“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Were We Pre-existing Spirits Before the Creation, and Was Jesus the First One Created? (Tom Edwards)
Were We Pre-existing Spirits Before the Creation, and Was Jesus the First One Created?
I had an interesting study with a couple young Mormons yesterday. They had stopped by earlier this week, but I invited them back so that we could talk about each other’s beliefs. It was an interesting conversation; and they were polite, well-mannered, and informative about their doctrines.
Did you know that Mormons believe that everyone who has ever been — and ever will be — has actually already existed in spirit-form before the world began? According to the young men I spoke with, Jesus was the first spirit-being God the Father created; and then all the other spirit-beings were made, which included you and me, along with everyone else who has ever been or ever will be! My two visitors did not know how long ago that actually happened, but it was sometime prior to the creation of the universe; and in that state, we were all supposedly similar to angels!
Out of all those spirit-beings, about a third of them eventually chose to follow Satan in his rebellious ways and were, thus, cast out of heaven.
For the first humans, the spirits of Adam and Eve had been chosen by God to come to earth; and they willingly agreed.
Other spirit-beings also desired to have a home on earth, so they then became the souls within the bodies born.
Reading from one of the Mormons’ pamphlets, entitled, “The Plan of Salvation,” page 2 has a section that answers the question, “Where did I come from?” Here is the answer it gives: “Your life did not begin at birth… Your Heavenly Father created your spirit, and you lived with Him as a spirit before you were born on earth. You knew and loved Him, and He knew and loved you. This period is called pre-earth life. Throughout your pre-earth life, you were taught the principles and commandments that would lead to happiness. You grew in intelligence and learned to love the truth. You were taught about the plan of salvation. During this pre-earth life, Jesus Christ was chosen as the Savior; you learned that through Him you would be able to overcome the effects of your wrong choices. An important part of God’s plan was for you to come to earth to receive a physical body and to learn to make correct choices. You would not remember living in Heavenly Father’s presence, but He would give you the ability to know right from wrong. … In your pre-earth life, you chose to have faith in Jesus Christ and to follow God’s plan. Because of your choices, you were born on earth. Only by making these same choices can you find peace in this life and be able to return to live with your Heavenly Father after this life is over” (pages 2,5,6).
According to the Mormons, the reason why none of us are aware of our previous state as spirit-beings is because of the “veil of forgetfulness,” which God gave us when entering this world, and which was necessary in order that we could benefit from Christ’s sacrifice.
Where, however, do you read of any of this in the Bible? Does it give any indication that Jesus was created and, therefore, has not always been? And that we existed in spirit-form prior to the creation?
Was Jesus Created?
The passage the Mormons cited to allege that Christ was created is Colossians 1:15 that speaks of Him as being “the firstborn of all creation.” James Strong, however, shows that the Greek word can be used literally or figuratively. And in the context, it expresses not merely first in time, but first in greatness, in the sense of having a superiority over all.
In Old Testament times, when a father “wills what he has to his sons,” the firstborn was to receive “a double portion of all” that his father had, “for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn” (Deut. 21:15-17). So this right of the firstborn gave him a preeminence over his siblings; and that idea of a higher rank or superior position is also the way “firstborn” is figuratively used in Psalm 89:27, where God says of David, “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.”
The context of Colossians 1:15 also implies this figurative usage in Jesus being “the firstborn of all creation.” For the passage shows Him exalted above all creation and gives good reasons for that: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1:16-18).
The very phrase having “first place in everything” expresses preeminence, that exalted and superior position over others.
The passage begins by saying that “by Him all things were created.” This corresponds with what John says of Jesus in John 1:3: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” And wouldn’t that also be a good reason for the Lord to be exalted over all that has been created — since He is the Creator of all?
