Eternity is not simply a long – long time that has no end. It cannot be!
Eternity is outside of time. It is debatable whether our concept of time is even paralleled in the world of what we call “Eternity.” As things are, human beings find it almost impossible to imagine a concept of an everlasting “NOW” without a past or a future. It hurts the human brain to even attempt to think that one through. An eternal now moment without any perspective of time seems to the human brain to be illogical. This writer believes eternity is outside of time and has properties we, at present, cannot perceive.
I remember many years ago seeing a TV mini-series entitled, “The Martian Chronicles.” It was of course, with a title like that, pure science fiction. The film was adapted from a book of the same name (The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury). I remember the now deceased Film actor Rock Hudson was the leading player in the single episode I saw. In the film, he was an astronaut who landed on Mars and was infested by Martian beings. The Martians however were invisible and silent. They hung in the air and had total access to the memories stored in the human brain. In finding a person’s most precious memories the Martians then reproduced the home, the loved relatives now deceased, even the mountain ranges and lakes from where the earthling had come from. Why do I choose this point of time to discuss Science Fiction? Simply because I remember thinking on the wonder of other beings (even fictional fantasies such as this) that had no parallel existence to us on earth. No carbon based being, no need of oxygen, weightless and taking up no space whatsoever. Just light years away from us in form and being is how I believe eternity is from our space-time world and physical being. Eternity is utterly different than the concept of never ending time.
Eternity has nothing to do with time.
The concept I hold of eternity is, I believe, nearer to the truth than the normal perception of “eternity” and aids me to grasp and understand why God never ages. It is a contributing factor in helping us to understand how He can see all things and know all things that are in progress in all of time. He sees everybody and everything in the “now.” He watches from eternity.
I do not say that my thesis here is necessary for us to understand God’s omniscience or His omnipresence. My concept of God, outside of time, looking into time, and presencing Himself amongst us within the parameters of time is, simply part of how I believe the universe to be after extrapolating all I know of the Bible. God has no eternal past from which He developed, nor an eternal future to develope into. As the Bible presents Him, God cannot develope in any way whatsoever in eternity. He knows everything and fills everything. He has made creation separate from Himself. He is not intrinsically in the sun, the moon, the trees and the mountains, no matter how these things display aspects of His greatness. In the same way, all is made by Him does not mean He is within those things He has made.
He has created time for our benefit.
His eternal plan is set and completed in eternity. Only in time, to accommodate man, do His plans and purposes require development. By not living in a linear dimension there cannot be any progress in God’s knowledge, power, or wisdom – nor in the slow development of His purpose that is necessary in time. If God could know anything more than He does, or have anything added to His knowledge, He could not ever be omniscient. He actually lives in eternity, and whatever that term does mean, it cannot mean a linear existence. However, chew on this: If God is not subject to gravity, space or distance – and He clearly is not – neither is He subject to time. Time is part of creation. Outside of time when there was no space, no stars, and even no heavens in existence – there was God; nothing more, nothing less and nothing but – God. When God created the heavens and the earth, there and then He also created time.
YAHWEH INHABITS ETERNITY
Isaiah 57:15 radically declares “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite (English Standard Version). The Boldface font is obviously my own insertion. The only equivalent concept we have of living comes from our linear time-space world existence. “Eternity” simply means a “place” (I think that is a misleading word when referring to eternity) or “state of being” that lasts into infinity. I wanted to write, “Lasts for an infinite length of time,” but “oops!” I am talking of eternity outside of time. I do not believe that time is in the discussion when we are defining eternity. Whatever the dimensions and architecture of “eternity” is, it must be infinite and capable of containing the infinite Almighty.”
