Friday, April 30, 2010

He has loved us before the world was created

The work of atonement derives from God's love; therefore it has not established the latter:

For this reason, Paul says that the love with which God embraced us "before the creation of the world" was established and grounded in Christ [Eph. 1:4-5]. These things are plain and in agreement with Scripture, and beautifully harmonize those passages in which it is said that God declared his love toward us in giving his only-begotten Son to die [John 3:16]; and, conversely, that God was our enemy before he was again made favourable to us by Christ's death [Rom. 5:10]. But to render these things more certain among those who require the testimony of the ancient church, I shall quote a passage of Augustine where the very thing is taught: "God's love," says he, "is incomprehensible and unchangeable. For it was not after we were reconciled to him through the blood of his Son that he began to love us. Rather, he has loved us before the world was created, that we also might be his sons along with his only-begotten Son - before we became anything at all. The fact that we were reconciled through Christ's death must not be understood as if his Son reconciled us to him that he might now begin to love those whom he hated. Rather, we have already been reconciled to him who loves us, with whom we were enemies on account of sin. The apostle will testify whether I am speaking the truth: 'God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us' [Rom. 5:8]. Therefore, he loved us even when we practiced enmity toward him and committed wickedness. Thus in a marvelous and divine way he loved us even when he hated us. For he hated us for what we were that he had not made; yet because our wickedness had not entirely consumed his handiwork, he knew how, at the same time, to hate in each one of us what we had made, and to love what he had made."

- John Calvin, Institutes 2.16.4


Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

So, how does "Chose us in him before the foundation of the world" (quoting the ESV) reconcile with Genesis 1:26-27? If we weren't here--since here didn't exist yet--where were we? Or am I (as usual) completely missing your point?

On a tangent, Genesis one is a little vague about creation in general. When we read God created the heaven and the earth, what all is included in this? There is so much in the universe which, of course, God created. And yet in reading Genesis I get a very geocentric sense of astrophysics. Perhaps this is why some people feel that intelligent design is an incomplete theory...there just isn't enough literature to explain everything that we now understand. What do you think about this?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

~Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Hey S.P.,

Feels like it's been a long time but I know I haven't been posting as much lately... writer's block I guess.

With your first question, whether being chosen before the foundation of the world somehow conflicts with the creation of mankind in Genesis - I don't see how it does. And I think, once again, it has to do with you somehow trying to put some kind of limitation on God when it comes to time, as if God could not have chosen someone who did not yet exist. And of course that is what Augustine and Calvin and I believe, and what Scripture teaches, that God did in fact choose the elect before they ever existed. God is not bound by time: "for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Romans 8:29-30). So I think it's clear that in His foreknowledge God also chose the elect "before the foundation of the world." The elect did not yet need to exist in order for God to foreknow them.

When it comes to the creation of the universe you may find Genesis vague but what about Colossians 1:16? Speaking of Christ - "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him." It says "all things" were created by Him, not all things in our solar system or only on earth. Or what about Psalm 147:4 - "He determines the number of stars; he gives to all of them their names." So clearly if God determined the number of stars in the universe and names them then the God of the Bible is certainly not some lesser "geocentric" deity. God's creation of the stars is also mentioned in Genesis 1:16 so unless you're going to argue that this is referring only to the stars visible from earth then this is not a completely geocentric account either. Obviously many of those stars which are visible from earth also have solar systems with planets orbiting just like our sun.

I don't think it's surprising though that God's revelation to mankind would be somewhat geocentric because mankind inhabits the earth. But I think the enormity of the universe and its grandeur most certainly testifies to the magnificence and glory of God.

Hope you also had a good weekend.

Jacob M. Aho said...


Your responses are intellectual
mind thrillers.

Take care

Jacob M. Aho

Matt Perkins said...

Thanks Jacob for the compliment!

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

It's reassuring to hear that it feels like it's been a long time. This gives me hope that I am not a complete nag in your busy life:)

And speaking of time, I agree completely that the way in which we currently experience and understand time is very different from how God does. As Katharina von Schlegel wrote,

"Be still my soul: Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He hath the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last."

Thank you for, as always, pointing me toward scriptural guidance. I hope I can continue to count on your tutoring.

I hope the rest of your week goes well. Still in IM?

~Scarlet Pimpernel