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Firstly, he sees the Father with a purpose in the nature of a design, what we would call a scheme, but the Greek word is not a safe word to use in this connection. In the Greek it means things which are external, which change. "The fashion (schema) of this world passeth away," so that one would not suggest that. What was in the mind of the Father was something transcendent and unchanging, but it was a design, a plan, a purpose, and that purpose was concerning His Son: and in and through and by and unto that Son all the divine thought and intention, purpose and plan was designed. And so, for that purpose, that specific thing, the Second Person in the Godhead becomes the First Begotten. Then, and right up until His resurrection through the Incarnation He was the Only Begotten, but in design He was also to be the First Begotten. In the resurrection He was the First Begotten, and there were those begotten after in Him; but we leave that; that is the other side.
"The only Begotten of the Father," and He became in that sense the Only Begotten Son, and then the Father (I am putting it in our language) as it were, tells the Son the whole plan and purpose, and brings the Son into fellowship with Himself in this, and, in effect, He says to the Son, Now this is My plan, My design, My purpose, My will FOR YOU; and it is all for You, and it is all to have its fulfilment in You and for You and through You. The whole universe is to be involved, and I gather it up for You and unto You to work it out through You. ("All things have been delivered unto Me of My Father" - "For unto Him, and through Him and by Him were all things created.") And now, says the Father in effect to the Son, It is Yours, it is for You ultimately, finally, consummately. It is for You, and I secure it in You; it is Your inheritance as Son and Heir. ("Whom He appointed heir of all things.") Now you undertake the realisation of it, whatever it costs; and there is, as it were, the Divine glance down the ages, and the dark shadow crosses the path, the shadow of sin, an apparent breakdown, an arrest, a coming in of sinister elements and of the issue and consequence, and the necessity for the Cross. And the Father says, "Yes, do You accept that?" "Yes, I accept that and enter right into that now in all the pain and the passion and the agony of it." And "The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world."
Calvary became in eternity a realised thing before ever it came forth into time. The whole thing is gone through with the Son in prospect and committed unto the Son. You read those wonderful passages that come through Paul (and I assume that Paul had at least a very real hand in the writing of the Hebrew letter - if it were not his own hand it was as near his own dictation as could be) which take you back there and tell you, "Thy throne O God is for ever and ever."
Concerning the Son, read that marvellous first chapter of Hebrews again, and see what He says of the Son; and then take the first chapter of Colossians and see again back in eternity, what the Father is committing unto the Son, including in the Son, determining for the Son, and through the Son, and all ultimately unto the Son. Then first of all towards this realisation is the creating of the ages, and the Son does it unto a Purpose; the Son comes forth and creates the ages - "By Whom He created the ages." The Son created the ages unto a specific thing which the Father had registered for Him in Eternity as His Son.
Now that is one side. It is a marvellous thing which would occupy and fascinate us, and I think move us tremendously if we were to stay with it long enough, and you know the grip of a thing like that, how difficult it is to pass on when it is breaking upon you all the time. No wonder he said, "A Hebrew of Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised the eighth day," - "what 'piffle' compared with this! I count all that the utmost refuse that I MAY KNOW HIM!" - he is seeing this vast thing - I AM, JESUS, before Times Eternal, with all this meaning of the Father, and much more.
But, beloved, there is the other side of this twofold thing. Oh, wonder of wonders, he sees that the realisation of this was not just the Son in an isolated capacity, not the Son by Himself, One alone, a Unit in the universe to have all this for Himself, but it is the Son in a corporate capacity! That word corporate is losing its force and power, and I am foraging around to find a better word for "corporate" that will revive the meaning of it - the inclusiveness of the Son - and Paul sees. Yes, the Father made a covenant with the Son. The Father came to an understanding with the Son. The Father did all this with and for the Son, but, at the same time, when the Father chose the Son the Only Begotten, chose Him deliberately, and the Son entered into the choice of the Father, when He had done that, the next step was to be, "we were chosen in Him (the Son) before the foundation of the world."
"We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world"; and then a whole system of activities was projected called, "the works of the Son." Have you fathomed the works of the Son? Have you ranged the works of the Son? And these works were settled before the foundation of the world. The works were set and fixed and finished that we should walk in them - finished before the foundation of the world (Eph. 2:10, Heb. 4:3, &c.) There is a vocation settled in eternity; there is a kind of conduct, a nature of procedure, a system of activities out from God in the Son all ready prepared that we should walk in them. And then something more. The Son, "the express image of the Father's glory" (Hebrews, Philippians), in the form of God - ("Who being in the form of God") - the Son in the likeness of the Father, an express image, or eikon, representation of the Father, of course containing also, as the extra phrase has it, "the very underlying essence of His substance," but in presentation, or representation, of the Father; that is the Son.
Now listen - "we were foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son." Is not this mighty? Is not this wonderful? Not that we shall partake of the essence of deity, but that we shall be a manifestation, expression of His glory, of His nature, a reproduction of God in glorified human form - The Son Incarnate - glorified humanity expressing the very likeness and image of God; in that realm becoming the "Archetypal" Man, the Supreme Head, into which all are to be conformed; fore-ordained away back there in the Eternal Counsels, the Father and the Son and the Spirit in counsel, and the Father, as it were, revealing the design, the Son entering into it, and the Spirit co-operating as the Executive in all this. But we were in it, and in the fore view we were chosen in Him, and fore-ordained to be conformed to the image of His Son. What a background! What a thing to miss! What a motive for our being at all! What a key to our existence! Does anyone ask, "Why was I born? I never was consulted as to whether I should come into the world. Life is an awful enigma and full of pain. Oh that the darkness had covered me on the day of my birth!" So some talk. Oh beloved, let him who knows a little of Him speak to your heart and take you into this. But one wants to come to a very practical proposition, and I shall have to close almost at once. You see we were foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son. That is in the Purpose of God, a people, a race, represented in Jesus Christ in an inclusive representation, sharing His Life, sharing God's Eternal Purpose which is in Him, inheriting His heritage in God, secured in Christ through faith and ultimating in His likeness.