Category Archives: God’s Actions

Christ is Preeminent in and over Creation

“To look at the window . . .as I did that first day . . . to look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible.”—John Glenn, speaking about his view of the Earth from the space shuttle Discovery

To think of creation when summer is upon us and we are outside more often, is appropriate. Yet, there is little else that is more controversial today than the subject of origins of the earth. The Bible is clear on such matters, as our Thought for Meditation is taken from the first verse of Scripture. Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

And yet some get riled at that verse. Our children are indoctrinated from sixth grade that man came about by chance; and that God had nothing to do with how things came about. It was all natural selection, a process of the survival of the fittest.

The Bible is not a story book. Our God is a God of miracles. There is good evidence to support creationism, the belief that an Almighty God made all that we see. Christians have affirmed God’s creative power in the Apostles’ Creed states: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”

But today, I not only want to advocate for Genesis 1:1, that God created everything that we see, as well as you and me. But that Jesus holds first place in it. He is preeminent. Webster’s defines preeminent as having paramount rank, dignity, or importance : OUTSTANDING, SUPREME

Consider the following in our time together:

• Jesus was never created, but participated in creation as Co-Creator;
• Jesus taught creationism;

Let’s first understand that Jesus was not created. Note how Colossians 1:15 reads:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

It is easy for the unbelieving world to assume that Jesus was just another man on the landscape of human history. But He was not. He was unique. Jesus was the God-man. He continually talked about being sent from the Father and having glory given to Him before the world began. He also said in John 8: “Before Abraham was, I am.”

Unfortunately, I heard a minister once pray to Jesus in a service: “For this purpose you were created.” I was shocked to hear such blasphemy. Jesus was never created. He is the Creator, as John’s gospel says in its opening statement: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The Bible is quite clear that Jesus participated in creation as Co-Creator.

Jesus was never created. As the Nicene Creed states concerning Christ:
“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.”

Genesis 1:1 is also a doorway into the study of the Trinity. God the Father’s primary role is that of Creator, but Jesus also is creator. He is Co-Creator with the Father.

Jesus holds the highest place in the universe. He is the “firstborn of all creation,” which is a title of honor. He is worthy of our praise as the Divine Son of God. He proved He was God by doing Creator-like things such as walking on water, calming the storm, raising Lazarus from the dead, and healing the blind. And after He was raised from the dead, he appeared to His disciples and Thomas saw his wounds and proclaimed: “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus is God’s message and holds a place of honor as Co-Creator. Hebrews 1:2: “…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” In addition…

Secondly, Jesus taught creation.

He said of the Scriptures that not one stroke would be abrogated, until all is accomplished. What’s more is that He affirmed the truthfulness of the Old Testament Scriptures in John 17:17: “Sanctify them by Thy truth; Thy word is truth.”

The Bible teaches that God is a Father; and God is a Creator. Jesus affirmed that several times. God as Creator is stressed again and again throughout the Scriptures.

He is our Maker, worthy of our worship! Psalm 95:3: “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” God as Creator ought to cause you to raise your hands, bow your head or hit your knees in awe!

In addition, He is our Helper, the One we call upon! Our God is loving and condescends to us when we need help! Psalm 121:1: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” God did not create everything and then go on vacation. Rather, he is intimately engaged and sustains it all today.

And the Bible is pretty explicit on how this was done. Intriguing is how each of the increments is described, “Then there was evening and morning, the third day; then there was evening and morning, the fourth day” etc., etc. Is this literal language, or poetic language?

Historically, it would seem that creation week has been taken literally. Some cross references seem to indicate 24 hour increments: Exodus 20:11: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Exodus 31:17 ‘It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ”

Hebrews 11:3: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Millard Erickson states about creation week: “…we cannot be dogmatic. The age of the universe is a topic which demands continued study and thought.”

Martin Luther said: “How long did creation take? When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned then you are…. For you are to deal with Scripture in such a way that you bear in mind that God Himself says what is written. But since God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His word in the direction you wish to go.”

So then, humility is needed on both sides of the argument. Even the most skilled scientist graduating from the most prestigious school, did not witness creation at its commencement and could not observe what took place or how it came to be. We must be careful of man’s explanation about the past.

But notice that Jesus was a creationist. He encouraged the Pharisees to read and believe Genesis in Matthew 19:3: “And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Our Lord believed that the world had a beginning, citing that the tribulation that it would encounter at the time that Jerusalem was destroyed would be significant. Matthew 24:21: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”

Finally, Jesus taught that the Father is our provider, who takes away our worries. Jesus also taught that God takes care of His creation: In Matthew 6:26, Christ states that the Father is responsible for feeding the birds of the air. “…for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” And verse 30: “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” God is engaged with your world and your circumstances and wants you to turn to Him!

