When we start with Christ’s death, do we end up missing the whole point of His birth? I asked that question in part one, where we started looking at the incarnation of Christ.
To order to understand Jesus’ birth, we must first lay a foundation for the why, and understand it from the Father’s perspective.
You see, the gospel doesn’t start with Adam’s sin and our need for forgiveness. It starts with God’s determination to have many sons and daughters before creation even began.
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph.1:4-5 NKJV)
We see here that God’s eternal purpose, His “good pleasure,” was for our adoption, and this desire precedes any violation, even creation itself. This also means that God’s love for us transcends anything we could ever do for Him. He loved us before He created us, so His love is not based on our performance but on who He is, for God is love. We should stop and ponder this for a moment before we move on…
We were created to be loved, and we are loved…regardless of whether we return that love or even if we’re not aware of it at all.
God’s intent was to restore us before we ever sinned, to be born from above before we were even born! In fact, His purpose for everyone of us, in everything He does, is so that we would discover His unconditional love and want to be His sons and daughters forever. Paul makes this point to the pagan Athenians (bold type added):
26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (Acts 17:26-28 NKJV)
Notice that Paul doesn’t say that these pagan philosophers would become God’s offspring when they find Him. He’s agreeing with their own poets, that they are “His offspring”–for “in Him” they “live and move and have their being”—whether they know it or not. In fact, he pointed out to them earlier that this Father was indeed unknown to them.
So when God is identified in Scripture as a “Father,” it means He’s all about family and relationship, before anything else we can know about Him. “Father” means that He is the progenitor, or source, of this Family. This doesn’t mean that He preceded the Son chronologically, for the Son created time and space itself. He ever lives outside of both. John identifies Jesus’ participation with the Father from the very beginning of anything we can understand with the human mind. Simply put, He was the Word, the creator of all things (bold type added):
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4 NKJV)
We see here that not only all things were made through the Word, but in Him is life itself. In other words, not only was He with the Father always, but all life proceeds from Him. There is no life or light that can exist apart from the Son. As we already saw in Acts 17:28, “in Him we move and have our being,” for all things exist in Christ.
Paul elaborates on this truth in Colossians…
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col.1:15-17 NASB)
This is why thinking we’re separated from Christ is about as absurd as a small child thinking she’s hiding by having her eyes covered! Unfortunately, we would need to fully deconstruct the deeply entrenched dualistic Western paradigm of separation, one rooted in Greek philosophy rather than Scriptural revelation, to have our eyes uncovered and actually believe what is being said here.
We’ve made Christ infinitely too small by embracing this invention of man’s imagination. But elaboration on that will have to wait for another time. For now, just know that nothing can exist apart from Christ. This is pretty clear in Scripture.
I should also pause and note that when Paul refers to Christ as the “image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation,” he is not speaking of the Eternal Son, but of Christ’s human birth (See John 1:14). This gets into the hypostatic union, which I discuss in more detail next time. But suffice to say here, if we don’t understand this dual nature of Christ, a whole lot of confusion will result.
So far, we can see that God wanted a family before all other things. And that this was His purpose from before creation. And this gets to the very heart of the Father, which is to have intimacy and fellowship in the Godhead—that we would know God as God knows God—in perfect unity with the Father and the Son and with each other.
Jesus explicitly expresses God’s heart for this Divine Union in one of His final prayers on the night of His betrayal. This is probably the most important prayer ever prayed as far as understanding God’s intent for us and the source of our being and purpose. I invite you to meditate on the implications of this prayer, especially the parts I’ve emphasized with bold type:
21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:21-26 NKJV)
Understand how critically important Jesus’ prayer is. When Adam embraced Satan’s orphan lie of separation from God, he set the stage for all fear-based living—the source of all murders, wars, violence, and all other forms of man’s inhumanity to man. That’s pretty important!
Some have faulted religion for all wars and human atrocities. That’s probably true. But understand that true Christianity is the end of all war and violence, for it’s based in God’s other-centered love, because God is love and He Himself is the world’s peace.
While we will certainly fully understand this union with God and with each other in heaven, that is not the intent of this prayer. Jesus is praying that we would experience this union…now…so that the world may know that the Father sent Jesus for this purpose. This would not be a relevant prayer in heaven. In this request, Jesus is also making an evangelistic appeal.
There pretty much isn’t anything else you need to know about the secret to your life other than what’s expressed right here!
Do you see now why we miss the main point when we make salvation all about retribution and satisfaction for sin? It’s ultimately about restoration of relationship and intimacy…with God and with each other.
But why, then, did God need to become a human being? Why not just adopt us from on high? We will look at that next time.