Monday, January 10, 2011

God's Time Machine

I have heard it said that if God knows the future, He is powerless to change the future, and is therefore not omnipotent.  This is used as one of many arguments that use poor logic in a feeble attempt to shake our faith in the existence of God.  The problem is that this is a poor understanding of the omniscience of God in saying that God merely knows the future like some fortune teller.  Sadly, I think many Christians have the idea that God merely knows the future, as though He has some mystical crystal ball in the sky.  That is not the case at all.  God does not just know the future, God is in the future and God has purposed the future.  Today's post will require your thinking cap in order to understand this amazing aspect of God, but we will start with what the Word says about God knowing the future.
Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,' Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. Isaiah 46:9-11 NKJV
God here is speaking of the coming judgment, but I want to look at this passage in a more general sense. Fortune teller frauds of today do not even claim to create the future, only to predict it.  True prophets in the Word of God also do not create the future, they only report what God says about what is to come.  God, on the other hand, purposes the future.  God declares what He is going to do long before He does it, and He does not go back on His word.  The argument I referenced in the beginning is premised on that if God knows the future, even a future He declares that He will create, He is powerless to change His mind or the future.  Is that really the case though?  Is God locking Himself into a decision that He can not back out of?  Did God create a future that He can not change?  Being that God knows the end from the beginning, does that prevent him from changing the end?  To answer all of these questions, I would like to reference one of, what is to me, the most fascinating Bible passage.
Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."  John 8:58 NKJV
Jesus invoked his divinity in using the name of God in this verse.  What gets lost sometimes in that amazing fact is how Jesus invoked His divine name.  He did not say "Before Abraham was, I was."  He said "Before Abraham was, I AM."  Jesus was just as present with Abraham as he was with the pharisees.  Jesus is just as present with us today as he is with Abraham.  How can that be, though?  How can Jesus be present in the past and the future?  For that we need to understand the nature of time itself.

When God created the Universe, He created not only all we see and touch here and observe in outer space, but He also created "time."  Science has proven that time is inseparably part of the makeup of the universe itself.  Now if God created the Universe, God must exist outside of the universe.  God could not have created something He was already part of because it would already be there.  If time is inseparably part of the universe and God exists outside of the universe, then God must exist outside of time.  When God created the universe, He established certain rules by which it would be run by.  We often call them the laws of physics, and they are the physical laws that keeps our universe running.  One of those rules is that we are bound to traverse time only in a forward direction and only at a certain pace.  I know there are theories and stories regarding the possibility of time travel, but it is not something we are capable of.  The very fact that science postulates the possibility of traversing time, it means they acknowledge that all time still exists.  One would not be able to travel to the future or the past if those did not exist.  We are also blinded from being able to observe anything outside of our own moment of time.  Looking back to the past is not direct observation, but done by recreating history through historical record, Archaeological record, and other kinds of observations.  Looking ahead into the future is basically making guesses on how things will continue to act over time.  God does not have those limitations.  God, existing outside of time, can insert Himself or His influence not just at anywhere, but at any time. God does not just know the end from the beginning, but has seen it.  From God's perspective, everything can be either happening, happened, or will happen depending on what perspective He decides to look at things. 

Take a moment to allow your brain to catch up with things.  If we grasp that God exists outside of our perspective of time, we can come to a very amazing conclusion. God knows our future, because to Him it is His past.  God is guessing at the future when he gives a prophet a vision of things to come, but is reporting to the prophet things that (from His perspective) have already happened.  God can tell us what He will do (from our perspective) because from His He may have already done it.  It is that kind of existence that allows God to declare though His word such things as:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace,  Ephesians 1:3-6 NKJV
We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.  How can that be?  How can God have chosen that which did not exist?  And if God already chose us before the foundations of the earth, how do we have any part to play in our salvation including even choosing to accept Christ as Lord and Savior?  This is where strict Calvinism comes from.  They belief that one is either predestined to Heaven or predestined to Hell and nothing we can do in this life can change that fact.  Of course, this negates the whole premise of free will.  Why would we be urged to choose Christ if we have no choice?  How can God say that His desire is for all to come to Christ if God chose so many to not come to Christ?  This brings up the opposite of Calvinism, which teaches that God does not make any say in the matter and that our choice for Christ is all on our own.  This of course ignores the passage I just cited of God choosing us from before the foundations of the earth.  Understanding that God does not exist in our perception of time solves the riddle.  God is just as much there with you when you come to Christ as He is before the foundations of the earth.  God chose you because you chose Him, but you chose God because He first chose you.  Despite how impossible that is to truly understand, that premise is only possible if God exists at all time. 

I realize that what I posted today is difficult to understand and probably brings more questions to mind than it answers.  I do not even think we can begin to imagine what it is like to exist outside of time.  I do not think we can even try to understand how God can exist in the past, present, and future.  This brings up many implications that we can only begin to scratch the surface of.  I will not even begin to try and explain it all as I can not understand it myself.  But then again, I like a God that exists at a level that I can not even begin to understand.  We should not be able to comprehend God or His existence and the implications of existing in His realm outside of our time.  We should not be able to understand it all.  God is immortal, we are bound to this body in this physical universe.  I like a God that is so far high above me that I can not even begin to understand Him or what it even means to be Him.  So, until I am in eternity with Him, I will just marvel at what that will be like.  I will just stand in wonder at who and what God is.  I will live in awe of His power and majesty.  And I will be comforted to know that God is not just here with me predicting the future, but God is in the future preparing it for my arrival.  Praise God and His awesome power. Praise God for His love for us.
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.  Psalm 139:13-18 NKJV

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