(This transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors)
Hello, and welcome to Unapologetic, a podcast about defending not apologizing for your Christian convictions. I want to go to the very first verse in the very first chapter of the Bible today. So, the book of Genesis verse one, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” And here’s what I want us to think about today. If that verse is true or perhaps better said, since that verse is true, everything else that follows in the Bible makes sense. It’s plausible. It’s not outside the realm of possibilities.
So, many of the questions people have, the doubts they struggle with, or the apologetic issues that we confront are strewn throughout the whole Bible. For instance, how is it that God holds people accountable? How do we understand God’s law and justice in sin? And what about miracles and crucifixions and things like that? All of those are good issues to talk about and some people think they aren’t even the kinds of things that can happen. Like miracles? Really? A resurrection? That’s craziness.
But what I want us to understand is the problem doesn’t start when you get to the end of Matthew’s gospel and there’s a resurrection from the dead. The problem that we’re encountering with whoever we’re talking with actually begins at the very first verse of the Bible. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. That is the point where a departure will happen. Either you accept that is true and believe it or you reject it, and hence you will have a problem with everything else that follows in the Bible, not least of which that which follows in the first chapter where it goes on to say that God made man and woman according to his own image, he made them male and female. It’s not an identification. It’s not a choice.
So once again, you see man and woman were created. They’re not evolved. All of this happens as an outworking of the first verse of the Bible. So, today I want us to see four things that this verse either teaches or implies that tell us about the whole rest of the universe and God’s creation and hence everything else that also follows in the scriptures.
So first, let’s just look at the foundation. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Some people take this as a summary of everything that follows. I think a better way to understand this verse is it’s describing God bringing into existence space and time. He created the universe. That’s how the ancient Hebrew people would have spoken of the universe. They would have called it the heavens and the earth. They didn’t have a word for universe.
And then, we go to the second verse and we see that we’re zooming in on earth. Now, the earth was formless and void, that sort of thing. But at the very beginning, even before the earth, God creates the universe, the heavens and the earth. And so, here are the four things we can take from this verse and its implications.
The first is that before everything, God existed. So, even when there was nothing, and using the word when and before here aren’t actually good words because it doesn’t make sense to talk of before when there wasn’t even time or space and those things go together, but before, we’ll just use that word, before everything existed that is material, God existed. And God is immaterial.
So, immaterial realities proceed physical realities. The things that have been created were created by something that can’t be seen, that’s not made, that’s not physical. In other words, here’s the simple takeaway. The universe we live in is fundamentally a supernatural universe. That’s what we’re seeing in this first verse. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God is separate from the heavens in the earth. He’s not material, he is immaterial. He’s not natural, he’s supernatural.
So, we live in a supernatural universe. That’s something that should just make us take a step back and think. We, as Christians, assume this, but we can demonstrate it from this verse. If all material came into existence at one point, that means the cause of that material could not have been material. And this is why I said the departure on things like miracles and the resurrection, they don’t start in the gospels, they start here, because what this verse shows us is we live in a supernatural universe.
And if verse one of the Bible is true, then there’s no fundamental principled objection based on miracles or the supernatural being impossible to things like resurrections. Because for a God who can create everything from nothing, a mere resurrection is child’s play. I think William Lane Craig was the first person I heard make that point. I think it’s an excellent point, that if you can create everything from nothing, surely you can raise a guy from the dead.
The biggest miracle in the Bible in terms of maybe raw power and impressive feat is not the resurrection. That might be the most meaningful, but creating everything from nothing as finely designed and as beautiful as it is, that is surely the most momentous miracle in the Bible. And if God did that, and since God did that in verse one, we can’t reject the possibility of miracles thereafter. There’s no fundamentally principled objection we can have if we live in a fundamentally supernatural universe where God has already been seen to intervene. So, the whole first chapter of the Bible is God’s interaction in time and space with his creation. He doesn’t just create it, he interacts in it. So, that’s the first point.
The second point is the universe is not eternal. It had a beginning, and that’s what we see here. That in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. They come into being at a point in time. They have not always existed. Now, we’ve talked in the past about how just the creation of everything, that it did have a cause, points to there being a causer.
And so, we’ve talked about the Kalam cosmological argument in the past. How that everything that comes into existence has a cause. The universe came into existence, therefore the universe has a cause. And we’ve talked about the five attributes of that cause of God that we can discern from that. But I just simply want to point out here, the universe is not eternal. It had a beginning. That’s what we see in the very first verse of the Bible and it accords with what we’re able to ascertain about the physical world from science today.
That shouldn’t be surprising. The book of God’s words in scripture fits with the book of God’s works in nature. And using the tools God has given us of rationality and science and understanding the world and the laws of logic, we’re able to come to see more than the scriptures tell us. That doesn’t mean nature is more authoritative, but it tells us complementary truths to what scripture says.
Now, if we ever arrive at an impasse where it seems like a scripture is telling us something different than what science is telling us, we have misunderstood one of those things. Perhaps we’ve misunderstood what the scriptures have to say. Perhaps we’ve misunderstood what scientific evidence is pointing towards, but the two cannot be in contradiction because God has spoken through both. There’s so much more we can say about that, but we’re going to move on to our third point.
So first, just recapping here, before everything, God existed. He’s eternal and we live in a supernatural universe. Secondly, the universe is not eternal, but third, the universe is not an accident. It doesn’t say in the beginning God was sitting around with himself and Oh my gosh! There popped a universe. No, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created it, which means he had to make a decision to. And that raises the question, why?
