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How does time relate to the nature of God?

#1. How does time relate to the nature of God?
God has no beginning or end. Time always has a starting point.
God is in the eternal present state of being.

Either something is eternal by nature or something non-eternal emerged from nothing. The point is, from nothing nothing comes. Therefore, we are left with only one intelligent choice; there is something that is eternal by its nature, which we call God. We exist as a result of God’s doing and He has chosen to reveal Himself to us.

Exodus 3:14
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”

Psalms 90:2
Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.

1 Timothy 6:16
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.

2 Peter 3:8
But do not let this one [fact] escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Any thing that has a starting point or a beginning is finite and can be measured by time.
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God cannot not exist

God does not learn. Learning requires obtaining knowledge and implies ignorance. God knows all things. The presupposition of learning is not knowing. Therefore, God knows all that can be known.

Psalms 147:5
Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.

I John 3:20
For God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

God’s knowing has no need for time. In relating to the finite (His Creation) God communicates in terms we can understand. Since we had a beginning, we think in terms of time.
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God can be in many different places simultaneously. God can be in heaven and on earth. God can be dwelling personally in each believer, but also be our advocate in heaven simultaneously. God can create by His very word; it’s easy for Him, but impossible for us to understand.

Psalms 33:6
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.

Keep in mind the speed of light is 186,282.396 miles per sec. The universe is incredible. Astronomers commonly represent distance in terms:
1. A single parsec is approximately 3.262 light-years.
2. A mega parsec is the distance light travels in 3.26 million years.
3. One gigaparsec is about 3.262 billion light-years, or roughly one- fourteenth of the distance to the horizon of the observable universe.

There are thousands of galaxies. In other words, it’s big out there.
(Check out The Expansion Rate and Size of the Universe by Wendy L Freeman 1998 page 93 Scientific America, Inc.)
As great as God is, He still takes great interest in things that are small, just as we do.

Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally.
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God is powerful and omnipresent.

I Kings 8:27
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the
highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house
which I have built!

Picture a white piece of paper with a solid black circle in the center of it. Then place lines running in every direction from one side of the paper to the other all passing through the black circle at differing points. Now consider the lines representing eternity and the circle representing the creation within eternity. What part of the black circle would not be within eternity even though the circle is lineal, meaning it had a starting point? The answer is obvious; every minute part of the black circle, without exception, is within eternity. That is simply how God, being eternal, can know the end from the beginning because our eternal God transcends creation at every point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God is eternal, always in the present tense of everything in the “now.” In other words, on earth if an event occurs at 3:00 pm, God is present at 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm simultaneously with the 3:00 pm event. Nothing escapes God or catches Him by surprise. God has the ability to co-exist within His creation and be removed from it simultaneously.

Obviously, my best attempt to address these most important issues will fall short. Consequently, to ignore them opens the doors to confusion and misrepresentation of the very nature of God and His creation. What kind of a God do you have: an infinite God or a limited, finite God? That’s the question -- what kind of a God do you want? What does the Bible say God is like?

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Isaiah 42:5
Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk in it,

Colossians 1:16
For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created by Him and for Him.

Hebrews 11:3
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
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#2. Does God change? No.

Malachi 3:6
For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today, [yes] and forever.

God created in Genesis 1. His creation, within this universe, has a starting point; therefore, it can be measured by predictable time standards and changing events present within this universe.
God’s essence does not change as a result of His creating.
Though change exists as a result of His creating.

God can create a tree, but that does not mean He is the tree.
Yet, the tree does not exist apart from the presence of God.
It is very difficult for the finite person to understand the infinite God. With this understanding we will use some finite examples.

Example A
God may appear to change, but does not change. Think of a stage production that has many different scenes. One scene may be bright and another might be dark. One may even be reddish. How that is accomplished is by inserting different colored jells in front of the bright flood lights. As a result, for example, if red jells were inserted, the effect on the stage would be red. Yet the nature of the bright flood lights would not have changed.

With this understanding, when God’s light shines on sin, we see wrath. But when God’s light shines on righteousness, we see favor. Yet God has not changed. The same light is shining in both cases; yet the effect is totally different.

Example B
Some seem to hold that because God is immutable He cannot act. We know, however, that He is immutable and also acts; and so the two must be compatible. In this way: God’s immutability is not like that of a stone that does not respond to changes about it, but like that of a column of mercury which rises and falls according as the temperature changes.
(Lectures In Systematic Theology - Thiessen, pg. 128)

Note: The reason this subject is so important is because some are attempting to undermine the Nature of God by making God out to be finite. These misdirected people are attempting to undermine many verses like:

Psalms 147:5
Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.

