The Bible teaches that God has “placed eternity” in the heart of every human being! That sounds like a nice religious sentiment—even sort of poetic, but what does it really mean? A good place to begin in answering that question is to define some words and terms: God, eternity, heart, etc.
Here we go… Of course, if God is really God, then there’s no way to define the indefinable. Either God exists and is God…or He doesn’t exist. If He exists, then the usual words that attempt to define Him are appropriate and applicable: omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (everywhere and everywhen simultaneously), all-loving, and the like. If God does not exist, then there’s no reason to continue with this teaching.
Therefore, to continue with this teaching I am making the basic assumption that God exists and all the attempts to define the indefinable are appropriate—but only go so far. If God is God, then He is eternal and infinite (no limitations of time and space), and no human languages can really do complete justice in describing Him. One historic attempt to describe God is that He is Creator of all that exists—including all humanity.
Again, I’m making some assumptions: God exists, He is Creator. He is eternal. He is infinite. He has created all humanity. Humans whom He has created reflect in many ways who God is. I am making an additional assumption: God is a tri-une being, a trinity. Three persons in one God; one God in three persons. Indivisible. I won’t attempt to explain the tri-une nature of God. I simply accept that as an inexplicable fact taught in various places throughout the Bible, especially in the New Testament.
Humans are also a “trinity,” consisting of body, soul, and spirit: One in three. Three in one. Indivisible. Inexplicable. The only entity we have access to in this life that can define the tri-une nature of humans is the Bible, as stated in Hebrews 4: 12: “For we have the power-full Word of God [the Bible], that is full of God’s own LIFE—LIFEgiving. Like a surgeon’s scalpel, it even cuts to the core of our being where soul, spirit, and body meet and blend into one!” (paraphrased)
As originally created, humans consisted of spirit, soul (mind, personality), and body—with the spirit component of humanity having ascendancy or dominance (but not domineering!) over body and soul: “chief among equals,” so to speak. Shortly after humanity’s creation, due to the entrance of sin into the bloodstream and DNA of humanity, the spirit component lost its dominance and “died.” It did not die in the sense of cessation of existence; rather, in the sense of atrophying, withering, drying up—it’s inner light almost flickering out.
For almost all topics or subjects taught throughout the Bible, there is most often one basic reference, verse, passage or chapter that encapsulates or summarizes that topic or subject. For example, the subject of “resurrection” is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15, the subject of “love” in 1 Corinthians 13, the way God “speaks” to us in John 10, and so on.
The subject of the tri-une nature and “composition” of humans is encapsulated in 1 Thessalonians 5: 23: “Now may the God of peace and harmony set you apart, making you completely whole. And may your entire being—body, soul, and spirit—be kept completely fit and flawless for the appearance and coming of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.” (paraphrased)
So far, we have attempted to “define” God and briefly looked at the makeup of humans. Now let me attempt to define “heart” and then “eternity,” before we discuss God having placed eternity in the hearts of all humans.
It seems that throughout the Bible, the human heart is often considered alternately as “soul” and “spirit,” but putting together all the references to “heart” in the Bible, it appears that the human heart is most often defined as the human soul and spirit combined. “Heart” means the core or essence of who we are as humans. It means who we are as humans, contrasted with so-called “lower animals,” so to speak, or with living flora.
Now let’s take a few moments to look at the concept of “eternity.” The most literal definition of eternity is “a state of being ‘in’ God.” We shall see that it is much more than that, but it is a state of being, first and foremost. In other words, eternity is not a created phenomenon as time is. In all candor, I believe the Bible teaches very little by way of defining or describing eternity. Why? Because the Bible is essentially a book of time and for time, not for eternity.
It was written for us who are still time-beings, not yet totally eternal beings. It was written to time- and space-limited humans, and does not contain exhaustive information about the state of being called eternity—simply because—until we enter the realm of eternity, our limited, finite minds could not even begin to grasp even the most elemental truths about infinity and eternity.
However, the Bible is clear that it is an “eternal book” and will be carried over into the eternal state when we shall continue to explore its “mysteries” in that state beyond time. The Word of God—the Bible—will exist throughout eternity as God’s complete written revelation to humankind, always and ever to be “mined” for its vast, inexhaustible treasures of knowledge and wisdom!
Where is that state of being we call eternity to be found? If we were to consider it an actual “place,” (it is not, but if it were) we will find eternity “beginning” beyond the far shores of time! It is an infinite sphere where God is at the absolute center and there is no circumference.
We are presently creatures of time—journeying through time and space. Only when we arrive at and fully enter that state of being called eternity… only when He who is Eternal becomes All in All in us… only when time ends and is swallowed up into eternity… only when eternity becomes an absolute reality to us… only when we are spiritually metamorphosized into our eternal milieu…only then will we who were formerly temporal and physical beings, begin to comprehend eternity and matters of an eternal nature. Everything written in time about eternity (including this teaching) is at best merely enlightened speculation based upon very limited information either scientific or spiritual.
I wrote that the Bible is relatively silent about the state of being called eternity. That is not to say that human teachings and theology haven’t taught us a few concepts about eternity, but, sadly, some of it over the past 2,000 years or so has come from human minds not necessarily sensitive to the mind of the Eternal One via Holy Spirit. Praise God for the true teaching ministry of the Eternal Spirit!
We read in the Bible that God is Eternal, or, more literally, the Father of Eternity (Deuteronomy 33: 27, Isaiah 9: 6). He is called so in the sense that he is the originator and sustainer of eternity. In short, eternity is part of God. He is eternity. Eternity is wholly “within” God. In continuing to consider the eternal state, we must completely jettison any thinking that time has anything to do with eternity or is part of eternity. Time and eternity are two separate entities. They are mutually exclusive of one another in an absolute sense.