But while that’s not unpacked in this first verse, the rest of the Bible does explain why God created the heavens and the earth. In fact, we don’t have to read much into the first chapter to see that he created us in his image to glorify him, to fill the earth and subdue it and cultivate it and bring order where there’s disorder and reflect the glory of our creator. So, we don’t get that in the first verse, but we do get it in the first chapter. But simply what I want to point out here is the universe did not come about by some random chance. It was created by its creator with a purpose. And that’s actually our fourth point, that we are a creation.
So, we have a creator, that’s in this first verse, right? God created the heavens and the earth and he goes on to say that God created everything else. We see in the gospels that Jesus is the one through whom everything was created and apart from him, nothing has been made that has been made. He created all things. That’s what we see and that’s basically saying the same thing that the very first verse is saying here. And that means we have a creator. We are a creation. There’s not too much of a step to get to the fact that we’re accountable to our creator.
In every other sphere of life, whatever is created belongs to the one that makes it, belongs to the one that designed it. And more than that, if you’re the creator, you get to say how your creation is supposed to work, how it’s supposed to live, what it’s supposed to do, what it’s not supposed to do. And so, from this idea, this teaching of scripture that we’re a creation, we understand that we’re accountable to our creator.
In previous generations, this was just common sense. Today, this seems something that we have to spend some time on. But if you make it, you own it, you get to say how it should work. Now, why is it today that people don’t like a worldview that says that there’s a creator? I don’t think it’s because they only find it scientifically implausible. I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s because they like the idea that there is no one to be accountable to.
We see this throughout the scriptures where the fool says in his heart, there is no God. That the person in Romans one sees what is entirely obvious to them, that they actually know on some level that there is a God out there because of creation, because of what verse one in Genesis is teaching, and they hold that truth down and suppress it because they want to worship themselves or created things instead of the creator. They don’t want to be accountable to their creator.
And we see in the first verse here that we are a creation. That’s fundamental to understand everything that follows. It means we are created to do something. We have a purpose. Now, the rest of the Bible unpacks what that is in the drama of us not living according to that purpose and God sending his son to redeem us in our sin, in our depravity.
But nonetheless, in the very first verse, we see several important truths. That God existed before everything. The universe is not eternal. The universe isn’t an accident, there was a purpose to it and that we are a creation. We have not existed forever. We came into being at a point in time. God alone is the all sufficient creator, but since he made us, we’re accountable to him.
Now, there’s some other things that flow from this that we can deduce, you might say. That God has a law. We can’t have any principled objection to God imposing constraints on us, if verse one of Genesis is true. If God really did make everything, then he is all powerful and sits over it. And wouldn’t it just be stupid to fight with the being who created everything? Because if we understand our place as a creature, who in their right mind would rail against their creator?
And that’s why the Bible says the fool says in his heart, it’s not calling names. It’s saying it’s actually foolish. It’s stupid to fight back against the being that made every single thing and sustains it in being. It’s like an ant trying to destroy an empire. It’s an ant. It doesn’t even compare. It’s laughable. It’s foolish. That’s the same idea. So, we can’t have a principled objection to God having moral laws because he created everything.
Now, we’ve talked in the past about how there’s no consistent way to affirm a transcendent moral law that applies to everyone regardless of what they think, if you don’t also affirm the existence of God. So, we’re not going to get into that too much today. I just simply want to say if God created everything, he gets to say how it works, he gets to make the rules. It’s like when I would play a version of checkers with my grandma that I ‘made up’, so I got to make the rules up. It just so happened that they changed all the time. That’s not how God’s rules are like. But there is this idea that we understand and if you make, you get to say how it works.
So, if God does have a law, then another thing that follows from this is God rightly can judge people. If you’re the creator, you make it, you say how it needs to work and what obligations it has to you and your creation doesn’t follow that, well, you get to decide what you do with it? So, judgment and grace and forgiveness only makes sense if Genesis chapter one verse one is true.
And as we’ve already said, miracles only make sense in a world where Genesis one is true. And if Genesis one is true, then everything that follows, the talks about the miraculous and talking donkeys and men raising from the dead and people coming back on horses in the sky, well, it’s all plausible. It all makes sense. You can’t reject it if you accept the very first verse of the Bible, because before everything God existed and that kind of God that existed sufficiently in himself was powerful enough to bring everything into being and he made a choice to do it. It’s not an accident. And that means the universe isn’t eternal and that we are a creation created to do something for our creator that the rest of the scriptures tell us about.
But since all of that is true, I want you to understand it makes grace all the more surprising, that the God who in the beginning created every single thing holds it in the Palm of his hand and sustains it. That he would sacrifice himself on behalf of his creation. That’s unexpected. That’s the plot twist that comes out of right field and leaves you wondering. But we see that over and over again in scripture. You don’t have to even get through chapter three before you realize, wait, something is up here. There’s already grace.
So, God creates man and woman in Genesis one and Genesis two and says, “Live according to this design. And if you eat from this tree, if you do the one thing I’ve told you not to do, you will surely die.” And then they eat, and they don’t die. And you wonder, what’s up with that?
Well, there is a punishment that definitely started then, but God was even gracious in his administration of the punishment, and grace is seen all throughout the scriptures. And if we only had Genesis one, we would not understand grace. But the rest of the Bible works out God’s gracious interaction with his people. And that should captivate our hearts. That should surprise us.
So, we understand all these other things from Genesis one and thankfully we have more than one verse in the Bible. But when we understand those truths and we understand the type of God and the type of world we live in, grace should still captivate us, and we should contend for the grace of God when we discuss these topics.
Let’s not just talk about the eternality of the universe and our creation, and that God made us male man and woman. Let’s talk about how in spite of when sin came into the world, God still has a gracious plan to redeem his people. So, I hope this has been helpful and I’ll talk with you next time on Unapologetic.