There are those translators who, imagining eternity as simply “forever” – meaning time without end – drop the concept that I am suggesting here altogether. They call God, “He who lives forever.” This term is used in the NIV, the NASB, the Holman Christian Bible, God’s Word and others. I do not believe that is correct. The phrase neither has the power nor the authenticity of “He who dwells in eternity.” “Forever,” as often used, simply suggests that God never ends in time. Inasmuch as it tells us that God is the ever living and will never age or pass away I accept is a half truth, but I insist that it gives the reader a misleading context. Eternity is another very different concept of existence that omits time, a completely different platform where one can “be.” The person with faith in Christ has eternal life (John 3:16). This teaches us that somehow or other eternity can touch and enter our time space world. God has made us body, soul, and spirit. Our spirits do not age. Our spirits have no concept of time. That is why and how God speaks to us – in our spirits. This is why Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has put “eternity in our hearts.” It is that centre of eternity in our beings that is born again and through which God speaks to us. Eternal life in Christ is not just life that lasts a long time, but in coming from timelessness into our time-space consciousness we have the eternity and the life already, buried deep in our hearts.
TIME IS PART OF CREATION
Jesus was the only human being to have known a pre-existence. To meditate on Christ, as He was before the world began is brain stretching. It feels in the brain as if we are fumbling in the revelatory darkness looking for insights, and newly created language in order to express what is commonly inexpressible when discussing the pre-existence of the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot find appropriate language to explain what happened before creation. Taken literally, before creation is unintelligible because there is no such thing as a “before” or an “after” until there is a creation. According to Einstein time doesn’t exist without mass and matter. Time, therefore, begins with creation. Before creation- no such thing as time.
NO SUCH THING AS TIME BEFORE TIME
Being pedantic and thinking literally therefore, phrases like “in a day before time” or “before creation” are nonsensical. This kind of terminology only makes sense when we see them as intuitive aids to give our mind’s eye graspable metaphors. When we talk about what God was doing before creation, it is impossible to avoid language that sounds as though we are talking about a time that existed before time. Nonetheless, we use the same analogies and parables that Scripture uses. The phrases “before the foundation of the world” and “before the world began” are used frequently in the New Testament. The entire 66 books of the Bible make much of God’s eternal nature and the fact that He inhabits eternity. What happened before God created the world is critical as far as the apostle Paul is concerned. It is in eternity that the plan and purpose of God was set according to the good pleasure of His will. It is for that reason that the Scriptures are not silent on the matter. What God was actively doing before creation belongs to the unseen and eternal – but we are told in the scriptures what was taking place.
TIME COMMENCED BEFORE DAY ONE
Genesis 1:1 seems to inform us that the world was created actually before Day 1 took place. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Time had obviously begun at that moment. The earth was in darkness or classically stated as, “without form and void.” The first day, per se, did not commence until God said, “Light be!” Whenever the moment of God’s fiat in the creation of light took place, it was that evening and morning that is registered as the first day. However, Genesis 1:1 was the moment that time actually began. Time was moving before the first day, from the moment God created the Heavens and the earth.
THE VARIABLES OF TIME
Other concepts we need to grasp to get some sort of handle on this are issues concerning the nature and attributes of time. We nearly all take it for granted that time is absolute and non-variable as well as linear. However, it has been proven that time measurement actually changes with height and depth on the planet, and speed of movement. It was Einstein’s thesis that if people were to travel at the speed of light weird and wonderful things would surely happen to the process of time and the aging process of mankind and living beings. Synchronised atomic powered clocks ascending or moving east or westward have differences when brought back together to the same spot. It is only fractions of a millisecond, but it clearly and demonstrably takes place: Time literally can travel faster or slower. Time varies with mass, acceleration and gravity. Einstein suggested that time has physical properties, and because of that, it can be altered. He wrote somewhere, “People like us who believe in Physics know that the distinction between the past, the present, and the future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
When one thinks of it, for the Bible to be consistently carrying the same message with the same presuppositions and teachings, spread over two millennia with forty different authors in its creation, is plainly suggesting that something supernatural from another world or dimension is here in our hands when we open its pages. Its inspiration comes from outside our time-space world. We clearly exist in more than 3 dimensions; most people go with four; i.e. Length, breadth, height and time. But there are more than four dimensions as presented in scripture.
