Just as God’s purposes change over time as reflected by ages, time also affects the different realms of reality in which we exist.
The Natural Realm
Time was created as part of the natural realm at creation. Time is earthbound, though there may well be other forms of what we call time in other aspects of the natural realm. (We’ve already looked at how time warps at high speeds.) So time in the natural only affects our natural aspect, or body, and gives the structure to our lives with which we are all so familiar. We often see ourselves as time-related, or age-defined beings. We are either adults or children, for instance. We all have the same amount of time: 24 hours a day, and we can only live it one day at a time, or to be more specific, one moment at a time. (The two greatest thieves in a believer’s life are represented by the thieves that were crucified next to Jesus: the past and the future.) Realizing this we can have confidence that God has given us exactly the right amount of time, and that everything that happens within time is under His control.
The Supernatural Realm
Interestingly, time does not influence the supernatural realm. For us, this means that when we feel controlled by time in our mind, will or emotions (our soul), we are believing lies. For instance, when we are feeling guilty or wounded by something that happened in the past, we are letting time control our soul. Or if we are feeling anxious about something that is going to happen in the future, such as expecting God’s judgment or speaking in public, again we are letting time control our soul. Because we behave according to what we believe, time CAN influence our soul if we believe it can. But as our soul and body begin to line up with our spirit, and we begin to experience present truth in our lives, we will learn how to recognize when we are giving time control over our present eternal existence. We will then be able to enter His rest more easily and live on that eternal plane.
The Spiritual Realm
In the spiritual realm, the only time reference is that there is no time. The relative quality we refer to in the spiritual realm is “eternity” or “eternal.” But this is neither a qualitative (better time) nor a quantitative (more time) term. Eternity is something entirely different in nature than time; but because we can’t comprehend it with our finite minds we often expand our description of what we do know about time to describe eternity. But eternity has no beginning nor end, just as God has neither. Eternity didn’t start, and it will not change into something else, or end. It can only be entered. When we received salvation, we entered into eternal life. He didn’t just put His life into us, but He put us into His life — a different kind of existence all together. So in our spirit beings, there is no aging, maturing, or growing up into. As God describes Himself, so do we: I Am…I Exist.
Timely News: The Old Covenant and the New Testament
Why is it important to understand time and how it affects us? Because understanding when we live (which age), affects our beliefs, which in turn affect how we relate to God, others and ourselves, which ultimately affects our behavior.
Through the Crucifixion, Jesus paid the debt once and for all. He removed all barriers through paying for all sins; at the Resurrection He became the Way to the Father, fulfilling His purpose on the earth and establishing a new covenant. It’s very important to note that the New Covenant begins at the Resurrection. Most of what is written in the Gospels and what Christ Himself taught was in fulfillment of the Old Covenant, the law. Before the New Covenant, His Testament, could be initiated, the old had to be satisfied. VICTORY OVER SIN came at the Crucifixion, but it wasn’t until the Resurrection that we gained VICTORY OVER SELF! Because of the New Testament, Jesus testifying that we are now in Him, we can boldly come before the very throne of God. We are now under grace, with nothing to achieve, prove or keep, which means that our success is measured by how much we let Christ live through us, not how much we do for Him.
Under the Old Covenant, our righteousness, or the ability to have relationship with God, was obtained through fulfilling the law. Under the New Testament, our ability to have relationship is based on being in Christ. Grace is receiving unconditionally what God gives unconditionally. This New Testament, like our Last Will and Testaments, went into permanent effect at the death of the testator (God), mediated by His Son. Remember, you can’t have two covenants in effect at one time; you can’t have two claims on one promise.
So as our soul and body begin to line up with our new identity, as a spirit being, we come more and more out from under the law. In the meantime, the law continues to have an effect on our soul and body, as it does on those around us, and everything else in the supernatural and natural realms. So in the spirit, we are no longer under the law. This is now who we are — we are a spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body. Though the law may affect or influence our soul and body, we are not under its control.
The old covenant was like a marriage covenant. These days we include the phrase “till death do us part” in wedding ceremonies; it was the same thought in Paul’s day as well. The idea was that if either the husband or wife died, the remaining spouse was free to re-marry. Death ended the contract, or covenant, leaving the door open for either entering into a new contract or none at all, remaining free from contractual obligations.
