Psalm 139:16                       The Spirit of Learning                               5/27/2012     

·        Pentecost Sunday (John 17:3, Acts 2:38, 1Pet 3:21)

 

 

 

 

#1.       The Paraclete (John 14:26,16, 15:26, 16:7, 1John 2:1)

 

 

 

 

·        God and Time (Psalm 139:14-16, Isa 46:10-11, Eph 1:11)

 

 

 

 

#2.       The Omnitemporality of God (Gen 1:5, Rev 1:8)

 

 

 

 

·        The Attributes of God (Gen 1:1, Heb 4:13, Dan 2:21, Eph 1:11, Acts1:7, Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8)

 

 

 

 

#3.       The Atonement (2Tim 1:9, Tit 1:2, Gen 3:15, Rev 13:8, 2Pet 3:8, Psalm 90:4)

 

 

 

 

·        Magnificent (1John 3:2, Rev 3:21)

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 17:3 (2X). Today is Pentecost Sunday, and you know what that means. It means that almost in every Christian Church people will hear a sermon on the appearance of God the Holy Spirit from Acts 2:1-21. I have done that many times already. And so, today I wanted you to see God the Holy Spirit in a different role; the Spirit of Teacher. However, it is not sufficient if God fulfills the teaching role, He must also give us the desire to learn. The Lord Jesus Christ was the most perfect Teacher God could provide, but after three and one half years of teaching there were only 120 disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem.

·        Pentecost Sunday (John 17:3, Acts 2:38, 1Pet 3:21)

    It was God’s plan that He would postpone the Spirit of learning until Pentecost. It was at Pentecost, 50 days after the Sabbath before Easter Sunday, that God poured out the Holy Spirit and gave the Spirit of learning to about 3000 souls on that Pentecost Sunday. These 3000 people received an urgent desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ; a desire which they did not have earlier. That is why I have titled this sermon, The Spirit of Learning (2X). Not only did God pour out His Holy Spirit to show the multitude signs and wonders; and not only did God the Holy Spirit teach the multitude the importance of being filled with the Spirit of Christ; and not only did God the Holy Spirit ordain all the new converts that they must be ambassadors of Christ; but God the Holy Spirit also inclined their hearts so that they were desirous to hear and learn of Christ and of the Gospel of salvation that they now had to proclaim to all the world. And today we will hear some wonderful things that God the Holy Spirit is teaching us from the Bible about the God whom we serve. The Lord Jesus said in John 17:3,

John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” And thus, to know who the Lord Jesus Christ really is, and to know Him and love Him personally in all His character traits, and to know God in all His attributes, and to know His love for us and His righteousness, is eternal life. Today we will cover only one verse from Acts 2:38,

Acts 2:38  “Then Peter said unto them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” What is God saying here through the mouth of the apostle Peter? The first word is “Repent”. What does that mean? It means that God must give them repentance, for the Bible says that true repentance only comes from God. And so, only those people for whom Christ died 51 days earlier were given repentance and they were the 3000 who were saved on that day. Then we read in Acts 2:38, “And be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” What does that mean? It means, “And be washed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” for the word “to baptize” means “to wash.” The Lord Jesus Christ was washed when He suffered and died on the cross. It does not mean that water was poured upon Him, but that the guilt of our sins were washed away from His account, because He, the sinless Lamb of God, atoned for the guilt of our sins, and He paid the perfect and complete payment that was required to satisfy the righteousness of God. The guilt of our sins was imputed to His account, and Christ paid the full payment that was required. And so, when we read in Acts 2:38, “And be baptized every one of you” it does not mean that water had to be poured upon us, or that we had to be dunked in water, for this verse says, “for the remission of sins.” Our sins are not going to be washed away by water, which is also what the apostle Peter says in 1Pet 3:21, but our sins are going to be washed away by God the Holy Spirit applying the atonement of Christ on the cross to our souls. We need to remember that there was only one time in history when sins were forgiven, and that was in on Friday, April 3 in the year AD 33, when Christ hung on the cross. And thus, the baptizing in Acts 2:38 does not refer to water baptism but to the Baptism by the Holy Spirit. Please turn two pages to your left, to John 14:26.

