On Predestination

This is a complicated and controversial topic, but the answer is a lot simpler than folks want to give God credit for.

I grew up around people who deeply studied Calvinism. I posited so many arguments back and forth with them, and they gave me a run for the money. I finally arrived to a “balanced” conclusion about it all, but it was inadequate because of the limitations of the human mind. We cannot fully understand God. We can only draw conclusions from what we read in his Word.

As for the common views of predestination, and the verses to support them (see the end of this essay for references), they still fall short for a simple reason – they are looking in the wrong place.

When we consider the concept of “time” (see my essay On Foreknowledge) we must wrap our heads around God’s utility of time. If predestination is anything, it presumes a wide range of things about time and God’s relationship to time. God knows what will happen before we do. How does this play into our freedom to choose God?

Some people believe Time is, and always has been. And that over time, people created God. Indirectly speaking, time created God.
Some people believe God is, and always has been. That God created time when he created space and matter. After all, space, matter, and time cannot exist without co-existing.

Some people believe God knows the names of all those people who will be in heaven, and knows the names of all those who will be in hell.
If God knows all things past, present, and future, this is a perfectly reasonable conclusion. After all, if God exists at the end of time, the beginning of time, and all points in between, God is everywhere and everywhen. Is there any knowledge unavailable to him?

Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

In the above verse, an infinite God is able to infinitely remove knowledge (of a person’s sin) from his infinite mind. Note the knowledge never leaves his mind, but it is infinitely removed within an infinite mind.

Infinity has some interesting nuances.

If I have a hotel with an infinite number of rooms, and an infinite number of guests show up, I can accommodate them all. If another group of people arrives, also infinite in number, can we accommodate them? Sure, have the current occupants move to odd-numbered rooms. This opens up an infinite number of even-numbered rooms.

So when we say the transgression is removed from God’s mind – it is removed as far away as it can possibly be, but never leaves God’s mind.

Back to the original question, why would it “please God” for the “foolishness of preaching” (1 Cor 1:21) to save people? Why does he say we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:9-9), and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17)? If he already knows who is going to heaven and who isn’t, why bother? God already knows the outcome no matter what we do.

So why would he commission our participation? It’s one thing to “say” he “knows” our participation will matter, but if it’s all “in the can” anyway, why bother? It’s all under control.

I’ve watched pastors draw an array of dots on a board. And then circle a few. And say this is how predestination basically works. God circles the ones he wants to keep.
Is it that simple, and that rigged? Stay with me.

Gideon was going against the Midianites. He didn’t have a big bunch of folks. God told him to take the soldiers to the river, and for those who drank with their cupped hands, tap them on the shoulder. For those who drank with their faces in the water, leave them be. (Judges 7:5-7)

When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac, the servant prayed for specific characteristics and actions to be displayed to him. Rebekah came forward and did exactly that (Genesis 24:1-29).

Jesus tells a parable of a man who needed workers (Matt 20:1-6) and went to the marketplace where they stood idle. Notice he didn’t go door to door, or put out an advertisement, or go through the streets shouting. He went to one place, the marketplace, where people had come seeking work, but were idle.

Naaman went to Elishah (2 Kings 5:1-27) and asked for help with leprosy, but Elishah told him to dip himself in the Jordan seven times. Not another river, and not five times. Naaman balked at first, and said he had rivers back home. His servant said to him, paraphrased here, if he had told you to do a great thing, you would have done it. Would it kill you to dip yourself seven times?

We can see, in this model, Naaman cannot take credit for having done anything for the cure. Only his faithfulness is required. Do what God says. Do it his way. See what happens.

Elisha’s servant took it upon himself to chase after Naaman and take money for the service, even after Elisha told him not to – and Elisha cursed him and his children with leprosy. That’s a permanent gig. Says his skin turned white as snow.

In the examples above, God sought for people doing certain things at a certain place.

Or rather, Naaman asked of the prophet of God, not the prophet of Baal. He was in the right place, asking the right questions. Same for Gideon, his three hundred men, and for Rebekah. In the right places, responding the right way, asking the right questions. Their hearts aligned in God’s direction, and God responded in their favor.

