God’s plan for the human race has been and always will be redemption. This plan of God was in place even before God formed the world on which mankind lives this temporal life.
It is important to know and understand this fact, not only to understand the person of God, BUT also to have a proper concept of the plan of redemption, God’s justice, His love and many other aspects of God’s essence.
Revelation 13:8 And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
A question has come up, because I often say that “Christ was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world..,” But the Scripture text of Rev 13:18 says “from the foundation of the world”. Therefore, the questioner ask, was it before or at the foundation of the World?
I don’t always give the background and the details for some statements of this nature, because if I did, the series would be much, much longer than it already is.
However, to answer the question, please allow me to, as quickly as possible, show the background for stating that it was “before” the foundation, rather than at the time. And yes, it is an important distinction. I’ll not try to show its importance at this time, but it will show itself, as we move along.
We need to look at the Greek definition of the phrase “foundation of” as used in Rev 13:8 and other passages that speak of being redeemed before the foundation of the world. Before we look at the Rev 13:8 definition, let’s look at the more general use of this English word “foundation”.
1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
Foundation [1 Cor 3:10-13] = (Greek) Something put down; The substructure (of a building, etc.)
Our English trained minds most generally think of “foundation” in this manner. However, there is another Greek word translated to the English word “foundation” in Rev 13:8 and elsewhere.
Foundation of [Rev 13:8] = (Greek) A conception; A disposition
Conception = 1. Formation of a viable zygote by the union of a male female; 2. Something conceived in the mind; A concept, plan, design, idea, or thought. 3. Archaic. A beginning; A start.
In Rev 13:8 and similar verses, the thought is not putting down the foundation or the beginning, BUT instead, it is from the time something was conceived in the mind. At times, this Greek word is translated “conceive” instead of “foundation”, as in…
Hebrews 11:11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive (same Greek word as foundation in Rev 13:8) seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
Also, notice that in some other passages where this Greek word is used, the translators use the phrase before the foundation rather than from the foundation.
Ephesians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 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, 4 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, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
As you file this passage away in your mind, in the “folder” marked “foundation”, please note several connected subjects to that fact. There was a specific reason we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.
In this passage, we were chosen THAT we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Almost every word in this passage is filled with meaning. I can only take the time to point to some.
(1) God chose us “in Christ”
(2) We were chosen “before” the foundation of the world
(3) We were chosen to be “holy”, “without blame” -- BOTH were to be in “love”
(4) Our “holiness” and “blamelessness” is for the benefit or good pleasure of God
(5) One of the blessing in heavenly places is our “adoption as sons”
(6) All this is according to the good pleasure of “His will”
(7) Because of grace, we have been made “accepted in the Beloved”
(8) ALL this and MORE is bound up in the “plan of redemption”
As you can see, there is MUCH in this passage, but for this lesson we want to see that this plan of redemption was conceived before the foundation of the world. Another indication that Rev 13:8 should read “before” the foundations of the world is seen in…
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
Still one more passage that gives evidence to the fact that Christ was the Lamb slain BEFORE the foundation of the world and not at the time of creation.
1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 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.
I trust that explains why I often say that Christ was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, even though the English text of Rev 13:8 says from the foundation. This may also explain why I don’t always give a full explanation as to the reason I make some statements. I try to make sure that I carefully search and back up such statements, from Scripture, but our short time together doesn’t allow a full explanation each time.
Let’s move on to the lesson for today. God in “personality” is three. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These are descriptive titles, taken by the Godhead and relates to their activity in the plan of redemption.
Even though God is three in personality, God is ONE in essence. For our study, we are looking at 11 descriptive aspects of God’s essence, often called attributes.
(1) God is Sovereign
One that exercises supreme, permanent authority
(2) God is Justice
Moral rightness in action and attitude, especially in the administration and procedure of law
(3) God is Love
Non-egocentric tenderness, affection and kinship
(4) God is Omnipotence
Possession of all power, literally the source of all power
(5) God is Omniscience
Having total knowledge, literally the source of all knowledge
(6) God is Omnipresence
Present everywhere at all times
(7) God is Righteousness
Upright, Virtue, Without guilt
(8) God is Eternal Life
Always existed and always will. The ultimate source of all life
(9) God is Veracity
Accurate and true in motive, thought and action. The source of all truth
(10) God is Immutable
Not subject to change in His person
(11) God is Holy
The opposite of and apart from all that is evil or wrong
God is not “just” because He acts justly,
nor Is God “love” because He acts in a loving manner.
God IS Justice!! Therefore, all His actions are just.
God IS Love. Therefore, all His actions are loving.
