Every good story has a good beginning. Consider this line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Can you name this book?*
Do you remember the first movie you ever saw in the theatre? I don’t know if it was my first movie, but I remember being a small kid watching Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The opening music…the way the words scrolled across the screen…and then the camera moved into panning an imperial ship. I was hooked.
What’s one of your favorite movies? How does it begin? One of my favorite movies is Red Dawn.** In the movie’s opening, a high school teacher is giving a lecture on the invasion practices of a medieval army, describing their practices. This foreshadows the films plot and ending. It also shows the beginning of the invasion of WW3 in a small Colorado town.
The Bible has a great beginning too! The opening words are, “In the beginning God…” There’s a lot we can learn from how the Bible begins. What do these 4 words tell us about God and/or the Bible?
- God is eternal. He existed before the beginning. He is the uncaused cause.
- Everything and Everyone was created by God – we owe our existence to Him. We did not arrive by mere chance or random cosmic interchange, we are created with purpose and life has meaning.
- The Bible is God’s story, not ours.
- We, as God’s creation, stand completely dependent upon Him for all things, God is not a being whom we control. He has absolute rule over all of creation (sovereign).
GOD CREATED EVERYTHING (GEN. 1:1-2)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Before we begin, there are many notable theories on why, how, and when God created the universe. We don’t have time to sort each of these out. Many of you no doubt believe God created the world in 6 literal, 24 hr, days. Others of you may not be so sure. Let’s not lose the forrest for the trees here. Let’s spend our time focused on what Genesis and Colossians teach us about God and let’s not try to solve a old scientific/bible debate within the confines of the limited time we have today.
If there was nothing before God created, then a biblical approach to creation means that God created the world out of nothing. (There are several pagan theories concerning the world’s origins. A few of these are listed on p. 8 of your leader guide.) The fact that God created the universe out of nothing separates a biblical worldview from the other creation accounts. Sometimes people try and sound fancy and say, God created the world, ex nihilo, which is simply Latin for “out of nothing”. “This means that before God began to create the universe, nothing else existed except for God himself.”*** This is the direct implication of Genesis 1:1.
Psalm 33:6-9 says it is a similar fashion. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.“
APP: Because God created out of nothing, creation has MEANING and PURPOSE and points us to the Creator.
Consider Psalm 33:8-9 How do these verses shed light on our meaning and purpose?
Let’s consider now v. 2. Consider the principle stated in this lesson on p.9 of your leader guide (p. 12 DDG). “By starting with chaos and darkness, God gives us a template for how he works in the world. He’s powerful enough to create in an instant, but more often than not, He uses a process.”
This fact has implications for our lives that we may not first consider.
Paul uses Genesis 1:1-2 and equates the power of God speaking light into a chaotic and dark world with His speaking the light of the gospel into each of our lives! Same power. Same type of movement. From darkness to light.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6 – 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
There are parts of our salvation that are a process as well. Some things occur instantaneously, (justification, adoption, etc.) yet others take time, like sanctification.
Consider Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a woodwork in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
GOD CREATED EVERYTHING GOOD (GEN. 1.3-13)
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. 6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. 9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
Paul tells us in Romans that creation displays the attributes of God, “namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” One of the attributes of God we should glean from viewing creation is that He is good and his creation is good. We’ll talk more about the effects of sin on man and creation in a few weeks. Although creation is marred by sin, we should still consider it to be good.
“Even though there is now sin in the world, the material creation is still good in God’s sight and should be seen as ‘good’ by us as well.”
APP: Creation is good, in God’s judgment, because He created if for a purpose that it fulfilled-to REFLECT and DISPLAY the good character of the Creator. God’s people should AFFIRM and seek to PRESERVE the goodness of God’s creation.
This being said, or main objective as believers is to glorify God in all that we do (1 Cor. 10:31) we should not become so “green” that we lose sight of God in the process. The people described in Romans 1 were guilty of such action and this is a subject which plagues our culture as well.
GOD CREATED EVERYTHING FOR HIS SON (COL. 1.15-18)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
We often don’t think of Jesus’ role in creation but we see from these verses that He is intimately involved in account of Genesis 1. But he is!
Paul describes Jesus as “the firstborn of all creation”. This is not to say that he was created first. Jesus is God. He’s just as eternal as the Father (John 1:1). When Paul describes him here using the term “firstborn” the term carries the idea that Jesus is unique in position regarding creation, or that he owns all of creation.
With this understanding, “Living contrary to Jesus’ authority in the world carries with it severe consequences.” We must acknowledge him as Lord, because he is!
Not only is he Lord over creation as “firstborn”, he is also Lord because it was created “through him”. Jesus has what theologians call ‘creator rights’ over all of creation.
What does it mean for us that creation was created “for him”? What does that teach us about ourselves? The things we may own? In short, we do not exist for ourselves. We exist for Jesus.
If Christ truly “holds all things together”, what does this teach us about Christ? His power? Think about this, the only reason we are here today is because Christ wills it by and through his power. If Christ did not desire for us to exist, we wouldn’t. What does this teach us about the grace of God found in Christ? If Christ “holds all things together” what does this teach us about times of trial, tribulation, or difficulty? It reassures us that nothing happens in our lives outside of the control of Christ. Nothing occurs in our lives that surprises God. He gives us the power to walk through difficulty because he is Lord over it.
In summary, our mission, as God’s created beings is to make Christ preeminent in all things.
We will discover together in this journey the story of the Bible.
The story of the Bible: CREATION-FALL-REDEMPTION-RESTORATION. This is the story of JESUS. This is the story that begins with “In the beginning God…”
*Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. Shame on you for having to look! I don’t read fiction books and I still know this one.
**1984. This is the only Red Dawn film. The trash made in 2012 should be called something else. Perhaps Red Trash or Trash Dawn.
***Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. 262; 272.