Lyle Shultz - Before The World Began - Williams, West Australia 2009

I want to share some thoughts with you this morning that have greatly increased my faith. I share them with the hope that this might be the effect it would have on your faith as well and these thoughts are concerning some of the things that existed and some of the things that happened and some of the things that were planned before the world began. Through the New Testament Scripture every once in a while we come across this little expression, "before the foundation of the world" or "before the world began" and I used to slip over those, stop briefly, but one day I decided to bring them all together and that is what we are going to do this morning. I think there are eight of them altogether in the New Testament that tells us and gives us little glimpses of what was there before the world began and what was planned before the world began.

The first one was when Jesus was praying to his heavenly father just before he was crucified. John 17:5 "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Now we are not going to go too deeply into these verses, we are going to try to pick out the obvious truths that these verses give to us. Truth number one is that before the world began God was there and truth number two before the world began Jesus was there with God and truth number three that before the world began they lived in an atmosphere referred to as glory. No attempt is made to explain what that was like, possibly because our human finite minds could never grasp really what that glory is like. So, we will think for a little while on those first two that before the world began God was there, that is a simple basic fundamental truth that most people in the world fail to accept and because of that, all kinds of theories and all kinds of explanations on how the world came into existence are put forward and none of them fit very well, none of them are very satisfactory, simply because they are leaving the basic thing out of it altogether that before the world began God was there. We hear about the big bang theory and one of our friends was asked one time whether he believed in that theory and he said, I certainly do, God said, let there be light and bang, there it was! We had a brother in India, Austin Bevis, some of you knew him very well, and he used to tell this little ditty to show how far out some of these theories of the world are. It goes like this. "First I was a tadpole swimming in a pool, and next I was a bullfrog sitting on a stool, then I was a monkey swinging from a tree, and now I am a professor with a PHD". It is kind of ridiculous, isn't it, and yet if we leave God out of the picture all kinds of weird and different theories come together and they do not make very much sense. The next thing we see is that Jesus was there with his Heavenly Father. I don't know about you here, but the friends in India are surrounded with people of other religions who have no faith in the Bible or the teachings of the Bible. One of the main religions over there dates back to several hundred years before Christ and one of the arguments that is often put forward by people is that your religion is only 2000 years old and look at ours, it goes way back beyond that. We are so grateful that what you and I believe in, it started before the world began, the coming of Jesus into the world was not the beginning of Jesus life or the beginning of his teaching. We have a verse in Luke's Gospel when the parents of John the Baptist were there and his father speaking through the Holy Spirit, told about how all the prophets from the beginning of time had foretold the coming of Christ. Every true prophet of God right from the very beginning of time believed in Jesus and told people about Jesus and looked forward to the time when Jesus would come, just in the very same way that you and I believe that he came and we are looking forward to the time when he will come again. So this faith that we have in our heart is not something that started 2000 years ago but it goes back and back and back until we get the point of when the world began.

John 17:24 "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." What is the obvious truth in this verse, before the world began God was there, Jesus was there, and there was this special love that was between the father and the son, not just a human natural love but a very, very special love, a love that is explained to us in first Corinthians 13. A love that suffers long and is kind, a love that does not envy, a love that does not vaunt itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, thinketh no evil, a love that beareth all things and believeth all things and endureth all things and a love that never fails. That was the kind of love, the love that moved God to send his son to the world, the love that moved Jesus to give his life when he got here and that was there before the world began. In our study of these eight verses the only emotion that we found existing in heaven is this emotion of love and isn't it a wonderful thought just to realize that everything that God has done, all his creation, putting man upon the earth, the whole thing was done, prompted by this wonderful divine love that was in his heart.

Verse 26, Jesus finished his prayer in this way "And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." One of the purposes for Jesus coming to the world was to carry with him this special love that was there with him and with his father in heaven, and to ignite that into the hearts of men and women and that is exactly what happened. Some of you children sing that song, "be a little candle", and if you get two little candles, and have them sitting there just a little distance apart and you light one of them, the other little candle will just sit there and will never get lit until you pick up this first one and you bring it close enough and you keep it there long enough, that fire on the first one ignites on the second one. That is exactly how the love of God was brought into the hearts of men and women, when Jesus came many, many people saw him, many, many people got close to him but there were only a few got close enough and stayed there long enough that the love that was in his heart could be kindled in theirs.

We get a picture of the early disciples going out into all the world with that same love burning in their heart that had come from heaven itself and imparting that to those whom they could get close enough to and who had a desire for it in their lives and we are thankful that that love has come to our present day and generation. God was there, Jesus was there, and this wonderful love was there between them.

