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Description: That you would make an irreparable mess of your life God saw before time was. But he also remade you in his son then so you could choose that now
Before Time Was We Were Thought Of
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
There are two things that have come home probably to most of us — especially these past years. One
is a deliverance from looking inside to see: do we feel crucified? Do I feel really dead to self?
And we’ve seen that has been done. That is something that has taken place in Christ, and it has
happened. It is simply a matter of whether you live in that reality or not — but that has been
done. And I think that has been a blessing to us — to look out at the objective fact that we were
crucified in Christ by our Father, and that has been done, and it’s simply a matter of whether we
want to live in the old ghost, the old lie of what we were before Christ died. So I think that has
Secondly — the fact that Christ died from before the foundation of the world. I think that has
been something we’ve always known in our heads. But certainly it’s astounded me that God was
thinking of us. You can’t say from the first second that he existed, because we can’t look back to
that. But he was thinking of us from way before he created us. And I don’t know about you, but I
certainly had the idea from the evangelical gospel that God looked down upon the earth and saw that
it got into a mess, and then had to work out what to do about it.
And I always thought of myself as kind of an afterthought of his that he had to sort out somehow.
It was new and very refreshing to me to realize that he had planned us from the very beginning. He
had seen us from the very, very start. Of course, it takes care of all that tendency that we have
to think of ourselves as very little and very unimportant. And it is astounding to think that the
mighty God who has created the whole universe thought of each one of us thousands and millions of
Actually, as those verses that we studied in Ephesians say, “From before the foundation of the world
you were chosen. I choose you in Christ from before the foundation of the world.” And it just
lifts you way above, in my case, 34 Lupran Gardens. That was the house I was born in. Whatever
your address is, you know it lifts you right out of that, and it makes you realize you are part of
what God planned from way before the foundation of the world.
I’ve shared that with you over the years, and have primarily tried to follow God’s guidance in my
own spirit and heart, and then to make sure that that is confirmed by scripture. So I think most of
us work that way. You sense a little something from God, and then you wonder if you are on the
right track. You check out the books that you’re reading, and you check out the Bible, and you see,
“Oh yes, that’s right.” And it’s always good when you discover, “Oh, I’m on the right track. I’ve
seen the right things. I am seeing something from God.”
So that’s a little what I want to share with you today — because I know that it is often hard to
grasp the idea that God has seen the whole thing ahead — has foreseen it all. I even thought of a
little illustration to explain that to you. I’ll share that illustration today in a few minutes.
It’s very confirming to see Athanasius’ life. Athanasius lived in 300 A.D. and was one of the
framers of the Council of Nicaea in 325. He was one of the ancient church fathers. He ended up, as
many of them did, opposing the Arians. You remember, the Arians questioned the divinity of Christ.
He fought against the Arians.
After being banished by different emperors and brought back, he eventually died in the desert
somewhere. So he was one of those dear men of God that really saw the truth of God, but wasn’t
always recognized as seeing it. Karl Barth goes back to Augustine and Athanasius often. Athanasius
writes, “As the Apostle has said, (Titus 2:11), the grace of God brought by the Savior hath
appeared, and hath been conveyed to us by His coming; but it was prepared long before we ourselves
or even the world was in being. And the reason is indeed good and admirable. For it would be
unworthy of God to think of Him as taking council to provide for us only later, lest it should
appear as though our circumstances were not previously known to Him.”
“The God of all things, who created us by His Word, knew what should befall us better than we
ourselves, and He foreknew that after our first righteousness we should transgress His commandment,
and that because of our disobedience we should be expelled from paradise. For that reason in His
loving kindness and goodness he prepared beforehand in his Word by whom He created us a provision
for our salvation. He did this so that even if we fell, deceived by the serpent, we should not
finally be destroyed, but possessing the redemption and salvation prepared beforehand in the Word,
should rise again and live forever.”