Justice = A verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially; The virtue which consists in giving to every one what is his due; Vindictive retribution; Merited punishment
Vengeance = Infliction of punishment in return for a wrong committed
If God is justice (and He is) then He MUST, by vengeance, inflict punishment on all of us who have committed wrong against the commands and person of God. If God did not inflict punishment for breaking His commands, He would not be sovereign (more on sovereignty later in this series).
In these next lessons, we want to see how God can be a God of justice and still be a God of love. If there is a “key” to understanding God’s person, that “key” might just be the reconciling, from Scripture, of how God’s “justice” can function in harmony with His “love” and the other aspects of His essence. However, IF we do not properly see that God is a God of justice, we will NEVER fully understand the person of God or the works of God in the past, present or future.
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place (get out of the way) to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
We could look at verse after verse in both the Old and New Testament stating that God will and MUST “give to every one what is their due”. If God is just (and He is) then every person MUST receive exactly what they deserve.
Tragically, our limited human reasoning concludes that -- If God is a God of absolute justice, then He must be sitting up in heaven waiting to clobber us.
That would have some validity, IF God, in His essence, were ONLY a God of justice. However, among those qualities of God’s essence, is also Love.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
Humans, in our depraved nature, are capable of dispensing our version of justice without also acting in real love. God’s nature is far different than fallen mankind, God cannot simply act in love or in justice without being true to all other qualities of His nature.
Humans are also capable of overlooking offences and bypassing justice in the name of compassion. We humans, even Believers, have the habit of comparing God’s person and His actions, to our own depraved nature and reactions.
We often place God on an equal or lower plane than humanity. This devaluation of God, often brings up such statements and questions as:
“How can a loving God allow such things to happen?”
Then in the next breath, these same people can ask:
“If God is just, how can He allow such injustice to continue?”
Today, we want to attempt, from the Word of God, to bring a little clarity to the question of how God can be totally just and supremely loving at all times and at the same time?
Romans 3:26 to demonstrate at the present time His (God’s) righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
This verse sums up a small part of the problem facing God. How can God allow a person to be justified, even if that person has sinned and is worthy of justice?
How could God be fair or “just” by allowing some person, here in Austin, to be justified, just because that person came to church, heard the gospel, believed what they heard and accepted Christ as Savior?
However, on the other side of the earth, where there is no church, another person who never heard the gospel but did the best they knew and worshiped the sun, and yet God holds that person responsible and acts in justice against that person.
To properly answer that question, we will need to look a number of passages of Scripture. Some of these passages will be rather long, and there will be many other related subjects and some of those subjects are vital to our understanding of the person of God.
In preparation to explore these passages, let’s look again at the norm of human love.
Love = (Webster 1828) In a general sense to be pleased with. To regard with affection, on account of some qualities which excite pleasing sensations or desires of gratification.
- We love a friend, on account of some qualities which give us pleasure in his society.
- We love a person who has done us a favor; in which case, gratitude enters into the composition of our affection.
- We love our parents and our children, on account of their connection with us, and on account of many qualities which please us.
- We love to retire to cool shade in summer and we love a warm room in winter, because of the sensation they bring to us of well being.
- We love to hear an eloquent advocate, because it stimulates our thinking.
In short, human love is whatever gives us
pleasure and delight,
whether physical or intellectual.
Human love seeks personal pleasure and delight.
God’s love seeks to restore life to a Spiritually dead human, by the sacrifice of His Own life.
John 3:16 "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.
This great passage certainly demonstrates the “love” of God for the world, the whole world. This was certainly a love that gave, it didn’t grab. It is a very generous love. It is a love that extended to the whole world. The total extent of this love is demonstrated by the fact that--“whoever”-- simply believing in Christ will have everlasting life.
How could that possibly be “JUST”?? After all, most people of the world deserve vengeance from God because of their sins. Most people are not like us. At least, we often think that we deserve God’s infinite love. Right???
It is a reasonable question, and one that should be ask… How could the Love of John 3:16 possibly be “JUST”??
Let’s have a look at why we all deserve God’s justice and why we all need God’s love.
Ephesians 4:17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
All peoples of the world who have not accepted Christ:
(1) Are totally empty in their minds of any real knowledge of God
(2) Have their understanding totally darkened. Even if they hear truth, it makes no sense
(3) Are non-participants in the life of God
(4) Have no “feeling” towards God
(5) Are totally absent of: moral discipline, legal restraint, sexual rightness, acceptable rules
(6) Are engaged in all type of impurity
(7) Are totally possessed with the drive to get more things, by any means
All of these “qualities” may not be evident at all times, but they are all integral parts of the fallen human nature.
