“How can you believe in three gods?” asks my Muslim neighbor. It’s then that I come face to face with a common misunderstanding about God as I understand him.
Recently, I was given the book, The Good God (Michael Reeves, Paternoster, UK, 2012) from a pastor friend in London, England. It is a small book. And after a brief thumbing, it appeared to be packed with theology and quotes from church fathers. I shrugged it off as another colorless treatise on the Trinity. However, as I began to delve into the pages they began to delve into me. I gained a fresh veneration and love for my God in a book I’d dub as both practical and devotional. The fog surrounding the Trinity vanished and what appeared was God’s incomparable beauty and love.
The thrust of the book is that God is love because God is Trinity. It goes on to say that if God was not Father he would not be loving. “It is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God.” (vii) The love between the persons of God help one to understand the triune God better.
What was God doing before creation?
A Christians understanding of God is built on the Son who reveals him (4). God as Father helps you to know how he loves. If you don’t start with Jesus the Son, you end up with a different God who is not Father. Richard the Scot said, “If God was just one person, he could not be intrinsically loving, since for all eternity (before creation) he would have had nobody to love…being triune, God is a sharing God, a God who loves to include. His love is not for keeping but for spreading.” (14-15) Luther said, “Only when God is known as a loving Father is he known aright.” (60) And John Owen said, “God is our most loving Father…The greatest unkindness you can do to him is to refuse to believe that he loves you.” (77)
Over the past few years, I have observed a culture of a single-person god among Muslims in North Africa. I can echo Reeves observations when he says,
“Oneness for the single-person God would mean sameness. Alone for eternity without any beside him, why would he value others and their differences? Think how it works out for Allah: under his influence, the once-diverse cultures of Nigeria, Persia and Indonesia are made deliberately and increasingly, the same. Islam presents a complete way of life for individuals, nations, and cultures, binding them into one way of praying, one way of marrying, buying, fighting, relating—even, some would say, one way of eating and dressing. Oneness for the triune God means unity. As the Father is absolutely one with his Son, and yet is not his Son, so Jesus prays that believers might be one, but not that they might all be the same. Created male and female, in the image of God, and with many other good differences between us, we come together valuing the way the triune God has made us each unique.” (84; also see 1 Corinthians 12:4,17-20)
Single-person gods—having spent eternity alone—are inevitably self-centered beings. If this is the kind of god one worships, they become like what they worship. “If God is not triune it gets even worse: for if God is not triune, it becomes difficult, not only to account for the goodness of creation (as we have seen), but also to account for the existence of evil within it.” (39) Thus how God the Father loves the Son helps one to understand how God loves creation, hates evil, and his love does something about it.
What is God’s work in salvation?
It is because God is triune that the cross is such good news. Friedrich Nietzsche boldly said, “God is dead.” By this he meant that belief in God is simply no longer viable and faith is no longer needed. However, Reeves adds “‘God is dead’ is where true faith begins. For, on the cross, Christ the Glory puts to death all false ideas of God; and as he cries out to his Father and offers himself up by the Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), breathing out his last, he reveals a God beyond our dreams.” (105) At the cross we see a God who is infinitely better: unconditionally loving, darkness hating, tremendously glorious.
Since God is a lover from before creation (of his Son), he created humans to be lovers too. Created to love God, we turn to love ourselves and anything but God. This is when sin entered the world. Naturally, man is bent in on himself and takes hellish delight in his own supposed independence. However, God as the supreme lover atones for sin himself via the Son. God gives himself. What single-person god would do this? Especially when you think of the reckless and storied lives of the Greeks and Romans.
“Strip down God and make him lean and you must strip down his salvation and make it mean. Instead of a life bursting with love, joy, and fellowship, all you will be left with is the watery gruel of religion. Instead of a loving Father, a distant potentate; instead of fellowship, contract. No security in the beloved Son, no heart-change, no joy in God could that spirit bring.” (82)
Without the Son, God cannot truly be a Father. If God is alone, he is not truly loving. Thus he has no fellowship to share with us, no Son to bring us close, no Spirit through whom we might know him.
Reeves says, “My new life began when the Spirit first opened my eyes (light) and won my heart (heat) to Christ… And as he stirs me to think ever more on Christ, he makes me more and more God-like: less self-obsessed and more Christ-obsessed.” (73) Again, we become like what we worship.
