He Was Manifested in These Last Times for You
1 Peter 1:18-20
The foundation of Christianity is the doctrine of special creation. The doctrine of special creation consists of God’s revelation to mankind of his creative activity as documented in the first chapter of Genesis.
Clearly God’s method of creation consisted of the power inherent in his Word. He commanded and the physical elements comprising the heavens and the earth were brought forth. In six literal days God in his infinite wisdom established a very good creation free from sin, death, and the curse. The original creation was mature, complete, perfect, and can certainly be described as paradise.
The first man Adam and his wife Eve dwelt together in that paradise. So says the history recorded in the inspired Word of the living God. They enjoyed life in its fullest meaning. Unfettered joy and contentment ruled their hearts as they walked in the light of life flowing out of relationship with their heavenly Father. All was well.
It is important at this point for us to pause and consider God’s motivation for the creation. Of course, we would not know the heart of God concerning this matter except for the fact He has told us in His written word. The following words from Holy Scripture grant us a measure of insight into God’s heart and into His plan before the foundation of the world.
First, in John 17:24 as Jesus is praying to the Father he says, “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.”
In as much as Scripture reveals the Triune nature of the living God, we should properly understand relationship exists within the Godhead. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit abide in an eternal relationship with each possessing the whole of the one Divine Nature. Thus, Jesus speaks here of the love existing between him and the Father before the creation was brought forth.
It should be properly observed that God did not create the universe, an inhabitable planet earth, and mankind because He was lonely. God is complete in Himself lacking nothing and needing nothing.
Next, in Ephesians 1:4 the Word of God says, “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.” This verse grants insight into the eternal councils of God.
Before the foundation of the world, that is, before God moved to create the heavens, the earth, and mankind, He planned for a people whom He would redeem. We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
The Apostle Peter says the same in the opening remarks of his first epistle which says, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
We are His elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. Thus, God clearly planned for a people whom He would redeem.
The Apostle Peter goes on to say in this same chapter,
“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” (1 Peter 1:18-20).
And so, God foreordained the coming of His Son into this world before the foundation of the world. What are we to glean from this revelation? Clearly, God moved in creation of the world and with the creation of mankind in His image for the express purpose of securing a people unto Himself.
Clearly the Lord knew mankind would fall. He knew also in order to secure the salvation of the elect His Son must be sent into the world. Yet, the Lord proceeded with the creation.
His motivation for doing so is clear. According to the good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself, the Lord planned to have a people unto the praise of His glory! He planned to redeem a people according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:11).
This is the metanarrative through which we must interpret the history of the world and our present time. It follows in order to have a people walking in faith in response to His love both angels and mankind must be created with the potential of disobedience.
I had a very good question this past week from a seventh grader in the Junior High Bible class I am teaching at FCA this year. She asked the question, “Did God create sin?”
The answer is no, however, God did create both angels and mankind with the possibility of sin. He shaped both with the possession of free will. Said another way, love for God and loyalty to God is not mechanical.
For love to be genuine the potential for disobedience had to exist. The mystery of iniquity which first appeared in the heart of Lucifer is nothing more than departure from love for God. Lucifer’s pride flowed from disdain for God whom he sought to overthrow.
And what can be said of the first man Adam? His disobedience had nothing to do with deception. Confronted with the possibility of disobedience to his Creator, Adam failed the test of faith and love when he took the forbidden fruit from the hand of his wife Eve. Thus, sin entered the world and death by sin.
But alas my friends, as all creation suddenly felt the pangs of a horrible change and as it appeared God’s very good creation was tarnished forever, the wheels of the hidden counsels of an infinite God began to roll.
The Bible says, “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
With these words the Father promised to send His Son into the world to deliver His elect from spiritual bondage to death. The needed deliverance, however, would come with a price. The serpent would bruise his heel. The heel wound speaks of the cross. As the Hebrew writer says in the New Testament, it was through death he destroyed him who had the power of death that is the devil (Heb. 2:14).
As Adam and Eve left the Garden the journey to the Bethlehem manger began. Each page of subsequent history turned on the hinge of the Father’s promise in Genesis 3:15.
In time God raised up a man named Abraham who fathered the nation of Israel through whom the promised Savior would be born. God in his wisdom and purpose drove history until under Rome as predicted by the old patriarch Jacob in Genesis 49:10 the sceptre of power departed from Judah upon the arrival of Shiloh.
Shiloh is related to the word for “peace” (shalom) and in effect means “the one who brings peace.” It is one of many names for the promised Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thomas Grinfield penned this simple refrain on December 25, 1826, that summarizes the history leading to the manifestation of the Son of God:
'Tis come, the time so oft foretold,
The time Eternal Love forecast:
Four thousand years of hope have roll'd,
And God hath sent His Son at last:
Let heaven, let earth, adore the plan:
– “Glory to God, and grace to man!”
It is no wonder all of heaven burst into praise when the promised seed of the woman lay wrapped in swaddling clothes in a Bethlehem manger. The bible says:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
We should join the heavenly host and lift our praise to God this Christmas season!
In the fullness of time the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. The love of God the Father for a lost world compelled Him to send us His only begotten Son. The love of God the Son for a world of sinners compelled Him to leave His Father’s side with a passion to rescue His own from sin and death.
And so, foreordained before the foundation of the world, the eternal Word took to Himself human nature in the person of the promised Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Spurgeon offers this insight on the babe of Bethlehem as he writes:
Infinite, and an infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms. King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph. Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son. Oh, the wonder of Christmas.
J.I. Packer writes:
The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.
As the Apostle Peter says, “he was manifested in these last times for you.” Do you understand the Lord Jesus came just for you?
Open your heart and receive God's gift to you this Christmas season--His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.