Eternity is a state of absolute timelessness, NOT a state of unending time. Eternity is neither the end of time nor “after” the end of time. It is the transmutation of time. It is all at once and all “places” at once, where everything is simultaneously accessible. Eternity is a state of being, resident in the very nature and person of God in which such concepts as past, present, future, before, after, minutes, hours, and years do not exist. There are no endless ages of time in eternity!
There is no “forever” in eternity. Eternity is a state of absolute simultaneousness, not a state that goes on and on “forever” with the passing of “unending” time. The created ages 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 are mutually exclusive. Time is not part of eternity just as up is not part of light. Eternity is NOT composed of endless segments of time or of unending ages that go on and on and on forever and forever and ever without end. In eternity, it is always now…
Just as something extra to think about, have you ever considered how “forever” as we commonly think of it as time without end…could have an “ever” tacked on to the end of forever? How could there be a “forever” with an “ever” following it? I’m just asking.
It may seem like I’m overemphasizing this point, but it is absolutely essential that you understand such differences between eternity and time before you can begin to comprehend what the Bible teaches, for example, about eternal LIFE or eternal punishment. 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. Eternity doesn’t go on and on, ad infinitum. Before reading this teaching any further, you might want to read a companion teaching on this web site titled “Eternal LIFE.”
Eternity doesn’t go anywhere or anywhen, nor does it do anything. Eternity simply is. It is as foolish to say that eternity goes on and on and on as to say, for example, that Texas goes on and on and on. Texas simply is a state in which people exist. So it is with eternity.
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 part of the very measureless, non-fixed, limitless, boundless nature and person of God. Eternity transcends beyond our comprehension anything having to do with time. Eternity simply is, just as God simply is. The expression, “It is that it is,” has unique reference to eternity just as “I am that I am” has unique reference to God. Just as Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8: 58) it can be said of eternity, “Before time was, I am.”
We have now completed our limited attempt at definitions. Let’s go back to our first paragraph. The Bible teaches that God has “placed eternity” in the heart of every human being! That’s a nice religious sentiment—even sort of poetic, but what does it really mean? A good place to begin in answering that question is to define some words and terms: God, eternity, heart, etc. We have now defined our terms.
Here’s that biblical reference about God placing eternity in the hearts of every human: “God has permanently implanted in every human a portion and foretaste of eternity. Yet, finite humans can never get a complete grasp of what God is doing. Being, finite, what we comprehend of God’s workings throughout human history is always partial and distorted.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 11, paraphrased) Simply stated, I believe that reference. I believe that when every human is conceived, God places eternity in their hearts. Every human!
What a loving act for God—who is love: his basic character and nature is love—to place a “piece” of Himself in every human. A piece of his love, of his eternal nature, of his state of being, of his goodness flowing from his love, of eternity spent with Him, not in a state of eternal, conscious torment, as multitudes of misguided people mistakenly believe. In the words of an old song: “How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”
Let’s move on now and define the human spirit. We have already seen that every human consists of body, soul, and spirit: one in three, three in one. Inseparably one for all time and eternity. Our human spirit is that “part” of our makeup that is vitally connected with God, whose essence is Spirit. In fact, the Bible states: “God is Spirit.” (John 4: 23).
As noted above, due to sin (which I won’t discuss in this teaching) our human spirit that God implants within us when we are conceived, becomes atrophied, withered, dried up, “dead.” In the context of God being Creator of all, Zechariah 12: 1 states that God created, or formed, the spirit within humans; the Bible doesn’t tell us when that occurs, but logic and reason inform us that it likely occurs when each human is conceived. Our human spirit is that “part” of us that is God-conscious. At some point in each of our lives, our spirits become “dead” due to sin. The Bible is not clear about when that occurs.
However, the Bible does teach that at some point in our lives (likely when we are “born again,” or saved, or converted—whatever term one uses to describe the experience of re-connecting with the LIFE of God), God’s Spirit (Holy Spirit) fuses, melds, and coalesces with our human spirits and we become “one spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6: 17). Thereafter, our spirits “grow” within us as we foster and nourish our relationship with God the Spirit. That relationship will continue to grow and thrive throughout our mortal lives, and then in the afterlife in eternity.
The Bible also teaches that the spirit of humans is the “candle” of God—or the “light” of God within humans. (Proverbs 20: 27) Again—due to sin—that light becomes dim until one is “born again,” or as an old Hank Williams song goes: “I saw the light. Praise the Lord, I saw the light!” I invite you to read another teaching on this website about the light of God within humans: “Let There Be Light.”
There you have it: God has implanted eternity in your heart! That means He has placed his own eternal LIFE in you. God’s Spirit has fused and melded with your spirit, and you two have become one spirit for all time and eternity. God’s light has been glowing within you since your conception, and is shining ever brighter as you cultivate your relationship with your Creator and Father. Once again, your human spirit is gaining ascendancy over your body and soul, but is still chief among equals, in a manner of speaking.
Yes, God has placed eternity in your heart! I hope you now know a little bit more about what that statement means. I urge you to foster that eternal nature within you. Let God’s own nature and character within you grow and flourish as you cultivate your ongoing relationship with Him. Continue on your journey with God through this life, continuing right on into your next life in Jesus’ bright Kingdom of Heaven on the freshly renewed and restored earth. Reach out to help others find and recognize the LIFE of God—eternity—within them, too. God has also placed eternity in their hearts!
God might very well be asking you to help others accept and recognize eternity in their hearts, and then help them grow and nourish that eternal relationship with their Creator and Father. What wonder-full opportunities there are all around you—if you have eyes to see and ears to hear—to help others see that God has placed eternity in their hearts.
Revised and Updated February 2023