April 22, 2018
Again, we find ourselves looking at a pretty narrow slice of the Scriptures, but given the world in which we live — one that has made a concentrated effort to turn Genesis 1 into just another “creation myth,” I think that it is important that we explore this passage more deeply this morning. As we do, I also want to suggest to you that a right understanding of this verse illustrates what we spoke about last week in terms of the relationship between faith and reason.
But first, I need to be up front with you; I have not always been a 6-ordinary day creationist. It wasn’t emphasized or taught in the church I grew up in and in school I had a healthy dose of evolutionary theory, so, honestly, I didn’t know any different.
In addition, I was always a bit of a “science geek,” which meant I had constructed a kind of “theistic evolution model” which basically stated that God created through evolutionary processes. Then came physics as a major in college for a couple years before eventually switching to English (long story), but that change at the State University I attended also did little to sway my view.
In fact, it would not be until I was in seminary that my view on this would change…but I am willing to wager that the thing that changed by view might surprise you.
Let me start by saying that it was not the work being done in Creation Science that changed my view. Don’t misunderstand me. There is a lot of good science being done from a Creationist -Young-Earth perspective and it is being done by credentialed PhD’s from mainstream universities and their work pokes holes in the evolutionary/big-bang theories.
— There is no evidence in the fossil record for intermediary species; there is evidence of adaptation within a species (sometimes called microevolution), but no evidence of speciation (the accumulation of little adaptations to create a new species. None whatsoever.
— Microbiologists today speak of the “irreducible complexity” of the cell. What that means is that if you take much of anything out…assuming a developing pathway, the cell doesn’t work. Darwin’s whole theory was premised on the idea of a simple cell, but cells are remarkably complex.
— There are patterns found within nature that suggest “random development” is not really the way things could or did develop. The “Golden Ratio,” for example, set by what is called the Fibonocci Sequence…a sequence where the next number equals the two that precede it: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13, etc… infinitely. If you divide a number by its previous number, you find a ratio that is found throughout the world in terms of distances between our eyes in comparison to the width of our head, etc… Further, if you graph this ratio, it develops a spiral pattern that describes everything from the curvature of the double-helix in our DNA, the conical shell of a nautilus, the spiral of sunflower seeds, all of the way up to the spiral nebulae.
I could go on because, at heart, I am still that science geek I was as a kid, I’ve just gotten bigger and have grown up. The point is that there is evidence after evidence that pokes a naturalistic conclusion about the universe full of holes…but that isn’t the reason I became a creationist.
It also didn’t happen because of my Biblical Studies in the Hebrew Old Testament (though it should have).
Now, do understand, while there are godly men and women who hold alternate views of the creation account — things like Framework of Gap theory — all of these views require modern presuppositions to be read into the text and would not have been the reading that Moses’ original audience would have understood. And the bottom line, is apart from modern questions about ancient origins, there is no real “good” reason to read the text as teaching anything other than a creation across six ordinary days with God “resting” on the seventh — setting a pattern of work and worship not found anywhere in nature — for the people.
The text does not open doors for long spacing between days, for random long periods between verses, or for being read as a kind of poetic metaphor…but here are six days marked by the phrase “evening and morning…”
That is not to deny that there is a great deal of structure to Genesis 1, but the language of the Hebrew text presents itself as historical narrative and we ought to read it that way. Further, while some object due to perceived inconsistencies between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, the inconsistencies are small and offer reasonable explanations when chapter 2 is seen as a kind of focus on God’s creation of and establishing the first covenant with mankind.
Further, and this is important — in every other reference that the Bible makes to creation, every Biblical writer assumes that God’s creation took place across 7 ordinary days. So, if Scripture is to interpret Scripture (which is the Reformed Hermeneutic), then we have no basis to look for any other explanation of the Scriptures but taking place across an ordinary week.
As one who holds closely to the doctrine of Inerrancy, like the scientific matter, I could go on and on (and I have in debates), but that too, is not that which changed my view.
What did it? It was the account of Jesus’ first recorded miracle….
You know the account…Jesus was attending a wedding that his mother was hosting in Cana…and they ran out of wine. So, his mom sent the servants to Jesus and he is like, “mom, it’s not my time…” but she insisted that the servants do what he said. So, he had them fill up the purification basins with water and turned that water into wine….and not just an ordinary wine, but the good stuff…
And do you know that the only people who knew what really happened were the servants, Jesus’ mother, and then Jesus and his disciples. Everyone else celebrated the wine and Jesus never went in (or sent someone in) and corrected their misunderstanding.
Why is this important?
It is important because good wine takes time to make — it needs to age, sometimes 10 or 20 years or more…but this wine was brand new.
So, here we find Jesus working his very first recorded miracle, making something brand new that would look old to those looking at it without revelation — just with a naturalistic worldview. And it struck me that in working his first miracle he did something after the pattern of his Fathers first miracle as well.