Now for the opposite side – Jesus said of Judas, it would be better if he had not been born (Matt 26:24). God says Esau sought repentance carefully with tears (Heb 12:16-17). Jesus said to the pharisees they would burn in hell, and declared this while they were still alive (Matt 23:33). Jude speaks of the “twice dead”, the people who have rejected the call of God. And we’re told if we blaspheme the Holy Spirit, we’re not eligible for heaven no matter what (Matt 12:31). Likewise, those who take the Mark of the Beast will not enter heaven (Rev 14:9-11).

And with the account of Cain and Abel, when Genesis 4 opens, it’s obvious Someone showed them how to ritual-sacrifice – they were doing it as if it were a routine. We see Cain brought an offering from the ground, and Abel brought a meat offering (Genesis 4) and later learn Abel’s was a more acceptable sacrifice (Heb 11:4). Why? Because Abel offered the blood, and only blood provides the remission of sin (Heb 9:22).

Some say Cain was rejected because he came with a corrupt heart, but we all do (Jer 17:9). And some say Cain had a bad attitude, but we all do (Rom 8:7). In the end, Cain came to God on his own terms, rather than Abel, who came to God on God’s terms.

All of us know people who were well-meaning when they did something in God’s name, but it didn’t bear fruit. They make decisions under the notion that God will bless their plans because they have a “good heart”. I’ve even known people who will seek advice from all their friends, and then take a path none of them suggested. This way none of them can take credit for the success, nor can be blamed for failure. But the person’s life was wreckage for this practice. What did it actually accomplish?

Whatever happened to doing things God’s way, and watching the fruit of his promises come to pass? Isn’t it a blessing to recognize when God is honored, the fruit of joy, peace and love? Or do we go about it (like Cain) on our own plans, and experience a hollow victory? A fleeting moment of glory, not for God, but for us, our cleverness, and our ability to show “it can be done another way”. God knows it can be done another way. He’s chosen the most foolish one (preaching) to see if you or I will step up to it. Moreover, the foolishness of preaching “pleases” him. If any of the other “clever” methods pleased him (and we knew it) they are fair game. But God didn’t point out any of those. He said it pleases him for preachers to audibly preach the Gospel to listening ears.

We back off, and go to electronic evangelism or hand out booklets, or do things passively. But we don’t step up to what Jesus said was foolish, because it’s foolish. We are more clever than that. We can come up with another way yielding more. Really? In today’s mechanized and automated world, the church is making less progress in reaching people for Christ, than it did before the horse and buggy. Machinery and technology has made us less efficient than ever.

So we have these bad actors who God pre-designated, it seems, to be damned. While others, according to that pastor, God “circled” and called-out to be saved.

The Bible does clearly say that many are called and few are chosen, this “few” being the same word as used for a mustard seed. A very small number chosen. At the same time we see in Revelation that a “numberless multitude” will be saved. No doubt the total number of people saved will be vast. What does this say of the total people lost, if comparatively speaking, the total saved were like a mustard seed?

As noted in the essay on foreknowledge,the answer is here just as obvious. God has the capacity to remove from his immediate knowledge certain forms of knowledge, almost like a filter, and removes them infinitely from his infinite mind (As far as the east is from the west). What plays into this is God’s foreknowledge of who will be in heaven and who will not, and how he has chosen d the “foolishness of preaching” (1 Cor 1:21) to save people. And says people must believe Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead in order to be saved (Romans 10:9) and goes on to say this cannot happen without hearing God’s word, which cannot happen without a preacher.

Bottom line, God has clearly commissioned humans (Matt 28) to participate in the salvation of others, even though his Spirit will call the unbeliever, and his Spirit will activate the faithful heart to respond to the call (Eph 2:8-9).

But doesn’t God know who will answer the call? Why all the machinery of getting people involved, and all the mistakes and weaknesses of humans?

One simple word: Glory.

God says his strength is made perfect in weakness. The weaker vessel steps up, fulfills God’s directives and the miracle of salvation comes about, God is glorified. He receives little or no glory for stepping in where he wants human involvement.

And this is the primary answer to the nagging question. If God wants humans to participate, for his glory, how do we deal with the fact he already knows the outcome?

Simplest answer is – he doesn’t. Or rather, he’s chosen not to.

A simple example of God’s practice on this, is when he claims to have “winked” at sin in times past (Acts 17:30). He’s essentially saying he looked the other way and let it ride. He received glory for his mercy.