When I go and share the knowledge of God’s great love with others I reflect something very important about who God is. I share the missional, generous, image of God. As Reeves continues, “The mission (of God) comes from overflow of love, from the uncontainable enjoyment of fellowship (with himself and others).” (86) Who is to love? What is my example to be loving to others? It is found in God as Father.
I would highly recommend this book to a new believer, seminary student, small group, and missionary to Muslims. It is a book that fosters love for God and greater appreciation for his love for us. This truly speaks more to my Muslim neighbors than a powerful apologetic. As I think of God as Father and relish in the love of the Son and the life with the Spirit, it sincerely affects my love for my neighbor. My only caution is for those who desire a beefy book with slam-dunk comments to defeat opponents of the Trinity, it’s not that kind of book. Neither is it an exhaustive book on the Trinity. It is sufficient enough to give a good defense why God is triune. It satisfies ones longing to know and love God better.
Note: The book also goes by the title Delighting in the Trinity for those who live on the US side of the pond.
Recently I visited Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. My wife and I were celebrating our third anniversary walking among God’s creation. As amazed as I was by the Redwoods, all the people taking pictures of the trees equally amazed me. If you think about it, doesn’t it seem weird that people are flocking to take pictures of big trees? Why do people take pictures of trees? Why is my brother in awe of the open horizon of New Mexico? Why does our jaw drop at the Grand Canyon or Teton Mountains? Simply, creation wows us and fills us with wonder. It’s amazing.
In the 1998 film The Truman Show, Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a generally cheerful insurance adjuster in a cozy island town whose days run like clockwork—until the day a stage light falls out of the heavens and crashes near his car. Little by little his world begins to give him clues that later help him discover the truth about the world (stage) in which he is really living. Likewise, your world is giving you clues that tell you something about God. He is not hiding.
1. God reveals He is through creation (Psalm 19:1-6)
People often wonder, “Where did all this come from? Why are we here?” What are some of the hints and clues you see in creation that point you to the existence of a Creator? And what are some of the aspects of creation that cause some people to believe that no Creator exists? Whether we understand creation or not it continually shouts out that God exists (1 Chronicles 16:31-34). Creation never presses pause on praise God. The picture you receive from this psalm is that the world acts as a loudspeaker, a stage, and an art gallery—all pointing to God’s glory.
However, man’s response to creation can be foiled (Psalm 19:3). First, people ignore the communication of creation (Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:15). Second, people can miss or not hear God through creation because the communication of creation is not audible. In other words, general revelation (i.e. creation) is indirect communication unlike special revelation, which is written Scriptures or spoken through the God-Man Jesus Christ.
Think about the ways people attempt to guard themselves from God’s revelation. What are some of the most common ways we try to hide from God’s voice? What are some of the common ways we try to drown it out? God wants to be heard. General revelation goes further than just telling us that God exists. It also tells us what kind of God exists.
2. God reveals who He is through creation (Romans 1:19-20)
Suppose you came home one day to find a box at your door with a note attached: “These are the personal belongings of your twin brother.” Once you got over the initial shock of having a twin brother you never knew about, you’d open the box and look inside, hoping the contents might tell you something about him. If the package contained keys to a Harley Davidson, a knife, and a tin of chewing tobacco, that wouldn’t tell you everything about your brother, but it would certainly give you an impression. But if the box contained a set of watercolor paints, a beret, and a tin of organic breath mints, that might give you an entirely different impression, wouldn’t it? The box’s existence would tell you that you had a brother, but the box’s contents would tell you a bit about him.
In the same way, the created world says you have a God, and what you see in the created world tells you some general things about Him. By seeing the general revelation of “the heavens” and the rest of the world, you can get a sense of God’s glory, the sum of His attributes. What knowledge of God’s attributes do you gain by looking at creation? The universe shows His eternality. The sun and rain show His goodness and grace. A volcano and hurricane show His power. When we look at His creation we see who He is and who we are too. Matt Chandler says, “Nobody stands at the base of the Rocky Mountains and says, ‘Remember that time I benched 300 pounds in high school?’”
Nor can anyone say, “I have never heard the gospel before. No one told me I am sinful and God is holy.” His attributes are seen in all humanity—sense of fairness, longing for justice, compulsion to create, etc. But what can and cannot God’s general revelation do? Romans 1:19-20 teaches about responsibility. General revelation is sufficient to hold us accountable for our sin, but not able to save us.