They attempt to use verses like to show God’s knowledge and understanding is limited and not infinite.

In doing this, they undermine God’s power, knowledge, presence and unchanging nature. Surely, there are things about the Scriptures that are hard to understand. But in our attempt to understand them, we should not take away from the well-established attributes of God to reconcile apparent problems, which we have in our understanding.

Now, someone may ask, “If God is in the ‘Now, Always,’ and does not change, why does the Bible say God repents?” This is an important
question to understand the answer to.

1 Samuel 15:29
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man, that He should repent.

Exodus 32:14
And the LORD repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people.

How is this apparent paradox explained?

Example C
It may simply be the case that since the circumstances have changed, God’s relationship to the new circumstances are different because they have changed, not God. God’s attitude toward sin is always anger and His attitude toward those who call to Him is always an attitude of mercy. Before Moses prayed for Israel they were under God’s judgment. By Moses’ intercession for the people of Israel, he brought them under God’s mercy. God did not change. Rather, the circumstances changed. The language used in this passage is called anthropomorphic, or man-centered language. It is similar to someone moving from one place to another and saying, “Now the house is on my right,” “Now the house is on my left.” Neither of these statements is meant to imply that the house has moved. Rather, it is language from a human perspective to describe that I have changed my position in relationship to the house. When Moses said that God relented, it was a figurative way of describing that Moses’ intercession successfully changed the relationship of the people to God. He brought the nation under the mercy of God’s grace, and out of from under the judgment of God. God does not change neither His mind, His will, nor His nature.
(When Critics Ask - Geisler Howe, pg. 86-87)

Example D
All God’s actions are governed by His constant unchanging character.

The differences between God and mankind are far more than that of parents and their children. Yet some of the same principles may apply.
For example, within the structure of the family unit, children’s good
behavior results in a positive perspective toward the children and possibly rewards. Whereas bad behavior results in attitudes of dissatisfaction and punishment.

Consider this... a mother and father inform their children that they are taking a trip to the zoo next week. Yet within a few days, the children misbehave and the mother and father inform the children that the trip is off as a result of the children’s behavior.
The question is -- have the mother and father changed their mind?

No! Simply because the original trip to the zoo was contingent upon the behavior of the children. The family policy was that good behavior merits rewards, bad behavior results in punishment.

Therefore, if in fact the children were to misbehave and yet the parents
were to take the children to the zoo anyway, then we would see change on the parents’ part. Some may say the parents have changed their minds. In doing so they would be ignoring context.

Note: Consider a parent, after finding a child doing wrong, making a statement like this, “Now just what am I to do with you?” The fact is that the parent asked the question. Necessarily, does that mean that the parent does not know what to do? Obviously not. It should not be hard for us to consider God dealing with us in similar ways.

It is true that the Scripture makes use of anthropomorphic forms of expression as regards the way in which God obtains knowledge and sometimes even represents Him as if He did not know certain things; nevertheless, the constant representation of the Scripture is that God knows everything.
(International Standard Bible Encylopedia, pg.1128)

Anthropomorphic is describing human attributes and characteristics to God.

Example E
Picture yourself sitting in a chair sitting still, not moving. If I were to see you, you would appear to be motionless. Yet, blood is flowing through your veins and many things are moving within you. Your heart is beating; yet you are not moving, but sitting motionless. The same person is moving and yet not moving at the same time.

Also, within your mind, you could be thinking about any numbers of things. You could even be dreaming or relating in your mind pictures that appear to be real and transcend the moments in the chair to even days or weeks of experiences. Yet you are not moving but sitting motionless.

In no sphere or relationship is God subject to change. He could not be less than He is, and since He filleth all things, He could not be more than He is. He could be removed from no place, nor is His knowledge or holiness subject to change. (Systematic Theology, CHAFER, pg. 217)

God’s unchanging holiness requires him to treat the wicked differently from the righteous. When the righteous become wicked His treatment of them must change. The sun is not fickle or partial because it melts the wax but hardens the clay. The change is not the sun but in the object it shines upon.(Systematic Theology, CHAFER,. Dr. Miley, pg. 218)

Hence, although speaking in terms of human experience God is sometimes said in Scripture to repent, it is in fact the unrepentant who have changed and become repentant or the faithful who have become unfaithful. (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Elwell, pg. 453)

(Norman L, Geisler) God does not change His mind. Neither can God’s will be changed, for God’s will is in perfect accord with His knowledge. He is omniscient, so what he knows will be will be. Therefore, God’s will is unchangeable. This does not mean that God does not will that some things change. But God’s will does not change, even though He does will that other things change. When the Bible speaks of God “repenting,” it means that from where we stand it looks as if He has changed His mind. God knew from eternity how it would fall out, and God’s will includes intermediate causes, such as human free will. So God knows what the intermediate causes will choose to do. And God’s will is in accord with His unchangeable knowledge.