Another simple example is Christ’s parable of the wheat and tares (Matt 13:24-30). The evil is there, and everyone knows it. Let it ride. God receives glory for letting it ride.

Same for the removing our sins as far as the east is from the west. He infinitely pushes this knowledge from his infinite mind so he can experience the glory and the delight of a saved soul. This is why he says he’s “patient”. Time itself allows him to be patient to us, and allows him to set aside knowledge that would necessarily preclude glory for him.

And why not glorify the one who made heaven and earth, and all that’s in it, and redeemed it to himself as a righteous owner and king? He’s earned it.

The conclusion is simply this: we get wrapped around the axles of logic and reason when we try to put God into a logical box. If this, then that, when God is a dynamic personality on his own, and loves to participate in the joys of his own creation. He would constrain himself from ruining the blessings he has for us – and this is what time does. He would also constrain himself so he can participate in the thrill of the salvation experience for both himself and the recipient of the gift.

How is this any different than a parent taking a child to practice a presentation, and staying out of it until the day of the show? Sure, the parent has the ability to look-in on progress, and can certainly hear or see snippets of the presentation coming along. But the thrill of watching it unfold with everyone else – all of us know nothing compares to it. Jesus even said he would confess us before his angels if we confessed him before men. Wait – doesn’t he already know when and where we’ll do this? The answer again is – sure he can know that – but it gives him glory and delight to set aside this knowledge so his own creation can participate.

If he says it is more blessed to give that to receive (Acts 20:5), imagine how blessed God is each time a new person receives the gift of everlasting life? Knowing who will do this before they were even born, is knowledge worth putting aside until the day it actually shows up, in exchange for the blessing and glory that will arrive with it.

So let’s not “logic God” into a box and see if he gets out. Not really a fair practice and it short-changes God’s intent for us. It also turns God into a dark personality. Choosing people before they are born. Who even has a fighting chance?

God has the capacity to know who will join him in heaven, but his desire for glory and delight in his creation compels him to set this knowledge aside so the preachers can get to work, and he can delight as his own creation participates in the Greatest Story Ever Told.

For his glory.

 

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…

God and Time

Wrangling time travel might be enough to tackle, but this series of books isn’t just about traveling through time, but about how God uses time.

Many people believe God is orchestrating the universe in real-time. He has a big mind, big plans and can control any real-time outcome, so he can shape the future into anything he chooses. This is the philosophy of those who think God lives with us, in real time, but not in the past or future.

Or rather, time is a like a river and we’re on a boat in fog. The fog behind us is a little thinner, but the fog before us is a thick bank. God is tall so can see over the fog.

H.G. Wells described this as the “frantic director”. Where a stage play is underway, and something happens to knock over a prop, something catches fire, other mayhem ensues and pretty soon the whole play is out of control. The frantic director knows what’s supposed to happen so he’s trying to bring things back to center in the face of escalating chaos.

No folks, we don’t serve a God that small.

I’ll give it to you straight, and discuss it below. God created time, and lives outside of time. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He was, and is, and is to come. He never changes, and has no shadow of turning. Even his name “I AM” is the same in every nanosecond of time. As time is how we measure change, how can he exist in time with us, but never change? No, he exists outside of time, and in time – simultaneously. It goes like this:

God is at the beginning of time, the end of time, and every nanosecond in between – simultaneously. God does not orchestrate the future. He’s already there. He can build that future any way he chooses. We simply haven’t experienced it yet. That future, and God, are waiting for us. But God is here with us now.

So the analogy of the fog bank and river still work, for us and for God sitting on the boat with us, as long as we accept he’s not just on the boat. He’s downriver at every rock, crag, turn and juncture, already planning our future and keeping us from danger.

It’s hard for us to conceptualize God outside of time. Or even that God is waiting for us in the future even as he’s with us now. But this is how it works, and God is never out of control, and God is never surprised. Unless he wants to be. For his own delight and glory. More on this in the essays on foreknowledge and predestination.

The correct way to think of God’s interaction with time, starts at the beginning of Creation. Titus 1:2 says God promised, before the “world” began. That word “world” is the Greek for “time period” or “time itself”. Before time began. Before the clock started ticking on this time-frame we live in, the one God created, etc. So there was a time, or a period, before this one we experience now. Will there be another time frame after this one? The Scripture alludes to it when Jesus claims an end to it in Matt 28. The closure of one time period and (presumably) the opening of another.

