Love Demands Eternity

Why does time never end?

I was curious, pondering another of those childlike “Why?” questions that my parents could never answer, and seemed to “kick down the road” into my adulthood for eventual enlightenment by someone wise and patient enough to answer me.

I thought that getting a Ph.D. in Physics could help me discover some answers. Indeed, I found some, but often many more questions would then spring up with deeper mysteries than the one just solved!

After about 25 years of physics-assisted chasing of mushrooming mysteries, some answerable but many left as puzzles, I found there is indeed someone wise and patient enough to help me. His name is Abba, my heavenly Father.

It was such a relief to learn that this Father never answers me with the cop-out, “Go ask your mother!”   Instead, Abba loves to teach and guide me into truth, in loving response to my fascination with His creation. So, I felt confident that He would answer my question.

God created time, and most assuredly He could have decided to end it someday. And indeed, there is even the possibility within the realm of human understanding that time might simply “cease,” according to certain solutions of Einstein’s equations of General Relativity.

But God purposed to have time continue forever, and we have plenty of confirmation in Scripture that eternity indeed exists. For example, He has “set eternity in the human heart” [Ecclesiastes 3:11]. We know that His love endures forever [see, for example, 1 Chronicles 16:34, 2 Chronicles 5:13; 7:3, Psalms 100:5, Jeremiah 33:11, and many others], that His righteousness endures forever [see, for example, Psalms 111:3, 112:3, and many others], and that His words will never pass away [Matthew 24:35]. The list of such Scriptures is very long indeed.

So, my question was not whether time continues forever. Rather my question for Abba was, “Why?”   “Why did you make time so that it never ends?”

Abba didn’t answer me directly; rather He delegated to the Holy Spirit the joy of sharing His purpose with me. Three words came forth with incredibly profound impact:

“Love demands eternity!”

Because God is infinite and good, and He is love, we know that His love is infinite and good! No surprise there. But did you know that if you are born again, God will withhold no good thing from you?   This is a promise [in Psalm 84:11] to those whose walk is blameless.   Jesus took all blame upon himself at the Cross and there is no blame assigned to you because of this incredible sacrifice. So, you are qualified (by Jesus!) to receive every good thing.

The revelation of God’s love is a good thing, and He therefore cannot keep it from you. Indeed, He desires strongly to reveal His love to you.  Because it is infinite, it will take an infinite time to reveal it to you, and thus if God were to “stop” time at some point in the distant future, then He will have stopped the progressive revelation of His love to you. This would violate His promise to you to withhold no good thing, and thus He cannot stop time!

Put another way, God will always continue to reveal more of His infinite love to you and this requires time to never end. Love demands eternity! God, being in His very nature love, is “compelled” to reveal His love (Himself!) to you. A companion conclusion is that because Abba loves you, He was “compelled” to have you live forever. Put yet another way,

“Of the increase of the revelation of Abba’s love, there will be no end!”

This thought absolutely thrills me – that no matter how much of Abba’s love I’ve been blessed to receive and/or understand at some point in my relationship with Him, there is always an infinite amount more that is yet to be discovered and received. This is the nature of infinity – there is always more, infinitely more.

Eternity is indeed an incredibly precious gift from God – His love demands it!

[More insights into how and what Abba thinks about you can be found in Steve’s recent book entitled, “Windows to the Father’s Heart,” available at www.fatherstouch.org/store or at www.amazon.com.]

 

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Unimaginable Influence

When did you start having an impact or influence on creation? Was it when you began to speak? Or, when you drew your first picture? Or, when you started your first job? Or, when you punched the school bully who was harassing your friend?  Or, when you took your first breath? Or, … ?

The Bible gives us a clear answer.   The writer of Genesis provides a clue by sharing God’s assessment of the several stages of his creation in Chapter 1. After each of the first six stages, God “saw that it was good,” referring to what he had just made (see verses 4, 10b, 12b, 18b, 21b, 25b). The Hebrew word translated as “good” also implies “pleasant” or “excellent.” In other words, God was pleased with his excellent creations.

