Theology Thursday: God’s Nature – Eternality

The foundation of the Gospel is God.  Without a solid foundation, we’re building a house that will simply fall down.  God isn’t like us so it’s important to draw on Scripture to define what God is and what can and should be attributed to Him

These days it is fashionable to define God’s nature as we believe Him to be, and then to apply God’s character to our made up nature.  This is nothing more than idolatry.  We are making a God in our own image, claiming the idol acts as God or even does the same things as God, and calling that idol the God of the Bible.  It is an over emphasis on the character of God.  The truth is that if we fail to define God’s nature correctly we fail to define God.  Essentially we end up with a different god.

Sometimes people even work backwards and start with God’s character and deduce His nature from this.  For example people see that God is merciful and forgiving.  They see God’s call to people to repent and deduce (falsely) from this that God is trying His best to win people who could be lost and doesn’t have any control over the situation.  His role, they say, is to be a persuader, and He is not sovereign over the situation.

Going to the Bible, we see some very clear teachings about the nature, the make up, of God.  God is eternal, sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and triune.  Today we’ll examine the eternity of God.

Eternal means that God is outside of time.  That He is not confined by time.

“A Prayer of Moses, the man of God. Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man back into dust And say, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.” {Psa 90:1-4 NASB}

In Psalm 90 we see many references to the eternity of God and many comparisons between God and time.  We find that God existed before creation of the earth and the universe.  In a sense, this tells us all we need to know.  It’s important to understand that time is a relative and human concept.  It’s nothing more than the measurement from one point to another point.  Einstein discovered that there is no dominant objective “clock” that governed everything.  In fact, in discovering that gravity and time are related in relative proportions (the theories of relativity), it can be concluded that if we were able to rid ourselves of reference points to measure, we would rid ourselves of time itself.  Time is ENTIRELY a construct of the observer and is imposed upon by the observer, not imposed upon the observer (this is why two clocks can appear to move at different speeds if one is stationary and another is moving relative to a stationary observer).

So, therefore, if God were bound by time He’d be subject to human observation and thus bound by the human.

But Psalm 90:2 gives us more.  It tells us that God is from “everlasting to everlasting”, that is, since God is the subject, from eternity past to eternity future.  Moses is writing here that God existed from perpetual continuous existence to perpetual continuous existence, or from forever to forever.  It’s a bold statement.  It says that God has always existed and God WILL always exist; and as if to drive how much a part of God’s nature this is, Moses concludes the thought by saying “You are God”.

To summarize the first two verses we might say: “You’re not subject to human time because you existed before the universe existed.  You are from forever and will be forever.  In short, you’re God.”

There’s something about eternity that draws one’s mind to God.  It is, in essence, the only example we can think of to describe eternity.  This is not a point that should be easily missed.  If we could easily call to mind comparisons of things to God, then God would not be as unique as He is.  Too often, those who are angry with God and rage against Him in atheistic zeal mock the difficulty of grasping the nature of God.  I contend that these things are not a detriment to the argument for theism, but rather an advantage.  It is precisely because God cannot be compared to base things that speaks of His exalted nature.  We know perfection only because we see imperfection and recognize it as such.  In the same way we know eternity because we are bound to finite time and recognize it as such.

In verse 4 we find the familiar “a thousand years is as a day” notion here, which Peter quotes in 2 Peter 3:8.  In the context of Psalm 90, we see that Moses was really driving the point home that God is not subject to human constructs.  When you are not bound by time,  calendars and clocks have little meaning and cause no stress.  So, an entire millennium seems to pass as quickly as a day.

We must also be mindful of Church history and the heresies arising from false teachings about the nature of the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus.  We will cover Christology at a latter date with a different #TheologyThursday, but for now we must touch on it by raising Colossians 1:15-17 and John 1:1-3

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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 through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. {Col 1:15-17 NASB}

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. {Jhn 1:1-3 NASB}

Note that both passages make it clear that Christ pre-existed creation.  Colossians makes it very clear that Jesus was “before all things” and John tells us Jesus was “in the beginning”.  Make no mistake, the eternal nature of God extends to each person of our triune God.

In modern times Mormonism has risen in popularity which claims that God is a created being and was not always God.  They derive this theology not from Scripture, but from their wretched Book of Mormon which they equate with Scripture itself.  Their belief is that each individual can become a God of their own universe.  God, Yahweh, was once a regular person on a planet circling a star named Kolob.  Through his works, he attained Godhood and the ability to create his own universe where he is in complete control.  As James White often reminds us “Islam is much closer to Christianity than Mormonism for the simple fact that Islam is monotheistic and Mormonism has the most Gods of any religion.”

Of course such a wretched heresy is nowhere to be found in the Bible, but we must learn to combat it accurately.  First, we must be clear that they deny what Scripture says in John 1, Colossians 1, and Psalm 90 (Mormons also don’t believe Yaweh and Jesus to be the same entity).  Mormons can make all sorts of claims about the” never-endingness” of God.  Yet they must admit that their own theology teaches that Yahweh was once mortal and was once created himself.  Even if they claim that God does not have an end, by postulating that there was a time when he did not exist they deprive God of his eternity.  And if they reduce their claim to say that God was just not always God, then they may claim he was eternal, but can’t claim he was eternally God.

Second, they must explain where a created being like a human can derive his/her powers to be something so unhumanlike.  Doubtlessly they’ll tell us that they get this power from God, but scripture never promises to make our natures into His.  We humans will always die (we will all be resurrected, though).  It stretches the imagination to believe that human beings wrecked by sin and corrupted by death can improve simply be being obedient.  Obedience brings with it blessings, but obedience does not change our fundamental nature.  Humans will always be finite, God will alone be eternal.

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