Therefore, God’s will never changes, since He wills what He knows will happen. What is willed by conditional necessity does not violate human freedom, since what is willed is conditioned on their freely choosing it. God wills the salvation of human beings conditionally. Therefore, God’s will to salvation does not violate human free choice, but uses it.
(Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Norman L, Geisler, pg. 288)

Note: The fact that the Bible uses the term repent in references to God should not be taken to confuse the unchanging character of God, but to envision the fallibility of man.
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#3. Does chance exist within the nature of God? No. Chance by its nature limits knowledge; therefore, chance cannot exist within God’s nature.

In flipping a coin if you knew whether it was face up or face down, you knew the density of the atmosphere, the amount of force that was exerted by the flip, the number of revolutions the coin will make, where it will be caught, or whether the coin will be turned over after it is caught, there would be no chance involved. Furthermore, if it was always flipped in the same way under the same conditions, it would always come up the same. You do not have the knowledge needed to know how it will end up, but it’s not chance. It is simply ignorance on your part. Yet God knows; therefore, there is no chance for chance with God. It does not exist.
“If chance exists in any size, shape, or form, God cannot exist.”
(Not A Chance - RC SPROUL, pg. 3)
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#4. Points #1 (Time does not exist within the nature of GOD) + #2 (God does not change) + #3 (There is no chance with God) equals foreknowledge. Foreknowledge is the knowledge of everything within the sphere of God, which is, all within all.

The word foreknowledge is a misnomer since there is no future with God.

Foreknowledge does not mean control. Moreover, God can create an ant and know that it is going to walk. But when this insect walks, that doesn’t mean that God is taking each step.
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He knows beforehand what Abraham will do, and what will happen to him; He knows beforehand that Pharaoh’s heart will be hardened and that Moses will deliver Israel.

The entire history of the patriarchal period of revelation exhibits plainly the foreknowledge of God in this sense. In prophecy this aspect of the Divine knowledge is made the subject of explicit assertion and its religious significance is brought out. (International Standard Bible Encylopedia, pg. 1228-1229)
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Jesus and the apostles taught that God knows the hidden secrets of man’s heart. (Matthew 10:26, 1 Corinthians 4:5) God knows all!

Isaiah 46:9-10
Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; [I am] God, and there is no one like Me, 10) Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’...

Psalms 139:4
Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, Thou dost know it all.

Isaiah 65:24
It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.

Note: In the black circle with the eternal lines drawn through it in every direction, ask yourself what part of time, escapes the presence of the eternal God? Answer: None. No one can escape the presence of God at any time.

Isaiah 42:8-9
I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images. 9) “Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim [them] to you.

Since He is free from all limits of space, His omniscience is frequently connected with His omnipresence. (International Standard Bible Encylopedia, pg.1128)

Hence, God knows in one eternal intuition that which for the human consciousness is past, present and future. In a strict sense, therefore, there can be no foreknowledge or prescience with God, and the distinction in God’s knowledge made by theologians, as knowledge of reminiscence, vision and prescience, is after all an anthropomorphism. Nevertheless this is the only way in which we can conceive of the Divine omniscience in its relation to time, and consequently the Scripture represents the matter as if God’s knowledge of future events were a foreknowledge or prescience, and God is represented as knowing the past, present and future. (International Standard Bible Encylopedia, pg.1128)

Psalms 139:7-12
Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?
8) If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. 9) If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10) Even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me. 11) If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” 12) Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike [to Thee.]

Jeremiah 23:23-24
Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off? 24) “Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.

Acts 17:27-28
That they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28) for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.

Acts 2:23
This [Man] delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of Godless men and put [Him] to death.

Romans 8:28-29
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. 29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to become] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;

Romans 11:2
God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in [the passage about] Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

1 Peter 1:2
According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: may grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

In life we see one frame at a time.
God sees the whole picture at once,
all the frames all the time.

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#5. Does God always control the choices people make? NO!

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Romans 10:13
For “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

John 8:24
I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.

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#6. Does God elect people unto salvation?
Yes, election is based upon God’s foreknowledge of people’s faith.

II Thessalonians 2:13
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

Romans 8:33
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;

1 Peter 1:2
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

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#7. Does God predestinate? Yes God’s predestination is based upon God’s foreknowledge.

Romans 8:29
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren...

2 Timothy 1:9
who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity...

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