God’s Covenant, Part 6 – The Temporal Nature of Everything Created

A-Time and space coexist with the eternality of God

Scripture reveals that everything created is set in contrast with all that is not, which makes a proper view of nature, dualistic rather than monistic. Dualism is the view that there is two spheres of reality, one that is temporal and the other that is eternal. Creation is of one nature, Deity is of another which is comprehended by the term “Holy.” Holy means something which is other, so we might ask other than what? The answer is the otherness of Gods nature is completely different from ours or anything else within creation. Monism is the belief that all things are of the same nature or essence. A Monistic view of things sees God in everything and everything that exists within the material realm as one and the same thing with God. Monism is a Pagan worldview that is completely unbiblical and at odds with a Christian worldview (Lev. 10:3,10).

The importance of making this distinction is because it is truth, and truth never changes. There will never be a time when this truth will not be so, that what makes it truth. The contrast or antithesis in the dual nature of things, is that God who is eternal and uncreated on the one hand, is of one essence, while everything else that is created on the other hand, is of a different essence. The difference between the two is defined by the words eternal and temporal. The meaning of the word “temporality” is that of something which has a beginning and an end. Created nature is unlike God’s nature in this sense for it has a beginning and an end that are determined by God and depends upon Him.

The nature of this discussion by way of introduction to the next division of our outline on Gods Covenant, may seem rather abstract at first. But when we consider a subject such as the covenant of God, one that forms a Biblical framework to do with everything that concerns Him, it is of utmost importance to have a right perspective, or worldview of these things.[1]

People in the past starting with the Greeks have supposed that time and space are eternal, and that they have always existed as they are and always will. This is wholly untrue and unsupported by Scripture. Genesis 1:1 refutes this idea when it says “In the beginning.” Time and space were created along with everything else that exists outside of God. People have also imagined that the creative works of God are actually an interruption of eternity, further emphasizing the notion that time and eternity are synonymous with each other, and that space is endless. The idea that creation has anything to do with notions of eternity and infinity whether from Greeks, Scientists, or Christians is inconsistent with what God says Himself in His word.

God, in speaking to Job about His omnipotence in creation says:

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors” (Job 38:1-10).

God in Christ was present and active in creation; He speaks of it as wisdom personified when He says:

“I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was brought forth; While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, Or the primal dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep, When He established the clouds above, When He strengthened the fountains of the deep, When He assigned to the sea its limit, So that the waters would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth” (Prov. 8:23-29).

Note that a limit has been fixed on every aspect of creation. “The heavens and the earth” are limited and finite. The knowledge that God is eternal in His nature joined with the knowledge that man by his nature is temporal, militates against this notion that the two are mixed or synonymous with each other. Time and space are created, yet, at the same time they do coexist with God and eternity. But the two are forever unmixed, unaffected by each other.

And, just as there is a certain quality that pertains to what is eternal there is also a certain quality that pertains to what is not. The knowledge of this is not simply an academic exercise to engage ourselves in either, but a very relevant issue in the consideration of God’s covenant. God’s covenant concerns the creature and his environment which exist within the confines of space and time, while God does not and is not subject to these limitations in any way. This is where mistakes in thinking concerning Gods dealing with His creation come in. For God to deal with man He has to enter our realm of being without doing harm to Himself in terms of whom he is by nature. The fact that God is able and has done this is nothing less than astounding! But it is what pertains to His nature in the first place.

Proverbs 8:12 – “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And find out knowledge and discretion.”

Proverbs 8:14 – “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength.

Proverbs 8:15 – “By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice.”

Proverbs 8:16 – “By me princes rule, and nobles, All the judges of the earth.

Scripture makes the assertion of a dual nature of reality in the form of a declarative statement on the two natures. “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ” I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend forever, Nor will I always be angry; For the spirit would fail before Me, And the souls which I have made.” (Is. 57:15,16). God is Holy and we are not; God dwells in eternity but we do not. But at the same time that this is true Isaiah says that God dwells with certain men where He dwells. So how are created beings such as us, dwell with God where He is? The wisdom of God solved this in His covenant by making it possible for men of our nature from this world to interact with Him and His nature where He is. This covenant fellowship with God is true now in this age, and it will also be true in a future age which is to come.

“In the beginning God” created two kinds of nature; One kind of nature is spiritual and another kind of nature is material. Both kinds of nature are created and therefore, are temporal. God created man in His own image but what exactly does that mean (Gen. 1:27)? It was from dust that mans body was formed which make it material creation (Gen.2:7). God breathed life into man which in Hebrew means spirit, this is spiritual creation. Joined together, man is a unity consisting of the two things brought together in a single being. The compound of these two make a living soul. God sustains the temporal being of man along with everything else by His great power. One day the body will die and return to the dust it was taken from but the spirit will live on in a future life by the same power that keeps it now (Ecc. 8:8; 12:7).

