Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost: What Happened Before The Foundation Of The World?
Our salvation began in God's mind. It was He Who "chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Eph.1:4). We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn.4:19). In Ephesians, Paul describes first of all what God has done for us (Chapters 1 to 3). Only then does he proceed to describe what we must do for God (Chapters 4 to 6). In evangelical circles, the phrase "accepting Christ" is very commonly used. Although the New Testament does speak about "Christ IN us" (Col.1:27; and from our epistle reading, Eph.3:17), it speaks much more about OUR BEING IN CHRIST. Accepting Christ is what WE do, whereas placing us in Christ is what GOD does. It is not surprising therefore that a man-centered theology places much more emphasis on what we do rather than on what God does. If we want our Christian life to be strong, we must first of all be rooted and grounded in what God has done for us IN CHRIST.
To illustrate what it means to be "in Christ", consider a piece of paper placed inside a book. If the book is posted to Topeka Kansas, the paper also goes to Topeka Kansas. Similarly, since we were placed in Christ before the foundation of the world, when Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world, we were crucified in Him too. When He was buried, we were buried in Him. And when He was raised, we were raised in Him. When He ascended, we ascended in Him. And where He is now, we are - IN HIM. Only if we believe this truth of God's Word, can we experience it - not otherwise. "According to your faith be it unto you", is a law of God. It is something like God having put millions of dollars in our bank account and then giving us blank checks signed with Jesus' Name on them (2 Cor.1:20). All we have to do now is fill in the amount and go to the bank and claim our inheritance - in Jesus' Name.
By the way, what does it mean for Christ to be slain from the foundation of the earth in Revelation 5:6?
Well the apostle John tells us the Lamb was slain but is still on the altar before the throne of God (Is. 6:1; Rev. 6:9; 8:3, 5; 9:13; 11:1; 14:18; 16:7)? Didn’t altars become extinct with the new covenant or dispensation? So we have an anomaly: Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, and Christ, the Lamb of God, standing on the altar. In the temporal world, he was slain once-but in heaven, the world outside time, it appears that the sacrifice of Christ is an eternal event. As I have already mentioned, we are told that he was crucified before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8).
Let’s take a close look: When was Christ crucified-“before the foundation of the world,”? In A.D. 30? Or as the “Lamb standing as though slain” presented in eternity future?
The Church tells us , “All of the above.”
We see the Mass as a partaking of that eternal event. It brings that event into their presence. It transports them into heaven to see, experience, and partake of the eternal liturgy going on before God’s throne.
Because of what Christ has done for us before the foundation of the world, and in A.D. 30, and in eternity future, we can have a foretaste of heaven in our hearts right now. Heaven is a place of perfect peace and perfect joy. No-one is ever gloomy or depressed or sour or bitter in heaven. No-one is fearful in heaven, because there is no problem that God cannot solve. The gospel message is that we can enter into that heavenly life now itself. Why is heaven such a wonderful place? Basically because no-one does his own will in heaven. Everyone does the will of God. This is why Jesus taught us to pray: "Our Father Who art in heaven. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". When that is our sincere prayer, the atmosphere of heaven will pervade every part of our hearts as well.
Those who pray that prayer will eagerly seek to find God's will - as a husband or a wife, as a father or a mother, or as a brother or a sister in the Parish. And they will want to do God's will in its entirety. To such believers, the will of God will not be a burden, but a joy and a delight. They will never be depressed or gloomy or fearful, for they know that they can never face a problem that God cannot solve. When Jesus said, "I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me." (Jn.6:38), He was saying that He had come to earth to bring the atmosphere of heaven to earth. And throughout His life on earth, He demonstrated what it was to live with the atmosphere of heaven ruling His life. Wherever Jesus went He was a blessing to others. This is the life that He now wants to give us as well. Herein lies the reason for failure in the lives of many Christians: They do not grasp what it means when John says in Revelation 13:8, “Christ being slain from the foundation of the world”. They do not understand the meaning behind Pauls’ words to the Ephesians when he writes, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “God has chosen us IN Jesus since the foundation of the world”.
In the words of Revelation 13:9, “If any man have an ear, let him hear”.