Like the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe that Jesus was a created being before the world began; so in their New World Translation of the Bible, Colossians 1:16 is rendered as, “because by means of him all OTHER things were created in the heavens and on the earth…” (emphasis mine). By their usage of the word “other,” it twists the passage to fit with their doctrine that Jesus was the first one created, and then He created everything else. For, otherwise, if all created things were created by Him, then He would have had to also create Himself. So the Jehovah’s Witnesses use the word “other” to exempt Him from that and conform the verse to their wrong belief. We should all, however, take heed to the warnings in the Bible of not tampering with God’s word by adding to or taking away from its teachings and, thus, perverting it and bringing upon ourselves the wrath of God (cf. Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Jn. 1:9; Rev. 22:18,19).
Looking to the Scriptures, Jesus is shown to have always existed. Though His physical body had a beginning when born of the virgin Mary, yet He is actually “…from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2); and though inconceivable to us, it appears from John 8:58 that He was filling all eternity at that very moment — and still is. For in this passage He says of Abraham, who lived about 2,000 years prior to this statement, that “Before Abraham was born, I am.” Also, in Revelation 22:13, Jesus refers to Himself by saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” which also expresses His eternal nature. And just as we know that there will be no “end” to Jesus’ existence, the same is true when we also try to look back to His “beginning” — for that also stretches throughout eternity.
Consider also Hebrews 7:3. It speaks of Melchizedek being “like the Son of God” in the sense of “having neither beginning of days nor end of life”; but in Melchizedek’s case, it figuratively conveys that his serving as a priest was not based on his ancestry — “Without father, without mother, without genealogy” — which would have been required for the Levitical priesthood and would disqualify one without that genealogical record of proof, as it did with those in Ezra 2:62: “They searched among their ancestral registration, but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood.” While these phrases are used figuratively with regard to Melchizedek, they are literal when referring to Jesus. His eternal existence did not come about through a father and mother; so He is, therefore, without genealogy.
That the Lord Jesus Christ has always been is truly an amazing characteristic that also indicates His superior greatness! What other religious leader could even come close to that?!
Did We Exist Before the Creation?
But what about man existing in spirit-form prior to the creation? Is that so?
God is spirit (Jn. 4:24), and “…a spirit does not have flesh and bones…” (Luke 24:39). So when man was created in God’s “image,” according to His “likeness,” as seen in Genesis 1:26,27, that pertains to the spiritual part of man, his soul, that entity that will never cease to be — rather than merely his temporary physical appearance, his body. Therefore, being created in God’s image does not mean that He necessarily looks like a human.
But if we were already spirit-beings prior to the creation, why would that spirit part of us need to be created again — rather than just simply be put into the body?
It can also be said that when we were formed in the womb, our souls or spirits for those bodies were made morally pure, innocent, without sin. Some have referred to this as man’s “original righteousness.” Solomon declares, “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices” (Eccl. 7:29). This same verse is also rendered as, “…We were completely honest when God created us, but now we have twisted minds” (CEV); And that “…God made people decent, but they looked for many ways to avoid being decent” (God’s Word).
Due to having corrupted our spirits (our souls) by transgression, which every accountable person has done, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), there is, therefore, that need to be made pure again — and just as pure as when we were first born into this world as those innocent children of whom belongs the kingdom of God (cf. Mark 10:14,15).
Paul also speaks of that need to get back to the “likeness of God” as we “lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24).
From these passages, we can see that the soul or spirit of man is much more than merely the body. This is also clearly seen in Matthew 10:28, in which Jesus encourages His followers by saying, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
But if man were a pre-existing spirit-being prior to the creation of the universe, why would Genesis 1:26,27 indicate the spiritual part of man also being made on the 6th day of the creation?
Though you might read it in other books, nowhere does the Bible say we existed as spirit-beings prior to the creation of the universe.
And what we each need to be concerned with now is making sure that our souls, which will never cease to be, will end up in the right place where we would want to spend an eternity. The choice is up to us. God has made the way that every lost soul can be saved, but we must be willing to comply with His plan of salvation, as shown toward the end of this bulletin. So if you haven’t done that yet, please give it some serious thought — and know that if you do become a Christian, you’ll never regret having done so in the Judgment Day!
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)