3. God reveals what His plans are through creation (Acts 14:11-18)
What did Barnabas and Paul want the people of Lystra to know? As the pagan demand for more sacrifices to a dead god continued, Barnabas and Paul desperately wanted these people to know the good news that Jesus has made the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, and He did so to honor the will of a Heavenly Father who had been far better to the unsaved people of Lystra than Zeus had been. The missionaries pointed to the evidence: “You have a witness that this is true!” they cried. “He has given you rain and harvest and good food and happiness.”
Acts 14:17 gives you an aspect of the gospel story. When looking at the world around you it is easy to recognize that this place is broken but there are visible aspects of God’s grace. In Matthew 5:45: “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” The benevolent heart of God is made visible through common grace, which is available to every man on this planet. God intends for the happiness you experience in marriage, parenting, and His other good gifts to point you back to Him. The gifts everyone enjoys lead to the Giver.
In Romans 8:22, Paul writes, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” The image is that of the earth giving birth, but the focus is on the pain as it gives way to newness. We look forward to the return of Christ and the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13). The brokenness we see in “the whole creation,” is signaling to us that something is wrong and there is something better beyond this.
In conclusion, the world is a grand theater in which God showcases His glory. One thing we must say about this theater, of course, is that it is not itself the story but the stage for it. Like a good stage set, it tells us something of the story before the players even enter and begin reciting their lines. But it is the script (i.e. the Bible and Jesus) that really reveals. God is not hiding. He is in plain sight.
I am fan of games. My wife and I enjoy playing strategy games together and with friends. I suppose my love for games was bred into me from a young age. I got my first Nintendo when I was about 12 years old. But I think my love for games even goes back earlier to tag on the elementary school “playground” or peek-a-boo with my parents as a toe-headed toddler. Peek-a-boo is a fun game. My 19-month old daughter loves to play by covering her little eyes with her little hands.
Peek-a-boo is the first step towards playing Hide-and-seek. It is interesting that Hide-and-seek is a game that we love to play with our children, but God never plays with us. He is always with us and He has revealed Himself plainly to mankind. You can summarize the ways God reveals Himself to man in two ways: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.
The God who reveals Himself through nature (general revelation)
First, God is seen in creation. God’s existence and power can be seen throughout the vastness of the universe, in the order of the animal kingdom, in the rules of gravity or thermal dynamics, and in the details or structures of plants and cells. The wonder of creation declares it must be made and just did not happen by mere chance, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what He has made, and there is no excuse for denying these facts. This is was I wrote about a few weeks ago, when I was on a hike with my family through the Muir Woods just north of San Francisco.
Second, God is seen in humanity. He is not only seen in your biological makeup, but also your psychological makeup too. God has placed within every man a moral compass that that points us True North, a radar system that warns us of evil and harm, and a homing beacon that deep down gravitates us towards God (Jeremiah 31:33). How is it that sinful men still have a bearing of what is right and wrong? Did that just didn’t happen? No, it is imbedded within your DNA as a gift from God. It is divine proof that your Maker has marked you with His image (Genesis 1:28).
God reveals Himself through nature. He has put redemptive themes all throughout the universe, planet earth, and humanity, which point the creation back to its Creator. You do not have to look far or wide to find it, but most people choose to ignore it or redefine it.
The God who reveals Himself through supernatural (special revelation)
God doesn’t just reveal Himself through nature, but also through supernatural means. Special revelation is when God reveals Himself miraculously. He revealed Himself through physical appearances (Genesis 3:8, 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4, 34:5-7), dreams (Genesis 28:12, 37:5; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) , visions (Genesis 15:1; Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7), the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ.
One of the primary means God reveals Himself supernaturally to man is through the writing of His Word—the Bible. Think about it, God wrote a book. He did have to, but God decided to reveal everything that you need to know about Him, what He expects from you, and what He has done for you in the Bible. He spoke in a way that is clearly understood. He miraculously guided the original authors of Scripture to accurately record His redemptive message to mankind, but He still used their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).
Where special revelation is seen in its ultimate form is in the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1, 14). He came as the Word within human skin, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” (Hebrews 1:1-3) God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to become the atoning sacrifice for your sin on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). Human sin needed a perfect human substitute for His sin, which is Jesus. He is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.
Why is general and special revelation so important?
First, God makes Himself known so that you can know Him. God wants to be known. He is not silent. He has given you a glimpse of His character, His purposes and plans, and has given you many avenues to know Him. Simply read the Bible and look to Jesus and you will get to know an amazing God.