And if God created time, he is sovereign over it. In the “frantic director” example, God is subject to time, it is sovereign over him.

One secularist said – “I think time created God. That over time, mankind needed a way to explain the unexplainable, and dropped all that into a bucket called God.”

A comedian (Michael Jr.) once said “Unbelievers attribute things to a god they call “Something.” I’ll give you an example – they’ll be surprised by a bad choice and say “Something told me not to do that.””

But is it really true that God was invented by mankind to explain the unexplainable? I ask this because the Bible comes off as simple active narrative. Other so-called “holy” books have soaring words and mighty metaphors to describe their patriarchs, who never do anything wrong. In the Bible, the patriarchs come off as the worst of the lot. Moses, David and Paul are all three murderers. Each of the patriarchs comes off as human and vulnerable.

And of the contributors of the Scripture over what is a four-thousand-year period by over forty men and women of every walk of life – bedouins, shepherds, statesmen, physicians, lawyers, tax collectors, fishermen, kings, priests, rich men, poor men, etc. All of them agree in hundreds of controversial topics. If you were to ask ten people from the same region, same upbringing, even the same church, you would get ten different answers for each of the controversies the Bible agrees upon across all these people and centuries.

Point being, if mankind could have written the Bible, mankind wouldn’t have. Everything in it goes against the grain of human nature, yet perfectly aligns with reality. Jesus said we have to become a servant to become a leader. We see all over the world where servant-leaders thrive and dictators do not. The Bible knows more of human nature than all the reams of psycho-analysis developed in the most recent centuries. One person said you could pick any three books on a topic in a self-help section, and later learn the Bible already answers the problem in a single verse in Proverbs. Why not just read Proverbs?

We can see how God used time to express his Words over many millennia of time. And how did he address the masses when describing himself? Did he say look at me, I’m God. Or did he say, look at where you were, and where you are now? I’m the one helping you through this. I did all these things in your behalf. My track record stands as one who is helping you succeed, not doing damage to you. How many times does God call his people to “remember” – then he would describe the things he had done for them in very context of saying “this is who I am”.

Or rather, it’s what I do, that defines Me.

When people say things like “man created God” what they are doing is denying God’s testimony that the history of the world is what defines him. Take away the history of the world, and we remove the key way God defines himself. Take away God, and we remove the definition of mankind. If mankind is to have a purpose for existence, only God can define it. He’s the Creator. If mankind comes along and rewrites history without God, he has stolen mankind’s true identity, and left nothing but despair in its wake. Without God, there is no hope for the future. We all die, go to the graves, and our words and deed are forgotten.

God spoke to the prophets, told them he would personally come to earth and redeem all mankind. Said he would return a second time to clean up the mess mankind had created. Promised a number of other things along the way. How can he make such promises iron-clad? If this is in human terms, we make a promise to someone and work toward its fulfillment. It’s all we know how to do. In God’s universe, he has a lot more at his disposal, namely time, to affect what he wants to accomplish.

God said he would show himself to Moses as he passed over the cleft. Exodus (33-22-23) He would pass by in full glory and cover Moses with his hand, and then show Moses his “back parts”. This has been translated in various ways, but the Hebrew word is the same for when a person is thrown backward off a horse, or when an army retreats over the same path it arrived. This second example is telling.

What if God showed Moses God’s history prior to the present Creation? Where God had been, what he had done, etc – “who God is” in the way he’s acted over other time periods outside of ours? This is a compelling question, but it is alluded to with this one Hebrew word – showing where God came – and what he did – from prior to this present “time period”.

What if time is like a book? God has written into the pages of the book all the things he’s already promised. The Rapture, the Great White Throne, etc are still in the book on the page he wrote them on, but real-time hasn’t caught up with it yet. The people trapped in real-time have not experienced it yet. But it’s there, all the same. The pages of the book turn one second at a time, and all that God said would transpire on that page, comes to pass. Do other things transpire that weren’t on the page (yet). Perhaps, and this is where free will enters.

Doesn’t God judge us from books (Rev 20:12)? Books play an important role in gathering information in a sequential manner. They serve the role of sequential recording. We merely have to ask ourselves, if God is already in the future, everything we are about to encounter is already in his past.

