“God called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began...”
— 2 Timothy 1:9 (NRSV [italics mine])
We seriously underestimate and undermine the truth when we limit the theology of the Trinity and Divine Grace to the realms of time and space. Both the Trinity and Divine Grace are eternal. To say they have existed always could even be incorrect, because to use allusions to existence implies, perhaps, the idea that at some time there was nonexistence. These are beyond existence and nonexistence.
It is clear from the above verse that the redemptive plan executed in Jesus’ obedience at the cross, and through the resurrection of the risen Lord, was engineered before creation’s inception. We can well imagine the Father and the Son conferring; the Father with his intention to sacrifice the Son to show his unfailing love for humankind; the Son with his willingness to obey the Father. Between the Father and the Son, at the death of Jesus, is the bequest of the Holy Spirit—the gift of Divine Grace—the eternal Spiritual Presence of God.
Grace is not a New Testament Idea
From now on I will refer to Divine Grace as simply grace.
The execution of grace may have occurred in New Testament times, but grace is not the New Testament idea. As God is love, an essential component of such love is grace. Grace is that unreasonable compassion that only genuinely God could exact in the entirety of perfection.
As God is eternal, unchanging in character and manifestation, with grace as a component of Divine character, grace came before the ages began. Grace came in the person of Jesus, the incarnate Son, but it just as truthfully came pre-laid beyond the constraints of time.
Grace is not a New Testament idea.
Connecting Redemption with Eternity
Many may realistically see that redemption was bought at the cross of Calvary.
But if we cannot see that the cross is merely the touchstone for humanity’s redemption we miss a more complete picture of God. This is not about underestimating the significance of the cross; it’s about giving due credence to humankind’s redemption in and through the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The narrative of redemption only really makes sense as it is understood via the eternal realm. That the Trinity devised a plan of redemption before the ages began is testimony to the wise omniscience of God.
Grace is an eternal authority of God. Because God is love, and Divine Love is full of grace, and Divine Love is eternal, grace also is eternal. As the Son of God came to be Jesus, then ascended to glory (again), the Son is eternal. What came to us in Christ Jesus, before the ages began, is perfect in eternal beauty—the Divine Grace of God.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: John Piper’s video sermon.