Second, not only does God reveal Himself to you, but He also reveals who you are too. He makes Himself known because He knows that you need Him. He is Creator and you are His creation. He is perfect and you are imperfect due to sin (Romans 1-9). He is Savior and you need redeemed. He takes the initiative to reveal Himself to you so that you would respond and join in a relationship with Him.
God does not play peek-a-boo. He does not want you to be left in the dark as to who He is and His purposes for humanity. Instead He has revealed Himself to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent. You can know Him and have a relationship with Him today.
 And I mean the true sense of the word psychological, which means the study of the soul.
Recently I visited Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. My wife and I were celebrating our third anniversary walking among God’s creation. Walking together is one of our greatest joys. And walking in Muir Woods is quite majestic. It smells of ancient forest. It sounds of pleasant birds and gentle water brook. We even saw a tame young fawn drinking from the water brook that carved through the huge ravine.
We were not alone in the woods. People drive from all over the country and the world to see these mammoth trees. Muir Woods is filled with giant Redwood trees that are bigger than your car in circumference and taller than a 20-story building. Your neck strains seeking to look at the top branches swaying in the ocean breeze.
As amazed as I was by the Redwoods, I was equally amazed by all the people taking pictures of the trees. If you think about it, doesn’t it seem weird that people are flocking to take pictures of big trees? You cannot help but take your camera out of your pocket and snap a few shots. However the photos never really do justice to their reality. It’s like taking a picture of a mountain; you cannot grasp its massiveness and grandeur. But we do not care because we must take a picture to remember what glory we’ve beheld.
It is natural to want to capture nature. We are enamored by nature. John Muir said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than [one] seeks.” Creation wow’s and fascinates us to our core. That’s why people were photographing Muir Woods beauty or spend a moment in silence within the particular grove of trees named, “The Sanctuary.”
Creation is just one of many ways He has revealed Himself to man. It is hard not to look at the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, or Muir Woods and think, “Wow, God made this.” Any other response is utter rejection of the obvious reality. This is called General Revelation.
Here is a concise theology of General Revelation as seen in Muir Woods:
God make Himself known through His creation.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, 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. So they are without excuse.” [Romans 1:19-20; Cf. Psalm 19:1-6]
Creation shouts the glory of God!
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” [Isaiah 55:12, Cf. 44:23]
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!” [1 Chronicles 16:31-34, Cf. Psalm 96:11-13]
Creation makes known the glory of His Savior Son.
“As He [Jesus] rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” [Luke 19:36-40′ Cf. Acts 14:11-18]
Creation along with humanity groans to gain back its lost glory after the fall, but is promised a restoration far better than its former glory.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” [Romans 8:18-22]
What can we learn from the way God imagines and makes, and how must we change our ways of imagining and making because of what we observe in His ways?
1. What we call strange or abstract art may be closer to God’s way of creating.
When God created the first giraffe He did not have one to imitate or to copy. It came out of His imagination and, in the finest sense of the word, was abstract, because it did not look like anything else; it had no exterior reference point.
When people grouse about a painting that does not look like anything kindly refer them to God and what He did in starting up creation. Ask them to take a microscope and telescope and note the countless oddities, dazzlements, flashes and sublimities—abstractions all, nothing imitating anything else.
2. With God, there is a difference between replication and continuation.
Our reasoning might go this way, “Yes, I can agree that God was the first abstract artist, but He acted this way only once, to start things up. After the first giraffe, there were billions of giraffes, and I know they are giraffes because they look like each other. So why should we not continue to the parade by drawing giraffes that look like giraffes?” There is a simple answer: even though God may repeat an action, He does not replicate the object of His action. The genius, if you will, of God’s repeated creational acts lies in the deeper fact that giraffes dramatically vary from each other in ways that go beyond their seeming similarities. And it is the variation that not only brings delight but also allows us to tell one from the other. All giraffes have spots.
3. God’s inside workmanship is as exquisite as His outside workmanship.
When God makes something, it is marked by structural integrity and impeccable craftsmanship through and through. There is no such thing as rough work and finished work with God.
4. God’s idea of quality is the same whether He makes something for quick or for long-lasting use.
When God makes something, He does not pay less attention to it or make it less carefully if He knows that it will be quickly used up.
5. God’s handiwork is not divided between great things for magnificent display and doing average things for ordinary circumstances.