See my essay On Foreknowledge, because free will, predestination etc are developed there.

When we think about it, free will is not the freedom to choose God. We don’t have that freedom and the Bible says so. It even says we’re not seeking God (Romans 3:11). We can’t choose what we don’t seek.

And while God says he’s a rewarder of those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6) this is speaking of those who already have faith in God, and who are seeking to root out the mysteries of God. For those without faith in God, they aren’t seeking him, so will not choose him.

Apart from that, think about choices. If I choose to step outside onto a 747 jet to Asia, but there’s no jet outside waiting for me, the choice isn’t open. Same for if I apply to a company I’ve chosen to work for, but there are no openings. I am subject to the choices available to me, so that choice isn’t really free, it’s just opportunistic.

One thing we always have the choice to do – is evil. No constraints on evil choices at all. Even Jesus said if we lust after a woman in our heart, we’ve already committed adultery with her (Matt 5:28), so even if the opportunity to physically commit adultery never arises, we are guilty all the same. If we consent to murder (Hosea 6:9, Acts 22:20), we are guilty of it. Jesus changed our perspective to his perspective, in that we are all evil by nature, but can choose good (Matt 7:11) for others.

God uses time to express his greatest qualities. In this regard, time is God’s greatest invention because it gives him the greatest glory. With time, God can express longsuffering, patience, faith, loyalty, provision, love, grace and mercy. Without time, mercy doesn’t exist. Justice is instantaneous. We as humans have no time to repent, grow faith, increase loyalty, work to the salvation of others, pray, etc. It takes time to grow spiritually, exercise faith, learn God’s ways. And when we do, God is glorified. There is no glory in a robot honoring its maker. There is glory in a free creation where mankind chooses to be loyal to God.

Time enables all this.

God invented time as a way to exercise his own self-control, because time constrains God from instantly annihilating his own creation. Think about how God likens himself to light, and when light enters a room, it chases away darkness. Darkness isn’t given a choice. God’s holiness compels him to judge sin, experienced as “wrath”. This is what Jesus has saved us from – not sin, not the devil or hell, but God’s wrath (John 3:36, 1 Thess 5:9).

And if God’s holiness compels him to judge sin, why hasn’t the entire creation burned to a cinder by now? God gives insight to his patience in the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt 13:24-30). He will allow good and evil to coexist because to remove evil will damage the good. This would be similar to a SWAT team entering a building full of hostages and avoiding a shot because they might hit the innocent.

But see what God is doing with the wheat and tares – the problem will be resolved in time, not with immediate action.

This is what confuses people who don’t think evil is real. They don’t attribute the evil acts of the world to evil people. They call it wrong, senseless, heinous, barbaric, sick, twisted, etc. But they won’t call it evil. They turn around and say Doesn’t God see all this? And why doesn’t he stop it? The parable of the wheat and tares is the example, but the better question is – You see it too? What are you doing to stop it? You’re blaming God for not stopping it, or claiming God is evil because he doesn’t stop it, but I don’t see you lifting a finger, so what makes you any better?

I can be certain that if God exists at the beginning of time, the end of time, and every second in between, that his omnipresence has a larger dimension – he is every-where, and he is every-when. He exists with me in real time, and he exist five minutes from now – a year from now – at my deathbed – simultaneously. He knows what is about to happen to me, because he’s already there.

My mother told me more than once as a young man, that if God intends me to marry, in heaven, my children already have names. Faith like this is what helps us deal with the here-and-now, knowing God is in control now, tomorrow, forever. And when the world turns upside down for us, it didn’t take God by surprise.

This is not to say the evil things befalling people are what God wants. The wheat and the tares tell us God doesn’t want the evil to harm us, but removing it will cause greater harm.

What of the man who believes he married poorly to a woman who doesn’t love him, seeks other lovers and shames him? Doesn’t God see this? The man has choices to free himself of this, but should not expect God’s finger to split the heavens and dispatch the evil doers.

What of the woman who married poorly to a man who doesn’t love her, but cares for her needs and doesn’t shame her or seek other lovers? She might be miserable, and she might not like her situation, but ditching her husband could lead to what? Nobody caring for her needs? Her end could be worse. What if God took him away from her and left her with nothing?

This is how the wheat-and-tares play out. Some evil allowed to remain because removing it does more harm.