In Adam, we are all born “married” to the law. One of the characteristics of this present age is that the law is still in effect for those born into it. So someone in the marriage covenant has to die in order for the new relationship to be instituted. How did God handle this? Since the law was still in effect, and someone in the relationship had to die, God killed US!
In the spiritual realm, where eternity supersedes time, as we are quickened in life in Christ, we are not only crucified and buried with Him, but resurrected with Him as well. God takes us out of the time zone that we live in today, places us back onto the body of Jesus Christ as He is being crucified, and we die with Him, are buried with Him, and resurrected with Him as He is resurrected.
When did the first 11 disciples die to the law? At the Crucifixion. When did they become born again? At the Resurrection. When did Saul of Tarsus die to the law? Though Jesus did not reveal Himself to Saul on the road to Damascus until some time after He had already ascended to the Father, Saul died to the law at the Crucifixion. So when did you and I become dead to the law? 2000 years ago! We just didn’t know about it. And when do we become born again? Though we accept Jesus’s life in our present time, we actually became born again 2000 years ago, when we rose with Him in His life.
Say you were put up for adoption at a very young age and adopted by the Smith family. No one else knows you’re not a Smith, and you are raised as a Smith, treated as Smith, and think of yourself as a Smith. Then one day you discover you were actually born into the Jones family. Now, genetically, you’ve been a Jones all along, but because you didn’t know this, you believed and behaved like a Smith. Did discovering that you were really a Jones suddenly make you a Jones? No! You were a Jones all along. Likewise, finding out and finally believing who and what we are in Christ doesn’t suddenly make it true; because we are born into His family we have all the benefits that go along with it, not because we believe it, but because it’s true. So if you are a believer you are living in a new time zone, a new realm, eternity, whether you believe it or not. The battle is to believe it; the behavior will follow.
The Example of Lazarus
We are probably all familiar with the story of Lazarus, Jesus’s friend who died. Imagine yourself standing outside the tomb, and Jesus has just arrived. Lazarus has been dead for 3 days now, and “he stinketh.” Now Lazarus died of something; for the sake of our illustration let’s say it was pneumonia. It could have been he had had an accident and had broken his neck, or any of a number of things. But for now, let’s say he died of pneumonia, and has been entombed. What does Jesus have to do in order to raise Lazarus from the dead? Actually there are two things: He has to restore his life (get his heart beating and his brain functioning again, etc.) and heal what caused his death. If Jesus only restored his life, Lazarus would still have pneumonia, and would simply die again. And if Jesus only healed the pneumonia, Lazarus would be nothing more than a pneumonia-free corpse. So Jesus did both. He removed what caused Lazarus’s death, he removed the pneumonia, and gave him life, got his heart pumping again. He does the same for us: at His Crucifixion Jesus removed what causes us death — our inherited sin nature; at His Resurrection He gave us new life, His own.
Time On Our Hands?
In the Age of Knowledge, God wanted man to become aware of his need for God. In the Age of Grace, God wants man to have that need met. In the Age to come, God wants man to learn to live in dependence and freedom, without any constraints from the law, and all that that means, by first starting to rule and reign over our selves.
There are really only two things we can give to God: Time and Attention. And even these He has to reveal and change and make us able to relinquish to Him. So it is because our time and attention are so valuable to God that they are also the battleground where we fight the world, the flesh and the devil. This is one of the reasons the “tyranny of the urgent” has taken such a toll on believers. We feel the pressure to be producing more now, to prove our spirituality, to earn, gain and keep the blessing and gifts God has given to us. But what God wants from our time is our attention. Ask the Lord to reveal to you if there is any area where you are spending too much or too little time. Then depend on Him to make through you whatever changes may be necessary to make the most of the time you have.”
Remember, since God created time, He controls it, and does whatever He wants with it. In fact, He has so much time on His hands that He is spending every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day doing nothing but thinking, and planning, arranging and rejoicing over every circumstance in your past, present and future. So relax!!!
Adapted from Practical Christianity by Dianne Thomas