Of course, all that was new to me some years ago — the idea that God had foreseen all that in
detail. “For the Word himself was created for our sakes ‘the beginning of His ways’ and ‘the
First-born of the brethren,’ and He Himself rose again as first fruits from the dead. . . How, then,
has He chosen us before we came into existence, unless, as He Himself says, we were typified and
represented in Him?” Unless we existed in Jesus.
“And how could He have predestined us to sonship before man was created?” Unless you see, we were
in Jesus. “Unless the Son Himself had been laid as a foundation before time was, and had undertaken
to provide a way of salvation for us.” In other words, unless we were included in the first born of
creation, Jesus himself.
Can you believe that you were part of Jesus before the foundation? “Or, how could we, as the
Apostle goes on to say, ‘have an inheritance being predestinated’, unless the Lord Himself had been
laid as a foundation before time was, and had thus been able to purpose in Himself to take upon
Himself in His flesh the sentence decreed against Him, so that in Him we might finally obtain the
sonship?” Unless the lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world, and we were slain with
“And how could we receive anything before times eternal, we, the creatures of time, who did not then
exist, unless the grace appointed for us had been deposited in Christ. For that reason, on the day
of judgment, when everyone receives according to his works, He says: ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’(Matthew 25:34)”
And you think of all your worry, and you think of all the times you worried, “Am I accepted by God?
Have I been crucified with Christ?” And that all took place before the foundation of the world.
“But how, or in whom could this kingdom be prepared for us before our existence, unless it were in
the Lord who was laid as a foundation of it before the world, in order that built up upon Him we
might be partakers of His life and grace as stones fitly framed together? And all this happened . .
. that as has been said before, we may rise again shortly after our death and live forever.”
And of course you think of a little person in India — in Bombay or Calcutta — who’s dying at this
moment, fearful of what lies beyond them, fearful of what lies out there for them. “For this would
be impossible for us as men formed of earth unless before time there had been prepared for us in
Christ the hope of life and salvation. Obviously the Word which dwelt in our flesh, set there as a
beginning of God’s ways for His works, was himself laid as a foundation even as the will of the
Father fulfilled in Him. . . that is to say, ‘before time,’ ‘before the earth was,’ ‘before the
mountains were settled,’ and ‘before the fountains burst forth,’ so that when the earth and the
mountains and the forms of the phenomenal world pass at the end of this present age, we should not
decay as they do, but live on, possessing the life and spiritual blessings prepared for us in the
Word Himself according to the election even before these things were. And thus it is granted to us
not to live only for the moment, but to
live forever in Christ, our life having been grounded and prepared in Christ long before.”
“Nor was it possible for our life to be grounded in any other, but only in the Lord who was before
all time and by whom time was, in order that we might inherit internal life as it was in Him; for
God is good. And being always good He willed this, He who saw what our weak nature stood in need of
his help and salvation.”
Then he goes into the illustration. I was just thinking to myself, “Really, I suppose it is
reasonable if you build a house, you think out what things will last and what things won’t last.”
And you think, “Well, that will need repairing. So I ought to provide for that. Then 10 years down
the line that will need to be replaced. So I ought to provide for that.” I thought, “Yeah, okay.”
Then of course the guy had thought it in A.D. 300.
“Now a wise master builder, when he undertakes to build a house, considers at the same time how he
may repair that house should it fall into decay after its erections, and weighs up what preparations
must be made for that purpose, supplying the foreman with the materials necessary for such repair,
and thus making all the preparations for renovation even before the house is built. In like manner,
the renewing of our salvation is grounded in Christ even before we were created, in order that it
might be possible for us to be created afresh in Him. The decree and purpose of this fresh creation
was formed before time was, but it was only as the need required it that the work was executed and
the Savior came. For in heaven the Lord himself will represent us all, receiving us to everlasting
So of course you can see it’s more solid than the mountains. It’s just so incredible that little –
I mean, he isn’t little — he’s taller than any of us here. But little Joe Selzler, or little Greg
Leitschuh, should be included in Christ from before the foundation of the world.
Let us pray.