Things That Happened Before There was Anything
The Bible is God’s eternal Word (Jn 1:1). It tells us God is eternal (Dt 33:27; Is 9:6). Of course, this makes all of God’s attributes eternal (Rom 1:20). His decree (Jer 5:22) and purpose (Eph 3:11) are also eternal. God tells us He created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2, 10). If God, His attributes, and His designs were functioning prior to His creation, then what were some things that happened before God created something from nothing?
First, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, existed before the foundation of the world (Mic 5:2; 1 Pet 1:20). The Apostle Peter wrote to the churches of northern Asian Minor and made a claim about Jesus pre-incarnate existence. Unlike some who misinterpret the term “first-born,” suggesting Jesus was a created being (Col 1:15), who then created everything else, Peter points to Jesus’ pre-creation existence (1 Pet 1:20). If we establish the deity of Christ from Scripture, then the argument against Christ being the eternal Son of God is mute (Jn 1; Col 1; Heb 1; Rev 1). Jesus is not just a man, nor is he a created being. The entire thrust of Scripture puts Jesus Christ in eternal glory and before creation.
Second, Jesus Christ shared the glory of God before the world was (Jn 17:5). In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, offered on the eve of His crucifixion, He asked God the Father to glorify Him. This is either the pinnacle of blasphemy or the pinnacle of proof for Jesus Christ being God, for God does not give His glory to another (Is 42:8). God the Father and God the Son, along with God the Holy Spirit shared the glory of God in eternity and before creation.
Third, God the Father loved God the Son before the foundation of the world (Jn 17:24). Another aspect of Jesus’ high priestly prayer supports the notion of mutual sharing, in every aspect of the community of the Godhead. Glory was shared within the Trinity, and so was love. God is love (1 Jn 4:8), and God’s love freely gives itself away between the Persons of the Godhead and extends to those whom God sets His love (Jn 3:16; Eph 5:2; 1 Jn 3:16).
God’s love is eternal (Ps 136), and so is His shared love. Nowhere in the Bible does it say or suggest God loves everyone. This is an eisegetical error promoted by Liberalism, Universalists, and Arminians. Even when exegesis is attempted with a verse like John 3:16, their hermeneutic fails because it cannot correlate with the whole teaching of Scripture. Surely, if God loved everyone, then He would save everyone (Universalism). If He saves everyone, then we must concede to the Universalists, and agree with them against the Bible.
Fourth, Jesus Christ reigned over all before all time (Jude 1:24–25). In Jude’s doxology at the end of his brief letter, he makes some profound statements about the Christian faith, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
The identities of God the Father and God the Son are so intertwined that their attributes and actions, in this case, are not discernible like their persons. God the Father reigns through the Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns. Glory and majesty belong to both. It is the Son, who will present His church holy and blameless before the Father (Eph 1:4; 5:27).
The phrase, “before all time” supports the claim to pre-creation existence, attributes, and actions for Jesus. The addition of “now” and “forever” clearly points to their eternality. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). Our God reigns, forever (Ex 15:18; Ps 146:10), and the Lord Jesus Christ reigns, forever (Rev 11:15)
Fifth, God chose His people, in Christ, before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 1:2). In the eternal counsel of our Triune God, by His eternal decree (1 Cor 2:7), and for His eternal purpose (Eph 3:11), God predestined eternal life (Eph 1:5) for some of the people He would create (Rom 8:30), to be vessels of mercy prepared for glory (Rom 9:23). His election of a people for Himself is a demonstration of His mysterious will, His power to save, His love, and His mercy.
Sixth, God wrote the names of His people, in the Lamb’s book of life, from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8; 17:8). Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29). The apostle John wrote the Apocalypse, which gives the church some amazing insights into Christ, the church, end times, and eternity.
