Worship Times

Sundays    10:30 a.m.
                    4:00 p.m.

Today's Verse


BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD

By Mark Grant

Have you ever wondered as to when God conceived the plan of salvation for man? Was it in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned and the world spun out of control? Was it a continually progressive plan played out over thousands of years, which was determined by the behavior of man? Or was the plan of salvation an orderly arrangement that God devised even before He created this world? The apostle Peter wrote, “ 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1 Pet. 1:19-21; NKJV). “Foreordained” comes from the Greek word “proginosko” that is defined by Vines to mean, “to know before (pro, before, ginosko, to know), is used (a) of Divine knowledge, concerning (1) Christ, 1 Pet. 1:20, R.V., “foreknown” (A.V., “foreordained”)...” (The Expanded Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words; pg. 449). Joseph Henry Thayer explains it as, “to have knowledge of beforehand; to foreknow…” and describes how it is used in verse 20 by saying, “(foreknown by God, although not yet ‘made manifest’ to men), 1 Pet. 1:20” (The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament; pg. 538). In other words, salvation through Jesus Christ for all people was no afterthought, because the all-knowing eternal God set this plan in motion. God’s purpose to save all persons through Christ was established “before the foundation of the world.” When we can fully comprehend that Christ’s coming and his work of salvation was planned by God long before the world began then this can help us to understand the many other aspects of man’s salvation.

SAVED BY GRACE

Two of the most difficult subjects for mankind to be able to harmonize together from the bible seem to be grace and works. Is man saved by grace, or by works, or both? Grace simply means, “Unmerited favor” so there is nothing we can do toward deserving our salvation. However, the word of God emphatically teaches that when we stand before God we are all going to be judged by our works (Eccl. 12:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:10). So how do grace and works go together without conflicting each other with what the bible teaches? In Ephesians the second chapter we read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV). Many in the religious world will interpret these scriptures by saying, “We are saved by grace alone” or “We are saved by faith alone.” If we were saved by grace alone then this would eliminate being saved by faith. If we were saved by faith alone then this would eliminate being saved by grace. But what does scripture say? - “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” It is an impossibility for any person to merit or earn his own salvation before God. If mankind received what he deserved, then everyone one of us would have been condemned and punished by God. Yet, wonder of wonder, God did not send a destroyer or a judge, but a Savior who was willing to take our place and be punished for our sins (John 3:17). The grace of God was supremely revealed and given in the person and work of Jesus Christ “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9 NKJV). It was before time began on this earth that God determined that salvation for mankind would be given through Jesus Christ. This is why man’s salvation is truly by God’s grace (unmerited favor), for man had not even been created yet and man did not even exist when God's determination was made.

Since God is omniscient (knowing all things) He foreknew that man would eventually sin and so arranged salvation to be through Jesus Christ before the world began. Man’s salvation then is truly by God’s grace and not by any works that man might create or devise on his own. It should be noted here that while God’s grace is a gift to all mankind, it does not, however, remove the obligation man has toward believing and obeying what Christ has done and commands for us. Grace is the gift from God, but it is up to man to act upon his faith in Christ in order to be saved - “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26 NKJV). Many religious organizations teach that there is nothing you have to do in order to be saved, because Jesus has done it all. If this is a true statement, then all people are going to be saved because there is nothing they have to do. In contrast, Jesus taught that it is the many who enter the broad way of destruction, and only a few find the way to life (Matt. 7:13-14). This leads us to only one conclusion: that salvation is conditional, based upon our obedience to these conditions that God accomplished through Jesus Christ. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:2 NKJV).

WHAT ABOUT WORKS?

When Paul said, “not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-10), he is making a comparison between what God has made complete through Jesus Christ, as opposed to what works men may try to generate and glorify before God. Whether the works be the creeds, doctrines, and commandments of men (Tit. 1:14), or of those who wish to still keep the law of Moses (Gal. 2:16), none are recognized by God. The only works that God recognizes are those whom He “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). Yes, we become God’s workmanship (masterpiece) when we have been created in Christ Jesus by obeying the blueprint that God predetermined before the world began. God prepared good works through Jesus Christ beforehand and these are the works that God expects us to obey and by which to walk. When someone tells me “man is not saved by works” then I ask the simple question: “Is faith in Christ a work of God?” There was a group of people who came to Jesus and ask him the question, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:28-29 NKJV). Notice that Jesus did not say, “There is nothing that you can do,” which is the most popular saying today in the religious world. Jesus responded by saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Yes, faith in Christ is a work of God. And the works that God ordained from the foundation of the world, man is to obey if he wishes to have eternal life. “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:1-3 NKJV).

WHAT ABOUT PREDESTINATION?

The word “predestination” has always been a focus of religious debate, but the Greek term “to predestine,” proorizo (means “to mark out ahead of time” or “to predetermine”). The Westminster Confession, the standard of the Church of Scotland, and of the various Presbyterian Churches of Europe and America, contains the following statement: “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory some men and angels are predestinated and foreordained to everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary; pg. 297). You will notice that the Calvinist theologians have focused their attention on people being elected and predestined rather than the predestination taking place through Jesus Christ. In Ephesians the first chapter Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:3-5 NKJV). When God the Father “chose us in Him (Jesus Christ) before the foundation of the world,” this proves that the election takes place through Jesus Christ and not just by God choosing certain men and women alone. If God elected and predestined men and women alone, then this would exclude salvation through Jesus Christ. Such is nothing more than false doctrine because salvation is only through Jesus Christ and not by God selecting individuals.

In this same chapter Paul added, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:11-12 NKJV). It was those who “first trusted in Christ” that became “predestined.” This demonstrates that God’s choice and foreordination of men unto salvation always takes into account the will and response of mankind to Christ. It was Jesus who told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When Jesus said, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish” establishes that salvation is for all mankind and not just certain individuals. That’s why we read of Peter’s statement to Cornelius: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10-34-35; NKJV). Just as Peter came to the realization that the Good News of Christ is for everyone and not a certain group of people, we should do the same today. “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43; NKJV).

Before the foundations of the world was laid, God had determined that all who believed on his Son should be saved and without Christ there would be no election or predestination (1 Thess. 5:9). Again Paul wrote, “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14 NKJV) Observe well the order here outlined: (1) On God’s part there is the provision of salvation and the goal of sanctification by the Spirit, which means separation unto the whole will of God by obedience to His word. (2) On man’s part there is “belief of the truth,” through the acceptance of the “gospel,” all of which are necessary to “the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The sphere of God’s choice of believers for salvation operates in the realm that is marked by sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth. Belief in the truth is the means of the beginning and continuing privileges of salvation (Heb. 3:14). God has fulfilled his foreordained purpose by calling the chosen to salvation through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:8-11). What God purpose in eternity will be carried out in the future when God’s children will stand before the King and “then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34 NKJV).