The answer to this question is a rather straight forward one: before the foundation of the world. The answer to this question is perplexingly simple. In fact, so simple that many questions we might ask about God’s will bear the same answer.
When did God choose to give the Son all things? Before the foundation of the world. When did God choose to save us? Before the foundation of the world. When did God choose to send the Son to be the Savior of fallen mankind? Before the foundation of the world. When did God choose to crush his own Son for the forgiveness of sins? Before the foundation of the world. When did God choose that day and the cross, those people, and all who will believe yesterday, today and forevermore? Before the foundation of the world.
The answer to all of these questions are all the same because we are speaking about the same God, the true and living God, merciful and mighty. These things were decided in eternity past for eternity future.
You see, God is not like a man in that He must learn. God is intrinsically complete. By His nature, He knows all things about all things. He knows the atomic weight of a Beryllium atom just as naturally as He knows the number of the hairs on your head or the thoughts in your head. Think of it this way, He knows you just as well as He knows His own Son. God knows all and has known all about all, forever. If He did not have this knowledge, He would not be God.
This means that all He knows about you today He has known since before the creation of the world. This means that if you are loved today by God through Jesus Christ, the love that He has for you today is not a new love. It is a love that He had for you before the foundation of the world.
He has always known you and has always loved you. He has not had to learn this love, like we learn to love things in this world.
He has known this love for you in Jesus as long as He has known and loved his own Son, Jesus.
And because of this love for you, before the world began, the Father planned to send his only Son to die on a cross to make atonement for sin; so that sinners who deserve death for their actions may be saved and live because of the actions of the Son. And because of his obedience, even to the point of death, even death on a cross, the Father has given the Son the name above all names. He has given Him all.
We are not made for ourselves. We are made for our God, for His pleasure. He is the Creator; we are the creature. He is the potter; we are the clay. But we may know and experience the love of God, by grace through faith in Jesus. All that is required to know this divine love is to recognize your need of Him, in repenting of sin and trusting in his death and resurrection for forgiveness and eternal life. For those who come to Jesus in this way — the only way — may know this as true: that the Father loves you no less than He loves his own Son. It was His love for you that sent the Son. It was Jesus’ love for you which led him to the cross. And it was the Spirit’s love for you which caused Him to come and open your eyes to God, to take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
God loves you, in Jesus, and always has. His love existed before the foundations of the world. And as He loves you in Jesus today, He will so tomorrow and forevermore.
(Jeremy Breland is a farmer in Ruffin and a M.Div. student at Southern Seminary. He can be reached at email@example.com.)