Bible Study Series
Contemplating the Almighty
The Eternal God
How well do you know God’s eternity?
1) To be eternal means
a) to have been created at one point but then to live forever
b) to exist forever (have no beginning nor end) and evolving into a greater and greater being
c) to exist forever and be the same throughout that entire time
2) Regarding time:
a) God is restrained by it in that He is only in the present like we are
b) God exists outside of time and is simultaneously in the past, present, and future
c) God is in the entire past and present but does not exist in the future because it does not exist yet
3) Regarding God’s creation:
a) There was always some impersonal force that at one point in the nearly eternal past coalesced into the personal God that we know today
b) God was not created and has always existed in the form that He is today
c) At one point God willed himself into existence
4) When we are in a trial God’s eternity means
a) that He can provide immediate relief and comfort because He knew that it was coming and He knows how it will end
b) really nothing since there is no relationship between the two
c) that we will not be over the trial until we die and go to Heaven
5) The relationship of God’s eternity to prophesy is that
a) since God has seen everything that has already occurred He is very good at predicting what will happen
b) since God has all power He can force future events to turn out the way that He wants even though He does not necessarily know what will happen in between
c) since God already exists in the future He not only knows what will happen but He can also direct it
6) When Christ died on the cross
a) all of mankind’s sins past, present, and future were laid on Him because God knows every sin
b) He only paid for the sins committed up until that time and is continually paying for sins now as they are committed
c) since God could not know what sins would be committed in the future Jesus paid for sins in a general way rather than for each particular sin
7) Christians can be considered to be eternal
a) False, because we were created and therefore had a beginning
b) Because the saved are given eternal life
c) Because we have immortal souls
8) God is called the Alpha and the Omega because
a) They are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and so means that God knows everything from A to Z
b) They are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and so means that God is the beginning and the end of everything
c) Alpha is the letter “A” and means that God is “All” and Omega is the letter “O” and means that God is “Over” everything
9) If God were not eternal then
a) something greater than Him would have had to bring Him into existence
b) it would not change anything
c) evolution would be true
10) An example of God’s being unrestricted by time is
a) John being able to see future events in the book of Revelation
b) Jesus telling Peter to cast his net on the other side of the boat and it miraculously filling with fish
c) Jesus walking on water
The eternity of the Most High is perhaps the one quality of God which is shrouded in the most wonder and mystery. The divine omniscience is easier to appreciate wince we can compare it to our own pursuit of knowledge. We can, likewise, minutely picture His ineffable sovereignty. The difficulty lies in the conceptualization of the existence of One, when there existed no other, and to think back, back, and further back and still be no closer to any beginning. The visualization of no end may be somewhat comprehendible, but to conceive of no beginning plunges the mind into a state of profound awe and worship. Even in believing this theme, we continue to want to ask, “Just where then did He come from?” and “Who created God?” The answer, of course, is that none can create what never began. What always was, created and sustains what always will be. Reason dictates that God must be eternal; revelation confirms it. revelation confirms it.
Our minds naturally think in terms of beginning, developing and deteriorating. God has none of these. He is immutable. His infinite perfection extends to both immeasurability and excellence. He is unaffected and unabounded by time. To acknowledge His eternity and to fathom it are two interrelated yet vastly different appreciations. The existence of the eye we can easily admit; as to its detailed mechanism, we must only concede wonder. No attempt of man can ever bring this great theme into concretely definable terms. All efforts must necessarily fall short. Language strains to explain this great and significant attribute, but that of God, which we cannot properly explain, who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”
We begin the Bible by immediately being impressed with the awesomeness of God. The first five words in Genesis 1:1 set the tone for the rest of scripture, “In the beginning God created.” These words emphatically present two of the divine attributes which unquestionably declare Him to be an immense and glorious God. It forthrightly establishes His eternity and, and subsequently, demonstrates His power. Before time and matter, there existed God. Only an eternal being could institute the establishment of time. Matter can fill absolute and universal void only because of the exertion of that which exists outside of time and substance. Before the Lord chose to create that which He did, there existed nothing but Himself—the omnipotent Godhead. Because of this, all else could be created. “Apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” It is only the Eternal Spirit-the self-existent One-that can bring anything into being.
Though His perpetualness is difficult to grasp, it is nevertheless essential to the definition of God. Were He not eternal, He would not be what He is. Two such proofs of this are His omnipotence and His self-sufficiency. Were God not eternal, it would then necessitate His being called into existence by something else since nothing cannot produce something. This extrinsic “force” must also be necessarily greater than what God is since one thing cannot produce another greater than itself. Indeed, this very principle is clearly taught in scripture. This “force” then would be omnipotent and God, the Most High, would be relegated to being another creature. The Creator would instead be the created. Therefore, He could not be self-sufficient because His whole creation and existence would depend on another. What potency He had would actually flow from another. The divine sovereignty would extend to only that which would be permitted. His immutability would be forever in doubt. But God is the eternal One who needs no other. All else save none totally requires His sustenance. The emphatic truth that the Lord is omnipotent, by the very definition of the work, necessarily means that nothing nor any combination of things could have created Him because none could be greater. There is but one God who will rightfully not share His glory with another. “Thou alone are the Lord. Thou hast made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them and the heavenly host bows down before Thee.” “For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say I live forever.”