Then he made Adam. And something happened to God’s opinion of what he had made previously. In verse 31b, the writer shares that God “saw all that he had made, and it was very good [emphasis added].” Not just “good,” but “very good.” God’s opinion of his creation went up when Adam appeared on the scene.

Adam wasn’t the only one present when God made his revised assessment of his creation; you were there also, not only technically extant in Adam’s body as seed, but in God’s pan-temporal view you were just as “present” as Adam, as part of his family. This concept is mentioned in Hebrews 7:9, where the writer points out that Levi “paid” a tithe to Melchizedek through Abraham, even though he was still in the body of his ancestor. Strange as that “pre-birth influence” may seem, God’s opinion is not limited by our understanding.

So, here is the point: God’s opinion of all of creation went up when Adam (and you, in Adam!) came on the scene. The “goodness” of everything increased because of you. Think about what that means: every star, every tree, every leaf on every tree, every molecule in the air, every grain of sand on every beach, and everything else, became better because of you. Wow!

Even though sin entered the world through Eve and Adam, you still have incredible influence on creation. So much so, that even “all creation eagerly waits for the sons of God to be revealed” (see Romans 8:19), so that its “very goodness” will be restored!

You have unimaginable influence, whether you believe it or not!

More insights into how and what Abba thinks about you can be found in Steve’s recent book entitled, “Windows to the Father’s Heart,” available through the link below.

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Abolish the Adjective

(Originally posted September 19, 2013)

I read a recent post on Facebook that referred to “radical” Christianity, and the author offered a clarification/opinion of what it is [decades of faithfulness] and is not [mission trips and conferences].  I offered my “two cents” of opinion/advice on the use of the adjective “radical” and this prompted a constructive interchange with a few readers.   Such interchange often helps sharpen my thinking on the issue under discussion, and in this case I’ve realized that I’m actually a radical abolitionist concerning the use of the adjective “radical” for Christianity.

Here are my two cents that I offered:

“The use of the adjective “radical” in connection with Christianity is either superfluous or an indictment of the Christianity that needs to be ‘radicalized.’  Be careful if you are tempted to enhance the meaning with the use of ‘radical.’

It should be enough to refer to oneself as a Christian, and even that shouldn’t really be necessary. As the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said a long time ago when addressing a group of young women, ‘If you have to tell someone you are a lady, you’re not!’ So let your fruit do the talking and your faithfulness as a son of God will become apparent.

Radical concept!”

One reader commented on the utility of the adjective “radical”: I believe it differentiates between what common and cultural Christianity represents these days as opposed to biblical Christianity.”

My reply: “I agree with your phraseology that “common” and “cultural” Christianity is opposed to biblical Christianity. Indeed I would hesitate to call those “versions” Christianity at all. In my view, there is no other form of Christianity than biblical, and it would be wise for all “believers” to compare their professions of faith to actual expressions of faith that are commensurate with what Jesus advertised, for example, in John 14:12. Self-deception is a vicious trap. (See, for example, the warning by the Apostle John [1John 2:3-6].) Let’s drop the adjectives used for Christianity and begin living according to the ways of the One after whom the movement is named!”

Christianity is inherently shocking to the unbeliever, and even to the maturing Christian. I shouldn’t have to call you radical if I call you a Christian! Let’s work to restore Christianity to a place such that its inherent meaning allows us to abolish the adjective!

God Is Not Outside of Time!

Every so often, my training and experience as a research physicist and university professor for more than  two decades come in handy when contemplating the awesomeness of God! In my “former life” as a  scientist, I was used to thinking about some of the “fundamental” aspects of the physical world. Such  topics as energy, light, heat, gravitation, electricity and magnetism, etc., are standard “fare” in the diet of  physicists, and the concepts and principles I learned in my studies and research often helped me be even  more in awe of God’s creation than if I hadn’t had the privilege of a physicist’s perspective.

