Continued from last month
We are studying the concepts of time and eternity. They are two completely separate phenomena. They are mutually exclusive of one another in an absolute sense.
Eternity IS a state of absolute timelessness, NOT a state of unending time. There are NO endless ages of time in eternity. Also, Eternity IS a state of absolute simultaneousness, NOT a state that goes on and on and on with the passing of “unending” time. Eternity is a state of being, resident in the very nature and person of God—in which such time-concepts as past, present, future, before, after, minutes, hours, and years do not exist.
Time Shall Be No More!
The ages and eons of time will end; they are alien concepts in eternity. Time and eternity have no relationship with one another just as up or down, for example, have no relationship with light or dark. The terms “up” and “light” are mutually exclusive. Time is not part of eternity just as “up” is not part of “light.” It may seem like I’m overemphasizing this point, but it is absolutely essential that we understand such differences between eternity and time before we can begin to comprehend what the Bible teaches, for example, about eternal LIFE.
Time is not part of eternity. Eternity is not composed of unending segments of time. Eternity is not time standing still. It simply is not time in any sense that we understand time. Time is time, eternity is eternity, and the two are not related in any way. Eternity doesn’t go on and on, ad infinitum. Eternity doesn’t go anywhere or anywhen, nor does it do anything. Eternity simply is. Time is created. It is extra-eternal in the sense we say something is extra-biblical. Time is a measurable, fixed, limited, created phenomena. Eternity, in contrast, is uncreated, part of the very nature and person of God.
The Great “I AM”
Eternity transcends beyond our comprehension anything having to do with time. Eternity simply is, just as God simply is. Just as Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8: 58) eternity could say of itself, “Before time was, I am.”
Some Misunderstood Terms
For my next point let’s consider only briefly the definitions of such biblical words and terms as “forever,” “forever and ever,” “eternal,” everlasting,” and related expressions. By the way, have you ever pondered how there can be a “forever” with an “ever” following it? Hmmmm. Just asking…
In over 500 places in most modern translations of the Bible where we find such terms in the English language as the four mentioned above, they have with very few exceptions been poorly translated from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages in which the Bible was written. For example, “forever” can most often be translated as “age-lasting,” or “continuing for the ages or eons of time.” “Forever and ever” and “everlasting” should be translated as “for the age(s) of the ages,” “enduring for the ages of time,” or “throughout all generations.”
Such biblical words or expressions are not about segments of time that go on and on and on without end. I am simply saying that these words are all time-words expressed in time-languages, fallen languages of a fallen race of beings, human languages that are inadequate to wholly express and define that which is eternal. They are not words having to do with eternity; they are only about time. In the original languages, the biblical emphasis on such words seems to be upon the quality and purpose of such words rather than upon an unending duration. In other words, eternal LIFE means the nature, quality, or purpose of the LIFE rather than it’s length or duration.
Eternal LIFE is God’s self-existent, uncreated, undiminishable, imperishable, incorruptible, inexhaustible, indestructible, limitless, boundless, abundant LIFE in us, a LIFE the seed of which we now possess and which will blossom fully in eternity when the ages of time have ceased to exist.
Check ‘em Out Yourself
I’ve given only a few examples of such words and expressions. An exhaustive—and startlingly convincing—personal study can be made of every such word in the Bible with the use of a good Bible concordance. In summary, it can readily be seen that both time and eternity are concepts beyond total comprehension by fallen and limited human beings. Our “darkened,” finite, human minds and understanding are too limited to fully grasp their meanings. Nevertheless, even a dim understanding of such concepts will help change our thinking and preconceived notions of space, time, the universe, God’s nature and personality, God’s “size,” God’s inherent eternality, and our own future eternality.
The thoughts of Jesus-believers are becoming boundless and eternal, no longer controlled and motivated entirely by memories of the past, by present events, or by dim hopes for an endless future in the “sweet bye and bye.” God’s children are becoming age-less and time-less, are being “caught up” to God and his throne, are becoming truly and genuinely eternal beings in many ways. The fledgling eternal spirits of God’s people are growing up into the limitless expanses of God’s own eternal, spiritual nature. God’s Jesus-followers are becoming new eternal creations, no longer limited by the restrictions of the space-time continuum and by our physicality and materiality.
