How was grace given to us in Christ before time began?
Before creation, God purposed that, in Christ, we would be
saved by grace: God has saved us and called us with a holy
calling, not according to our works, but according to His own
purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before
time began (2 Timothy 1:9).
In what sense were we given grace in Christ before time
Several passages teach that God planned our salvation
before creation. There is disagreement in Christendom,
however, about the consequences of that planning. Did God
unconditionally predestine each individual to heaven or hell, as
Calvinists believe? Or did God predestine an assembly to be
saved, composed of those who accept the good news of
salvation in Christ?
Although we cannot deal with the topic fully in a short
lesson, we can learn much by simply reading and discussing
the related passages.
Notice the words we and us as we discuss these
Scriptures, and consider who we and us are.
Our text, 2 Timothy 1:9, says that God has saved us and
called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but
according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us
in Christ Jesus before time began.
We understand that we who are in Christ now are saved
by grace and not by our own works. But we did not exist before
time began, so how could God give us grace in Christ then? We
were given grace before time began in the sense that God had
already made provision for our salvation in Christ.
God's plan of salvation was so firm that Christ is called
the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation
This is explained in 1 Peter 1:19-21. We are redeemed
with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish
and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the
foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times
for you who through Him believe in God.
Thus, those who were given grace in Christ before time
began, were those who would believe in God through Christ.
According to Titus 1:2, God's elect serve Him, In hope of
eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time
began. How was eternal life promised before time began?
God's plan to provide salvation from death, constitutes a
promise of eternal life for those who would be in Christ.
This is explained in Ephesians 1:3-6. Blessed be the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with
every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 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, having
predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,
according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the
glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the
Notice that this applies to those who are in Christ, those
who by grace have been made accepted in the Beloved. He
chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.
In the first chapter of Ephesians Paul mentions spiritual
blessings we have in Christ.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the
forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which
He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to
His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the
dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather
together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven
and which are on earth - in Him (Ephesians 1:7-10).
Thus, before time began, God purposed to gather into
Christ all those who would be redeemed by His blood.
It is also in Christ that we obtain the inheritance: In
Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined
according to the purpose of Him who works all things according
to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ
should be to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:11, 12).
This inheritance is for those who trust in Christ, those who
believe the gospel and are sealed with the Holy Spirit: In Him
you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel
of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were
sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of
our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased
possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13, 14).
Paul prayed that the Ephesians might understand these
things. That you may know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us
who believe (Ephesians 1:18, 19).
Thus, the ones predestined for salvation before the
foundation of the world are an assembly (in mathematical
terms, a sub-set of humanity) defined as those who accept
Christ when they hear the gospel of their salvation.
God gave Christ to be Head of the church, the assembly of
the saved: And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him
to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the
fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22, 23). And
He is the head of the body, the church (Colossians 1:18).
Thus, we were given grace in Christ before the foundation
of the world, if, upon hearing the gospel, we believe and are
baptized into the church of Christ. For by one Spirit we were
all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13).
To be in Christ, we must be baptized into Christ. For you
are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of
you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians
God predestined us (we who are in Christ) to be
conformed to the image of His Son: And we know that all
things work together for good to those who love God, to those
who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He
foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of
His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom
He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these
He also glorified (Romans 8:28-30).
After telling the parable of the indifferent wedding guests,
Jesus said: Many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew
Through the preaching of the gospel, God offers salvation
in Christ to all. Jesus told His followers: Go into all the world
and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and
is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be
condemned (Mark 16:15, 16).
Everyone is invited. And the Spirit and the bride say,
'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who
thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life
freely (Revelation 22:17).
Thus, God predestined an assembly to be saved, the
church of Christ, composed of those who believe and obey the
gospel. To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all
generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:21).
The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Published in The Old Paths Archive