The other day I was in prayer, and thought of something that I have considered many times before. I believe God exists outside of time: He has always existed and time is meaningless to Him. In fact, the whole concept of time exists only for us. God doesn’t need it because He isn’t bound by time; He is eternal. So, if God has existed forever, and, as the Bible says in numerous places, God knew us before we were even created, by extension, maybe we can say that we then have always existed. I’m not suggesting we are immortal, but, at very least, we have always existed in God‘s mind. If we accept that God is omniscient, then we are not a new thought to Him. He knew He was going to create you and me long before that ever happened. So you and I were on His mind forever before he actually created us. Some verses that seem relevant here:
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
“Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD” (Psalm 139:4).
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalms 139: 1-3).
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:15-16).
Jer 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart….”
“… for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought….” (1 Chronicles 28:9).
“From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do” (Psalm 33:13-15).
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
” . . . even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2).
“Your throne is established from of old; Thou art from everlasting” (Psalm 93:2).
“From you One [Jesus] will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. – (NASB) Micah 5:2
Colossians 1:17. NOTHING existed before Jesus. “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
1 Tim 6:16 discusses God “who alone is immortal”. So how is this relevant and how does it affect the believing Christian?
One key topic – common to all of us — is the topic of death: We all face certain death, but do we really “die” in the sense that the world would view death? There are verses in the Bible that might appear to be contradictory to one another, depending upon how one reads them and what is one’s understanding of “death.” And Bible scholars are not even in agreement on how exactly to interpret the idea of death. Consider these Bible passages. Some comments from Ray Pritchard of Keep Believing Ministries might be helpful here, also.
Psalm 146:4, ESV. “When his (man’s) breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”
Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (NKJV).Pritchard comments: At the moment of death the soul of the lost is sent to hell where it is in conscious torment.
In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus told of a rich man who upon his death went to hell and suffered in the flames of torment. It does not matter whether you think this passage is literal or figurative. If you say it is literal, then it must be a terrible punishment. If it is figurative, the figure itself is so awful to consider that the reality must be much worse.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25).
According to Pritchard, if you if you believe in Jesus, you will never die. What an amazing promise. But believers die every day. Yes, but for the believer, death is merely the passing from this life with all its sorrows into life eternal in the presence of our Lord.
Pritchard comments: When the saved die, they go directly into the presence of the Lord. At this point we remember the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, emphasis added).
This appears to be a straightforward promise that at the moment of death the repentant thief would pass from his life of crime and his agonizing death into the realm called “paradise.” This would seem to contradict the teaching called “soul-sleep,” which implies that at death a believer “sleeps” in a kind of suspended animation until the day of the resurrection. How could the thief be that very day in paradise if his soul went to sleep when he died?
Further, Paul said he had a desire “to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23, emphasis added). He also said, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body (that is, separated from the body by death) and at home with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8, emphasis added).
In John 11:11-14 Jesus speaks of Lazarus and says Lazarus “…has fallen asleep.” But later in those verses, the Bible explains that Jesus “…told them plainly, Lazarus is dead….”In Pritchard’s view (well supported by Scripture), the soul goes to be with the Lord in heaven, and the body is buried until the day of resurrection when Jesus returns to the earth. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 says, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
Here you have both sides of the truth. Christians who die are said to be “with Jesus” (that’s the soul in the conscious presence of the Lord) and “have fallen asleep in him” (that’s the body which “sleeps” in the grave). Listen to Paul’s description of that great reunion of body and soul: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, emphasis added).
To sum this up – and I get some comfort, clarity and reassurance in doing so – I believe we have always existed, at least in God’s mind. Further, no matter what happens to our body when we die (cremation, for example), I believe we are immediately in the presence of our Lord; and the Bible also says about our body: we are raised with a new, spiritual, resurrection body (1 Cor 15 discusses this at length).So, in the sense explained here, we have always been and we always will be.
The real question, of course, is WHERE will we be… in torment or in companionship with Jesus???
By: Lee Pierce