Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 5, 1970

The Eternal God

Vaughn D. Shofner

God reveals himself to our minds today as he has always presented himself to his creatures: light on one side, darkness on the other. "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" (2 Pet. 3:8).

The greatest philosophers, those extraordinary persons who seem to have angelic intelligence, fall far short of an explanation of these words. It labors the forces of imagination to meditate about the abysses of existence from which the perfect Being derives that duration which overspreads the present, the future, and the past. The limited powers of mortal mind meet the perplexing problems of how to conceive a continuation of existence without conceiving a succession of time; of how to conceive a succession of time without conceiving that he who is subject to it acquires what he had not before; and how to affirm that he who acquires what he had not before, considers "a day as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day." Thus, so many problems, so many abysses and obscurities for poor mortals.

Then, let us, gentle readers, as was evidently intended, confine ourselves to a conviction of the truth of God's revelation. Let us strive to consider the word of God in regard to the influence it ought to have on our conduct, and we will behold the glorious light issuing from every word.

Peter aims to rouse the piety of Christians by the idea of that great and notable day wherein this earth must be reduced to ashes; and wherein a new existence of righteousness shall appear to the children of God.

The inspired words quoted above are the direct consequence of our conception of God. That God is an eternal Being is not a chimera of a superstitious mind, but is a truth accompanied with overwhelming evidence. That I exist, I write, and you read my writing are facts that all the philosophical doubters of time cannot destroy. There is no adverse power that can diminish in me that impression which the perception of my own existence makes on my mind, nor in any way hinder the evidence of the truth of the propositions; I exist, I write, you read my writing.

Being unequivocally sure of my existence, I am no less sure that I am not the creator of myself, and that I owe my existence to a superior Being. Were I completely ignorant of the history of the world; if I had no knowledge of my parents; were I not assured that I should soon die; if I knew nothing of all this, yet I should not doubt whether I owed my existence to a superior Being. There is no way that I can convince myself that a creature so feeble as I am, a creature whose least desires meet with insurmountable obstacles, a creature who cannot add "one cubit to his stature," a creature who cannot prolong his own life one single instant, one who is forced to yield to a greater power who indelibly writes upon his heart, "Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return;" I can never convince myself that such a creature existed from all eternity, much less that he owes his existence only to himself. Since it is so sure that I exist, it is also just that sure that I am not the author of my own existence, and that I owe it to another Being. From these facts naturally flows the truth, there is an eternal Being.

That Being to whom I owe my existence, derives his existence from himself, or like me, owes it to another. If he exist of himself, behold the eternal Being whom I have been seeking; if he derive his existence from another, I reason about him as about the former. Thus I ascend, thus I am constrained to ascend till I arrive at that Being who exists of himself, and who has always so existed. Eternity then enters into the idea of the creative Being.

The more we meditate on the essence and self-existence of the eternal Being, the more we are convinced that omniscience necessarily belongs to eternity; so that to have proved that God possesses the first of the attributes is to have proved that he possesses the second. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning" (Acts 15:18). "Lord, thou knowest all things" (Jn. 2 I : 17). Omniscience, intimate knowledge, and the presence of all that was, of all that shall be, are as essential to God as eternity.

Supreme felicity is an idea we have formed because it flows immediately from the ideas of eternity and omniscience. Every intelligent being is capable of happiness, nor can such a being regard happiness with indifference. The very existence of intelligence inclines the intelligent being to render himself happy, for he cannot love misery as misery, and he never suffers a present misery but in hopes of a future pleasure. It implies a contradiction, that an intelligent being, capable of being happy or miserable, should be indifferent to his own happiness or misery.

God has given existence to all things, and he saw what must result from them. It depended then entirely on him to form the plan of the world or not to form it: to be alone or impart existence. It depended on him to form the plan of such a world as we see it, or to form another plan. He has followed that which was most proper for his own glory. God is eternal and omniscient, and for those very reasons he must be infinitely happy.

God is an eternal Being. Therefore, "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. That is to say, the measures of time, whatever disproportions they have to each other, they appear to have none when compared to eternity. God moves in the immense space of eternity. Heap thousands of ages upon millions of ages, add new thousands to new millions, all this is nothing in comparison to the eternal Being.

God knows all. Then "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; "because he sees no more in a thousand years than in one day; because he sees as much in one day as he can see in a thousand years.

God is supremely happy. Therefore, "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." In the enjoyment of perfect happiness, I reckon the duration of time to be imperceptible. Placed as we are, gentle friends, in this vale of miseries, tasting only imperfect and embittered pleasures, it is very difficult for us to conceive the impression which felicity makes on intelligence supremely happy.

Gentle readers, depict to yourselves a Being, who, having in the prodigious capacity of his intelligence all possible plans of this universe, who has preferred that which is the wisest, the most conformable to the holiness of her attributes; picture to yourselves a Being who has created whatever is most capable of contributing to perfect felicity; represent to yourselves a Being who loves and who is loved by objects worthy of his love; a Being who loves only order, and who has the power to maintain it; a Being who is at the summit of happiness, and who knows that he shall be so forever. 0 ages! 0 millions of ages! how short must ye appear to so happy a Being! There is no measure of time with him. One thousand years, ten thousand years, one quarter hour, one instant is the same. "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

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