Isaiah 57:15 reads, “For thus says the high and exalted One who dwells in eternity, whose name is Holy. ‘I dwell on a high and holy place and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the heart of the contrite.’” This passage contains the sublime truth that God “dwells in eternity.” It is not simply the case that God remembers all concerning the past and knows everything which is to happen in the future, but that He exists throughout time. Time, like all else that exists other than God, is a created entity. It is, therefore, God’s to use and control to His greatest glory. He is not encased in it as we who are always restricted to the present. He simultaneously lives in the eternal past as in the eternal future. Because He caused time, He is not bound by it. He is, thus, the simultaneous witness of every past and yet future historical event.
We pass through time; God exists outside of time. Though it is certain that we will live forever, we are still restricted by time. God is not. We will never be like God in that we can never encompass time; we will never exist in all of it at once. It is true that the Lord regards matters sequentially: season follows season, year follows year; man is born, he lives and dies; history is remembered, prophecy is foretold, but this is to accommodate our finite comprehension. As God has designed us as creatures of time, He thus relates to us as such. We are wholly unable to extend ourselves beyond this medium. Indeed, it is far beyond our capacity to even envision the absence of time. Therefore, we must surrender our understanding when examining the concept of a timeless existence. We must, by faith, believe that it is unnecessary for the existence of the Almighty, and that though our frame of reference must always include the element of time, God’s does not. He is the Eternal Spirit.
An example of the illimitability of God regarding time is the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John. Through the ineffable power of God, he was lifted from his present sphere and transported to future millenniums. He then witnessed and recorded events concerning the end of the ages, spanning over a thousand years. The Lord did not give John a presentation of what the future would be like; He brought him directly to it. John’s revelation is unique in that he does not write as a prophet, but as a witness. He was told to record not just what he heard, but also what he saw before him. His revelation spanned not only time, but also space as he witnessed both the events on the earth and the glory of the Lord in heaven upon His throne. He was subsequently delivered back to his present age so that he might record this vision for the generations to come between those two time references. God desired those events to be recorded as scripture, and so the years proved to be no obstacle. He does not just “see” the future; He is there.
Timelessness must be an essential attribute of what God is. It determines that all else flows from Him and not that all things have come together to form God He is not the end product of an amalgamation of great and mighty forces nor is He the evolution of pure energy; He is a great and mighty Being. It should be emphasized again that before He created anything, there existed nothing except Himself-not time, not space, not matter. He requires nothing to sustain Him. He is totally self-sufficient. As independent as any creature might arrogantly consider itself, only the Most High can claim this description in the fullest sense of the word. He is not to be defined as the essence of all things; He created all things. They are only the result of His being, a minute demonstration on His power. It is He who gave all else its essence. This is not to be construed; however, as meaning that matter is an extension of God-it is the creation of God. He will live forever, while it will be destroyed.
Because God is eternal, it necessitates also that He does not, any way, diminish. If He were to lessen to even the slightest degree, it would be impossible for Him to return to His original state. This reasons because if He has the capacity to restore Himself, then it was never lost and also because there is no extrinsic force or power which could replenish Him. His susceptibility to this phenomenon would be, consequently, increased until a point would be reached when His very existence would be jeopardized and ultimately exterminated. This, of course, is total nonsense but is intended to demonstrate that His eternity proves His omnipotence. Time affects only because of the forces that effect. It serves only as the medium through which these may work. Since no force can affect God, neither can time. Therefore, that He is eternal necessitates and verifies that He is immutable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.”
In Psalm 119:89 we read, “Forever, O Lord, They word is settled in heaven.” The principles God established in the Bible will last forever, even though their application may vary. Nothing can ever change them because nothing can change God. He cannot deal contrary to His word because He has not limited Himself to a particular set of rules. The scriptures do not limit Him, but, rather, express Him. “So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” “Thus says the Lord” carries the authority, not just of being spoken by God, but also as being true with all scripture. It is holy because He is holy. It is righteous because He is righteous. It is good because He is good. It is not that which shaped His character (as it should our’s), but His attributes are what designed them. Every word in the Bible has been placed there only after is has been found acceptable and consistent with all of His attributes. God did not write the Bible as we would write a book. When we write something, it generally comes from our imagination or creativity. When God wrote the Bible, it flowed forth from all that He is. It does not just convey His thoughts; it expresses His being. It is, therefore, mocked by the wicked and shunned by the deceived. The damnable read it to scorn; the blessed read it to adore. It can freely condemn sin because its basis is the holiness of God. It can justly promise eternal life because it stands on the salvation accomplished at Calvary.