But Jesus’ teaching is offensive and has serious ramifications! The first sentence of Scripture states: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Dr. Johnny Gibson of Westminster Seminary says that Genesis 1:1 is the most offensive verse in the Bible. Why, you might ask? Because if Genesis 1:1 is true, then we are accountable to this Creator. And this Creator has stated that we have sinned against Him, greatly offending Him. And that we are not autonomous, but accountable to Him.

If you teach child they are graduated monkeys, don’t be surprised if they behave like it. Young people lack purpose and hope. Or if they live as if they are not accountable to anyone, don’t be surprised at the amount of trouble they get into or their dismal outlook on life. But if you teach them that they are here because of a loving Creator, then you are one step closer to the gospel.

If you deny the existence of a literal Adam, you undercut the gospel entirely.

It is in Romans 5, that Paul the Apostle refers to a literal Adam in his explanation of death. Verse 12 states: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Was death the result of a cycle of biology, or did it come about as a penalty for disobedience.

What’s more is that John’s Revelation in chapter 21 records the arrival of the new heavens and the new earth, created by God. The creation/arrival of the new, presupposes the creation/arrival of the old/first.

And the Holy Spirit was also active in creation. We are told in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 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.”.

God is still creatively active in our world, especially in bringing men and women, boys and girls to Himself! And Jesus says that the Spirit is ever-active in the rebirth of a person, spiritually, from John 3:3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

All of God’s creative activity is not mechanical, void of relationship. Rather it is loving and powerful. What’s more is that God brings His creative power into our lives when we become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, which is by His doing. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”

Have you experienced this new birth? Can you testify that He has made you a new person to where you no longer want to live for yourself, but for Him?

More is there than meets the eye! Again and again, the Bible directs us to see God as our Creator who is ever engaged in our world and ever engaged in your life.

So let us not separate Genesis 1 from the rest of the Bible and be tempted to chuck it aside because our idea of science does not endorse a creator God. Rather, more science speaks of a creator than you think.

For instance, Dr. A Cressy Morrison, past president of the New York Academy of Sciences stated: “So many essential conditions are necessary for life to exist on our earth that it is mathematically impossible that all of them could exist in proper relationship by chance on any one earth at one time.”

Lee Strobel, in his documentary, The Case for the Creator, reveals that there are many indicators that our universe has a design. Take for instance, Physics where the force of gravity is at such a setting that all things hold together. If it were moved even slightly, then all things would cease to exist. Picture if you were to stretch a ruler across the universe, some 14 billion light years and that was its possibly range for gravity and the present setting were that of just an inch, making all life on earth able to exist. But move that setting just one inch, and the effects would be catastrophic. No large scale life forms could exist. Maybe bacteria, but not conscientious observers.

Or the cosmological constant, which states that the expansion speed of the universe is one part to 100 million, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion. If it were not so fined tuned, material objects could not form. It is so fine-tuned that it has been compared to if you were to travel hundreds of miles into space and throw a dart to the earth and it were to hit a bullseye the width of an atom.

Or the nuclear force that binds atoms together. If this were off just slightly, then Hydrogen would be the only element and life would cease to exist.

Or Richard Leakey, the World’s Foremost Paleoanthropologist, in a 1990 PBS documentary, stated: “IF pressed about man’s ancestry, I would have to unequivocally say that all we have is a huge question mark. To date, there has been nothing found to truthfully purport as a transitional specie to man… if further pressed, I would have to state that there is more evidence to suggest an abrupt arrival of man rather than a gradual process of evolving.”

The point is this: Science can only take us so far. And, upon a closer look, there is more in science that points to the design of the universe than that of naturalistic happenstance. And if there is a design to the universe, there must be a Designer. What’s more is this Designer speaks to us in His creative order, in His word, the Bible, and most specifically in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is only through trusting Christ and repenting of one’s sins that a life of meaning and purpose can be realized, as well as reconciliation to our holy and righteous God.

Robert Jastrow, in his book God and the Astronomers, states:

“At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

“Our Unrelenting God”

Some of you, a couple of weeks ago, awoke at 4:30 a.m. to watch the royal wedding. Along with the beauty and the pageantry associated with the event, you may have been curious about the outfits that the rich and famous would wear to such an occasion. Or you were curious about who came, and thus who was invited. And you noticed the vacant chair on the second row.

Our passage today is stated as an invitation to something much more important and more elaborate than any ball or wedding; yet there is no discrimination involved. Everyone receives an invitation. This is all the result of the death and resurrection of God’s servant mentioned in chapter 53- the one we know as Jesus Christ, God’s Son. We might ask as we approach our text, what does God invite us to? And how may we respond? We first see that…

GOD’S GRACIOUSLY INVITES US TO SPIRITUAL SATISFACTION.

Isaiah 55:1 says:

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”

The term which begins our passage is unique. The Hebrew means ah! alas! ha! It is meant to grab attention to something special. And this invitation was something unique.

