Q&A: God's Eternal Counsel to Redeem Sinners

God's Eternal Counsel to Redeem Sinners

In God's eternal counsel, what plans did he make to redeem sinners?

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Answer

Of course there's a great mystery when we speak about God's eternal counsel. We, as finite, temporal creatures can't even imagine what it is to exist outside of time. And yet, Scripture does tell us some things about God's eternal plan, especially his eternal plan regarding our salvation. And I think the place to start when thinking about this is to turn to the opening of Ephesians, and Ephesians says that God elected us "in Christ." And that really gets to the heart of God's eternal counsel for us, that God planned to save us through his Son. And even that term Christ, that's a term for the Son as he has become incarnate. And that gives us a clue that even from eternity God has willed to save us through his Son becoming a man like us. And so, for that and other reasons we confess that, even in eternity, God willed Christ to come, to go to the cross and to accomplish the things that he has. And this makes sense with what we find in the Gospels. How many times in the Gospels does Christ speak about coming to do his Father's will? Christ didn't just show up on the scene and do what he wanted. He came into this world in order to fulfill what had already been established long before he came, even from outside of time, from all eternity. And Jesus prays—I think of his great High Priestly Prayer in John 17—he says that "Father, I have glorified you by finishing the work that you gave me to do," and now he asks that the Father would glorify him again with that glory he had from the beginning of the world. So, there we see that from all eternity, God's counsel for our salvation was centered in Christ, centered in him coming and fulfilling the work which he did, and then being glorified because he fulfilled it so faithfully.

Answer by Dr. David VanDrunen

Dr. David VanDrunen is professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California.