#1.       The Paraclete (John 14:26,16, 15:26, 16:7, 1John 2:1)

John 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” The words “All things” indicate that what we have in our hands is a complete Bible. There are no lost manuscripts which were forgotten to put them in the Bible. If there is a God in heaven, then this God would have made sure that the Bible, as we hold it in our hands, is a complete revelation from God. The word “Comforter” is the Greek word “Paracletos” which in English is called “Paraclete.” Hold one finger here in John 14 and please turn for a moment to 1John 2:1, and there we read,

1John 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate (Paracletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” And so, a Paraclete is a Comforter, or an Advocate, or an Intercessor. Please turn again to John 14:16. And what we now see is that we have a Comforter on earth, which is God the Holy Spirit, and we have a Comforter in heaven, which is Jesus Christ the righteous, who intercedes for us before the Father all the time. That is why the Lord Jesus said to His disciples in John 14:16 that He will send “another comforter” which is “another of the same sort.” This name “Comforter” is also mentioned in John 15:26 and in 16:7. We can see that the Lord Jesus is a Comforter. But how is God the Holy Spirit also a comforter? The Holy Spirit teaches us how we should conduct ourselves every day, and the Holy Spirit gives us a willing mind to be teachable, and to give us comfort in strengthening our faith. How does God the Holy Spirit strengthen our faith? For example, He teaches us the attributes of God. He teaches us that God is omniscient, meaning that God knows everything and God does not learn anything new; that God is omnipresent, meaning that God is present in all places at all times; that God is immutable, which means that God does not change. And now we have to introduce the concept that God is also omnitemporal. What does that mean? It is related to the “timelessness” of God. If God is omniscient, then God’s knowledge is timeless and unchanging. This is not something new, for even Augustine, fourth century AD, already wrote about it, although not correctly. It was a concept on the minds of our forefathers, but it obtained a clear understanding only in the past 50 years.

·        God and Time (Psalm 139:14-16, Isa 46:10-11, Eph 1:11)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 139:14 (2X). How old is God? One popular answer is that God is infinitely old, but that is incorrect. God does not have an age, not even an infinite age. What time is it for God? There are 24 time zones in the world. Which one does He dwell in? To specify an exact time is to misrepresent what God is like.

On the one side are those who claim that God is timeless, as if God exists outside of time in an “eternal now” that has no duration, no past and no future; they think that everything is comprehended by God in a single moment of unchanging present. These are people who believe in the sovereignty of God. On the other side are those who argue that God is temporal, which means to them that God is bound by time like the rest of us; they think that God must be in time in order to answer prayer and to intervene in time by providence. These are people who do not believe in the sovereignty of God. They believe that God “processes” or evolves with the world He created, and therefore He moves through time with the rest of us. But this is false, for the Bible clearly declares that God foreknows that which He foreordains. We can see that in Psalm 139:14-16 where we read,

Psalm 139:14  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

Note these awesome words, “in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” Clearly, God foreknows that which He foreordains. Please turn to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 46:10 (2X). The Prophecy of Isaiah is filled with verses concerning the sovereignty of God, and the insignificance of man. We read in Isa 46:10-11,

Isa 46:10-11, “10  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11  Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”

Note these words, “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Clearly, that which God foreordains He also brings it to pass. And from Eph 1:11 we know that God foreordains everything; everything. And so, if God is omniscient and knows everything, then He never learns anything and His knowledge is timeless and unchanging. And we have to admit that God knows everything because He also brings it to pass. But God’s actions are carried out in time. And so, the question is, how do we understand what God is doing in time? And how do we understand God’s actions concerning answers to prayer and concerning His interventions at the proper times through His providence? All this is related to understanding Who the God is whom we worship.

#2.       The Omnitemporality of God (Gen 1:5, Rev 1:8)

For now the approach to the question should begin with two essential starting points: #1, The definition of time, and #2, The definition of Omnitemporality as opposed to the Temporality of God.

