Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The importance of creation

In our evangelism Sunday School class, we’ve been studying through the Two Ways to Live curriculum. It’s an excellent presentation that breaks the gospel down into six basic points. Interestingly, rather than starting with sin, or God’s “wonderful plan” for our lives, The Two Ways to Live outline begins with creation. The first point says “God is the loving ruler of the world. He made the world. He made us rulers of the world under Him.”

Creation is a vital doctrine that we often sell short. In an age of enlightenment, creationism is usually portrayed as primitive, superstitious, and unscientific. Richard Dawkins, for example, calls creationism a “preposterous, mind-shrinking falsehood.” The Bible, on the other hand, actually begins with creation. It’s the first building block of an accurate worldview. Without creation, the rest of the gospel is absurd.

The first verse in the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). There is a remarkable amount of theology and scientific data wrapped up in this verse.

  • The phrase “in the beginning” confirms that all matter did have a beginning. It had a first cause. And there was a pre-existent, intelligent Being who initiated the “beginning” of the world.
  • The statement “God created” is a declarative, matter-of-fact statement. Elohim, the all-powerful God of the Bible, created without using any tools or supplies. He created ex nihlo, “out of nothing,” by the power of His word (Gen. 1:3).
  • The last phrase tells us precisely what God created: “the heavens and the earth.” This is a Hebrew figure of speech called a “merism.” By mentioning the two extremes, it captures everything in between (cf. “morning and evening”). It’s a poetic way of saying “God created everything,” and it summarizes what the rest of chapter one will describe in closer detail.
Now, the question is, are you willing to accept this bold claim in Genesis 1:1? “But it requires a leap of faith,” you say. Yes, I agree. Hebrews 11:3 even states, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” But faith does not contradict reason. We don’t need to jettison our heads in order to believe with our hearts. In fact, I would contend the leap of faith in creationism is far more reasonable than the leap of faith in evolution. When we look at the universe through the interpretive lens of Scripture, we find that every scientific detail makes perfect sense from a creationist worldview. And there are three implications that result:
  • Because God created the universe, it was very good. Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good...” Since God is holy and morally perfect, all the work of His hands must have been good. It is comforting to know that all the sickness, pain, injustice, and disappointment in this world were not part of God’s original design, but a result of man’s fall (Gen. 3). But as God continues His work of redemption through Jesus Christ, He is reversing the curse of the Fall, first in our hearts, and ultimately upon the earth itself.
  • Because God created the universe, it is very sophisticated. The Bible depicts this world as the handiwork of a highly skilled and powerful God. In Psalm 8:3, David writes, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man?” The heavens are just one aspect of God’s creation, but they provide ample proof for an intelligent Creator. Take our sun for example. Jonathan Sarfati explains that our sun is an extremely powerful object, often throwing out flares, and occasionally belching out coronal mass ejections (CME). These CMEs cause huge electric currents in the earth’s upper atmosphere and disrupt power grids and satellites. But compared to other stars, the sun turns out to be ‘exceptionally stable.’ If the sun were to erupt as frequently or intensely as most other stars, the ‘superflares’ would destroy the earth’s ozone layer with catastrophic results for life. It is no coincidence that we are located at just the right distance from such an exceptionally stable star. This is the handiwork of our Master Architect.
  • Because God created the universe, we are answerable to Him. He made us, and thus He has the authority to tell us how to live, what to do, and what not to do. God had the prerogative to command Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28), then later to stipulate, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen. 2:16-17). Likewise, as our Creator, God has the right to command us to “be holy, as He is holy” (1 Pet. 1:16), and to judge us when we rebel against Him. As His creatures, we are answerable to Him, and deserving of His punishment when we fail. And this, of course, explains why so many reject creation today: because creation involves accountability to a Creator.
Next Wednesday, I will continue this study on creation, considering how God created the world, and whether or not He did it in six literal days.


David said...

Wow, great article. I think those who reject creation do so for your last point: They don't want to be accountable to a creator. We don't by nature want to be holy.

The doctrine is also important because of Christology. Christ not only came into our world, he pre-existed our world.

I was once walking through a youth camp and heard a bunch of counselors saying: "We don't know, maybe God created the world in thousands or millions of years. After all, a day is like a thousand years to God."

I stopped and asked: "So when God rested on the Sabbath, do you think he rested for thousands of years? And why does it say the beginning and end of each day?"

(Guess I'm addressing the subject early, but I fall pretty hard on the literal six day creation)

Stephen Jones said...

Thanks for your input, David. You're absolutely right. Creation is vital to our Christology too:
John 1:3 "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."
Colossians 1:16 "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible...all things have been created through Him and for Him."
If the OT says that God created the universe (Gen. 1:1 et al), and the NT says that Jesus created all things, then Jesus must be the eternal God.
We'll talk a little more about the six day creation view next week. :)