“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
Let’s quickly review what we learned in our last study. Here is the basic flow of the Apostle Paul’s thematic argument in Romans 1:16-17:
- I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ
- It is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes
- For the Jew first and also for the Greek
- For in it (the Gospel of Christ) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith
- The just shall live by faith
Paul wrote a few years after Romans that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4). In the context of Jesus shedding His blood on the Cross, the Apostle Peter wrote that Jesus Christ our great Redeemer “was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God...” (1 Peter 1:20-21). Paul wrote to Timothy that we shouldn’t be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because God had a purpose for suffering for the Gospel from “before time began” and it is connected to our salvation and holy calling – “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, 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, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9-10) Paul also wrote Titus that God made us a promise before time began – “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2). That promise was the hope of ‘eternal life.’
It’s obvious from these Scriptures and many others in the Bible that God’s purpose and plan for ‘salvation’ and the ‘Gospel’ began before His creation of the universe and the beginning of time. This amazing plan is truly eternal.
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:24-26
God the Father ‘loved’ God the Son and shared ‘glory’ with the Son ‘before the foundation of the world.’ These are keys to understanding what God purposed and promised ‘before time began’ and why He did what He did.
God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit existed before time began in a perfect, loving relationship. There was no jealousy among them – only perfect harmony and unity. That’s important to know and understand because God’s character is integral to how we understand and experience salvation – in this life and in the next life.
Eternal Salvation ‘from’ Eternity
Jesus spoke of being with the Father “before the foundation of the world,” but does that mean Jesus is eternal? Was Jesus involved in planning eternal salvation with the Father or did God ‘create’ Jesus to carry out that plan? Did Jesus want to do the “will” of the Father because He was eternal and “equal” with the Father or because God created Jesus to do His will?
The earliest religion that taught that Jesus was not eternal nor divine was Judaism. Jesus came specifically to the Jews, but most rejected His offer of ‘eternal life.’ The apostles dealt with many opponents to Christ’s deity during the 1st century AD (e.g. 1 John 4:1-4; 2 John 7). The early Ebionites of the late 1st century and 2nd century AD believed Jesus was the natural son of Joseph and Mary, not the eternal Son of God. Arianism was a serious issue during the 4th century. Arians believed that Jesus was the Son of God, but that He did not always exist. Muslims have believed since the 7th century that Jesus is a created being. Socinians kept that idea alive in the 16th century as did the Biddellians (English Unitarians) in the 17th century. The 19th century gave birth to several groups that believed God created Jesus: including Mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses, Christadelphians, and Christian Scientists.
What say the Scriptures? The Bible claims that God is eternal (e.g. Deuteronomy 33:27) and that Jesus is God. The Bible teaches that God is “From everlasting to everlasting” (1 Chronicles 16:36) and that Jesus is God. Here are several supporting texts.
“Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” Genesis 21:33
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.” Psalm 41:13
“Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:2
“The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting.” Psalm 93:1-2
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-3
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
“But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” John 5:17-18
“Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8:58
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” John 14:9-11
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:8-10
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16
“I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep thiscommandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:13-16
“… looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13
“But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” Hebrews 1:8-9
“To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:1
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
Original (Orthodox) Christianity was clear in its statement that Jesus Christ is God and eternally existent with the Father and the Holy Spirit. That means Jesus was a primary participant in God’s plan of salvation from before the “foundation of the world” and “the beginning of time.”
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”