Friday, January 31, 2020

Bird's-eye view of the Bible - the theme of creation

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       Today’s post will continue our bird’s eye view of the Bible by considering the theme of "creation". In our last post, we noted a number of themes we can string together to walk our way through the Bible. To remind readers of what our "bird's-eye view" of the Bible approach is all about, consider the overview picture that I included in the last post below:
As reader's will observe, the theme of "creation" is the first theme we encounter whenever doing any survey of the Bible. As we explore the theme of creation, other important ideas are revealed by God that aid in seeing the underlying unity of all scripture. I'll point out some key headings which should pull everything together under this first theme of "creation". 

1. In order to consider creation, we 
    must first realize there is the 

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     Sometimes skeptics will challenge the Christian with this question: “who made God?” The shortest way to answer this is by pointing out that God had no beginning. Christian thinker Norman Geisler expresses a fuller answer in the following way: 

“He was not made. He has always existed. Anything that had a beginning - like the world - needs a maker. God had no beginning, so God did not need to be made.”    
     The proper way to consider the creation is to begin with the Creator Himself. Genesis 1:1 tells us: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” We can draw conclusions about God by observing all the different effects we see in the world, as well as conclusions drawn from logic, the sciences and history. God has also disclosed truth about Himself in the Bible and through the revelation of Himself in Jesus of Nazareth. 
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     Properly speaking, whatever we conclude about God by way of effects, logic, the sciences and history is a project called "natural theology", made possible by God's general revelation of Himself through those media. As to the specific revelation of God we glean from scripture and the life of Jesus, we call such a project "Biblical theology" and find it is made possible by God's specific revelation of Himself through those avenues. As we pull together what we grasp about God through such resources, here is what we learn about our Creator... 

A. We understand that God is infinite in His attributes. 

     That is, God is all-powerful, everywhere present, all-knowing and exercises His will and wisdom in upholding all that he is made (Jeremiah 10:12; 51:5; Romans 11:36). 

B. God is eternal, that is, He operates outside the confines of time - and thus space. 

     The Bible reveals that God has always existed and no one made Him (Isaiah 44:6). 

C. God is One God, who is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

    What else is there to note about our Creator? God is Perfect. When we say, “God is perfect”, we mean He cannot get any better, or worse, get stronger, nor get weaker, be added unto nor can anything subtract from Him. God was never alone. The Bible reveals that God has always existed and no one made Him (Isaiah 44:6; 1 Timothy 1:17). 

D. Creation communicates to us that God alone is uncreated, and everything else is created. 

    Such thoughts about God all serve to remind us of the meaning behind those first three words of Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning God". Therefore, to begin considering this first theme of "creation", we need to first know somethings about the Creator. 

2. God created and made all things.

      As we noted, whenever we begin to study the Bible, we come across this first theme of  “creation”. What is the difference between “creating” and “making” something? To create something means to bring into existence out of nothing. Whenever someone makes anything, they construct an object out of previously existing material. 

      Let's suppose I gave you this assignment: create whatever comes to your mind out of "nothing". Could you do it? No. If I gave you a piece of paper or any materials, you could perhaps “make something”. Only God can create something out of nothing, give life to that which was dead and provide eternal salvation. We see God first creating the heavens, the earth and the necessary environments for all living creatures. God calls forth all life to live on the earth, in the oceans and in the sky. Human beings have the unique quality of literally having been “hand-made” by God as a special-act of His creative work.

3. God relates to all He has created and made by way of covenants.
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     In addition to knowing what kind of Creator God is, as well as discerning between what it means to "create" and "make", we thirdly note that God is a highly relational God. God relates within Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 
      Since God is relational by nature, it would make sense that He would provide a way to relate to His creation. How could an infinite God relate to our world and us? The Bible reveals that God interacts with everything He has made by way of “covenant”. A covenant is whenever anyone makes a pledge or "binding promise" to fulfill a promise to someone or something. As we will see in our “birds-eye” overview of the Bible, covenants are everywhere. We can note three covenants God established once He had completed the creation – with the second one being our primary focus in this study. 

A. The first of these covenants is called: “the covenant of creation”. 

     Whenever God chose to create our universe, and all that is in it, He as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit made a pledge to preserve it. God’s act of continuing to hold-together all He has made God is at the heart of this first covenant. In other words: God is a God that finishes what He begins. Jeremiah 33:20 mentions this first covenant:

“Thus says the Lord, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time." 

      Other places in the Bible tell us that God keeps His promise to hold together all He is made by "the word of His power" (Jeremiah 10:12; 51:5; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2). 

B. The second covenant (which is our focus in this study) is what Bible teachers call: “the covenant of works”. 

     God made this “covenant of works” with Adam and his wife. When God made Adam and then his wife, God placed them in the garden of Eden to relate to Him, and He with them (Genesis 2:15-25; Hosea 6:7). Furthermore, they had “work” to do in Eden, as well as obey the instructions God gave them. God gave the newly married couple everything they needed to fulfill the covenant he gave them (Genesis 2). If they met God's conditions, they would enjoy an eternity with him, ruling the earth and populating the world with other people just like them. 

C. The third covenant is that of marriage. 

      God had made a covenant with the man and his wife in the covenant of works, however, He also designed the covenant of marriage to be between Adam, the woman and God (Genesis 2:23-25). The covenant of marriage establishes the cornerstone for the family. God designed marriage as a life-long relationship between one man, one woman in relationship with Himself (Matthew 19:1-7). Jesus and the Apostles emphasized that marriage was meant to picture how God relates to His people in general and the Gospel in particular (Matthew 19:1-7; Ephesians 5:22-33). 

4. God desired the man and woman 
     He made to respond in faith and 
     obedience in their time of 

God already began to relate to all He created and made by way of covenant. However, He had made Adam and his wife to have a relationship with Him. As you explore the history recorded in the Bible, you find God prompting people to respond to Him in faith, followed by obedience. Each period may look different, but this desire of God for us is the same throughout any given period-of-time. God originally made Adam and his wife without sin. If they trusted Him and obeyed what He commanded in the covenant of works, their innocence would had remained. We could refer to this timeframe recorded in Genesis 1:1-3:6 as the “time of innocence”. 

5. Everything originally created            was good, without sin and death.

       Finally, as we get ready to move on from this theme of creation, we can review what we have already discovered. We saw the three above covenants (creation, works and marriage) describing God’s relationship with His creation. We also saw that everything was in a state of “innocence” or “sinlessness”. What else we can note about this theme of "creation"? 

      In addition to Genesis 1-2, there are roughly 60 passages in the Bible that testify to God's creative work. We understand that there was no sin when God created the heavens and the earth. How do we know there was no sin? In Genesis 1, God declares on seven occasions that all He created was, “good”. The goodness of creation refers to its completeness and perfection. Genesis 1, when read in a straight-forward way, communicates God’s creative work as occurring in six, 24-hour periods. The goodness of the creation suggests that there was no sin, no death and no decay at the beginning. In the next theme, we will discover what went wrong after God completed His creation.

Closing thoughts:

We considered today the theme of "creation" in our "bird's-eye view of the Bible" approach to surveying the Bible. In all, we pointed out five key ideas as we unpacked this theme:

1. In order to consider creation, we 
    must first realize there is the 

2. God created and made all things.

3. God relates to all He has created            and made by way of covenants.

4. God desired the man and woman 
     He made to respond in faith and 
     obedience in their time of 

5. Everything originally created                was good, without sin and death.

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