Intro: Sometimes we ask questions we should not ask. It is only after some thought that we recognize we our question was not legitimate. I went to the local pond in our community, affectionately known to us as the duck pond, with 7 of my 8 grandchildren yesterday. We went there with the anticipation of catching some fish. Over the years we have caught a lot of fish from this pond – bluegills, big bass, tilapia, catfish, and even a lot of turtles. But it was not the same yesterday. We caught a few little ones, but the fish just were not there as before. I found myself asking why. “Why were the former days better than these?” But a much wider man than me once said, “It is not from wisdom that you ask this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
I am not sure he was thinking of my particular circumstance (the fishing used to be better), but the response was still correct. I was bemoaning change. It is not wise to always consider yesterday better than today, or to be discouraged by the presence of change. One modern rendition of Eccl. 7:10 says “for you don’t know whether they were better than these” (LB)
All the good things that happened yesterday came with their own share of bad things and hardship. It is impossible to stop time on a high note. Things are always changing with the passing of time. The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus is said to have compared this to a river… No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.Time is an ever-flowing and ever-changing stream.
Are you discouraged, or at least alarmed, by the changes that the life brings? Do you sometimes wish things would stay the same for a while?
The reason I have all of my grandchildren here this week is because Diane and I hold a grandkids camp for our grandchildren each year. One week, all together. We have Bible devotions, with a theme for the week. This week our theme is entitled “Anchored in Jesus” and our memory verse for yesterday (the day we went fishing) was Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is good news, don’t you agree?
Let me propose two correlating questions. How is this true? How does this impact me?
I. Jesus is the Same…How is this true?
A. We might begin by considering what these words cannot mean.
1. It cannot mean that Jesus always does, or has done, the same thing. We know that Jesus is eternally God and was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1). But then later He came to this earth, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He lived fully as a human, died on a Roman cross, and later still, He ascended back to heaven to sit at the right hand of God, the Father. (Romans 8:34). One day He will appear again “a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28). But despite these changes, His Deity, His nature, and His character have not changed.
2. We also recognize that Jesus’ changelessness does not mean that His law for man has never changed. Some (such as the 7th Day Adventists) have attempted to use this passage to teach that parts of the law given to Moses have not changed. But God’s covenant and law have changed. There was a law from God before the law given through Moses (John 1:17), and the law that was given through Moses is no longer in force today. (Jer. 31 – new covenant; Col. 2:14 – nailed to the cross, taken out of the way;Heb. 1:2 – “in these last days” God “has spoken to us by His Son”)Today, all people are accountable to “the law of Christ” revealed through the apostles of Christ, and all will be judged by His word (John 12:48).
B. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever… What do these words teach? How is this true?
1. Jesus is Changeless in His Divine Character. Where does it say in the Bible that Jesus is God? There are several places we could go, but this certainly a statement of Jesus’ divinity. Changelessness is a divine attribute. No matter what happens to this world, God remains the same. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psa. 90:2).
a. Consider also the other place in the book of Hebrews where Jesus is said to be “the same”. The writer is arguing for the superiority of Christ over angels. Read Hebrews 1:5-12. Notice v. 8 – to the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever…v. 10 – You created all things. They will perish, but You remain. They will grow old and will be changed, But You are the same..God does change. The Creator is not impacted by the changes of His creation.
b. Rev. 1:8 –“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Not only is God eternal in existence, but his character is changeless as well. I am more patient now than before I had children. I am not as naïve as before I got taken advantage of. I am more obedient to God than I was in my earlier years… and yet I have a road untraveled before me. What will my character look like 10 years from now? But God is as patient today as He ever was – as pure and holy, as forgiving as ever. And He is changelessly faithful.
c. He is different from the pagan gods that men have served. “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6) God is not moody, and he does not welch on his promises & principles. What He says always happens.
d. How is God different from Satan? Satan is not all powerful, or omniscient, or omnipresent. But here is another big difference. Satan lies. God never lies. Heb 6:17-19 – Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, The hope of the Christian is the anchor of his soul. Why is this so? Because when God makes a promise, it is immutable (changeless). When He confirms that promise with an oath, it is also immutable. God cannot lie. Not just that it is accurate, but that it can be depended on with one’s very life. He keeps His promises because He has the sovereign ability to bring it about. 46:9-11 “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.
