A Sermon Delivered by HOMER L. COX, Sunday Morning, April 30, 1916 at the Friends Church in Portland, Oregon
Osborne, Byron L., ed. Homer L. Cox, The Man and His Messages. Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Bible Institute, 1930, pages 42-58.

This is The Quaker Homiletic Online Anthology, Part 4: The 20th Century

For several Sabbaths we have been considering various topics that deal with the character of the Almighty. We have discussed a number of these and today we are gong to consider another of the fundamental doctrines that all of us accept and all of us believe, but yet perhaps which would be good for us to bring down to a practical applications to our hearts. I will call your attention to the thought suggested in the 8th verse of the 13th chapter if Hebrews, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."

In addition to this verse of Scripture there are many others to which we might turn. I think perhaps it would be well worth while just to stop and notice some of the Scriptures that deal with this great truth. Ex. 3:14, where the August and suggestive title is ascribed to the Almighty: "The Lord said unto Moses, I am that I am." He said "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I am hath sent me unto you." While that was a proper appellation of God the Almighty two thousand, four thousand, and six thousand years ago, it is just as proper for him to receive that appellation today as then, -- I am in the eternal past, I am in the present, and I am in the eternal future.

In Numbers 23:19 we have another suggestion of this same truth. "God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent." In Job 23:13 the same thought is suggested again, "But He is in one mind and who can turn him, and what his soul desireth even that he doeth." Psalms 102:25 is a very significant Scripture. The 102nd Psalm and the 25th, 26th, and 27th verses, "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heaven are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." This is very clear in regard to the immutability of God. Isaiah 26:4 is another Scripture that refers to the same thought, "Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." Notice the margin, "In the Lord Jehovah is the rock of ages." Malachi 3:6 is another very clear Scripture in regard to the unchangeableness of God. The thought expressed there is that in order to be God he must not change, for if he changed it would indicate that He either was changing from the perfect to the imperfect, or from the imperfect to the perfect, either one of which would undeify God. It is necessary to be immutable if he is God.

Then in the verse that we have selected for our text, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever," and in the 1st chapter of James, the 17th verse: "Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

As long as we are in a world of mutation and change, a great truth that we ought to keep prominently in our minds is the immutability and unchangeableness of Jesus Christ our Lord and our God. We look into the realm of nature and we find that change is on every hand. Flowers bloom, and then wither and die. The forests with their centuries of growth present us with decay. The ocean is constantly with its restless tide changing its even rock-bound shores, and the rivers with their transportation and their deposit and constantly changing their channels and changing even the landscape through which they pass. The mountain height with their crags and peaks are often shivered by the lightning and even their rocks are decayed. That which we would look upon as the most enduring and the most eternal in nature is subject to change.

Not only in the realm of nature do we see the changeableness of things about us, but it is true of kingdoms and nations, as well. We look at the old dynasties of Babylon, and Media and Persia, and they are but dim specters in the long forgotten past. Greece and Rome are but smoldering embers in the ashes of their former glory. Nations pass and are forgotten.

History is a sort of moving-picture-show in which we can see the somber procession with all their vicissitudes of pomp and death, and of revelry and wailing, of glory and of decay, of efficiency and of extinction. We look into the history of nations and see the procession as it passes by with its change and its alterations. Civilization is constantly moving toward the setting sun. In the earliest history that we have of the nations of antiquity, they had commenced their westward trend, and I have often wondered what is the plan of the Almighty in the westward trend of the centuries of civilization. I do not know. But this very fact would indicate that the closing up of the history of nations is brought to a climax, for the center of civilization has now almost completed the circuit. The most ancient peoples for which we have any record are just across on the other borderland of the Pacific.

How soon history shall have been brought to a close I do not know but we see the changeableness of the nations and kingdoms. And it is true not only of nations but it is true of municipalities, for the great cities of the past. They have passed and are no more. Babylon with her hanging gardens, one of the centers of the world, has passed and her rocky sepulchers are swept clean by the winds of the centuries. Pride and wealth once thronged her dwellings but even their location is hard to establish today.

Mutability belongs also to religions. We see the powerful impact of Christianity upon the pagan religions; we see the mover turned and disappearing like the genii of an Arabian tale. In like manner change is a mark of the business world. Markets come and go and prosperity is succeeded by financial depression. The same is true in politics. The tides come and go; tides of interest and tides of enthusiasm, shifting, changing, passing. Likewise individuals. We are in a world of change. I see the individual that comes on the stage of action and he is no sooner born than he begins to die, and time frosts his locks and blights his youth with old age and infirmity. time is producing changes in individual life. We scarcely have time to pant a tree and live long enough to eat of its fruit. We scarcely have time to become trained or experienced in any line of work until our race has been run and we go hence. there is hardly opportunity to make acquaintances and form friendships until those friends either fail us or prove false, of they pine away and die. Our friends change or they move away or we are forced to move. We being a new circle of acquaintances and a new circle of interests. Change is all about us.

