From the Foundation of the World (Part 3)

I’m still puzzling over the pieces of the “From the foundation of the world” concept.

They are consuming my thoughts.

I’ve burned a supper or two while I pondered them.

I’ve spent my days researching their meaning while my Christmas tree stands inappropriately festive in my living room.

And, for weeks, I have lied to my children as I looked them in the eyes and told them I was listening.

Every time I ponder the concept and I follow the path of my reasoning to its end, I find myself standing in the same confounding field of thought. And, every time I get to that place, I turn around and head back to the starting point thinking, “Lord, Lord, this can’t possibly be right.”

Revelation 13:8 – And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

. . . the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

If Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world, then God (who stands outside time anyway) knew when He created man that the crucifixion of Jesus would be the cost of man’s disobedience.

If God (who stands outside time and can see the end from the beginning) knew that man would disobey, then He set up Adam to fail when He gave him the ability to choose.

If God set up Adam to fail, and declared that Adam’s failure to obey would result in mankind’s life in sin and separation from Himself, then living in sin and separate from God must be part of God’s plan for Adam . . . for mankind . . . for me.

Oh . . . Crap! I stumble over this same spot every time I go down this path.

2 Timothy 1:9 – He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

I can hang onto this thought and go a little further.

. . . Grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

If grace was also in God’s plan since the beginning of time then He always had a plan to forgive disobedient mankind.

If God always had a plan to forgive the disobedience of all those who choose to leave him and go their own way, then He always knew that in the end He would welcome them back into a relationship like the one He had with Adam.

If God knew that in the end, He would have what He began with, then why was everything in the middle necessary?!

And . . . now, I’m just turning around in circles.

But, here’s what I see . . .

I see the people who have come through sin to seek God on the other side. They don’t much look like Adam.

They aren’t new and pristine. They are dirty and disfigured by an ugliness that ravaged them in the darkness.

They are beat up and bent over and none of them could walk with God in a garden or anywhere else. They are too tired. Most of them can’t get off their knees.

What these guys do have is a lot more knowledge of God than Adam had.

They know God’s mercy because they have such need of it. They’ve seen God’s righteousness because He clothed their shame and nakedness with it. They appreciate God’s grace because they have nothing to give him in return. They are overwhelmed by God’s love because they can look back and see Jesus carrying their sin to the cross.

They are humble. They are grateful. And they love God more than Adam ever could have.

I always stop here and contemplate the fact that God prefers redeemed man to innocent man. This is as far as my thoughts can go without becoming slightly heretical. But they don’t stop here. They always take one more leap.

If God prefers redeemed man to innocent man . . .

If God wanted man to choose wrong so He could make him right . . .

If God wanted man to disobey so He could offer unmerited favor . . .

If God wanted man to fall into sin so He could reach down in mercy and pick him up . . .

Then, why do we, who stand in the age of grace, spend so much time trying to get back to where Adam was?

Why do we want the church to appear pristine and perfect? Why do we teach new believers to stand strong in obedience more than we teach them to seek God in weakness?

Why do we pray for wisdom and strength but not brokenness and humility? Why are our prayers for our children usually about keeping them safe from the sins and evils of the world?

And, Lord, help us! . . . Why do we still try to hide our sin from God? Why do we let shame and spiritual pride keep us from approaching his throne with sin dribbling down our chins?

Do we not know that from the foundation of the world, He has reached out to us and wiped them clean?!