God’s Attributes: Eternity

Last week we talked about what God’s attributes are and I gave an introduction to their meaning, and also gave some examples of what they are not.

I started with an introduction to God’s eternity and gave this definition from Wayne Grudem:

Eternity: “God’s eternity may be defined as follows: God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.”, [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology]

I want you all to think about this and what it means. If God is eternal and is not bound by time (time is created) what does this mean, and what are the implications? Below is an illustration from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: What do you think this illustration is trying to show us?

Time

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26 thoughts on “God’s Attributes: Eternity

  1. How did he know that I got saved in 94??? that’s crazy! I think it’s very simple? when we die. when we leave our earthly vessel. we come before God in final judgment. then we live for an eternity with God. which is really hard for me to think about. because I turn 37 this year and I’m starting to think that I’m at the halfway point in my life. it’s all flown by so fast like a vapor! it’s just very hard to comprehend an eternity?

  2. To me this illustration shows that God and humans have a completely different way of looking at “time”. We look at it from a moment to moment basis. God sees it all at one time…beginning to end. Since we see time day to day, we cant fathom eternity the way that God sees it. This leads me to my confusion of the issue of “how does free will work?!” If God sees my life at one time, and knows where im going to end up, then how can He give me so many choices?
    ~K

  3. I’m with you Karly confused. but I believe the every moment we have choices to determine our future. we can defiantly say how we see time. but I don’t think we can comprehend how God sees time. I think his brain is so far out there He can see all the possibility’s but they are determined by the free choice that we have.

  4. Ralph,

    that is a good point but entirely wrong! God doesn’t see the future as possibility’s He knows us better than we know ourselves. all we can do is try to get closer to God and walk in the Spirit. walk in our destiny.

  5. This is odd, Ralph is now talking to Ralph. Unless someone is using Ralph’s name to post, which clearly is a violation of this blog.

    Ok, so we talked about this in class last night. Does God see and know all time equally vividly as defined by Wayne Grudem? After further hearing last nights lecture what are your thoughts on this matter?

    Or as “ralphramirez” the second states “God does not see the future as possibilities”

    One thing that I would like to stress. There is a big difference from reading what the Scriptures teach on this matter, and what Theologian/Philosophers try to explain. The bible teaches that God knows the future, predestination, and man’s free will. What the bible does not teach is how this works. We must be humble enough to acknowledge our limitations in understanding this tension.

    Another philosophical thought is that God not only sees and knows the future but he also knows all possible decisions, or choices that you would have made.

  6. thanks for the clarification Ralph,
    sometimes I think why do we try to figure out God? is it not enough that He choose us as His children? where we there when He created the heaven’s and the earth? who am I to try to figure out how God sees time? I am a blade of grass. here today cut down tomorrow.

    I am a flower quickly fading
    Here today and gone tomorrow
    A wave tossed in the ocean
    A vapor in the wind
    Still you hear me when I’m calling
    Lord, you catch me when I’m falling
    And you’ve told me who I am
    I am yours, I am yours

  7. Ralph,

    I am confused. Did you have enough coffee this morning? Are you thanking me (ROBERT) for the clarification, or are you thanking yourself??? 😉 This is the strangest post that I have ever read. 😀

  8. Ralph,

    you do bring up a very good question “sometimes I think why do we try to figure out God?”

    There are two theological word for this:
    1. Gk. apophanai, “to say no” Apophatic

    Theological methodology which starts with the ineffability of God, believing that God’s infinite nature cannot be contained by finite men through finite language. The best way to describe God, therefore, is through way of negation (via negativa). In Christianity, apophatic theology is often associated with Eastern Orthodoxy and is foundational to much of the conversation of the so-called emerging church in Protestantism.

    Say what? What this means is that we approach the understanding of God in a negative way. We do this by a realization that we cannot fully know God, so therefore why bother. But as we said earlier in the class that we should study, and understand all that can be known about God. That leads me to other word:

    2. Gk. kataphatikos, “affirmative”
    Often called “positive theology,” cataphatic theology describes the theological methodology of those who focus on God self-revelation as a coherent avenue of God’s communication. While finite men cannot understand an infinite God completely, they can understand him truly.

    And that is what we are trying to do, is understand him truly.

    We start with a cataphatic methodology, and end in a apophatic method once we have exhausted all possible understandings.

  9. that’s what I’m talking about! the kryptonite understanding. shan-do la tina-lay escolay ba ti tah lao.

  10. if God already knows what I’m going to do. why does He keep telling me to do stuff? when He tells me to do stuff and I am disobedient. why did He tell me if He knew I wasn’t going to do it? is it just so that I will regret the fact that God wanted to use me and I wasn’t ready in my mind. therefore helping me to grow so the next time He wants to use me I will be more eager?

  11. Ralph,

    you said “if God already knows what I’m going to do. why does He keep telling me to do stuff?”

    Because you don’t know what he wants you to do, so he has to tell you.

  12. I have a question, if God sees all, and knows all, why do we have to confess our sins? Are we required to confess our sins out loud? Or privately between us and God?

  13. Ralph, I think God continuously asks us to do things to test our hearts to see if we are sincere in our walk with Him or not.

  14. Thanks Michelle,

    but He knows our hearts. so that’s for us to see if we’re sincere?

    Genesis 22

    12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

    now I know? does this imply that before He didn’t know? that does not make sense. unless He is telling him for his awareness?

  15. Michelle,

    we are still morally responsible for our choices. We are living now, and not in the future, so from our time constraint position we are responsible today for the choices we make. We don’t know the future and don’t know the outcome.

    Make sure you come to my lecture on Saturday May 31, as I will be discussing this topic at length.