God speaks in a revelatory manner that suggests He is in our past present and future simultaneously. Surely this fact suggests that because of His eternal nature, and because of the fact that He inhabits eternity, from the perspective of eternity, when Adam died (history to us), and whenever the last death will take place on earth before the end of time (future to us), those two demised spirits arrive in eternity at the same eternal moment.
THE GEOMETRY AND ARCHITECTURE OF ETERNITY NEXT TO TIME
See the geometry of eternity alongside the architecture of time. One single dot signifies the whole of eternity. The arched curve that is creating an arch around eternity is the time line of creation. Eternity can contact all points of time simultaneously. Eternity is the same distance away from all parts of history. People at points of time in the past, the present and the future can all contact eternity through prayer, and eternity hears it all at the same point.
As a further meditation to query long established “status quo’s” in this dimension of thought, I would propose that people often confuse the mind with the physical brain. The mind has no mass, the brain does. The spirit has no mass, the body does. Those human parts that take mass, age as part of this space-time world. The Spirit, however has no mass and is eternal. No mass equals no time or space dimension restriction. The mind and the human spirit can contact God in eternity in the same manner that God can contacts a human being, i.e. through their spirit. The human spirit, as well as the human mind can be paralleled with the purchase of a computer programme.
A blank unformatted CD weighs between 0.55 to 0.58 of an ounce; A CD loaded with software weighs exactly the same. A computer programme, no matter how large or how expensive is without mass, without weight, without visibility until manifested on the computer monitor. A computer programme increases the purpose and the utilitarian value of one’s computer, and there are some programmes that are purchased at a greater price than the computer itself. What’s my point? My point is that the computer can become run down with age, but the software is not susceptible to the external wear and tear of the hardware. The hardware ages and breaks down while the software does not. The physical parts of the human being, age and decay in time. The human spirit does not age but has eternity as one of its characteristics.
THE TEXT OF EPHESIANS 1:3-14
What comes last here is in actuality what should come first if we were attempting to put the thoughts of Paul in chronological sequence. The entire scenario the apostle gives us stems initially from God’s ultimate intention which is to head up all things in Christ (1:10) to the praise of His glory (1:14). God is to consummate, centre and visibly control the entire universe as it is consistently and increasingly given over to worship by those that follow and submit to Jesus Christ. It seems there is quite some way to go if we judge by what we see. Yet, we are clearly called not to judge in such a manner.
No matter what our five senses tell us, the rule of Christ fills the cosmos. Seen and unseen, visible and invisible, celestial and terrestrial, heavens and earth, demonic and human, Jesus Christ is Lord of all (1:10), yet in the time space world there is still futile rebellion. The intention of God is to make this rule of Christ, visible and universal as well as of a free choice to submit to the King or not. There are also rewards and benefits for those that submit to the rule of Christ in this life.
The purpose of God chronologically presented.
Before Time Began
- God chose us for Himself before the Foundation of the world, i.e. before time had begun (1:4).
- Within the parameters of that choice were were destined as well as chosen to be Holy and Blameless. Holiness imputed by faith, and imparted by obedient works of faith. We will never be sinless or perfect, but we shall be blameless. That blamelessness is imparted by a constant attitude of faith and a denial of self as well as selfishness (1:4). That blamelessness is to be the context of our lives once we have entered into faith, and maintained until we are at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
- Although the above was set in God’s plan and purpose before time had begun, the most important aspects of the plan were kept as a mystery to humankind until Christ came. The mystery was further de mystified when all was revealed to the original apostles as well as Paul. The mystery was including the simplicity of the gospel for all of mankind, and how Jew and gentile were invited to the same standing in Christ’s church (1:9). We therefore have:
- The intention was set in the mind of God before time
- Made known to mankind within time
- Fully exhibited and completed after time.
- The entire detail and fullness of God’s intentions and plans was set out before time and will be clear to all in eternity when all is wrapped up (1:3-14).
IN TIME – PRESENT POSSESSIONS
- The plans and intentions are all intrinsically given to humankind in and through Jesus Christ. All is sourced in Him, imparted by Him, and summed up in Him. Faith in Him is the key to access all of the blessings that are given in Him. Faith is our communication point for relationship purposes with Christ. Everything that God can give is embodied in Christ (1:3). We have Him now.
