Is Christ the Same Always?
NCW 69: August 2000 - January 2001
Q. What does it means when it says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Heb.13:8)? Doesn't His resurrection prove that He has changed?
A. The context is the preceding verse: "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (v.7), and indeed the discourse before that too. Yah'shua (Jesus) is the same in His love, purpose, substance, nature, etc.. He does not suddenly change His way of being. He may be said to be constant and therefore trustworthy. The pagan deities, by contrast, were capricious, unpredictable, inconsistent and very "human" indeed...which is hardly suprising since they were the inventions of humans.
In terms of His physical makeup, yes, Christ has certainly changed. Before He was a spirit, but now He is a resurrected God-Man. But His essential attributes and nature remain the same always. "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (v.5b; cp. Dt.31:6) is eternally true, and we may confidently say in all circumstances and throughout all generations: "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (v.6; cp. Ps.118:6-7). Thus Christ isn't going to "mature" into a "different" God with different expectations of us, nor will He come with entirely different blessings and punishments to the faithful and faithless. We may therefore read about His nature in the New Testament as well as the Old and know that He is exactly the same today. We cannot say: "Oh, God was like that then, but today He is more liberal." Rather, we can absolutely say that He is exactly as He was as the Yahweh of the Old Testament and as the God-Man of the Gospels. And just as the ancients and early church leaders imitated Him, so we can imitate Him in the same way as them. The Gospel has not changed. Not one bit. Though our circumstances may be different compared with 2,000 years ago, though Christ is not a physically resurrected Being which He was not before, yet the Gospel requirements are exactly the same for us just as Christ's essential nature has remained constant throughout the generations. So when we meet with the early saints, though separated by dispensations and millennia, we will find that we are of one mind and one heart.
I think this is a very important question because it serves to remind us that we are not supposed to be imitating the customs, traditions, habits, and fads of the world but rather be walking along the one Way of Christ (Ac.9:2). The Gospel is a way of life that demands everything of us and is unchanging, from the patriarchs down to the present true believers in Christ. The inferior Aaronic Priesthood and the sacrifices the ancients were obliged to follow may be gone (Heb.5-10) but the same unchanging God who led Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the first apostles, continues to lead us.
This page was created on 19 January 2001
Last updated on 19 January 2001
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