Summary: The eternality of Christ, before time, in time and after time
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”
One day in a small hamlet named Bethlehem of Judea, in a place used for sheltering livestock at night, a young woman laid down presumably on some clean hay, perhaps covered over with a blanket or some other clean piece of cloth, and gave birth to a little boy child.
None of these circumstances were necessarily out of the norm for the day other than the humiliation of having to give birth and be born in a stable rather than a comfortable bed in a warm house. But there is something that onlookers could not have perceived with their eyes in this scene which has the greatest of significance for all, even now over 2000 years later.
It is that this little baby boy, wrapped tightly in strips of cloth and laying in his bed of straw, entirely dependant on His mother for nourishment and love and protection, had come there of His own initiative, sent, to be sure, by Another, but having come into this world according to a plan and purpose and to fulfill a role He had willingly taken upon Himself before time began.
“CHRIST BEFORE THE MANGER”
I want to pause and tell you here, that for this sermon I have relied heavily upon the work of Ron Rhodes, a regular participant on ‘The Bible Answer Man’ radio program and associate of the Christian Research Institute. He wrote a book titled, Christ Before the Manger, and I have borrowed from his outline and portions of his chapters in the construction of my sermon. I will not copy his words unless otherwise stated within the body of this message – if I were to do that I might as well just read you the book. But it is a scholarly work designed to teach the theology of the eternality of Christ, and as he has done the work for me I draw with appreciation from what he has put together. (CHRIST BEFORE THE MANGER, Ron Rhodes, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1992)
WHEN DID TIME BEGIN?
Scripture does not make any distinct statements in reference to time as it relates to the eternality of God. We do get some glimpses in passages that refer to God, through the Son, creating the world. In some translations the word ‘universe’ is used instead of ‘world’. The literal translation of it is ‘the ages’. Scholars differ on the exact meaning of that also, but most accept the term ‘the ages’ to mean all of the created universe and the ages of time itself.
In his book, “Christian Theology”, Millard J. Erickson points out that Christian and philosopher of the 5th century, Augustine taught that the universe was not created in time, but that time itself was created along with the universe. Then the author quotes theologian Louis Berkhof, saying:
“It would not be correct to assume that time was already in existence when God created the world, and that He at some point in that existing time, called ‘the beginning’ brought forth the universe. The world was created with time rather than in time. Back of the beginning mentioned in Genesis 1:1 lied a beginningless eternity.” Louis Berkhof, Manual of Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1983) p. 96
It would make no sense, really, to think that the concept of time would have existed prior to creation. When God was all there was, and He has always been, what would have been the use of counting increments of moments?
No, time was created in the creation, for man and for God’s plan of redemption, and time will end when there are finally only God and His everlasting beings, born of the Holy Spirit and glorified before His throne in that place where the righteous dwell in righteousness.
Having said all that then, I want to draw your attention to a title used of Christ in the passage I’ve chosen for our text today. “His name will be called…Eternal Father…” Have you ever read this passage and wondered to yourself why this term would be used of the Son?
In what way can the Son, distinct in Person from the Father, be referred to as “Eternal Father” – or as it is rendered in some translations, “Everlasting Father”?
Well we begin with seeing that the best translation of the text here is ‘Father of Eternity’. In numerous places in Scripture, referring to someone as ‘Father of’ shows possession.