Many of you who see me around church or wherever seem to have the same delusion. You keep telling me that I’m limping! There are even times when I’m walking along, and with that inner voice of conversation we have with ourselves inside our head, I say to myself, “Wow, you’re really walking well today … no pain or anything!” Only to have the next person I see say to me, “So what are you limping about?” More delusion.
Well I recently met a doctor who says he can fix this and remove this delusion from the minds of other people. It involves some nastiness of cutting this and that. It’s just too gruesome to talk about in a devotional blog. But before I allow this fellow to attempt this (or to even see him long enough to talk about it), I had to know a lot about who he is, where he’s been, what he’s done, and what are his exact credentials to do what he says he can do.
If Jesus is to be what we want him to be and believe him to be as our savior from sin, we should want to know and understand his background and credentials. How long has he been around as a part of the Godhead? Is he an eternal part of God? How long did he exist before being born in Bethlehem? Did God create Jesus the day before the incarnation, outfit him for a perfect human experience and say to him, “You look good Son; you’re going to do a great job!”
All of this discussion is a part of the larger topic of understanding exactly who Jesus is—what we’ll be talking about all of this week. And answering the question as to the eternal preexistence of Jesus is more than the academic stuff of theological debate. Everything rides on it. Because if you don’t have Jesus as an eternal, self-existent part of the Godhead, you have a created being—insufficient to be the payment for sin.
Biblical heresies old and new (as in various cult groups) fall short on this, somehow seeing Jesus as less than the eternal God who always existed. Early on, in Colossians for example, we see Paul battling an emergent form of Gnosticism—a group who saw Jesus as some sort of intermediate spiritual being between God and man. In church history, the eternal preexistence of Christ was affirmed at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 to combat the error of Arianism. Arius believed that Jesus was the first and foremost of created spirits, but not eternal.
Ultimately we affirm the eternality of Jesus Christ as the Divine Son, not because our theology demands it in order to have a qualified savior, but because the Scriptures teach it quite affirmatively. Here are the primary passages to which we would point …
- The prophet Micah (5:2) in writing of the prophecy of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem says that Jesus will be one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
- Likewise Isaiah (9:6), in foretelling the incarnation, wrote that the child to be born was the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- John (1:1-3) begins his gospel by referencing Jesus as the Logos—the Word—saying that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
- The Apostle Paul wrote of the supremacy of Christ to the Colossians (1:16,17), affirming of Jesus: For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
- And in John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ (1:11) he reported, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
To deny the eternality of Christ, you would have to deny the authority of Scripture. So Jesus is not a last-minute creation by God to fix everything that went wrong, rather he is the Creator God and the expression of God’s love and grace to redeem a lost creation in the only way it could be saved. This is who loves you and has died for you.