Captivated by the Sight of Peerless Worth: Part III

Not the crushing of those idols

With its bitter void and smart

But the beaming of His beauty

The unveiling of His heart

~ Miss Ora Rowan

Jamal Jivanjee interviewed me about the message I delivered at the Momentum 2011 Conference. I’m publishing the interview here in three parts. This is Part III. The title of the post is fitting as you will see.

Jamal: One of the most stunning & breathtaking parts of this message was what you shared about how time and space relate to the person of Jesus Christ. I have never heard anything quite like this before. Here is a quote from the message that I would like for you to elaborate on a bit more: 

“He is the Alpha & Omega already.”

Frank: There are two schools of thought among theologians regarding time and eternity. One school is represented by Augustine. The other by Newton.

Augustine believed that eternity is timelessness. It is non-linear, having no beginning nor end. Newton believed that eternity is marked by linear time that never ends in either direction. To Augustine, God is outside of time. To Newton (and people like Oscar Cullman who came after him), God is in time.

I believe that Augustine’s view, repeated and elaborated by people like Thomas Aquinas, Karl Barth, C.S. Lewis, T. Austin-Sparks, et. al is the one that better comports to the biblical perspective. Lewis articulates this view wonderfully in his classic Mere Christianity, and I quote him in the talk.

That particular part of the message is drawn from a chapter I’m writing for a future book. The chapter explores every occurrence in the New Testament where the phrase “before the foundation of the world” . . . “before the world began” . . . “eternal” and “eternity” are used. When I traced those terms throughout the New Testament, I was riveted by what I discovered.

It’s been reported that a student once asked Martin Luther, “What was God doing before he created the world?” Luther’s response was, “He went into the woods and cut rods with which to punish good-for-nothing questioners!” Calvin’s response to the same question was similar: “God was not idle, but was creating hell for curious questioners!”

While I respect Luther and Calvin, I don’t agree with their sentiments toward this question. To my mind, what happened “before the foundation of the world” is of critical importance. And it is for this reason that the Scriptures are not silent on the matter.

Tracing this subject in the New Testament caused me to apprehend the vast immensity of Jesus Christ in profound new ways as well as the enormity of His purpose where it concerns us mortals. Statements like “Before Abraham was I AM” . . . “I am the Alpha and Omega” . . . and “all things were created in Him” took on fresh application. The boundless love of God acquired new dimensions and the security it brought to my heart was overwhelming.

As I’ve stated in From Eternity to Here, in Jesus, eternity and time meet. In Jesus, the divine sphere and the human sphere intersect. In Jesus, the material of the heavenlies and the material of the earthlies overlap.

Time and eternity are fulfilled in Christ. Jesus is the Temple of God and the Garden of Eden in living-breathing-walking-and-talking form. He is the embodiment of “on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s the back-story of what was behind that part of the talk. I’m glad you were touched by it.

Jamal: Lastly, how can people hear the message and order the new e-book?

Frank: They can freely hear the message in various forms at http://frankviola.org/epicjesus

The eBook is also available on that page in Kindle, Nook, and PDF versions.

There’s also a FAQ page on my blog where I’m available to answer questions about my writings and spoken messages: http://www.frankviola.org/faq

Thanks again for your interest in these things and your dedication to the Lord, Jamal.

Love you, brother. :-)

Yours in the costly but glorious quest,

fv

Psalm 115:1

Captured by the Sight of Peerless Worth: Part II

Related:

The Missio Dei

Living in the Divine Parenthesis

Following Your Spiritual Instincts Regarding the Poor

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Comments

  1. says

    I have a book in preparation entitled ‘The Gospel of Slow’. Unsurprisingy the text is proceeding at 3mph, but there is a good deal of overlap between my subject and your post. Thanks, for the Augustine/Newton illustration. I think Jurgen Moltmann’s ‘Theology of Hope’ is the strongest expression of the latter school I’ve heard in recent years. I hate to disagree with Moltmann and as I’m coming at this from an Anabaptist tangent I often disagree with Augustine, but in this instance that’s where my sympathies lie.

    Time, as we experience it, often seems to quantifiable (i.e. ‘clock time’) but at second glance it’s multi-layered. I have a little poem about that:

    TIME IS A NATION

    At any time there are many times.
    Rhythms jumble together,
    rush downstream.
    It is fast.
    Perhaps, we are going fast.
    Only the slow see
    that each time keeps time.
    Each time is a nation with borders.

    Martyrs and their executioners
    do not exist in the same time,
    nor mothers and sons.
    The rockpool borrows time
    and repays the loan
    at each turn of the tide.

    Aspects of our sense of time are fallen. Our pace of life has gathered pace with inhuman speed. Genesis contains a symbolic memory of an original balance. Not only was creation good but the rhythm of things was as it should be. The most beautiful example of this sees the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening. Even when Cain opted for the fast lane – grandiose urban projects and a dynastic shortcut in place of immortality – God took the slow route of forgiveness. As you see, I’m fond of ‘slow.’

    You rightly say there are hints at God’s self-existence in the ‘I AM’ sayings. Perhaps original time (the pace of an unfallen Creation) is an echo of God’s own sense of time. That’s not so much that God is time but that time is in God. We would experience this as timelessness or eternity. Just as Jesus leaves a legacy of peace not as the world gives, perhaps Creation itself receives a ‘donation’ of God’s time.

    Frank, thanks! Profound stuff.

    Easter Peace,

    Phil

  2. says

    Thank you, Frank. This post evokes thoughts of the ongoing presence of Christ in the ever-being-born & maturing Body of Christ, the church. Isn’t that Paul’s implication in 1 Cor. 3:16-23 (plural y’all for “you” in vv. 16-17) which resonates with your words, In Jesus, the material of the heavenlies and the material of the earthlies overlap.?

  3. says

    I really love what you said in your Epic Jesus message. “If you were to physically touch Jesus while he was here, you would be touching eternity”. Simply beautiful, thanks Frank.

  4. Jim Puntney says

    “As I’ve stated in From Eternity to Here, in Jesus, eternity and time meet. In Jesus, the divine sphere and the human sphere intersect. In Jesus, the material of the heavenlies and the material of the earthlies overlap.” Frank Viola

    In Jesus we as vessels of clay meet and a reformed, we are given life that is eternal, by the One who is Life. This incredible, and nearly unexplained mystery, Christ in you the hope of glory, gives life eternally.

    Thank bro for this beautiful story!

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