  16. Ralph,

    this is one of the scriptures that Open Theist will point to, and argue that God does not know the future, otherwise why would God have said “…Now I know…”?

    They say that God did not know what Abraham would do, but once he passed the test then God was sure that Abraham would truly trust him.

    Obviously we have a verse here that is difficult to understand. If we were to read it at face value that would appear to be at the way we should understand it. However, when we compare this verse to the many, many other verses of scripture that claim the opposite, then we must conclude that the language here is at odds with the greater teaching of scriptures. And we must dig deeper as to what is meant here.

    Say what? We should always interpret the difficult passages by the verses that are more clear. For instance from the Open Theist position they will say that God knew all of the possible choice Abraham would have made, but was not sure which one he would make. They also say that God knows the present and the past exhaustively, and that he knows Abraham better than himself.

    However, in the New Testament we have a situation with Jesus and Peter. Where I think that it is safe to say that Jesus also knew Peter in the same manner that he knew Abraham, but yet Jesus was able to know exactly what Peter would was going to do in the near future. He knew exactly when and how Peter was going to deny him.

    How is it possible in one case he doesn’t know, and in another case he does know?

    Great question. Again, make sure you come to my lecture on May 31! 10am

  17. Pastor Robert,

    is it fare to say that God could have been talking to Abraham like we would talk to one of our children? like if my daughter did something special for me. then I said “now I know you love me.” even though I know she will always love me no matter what. do you think maybe He said it in a way like we would say it? or do we say that only because of that scripture? because if I was to say something like that. it’s only to reassure my daughter that that’s how I know that she love’s me. do you know what I mean?

  18. Ralph, I would say that is a plausible way of interpreting this verse.

    I believe that revelation has been progressive through time. As time has passed God has revealed himself further.

    I think I said this in class, Noah knew more about God than Adam, and Abraham knew more about God than Noah, and Moses knew more about God than Abraham, and King David knew more about God than Moses, and in the New Testament we know more about God than all of them because of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Whew!

    Over time God has progressively revealed himself to us. Why? The right time, the due time. The language of the scriptures have also become clearer. We can take what we know about God in the New Testament and let it shed light in the Old Testament to help us understand what some of these difficult passages mean.

  19. Without having any concept of the future relating to the past & present, what need was God planning to fulfill by sacrificing his beloved son whose name God saw fit to place above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow!(Phil 2:10 ) He had somekind of idea of our future progress that would eventually lead to self destruction through sin. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him ( Isaiah 53:10 ).
    Apart from that, how elso can you explain Jesus fullfilling the prophesies of the Old Testament. Through God & The Holy Spirit Jesus understood the relationship between the past, present & future, in order to aline himself with the overall will of God. Placing himself at the right time & moment every single time.
    Through God, John the Babtist understood the importance of Isaish 40:3 by preaching “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” ( Matt 3:2 ). A stern warning of the future to come.

  20. Ralph,

    Yes I believe God does know the future and it is the position the historic church has also taken.

    Boris,

    You are right, how else would you explain Jesus fulfilling the prophesies of the Old Testament? Rob gave us a few examples of that in his class.

  21. Isaiah’s challenge to the false gods:
    Verses are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

    This scripture below makes a clear statement that God does not learn, for who has taught him?
    Is. 40:13-14
    Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
    or who gave Him His counsel?

    14 Who did He consult with?
    Who gave Him understanding
    and taught Him the paths of justice?
    Who taught Him knowledge
    and showed Him the way of understanding?

    God is different from anything in all creation.
    Is 40:18 ; 40:25ref
    Who will you compare God with?
    What likeness will you compare Him to?

    God is eternal, and has unlimited knowledge (omniscience)
    Is 40:28
    Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
    Yahweh is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the whole earth.
    He never grows faint or weary;
    there is no limit to His understanding.

    Isaiah challenges the false gods, by their inability to tell of future events, and declares that these gods are nothing.

    Is 41:21-24
    21 “Submit your case,” says the LORD.
    “Present your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.

    22 “Let them come and tell us
    what will happen.
    Tell us the past events,
    so that we may reflect on it
    and know the outcome.
    Or tell us the future.

    23 Tell us the coming events,
    then we will know that you are gods.
    Indeed, do [something] good or bad,
    then we will be in awe and perceive.

    24 Look, you are nothing
    and your work is worthless.
    Anyone who chooses you is detestable.

    God declares that he will not share his glory with these false gods who cannot declare the future.
    Is 42:8-9
    8 I am Yahweh, that is My name;
    I will not give My glory to another,
    or my praise to idols.

    9 The past events have indeed happened.
    Now I declare new events;
    I announce them to you before they occur.”

    More references to God being the only one who can declare the future
    Is 43:9b
    …Who among them can declare this,
    and tell us the former things?…

    Is 43:10-13ref
    Is 44:6-7
    6 This is what the LORD, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the LORD of Hosts, says:
    I am the first and I am the last.
    There is no God but Me.

    7 Who, like Me, can announce [the future]?
    Let him say so and make a case before Me,
    since I have established an ancient people.
    Let these gods declare the coming things,
    and what will take place.

    In this next verse God not only declares the future, but names the individual by his name – the Persian King Cyrus who will conquers the Babylonians and allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem.
    Is 44:28
    28 who says to Cyrus: My shepherd,
    he will fulfill all My pleasure
    and say to Jerusalem: She will be rebuilt,
    and of the temple: Its foundation will be laid.

    Here are the rest you can look them up: Is 45:21; 46:9-10; 48:2-7

    Isaiah 48:11
    I will not give My glory to another.

    God will not allow his glory to be shared nor will he give it to another. God’s glory is tied to his ability to declare the future.

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