From the incredibly minute scales of sub-nuclear particles to the vast magnificence of the observed  universe, God has made himself known through his creation [Rom 1:20], and my study of the physicist’s  pursuit of “understanding” of the natural realm often helped my “jaw drop” in amazement with many of  the revelations of his divine nature and power evidenced in his intricate handiwork!

With delight and a warm heart, my ears perk up when I hear believers proclaim their wonderment as well.  I love hearing the awe in voices that share their amazement at God’s attributes and creativity, even as we  all must confess our limited, infinitesimal understanding of his ways [Is 55:9]. We all delight in the  mysteries of God, even as we each are mystified in unique ways that depend on our individual understanding and perspective of the physical realm in which we live.

With this appreciation of the varied perspectives we all have, I would like to share my own view on just  one of the many inscrutable aspects of God’s nature, namely his relationship to that somewhat confusing  and often misunderstood creation of his that we call “time.” This “nugget” is intended only as an  “appetizer,” and there is very much more that I will try to share later on. But for now, I want to focus on  the phrase that I often hear from folks expressing the majesty of God, namely that “God is outside of  time.”

To be sure, God is sovereign over time! He made it and he is Lord over it, often “adjusting” it as he sees  fit. But to say that he is “outside” of it I think misses a key facet of God’s amazing nature. I presume that  what most people are thinking when they say that God is “outside of time” is that he is not controlled by  it, or limited by it, or otherwise constrained in the same way that we think that we are. Let me share a  different perspective with you, one that takes into account some of the nature of this concept we call time  as understood by physicists.

Without launching into an extended “physics lecture,” I do want to summarize one of the key features of  “time” that escaped much notice until just over a century ago. It is my hope that by understanding this  feature, you may gain increased “awe” of God through what he has made. In 1905, Albert Einstein burst  onto the “public” scene with the publication of several revolutionary discoveries/theories, among which  the most popular was what later became known as the “Theory of Special Relativity.” Many popular, and  readable, accounts have been written over these many years since his theory was introduced to the public,  and it is not my intent to explain his theory here. [You may have already been yawning just at the mention of “physics!”] Rather, let’s focus on just one important aspect that bears on the subject of God and time.

Einstein hypothesized that both space and time were not absolute “entities,” in the sense that all observers  would measure the same (or absolute) values of distance and time intervals separating two events. Instead, Einstein concluded that two observers in relative motion with respect to each other would measure different values for the distance and time interval between two events, and these differences would become quite dramatic as the relative motion of the observers approached the speed of light! In fact, he proposed that “space” and “time” were not in fact independent of one another, but were intimately connected aspects of the more general four-dimensional “space-time”continuum that serves as the “grid,” so to speak, for describing events that occur in our physical realm. As a consequence, space and time  could “morph” [my language] into each other, depending on the relative motion of two observers.

Let me summarize this nature of space-time and its connectedness to observation with an oversimplification: One man’s “meter” is another man’s “hour!”  

If that seems too much to fathom, you are not alone in the mystery! This aspect of space-time was not  generally anticipated before Einstein’s radical hypothesis, primarily because the amount of “mixing” of  space with time was incredibly small and undetectable for observers moving at achievable relative speeds  (incredibly much smaller than the speed of light). Nevertheless, the nature of space and time is such that  they are not separate, absolute, entities but instead are aspects of the more general space-time that God  created, and uncountable experiments that do probe this “mixing” have verified that Einstein’s hypothesis  has merit and is incredibly accurate in the context [constant relative velocity of observers] where it is  presumed to be valid. [For situations where the observers are accelerating with respect to each other,  Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity is needed.]

What’s the point? The point is that what we call “space” and what we call “time” may differ from what  our brother perceives from his “vantage” point, if we are moving with respect to one another.

