zaterdag 23 maart 2013

Our End from the Beginning by Michael Clark

Which Came First, the End or the Beginning?  This might seem like a trivial question to some. But if God is not bound by time for He created it, isn’t the beginning and the end both the same to Him as far as His purposes go? He declares the end from the beginning. Isaiah prophesied,

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isa 46:9-10 Webster)

God also declares things that are not as though they are…

It is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.”(Genesis 17:5) God considers Abraham to be our father. The God that Abraham believed in gives life to the dead. Abraham’s God also speaks of things that do not exist as if they do exist. (Rom 4:17 NIRV)

Oh, how wondrous are the ways of God! I have been pondering these above passages for a long time. God not only knows all, knowing the things that will happen in the end of days as well as the past and present, but He has known it all from the beginning! This same God who through His Son, Jesus, spoke creation into being also had declared what the end of it all shall be from the beginning.

Here we have to deal with two concepts that are beyond our own human limitations. One that God creates all things simply by speaking them into existence. And two, He is not bound by time or any other human limitation as we are. Man can make nothing without first starting with something that God made and man does nothing without being subject to the limitations of time so these two concepts of making something from nothing and not being bound by time are a real stretch for us to comprehend. Both matter and time were the result of creation and God rests in a timeless state outside of His creation ever since it was completed. Yet, He sent Jesus to this earth to become subject to both time and matter. Christ was subjected to all the human frailties and weaknesses just as we are, yet in it all He was in perfect obedience to His Father and many of His acts defied both time and matter such as raising the rotting body of Lazarus from the dead.

Now, consider this passage:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:28-31 KJ2000)

God foreknew each of us who are His in a special way. Not only that, He predestined us not just to be born, to live on this earth and to be saved from our sins, but to be totally conformed to the image of His Son! What image? The image of the babe in the manger? How about the image of the Teacher walking around doing good and miracles? How about the image of Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places? Just what does it mean to be IN Christ? Paul went so far to say, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Co 5:17 KJ2000).

God KNEW our end — being conformed into the image of Christ — from the very beginning of creation. In the New Testament we read that Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered. We also read that He was crucified from the very foundation of the world. Jesus subjected Himself to the hand of the Father from the beginning as the perfect obedient Son of God. I believe that all these wonderful thoughts are wrapped up in the council at the beginning of Genesis where we read these words, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness… male and female made He them.” God knew what it would take from the very beginning to create many sons (and daughters) unto His glory and put creation in motion from day one with that end in mind.

In the above passage from Romans we see this wonderful progression designed by God to produce His desired outcome in the words; foreknew, predestinate, called, justified and glorified… the divine progression to a desired end starting with foreknew and ending with glorified. He knew our end (glorified in the image of God) from the beginning (foreknown and predestined). He not only foreknew who would be His, but He foreknew what it would take to get us there and incorporated us into that divine plan.

God from the beginning knew that He would be sending His Son to live and die and rise again for us and to lead the way as the Captain of our salvation. Thus we see our faith-trek as His family starting out with Abraham, continuing down through the patriarchs to Moses, and through the Children of Israel to Christ Himself. All that history of Israel (and the linage of Christ) was set in motion to bring forth His Son upon this earth in such a way that man would recognize Him when He came. The whole Old Testament is filled with prophesies and shadows of Christ and only those who received Him by faith were able to read those writings and see Him in it all (see Luke 24:13-36). God designed all that history of the people of Israel so that Christ could come and not only die for their sins, but the sins of the whole world and become manifest to all His creation as the Son of God. He was the First Born of many brethren. In Christ, the Father would have a vast family of many sons and daughters and this was His plan from the beginning.

Now consider this, God not only knew what it would take to save mankind from our sins and conform us into the image of Christ who are called (in a collective sense), but He also knew what it would take to get EACH of us to our appointed end IN Christ. We each have a history designed by God that was set in motion from the day we were born. Think about the chain of events that had to take place to get you where you are today in Christ. We each have had divine appointments and events along the way that were integral to our becoming saved, filled with His Spirit, tested, tried, and becoming “more than overcomers” as we have learned to trust in our Lord for all things. He has got us this far and He will get us to the His desired end for us as the sons of God. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Heb 3:14 KJ2000).

God has declared the end from the beginning! He has spoken our divine sonship into existence from the foundation of the world and He is arranging our lives so that we will reach that goal. Paul saw that end and wrote,

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Rom 8:35-37 KJ2000)

Yes, many things that happen in our lives do not seem to be ideal or perfect and often seem adverse to God’s end, but He knows our end from the beginning. Do you not think that He knew from the beginning when we would make a wrong choice or were attacked and also had that worked into His plan? He did not destine us to blow it or others to sin against us, but He did have a plan that would take even that into consideration and redeem us from our mistakes and sins. His mind is always on the end, HIS desired end for us and it is that end, many sons who would share His glory, He has known from the beginning.

Paul wrote,

 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:4-10 KJ2000)

Did you catch that? We are not going to die in order to go to heaven. We are ALREADY in heavenly places as we abide IN Christ as branches of the True Vine. We have been created IN Christ and this is the source of all spiritual fruit and good works… He is our very Life. It is ALL a gift of God. We are HIS workmanship and were created IN Christ from the foundation of the world. It is from THIS enfolded joint life IN Christ that all everlasting works which the Father set in motion from the foundation of the world happen. All we can do is rest in the Son and watch the faith of Christ in us work through the love of God.

So, dear saints, our faith, rest, works, love, life, and even our hope are all bound up in our existence IN Christ and have been from the foundation of the world. This gives the “eternal salvation” of God great scope. Can we grieve the Spirit of God? Yes. Can we fall short of all that He has for us? Yes. But if we continue to walk by faith and not by sight, relying on the Son of God as our hope and salvation, He will make sure that we reach our eternal goal as sons of God. “For it is IN Him that we live and move and have our being.”