What exactly is time? If time is to be distinguished from eternity then time should be existing with motion of objects in space. This means that there could have been no time before the creation of the world. It also means that eternity past is different from time because time is a function of change, and God is immutable. And thus time is the medium in which change occurs. This is a good working definition of what time is. Change is consistent with Biblical concepts of time. We read in Gen 1:5, “So the evening and the morning were the first day.” A unit of time, a day, is distinguished by a change from the prior time. And so, time is not a thing to be handled, but time is a relationship between events (or changes) in history.

What is Omnitemporality? Omni means all or universal. Temporal means timely, or abiding in time. So Omnitemporality means “all-timely.” Divine Omnitemporality is aligned with timelessness, but it is more comprehensive. It is true that God is timeless, in the sense that He has no specific location or duration in time. However, left unexplained the idea of timelessness leaves God open to the charge of inactivity. That is why some hold the view that it involves a timelessness that pretty much leaves God on the sidelines. Omnitemporality tells us that God is always in time in the same way. He is everywhere according to His omnipresence. God is not restricted to any particular place, yet He is present everywhere at once. All of God is here and all of God is everywhere, and He is in every time. All of God is past. All of God is now. All of God is future. And God does not change along the way. He says in Rev 1:8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End” and God is that all at once. To say that God is Omnitemporal is to say that He has no location, extension, or duration in time, just as He has no location, extension, or dimension in space. He is timeless just as He is spaceless. In the past I have proclaimed that God made this universe, and thus God is greater than this universe. This was wrong. God is timeless just as He is spaceless. He is always, just as He is everywhere.

On the other hand, to say that God is temporal would mean that He is limited by being bound in time. To say that God is timeless means that He is limited by being bound outside of time. To say that God is omnitemporal means that He is not limited by time at all. Then there are those who routinely mention Christian beliefs in answered prayer and Divine providence, but they bring no Biblical texts to support these ideas in the context of the temporality or the Omnitemporality of God. But when we dig into the Bible we find many relevant things to say about the topic of time from various angles. The Bible tells us meaningful things about the attributes of God, His relationship to time, and the nature of time that leads to the Divine Omnitemporality of God. And so, let us look at the attributes of God.

·        The Attributes of God (Gen 1:1, Heb 4:13, Dan 2:21, Eph 1:11, Acts1:7, Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8)

God is self-existent and depends on nothing outside of Himself. He pre-existed creation. Gen 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Before creation there was no time as such. It is false to believe that time stretches infinitely into the past. So when did God exist before there was a “when”? The answer is that there was no “when”, no time. If God pre-existed creation then He pre-existed time. If God pre-existed time, then He is independent of time. If He is independent of time then He is either timeless, or He is Omnitemporal, but He cannot be temporal. It means that God cannot be bound by time. God is Omnitemporal because He is self-existent.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 4:13 (2X). God is also omnipresent, and God’s omnipresence is bound up with His Omnitemporality. Now consider this: A law for this universe is that people and other physical objects may not travel at or beyond the speed of light. When objects approach the speed of light their mass increases exponentially, so that the speed of light may never be reached. This rules out time travel for us. But God is a Spirit, and a Spirit has no mass, and therefore He is not limited by the speed of light. Now consider this: Suppose light leaves the earth at a certain event, let us say at the moment an airplane manned by terrorists hits the Twin Towers in New York. Then suppose someone traveling faster than the speed of light follows that light beam. This person will overtake light from the past and see as present events what happened in the past. He will see the preparations that were made before the airplane hits the Twin Towers, but he will see it as occurring as present events. This is the time travel that is so glorified in Hollywood movies. In this way we can understand that God is Omnitemporal because He is omnipresent.

Let us now look at God’s omniscience. We read in Heb 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” The Bible teaches that God knows everything and He is everywhere. God is present simultaneously here and at a star which is four light years away from here. From the vantage point of that star He sees that star as it is now. But from the vantage point of this earth He sees it as it was four light years ago. The star has changed during those four years, because the star has lost some of its energy and has changed a little in color. And from all the places in between God sees the same star during all the times in between. And so, because of God’s omnipresence God sees the whole history of that star, at least up to this moment, all at once. This same Divine awareness applies to everything in the universe. This is in effect Omnitemporality. All times are present to Him now. This is how we can understand that God can see the whole of time as He pleases, past, present, and future. And so, if God is omniscient as stated in Heb 4:13 then He must also be Omnitemporal.