How does this relate to God’s nature? If we agree that God is omnipresent (everywhere in space), then he  must also be everywhere in time (omnitemporal)! Since space and time are not “disjoint” entities, in the  sense described above, we cannot in the same breath say that God is ‘everywhere in space” and also say  that he is “outside of time.” Indeed, instead of God being outside of time, he is everywhere in it! 

I hope to pursue this subject much more at a later “time,” but for now let me say that the concept of God  being everywhere in time actually may help shed light on some related questions. For example, God  existing everywhere in time fits well with his own declaration of who he is: “I AM!” [Ex 3:14]. Also,  we are helped to avoid the temptation to think of God as a sort of “super-prophet” who can “look into the  future” perfectly. Rather, he is already there! I’m sure you will think of other questions that can be  approached differently now, with this broader appreciation of God’s nature.

Our God, who created space-time, can exist everywhere in it and still be sovereign over it. He is not  outside of time. He is much more amazing than that!

Choose Whom You Will Serve

Choose Whom You Will Serve!

(Originally posted: June 27, 2012)

I recently saw this piece of well-intentioned “advice” that was posted on Facebook and noted that very similar “sayings” have also been again circulating for a while:

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”

I understand why this sounds good, because it focuses on self.  It sounds especially good to someone in a very difficult or “chronic” situation – more on that later.

But where is Jesus in this advice?   I’m glad he didn’t walk away from us (when we were yet his enemies!), and I pray that his example helps us serve others, rather than insisting that they serve us, grow us, or make us happy.  The Kingdom of God is antithetical to humanism.   It challenges humanism and its focus on self [Lk 9:23]. 

The fundamental question is this:  Whom will you serve?   Will it be the “god” of self, or your Father in heaven who paid a huge price to send the Servant who gave his life for you?

Is it possible that the above admonishment to increase “self-respect” enough to enable the “walk-away” option is, in fact, a hidden trap leading to decreased respect for the new creature you have become upon your salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?  In other words, might there be an increased urge to focus even more on self after such a walk-away, especially if “friends” applaud your “courageous” decision?  [Pr 14:12]

The seduction of such advice is that the “self” you are being encouraged to respect more is actually your old “self,” the old nature that needs no help in satisfying its own soulish desires.  On the other hand, it is prudent to increase respect for your new self, the nature that now lives in obedience to Christ and eschews the old cravings of the former nature  [Eph 4:22-24].  Obedience is a pathway to the true and complete joy that Jesus wants you to have, and when you have overcome the temptation to satisfy your old self, then you will have not only the rewards that Jesus has promised [Rev 2:7b, 11b, 17b-c, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21], but you will also have become someone worthy of true respect of the new self.

But what about the really difficult situation you may be in?  Humanism tells you to walk away.  Christlikeness strengthens your resolve and ability to hold steady to whatever the Lord has commanded you [Lk 22:42].  If he tells you to stay, and serve the Kingdom interest in your situation by doing so, then he will enable you to do so [2Cor 12:9]. 

Being served by others and requiring that they somehow make you better, or that they make you happy, is not the way of the Galilean [Phil 2:3-7].   If the Holy Spirit does give you a new assignment, then you should be obedient to his leading, and you will be if you are a son of God [Rom 8:14].  Your joy will be deep and secure because of your obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit, not because you satisfied the desires of the old self for shallow “happiness” that evaporates with a shift in circumstance.

If you are a follower of Christ, then you have the glorious opportunity to experience the joy of your Lord as you serve in the manner he did (and does!). This high calling is of far more value than the inferior result of settling “for a bowl of soup,” as did Esau when he short-sightedly sold his birthright (as the first-born) to his brother Jacob [see Gen 25:27-34].

Be sure today to make a clear and committed choice.  You can choose either to be a self-server who has been duped by humanistic advice, or to be a Spirit-led new “self” who serves others!  Rather than walk away, walk in the Way!