We may think we know an individual. I may have know an individual last year or fie years ago or ten years ago, but I do not know now wether they are the same [as] they were then. They are changing their beliefs, their ideas, their principles of living. Ten years ago a preacher may have been evangelistic, sound and aggressive, but today he may be honeycombed with unbelief. People are changing in their individual beliefs and ideas.

When we look at the changing, shifting scenes of nature, and of kingdoms, business, politics, society, and individual life, we grow sick and wry of it all and long for something that will abide, something that is eternal, for some place we could rest and feel that we have something that is established. But here we have no continuing city; we seek one to come; we are strangers and pilgrims in the earth.

I have taken the time to indicate the change that is all about us in order to enforce the thought of my text, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." Bless His precious name! Isn't it restful? Doesn't it bring comfort to your hear when you look at the changes that are all around you to look up and to know that there is one eternal God who sits on the throne of the heavens who is the same, who abides and can be depended upon? Before completing this thought I just stop long enough to suggest this, that the unchangeableness of God does not mean that he cannot change his operations. It means that the principles abide and that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever from the standpoint of principle and from the standpoint of attitude. But it is possible for us to change our attitude toward Him so that His attitude toward us will be different. To illustrate what I mean, over in Ezekiel 18:26, 27, you will find a charge brought against the Almighty by the people in the past who said, "The ways of the Lord are not equal." In other words, the Lord is not the same; He does not always manifest the same sprit. The prophet explains, "The ways of the Lord are qual." "If you will turn from your iniquity and unrighteousness and do that which is lawful and right, ye shall live; the soul of the righteous shall live; but in the day that you turn from your righteousness, in the day that you commit your iniquity, ye shall die for it." The people said, "God is not the same for if I am righteous and then become unrighteous, then the frown and judgment of God falls upon me. If I am unrighteous and turn from it and become righteous, then God's whole attitude toward me is changed. He is not the same. His ways are not equal. But the prophet gave them to understand that it was not the Almighty Wh changed his attitude toward the sinner, but the sinner who changed his attitude toward the Almighty. When we turn from our righteousness and commit iniquity, the frown of the Almighty rests upon us. He loves righteousness but he hates iniquity. So it depends upon our attitude toward him. We need to seize that thought. You will find it running all through the Scriptures. There was Nineveh. If it had not been the purpose of God to cause Nineveh to repent, He never would have sent Jonah with the message. Jonah had the idea the god was going to send a message of judgment upon them and there would be no escape from it. the unchangeableness of God must not be too confused with the thought that it is possible for us to change in our attitudes and relationships toward Him.

But to the thought, Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever. As I look into what He was yesterday, I can know what He will be today. As I look into what He is today, I can know what He will be in the tomorrows. This is inspiration for the present and hope for the future. I look at His life in the past in leaving the Father's throne and coming to this sin-stricken earth seeking for the lost, straying and the wandering. It is then I can know that Jesus is the same today as He was when He left His Father's throne seeking the sheep that had wandered from the fold. If your are a wanderer remember that Jesus Christ is just the same this beautiful Sabbath day as He was back yonder in the eternities, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He has compassion over those who need His compassion. He weeps over the lost and grieves over our coldness and our indifference. I remember when Jesus was here on earth He came to His own and His own received Him not. To Jerusalem the headquarters of the Almighty, Jesus the son of man, the Son of god, came but His own received Him not. Never do we have an account of Jesus being permitted to tarry all night in Jerusalem, the city of God's people. Outside of the gates on the hillsides, in the garden, and up to Bethany He would wend his weary way after the day of toil had been ended in the city. And yet after all of His ministrations, after all of His sermons, and after all of His truth, we find Him nearing the end of the journey when it was clear that Jerusalem would not receive Him and the truth. He stands and weeps over the city, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that stonest the prophets and killest the, that are sent unto thee." The great compassionate heart of the Son of God breaks and He weeps over the resistance of Jerusalem to His ministry and to His truth.