Please turn now to the Prophecy of Daniel, Dan 2:21 (2X). Christians of the reformed persuasion give lip service to the sovereignty of God, but Daniel recognized God’s sovereignty even over time. In this chapter Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. We read in Dan 2:21,

Dan 2:21, “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”

Daniel was primarily thinking about time in terms of historical eras marked by the rise and fall of kings in history. But God inspired Daniel to write it in such a manner that God controls time as such. If God providentially controls the changes in history, then He controls time. If God controls everything in history, as He says in Eph 1:11, then He controls all time. God is omnitemporal because God is sovereign. It is in this way that we must interpret the statement of the Lord Jesus in Acts 1:7, “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” To control events in history is to control time, because time is just the changing of the relationship between events and created things.

God says in Mal 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” And God says in Heb 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” We all know the doctrine that God is immutable. If God does not change, and if time is the medium in which change occurs, then God is either timeless or independent of time.

And so, the attributes of God imply that He is timeless, or better stated that He is Omnitemporal. And this applies to all the acts of God listed throughout the Bible. If this makes your head spin then remember that we are talking in this Sermon about Pentecost; the Spirit of teaching which God demonstrated with signs and wonders, and the Spirit of learning which God gave us at Pentecost. And if you intend to get to know who God is, then you can brush up on the attributes of God when you look up this sermon, which will be available on our website beginning today or tomorrow. Please turn now to the Second Epistle to Timothy, 2Tim 1:9 (2X).

#3.       The Atonement (2Tim 1:9, Tit 1:2, Gen 3:15, Rev 13:8, 2Pet 3:8, Psalm 90:4)

There are some people who totally misinterpret the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ by trusting the KJV on the timing of this event. They arrive at date for the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ which occurred before the foundation of the world. This is impossible for there were no Romans at that time, and there were no crosses at that time, and there was no blood that flowed, and there was no death in existence at that time. It is a confusing concept that has many in a tizzy. 2Tim 1:9 says,

2Tim 1:9, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”

How do we understand these words, “before the world began”? Literally these words say, “before times eternal.” And again these words are repeated in Tit 1:2, where we read,

Tit 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”

God’s decree to elect and to save particular men was before time began. It does not mean that Christ atoned for these men before the foundation of the world, but that God made the decision, or God promised to Himself in His Last Will and Testament that He would save the people whom He chose to become saved. And if we harmonize Tit 1:2 with 2Tim 1:9 we see that what was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began was the promise to save us and to call us with a holy calling. The Omnitemporality of God allowed Him to see us simultaneously before the world began and in AD 33 when the Lord Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, and in the 20th century when He made us “Born Again”. This is how we must understand these Scriptures, and other Scriptures which contain the same information. God created time, and the Bible declares that it was not until 7BC or 6BC that the Lord Jesus was formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and that He was crucified in the year AD 33. But the Omnitemporality of God allowed Him to see these events of the incarnation and the event of the crucifixion of Christ simultaneously with the event that Adam and Eve sinned and the Deliverer was promised in Gen 3:15. And when we read in Rev 13:8,

Rev 13:8, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” we understand that before Christ was executed in time, God comprehended His redemptive act and the salvation of the elect whose names are written in the Book of Life. In other words, Christ’s death was present to God’s mind before it actually took place in human history, and this was made possible because of God’s Omnitemporality. It also explains the redemption of the Old Testament elect before Christ made atonement for them on the cross in AD 33, which we find confirmed in Rom 3:25.

