| Eternity Outside of Time|
A friend of mine and I were talking last night about the nature of God and of time, and he brought a perspective that I had never really considered.
God is outside of time. In fact, He created time itself. We, however, are bound by time all of our days. We lived yesterday, and it is gone. We have this moment, and tomorrow is still to come. Nothing about our lives can be disconnected from time. In fact, we have great difficulty conceptualizing anything outside of the framework of time.
We know that God is eternally pre-existant. When we are born again, we have eternal life. This means that we will live forever. We sing songs that say things like, "When we've been there ten thousand years..." But in saying this, we have used terms like eternally, forever, and years. Because of our captivity to time itself, we cannot even express timelessness without binding our language to the concept of time.
When this world ends, we are told that time itself will end. Rev 10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer. This does not mean that man's days will end within the continuum of time. This means that the continuum of time itself will end. The entire framework under which we as humans live will end. Time itself, with its concepts of past, present, and future, of beginning and end, will pass away. There will be no more TIME.
We are told that God sees the beginning from the end. Since He created time, He is outside of the framework of time and can see all of our "times" at one time so to speak. Peter spoke of this timeless nature when he said, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
So, how long is eternity? Our bondage to the concept of time leads us to think in terms of comparison. We say, "Well, I know how long my life is...Wow, heaven is for a long time." But when Christ returns there will be no more concept of time. We will be like God in that we will no longer be bound by time.
The ramifications of this truth are, I think, much more broad than we might realize. I realize that this next paragraph has the potential to rabbit trail very quickly, but I want to use the example.
I grew up in a very classical pentecostal movement that held as one of its unique doctrines the idea of "soul sleep". They did not believe that a person's death was immediately preceded by their existence in heaven or hell. They believed that, as is stated in Ecclesiastes, "the dead know nothing." The spirit went to the Father and was "held in safekeeping" until it was reunited with the body to face the judgment seat of God. I sometimes heard sermons where the "error" of other offshoots of the movement such as the A/G was shown. These movements believed in immediate heaven or hell after death. We were also taught that those who are lost do not suffer in hell endlessly, but that they are annihilated. This disagreement has been the subject of hours and hours of posts here on SI.
But in light of the fact that time itself ceases to exist, what import does this doctrinal disagreement have anyway? The term "forever" only has meaning while time itself is in force. When time ends and eternity begins, "forever" as a time bound concept ends as well. In other words, since forever is bound by time, forever must cease to exist once time ceases to exist. What implications does this have on our concepts of annihilation or eternal torment? Do we argue about something that none of us, in our time-bound frameworks, can truly understand. Are we not often making a very big deal of something that we, by our very limited nature as humans, cannot fully understand or conceptualize anyway?
| 2014/11/29 9:57||Profile|
| Re: Eternity Outside of Time|
I think you're mis-reading Rev 10:6. The use of Chronos in verse six is being used in the sense that there will be no more delay for the fulfillment of the prophecy, not that time will cease to exist. In fact, in Rev 22:2 the tree of life is said to bear fruit every month.
Being finite creatures we will always know a sense of time. I would believe that our perception of it would certainly change though. Time flies enough as it is now at 43. I can imagine what it will be like at 43 million.
SI Moderator - Jeremy Hulsey
| 2014/11/29 10:34||Profile|
| Re: Eternity Outside of Time|
It is very difficult to grasp the idea of time being created.
To me, time is simply the measure of duration between two events. I can't see how time is a "thing" in and of itself. It is sort of like saying a "mile" is a "thing". You can't go out and look at a mile-- but rather the distance it covers. "Miles" weren't created, so to speak.
I know that CS Lewis used the "God is outside time" argument. I used to find it helpful but not so much anymore, because I am not at all certain that the future is something that exists NOW.
| 2014/11/29 10:36||Profile|
| Re: |
My friend has a Ph.D. In physics. He works for NASA. He works in the lunar lander project. In fact, he is the leader of a large portion of work on it.
When they say people in Alabama are not rocket scientists, this is exactly where a lot of them live and work. :).
Time-space studies are much of his work, academically and professionally. He is also a believer in our local church.
Here is my take away in very small bites of conversations with him.
1. Time is relative. It is not uniform through the universe.
2. Time itself is a dimension much as height, depth, width. Time is part of the design of the universe.
3. Time is a measurement of distance. You cannot measure time at all but for the distance between two or more points in space-time or between a change in the same point. Therefore, time is a construct of physicality itself. There is no concept of time outside of physicality.
4. Abstract concepts such as math are part of creation. There is no reason for math to "work".
Some conclusions drawn from these conversations:
1. God is not created and did not cause Himself. He simply is...."I am". Therefore, He is not part of time-space unless He inserts Himself into it in a manner and form that subjects to the laws of time-space. (Philippians 2 addresses this quite nicely.) He is not thereby wholly limited by those laws, however.
2. Once Jesus assumed the physicality of time-space, the witness of Scripture appears to keep Him there. He resurrected in a glorified body. He ascended in a glorified body. He will return as He ascended. He is and will make us as Himself. I think but am uncertain that Jesus remains the God-man, and that time is made to be unending by virtue of His existence.
It is completely devastating to my pride and all thoughts of myself as anything at all when I consider this. What God has done!
3. Because of the physical existence of Jesus, those who are not in the Lamb's book of life will have a sense of time as well. It does not readily appear to me, and I may be wrong again, that the dead outside of Christ are reprieved from the nature of the existence of time. The description of heaven and hell as places buttress this notion of forever physical in some manner. Where one would find an end to torment of the damned I do not see or know.
| 2014/11/29 12:54||Profile|
| Re: |
Jeremy: Perhaps I am reading too much, or perhaps to little, into Rev. 10:6. Most commentaries seem to agree that the term time here refers to a specific period of time rather than to time itself. Perhaps we always will have a sense of the passage of time. I guess the next question in my mind would be the nature of time after the old heaven and the old earth pass. We mark time by the rotation of the earth, the moon, and their passage around the sun. But in the new heaven there will be no sun, for its light will not be necessary. In that sense, will the passage of time have the same significance? How does a month in that sense relate to a month in our own time? Perhaps one of those curious questions we will not know until then.
| 2014/11/29 15:19||Profile|
| Re: |
If, after death, we have a sense of something we did, then we must have a sense of time. Otherwise we would have no short, or long term memory.
| 2014/11/29 16:50||Profile|
| Re: |
Interesting friend to have! What does he think about the future existing now?
| 2014/11/29 16:51||Profile|
| Re: Time for Love|
Perhaps nothing in Christianity cries out for assurance as the knowledge we all have that one day we will leave this "earth and time" dimension and be thrust into whatever it is that God has prepared for us.
From what I know here, how will it work there?
I too have questioned how love in an eternal relationship can work, because for love to be sent out and returned and sent and re-sent again would by its very nature require a passage of time.
Certain passages seem to require a framework of time, like the restoration of the earth in Romans 8, and I have mulled the significance of: "And of the increase of His government... there shall be no end." (From Isaiah 9:7) Time seems to be required for that to be fulfilled. (Hopefully no relationship to the current trajectory of American governance...)
Anyway, if time is truly replaced it will be something which we cannot comprehend from our current physical confinements.
But I do listen for wiser voices on this...?
| 2014/11/30 0:52||Profile|
| Re: Eternity Outside of Time|
Consider the possibility that eternity is just endless time.
| 2014/11/30 6:05|
| Re: |
Only the Creator transcends time . All others are subject to the time dimension. The difference is that those in heaven will not suffer the corruption that accompanies time as we do here on earth.
| 2014/11/30 7:58||Profile|