Fall 2022: RickThomas.Net Becomes LifeOverCoffee.Com
Theology Lessons from Brandi Huerta
One implication of this is that God’s steadfast love toward you bears no “what-ifs”; His will and His action are united so that what He has promised to you, He has already accomplished for you. From your vantage point, this plan will still unfold in time, but it is an absolute reality nonetheless. God has already seated you in the heavenly places in Christ; He did so before you were even born. As I have mentioned several times in this series, there is a strict and absolute Creator/creature distinction, meaning that God is in no way like us, even though, in a limited but real sense, we bear His image.
Our tendency to view God in our creaturely categories causes us to misunderstand Him greatly; as Stephen Charnock has said, “Though we cannot comprehend Him as He is, we must be careful not to fancy Him to be what He is not.” This concept also applies to God’s eternality over and against our analogical eternity, which faintly resembles His. God does not move from beginning to end; He is the beginning and the end. Eternity is not an environment where He exists; it is identical to Him, just as all of His perfections are.
Time—like length, depth, and width—is a boundary, a measurement. It measures the limits of everything creaturely. God, on the other hand, is boundless and immense (the word “immense,” most properly, means “incapable of being measured,” rather than simply “very large”). He has no quantities that can be measured. Yahweh has no memories and has no future to look forward to; He simply is. He is for you now, just as He is for you a billion years from now, at once and perfectly.
God’s eternity is the whole, simultaneous, and perfect possession of boundless life. —Boethius
Eternity is contrary to time and is, therefore, a permanent and immutable state; a perfect possession of life without any variation. As the nature of time consists in the succession of parts, so the nature of eternity is an infinite immutable duration. —Stephen Charnock
Naturally, the Bible uses time language to describe God because humans don’t have adequate words for His eternity, but it’s essential that we keep His being and essence distinct from ours in our minds, understanding the deep truths that underlie the Scripture’s words. The Word speaks about God having been “before” the earth was created, but time is itself a created thing. It began when the universe did, so “before” doesn’t really make sense with respect to creation’s beginning if you think about it. It’s the only word we have, though, so we (and the Bible) use it.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:2).
“Everlasting” isn’t a beginning point or an end point as the verse seems to suggest, but again, God uses time language to give us some sense of what He is like. And notice the present tense verb in the phrase “you are God.” Though the world moves and changes through time, the Lord remains constant and ever-present in Himself. This verse means to communicate that our God transcends all time, as mind-blowing and incredible as this is for us to grasp. And though He transcends time, He relates to us in time, where we are.
Though eternal in Himself, God can nevertheless enter into time and, though immeasurable in Himself, He can fill every cubic inch of space with His presence. In other words, though He Himself is absolute being, God can give to transient beings a distinct existence of their own. In God’s eternity there exists not a moment of time; in His immensity there is not a speck of space; in His being there is no sign of becoming. Conversely, it is God who posits the creature, eternity which posits time, immensity which posits space, being which posits becoming, immutability which posits change. There is nothing intermediate between these two classes of categories; a deep chasm separates God’s being from that of all creatures. —Herman Bavinck
As we face the most perilous and chaotic times most of us have ever known, we do so knowing that, in a very real sense, God already has seen us through them. How His plan will unfold in time is a mystery to us, but its consummation is present and tangible from God’s perspective. If you can ground yourself in this reality, your heart will be steadfast and immovable (1 Corinthians 15:58) because your stability will come, not from the world that moves, changes, and will fade away, but from the God who simply is. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that He sends trials to remove our confidence in those transient things we tend to put our faith in?
He removes what can be shaken to give us what can’t. The eternal God wants to give you more of Himself; whatever else you desire is lesser, no matter how wonderful it is. Again, your stability is only as strong as the object of your faith. Will you choose to view your trials as a gift from God’s very hand, meant to lead you to something infinitely more significant than any possible loss (Philippians 1:29)? I don’t say this lightly. I know that some folks who will read this have had heartbreaking lives. But I want you to see that the eternal weight of glory in God’s presence exists, and it awaits your arrival.
God’s whole, simultaneous and perfect possession of boundless life, as Boethius called it, has another staggering implication for God’s creatures. In fact, His timeless eternity is at the very heart of the gospel. What could satisfy God’s wrath for sins committed against His infinite holiness? No creature’s life comes near to being worthy of such a price. With respect to His human nature, Jesus Christ, the God-man, lived a perfect life, suffered, and died in your place. But it wasn’t just a nature that accomplished your redemption.
It was a Person: the second Person of the Trinity, the very timelessly eternal God we have been talking about (Acts 20:28). Only the Lamb who is Himself present in all human eternity can satisfy a payment you never could, though you would suffer endlessly in hell for your sin without Him. He assumed humanity because humans owed a debt that must be paid by a human; His boundless, eternal life supplied the infinite worth as payment for that debt. Your freedom could have been won in no other way. These thoughts remind me of Augustine’s words:
Man’s maker was made man,
That He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
That the Bread might hunger,
The Fountain thirst,
The Light sleep,
The Way be tired on its journey;
That the Truth might be accused of false witness,
The Teacher be beaten with whips,
The Foundation be suspended on wood,
The Strength might grow weak,
That the Healer might be wounded;
That Life might die.
I pray that as you read this, you are overcome with adoration, awe, and gratitude for our great God and His love for you, dear friend. What use is theology? As Greg Beale says, “We become what we behold.” If your god is an idol, you will be spiritually malformed. But if you worship the God who is, in spirit and truth, you will be transformed into His glorious likeness. I pray this article has awakened a longing in you to get a head start on what will occupy your heart and mind for all eternity: knowing and loving YHWH Himself.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
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