We are not finite, mortal human beings having a temporary spiritual experience; no, we are eternal spiritual beings having a very brief, finite human experience!
I hope this brief teaching about the concepts of time and eternity will help you more fully appreciate the wonder-full, rich, abundant, eternal LIFE God has implanted within you through the eternal sacrifice and total and complete salvation.
Beyond the Far Reaches of Time and Space
Here is a fictional scenario I recently wrote based on my own very, very limited understanding of Eternity, that place in God to which we are all journey-bound:
“Beyond the far reaches of the vast seas of time and space lies a fair, verdant, and lovely land called Eternity. It is a land beyond measure in which no mortal, wayfaring feet have yet trod. A land of great delights, of fulfilled desires, dreams, goals, and visions. A land where He Who Is…is All in all; there is nothing in that altogether exquisite land which The Great Presence does not fully permeate and fill to the full.
We…you…me…all are bound for that unclouded land beyond the far reaches and borders of time. In that ever-bright there will be no need of the sun or lamps, for there will be no night there. The permeating, en-Lightening Presence of Him Who is All in all will provide all Light, radiating to the darkest parts of the Universal Kingdom. And, in that wondrous land of light and beauty beyond compare, there is a pure River of Life flowing from the throne of the All in all.
On either side of that River are Trees of Life which bears fruit always, and the leaves of the Trees will heal those from every tribe, tongue, and nation who made the long trek to that wondrous Land. No dark curses will find a place in that comely Land, but only extraordinary blessings for all… from Him Who is all. Pure love will radiate throughout that land from Him Who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb seated at his right hand; transforming love will be the very atmosphere breathed by all who inhabit that fair land. And love will be the very core character and nature of all who dwell there…because He is Love.
It’s a land of dazzling beauty no human eye has ever seen—a land of light beyond the crystal seas. A bountiful land of abundance, a land of milk and honey where Justice and Mercy fall and nourish the land like spring rains, sweeping gently across the lush, verdant meadowlands of Eternity. Love, grace, mercy, and truth waft unceasingly throughout the land, filling the very atmosphere. The knowledge of God and his Righteousness and Good cover the earth as the waters fill the seas. Praise and joy resound from every corner of the land. Salvation and Deliverance flow down as crystal rivers flow from high, eternal mountains.
All is Peace—Peace which surpasses finite comprehension, Peace which overshadows all that might cause anxiety and worry, Peace which stills any tumult and storms that might arise on the crystal seas in that radiant land to which we go. There are quiet, sparkling streams of mercy in that Fair Land, beside which the Great Shepherd of all sheep leads us into verdant meadows where Feasts surpassing abundance are ever provided to all. We shall dwell there beyond the far shores of time, ever in the Presence of Him who fills all with Himself. Death shall be no more. Nothing shall ever disturb the peace and tranquility that pervades that all-spacious land over which the King of kings and Lord of lords rules with eternal benevolence toward all creation.
It is a vast, spacious land of scintillating colors beyond measure, where the flowers never fade and all foliage is ever green. Ceaseless High Praise—loud as rolling thunder—is ever heard, yet there is always a hushed and still quietness that is palpable to all. Praise rolls effortlessly from all created beings, originating from deep within the redeemed who ever come singing to the Temple of God—whose temple we are, filled with all the fulness of the Spirit beyond measure and comprehension. It is a wondrous, undiscovered land of great discovery, eternal excitement, and exploration.”
“We shall never cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” –T.S. Eliot
Dear reader, that is the wondrous land called Eternity to which we are all journey-bound beyond the far reaches of time and space. Let’s journey on…
“I am the…Beginning and the End, says the Lord God, He Who is and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty, the Ruler of All!” –Revelation 1: 8
To Think About This Month:
“On most gravestones there’s a date of birth, a dash, and then a date of death. The dash is very short; it represents my life from conception to death. It’s my relationship with God during the dash that really matters!”
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Revised and Updated December