Foundations #1 – Creation

[This is the first in a series of sermons outlining the basic Christian message. The Foundations series is being presented at Gateway Community Church from June 2014]

Reading: Genesis 1:1 – 2:3

In the beginning…

There are seven Hebrew words which lay claim to our lives:

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

Bereshit bara Elohim et’ ha’shamayim w’et h’aretz

These are first seven words of the Old Testament. They are the most profound explanation of who we are, and where we have come from. They are the ground of all we now about God, our world, and what God is doing in our world.

If we want to understand Christianity, if we want to have the best foundation to understand the message of Christianity, this is where we start.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

From a Christian point of view, there is no other way to understand the universe than to say ‘God created it’.

We all know there are differences of opinion here. Six day creation. ‘Long day’ creation. Theistic evolution. Full on evolution. And a myriad other positions across that spectrum.

Just so I make myself perfectly clear, I want to make the following statements very directly.

• I am a card carrying creationist

• I am not a theistic evolutionist

• There is no way to harmonise the larger scheme of evolution with the Biblical assertion of creation.

• Creation is not a myth. It is reality

Creation is as historically real as the history of the Jews and our present moment of time. Both the Old and the New Testaments deliberately root themselves back into the early chapters of Genesis, insisting that they are a record of historical events

– Francis Schaeffer

Having said that, we need to understand some important things about Gen 1. The author of Genesis wrote so the people of his day would understand their origins. Genesis is ancient writing for an ancient people.

The implications are obvious. The author did not intend for his writings to be understood in 21st Century scientific categories. If he did, his writings would not have been understood by his original hearers. So we need to be careful about reading our science and our 21st Century worldview back into these words.

There is great pressure to do this. Many Christians want to prove that creation is scientifically defensible. And while it’s good to understand these verses as best we can, when we try to force them into western scientific categories, we admit that unless we can do that, they are open to question. And by doing that we make God’s word dependent on western scientific theory.

God’s word, however, stands above science. Ultimately, science cannot contradict God’s word, because if there is any truth in the world, any truth at all, it is because the God of truth has put it there. And where we cannot harmonise what science says with what God says, we continue to seek answers, but also admit the failings of our own minds.

Competing views of creation are not inventions of our secular age. They have always been there. Even when these words were first written, the Canaanite peoples also challenged the truths in Genesis 1. Those other creation stories saw the world coming into existence through cooperation between the various gods, or it involved conflict among them; the world coming into being as a result of arguments and fights among the gods.

In contrast, Genesis 1 tells the Israelites that it actually came into being as a result of the cool, planned, systematic, sovereign activity of God so that “the heavens and the earth” are one “cosmos,” one coherent whole.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

This we believe.

But if it’s all we believe, we only have a portion of the story.

Accountability

The Bible gives us an additional angle: God did this work of creation through his Son, through Christ.

So it’s not just creation that messes with our independent mindset. It’s also that the divine Son, even before he took on humanity, is the agent of creation.

The Bible says

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NIV)

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:15–16, NIV)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1–3, NIV)

God created the universe through his Son.

There is a confronting implication to this: As creatures we are accountable to our Creator.

Think of it this way: when you’re at work, to whom are you accountable?

So, if the boss says “I want you to do this today” you have to do it. You’re not free to do whatever you want, even though it might be a smashing good idea. Of course not. Your responsibility is to do what the boss says.

Or imagine you have a car, and you’re down at the river, and you think, “I’m sick of driving on these roads, I want to drive in the river.” So you drive down the boat ramp, and away you go. Or, down you go. Unless you are driving one of these [amphibious Lotus Esprit – from the 1977 James Bond film, “The Spy Who Loved Me”]…

Here’s the point: You must use the car within its specifications. If you don’t, you could wreck your car. And you might die.

In the same way that you are accountable to the boss: he owns the workplace, and your accountable to do what he says by reason of the fact that you are his employee,
so also: You are accountable to God. He created you. He created your world. He created your universe. It belongs to him. You belong to him. You are on his time, and in his place.

Also, in the same way that you must use your car in accordance with its specifications, you are called to live and operate according to the maker’s instructions. According to what God says. Otherwise you could wreck your life, or die, or both.

God is creator, and you are accountable.

Very few people enjoy coming face to face with this truth. But their lack of enjoyment, or even their rejection of that truth does not determine whether that truth is true. You don’t have to understand or accept something to make it true.

Like gravity. You don’t have to understand it, or even believe it to make it real. I don’t get the physics. But every time I step onto a plane, I know that things work to keep the plane in the air. And if foursome crazy reason, the next time I am on a plane, I go crazy and jump out, it won’t matter whether I believe in gravity or whether I understand it, I will still end up a mangled blob on the ground.

Like gravity, creation is an objective reality. It is true whether you accept it or not.

When Paul spoke to the philosophers on Mars Hill, he presented objective realities. Few people accepted what he said. Others mocked. It made no difference to the truth expressed.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” (Acts 17:24, NIV)

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17:27–28, NIV)

Hope

So: God is Creator. The first implication is that you are accountable.

There is a second implication to this truth.

Because this sovereign God created the heavens and the earth, because he rules them, we can have hope that things are not random and out of control. God’s creative act brought order and beauty out of chaos.

I know there is the additional question of, when God’s work of creation was ‘very good’, how come it is not very good now?

Why are there natural disasters, human violence and corruption, disease, pain, and grief. I will start to address these questions next week.

But for now, there is comfort that this same creator God is still working to bring order out of chaos. His plan is to restore his creation and humanity to its perfect and glorious state. That is a wonderful hope.

You don’t have to be a particularly religious person to see that there’s something wrong with the world, and that it should be better.

You don’t have to be particularly negatively minded to know that there’s something wrong with your life, that not all things are right with you, that you should be better, or different, to what you are. Sure, we might have a sense of powerlessness about being able to change, or grow, or do things differently. But that does not stop us yearning for it.

The Good News is we can call on this creator God, on the Son through whom we, our world, and everything in it were created, for help.

Christ the light can shine into our darkness.

If your life is dark and desolate, if your life is out of control, if there is no light in your life, but only darkness, and there seems to be no hope — turn to this Creator God!

Christ the Creator, can bring order out of our chaos.

If your life is a mess, if things are upside down, if everything has gone to custard, you can call out to this God who created all things through His son.

Call out to the Son for help.

Call out for him to bring order to your life.

If Jesus Christ can bring order to a formless creation, he can do the same in your life, can’t he?

This is his work. This is what he loves to do!

That is good news!

And it comes through Christ the Creator!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Today, God seeks to re-create your life. In Jesus he has the desire, the power, and the opportunity to do so. The very same power that flung the stars out into the unfathomable, expanding universe while orchestrating life in the irreducible complexity of the cells of your body will act on your behalf when you turn to him (Kent Hughes).

Knowing what we do, it sounds almost unbelievable that the Creator of the universe would give any thought to you, your life, your future, your needs.

But this is what he says.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8, NIV)

“…Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty … All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:35–37, NIV)

He will turn your night into day through his word.

He will reorder your broken life through his word.

He will bring form out of chaos through his word.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: