Editor’s Reflections -- By: William David Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 22:4 (Autumn 2008)
Article: Editor’s Reflections
Author: William David Spencer

Editor’s Reflections

William David Spencer

The Book of Genesis opens with the words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (my trans.). Since God is eternal, what “beginning” can the text be discussing? Certainly not God’s. God is always existing, which is a concept absolutely inconceivable to us finite creatures who know only beginnings and endings, breakings down and startings up, all of which are limited by time. Obviously, then, the “beginning” Genesis describes is ours—the book commences with the creation of our world. Its opening tells us nothing about pre-creation other than to affirm the fact that God was already there. If it did tell us more, it would have begun in an entirely different way, say, “Long ago, before anything was created, the Great Triune God forever lived in perfect love, peace, and unity in an eternal day without morning or evening, constantly communicating that perfect love among the persons of the Godhead. Verily, this is what the Trinity was like before there was creation and incarnation . . .” and then a lot of details.

Jesus once commented to Nicodemus, “If I spoke to you about earthly things and you do not believe, in what way can I tell you about heavenly ones that you will believe?” (John 3:12, my trans.). John seems to adapt and echo this statement in his first letter 4:19, when he asks how someone can presume to love God, acting commensurately with the heavenly realm, when that person does not act in a holy manner within the earthly sphere. We fallen humans have not acted responsibly with the information we have about our own world and, therefore, are not made privy to much information about the heavenly world. Specifically, we are on a need-to-know basis. We need to know what saves us from eternal and temporal destruction and helps us live lives pleasing to God which are helpful, not lethal, to those who share this planet with us. As for information beyond the salvific and practical, God does not choose to tell us much about pre-creation, eternity before there was time. Our knowledge is finite. Nearly everything we know for certain is post-creational. This includes nearly all our information about Jesus. We meet the persons of the Trinity at creation and specifically learn about the One whom we call the Second Person of the Trinity in the incarnation, when God takes on human flesh and becomes God-Among-Us.

The incarnation implements the plan of the Trinity to redeem humanity from the death row of its sins. Jesus takes our place on the execution scaffold and pays our penalty.

Those who lose the truth of the substitutionary atonement, as I wrote elsewhere,You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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