I. The Call to Believe
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen. 1:1.
In this first verse, we are called to believe, or not to believe. We have a choice to make at the very beginning of the Bible.
No man comes to the Bible intellectually naked. He comes with traditions, prejudices, opinions, and preconceived ideas received from his family, from his friends and associations, from his educational background, or from the depths of his own thought.
He has ideas about God and religion that have been taught to him, or which he has taught to himself. For the point I am making here, it does not really matter what those ideas are; the major point is that he has them. His ideas may be the result of the rejection of the ideas taught to him by his parents and the culture of his youth, but whether he rebelled against the culture of his childhood, or whether he accepted those things, he is still the product of his culture and times, and does not come to the Bible intellectually naked. It is impossible for him to do so.
If he comes able to read the Bible, then he has learned to read somewhere, he has read other things, he has been confronted with religious ideas, about the origin of the world, and ethical questions. He came naked into the world, but he does not come to the Bible naked. Because of this, the simple account of Genesis 1 becomes even more astounding: it calls every man, no matter what intellectual and religious outfit he is wearing to an act of faith: “In the beginning God...”
Neither does the Bible come naked to him. The Bible is the most public of all books. It has stood at the center of the religious and ethical questions throughout the history of civilization. Like it or not, every civilization East or West ultimately will have to deal with the message of the Bible.
A great case can be made that the paganism of the ancient world was more than an attitude than a system of belief. Certainly there were carefully defined systems of religion in the world of Greece and Rome; but far more important, perhaps, was the attitude toward religion that the true pagan confessed. The true, self-conscious pagan had an attitude of tolerance and benevolence; he deprecated himself and built upon a basic agnosticism. There was truth in all religions, said this attitude, and no one can be certain that he is following the true one. “What is Truth?” said Pilate when Jesus stood before him. Pilate's attitude was typical.
Judaism, with its emphasis upon truth and the true worship of God, was an irritant at times, but no real threat to paganism, because it kept its religion to itself. The religion of the Jews was certainly known to the ancient world. Studies of the world's religions were done, and it is inconceivable that the religion of an important people in the Middle East would have been ignored. We do know that Alexander the Great desired the blessings of the priests of Jerusalem, and that prominent Jews lived at Rome and at other chief centers of the Roman Empire. The religion of the Jews and their sacred writings were not unknown to the ancient world. But it never challenged the basic agnostic assumptions of the pagan world.
Christianity was a different matter, however. “Go ye into all the world, and make disciples of all nations,” was what Jesus commanded his disciples. The Gospel, with its absolute claims to truth; the faith that Jesus was the Son of God, the one promised from the foundation of the world brought opposition from the Jews who could not accept the idea that their religion was now fulfilled, their temple destroyed, the priesthood and kingdom lost [This statement alone is enough to get me and anything I write banned from Academia!!] --and also from the pagans, who were now being told aggressively that their gods were idols and that the judgment of God was upon all those who did not turn from idols to serve the living and true God, who had manifested himself in the flesh of Jesus Christ, to take away sins by his death on the cross; and guaranteed the judgment of the world by raising Jesus from the dead.
These claims and the acceptance of them by millions and millions of people over the course of the centuries guarantee that Christianity and the Bible would be at the center of the world's intellectual debate for the rest of history: or at least until all men everywhere accepted the claims of the Christians, or the last Christian is buried with the last Bible tucked away securely in his coffin--or maybe cremated, because the Bible has shown amazing resiliency, and paganism could not be secure with even one Bible tucked away somewhere!!!
So the Bible does not come naked to us, just as we do not come naked to the Bible. We are called to believe it, but we hear that call with a great deal of emotional and intellectual baggage.
II. Evolution and Conspiracy
One great argument for evolution and naturalism goes something like this. “Of course the theory is not perfect, and we cannot explain everything. But the theory works. Very few scientific theories in history have the success that this one has. We are justified therefore in calling it a fact. We cannot explain everything about it, just as we cannot explain everything about the sun. But the sun is a fact even if we cannot explain everything about it. And so is evolution. Until you can come up with a better theory, we will stick to evolution.”
Well, there is another explanation, but modern man has defined it away. By calling faith in God “unscientific” men have simply defined away the obvious. Men will only accept as fact that which men have defined as fact: and facts are those things within the universe of time and space, verifiable by scientific inquiry and produced by the evolution of space and time. God does not fit this definition, and therefore does not fit within “science.” He belongs to a separate realm of “religion,” and may have some use in keeping people happy and content, but God has no place in scientific endeavors. Carl Sagan said it very well. In his introduction to Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, Sagan said:
"The word God fills these pages. Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Einstein's famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe. Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God. And this makes all the more unexpected the conclusion of the effort, at least so far: a universe with no edge in time, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do." (Quoted in Philip Johnson: Reason in the Balance p. 59.)
Sagan is dishonest in this, for he pretends that this result was the pure result of pure science, rather than the conscious purpose of the author to begin with. For men do not come to science naked either, and science does not come naked to them. Modern man, if he is not able to drive God from the consciousness of the world, will at least be content to leave him nothing to do.
So modern man, in consciously seeking to eliminate God from his thought, must reject the Bible, even though that means warring against history and God's work in history.
