What the Bible teaches us about … Creation

What the Bible teaches us about … Creation

INTRODUCTION.

I don’t expect to deal in detail with this nor do I expect to cover all aspects. I certainly don’t have answers to all the complex scientific or even theological questions that arise.

Creation has been a particularly hot issue for the past 140 years since the publication of Charles Darwin’s “The origins of species by means of natural selection” in 1859.

A dilemma bible-believing Christians face is reconciling what the bible teaches about creation and about what science teaches about the origin of the universe and life itself. Our society has been brought up on the view that says science is in the realm of fact while the bible is just religious narrative but not really scientifically true! However while it may be true to say that the bible is not a science textbook it is not true to say that it is unscientific.

ILLUS.: Simply because we do not use scientific language doesn’t mean we are unscientific. For example, we all talk about sunrise / sunset but we know that the sun is not moving around the earth but that the earth revolves on its own axis and around the sun!!

We are jumping ahead of ourselves.

There are many questions! How did God create the universe? Did he create every different plant and animal directly or did he use some kind of evolutionary process? What about Adam and Eve; are they actual individual people or just representatives? Etc……..

Amongst bible-believing Christians there is agreement on some of these issues and an array of views on some of the others. We can’t possibly deal with all the issues in half an hour. At best we can scratch the surface on one or two.

1. Where does the physical universe come from?

 

Does it really matter where it all came from?

Let’s look and the bible to see what it says – does it give us a clue as to why this is an important issue?

Genesis 1:1   1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (NIV)

Psalm 33:6+9

6  By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

their starry host by the breath of his mouth. …….

9  For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood firm. (NIV)

John 1:3 3 Through him {The Word – Jesus}  all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (NIV)

The implication of these verses [and many others] is that there is nothing that exists in the entire universe that God did not make / create.

We often talk about people as being creative. In some way or other we all have creative ability. Whether it is painting a masterpiece or cooking a meal or writing a poem / letter, etc., we are all creative.

Is this what we mean when we say God is Creator?

Hebrews 11:3

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (NIV)

What the writer is trying to emphasise is that God did not use previously existing matter to make the heavens and the earth.

We see a similar implication in Romans 4:17  ….. the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. (NIV)

{… calls into being that which does not exist … NASB}

{Lit. calls the things that do not exist as existing}

God speaks and things that were non-existent exist at his command!

This would fit with Genesis 1:

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

…..        6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse ……And it was so.

8 God called the expanse “sky”. ….

9 And God said, ………. And it was so. …………..

When we are creative we use existing material – BUT when God creates there was nothing to begin with and he makes something!

This means that before God began to create the universe, nothing else existed except God himself.

Psalm 90:2             2  Before the mountains were born

or you brought forth the earth and the world,

from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (NIV)

Why is it important whether God created out of nothing or not?

  • If we say God didn’t create ‘out of nothing’ we would need to say that some matter has always existed and is eternal like God. This would challenge God’s independence and sovereignty, and that he alone is to be worshipped.
  • If matter pre-existed apart from God what right would he have to rule over it or use it for his glory?
  • What confidence could we have in a God who didn’t have sovereign, creator power over everything?

That God did create the universe out of nothing gives it meaning and purpose.

[Come back to this in a moment!]

2. What about the Spirit world?

The verses we have already read imply that God not only created the earth but also the heavens with all that is in them.

Nehemiah 9:6

6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their [starry – not in original] host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes [hosts] of heaven worship you. (NIV)

‘Hosts’ usually refers to angels!

In the NT the creation of invisible heavenly beings is affirmed – Colossians 1:16

16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (NIV)

3. What about people?

What is different about the way God created Adam and Eve to the way he created everything else?

With everything else in Genesis 1 we read “and God said, … and it was so.”

But look at Genesis 2:7   7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (NIV)

God creates Adam in a very personal way.

After that God creates Eve Genesis 2:21-22            21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.             22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (NIV)

It seems apparent from what follows that God must have let Adam know something about what had happened to him Genesis 2:23

23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” (NIV)

Many sincere Christians hold quiet differing views about the process of creation in regard to animal and plant life. And to what extent, if any, there is evolutionary process in the development of more and more complex organisms.

Were the Six days of Genesis 1 literal 24-hour days or epochs of time or simply a literary device used by the author?

I am sure we would have many differing views in this room!

In my view, when it come to the creation of man I find it hard to accept that we can hold to the truthfulness of scripture and also hold that human beings were the result of a long evolutionary process.

Genesis 2:7 specifically says that “God formed man out of the dust of the ground” – it doesn’t seem possible to understand that this could have taken place by random evolutionary process over millions of years.

It is even more difficult to see how we could explain Eve’s creation by evolutionary process when she was created directly from Adam’s rib while he slept!

The NT reaffirms the history of the creation account – 1 Corinthians 11:8

8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;

The special creation of Adam and Eve shows us that while we may have some physical similarities to the animal world we are very different!