Many people accept God’s presence in their future, in everyone’s future, and know when things go bad, God still has things under control and there will be an expected end, an end with hope, laughter, and joy that may seem elusive now, but it’s coming.

God keeps his promises. He already has.

On Foreknowledge

A number of verses deal with foreknowledge. See these at the end of the essay.

As noted in other essays, God created space, matter, and time all at once. Time is under God’s sovereign control, and is God’s chosen method to constrain his holy response to sin.

Follow this:

Example (A):
You and I are sitting on a sofa and I tell you we’re invited to party. It’s about an hour’s drive. Not only do I know about the party, I helped plan it. I know who the guests will be, what festivities will transpire, etc. I tell you movie stars and sports personalities will be there – name brands you recognize. Now you’re excited. So we hop in a car and go. It’s one hour into our future. And when we arrive, it’s exactly as I said it would be. Is this foreknowledge? Of course not. I planned the party and knew what was coming.

Example (B):
I call you from a party and invite you to join me. It’s about an hour’s drive away, so it’s one hour into your future. I describe all the movie stars and sports personalities who are in attendance. Get here as quick as you can. So you freshen-up, hop in a car and get here about an hour later. Everything is as I described it. The movie stars, personalities, and festivities. Is this foreknowledge? Of course not. I’m at the party in real-time.

But in Example (B), what if I’m a twenty years in the future? I call you from this future time and tell you everything going on. The weather, the people, the signs of the times. I tell you – you are married, have three kids and your firstborn is about to enter college.

But for you – today – you are single and in college, no plans for marriage at all.
Twenty years later, all these things come to pass. Was this foreknowledge on my part? Of course not. I was there, twenty years into your future, relating to you what to expect “when you get here”. For you, it’s foreknowledge. No way can you know these things unless someone in the future tells you.

Think about Example (A) above. Is God merely standing alongside us, experiencing time as a second-per-second existence the same as we? Or is time, being his invention, under his complete control? Is he here and now, and also in the future, at the same time?

God says he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Who was, and is, and is to come. The Alpha and the Omega. All references to God concerning time have a common theme – it goes like this:

  • God created time (time had a beginning) (Titus 1:2)
  • God is sovereign over time.
  • God lives outside of time.
  • God exists at the beginning of time, and the end of time, and every nano-second in between – all at once.
  • God is everywhere.
  • God is everywhen.

This is the difference between “foreknowledge” and “knowledge”. God is with us right now, in real time. At the same time, he is one second from now. He is five minutes from now.

Simultaneously.

This is how God can claim he knows all the things in our future, even though we haven’t experienced them yet.

Back to Example (B) above. God is already in the future. He may as well be standing next to the manger in Bethlehem, telling the prophets of old what to expect when time caught up with Him.

Jesus was already in Heaven when the Apostle John arrived for his survey recorded in Revelation. John recorded the events we will eventually encounter. They are in John’s past, but in our future – simultaneously.

Example (A) above suggests God himself is harnessed in the same second-per-second existence as the creation. If God wants to “foresee” something, he has to “orchestrate” it to come to pass. For example, if it’s approaching the time for the birth of Jesus, he has to pull out all the stops to get Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, even if it means putting a bug in Caesar’s ear to announce a census. This “orchestration” is required if we want something to come to pass.

But if God “orchestrates” then it’s not really foreknowledge either. It’s good planning.

The Example(A)  concept also limits God’s capacity to understand the future. Conceptually, it presumes God is trapped in time, experiencing the clock in second-per-second form (as humans do). This reduces God to the H.G. Wells version of a “Frantic Director”, where God is busy orchestrating or directing the Grand Performance in real-time while attempting to setup what he has planned, while the play is going awry in real time. Either way, it firmly places God’s presence in real time (right now) rather than across all time.

“Foreknowledge” is for those who can “see” the future while trapped in the present. God is neither. He exists in the past, present, and future, all at once. It is the human (or the created beings) who are trapped in the present. Anything shown to us about the future is “foreknowledge”.

But God knows all things, past, present and future, all at once. The concept of foreknowledge helps us understand how God lives outside of time, outside of his creation. But the concept of foreknowledge applied to God himself, limits God’s omnipresence, in fact limits God entirely. It’s not foreknowledge to God, but knowledge.

