|- J. Preston Eby -
Come, my friends, and go with me,
Away back to eternity!
Go back beyond the days of youth
Where everything that was, was truth.
Go back until within the past
You fail to find the place, at last,
Where "the beginning" you can see
Of the immense eternity.
Go back until there's not a trace
Of anything but God and space:
God all around - below, above,
Unlimited in pow'r and love.
Away back there, removed from sight,
Where everything that was, was right.
Away back there, removed from sin,
Is where our story will begin.
In thought, dear reader of these lines, we have gone back "before the ages", where, in the language of the poet, we find "not a trace of anything but God - and space: God all around - below, above, unlimited in power and love." Oh, how I wish I might be able to impress clearly and indelibly upon the heart of everyone who reads this, the fact that there was a dimension when there were no "ages", no mighty blazing suns, no spiraling nebulae, no galaxies of stars and planets and moons, to mark the dial of eternity! Away back there, God's "grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of the ages" began their course.
This truth is confirmed by the apostle Paul, to whom, alone, the full scope of divine revelation was made known. He tells us of the "times" outside the "ages'' saying, "Who did save us, and did call with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, that was given to us in Christ Jesus, before the times of the ages... (II Tim. 1:9, Young's Literal). In Titus he speaks of being an apostle "according to the faith of the choice ones of God, and an acknowledging of truth that is according to piety, upon hope of life age-during, which God, who does not lie, did promise before times of ages" (Tit. 1:1-2, Young's Literal). And again, when speaking of those saints who were mature and able to bear it, he says, "But we speak of the hidden wisdom of God in a secret, that God foreordained before the ages to our glory, which no one of the rulers of this age did know, for if they had known, the Lord of glory they would not have crucified" (I Cor. 2:7-8, Young's Literal).
It will be a wonderful day for you, dear one, when first your soul becomes enthralled with the revelation that God, before ever the world began or ever the ages were formed, looked forth from His temple of wisdom and omnipotence to chart with resolute care the course and purpose of every age. Your heart will throb as you read the opening proclamation of scripture, "In the beginning - GOD! In the beginning of what? Not in the beginning of God, certainly, but in the beginning of His creation of all things, in the beginning of time, in the beginning of the orderly procession of the divinely destined ages. In the beginning stands God, omnipotent and omniscient, creating, sustaining and guiding all things and all people and all the ages of time according to the purpose of His own will. No purpose ordained by God from the beginning can possibly go astray or be hindered by the efforts of devil or man. Oh, for the hour when all creation will grasp the beautiful message, "From Him everything comes, by Him everything exists, and in Him everything ends!" (Rom. 11:36).
If God be the Creator of ALL THINGS, then it must of necessity follow that GOD IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS. We read the passage quoted above from the Diaglott. "Because OUT of HIM, and THROUGH HIM, and FOR HIM are ALL THINGS, to Him be the glory for the ages. Amen." All things are out of God, all things are through Him, all things are for Him, and all things are unto Him, ending in Him. The clearest possible rendering is given by Goodspeed, "For from Him everything comes; through Him everything exists; and in Him everything ends! Glory to Him forever! Amen." The Amplified Bible also expresses it beautifully, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. For all things originate with Him and come from Him, all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and end in Him. To Him he glory forever! Amen - so be it."
The Bible opens with the simplest and yet most profound statement ever recorded by human hand, "In the beginning - GOD! The sweet singer of Israel declared of Him, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You have formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, YOU ART GOD" (Ps. 90:2). Our God was the great active force, the cause of all that began to happen "in the beginning." How awesome the thought that there was a "time" when there was nothing - absolutely nothing - but GOD! There was no blue-green orb called earth, no silver-shimmering moon, no diamond studded heaven of stars and planets, no angels, no devils, no man nothing but GOD HIMSELF. There were not even the 100 elements out of which everything in the universe is constructed - there was only God. Paul caught something of the sublimity of this eternal and Self-existent One and wrote, "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS, and by Him all things consist" (Col. 1:16-17).
Let me emphasize this wonderful and important truth: "He is before all things." This can mean nothing else but that God is not one of the "things". He is BEFORE all things. He is before all THINGS and He is before A-L-L things. And just as majestic is the truth that "by Him ALL THINGS CONSIST." Young's Literal Translation renders this literally from the Greek: "Because IN HIM were the all things CREATED... and HIMSELF IS BEFORE ALL, and the all things IN HIM HAVE CONSISTED."
This raises an important and interesting question. If God was "before all things," then OUT OF WHAT did He CREATE all things? When I was a boy we had a "Sunday School" definition of the word create. "To create," I was told, means to make something out of nothing. To my young and unlearned mind that sounded altogether logical. After all I thought, if God is God, and God can do anything, then surely it is no problem to God to make something out of nothing! But as I grew older and learned something of the laws of physics, I discovered a simple but demonstrable fact, namely, that out of nothing - nothing comes! Also, out of something you get no more than that thing is able to contain. You cannot take a gallon of milk out of a pint bottle unless you refill the bottle again and again. You cannot put a hundred dollars in the bank and take out a thousand. The man who seeks to take out of the bank far more than he put in will find himself a recipient of free board and room for many months to come! This, then, is a fundamental point of natural law. We recognize that out of nothing, nothing comes. And even God, in all His omnipotence, does not violate His own creative principle, and MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING!
If there was only God, and absolutely no thing other than God, what kind of material did God have at His disposal out of which to construct all things? If you were standing completely alone, with nothing outside your own being existent, what material would be available for making something other than yourself The answer is, of course, NOTHING! YOU WOULD HAVE TO MAKE THE "THINGS" OUT OF YOURSELF! And friend, this is precisely what God did. Now we can understand the full import of those words inspired by the blessed Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul: "Because IN HIM were the all things created ... and Himself is before all, and the all things I-N H-I-M HAVE CONSISTED (Col. 1:16-17, Young's Literal).
God couldn't make the world out of magma, because the molten lava is itself one of the "things" created. He couldn't form the stars and planets of any combination of atoms, for atoms are the "building blocks" or raw material of which "things" are composed, and atoms themselves, with their electrons, protons and neutrons, are "things". Can we not see by this that God pre-dated and pre-existed the whole universe of atoms, compounds and elements! It should be abundantly clear to any thinking mind that since God is before all "things", it was IN HIM that all "things" were created, and IN HIM all "things" were set together and arranged in order - the very source and substance of all "things" is GOD HIMSELF! OUT OF THE ENERGY AND SUBSTANCE OF HIS OWN BEING GOD BROUGHT FORTH AND CONSTITUTED ALL THINGS.
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