From eternity to eternity

In a previous post we looked at the opening to Paul’s letter to Titus.

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness – a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Saviour.’ (Titus 1:1-3)

The phrase ‘eternal life’ is literally ‘the life of the [coming] ages’. In verse 2 Paul goes on by saying this eternal life was, literally, ‘promised before the ages’. It’s the same word. Our ministry is from eternity to eternity. What we do reaches forward into eternity future. But it also reaches back into eternity past.

What you do has eternal implications and divine implications. It goes right to the heart of God, to the Father’s love for his Son.

Let me explain by first asking a question. Paul says eternal life was ‘promised before the beginning of time’. To whom did God make this promise? Who was around to hear a promise made before time began? Ephesians 1:4-6 says:

He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

‘He chose us in him.’ God the Father chose us in God the Son. God the Father made a promise to his Son. He promised him a bride. He promised him you. He did this ‘in accordance with his pleasure and will’. It was his pleasure to chose us. God the Father had such pleasure in his Son that he chose to share their pleasure. He created and recreated us so that we could share his delight in his Son. The Son died so that we could share his experience of sonship, so that we could be loved by his Father with the same love that he receives.

Paul says something very similar in 2 Timothy 1:8-9:

Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who 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.’

Your faith has eternal implications and divine implications. It’s the fulfilment of a promise from God the Father to God the Son. The Father sees you and delights in the work of his Son. The Father loves you with the love he has for his Son. The Father chose you so you could share the love and joy of the triune God.

The plan of God is not some bureaucratic undertaking. It’s not a heartless fatalism. It’s the overflow of divine love and pleasure and glory.

Your church is from eternity to eternity. Nothing is more significant than this. Nothing more important has happened in your city in the last ten years than what has happened in your church – other than what has happened in other churches.

Early in 2013 space-based telescopes detected the brightest cosmic explosion ever seen. It lit up the stars and hurled radiation across the cosmos. Had it happened within 1,000 light years of earth it would have destroyed life on our plant. In fact scientists claim it happened four billion years ago. It is the biggest event ever witnessed by human beings.

Except that is not quite true. Someone becoming a Christian is a bigger event. Your conversion was an event that was planned in eternity past and will last into eternity future. Four billion years is nothing compared to that. And a massive cosmic explosion does not compare with the death of God’s own Son.

This material is adapted from Tim Chester, Titus for You (The Good Book Company) which is available in the US from Amazon.com and in the UK from ThinkIVP.


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