One famous evangelist was asked – why doesn’t God punish the wicked now? Why does God allow evil to continue?

The answer was a bit roundabout, but the final conclusion was “He will”. That is, if we read what God has in store for the wicked, none of it is good.

But “He will” is an answer assuming God does not “already exist” in future the same as he exists in our present. He is already there. He’s already punished the wicked and he’s told us how.

So the real answer is more concrete and final: “He already has.”

Or rather, “He already has, but we haven’t experienced it yet.”

In the books, a character jokes about how his father discovered a light bulb was out in his closet, and took steps to replace it. He found the problem and intended to tell his dad, but had to leave and never did. In the meantime, Dad replaced the bulb. When the son arrived home, he told his dad of the bulb and his dad twiddled his fingers as if doing magic, and said “All fixed.” The conversation escalated into one of dad not taking him seriously. But when he got to his closet, he discovered the bulb fixed. This was an object lesson his dad used on occasion to show how God provides for us even before we ask. God is already out in front, not “only” standing next to us in real time.

Think about the Example (A) and Example (B) above – where the arrival to the party was an hour into the future. If in Example (B) I told you “such-and-such movie star will be here when you show up” – am I making a promise in the hopes that the movie star will be there, or am I certain because the movie star is already there – and you not having arrived yet – have not experienced it yet?

God has already dispatched his enemies. We haven’t experienced it yet.

We worship a God much bigger than our imaginations can handle. Next time one considers the concept of foreknowledge, ask – how big is the God I worship? And rest assured God has everything under control.

 

Romans 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…
1Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…
Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Welcome

Greetings and welcome to our site.

Joshua Light’s books and blogs on Time Travel and the Once Upon a Time Traveler book series.

Here we discuss all-things-time and welcome feedback on any aspect of the Time Travel genre.

This site’s perspective on Time however, derives from the Holy Bible, more specifically the description of events and people in time and history:

“That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” – Ecc 3:15

If we unpack the above, we find several profound aspects of time:

History repeats itself (that which as been is now)
The future has already happened (that which is to be, has already been)
History is immutable (God requires that which has past)

We’re also told God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change (no shadow of turning) and his very name is the embodiment of all points in time at once (“I AM”)

A proposition here is God is everywhere, and every”when”. God is present at the beginning of time, the end of time, and every nanosecond in between. This extends His “omnipresence” into a much higher realm than simply being “everywhere at once” into “everywhere forever”.

Jason Lisle points out how God’s laws are immutable. God does not “suspend” laws or break his own laws. God claims all of his laws will stand forever. What does this say of the laws of physics? We have a gravitational law but also the laws of aerodynamics. They are integrated to work together (aerodynamics doesn’t work without gravity to support an atmosphere). We are aware of aerodynamics because we see creatures fly.

Some analogies follow:

Time is like a river, where we are on a boat in that river with a thick fog in front and light fog behind. We can see “some” of history but not all of it. We can see “none” of the future. God created the river and is with us on the boat, is waiting for us at the end of the river, and is present at the river’s beginning. Waiting at the end of the river is the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Great White Throne, the Rapture, The Millennial Reign of Christ, and all of the events seen by the Apostle John.

How do we know this? In Henry Morris’s “Revelation Record”, he points out how some of Revelation is symbolic and the rest is literal. If John claims he “looked” or that he “saw” or that he “measured”, we have no reason to believe he wasn’t physically present while doing these things. This means God transported John 3000+ years into the future so that John could see these things and report back. John was told to physically measure things. He was there. To John, these things have already happened. To us, we haven’t experienced them yet, but they have still “already happened”. In short, time travel is not only possible, God has demonstrated it for us through John in the Revelation.

Moreover, at the Transfiguration, Christ is visited by Moses and Elijah. They are not ghosts, but living beings. How is this possible unless Christ folded time and space to intersect these prophets to his own presence?

To the prior note on laws, we know of the laws of aerodynamics because we see creatures fly. We can also know time travel is possible (there are laws to support it) because God demonstrated it with John, Elijah, and Moses.

The Bible claims the angels of little ones “do behold the face of God continually”. How is it possible an angel can watch over a child while his face is always beholding God? Firstly, guardian angels (Cherubim) have four faces (human, eagle, bull and lion) so have at least one face to spare. This also tells us the cherubim can fold space and be present in two places at the same time, one to guard the child and one to behold the face of God.