Twice in the Book of Revelation, John references the names of the saints being written in a pre-creation book. These are the names of God’s predestined elect saints, in contrast with those who will not worship the Lamb who was slain (Rev 5:6, 12). In other words, in God’s predestined election, before the foundation of the world, a book of names was established. The names of every saved soul were written down before even one of them was created by God. God knew who He was making when He made Jacob. God knew who He was making when He made Esau. Jacob, God loved; but Esau, God hated (Mal 1:2; Rom 9:13). One was a vessel of mercy prepared for glory (Rom 9:23), and one was a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22). God’s choosing happened before creation, before the world was, before the foundation of the world, and from all eternity.
Seventh, God created good works for His people to accomplish beforehand (Eph 2:10). If God is eternal, and He wrote the names of saved souls in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world, then He knew each person’s part in His story. He not only knew their identities as persons, made by Him, but as the Potter forms the clay (Jer 18; Rom 9:19–24), so God made the objects of His love and wrath, to perform works to bring Him praise and glory. God made the wicked for the day of evil (Prv 16:4), and even their wrath will praise Him (Ps 76:10).
God’s eternal plan and purpose is His will for His creation (Is 46:9–11), and He will accomplish what concerns us (Ps 57:2; 138:8), as the One who sits in the heavens and does what He pleases (Ps 115:3; 135:6). The Apostle Paul was aware of Christ in Him, accomplishing God’s will and work, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20).”
He wrote a similar sentiment to the Philippians, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:12–13).” Nothing happens apart from God’s eternal purpose. Nothing thwarts His will, and there no failing providence when it comes to His works. He has declared the end from the beginning, and with that, His works were finished.
Eighth, God’s eternal kingdom was prepared for His people (Mt 25:34; 2 Pet 1:11). The eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, “prepared for you,” was Peter’s encouragement to the Christians in the early church. Jesus Christ brought His eternal kingdom into this domain of darkness at His incarnation (Jn 1:5). By His own admission to Pontius Pilate, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36).”
The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God’s Beloved Son (Col 1:13). It was “at hand” when Jesus walked the earth, and today, it is, “…righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17).” The full manifestation of the kingdom of God and Christ will gloriously appear at the second advent of Christ Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:11–21). Christ Jesus’ eternal kingdom has always been, was here in the flesh, is here now in the Spirit, and will come again with full force and restoration, to continue forever in the presence of our eternal King (1 Tim 1:17; Rev 21–22).
Finally, God finished His works from the foundation of the world (Heb 4:3). There is nothing to qualify this biblical claim. It simply means God finished what He started when He started. There is no time constraint with God, as there is with us. God is eternal. He is ever-present in the now. The reason God’s Word is filled with true prophecies of the future is because God is present in the future, even while we are present only in the present. When God wrote the story, it was a complete story. He authored it in its entirety. There are no antediluvian works with God. Simply put, it is finished.
When God created, He then rested from His finished works. Jesus’ crucifixion claim, “it is finished,” could be said from the foundation of the world because He is the Lamb slain, from before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8), in the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23). God is perfect, and His works are finished perfectly. We have a saying, “it is as good as done.” This is the assurance given by the one doing the work that appears unfinished. The Bible itself has a verb tense known only to itself. It is called, the “prophetic perfect” tense of the verb. The things prophesied in the Bible, and not yet fulfilled in time, are already finished. The reason is that God finished His works from the foundation of the world. These biblical revelations debunk erroneous open theism.
In summary, we have considered some eternal happenings. They were conceived in eternity past from our perspective, but they are eternal nonetheless. Our Triune God has been at work loving and glorying in everlasting community for eternity. Creation in the mind of God brought to light for us some actions with eternal ramifications, like: a chosen group of people to be created for eternal love and glory; a book with their names in it; a Hero King, who would enter time and creation to rescue them; a rescue plan that would include privileged participation by those rescued; and an eternal kingdom, amply supplied for them to inherit.
In conclusion, we can only marvel at God’s story. It is profound from beginning to end because even from the beginning it is established, forever. God is eternal and everything He does is from eternity; therefore, we can say from His perspective, “it is finished;” and what is finished from God’s perspective is as good as done; or better, “it is done and it is good.”
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 4, 2021