve change. I think of my children and how much they have changed in the short time they have been alive. It seems like they change every day. But this is a good thing. It shows that they're healthy and growing. A healthy church is one that is growing and changing too. I hope we can become a church that not only is open to change, but desires it. If we're not changing, then we're not growing. We're stagnant and stunted in our growth, and that's not good.
Some things will never change. With all this talk about change, some people could get the wrong idea and think everything is going to change. Not on your life! Some things, particularly God himself, will never change. The following three things will never change, not now, not in the future, not ever. The character of God will never change. Malachi 3.6 says, "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed." God himself never changes. That's why we can trust in him and believe his promises. He is forever wise, truthful, faithful, sovereign, holy, all-powerful, just, merciful, kind, and loving. That's who God is, and he'll never change.
The word of God never changes. Psalm 119.89 states, "Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens." God's word, the Bible, is fully inspired and fully trustworthy. It will never lead us astray. The promises of the Bible are just the same today. We can cling to them and watch God work. The truth of God's word doesn't change either. If the Bible says it wrong, then it's still wrong. It's not about situational ethics; it's about scriptural ethics. It's still wrong to lie, steal, murder, and practice sexual immorality. No matter what contemporary society says about morality and ethics, God has the final word.
The plan of God will never change. What is God's plan? God's eternal plan is to seek and to save the lost. First Timothy 1.15 says, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." That plan will never change. God is still saving people today, and our mission as a church is to reach lost people for Christ. We must never waver from that mission. There are areas where we need to change, but this is not one of them. We will never change the gospel or the call to share the gospel. Let's share the gospel with others, and watch God change them (and us) for his glory!
-Dr. Mark Jackson