The Attributes of God (Part Three)

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27a NIV).

God is infinite.

However, people are finite; we are very limited beings. A man might have many cars, but he can only drive one at a time. A woman might have many clothes, but she can only wear one outfit at a time. You might have a couple dream vacation destinations and the means to get to them, but you can only be one place at a time. And we could go on and on! To be infinite means to be without limits. When we use this term in reference to being, we say that God has no limits in regard to time (he is eternal), space (he is everywhere present), and power (he is all-powerful). To think of a Being without limits is beyond our comprehension, because as creatures we are limited in each of these ways. Therefore, we must be careful not to allow our limited concepts to restructure God’s revelation. We must accept by faith what he says, though we lack the ability to extend out to his unlimited nature.

Let us begin with the concept of God’s eternality. Our minds are bound to the concept of time. Everything about us is bound to the endless procession of seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc. But God has no personal relation to time, because he created everything (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17). He stands outside of time, but he can and does act inside of it. God uses the word eternal to convey this idea about his being to us (Genesis 21:33; Deuteronomy 33:27; Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16). To help us grasp what he is like, he uses phrases like “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2) and “who inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15 NKJV). We can also think of God’s “eternal power” (Romans 1:20). God lives forever (Deuteronomy 32:40), and reigns forever (Psalm 9:7; 146:10). His “years never end” (Psalm 102:27), so he is the “eternal King” (Jeremiah 10:10). Consider also Psalm 90:4. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night (NIV).

“When we have enlarged our captions to the utmost, they still utterly fail to comprehend the vast subject. We stretch out thoughts backward and forward; but no beginning or end of God’s existence appears. To relieve our overstretched imagination, and to stop the unavailing effort to comprehend what is incomprehensible, we bring in the negative idea—no beginning, no end. Duration without beginning and without end, becomes the expression of God’s eternity… We dwell in time, a habitation with its various apartments; and we pass from one to another in order; but God’s habitation is undivided eternity. Our lifetime has its parts, childhood, boyhood, manhood, and old age; but God’s life is as indivisible as his essence” (Dagg, Manual of Theology, pp. 64-65).

God is unlike creation, which is subject to time and decay (Hebrews 1:10-12). Humans are bound by time and our life passes quickly (Psalm 39:4-5; James 4:14). His “years” and vitality never become less or diminish in any way.

The consideration of God’s eternal nature means has numerous practical benefits. First, God warns us not to judge him or to become overly curious (Job 38:4). Second, if we know the Lord, we can always count on him to “be there” for us (Psalm 48:14; 90:2), unlike family and friends that pass away. Third, we have a firm foundation for constant trust (Isaiah 26:4). By grace, we have the confident expectation of life with the Lord forever.

Grace and peace, David

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