To neglect the Bible is to neglect the greatest revelation which the Almighty has given of Himself. We can read no other written material with so much absolute confidence as we can the Holy Scriptures. It is authored and substantiated by none less than the Lord God. One expecting an intimate communion with the High and Holy One without constant meditation upon His word is doomed to disappointment. We must take the Bible seriously because God takes it seriously. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”
The placing of mankind’s sins upon the Christ necessitates an eternal God who can span all of time and, in a moment, crush His Son with every form and instance of sin. That all of history’s sin may be centralized onto the one Man of Christ requires a God not only infinite in might, but infinite in time as well. It is this that verifies the power of Hebrews 10:11-12, “And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.” A circumscribed God could not accomplish such a task. The magnificence of this truth transcends all human ability to appreciate fully the revelation that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf”. And again, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.” The sin we commit today has already been delivered to and placed on the sacrificial Lamb of God. It has already been defeated and crushed; Christ is the victor.
Once eternity begins, time will take two different courses in men’s lives. For those in hell, it will become their prison as they will spend it in utter anguish and pain. Eternity will become their main tormentor since it will destroy any hope of relief. Yet, for those in heaven, it will be our freedom as it will give us the hop of being with and worshipping God forever. We will forever say, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” How sweet the thought of being forever with our God and with His people, to gaze upon His face with no more the threat of sin and to bow with all the host of heaven in wonderful adoration. This is a hope and a destiny cherished by all the people of God.
The wicked mock the Christian’s promise of eternal life. They build memorials of one kind or another to perpetuate their name. They consider their greatest safeguard against being forgotten to be a monument of stone. Their hope ends with the grave. They suspect their insufficiency to attain to heaven so they deny hell also. To them, life begins and ends on the earth. The Bible informs us otherwise. It tells us that the wicked “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” The believer’s destiny lies not with the grave, but with His God. The declaration of the Bible is powerful. “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” For this our praise should be great.
Though God is free from time, it is not to be thought that He is, therefore, unaware of it also. All of history is not one concurrent mass to Him. He uses it to teach us patience and perseverance and, indeed, He even speaks of His own patience. He created the universe over a span of seven days and places no expectation upon us to be instantly perfect in all of our daily life. He created time; it serves His purpose a He is the eternal God, the self-sufficient Creator of all that exists. He is without origin, without end. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, and He has granted us the privilege of being with Him forever. The timeless God! It is perhaps this attribute of His eternity that most clearly confirms Him as an immense and unfathomable God. What He is commands awe and what He desires is our wholehearted worship.
What does His eternity mean to us?
Trust God for the future
Because God is eternal He does not have to scramble to help us out when there is a crisis. Thus we can believe that great promise in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Because God can operate outside of time He is able to comfort and help us in ways that we cannot imagine. He is never caught off guard and then must rush to set up triage. Several years earlier He might have brought certain people into our lives to help us for that moment of crisis. Or He had the pastor’s preaching schedule work out so that the sermon that we need to hear is delivered on that one Sunday that we need it the most.hat we n He knew before we were even born what temptations will attack us and what hurts we will suffer. Therefore, many events in our lives might be preparing us for those difficult times that are ahead. God does not always just lift us out of trying circumstances; sometimes He wants us to persevere through them until we reach the end. The latter develops greater character, trust, and spiritual stamina. Those qualities are developed over time and God can weave circumstances, people, health, finances, etc through our lives in order to prepare us for those difficult times. Of course, we may fail to utilize those resources and will instead struggle and be bitter but that is not God’s fault.
Can know that He is always listening
Do you believe that God does not have the time for you? Do you think that there are many other more important people or events occurring that require God’s attention? God exists outside of time. He can be simultaneously and fully concentrated on each and every person including you. You can have His undivided attention not because He is ignoring everyone else but because He is not restricted by time. Time does not matter to Him but you always matter to Him.
Confidence in His guidance
Is God confused about the best route to take in a given situation? You are praying about whether or not to marry that person or to take that job. God does not rely on statistics to determine the best solution. He knows what will be the precise outcome of whatever you choose because He is already there. He knows that every one of His promises will be faithful because He already sees the outcome of every person who has believed them and of those who have disobeyed.
Answers to quiz
1) a quiz
Peggy is always nervous about the future. If you mention some situation to her, she will always think of the worst possible outcome and get uptight about it. This not only fills her with anxiety but also puts a damper on any plans or ideas that someone else suggests. One time someone suggested a church picnic at the nearby park and she responded, “That park has a playground and children can get hurt on those and then the church will get sued. And then there’s the bugs and what if it rains?” Is there anything about God’s character and perhaps particularly His eternity that you can use to help alleviate Peggy’s chronic fears?
1) In addition to the ones discussed above, what are some other assurances that God’s eternity means to us?
2) If God has always existed then who created God?
3) By contemplating God’s eternity how can that help us through a trial?
4) The concept that God exists outside of time is hard to grasp. Is there any kind of visualization or analogy that can help someone understand this?
5) It has been said that God created time. If that is the case then what existed before time was created?
6) How can a God who exists outside of time be involved in each moment of my life when I am confined by time?
7) God is eternal. When we are born we will live forever. What is the difference?
8) What are some things that we can do to get to know God better?
9) How can someone always exist without ever being born?
Copyright Bob La Forge 2011 email: firstname.lastname@example.org