WHY? – We are created “in God’s image” – We were created in some way to mirror what God is like!

How does that fact that people are created in God’s image affect our view of humanity?

Every person is significant – everyone is of value {A future study on the essential nature of man}

4. What about Time?

If God created everything and existed before anything was created what does that tell us about time and God’s relationship to it?

God lives in eternity – he has a different kind of existence – he exists outside the passage of time. A kind of existence that is difficult for us to imagine.

Job 36:26     26  How great is God — beyond our understanding!

The number of his years is past finding out. (NIV)

Psalm 90:2+4 2  Before the mountains were born

or you brought forth the earth and the world,

from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

4  For a thousand years in your sight

are like a day that has just gone by,

or like a watch in the night. (NIV)

Revelation 1:8 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (NIV)

God is Lord of Time – What implications should that have for our lives?

We have an obligation before God to use his gift of time wisely and for his glory.

5. Creation is distinct from God yet always dependent on God.

 

There are two words that are used in respect to God’s relationship to creation – What are they?

Transcendence – meaning? – God is far ‘above’ [not physically] creation in the sense that he is greater than the creation and independent of it.

Immanent – meaning? – God is involved in his creation – it continually depends on him for its existence and functioning

The story of the bible is the story of God’s involvement with creation and esp. its people.

Every created thing depends on God for its existence – Job 12:10 10  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (NIV)

Acts 17:25-28 25 And he [GOD] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (NIV)

This shows a God who is very much involved with his creation.

What are the ways we can get the relationship of God to his creation skewed?

Materialism – a common philosophy today – the material world in all there is – the existence of God is denied altogether.

The Universe

If Christians focus almost their entire effort on earning more money and acquiring more possessions they become “Practical” materialists in their activity since their lives would not be much different if they did not believe in God.

Pantheism – the whole universe is God or is Part of God.

Implications? God can change because the universe can change – because evil is part of the universe it is therefore part of God.

Dualism – God and the universe have eternally existed side by side.

No guaranteed that God will triumph over evil.

God is not Lord over Creation.

Implies that evil is part of creation while Genesis says that God created everything GOOD.

Much New Age religion is dualistic – God is just the spiritual aspect to the universe – Satan is delighted that people think there is an evil force perhaps equal to God.

Deism – That God is distinct from Creation [transcendent] – BUT he is not involved with creation [immanent]

Deism removes the possibility of a day by day relationship with God.

6. Why did God create the universe and everything in it?

 

Revelation 4:11

11  “You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honour and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they were created

and have their being.” (NIV)

Isaiah 43:7

7  everyone who is called by my name,

whom I created for my glory,

whom I formed and made.” (NIV)

7. Why is a belief in creation important for Christians?

  • Makes us realise the material universe is good in itself because God made it so and wants us to use it in ways pleasing to him. Christians should be good environmentalists – while not worshipping nature.
  • We should enjoy creation and all the good things God has given –
  • It should encourage some Christians to do scientific and technological research – through this we discover how wise and powerful and skilful is our creator Psalm 111:2        2  Great are the works of the LORD;

they are pondered by all who delight in them. (NIV)

  • It reminds us that God is sovereign over everything – we can have complete confidence that he will ultimately defeat all his enemies and show his Lordship forever.
  • God has given us creative ability – we can wholeheartedly enjoy creative activities – art, music, sport, handcrafts, literature, etc – and rejoice that our creator God enables us to imitate him in our own creativity

ILLUS.: Woodpeckers hammer an average of 15-16 times a second. That’s nearly twice as fast as a sub-machine gun fires.  That’s incredible.  The bird’s head, when it’s doing this, is travelling at more than twice the speed of a bullet.  The force, as it comes and hits the tree, the force of the woodpecker’s head is moving at 1000 times the force of gravity when it hits.  That’s like if you’re setting in one of those Apollo moon rockets, ready to go somewhere, go up in the space shuttle, it’s 250 times the force they feel.  Question:  What keeps the woodpecker from beating its brains out?  God does.  God did it!  First of all, He made the woodpecker with a really hard head.  He gave them a chisel tipped beak so he could be more efficient.  He also put on the woodpecker, unlike other birds.  You know how you use a chain saw, the stuff flies over?  The same thing happens in a smaller way with a woodpecker so over his nostrils he’s got feathers, sort of a little filtering system like I have a filter on my chain saw so that he doesn’t breathe in all the stuff.  Between the beak and the brain of a woodpecker, unlike any other bird, there’s a shock absorber, a tissue that God has put there that’s literally a shock absorber.  Scientists look at it and agree that it’s better than any shock absorber they’ve come up with.  In fact, God has also made the woodpecker so that it has different neck muscles than other birds.  The neck muscles are able to lock in.  If you’re going that fast and accidentally turned your head, it could really hurt!  So God made this incredible creation.  The woodpecker’s tongue is a whole other sermon!  How did that evolve?  How many woodpeckers would have had to beat their brains out before they developed a shock absorber?  Does this make sense?

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