Eph 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" What does that tell us? I think in simple terms it tells us this that before the world began, God made his choice. We speak a lot in Gospel meetings, especially, about us making our choice and that is a very, very vital and important thing because that's the thing that will determine whether or not we are going to be able to enjoy all that God has planned for us. If there is anyone in this meeting that hasn’t yet made their choice that they would be considering it seriously, you remember this, if God had not made this choice, you or I would not have any choice to make. We would have been just like the birds, the animals and all the other living things upon the earth; no other possibility of changing our destiny, just living on this earth to live and to die but God, at this point made a choice that would make it possible for you and me to share in what he had planned and was enjoying with his son and what he had planned for his creation. He chose that whoever would choose to be in Christ, in his son, that he would accept that person as his own son or his own daughter. That was such a wonderful choice that was made before the world began. So before the world began, God was there and Jesus was there and the wonderful love that was between them and then God chose to share that atmosphere, to share that place and his love with anyone that would make their choice to be in Christ. 2 Tim 1:9 "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." So this verse says that before the world began God gave us his purpose and he gave us his grace in Christ Jesus.

We may find it a little hard to grasp with our finite minds, that one of the problems that men and women have grappled with from the very beginning, is this, what is the purpose of life? This has resulted in many, many theories and many, many teachings being propagated in the world to try to explain what is the purpose of life and to me it is just a wonderful thought that before the world even began, God gave us his purpose in Christ Jesus. It goes on to say in verse 10, "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:" So this purpose of God in Christ Jesus was there even from the second chapter of the Bible, for there we are starting to get little glimpses of that, through the sacrifice that had to be made to cover Adam and Eve after they sinned, and then all through the pages of the Old Testament God gives little glimpses, sometimes quite clear and other times not so clear, of just what this is all about. Then Jesus came and you and I have the wonderful privilege of living in the age after he came. When through his life and through his teaching, through his sacrifice, all the uncertainty and the doubts have been pushed away and we can see in his life what God's purpose is for us. In simple terms it is to make us like his son and he has made every provision that, that can be so. This sometimes frightens us because we realize we are so weak, so unable but it says he gave not only his purpose but he has given us his grace. I just love this thought that the will of God will never lead us into a place where the grace of God cannot keep us. Whatever God shows to be his purpose for your life, it may seem way too big for you, beyond any possibility of you reaching it, or attaining to it, you just remember that not only has he given us his purpose but he gives us his grace through Christ Jesus that enables us to be all that he has planned we should be.

Titus 1:1."Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;" I don't know where Paul got his information but he was sure of this, that before the world began, God promised eternal life and if we are a little uncertain where he got it, we could just consider this, that he was in touch with the first disciples and the first disciples were in touch with Jesus and one of those disciples after he had written the gospel, wrote that if everything was written that Jesus did, and I think we could safely add everything that Jesus said, were written, all of the books that would have to be written, the world could not contain them. So then it follows there would have been a lot of things that Jesus taught his disciples that never got into print, but here is one that Paul grasped and he was sure of, that even before the world began, it was part of God's plan to give his children, those who chose to live in Christ, this wonderful gift of eternal life.

1 Peter 1:18."Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." So what have we learned, before the world began, God was there, Jesus was there, this love of God was there, God made this choice to include us in this plan if we would choose wisely, he gave his purpose, he has given his grace and he promised eternal life and now what? Before the world began it was decided in heaven that Jesus would come as the Lamb of God to deal with our sin, to take away our guilt, foreordained before the world began. In the book of Revelation it says that he was the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. It doesn't mean that his sacrifice was given right at the foundation of the world but it means the decision was made, that when the right time comes, when it is God's will for me to do it, I am prepared to come to the world and to face whatever the world has to throw at me. To give my life and shed my blood, so that those who have chosen to be in God's family and who have seen God's purpose, striving by the grace of God to fit into that purpose, might be made worthy to be a partaker of all that was planned in heaven. I like this thought, that decision was made a long, long time ago and Jesus had a long, long time to change his mind about this and as time went on Jesus had some very good reasons to change his mind about that. Man as a whole had bitterly disappointed him, and over and over again his own chosen people had turned away and followed after idol worship and all the rest of it. He had every right to look down and say are these the kind of people I have promised to give my life for? Jesus did not change his mind, he was faithful to the choice and to the vow that he'd made before the beginning of the world. Here are you and me and we don't have very long to be true to our little vow we made, have we? Just a few short years and life will be over and none of us have one good reason why we should not keep that vow right to the end, and as we look at the example of our Saviour. I hope it will inspire us just to keep true to the vows that we have made.

There is one more. Matt 25:34 "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:" So from the very beginning, God had a place prepared for those who would let that love grip their heart and make that choice that would bring them into his plan and would let the grace of God help them to become like his son and be cleansed and separated by the blood of Christ. Those are some of the things that happened before the world began. After the world began many, many things happened and man started going in many different directions, and in many ways, in many doctrines, in many thoughts that have been propagated in the world, till we have today such a maze of different teachings that it makes a person dizzy trying to get it all figured out. But you just remember this, that someday the world and all that is in the world is going to pass away and all that will be left is what was there before the world began and what was planned before the world began for those who fitted into that plan. Today if you and I have a little glimpse and picture of this wonderful plan of God we can consider ourselves to be among the most blessed people in the world. I pray that we would handle this very precious truth as carefully and as thankfully and as prayerfully as we should.