I wonder if today with our dullness an with our stupidity, with our coldness and with our indifference, with our stubbornness and with our slowness of heart to believe and to comprehend, - I wonder if the great heart of Jesus Christ does not almost break within Him with compassion as he beholds us and sees what we are when He knows so well what we might be. I am praying to God that He will open our eyes to let us see our possibilities in grace. Our privileges not only in personal experience, but in the way of influence and ministry to those that are around us, both in regard to faithfulness and regularity, that is the thought that is on my heart this morning. I am glad we have a Christ who is compassionate toward us. I believe that we should seek and strive to have hearts that are equally compassionate. But when He sees what we might be, what we might accomplish, and sees our indifference and our carelessness, He must grieve even as He grieved over Jerusalem.

I see not only His compassion, but I look at His sympathy with us in temptation. He knows how to sympathize with the tempted one, with the one who is buffered and storm tossed and over-shadowed. Oh, the great sympathetic heart of the Lord Jesus! Just as He sympathized with His followers in the days of the past, He can sympathize with us today. He is immutable. It is impossible that the nature of Jesus Christ should ever change one jot or one tittle from what it was when He was here on earth. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

Just as He went about with a heart full of sympathy then, He must have a heart full of sympathy now. Does that cheer you when you are tempted? Just as He sympathized with those who were His disciples of old, He sympathizes with those who are His disciples today. Sympathy in temptation; sympathy in poverty. I have always been so glad that Jesus did not come as the Jews expected Him to come. They expected Him to come as a king with splendor and power and worldly glory but He disappointed their hopes and came as a despised man from Nazareth, a town from which "no good thing could come," a town looked down upon, of no estate, of no emolument or rank or wealth or influence. He came as one so poverty stricken that He had nowhere to lay His head and nobody can be so poor that they are poorer than Jesus. No one can be so deprived of the blessings of life that he is in that respect worse off than Jesus. he had no place to lay His head. He was not as well off as the sparrows and foxes, for they had nests and holes where they could hide. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He knows how to sympathize with those who are in distress and in close places financially. He knows how to sympathize with those who are weary. When your are just so tired that it seems you can scarcely drag your feet another step; when at night tie you feel so weary you just want to cry yourself off to sleep; when it seems the tasks re piling up higher and higher before you and there is no possibility of ever having your work accomplished; when there are so many things that need to be done and your strength is so limited, your physical force so abated, at such a time did you ever stop to think that Jesus knows how to sympathize with those who are weary and exhausted?

The Jews usually did not go through Samaria. They avoided that country because they despised the Samaritans who had violated their traditions. But on this occasion He must needs go through Samaria. And I see Him as with His little group of followers He plods His weary way up the valley in the heat and dust of the day until He comes to the well at Sychar and seats Himself on the curb to get a little refreshment. He sends His disciples into the city to purchase meat. While he is sitting there a woman of Samaria comes and He finds that she is thirstier than He, wearier than He, and hungrier than it is possible for Him t be. He speaks those beautiful words. O weary heart, this morning Jesus is the same. He is the same forever. He knows how to sympathize with those who are exhausted and overcome, with those who are lonely.

How lonesome Jesus became! We hear the missionary tell of going into the foreign lands with just the little circle on the field of one or two or three associates who know how to fellowship. I have heard them tell of how it seemed they would nearly die for Christian fellowship and association as year after year in those far away lands there was so little opportunity for fellowship. That is one of the things that a missionary has to meet. But did you ever think how lonesome Jesus may have been for the Father's throne, for the angelic association, and for the environment and atmosphere that He had known form all eternity around the Father's throne? We think it an awful thing for a beautiful, cultured young woman to go to Africa. But did you ever stop to think that Jesus left a throne of shining glory, the streets of pure gold, mansions prepared, the association of holy saints and just men made perfect, and comae down to this stricken, burdened, staggering earth? I wonder if He did not get homesick. His own nearest disciples could not understand Him; they could not appreciate Him. They could not comprehend the spirituality of His mission. Pressed in spirit He cried out of the depths of His heart, "How I am straightened in you!" I wonder if Jesus did not get desperately homesick once in a while when He was here and long for some archangel that could sit down by His side and understand. I wonder if He did not long for His Father's bosom, for the fellowship and the association that had been His from all eternity.

Are you far from home? Are there few that understand you? Does your heart get lonely and heartsick? Remember Jesus knows how to sympathize because He has been far from home. He has been among strangers.

Oh, how many hearts are longing for somebody just to inquire how they are getting along, for somebody who can sympathize with them. Jesus can do this for He has been lonely and has longed for attention and fellowship. He knows how to sympathize. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.