- Christ and all that comes to us in Him is the Father’s glorious gift, which He presented to us in love (1:6). The entire operation is a gift of His love. We enjoy that gift in the present.
- We are taken from the kingdom of darkness, and have all our sins past, present a future forgiven. Sins we have committed are divorced from us, sins committed against us and the resulting bondages are released from us. The apostle refers to this as redemption (i.e. a purchase). It is in Christ that we have “redemption, through His blood, the release from our sins” (1:7-8). We have that redemption now, even though the redemption of the body is future in the resurrection.
- The contents of God’s plans and purposes have been revealed to us. God Himself has made known to us the mystery of his will (1:9). We have the information that explains the mystery now.
- The baptism in the Holy Spirit was a normal experience by the truth delivered and acted upon in apostolic times. It is this writers conviction that we are sealed as God’s own property in the visible manifestation of the baptism of the Spirit on top of being converted, as opposed to simply being born of the Spirit when we come to Christ. In whatever way the verse is read, we are/ were sealed with or by the Holy Spirit (1:14).
- Every believer is adopted in this present life and to be fully developed in the manifestation of the sons of God in the resurrection (1:5)
IN THE FUTURE
- In the future, all believers are to be presented Holy and blameless. It is future to us. I believe this presentation will be outside of time in eternity (1:4). Christians are judged at the Judgement Seat of Christ, and then presented holy and blameless to the Father. What is in the confines of time and what is in the liberty of eternity is unknown.
- It is God’s determination to administer and centre all things in the entire universe in Christ at the completion of all the ages, all the times, all the worlds and all those beings that are to be judged (1:10).
- Christians are to be redeemed by the possession of the pledge at a future point already set. In plain English, the Christian will receive his resurrection body – a body better suited for eternity (1:14).
CONSTANTLY FACTUAL IN THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE CHILD OF GOD
- God’s choice in the believer is set eternally. His choice was made in eternity and has always stood to be fulfilled throughout all time. His choices are eternal and unchanging (1:4).
- Preparation through adoption through Christ is eternally set (1:5). God has preveniently prepared people’s entire lives to bring them to adoption. Every relationship, every non-relationship, every achievement and non-achievement, God has worked on us all to bring us to Himself.
- The wisdom and intelligence of God are eternally effectual in the manifestation of His plan (1:8)
- The decision to administer the plan is eternally set (1:9)
- His foreknowing and energising all things is a constantly experienced fact (1:11)
- It is an eternal fact that all things were made in time to accomplish the intention of His will (1:11).
So we have the incredible discovery that no matter what and how it effects the universe, the plan was set in eternity past, to be completed and progressed in eternity to come and being fully effected here in time and space on planet earth.
There are several understandings that come out of these glorious discoveries.
- God never changes.
- People will live forever in the resurrection. The plan for the saved is eternally set. The plan for those who choose not to be saved is also eternally set.
- It is obvious by the whole chapter that some will be saved, and some will not be.
- Reincarnation is therefore a total and complete lie. No second chance is as much as hinted at in the whole of scripture.
- Pre existent life for the human soul is therefore non-existent. We are seen and known by God from eternity, but created at conception and not before.
- There is a plan for everybody’s life, without exception. As individuals, it is the joy and challenge of life to align ourselves with God’s pre-destined plan for us.
- Nobody is alive by accident, no matter what the circumstances of conception and birth are.
- Nobody is converted by accident. Conversion is predestined, transcending all logistical “accidents” that get people to the point where they make the choice of faith.
- God is after people’s heart, not externals.
- Jesus Christ is incomparable as a man. He is to be worshipped as God.
- Anything that can be deemed a blessing, a gift, an outpouring of God – is totally embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.
- Death is not so much as considered in the outworking of this plan. It is a non-starter as far as problems go. If one was made aware of what is present at the other side of death, then death itself would clearly have become an absolute non-starter of a fear carrying issue.