Christ is the firstborn of every creature.
With that thought we left our discussion last time.
It cannot be a chronological distinction here, as we pointed out. And we may add that in God there never is any chronological distinction as far as His eternal thoughts and desires are concerned. With God you can never speak of this or that arising first or last in His mind from a chronological point of view. We think of various objects or abstract entities in a certain succession of thoughts. As we grow we add to our knowledge of fact. We recall facts in a definite pattern and order. For we are creatures of time, and with us there are matters that must be first in time and last in time. We cannot die before we are born. We cannot be nourished before we eat. And when we make plans, there are always those elements of which we first think and must first be taken care of before we can proceed to other items.
But in the counsel of God all things are first, second, third and so down the line to the last, not in a chronological order but only in a logical order. God is not limited in His thinking so that He has to proceed step by step as we do to realize a plan. There is nothing hid from His mind. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” Acts 15:18. And, if you please, we insist here again that “the beginning of the world” does not have a chronological connotation but a logical one. It is not true that from the moment the world came into being God knew all His works. He certainly knew them before that time as well. And even then we run stuck and find we have not the words for it. There was no time before the beginning. There is no time in God’s being, He is the eternal, the infinite One.
But there is that which is first logically and that which is next because it serves that first mentioned object or reality. There is that which is the goal and that which serves that goal. The first may then chronologically be last as far as the creatures of time are concerned. We do not see the finished house first. We see the hole dug for the basement. We see forms before we see the foundation that is poured into those forms and hardens to be able to support the house. The completed house which we see last is the object that was first in the mind of the architect. He did not begin by thinking of individual stones, and hinges and window frames and the like. What was first in his mind is that completed house. And in time it appears last.
So it is with Christ as the firstborn of all creatures. He appears on our earth and in the sphere of time in the fullness of time. And even then He has not come fully yet but returns in glory and with power at the end of time. All the creatures that are born and how the child sees them in geography as well as history—are born with a view to His birth. They serve His coming in the flesh; and they serve His return at the end of time. He is in the very heart of God’s counsel and does not come to repair what Adam destroyed. He did not come to pick up the pieces where Adam dropped them in the ,fall. You could never, no never, explain Colossians 1:15, if you take that position. Christ was not born before Adam was created in the chronological sense. And Adam was not first in the counsel of God in a logical sense. Christ was.
This is further implied in the statement that we were chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world, or even the statement that we were chosen in Him. He had to be there before we were, did He not, for us to be chosen in Him? How else will you explain Revelation 13:8 which speaks of Him as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Can we bring any chronological distinction in there? Was He as far as the time element is concerned slain from the foundation of the world? Could he as far as the time element is concerned be slain before He is born? Perhaps you say that He was slain in Abel, in all the saints who were persecuted for His sake. But how could they do this for His sake, if He is not yet born? unless, indeed, you agree with Scripture that in God’s counsel He is there as the firstborn of every creature? And how will you explain I Peter 1:20, 21? where we read, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times unto you, Who by Him believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” Here again it is “before the foundation of the world.” We have a tendency—because that is what our flesh wants to believe—to make this “before the founding of the world.” THAT is a time element. Before God created the world, He ordained Christ. Before the creating or founding of the world He chose us in Christ. And although this is certainly true for us as creatures of time to say, God says a whole lot more when He speaks of the foundation. God led His secondary authors to use the noun foundation and not the activity of founding. The meaning is clear: In the logical order of the elements in creation Christ and His Church is before the world and its foundation. The world and all that which it contains, the foundation on which it is laid, all this is secondary to Christ and His Church. It all was created that Christ and His Church might attain to de glory God had decreed for it, and God Himself might in that way receive the glory He had decreed for Himself. The foundation of the world is means to the end of Christ and His Church.
All this cannot be taught in the geography class, we understand full well. But unless it is all in the mind of the teacher, and he has the proper viewpoint of this wide creation, he cannot teach it properly. Unless he sees that this is his Father’s world and belongs to the Church for Christ’s sake and is a wonderful means wherewith the Church is to glorify God, unless he sees that the Church has received it all, that it is the Church’s in order that we may be God’s stewards, he is in no position to teach covenant seed this subject in such a way that the child grows in the fear of the Lord.
This also is so fundamental for a proper exercise of that stewardship, The child must be taught to work in this wide creation with all its resources with a view to that return of Christ. This earth must not be his goal; and this life must not be his aim. He will see men pressing into the service of the flesh all the resources of the world. He will trace the progress of man as in his “great adventure” he invents many labor saving devices and machines. But he will be reminded that he is a steward whose Master comes at the end of time, when all His servants shall have to give an account of themselves. In the history class he may see himself as a pilgrim and stranger with citizenship in an heavenly country; but in the geography class he must see himself as a steward. And of necessity “Man’s Great Adventure” must be shown up exactly for what it is: Man’s Evasion of His Stewardship.
We so quickly forget the very fundamental principles of God’s Word. We read them and pass over them and press forward according to the dictates of our flesh. We read and then quickly go on to more pleasant things when the Word of God declares that God drove man out of paradise, away from the tree of life and from all the beauty and abundance of food to be found in the garden. We quickly put man back in that garden and do our utmost with the earth and its resources to realize another paradise. Wicked men, sons of a haughty murderer invented the harp and organ that man might by them try to escape the curse; discovered the power of fire to melt brass and iron and to fashion tools which would erase to an extent at least the hard labor of the curse and make life more pleasant for sinful man; reached out and took God’s animals, domesticated them for the lust of the flesh and built their tents to avoid the elements which now troubled man. But let us make no mistake about it, man as he is by nature has no right to anything of this earth. That all things are ours and we are Christ’s means that they are not the world’s because the ungodly are not Christ’s. O, indeed God still gives them means that His counsel may be fulfilled. Satan needs life and talents and resources. God gives these to him in order that all the work He has decreed for Satan may be done. But there is no love, grace or mercy of God towards this Son of Perdition in giving him well nigh six thousand years of sickness-free liberty to go about and walk to and fro on God’s earth. It is not that Satan has a right to these things. It is not that the ungodly have a right, ALL things are ours, and we are Christ’s. That principle is behind all Christian instruction in the geography class. They are ours and not the world’s. The world only sins with all these things in that the world never uses them as stewards of God’s goods and seeks consciously and willingly His glory through them.
The purpose of Christian instruction in the geography class therefore must be to point the child to a better inheritance wherein he shall be a better steward. Instruction in geography cannot end with this earth and the fullness wherewith it is stored. It will have to recognize the temporary nature of this present world. It will have to look to Christ. Christian instruction will always have to look to Christ, as we pointed out before. In the geography class, that deals with this earth and all that which it contains, in fact the vast universe in which the earth is the most important planet in the universe, that which Christ shall make of it when He returns belongs to the instruction. And our calling to use it all with a view to that new heaven and earth likewise must be stressed. Men speak of water shortage because of a population explosion. They speak of depletion of minerals and of soil. They advertise their gigantic and stupendous plans for the future. But let the covenant child look to Christ’s coming kingdom. And let him be taught to use this present earth with that which it contains to seek that kingdom of God and its righteousness.
Let the child sing that this is his Father’s world; but let him also look for the world to come which will be his because God is His Father in Christ. Geography is a temporary thing as we know it today. Since the flood we have had a new world. After the return of Christ we will have an entirely different world again. What the child learned about this world from the unbeliever will do him no good in that new world. Let him now be trained for the work he shall do in that new creation. There shall be a perfect creature in a perfect environment serving God as a perfect Steward. Cause the child to long for that day and you have taught him in His fear.