Bottom line, wherever you fall on the account of Creation this morning, there is no debating that Genesis presents creation as a divine fiat — a miracle of creation where God brought all things into being from nothing by a word of his power.
And this is where this text illustrates last week’s text about faith and reason… Those people who viewed the wine alone would have every ration reason to believe that the wine was old as they were relegated to using Reason alone. Yet, those who Jesus permitted to witness the miracle knew differently. Their reason still told them that good wine is old, but they were given the eyes of faith as well to recognize this to be a miracle which God worked. And thus, when Faith and Reason are held hand in hand together, they paint the accurate picture of the miracle that Jesus worked and — in light of this — it was perfectly rational to recognize the wine to be really new.
Do understand, this does not mean that we do not need our reason; we need both. Reason gives our faith a backbone when defending the faith and it gives our faith teeth when evangelizing. Biblical faith, as I said before, is eminently reasonable.
And thus, “through faith, we understand (comprehend even) that the worlds were created by the Word of God, for that which is seen was not formed from that which is visible.” (verse 3)
Let’s break it down some…
“By faith we comprehend…” We reason, we understand, we give careful thought to…
“that the worlds…” Some Bibles here will render this “universe” — in Greek it is the word from which we get “eons” from…it is an idea that transcends both time and space in ancient Greek thought, something that goes backwards to the “in the beginnings…”
“were created by the Word…” Note, that this is not the word Logos that some of you know, but a more general word here, rhema, which generically means just what it says — God created with words, with speech. He spoke all things into being. Thus God said, “Let there be Light” and there was, “let there be an expanse…” etc… It is a reminder of the power of the word of God and a pointer to the reality that just as God used his Word to bring all physical creation into existence, he uses his spoken word to make his creation new — to regenerate his elect — this is the heart of what Paul writes in Romans 10:17 that “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
But let me apply this further…
Speaking is a deliberate act. God did not speak some words and hope something good would come out of it, but he spoke into being what he wanted to come into being and it took place in accordance with his will (so why again do some people wish to import evolution into the Bible?).
Also, it is a reminder that God’s electing work is a deliberate act as well. Many hear the preached Word, but not all respond because not all are given spiritual ears to hear.
Finally, lest you get trapped into the “Word Faith” Foolishness, God’s words have power because they are being uttered by God…so the power comes from Him and His deliberate act, not from you and your use of words. So, our words, even if we are citing the Bible, don’t carry that same creative power of God…there are plenty of folks around who would tell you otherwise; beware.
So, put the first part together…
“By faith we reason that the worlds were made by the word of God” — So, the reason Creation Science makes sense to you is because you are not just using your reason, you have coupled that reason with faith as well…
then he writes…
“for that which can be seen (the natural world) was not formed from that which is visible.”
In other words, the natural world did not create the natural world. Not only does this verse eradicate the modern theory of evolution and the big bang (which rests on the notion of naturalism and an eternal nature), but it also eradicated the materialistic worldview of many of the Greeks and Romans in the first century. You see, they taught that all things were made of matter and that matter existed within an eternal universe. Even with those more familiar names like Plato and Aristotle, they held that there were supernatural powers of a sort, but they still existed inside of an eternal place — essentially think of the universe being the kitchen in which the supernatural beings made creation out of pre-existing ingredients.
And, if you think about it, the ancient Greek view isn’t too different than the modern view with one exception…in the modern evolutionary view, there are no cooks in the kitchen.
Here, the author again insists that all things were made ex nihilism (out of nothing) by God through his word.
What we observe was not made from bits and pieces of observable things…but by an act of the creator.
Faith and Reason dictate as much.
Okay, this has been fairly academic up until this point, I grant that. So, how do we apply it?
1) Students. Do not back down. It does not matter whether you are in Elementary, Middle, High School or in College, do not compromise what you know to be the truth and do not permit your friends to be led astray by professors and teachers who will tell you that the world has a naturalistic explanation for all things. You will be in the minority, but distinguish yourselves in arguing it well.
2) When you study the Bible, refrain from the temptation to read modern ideas backwards into the Biblical text…this is called “eisegesis” by the way and it is not the faithful way to handle the Word. Let the word speak for itself. Again, we live in a world where people play fast and lose with the Bible; don’t fall into their trap.
3) Do know that there are God-fearing, orthodox Christians who approach the text differently than we do on Creation. Creation is important and is a matter of exegeting the text, but it is not a salvational issue. Do not make this your only test of orthodoxy, you will be in trouble.
4) For those of you who are beyond the classroom and may not feel as if you are being inculcated with unBiblical ideas, recognize that the Word contains the power to change a person’s heart; do not neglect it. It has the power to change yours too. Do not neglect it. Share the Word, share Bibles, and be open about your faith in every aspect of life.
5) Do not attempt to reason apart from faith…your answer will always come out wrong if you do so.