My current understanding is that before Creation Week, nothing existed except God, who is uncreated.
I believe that right now, each one of us is existing in two places at once: we are both in time, and outside time (in eternity). This idea is implied by this verse: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6. (When “the end” comes, 1 Cor. 15:24, we will only be in a single place: eternity.)
I don’t believe in the preexistence of the soul. BUT when people get occasional spiritual glimpses of their other concurrent location—seated in timeless eternity—it can be (wrongly) interpreted as/ seem like the preexistence of the soul.
I suggest that Creation is a temporal classroom for men (and angels) to thoroughly learn the lesson that God’s way is always right; it will continue to function as such until the very last person graduates.
Outside the New Jerusalem, in the lake of fire, when that last person chooses to come out of it in repentance—in order to go through the always open gates of the City and take Christ’s water of life freely offered there (Rev. 22:17)—the work of Creation as a classroom will be completed, and it will be folded into eternity (Rev. 21:1); and God will finally be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
Our temporal classroom includes:
- On earth (where we are now)
- In Hades below—for people who died without ever trusting in God
- In “Paradise” above (a compartmentalized part of heaven within linear time)—for people who died trusting in God
Our self that is ‘seated with Christ in heavenly realms’ outside linear time, can look down on our self here within time (e.g., here in 2019 AD). That “higher self”—our spirit—is in two places at once, and is always in communion with God’s Spirit. (Our spirit knows; but our soul—mind, will, emotions—takes some convincing.)
As created beings, we have a definite beginning point. We are like a ray in mathematics, which has, on one end, an endpoint, and on the other end, an arrow head extending out forever; whereas God is like a line with an arrow head at each end, with no beginning point or ending point.
But now that we do exist, and are all seated (i.e. at rest, but not inactive) in eternity with Christ, our higher self (for lack of a better term) enjoys an eternal viewpoint…which may sometimes be noticed here on earth (through occasional glimpses of the eternal that filter through), and make us feel as though we "pre-"existed.
Picture eternity vs. time this way:
Eternity is like a huge, open amphitheater; whereas the temporal classroom is like a little enclosed snow globe down on the stage. And inside the snow globe is a little train track running across the bottom of it from one side to the other—a timeline with small labels along it such as:
A-Creation Week (=THE beginning, Gen. 1:1)
B-Christ is born
C-Christ is crucified
D-Christ is resurrected
X-The Second Coming
Y-The Millennial Age
Z-Last person (Lucifer?) graduates from the lake of fire (=THE end, 1 Cor. 15:24)
Seated together up in that open amphitheater, in eternity, we look down and appreciate the snow globe classroom below. We see all the historical events, and our own sojourn there, including our personal point of repentance and salvation, bounded within time. We see that GOD HIMSELF came inside the snow globe, lived there with us, and died for us there. (But eternity is so much bigger!)
Again, some people here on earth may occasionally have a sensation of eternity which they mistakenly take for “pre-existence” (or “reincarnation,” or “déjà vu”); but we, as created beings, have a beginning point: our conception, when our father’s sperm joined our mother’s egg.
Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Like Adam, the first man, we each have a definite starting point, before which we did not exist—except in the mind of God.