And this invitation had spiritual relevancy. Living in Israel during this time, thirst would be a common occurrence. It was an arid part of the world. People could relate to being thirsty. Incidentally, water for consumption was sold in the days of Isaiah. The seller would call out to would-be buyers to come and purchase from his stand. The mention of wine and milk represents happiness and nourishment. What’s more is that unlike the necessity to buy these items in real life, they are indeed free to the one who responds to God’s gracious invitation. God uses these symbols to offer what is free to the needy heart, that only He can supply! They cost nothing to the person who responds.

Speaking of these other items, it should come as no surprise that
what we call communion, the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, consists of bread and drink. Let us remember what we did on Pentecost Sunday, as a reminder that Jesus is the soul’s true food and true drink. It is only through His great sacrifice that we can commune with God. And when we observe the Lord’s Supper, it is a time of rededication of faith and repentance from sin, realizing that our soul’s hunger and thirst is satisfied in Christ!

Notice how Jesus uses water and rest to illustrate the He can give us our souls deepest longings. Many times Jesus used water to illustrate His ability to satisfy spiritual thirst. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:13:

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

And in John 7:37, Jesus spoke openly to all who would hear: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Jesus satisfies spiritual thirst.

Jesus also grants spiritual rest. He gives soul rest to everyone who follows Him. He said in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Such an invitation says something about God. Notice that in these requests, the Lord is not hiding Himself. He is not stand-offish or reserved. Rather He calls us to follow Him and promises us what we so desperately need: Himself! God establishes His covenant and invites us to enter in. The God of the universe lowered Himself to us. He came to our level and invites us to follow Him. Jesus came to lead us to God. Secondly…

WE MUST BE CAREFUL TO RESPOND TO GOD’S INVITATION APPROPRIATELY.

Notice what verse two states:

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live….”

These verses imply that some wanted to spend their spiritual currency on other things. They had bought into other religious fads and ideas that did not benefit the way in which God blessed the one who turns to Him.

Some of you here are looking for God and spiritual fulfillment in places other than Jesus Christ. But we come by this honestly. Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, puts it this way. He states that we all have a problem.

“We are homo-idolater, the creature who would fashion our own god. This the true perennial heresy. …We are natural-born idolaters, and it is good that we admit this up front. …The reason is simple- we must worship, we will worship. Even as nature abhors a vacuum, so does the human soul. The human soul will find an object of worship, either on the shelf, on the altar, in the mirror, or in heaven. We are born idolaters (Mohler, Words from the Fire).”

God invites you to reorient your compass to Christ; to reject the object, the activity, the person or the self and worship Him alone! He offers you the Grand Invitation, a summons to come to the living God and give Him our lives. Every day there is an invitation to follow Him.

But such an invitation must invoke a specific action. Verse 6 states:
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

The people of Judah needed to turn back to God. They had drifted far away from Him. And now He was calling them back; calling them out of their idolatry, their fornication, their lack of integrity. God accepts us as we are, but He asks us to change with His help. Some of you have drifted from God. You need to come back to Him, today! And there’s no better time than the present.

Such a gracious invitation is not what we would construct. We would undoubtedly make it more difficult. But God asks of us to turn. Jesus preached again and again: “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.”

Repentance means to change. It is implied in the act of confession, when a person comes before the Lord in prayer, and asks for forgiveness and turns from their wrongful deeds.

The other act is faith- which goes beyond believing that there is a God. But means embracing God, following Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”

With these actions, they can be summed up in a drawing; a seeking. “Seek the Lord while He may be found,” preaches Isaiah. Jeremiah 29:13: “You will search for Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” James 4 tells us: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

All of this is not based on human knowledge or invention, but on God’s infinite wisdom. Thankfully, God did not consult us. He said in verse eight: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

And He uses the preaching of His word to bring about His desired outcome! That is why Christians are people of the book. We hold a very high view of Scripture, believing it to be the very word of God. It came from Him. Jesus said: “Thy word is truth.” And He was referring to Scripture! God’s word is sometimes compared to a seed. Jesus told the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. There, the condition of the ground was key to each portion of seed scattered, and its production.

God will never allow the preaching of His word to be truly ineffective. There are ineffective preachers. And there are ineffective listeners. But there is no ineffective word. Set your spiritual hunger and your spiritual thirst upon God!

The story is told of a young student who went to his spiritual teacher and asked the question, “Master, how can I truly find God?” The teacher asked the student to accompany him to the river which ran by the village and invited him to go into the water. When they got to the middle of the stream, the teacher said, “Please immerse yourself in the water.” The student did as he was instructed, whereupon the teacher put his hands on the young man’s head and held him under the water. Presently the student began to struggle. The master held him under still. A moment passed and the student was thrashing and beating the water and air with his arms. Still, the master held him under the water. Finally, the student was released and shot up from the water, lungs aching and gasping for air. The teacher waited for a few moments and then said, “When you desire God as truly as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed — then you shall find God.”