This is the reason that conspiratorial theories abound in a day of apostasy. Men reject the word of God, and they have no light in them. Follow me in this:
1. There is no God. Christianity is not true, but is the result of a mammoth conspiracy; the evidence was faked; the biblical accounts forged, and prophecies written after the events took place.
2. People are therefore gullible and stupid. They swallowed these lies. They must be protected from such lies by those who have been educated and are knowledgeable.
3. Governments forced people to accept these lies of Christianity, and destroyed good and open-minded people who did not accept them. The real source of Christianity is the love for power that wicked men have had. Christianity is a conspiracy to enable the rich and powerful to keep their wealth and power.
4. We therefore live in a stinking world, where the vast majority of people are gullible and stupid, and cannot be trusted with decisions for their own lives.
5. There is no God; for if there were, how could a conspiracy like Christianity ever have succeeded to the extent that it has?
6. We enlightened people are therefore justified in using power, wealth, deceit, and conspiracy to promote our cause of atheism, naturalism, and science. There is no truth but what we establish as truth. The stupid people must be forced to accept what we know is good for them, because that is the kind of world we live in.
III. God's World of Light and Darkness
According to the Bible, this world was created as a place of light and darkness. In other words, this world was not to be man's final resting place. I believe that these words are literal, and that science, if once freed from its bias against God will one day discover much of the meaning of these words. But the world was created to reveal truth about God and about the man that He created.
John 1:1-18 sheds a great deal of light on Genesis 1, and is parallel in many ways. Note the following:
1. “The Word was with God.” There was fellowship and communication in the Godhead. God has a Word: He has reason, and understanding. God is self-conscious. God knows his own Son and His Son knows Him.
2. All things were made by the Word: The world is reasonable and orderly. Science would be impossible if the world was not created by the Word of God. Man's mind would not be able to understand that order, if it also had not been created by a reasonable and self-conscious God. The world is the creation of Him who was in the beginning with God. The world is the expression of the very nature of God himself, and mirrors the glory and splendor of God.
3. God is living: “In him was life.” This life is in both the Son and Father. Life is in the world because life is in God. This is the reason why the basis of life will never be found in the universe itself. This is the reason why modern science must pronounce the Bible unscientific: for it states that the universe is not a closed system: the ultimate causes for things cannot be found within the system. “In God we live and move and have our being” is a most unscientific statement, unverifiable, and unreasonable, according to the definitions of modern science.
4. The light shines in darkness. The Word is Life, and the Life is the Light. Jesus is the Word of God; He is the Life of God; He is the Light of God.
This world was created as a temporary place of light and darkness; not only physically, but spiritually. Though created perfect and placed in the beautiful Garden, man was placed in a world of light and darkness, to remind him that he was not home yet and that there must be a time of testing before he would know the joys of heaven and perfect bliss with the God who made him.
Heaven is a place of light and perfect happiness. There is no darkness at all in God. There is no night in heaven. Hell is termed outer darkness by Jesus Christ. But darkness and light are both alike to God, and the darkness is under His feet. We are not Manicheans, who think there is a kingdom of darkness ruled over by the Devil; No, God controls all things, and even the darkness does His will. He is the creator of both light and darkness.
Neither are we arrogant like the Gnostics, who think that only the “enlightened ones” have access to the light. No, the light lights every man who comes into the world.
Light in the Bible does stand for many things: the light of knowledge; the light of goodness; and the light of faith, the light of opportunity. Those who walk in darkness are walking in ignorance, in wickedness, and unbelief.
You will not find perfection in this world. It was not perfect even from the beginning. God saw that the light was good and pronounced it good, for it is far better to walk in the light than to walk in darkness. Men love darkness because their deeds are evil, Jesus said. Jesus said, “The night comes when no man can work,” meaning that time is also the creature of God, and we can only do God's work in God's time. He is not saying that it is evil to have night jobs, but that work must be done according to the time appointed.
The physical world was created by God to give information about spiritual things, and those that miss this miss the meaning of the world.
5. There is only one light: the light of Creation; the light of Scripture; the Light of Messiah is one light and speaks with one voice. “This is the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” We do not come naked to this light; and this light does not come naked to us.
6. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. The world loves darkness because men are in rebellion against God and His Son.
7. The Word was made flesh: This was the plan from the beginning: that Jesus would come to give his life for the sins of his people. His love is woven into the very fabric of things. God certainly knew that if He made Adam with freedom to choose that Adam would fall into sin. But God so loved and desired fellowship with man that He did not draw back from creating him, but also committed His only begotten Son to come in the likeness of human flesh, in order to die on the cross and take sin away for all those who believe.
8. The Word is full of grace and truth. Grace and truth belong to the light, not to the darkness. The love of God is introduced to us in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Those who refuse Jesus Christ are in darkness, and will perish in ignorance, sin, and unbelief. Their destiny is the darkness and misery of the wrath of God forever.
It is God's will that light and darkness be separated in eternity. There is no fellowship between light and darkness, between the works of sin and the works of righteousness. Those who love the darkness of sin and unbelief can never enjoy the light and love of God in Heaven. It was so from the very beginning. Light and darkness cannot exist together. It is woven into the very fabric of the universe.
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1John 1:5-7
Trinity Covenant Reformed Church
Pastor C. W. Powell
Mail: 6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO. 80918.