2. Jesus is Changeless is His Redemptive Work.One issue that typified Israel’s relationship to God through the physical priesthood of Aaron was changing nature of that priesthood. One other place in the book of Hebrews where the changelessness of Jesus is mentioned – Hebrews 7:23-25 – Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. What Jesus accomplished at Calvary and in His subsequent ascension to the Father did not need any revision, or have to be repeated later on. Because He resurrected to never die again, He is not hindered by death. He is always available. He always lives to make intercession for them. Put your trust in Jesus – not in preachers, teachers or other men.
a. The sad reality is that people let other people down. We may have every good intention of being faithful to our word and fulfilling our promises. We may even have the ability to help others at the time. But things change and we may become unwilling or unable to help others. When others fail us it may shake our faith. But even if every other person chose to reject the will of God and act with falsehood or rebellion it would not change any element of God’s covenant with His people. Romans 3:3-4 – For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. Jesus promised His disciples, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Even in a faithless world “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
3. Jesus is changeless is His Incorruptible Message. 1 Peter 1:23-25 “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.’ Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” Notice again that the quality of changelessness is placed against the transitory and changing nature of the world around us (the flesh & glory of men withers and falls away).
a. Peter tells the Christians of his time that this incorruptible word was the gospel message itself. There are those who reject the teaching of the Bible today because they presume that it has been corrupted through the efforts of men in translation. But Peter says that the seed that produces the new life of the Christian is a living and imperishable seed, and he identifies this seed as the revealed apostolic word. – The NASB renders Peter’s words as … for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God… And this is the word which was preached to you. The word of God lives today in that same, unchanging message of Christ. We can put our trust in that message.
b. In 2 Tim. 3:1-13 Paul warns Timothy about the coming days: dangerous, fierce times when men’s minds will grow corrupt, and morality will disappear. How could Timothy survive such a perilous time? “Continue in the things you have learned and been assured of from the scriptures”. Why? Because “all scripture is inspired of God” So preach the word! (2 Tim. 3:14 – 4:2)
c. Centuries before Peter or Paul wrote, the Psalmist proclaimed, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psa. 119:89). Is the word of God still relevant and authoritative today? Can our society become too advanced or sophisticated for its Creator? Can our problems and anxieties be too complex for God’s simple words of counsel? A couple of other thoughts on this truth.
C. Yesterday, Today and Forever… Why does it matter that the Jesus Christ of today is the same as the Jesus Christ of yesterday and forever? Consider this connection:
1. Yesterday: The Jesus of yesterday is the Jesus of history. The history contained in scripture is for the purpose of showing Who Jesus is, and what He did for us. He is an actual historical person, and God has chosen that we know Jesus Christ by reading about him in a Book that records his life and work from yesterday. God does not ordain that we know Jesus by ignoring the written revelation about Him and substituting mystical avenues of communion now.
2. Today: The Jesus of today is the One we serve and follow. He is not some archaic, dead, or outdated figure of a time gone by. Jesus is alive and we serve Him as He is today. Well, who is the Jesus of today? He is the same Jesus as the Jesus of yesterday. He is the One we know from scripture. He is the One who healed the sick, and condemned the hypocrite; He is the One who showed mercy to the woman caught in adultery and the One who defined marriage as between and man and a woman. He is the One who taught us about love and the necessity of obedience; truth and false doctrine. The Jesus of today is the same Jesus who said He was the only way to the Father. Jesus today is not a different Jesus than the Jesus of the scriptures. In fact, Jesus told His apostles that after He physically left them He would send the Holy Spirit so that they could remember everything He told them when He was with them. He would always be the same Jesus. If I want to know Jesus today, I need to come to know Him in the pages of the Bible, because He is the same Yesterday and today, and
3. Forever: My hope rests on this part. It is crucial that Jesus is the same forever. My everlasting joy hangs on this. The Jesus I know from scripture is the Jesus I will know in eternity.
Conclusion: What does this mean to us today? Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, I do not have to ask the foolish question why do things have to always change or yearn for a time when things were better. I can put my trust in Jesus and the message of salvation contained in His incorruptible word and look forward to His return. The hope that it provided in the first century it provides now. You can be a Christian just like Paul, Philippian jailor, the Ethiopian treasurer, and everyone else who has ever truly obeyed the gospel.
Nothing that changes here can change what He has already done for me, or what He will do for me in the future. 2 Tim 1:12-13 “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.