Folding space is a simple concept. No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time, but this does not preclude one object from occupying two spaces at the same time. Folding space is like folding a sheet of paper one corner to the other, such that the corners that were once some distance apart are now side-by-side or even one-and-the-same.

Time is like a book. Each page has events, people, words, etc. We are written into some of the pages (our lives) but many pages already exist in the book before we are written-in, and many more pages exist after we are gone. The book itself is complete. The pages turn as we experience history, but the pages are already in place. The pages have aspects that are already written (such as the Rapture, the Great White Throne, etc) with some blank spaces on the pages. We just don’t know how much blank space there might be, and how much of the book is already “foreknown” by God.

Foreknowledge – The aspect of “foreknowledge” is a human concept. If applied to God however, it limits God’s capacity to understand the future. Conceptually, it presumes God is trapped in time, experiencing the clock in second-per-second form (as humans do), and God can merely “foresee” what’s coming in time. This reduces God to the H.G. Wells version of a “Frantic Director”, where God is busy orchestrating or directing the Grand Performance in real-time while attempting to foresee what is to come. Either way, it firmly places God’s presence in real time (right now) rather than across all time.

If however, God is present in past, present and future all-at-once, then God is sovereign over time itself. One person said “time has always been”, but Scripture would disagree – God has always been, and God created time when He created space and matter. It simply means God is in all places at once, and all times at once. The “once” is only relative to God since “once” in our understanding means a particular point in time, not all time-and-forever.

A Grand Architecture. Think about the Trinity in terms of physics. If Space is a representation of the Holy Spirit (God pervasive in the Universe), and Matter is a representation of Jesus Christ (God in physical form), then Time is a representation of God the Father (as a controlling factor). Thus Space, Matter and Time are an expression of the Trinity, or rather an architect’s “fingerprint” on His creation. Representative patterns like this abound throughout the creation. It is mighty and Grand Architecture, and we shortchange God’s wisdom if we try to understand it purely in human terms.

Back to foreknowledge. Does God have “fore” knowledge, or does he simply have “knowledge”? If time is his creation, and he knows what will happen in every nanosecond from beginning to end, then his knowledge simply “is” and there isn’t any “fore” involved in it. Past, present, after, before, fore/aft and other concepts are useful to humans because we are trapped in second-per-second time. They are irrelevant to a being like God, who is sovereign over Time.

Time Expresses God’s Greatest. Another aspect of this is simply: God created Time as a means to express his greatest characteristics to his creation, and simultaneously avoid his own holiness instantly destroying his creation. How do these things work?

Firstly, God’s holiness is depicted as both his primary nature (purity) and as a compelling quality. God cannot tolerate sin, but his holiness also compels him to judge it. Think about how holiness is compared to darkness and light. When light shows up, does the darkness have any choice but to flee? God’s holiness is like this, an active, compelling quality to vanquish evil simply by showing up.

God’s greatest qualities – mercy, forgiveness, longsuffering, grace, etc can only be experienced through time. If time were non-existent, God’s holiness would instantly annihilate his own creation. There would be no time repent. Justice would be instantaneous. Mercy would be nonexistent. Instead, Time is a means for God to express and even constrain his own nature so that humans (and the creation) can experience God’s Greatest qualities.

In this regard – time expresses God’s greatest glory.

In the blog, we will explore more of these concepts in detail.

Impetus for Once Upon A Time Traveler

Many years ago I thrilled to the “Time Tunnel” television series. A crook runs into the tunnel, chased by a cop. Week after week the crook eludes the cop much like The Fugitive series. This finally ran out of steam when someone realized if the cop has access to Time, all he has to do is go back in time to before crook showed up. Let’s say he’ll arrive at the World Trade Center at 9am. The cop shows up at the same place at 8:55am and waits for the crook.
In other words, if someone has complete control of time, there can be no chase sequence. This and many other issues tend to “snag” a storyline until one of the stories loses track of time, or rather, the writers aren’t staying within their own storyworld and jump outside to express a creative idea.
Hopefully the reader of this series will get a consistent experience. Otherwise the curiosity of the human mind will naturally chase-down the anomalies and become a distraction in themselves. Please keep in contact if you have any questions about the characters, their adventures, the aspect of time-travel in particular – we love to interact with readers.