Is Time Eternal – of Time and Eternity
Time is from beginning to end. While it has a beginning and an end, we can rejoice with the fact that time is just an event in eternity. God exists in eternity. There is eternity because God exists.
In the first chapter of the book of John, we can find these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” The Bible talks about the “beginning”, which refers to the time of creation.
The book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible, says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God created the light, sky, earth, water, plants, animals and human being. God did not create time as a separate element, although the constant mention of the phrase “in the beginning” suggests the existence of time.
The beginning refers to the beginning of time. Time began when God created the universe. When God created the universe, time began. Does the Bible also speak of end? Yes, it talks about the end of the physical world.
What will happen in the end of time? The physical world and our sensory experience of the physical world will end. After time, there will be a new form of existence not based on the physical world but on the level of existence of God, which is eternal.
There are two popular concepts of time. The first says time exists only in the mind, but not in the physical world. Time, therefore, is only an illusion of the mind. Here, time is being distinguished from change. Time does not have anything to do with change. Things change because they undergo processes like motion, growth, process and state of being. There is only present. Past and future do not exist in the physical world but occur only in the mind, which has abilities to recall and expect. These abilities are based on man’s sensory experience of the world.
In the second concept of time, people refer to time as the cause of change itself. Time is a collection of instants, a causal event that encompasses everything. Here, an event cannot happen without the influence of time. Events like motion, growth, process and even “state of being” happen simultaneously because time encompasses all of them. Time is like a thread that links the universe, holding all living and non-living things in perfect harmony.
These two concepts are different in the sense that the first is viewed as a way by which man perceives or measures change while the other is viewed as the change itself. In the first concept, man measures motion, growth, process and state of being according to the revolution and rotation of the earth. In the second concept, time is being viewed as the unifying element that causes motion, growth, process and state of being.
It is therefore assumed that the two concepts of time refer to two different entities. One refers to the perception of change and the other to change itself. The first concept, being more of a philosophical question, explains things based on man’s perception while the second concept, being a much more ambitious question, attempts to explain life and existence in general. For this reason, it is almost impossible to settle the question “Does time exist?”
Why are there past, present and future? There is only present. Past and future do not exist in the physical world but occur only in our mind, which has abilities to recall and expect. These abilities are based on our sensory experience of the world. We can remember playing with toys ten years ago and expect to get married ten years hence.
Why do we have nights and days? The fact that we have nights and days does not have anything to do with time. We all know that the rotation of the earth and its revolution around the sun gives us nights and days. We base our time according to these two processes. We call it one day, divided in 24 hours, when the Earth makes a complete rotation and we call it one year, divided in 12 months, when it makes a complete revolution around the sun. The fact that there are stars in the sky only proves the existence of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1).
Who is responsible for time? Our times are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15). The Bible proclaims God as the Creator of the universe who is unbounded by the power of time. In the Book of Romans, Paul, the first missionary, wrote that neither time nor any power could limit God’s love. “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Rather, it is He who is responsible for time that holds the universe together in perfect harmony. In the Book of Colossians, Paul referred to Jesus Christ as the Son of God who controls all things. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).
What do philosophers and scientists tell about time? Albert Einstein, for one, believes that time exists as a part of an element that also includes space. Most physicists do. In his general theory of relativity, Einstein describes time and space as a warped element. Now, many physicists are trying to establish that time is an element, like space, that can influence a physical phenomenon. Time, according to them, is also a physical element although it has no physical form. Scientists believe that speed as fast as light can alter time. Time travel, according to them, is not impossible.
In the western hemisphere, there are four major climatic seasons, namely: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The fact that the weather suddenly becomes cool after it was hot does not have anything to do with time. Again, it is the result of the revolution of the Earth around the sun and the slight tilt in the Earth’s axis.
How about movement or growth? Is it possible to complete a 100-meter sprint if time does not dictate it? Of course, it is. The fact that an athlete moves from the first meter to the 100th meter of space does not have anything to do with time? It is called motion, which is affected by space. Motion is determined by speed, which in turn is measured according to the ability of the athlete to move from the first meter to the 100th meter in relation to the rotation of the earth. For example, an Olympian sprinter can run 100 meters in 10 seconds. As we can see, we have made a very good way of measuring movement or speed according to the rotation of the earth.
How can a child turn into a fine lady, if there is no time? A child will not always be a child. She grows. We call this process “growth”. Like motion, growth is a process. Usually, a baby girl turns into a fine lady normally after 18 years. This means that a baby girl becomes a lady after the Earth made 18 complete revolutions around the sun. Not all girls aged 18 years old have the same heights. Time did not run faster on some girls, causing them to grow taller. Height is most often dictated by the person’s genetic code and by what she eats.
The Bible supports the concepts of motion, growth, season, birth and death. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 in part). It talks about beginning and end.
In the end, there would be existence in eternity. Eternity is not a reference to time but to God’s existence. God is “from everlasting to everlasting.” (Psalm 90:2 in part). Eternity is boundless. Inappropriately coined with time, eternity rather refers to God’s existence. Eternity, in other words, is timeless. There is eternity because there is God. He is “from all eternity” (Psalm 93:2). “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).
What will happen in the end of time? After time, there will be a new form of existence not based on the physical world but on the level of existence of God. There would be no time in the end, but only existence in eternity. God promised that He would give us a new level of existence in the end of time. By then, we will be free from the physical world, which is governed by space and time. We will be free from our thoughts, which are governed by reason based on the concepts of space and time. In chapter 21 of the Book of Revelation, John wrote that God would live with His people in a new heaven and a new earth where the old order of things has passed away.
Scientists do not believe in eternity, because they explain things according to their sensory experience of the world. Their observation is mainly confined to the physical world where time seems to dictate everything. They deny God because their understanding is limited to the concept of time, which has a beginning and an end. They analyze things according to their sensory experience of the physical world and are not able to see the spiritual truth. “For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Eternity, or God’s existence, encompasses time. Time is an event in eternity. Somewhere in eternity, time began but will also end. What will be left in the end is eternity, or God’s existence, whose length is unbounded and therefore can never be measured.
The joy of knowing the eternity of God springs from our hope that He has given us eternal life in Jesus Christ His Son. “For God so loved the world He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We believe that the end of the physical world is near, as manifested by terrible things that men are now capable of doing. The signs that the Bible mentions about the last days are now taking place. “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
In the last days, our Lord Jesus Christ will return unexpectedly. “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10). The Bible warns that the Lord’s coming will be a cruel day that will punish the sinners. “See, the day of the Lord is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it” (Isaiah 13:9).
The apostle Paul said that when Jesus Christ returns to Earth, “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
We believe that the end is near and the only reason it has not yet come is man’s continuous rejection of His salvation. The Lord, who has promised to return, is not slow in keeping His promise. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).
The salvation of the Lord refers to our right to Heaven where there is eternal life. After our short stint on earth, we will face judgment before God. Our life here, although temporary, will determine where our souls shall spend eternity. The question is: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul” (Matthew 16:26)?
Only by believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God can anybody find salvation. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life” (I John 5:11-13). “No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (I John 2:23). “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Jesus Christ will return to establish an everlasting kingdom, which all those who believe in His name shall take part of. “In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed at the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Bible verses were quoted from the New International Version (NIV).