Pre-Existence (last update to this study in RED was made on 01/06/2007)
One question that has concerned man for ages and ages is, "Where did we come from?" Let's look at this question and see what we can find with inspiration leading and interpretation following in Holy Script.
Scripture teaches the pre-earth existence or "pre-existence" of Spirit. While we are to search the scriptures diligently, we must also not forget to learn to draw the deep things of God out of that inner well (Prov 20:5) and let the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth. We must first remember that it is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings to search out a matter (Prov 25:2). I find the idea of Pre-Existence to be such a topic. The challenge is that we must find what was meant by inspired men and we can only do that by being inspired by the very same Spirit. We must be careful to not read a scripture and in finding what it "could mean", conclude that which it could mean is the real truth.
I do not believe my beginning started in my mother’s womb at the time of conception. Psalms 139 tells us that the LORD has covered us in our mother's womb and that my substance was not hid from him. However my curent understanding is that I had a beginning, I had a time of creation. I am a created being; "Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created." (Ps 104:30).
Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells us that "the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Should we think it strange to consider that the spirit must RETURN unto God? General Douglas MacArthur said those famous words "I shall return" upon leaving the Philippines during WWII and that he did! One can only RETURN by having been there before. In order to return, there is first a leaving or departure, followed by going back. Solomon tells us that the spirit shall return unto God!
Let us read from the book of Jeremiah. The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,.... "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jer. 1:5).
From this verse, the LORD says that before He formed me in the belly, He knew me! Formed me? Interesting that a formation took place in the womb. Scripture has different words for created, made and formed in the Hebrew. Though it seems you can interexchange these in some places in the O.T., it is quite obvious that you CANNOT use 'create' in all places. Scripture can always define itself as usage determines meanings. For example, in Genesis 2:3 it says "which God created and made". Here was find CREATED and AND MADE, two different words. Now if they meant the same thing, God would have stuttered and said "which God created created". It should be easy to see these words cannot mean the same thing in this verse. In fact, the Literal Concordant says CREATES TO MAKE. Another example - try to replace FORMED with CREATE in Isa 44:12 "and FASHIONETH (formed) it with hammers". Clearly the smith did not CREATE it with tongs and hammer, it already existed and required shaping or forming. There are others verses as well that support this argument. Knew me? The LORD knew us before he formed us. Now that doesn't mean He had a foreknowledge of us, simply that he knew how we would turn out in life, etc., though it is true that He knew that too! I am sure the reader has the understanding what this word "knew" often meant in the scripture. I am sure you know (no pun intended) that Adam knew Eve and it meant an intimate relationship, one of knowing by way of relating and having communion and interaction. It is this very same knowing that the LORD had with us before he ever formed us in the belly. Ordained thee? In those verses the Lord is telling Jeremiah that prior to his birth, he was known by the Lord. Some people say this scripture is a reference to the omniscience of God, for God does know everything and everyone. However, if we look carefully at that verse, we realize God is talking about something more than just his omniscience. For example, consider the words 'ordained' and 'prophet'. God not only knew Jeremiah prior to his birth but he ordained him a prophet. The Hebrew word translated ordained means to give or bestow. The verses tell us God knew Jeremiah and gave him the office of prophet before he was born, showing us that Jeremiah lived prior to his birth and received a calling from God.
He knew us by one of experience and he chose us. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: ACCORDING AS HE HATH CHOSEN US IN HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Eph 1:3-4) and "FOR WHOM HE DID FOREKNOW, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son...." (Rom 8:29).
As sons of God, we existed prior to this earthly experience and were with God befoe the creation of this earth. "Now there was a day when THE SONS OF GOD came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them' (Job 1:6). These clearly are sons and not angels or some other explanation offered by tradition. Likewise, God revealed to Job that we witnessed the creation of the earth and rejoiced. "When the morning stars sang together, and ALL THE SONS of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:7).
Permit me to share a brief experience I had when I was a young child. I know the difference between a dream and a vision and this was neither. While sleeping in my bed, I was abruptly taken in the realm of Spirit. At this time I was able to see our planet called earth. I could see our planet called earth! I was out there coming here! I was coming to the earth in Spirit! This was a brief remembrance of a few seconds or so. This was not a result of having a picture in my mind as if I had seen it on TV or something. This was a real experience. I can remember it as if it happened yesterday. It caused me to awake, yet still be somewhat asleep. My parents tried to wake me up by putting my hands in the sink filled with water as well as splashing water on my face. Yet I was still not fully awake. I then turned to my father and said "you will die when you are 42". In the natural, he did not die at 42. I recall some 12 to 15 years later, just months prior to my initial salvation experience, I had asked the Lord what that prior experience when I was young was all about. Though I didn't have any relationship with the Lord, I do recall asking him that question. I have since come to learn of the 42 generation mentioned in Matthew, which is the body of Christ, when we will all come to the end of ourselves and into the fullness of Jesus Christ. My father, as with all men, shall die and come to the end of themselves in the 42 generation. The number 42 has been often used in my life. When born as a baby, I had been weighed at 4 lbs 2 ounces and supposedly placed in an incubator for 42 days. Certainly this doesn't qualify me for anything. I suppose I needed some natural experience to help me believe sometimes.
I share my own personal conviction with this next verse. Have you read Psalms 90:1-3? Moses is the author. It says "LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou are God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men." Now it is often read and rightfully so that the LORD is the subject in verse one and two. The LORD has been our dwelling place and before the foundation of the world, thou are God! But what did Moses have in mind when he wrote this? Read it in sequence, all three verses! First, the LORD was our dwelling place. Second, before the mountains were brought forth, he was God. Third, man is turned to destruction and commanded to return. Have you ever considered that Moses may have had in mind the very thought of our dwelling place in the LORD before the mountains were brought forth and before we were turned to destruction? It may be hard to say as to whether Moses had this in his mind or not when he wrote these words, but it is nonetheless true and it is beautiful consideration this scripture. This is not to suggest we are trying to live in the past but rather we know where we are from, who we are, and where we are going. We are having the Word formed in us but this is not just about returning to an original estate of pure spirit that we had long ago. Oh no, we never had this before! This is not some sort of remembering, though we are to know where we are from. Think of it, if I were to spend all my time recalling the past, I would not be living in the present and miss the very purpose God has for me now. Moreso, to simply return to something we once had makes no sense at all and lacks any meaning or purpose in the original intent. BUT TO RETURN in greater power; to return with newly acquired wisdom and understanding; to return with something that we did not have before; then it begins to have divine purpose! We are having the WORD formed in us, the WORD MADE FLESH in many sons!
In closing, there are scriptures to support the doctrine of pre-existence and I know what I know in my spirit. I also realize many speculate over many things about our pre-existence and I think we would be better to stay clear of speculation and only think on what is revealed to us by the Spirit of God.