The final destiny of mans spiritual life after physical death is determined by God’s covenant. Mankind was made righteous but he lost it, bringing spiritual and physical death upon himself (Ecc. 7:29). God’s covenant is concerned with the matter of righteousness along with the eternal destiny of men. While all men have sinned and are deserving of eternal death God in His covenant determines whether some are saved or not. Those who are saved will live in eternal bliss, while those who are lost in eternal misery. The point of the matter is that both souls do continue to live without cessation in an afterlife in unending consciousness. The nature of this eternal life however, is not the same as the nature of eternity itself. The eternal existence of creation that follows this world and life is that of eternal time and space, a continuation of the coexistence of the created and uncreated order. Yet, these things of nature are in a different state or condition than before the time they cease to exist in the present.

The impossibility of created nature and eternal nature existing in unity is resolved in the incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God. The eternal God entered time and space, taking on the nature of man in a human body, yet retaining His eternal nature in a hypostatical union. Jesus Christ is one person with two unmixed natures. When Jesus died it was His created human flesh that died. The blood of Jesus that is the ground of salvation is ordinary human blood.[2] Upon His resurrection from the grave the created nature of Jesus was transformed into a glorified state and will always exist as such in this way, the two natures coexistent in one person for eternity.

The spiritual communion that exists between God and man, like that which Isaiah spoke of in 57:15, exists as a result of a union established by the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ. This union occurs through the work of God’s Spirit to them in regeneration, or the new birth (John 3:5-7). The new birth is the spiritual re-creation of those who are marked out as the object of eternal life according to God’s covenant (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). But notice the distinction that Jesus made between human nature and the Divine nature,”That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Twice the word spirit is used in this verse by our Lord. In the first instance Jesus means the Spirit of God, or, the Divine nature, and in the second instance He means the spirit of man, or, the created nature. How are we to understand this construction of meaning used by Jesus? Man as a living soul was created spirit and body joined together in a unity of a person. When mankind in Adam sinned his human nature remained the same, but he died morally and spiritually so that his character was changed by it. Adam’s character came to resemble the one who tempted him to sin rather than the One who made him (John 8:43,44). Those born of Adam now bear the image of him who sinned first. The new birth effected by God’s Spirit restores and transforms the character of the man, his spiritual being, into that condition which is suitable for communion with his Creator (Eph. 2:1-3). Nature spoken of in the sense of regeneration pertains to moral and spiritual character, not something that is intrinsically different from the original nature of man, but something that is morally different. There is now in regeneration union and communion with God, yet, both natures are just as unmixed as the human and divine nature of Christ is and will remain forever.

Peter says that the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ in God’s covenant make us partakers of the Divine nature (II Pet. 1:2-4). What Peter means to convey is that we who are in Christ enjoy fellowship with God now, along with the benefit of that fellowship which overflows toward us by way of practical holiness. But this fellowship will remain and even be increased in the life hereafter (I Pet 1:3-5). The regenerative power that God uses when giving the new birth is the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Regeneration and resurrection are restorative transforming power. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:4,5). There are two things brought forth here by the apostle, unity with God and newness of life. This passage is very often employed by Christians to defend their view of Baptism, but the language of the text is referring primarily with the new birth and its effects. Whatever unity with God and newness of life have to do with each other they have nothing to do with the outward act of Baptism, but rather with the regenerative power of Gods Spirit.

Unity with God has to do with relationship, something which concerns the concept of a covenant. Newness of life denotes a transformation from one sort of condition into another. This is something which concerns the concept of spiritual unity with God. This is not in any way suggestive of an actual change of nature, even though it is easy to construe it that way. The true sense of Scripture is that of a transformation of nature rather than change (Col. 1:13; Rom. 12:1,2). To some, this distinction may be merely semantic but it most assuredly is not. For if it means a change of nature then the question is changed to what? Certainly men do not become a god, which is pure Arianism. It also is the Monistic view of nature which is Pagan and not Christian.

Any integration between the nature of God and the nature of man corrupts the meaning and nature of both. Therefore, both must coexist together as such in Gods covenant kingdom. Gods Covenant then involves a relationship between two parties that are completely unlike one another, God and man. This covenant arises from the wisdom of God and it is made effective by His power, the resurrecting power of the Almighty.

Notes:

[1] The use of the term “framework” in this essay simply means structure, it should not be confused with any use of the term as associated with the teaching of Theistic evolution which is completely unbiblical.

[2] The human blood of Jesus is sanctified by His Holy person. Otherwise, Jesus’ blood was human blood. Teaching to the contrary negates the metaphysical realities involved in the hypostatical union.

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