Romans 3:10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one." 13 "Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; 14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 and the way of peace they have not known." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
This is a description of EVERY human since the sin of Adam in the Garden. Each of these actions and thoughts may not be openly demonstrated all the time, BUT each and every one is a part of human nature.
1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Matthew 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ’Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
Being in the “family” of Satan is the condition of every unbeliever, and the “home” (Lake of Fire) of Satan will be the non-believer’s eternal destiny.
Revelation 21:8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
That is a brief look at the condition of those outside of Christ and their ultimate eternal destiny. That is a picture of all of us before we accepted Christ as Savior, and there are times when even Believers act very much like children of wrath. Sad to say, many Believers still act in the manner of non-believers.
How, then, can God demonstrate His love to Believers in Christ and His wrath to those outside of Christ. God’s demonstration of wrath or love has nothing to do with the personal “goodness” or “badness” of the human.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
This “Lamb of God”, Who was slain before the foundation of the world, came in human form, through the Virgin Birth, and died on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the WHOLE world. God’s justice was poured out on His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, THEREFORE the justice of God’s essence was satisfied.
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
ALL we like sheep have gone astray, and I do believe the ALL here means ALL -- you, me and every one born onto this world. I am thrilled to declare to you that Christ took the iniquity of us ALL.
This “ALL”, at the end of the verse, is as inclusive as the ALL at the beginning of this verse. Therefore, your sins are paid for, AND the sins of the whole world are also paid for.
2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
When Adam sinned in the Garden, he passed that sin nature down to everyone who would be born into this world through procreation of humans. This meant that every human (past, present and future) is an enemy of God and has NO active relationship with the divine nature of God.
Humanity is separated from God. We are not only apart from God, our nature, desires and actions are absolutely opposite that of God’s. For that broken relationship of a human and God to be restored, there must be a twofold reconciliation.
(1) From God’s standpoint:
The sin problem must be solved and justice must be carried out on ALL wrong doing
(2) From the human standpoint:
There must be forgiveness of sins and a new nature compatible with that of God’s
On the cross and by the resurrection of Christ..:
(1) The sin problem was solved
(2) Justice was met through the death of Christ
(3) Forgiveness was provided to ALL who would receive it
(4) A new nature is offered to ALL who will become the Sons of God through the New Birth
What if they have never heard that God has reconciled the world to Himself? Surely, if they have never heard the message, they cannot be reconciled to God. Right?
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
There is no place in the world where the “attributes” of God are not CLEARLY seen, at least His deity and the power. If people will not properly respond to the knowledge of God that they have, then they are without excuse Rom 1:20.
If they respond properly to the information provided by God (in creation), THEN it is God’s responsibility to provide any further needed information, and He will do so—He is Sovereign!! Look at verse 18 where it is stated that God’s wrath is going to be revealed against ALL who suppress the truth.
Through Christ’s incarnation, life, death and resurrection, God has reconciled the World to Himself. NOW there in NOTHING, from God’s part, that stands between God and mankind, EXCEPT the response of mankind to the Gift of His Son.
The next move is up to those, who have heard or seen the truth of God (through whatever means) to receive, by faith—NOT by human rationalization—the information God has provided. Once a human receives, by faith, that “Gospel”, God performs a miracle through His grace and the human is reconciled to God through the New Birth.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
A story from real life..:
In the fourth year of the layoff from his job, Dad gave Mom a dishwasher for Christmas.
You have to understand the magnitude of the gift. Our old house had its original wiring and plumbing, and neither could handle the required installation of anything, to say nothing of a dishwasher. There was no spot in the small kitchen for such a large appliance, and we hadn’t even been able to meet the mortgage interest payments for over six months. Dad hated the thought of washing dishes! He would rather do anything but wash a dish.
Mom had undergone major surgery that spring, a radical mastectomy for breast cancer, and found it difficult to do any work requiring the use of her arms.
No large box appeared, no new plumbing or wiring was installed, no remodeling of the kitchen occurred. Rather, a small note appeared on a branch of the Christmas tree, handwritten by Dad:
“For one year
I will wash
of the dirty dishes in this household.
He really did.
The illustration certainly falls short of what God did for mankind in bringing reconciliation to the human race. However, it does show, in human terms, that love is not just a gift.
Love is a gift of oneself!!
God became man, and gave Himself as a substationary sacrifice for our sins. If you, or anyone else in the world, rejects this gift of Himself, THEN you and they deserve the wrath of God that must come because of His justice.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that
believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 "For God did not send His Son into the
to condemn the world, but that the
through Him might be saved.
John 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already,
he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2005
(Scripture Text NKJ unless stated)
(Many illustrations from sermoncentral.com)