As I stood before God this morning…

Every morning I can imagine myself being ushered into God’s presence and there I stand before him. Scripture tells me what he sees, too. He sees me as both son and sinner. I’m his son (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26, 1 John 3:2); I’m also a sinner (1 John 1:8).

He sees us from two points of view. We’re still helpless sinners in constant need of rescue and forgiveness (Ephesians 2:1-5), but we’re also “holy and blameless in God’s sight,” and it’s a pleasure for him to call us his children (Ephesians 4:4-7). I see both, then, just as God does, when entering his presence. I accept the fact that, being his adopted child already, I’ve already got his full love and mercy; but I also accept I’m still a sinner so I need his mercy every day, too.

It brings to mind why Jesus died for us. It wasn’t only to rescue us from our sins (Colossians 1:21-22), it was also to make us God’s children (Ephesians 1:5-7). It’s for both reasons he died for us, so we take both with us when entering God’s presence.

To focus on only one of them messes things up for us, because how can we stand before God with confidence if we think God only sees us as sinners? But just as important – how can we stand before God with confidence while taking sin lightly? God certainly doesn’t take sin lightly. Instead, he exalts the humble, like the publican in Luke 18 who readily admitted he was a sinner in need of God’s mercy when he came before God in prayer, and he “went home justified before God” (Luke 18:14). He left God’s presence feeling utterly reassured.

We can enter God’s presence with confidence, then, when we see ourselves as sons and sinners. Not just as sons because that could get us thinking, “So what if I sin? I’m God’s son, he loves me regardless of what I do” – which is true – but using sonship to excuse away my sin makes entering God’s presence embarrassing. On the other hand, seeing myself only as a sinner doesn’t help either, because that could get me thinking, “So what if I’m his son? No Father could love me the way I am” – which is also true, God hates sin – but using my sin to say God is unable to love me as a son, how can I ever enter his presence with any kind of confidence thinking that?

God’s Word is clear, however. We are sons despite our sin. We are also sons who can admit their sin. It’s accepting that we’re both sons and sinners that enable us to enter God’s presence each morning knowing we’re utterly welcome.


How can God have a “son”?

In John 1:14 Jesus is described as “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Whatever the phrase, “came from the Father” means in the original language, it sounds like in our language that the Father was the source of the Son, or in our terms that Jesus was sired by the Father. But how can God sire a son?

How can God, being spirit, sire a child? That child would be a created being, surely, and therefore not like God at all. God is eternal, so any son of his would have to be eternal, too. The term “Son,” then, can’t be a son as we humans think of sons, as new beings we create, because Jesus wasn’t created. Verse 2 also clearly states he was “with God from the beginning,” so wherever God was at “the beginning” Jesus was with him already. He wasn’t born at some later time, as a new creation. “The Word was God” and was “with God” always, verse 1.

Jesus wasn’t a created being, he was the eternal Word, and as the Word he told us God had a Son. It was a startling revelation to the people of his day, because here was Jesus, a human being, with edges and skin like any other human, stating to all and sundry that God had a Son, and that Son was him. To the Jews back then it was blasphemy. God was one, and he’d always been one (Deut 6:4, Isaiah 40:25).

The idea that God could be two – well the Jews had never heard of such a thing. But here was Jesus saying, “I and my Father are one,” John 10:30. But how could God still be one with two? Jesus explained: it was in their relationship. The term “Son” made that clear. It showed that “God” wasn’t a singular Being on his own, he was, instead, a loving Father/Son relationship, and it was in their relationship together that two had become one – just as the Bible says husband and wife become “one.”

In the Bible, then, two can become one based on their relationship. And it’s love that does it, as Jesus made clear when he said “you (referring to the Father) loved me before the world began,” John 17:24. That’s an amazing verse. It not only tells us Jesus existed before the universe was created, it also tells us God existed in relationship. God had always been a loving Father/Son relationship. And they were still in that loving relationship when Jesus was here, too: “I love the Father,” he said in John 14:31, and “the Father has loved me,” John 15:9. That’s what’s made them one forever.

Who and what is Jesus now?

According to John chapter 1, Jesus has always been “the Word.” He’s called the Word because it’s through him that God expresses and reveals himself. All we need to know about God, therefore, is revealed by the Word. He is the full expression and revelation of God. In our terms, the Word “shows and tells” us what God is really like.

We need look no further than Jesus the Word, then, to get an accurate picture of God. The Word is, and always has been, God in all his glory, but he’s also the one through whom God reveals his glory. And that’s why the Word came as the human Jesus, to reveal that glory of God to us. He was still “the Word,” being what he always was, and doing what he’d always done. As a human, therefore, nothing changed. The Word took on a human body, yes, but his eternal purpose of revealing God remained exactly the same.

As the Word in human form, Jesus was perfectly equipped to make God and his purpose crystal clear to us. Everything he said and did was a perfect representation of God. It didn’t matter that he was human. It didn’t limit his ability to be the Word. The Word was the full expression and revelation of God in whatever form he was in. Human or spirit, the Word expressed and revealed God perfectly. In Jesus, therefore, we see and hear God, and even though he was only a short time with us, Jesus was still able to show us all we need to know about God, John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” As the Word, Jesus came to us full of God’s grace and truth. But that’s because he’s “the Word.” That’s his glory, it’s revealing God in full, in all his grace and truth, and we humans “see that glory” when we accept and believe that’s what he came as the Word to do (verse 12).

Revealing God in full has always been the Word’s glory, though. It was his glory before humans existed and his glory ever since. It was his glory while he was human himself, and his glory now he’s back to “full power” again. In whatever form he’s in, human or spirit, his purpose never changes. He keeps on doing what he’s always done. Through him we know God, in full. And in that we can trust: we have God’s Word on it.

When did God’s plan for us begin?

At what point in eternity did God get the idea of creating human beings? I ask for my own peace of mind because if I haven ‘t been the apple of God’s eye forever, what am I instead? Am I merely a “fun project” God came up with to keep himself amused (with all that time on his hands), or am I an experiment God simply wanted to try, or maybe just a thought that hit God out of the blue one day that seemed like it had potential?

Am I an afterthought, that’s what I want to know? Am I just another idea God had, or merely a trial run for a “much improved” creation in the future, perhaps? If so, I could legitimately wonder if God has other projects on the go that also came to mind at some point in eternity. Perhaps there are other creatures he’s developing, other universes and other dimensions he’s tinkering around with, and we’re just one of many designs he’s trying out. Or what if we’re actually a failed experiment he’s about to chuck out?

Or has God always dreamed of human beings – as his ultimate project? Paul certainly thinks so: “God saved us according to his own purpose and grace, which was granted us in Christ FROM ALL ETERNITY,” 2 Timothy 1:8-9. In other words, there was never a time when God hadn’t been thinking of us. We’ve been the apple of God’s eye for his entire life. I like that. It means there aren’t any other creatures some place else he’s working with, no other great plan afoot, no other universes, no other dimensions – we’re it! Because we’ve always been it. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself,” Ephesians 1:4-5. Not some other creature; it was always “US.” We’re the plan because we’ve always been “The Plan.” God intended to adopt us as his children for as long as he can remember.

And how important has adopting us been to him? Important enough for him to die to make it happen. That was in his plan all along, too: “He was slain from the foundation of the world,” Revelation 13:8. Imagine that. He was already “slain” long before humans, and even the universe, existed. So we’re no afterthought. We’ve been worth the life of God for all eternity. He staked his life on our adoption. That’s how important we are to him.