Friday, December 02, 2011

Devotion 1: Before the Foundation of the World

Before this world was created, the Father chose the Son to be the savior. He sent him into the world to be born of a woman, live as a man and die as a substitute for our sins. The Bible gives us several glimpses of this truth.

John 1 says that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Just as Genesis 1:1 says “in the beginning God…” to communicate that God existed before the creation, John tells us that Christ existed before the world was created. He was with the Father. He was and is God.

Jesus himself prayed “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” John 17:5. Before the world was created, Christ was with the Father and had glory with him. He was in the form of God and equal to God, according to Philippians 2:6-7, but took on human form. Can you even imagine that? We do not want to give up our comforts, the approval of friends or our place in society for Christ. But he gave up heaven and glory to take on human flesh and die for us.

So, Christ existed from eternity. He did not begin to exist when he was born into human form. He was only revealed to us at that time. Peter said it this way: He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19.

Jesus not only existed before his physical birth on earth, his mission was also determined before his birth and even before the world was created. Paul wrote to Timothy: Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” 2 Timothy 1:8-10. Peter preached at Pentecost saying “Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God…” Acts 2:23. So Christ’s birth and mission were set before the world was even created.

God also chose believers in Christ before creation. Ephesians 1:3-4 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Revelation 13:8 reinforces this idea. Speaking of the beast, it says ‘and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” Jesus’ birth, mission and the salvation of believers was decided before the creation of the world.

At Christmas we often concentrate on a helpless little baby in a manger as the beginning of Christ’s life and work. But it was not. In eternity before the creation of this world, the Father chose him and he agreed to be the Savior. All through human history, God worked to bring about his purpose to send his son at the right place and the right time to accomplish his purpose. He was not deterred by the disobedience of his people, the designs of Satan, the attacks of sinful men and women or the governments of the world. Even King Nebuchadnezzar had to confess “…he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand…” Daniel 4:35.

Beyond the cuteness of the baby in the manger, the exoticism of the wise men and the drama of the poor Jewish couple is the sovereign God who purposed to redeem people from sin and reconcile them to himself through the sacrifice of his eternal son and who brought it about over thousands of years.

That is a God you can worship.
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