Please turn now to the Second Epistle of Peter, 2Pet 3:8 (2X). Like in Psalm 90:4 God writes here that for God a thousand years is as one day. We read in 2Pet 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” And in Psalm 90:4 God says, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” Many Christians read these two verses in a relative sense. They think that Moses and Peter meant that for God a thousand years and one day are similarly short compared to an infinitely long period of time since eternity past. But time did not exist before angels and the world were created. Time does not stretch into everlasting past. Time began in Gen 1:1, and time has continued only about 13000 years. A thousand years and one day are not the same by a long shot. No, Peter did not mean that a thousand years and one day are the same relative to the short history of the world, but he meant that with the Lord a thousand years and one day are the same absolutely. God is not time bound. He grasps all time and all time periods, whether long or short, in one present glance. He sees all time at once all the time; which is to say that God is Omnitemporal.

The concept of Omnitemporality holds several advantages over the concept of timelessness. Omnitemporality is more consistent with the terminology of omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. Omnitemporality positively attributes power and freedom to God, rather than negatively suggesting a limitation on God as the word timeless does.

And what about answers to prayer? We should not say that God answers prayer, as if God will change His mind about a certain issue. In God’s mind both the prayer and the answer to that prayer were all fixed long before the prayer was ever conceived in the mind of men, and God sees both the prayer and the answer all at once, because God is Omnitemporal. God intervenes providentially because He is in every time without being confined to any time. Indeed, Omnitemporality at once embraces the transcendence and imminence of God, while timelessness suggests a transcendent but hands-off God. Once we consider that God is positively Omnitemporal rather than negatively timeless we see that there is nothing to prevent Him from acting in any time. We have a God who is known by His loving acts described in His Word, but also who is worshipped and adored because of His Divine attributes. We cannot consistently believe in the Lord’s self-existence, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, sovereignty and immutability without accepting His Omnitemporality as well.

Being made in the image of God, our views about ourselves and our fellow men are inevitably shaped by our view of God. The more magnificent we believe God is, the more humbled we are before Him and the more exalted we are above other creatures. The way to be exalted is to exalt God and Omnitemporality exalts God over time. In other words, Christ-esteem is the path to inner peace and confidence. On the other hand self-esteem is the path to selfishness and sin.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 3:21 (2X).

·        Magnificent (1John 3:2, Rev 3:21)

Our future life is magnificent. We all know the verse in 1John 3:2 which says,

1John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

In the New Heaven and the New Earth we shall be like Christ. And we read in Rev 3:21,

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” When we combine these two verses and we know that Christ is God (since He is the incarnation of God the Son), and we have learned of the Omnitemporality of God, should we conclude that we are going to be like Christ and that we too will have the ability to see all events in history at once like Christ is able to do that? Let us now come to our senses. We should not combine verses mindlessly. Christ is God and we are never going to be God. Even though we are sons of God we should remember that God has only one true Son. We are adopted sons of God, but we should never exalt ourselves to the throne of God. This was the pride that brought Adam and Eve to the fall, but we should never think that we would be like God. Perish the thought. When the Lord Jesus Christ says to us, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” we must patiently wait to see how the Lord is going to accomplish that for each one of His saints. Suffice it to say and to believe that it will be something more glorious than we ever could ask or think; it will be magnificent to know the Lord Jesus personally and intimately; it will be magnificent to sit in His presence; it will be magnificent to talk with Him, but to ask more than that is to invite the wrath of Him who sitteth upon the throne. Where is our gratitude? It is certain that in the life hereafter we also will show our gratitude to the Lamb of God who was slain on behalf of our sins. We were responsible for nailing Him to the cross, and should we be so ungrateful to ask Him for favors that we do not deserve? But you see, in this life our love for Him should be greater than our love for anyone else. In the life hereafter our love for Him will be even greater and more intense than we even can imagine.

Some people rejoice in their minds that they are going to see their loved ones in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Forget your loved ones, for your love for Christ will be a million times greater than that for your former families and friends. Your family was given to you only for this life. That is why you are allowed to remarry when your spouse has died. That bond is dissolved when your marriage partner dies. And now, get on with your life to serve and glorify the Lord, for to this end were you created. And therefore, look forward to our life with Christ in the life hereafter, for when you are there you have no eyes for someone else. Let us rejoice in that.

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.