Do we have a concept of creativity that is divided between museum mentality and a workplace mentality—great art for the ages and so-so art for the worship place? Look at a rose or look once at the lowly, eatable mango, and you will see inherent beauty at the same time you notice that each has work to do. God saw to it, in His ways of putting things together, that inherent worth, intrinsic beauty and usefulness quietly and humbly merge. Everything we imagine and make should be put to some work, and everything that is put to work should have inherent comeliness.
6. The Creator is not the creation, and the artist is not the art.
God is superior to what He makes, sovereign over it and separate from it. He is everywhere at once, at the bottom of the deepest sea and in the midst of a primrose. But He is none of these, nor can He be. He made the creation; He did not beget it. By the same token, we are not what we make. We are superior to it; we are sovereign over it and separate from it. A potter no more begets a piece of pottery than God begets a salamander.
7. God is not especially interested in straight lines, perfect circles and geometric tidiness; His work is more chaotic than symmetrical.
A statement like this flies in the face of our neatly packaged, superficial and often spiritualized ideas about order, symmetry, harmony and balance in creation. Walk into a meadow and see if you can locate a straight line of buttercups all exactly the same height, each with exactly replicated pedals. Or try to find a strictly triangular stand of perfectly symmetrical trees foregrounding a mountain range the left side of which is a mirror image of the right side. There is no landscape in which we can find any semblance of order, no storm, at sea in which the waves are the same shape, height, creaminess or momentum. Nothing repeats and nothing is predictable. But here’s an odd twist on it all: underlying the asymmetry and the randomness, there are governing laws that do not randomly fluctuate, even though the outward workings of the laws allow unpredictability and fluctuation. With God, “chaos theory” is nothing other than infinitely varied rightness.
8. God has the jump on anyone who thinks that cultural diversity is the greatest thing since the automobile.
For instance, I must be willing to die for the absolute truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, but I can live comfortably with the belief that Beethoven symphony is but one song among many songs, no one of which is the true song. The biblical defense for cultural diversity lies in the way God speaks, the way He creates and especially the way He clarifies the fundamental difference between His Word and what He creates. God is the most complete diversifier we know of. His handiwork is endlessly varied; all of it is good and each particle fits easily into its ordained place. While everything has its own worth, nothing exists independently of the other, for the entire creation is a community of substance and interchange.1
Adapted from Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives of Worship and the Arts. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. 2003. 129-137
I am sure the untimely and inconvenient news was a shock to the two unwed teenagers the summer of 1979. The news, “You’re pregnant!” Abortion might have been an option, but both their Catholic parents discouraged it and encouraged the baby to be born. I am grateful my two parents decided on the side of life.
Before my sister Samantha was born, my mother and step-dad were already aware she would be born with Spina Bifida. The doctors recommended an abortion thinking it would be laborious to bring a physically disabled child into the world. It is true, my family would have to adjust and Sam would not have the use of her legs, but no one would know the blessing of my beautiful, intelligent, and warm sister, now an incredible young woman.
Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. I hate this day. I don’t hate it because I think it is unbiblical. I hate it because I have to say things in church that shouldn’t have to be said. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies. No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, or economic status. The very fact that these things must be said is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness.
I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that as preach there are babies warmly nestled in wombs that won’t be there tomorrow. I’m reminded that there are children—maybe even blocks from this church—who will be slapped, punched, and burned with cigarettes butts before this message is over. I’m reminded that there are elderly men and women whose lives are pronounced a waste and euthanasia is considered a viable option.
But I also love Sanctity of Human Life Sunday when I think about the fact that I am in a church with ex-orphans, adopted into loving families. I am in a church that supports local pregnancy centers for women in crisis. Like Proverbs 31:8-9 you, “Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and the needy.” May the church continue to be a haven for men and women—who have aborted babies—find their sins forgiven and consciences cleansed by Christ.
Believe it or not the Bible is silent on the topic of abortion [as it is on the humanity of whites, blacks, Hispanics, etc]. Jesus never said, “thou shalt not abort,” even though it was practiced during His day too. Although the Bible does not condemn abortion does not mean it condones it. Likewise, just because culture or government condones it as legal doesn’t it mean it’s God-honoring. The Bible is clear: you are not to take innocent human life without justification.
Therefore, if a positive case can be made for the humanity of the unborn apart from the Bible you can logically conclude that Biblical commands against the unjust taking of human life apply to the unborn as they do other human beings whether they are red, yellow, black or white, young, old, skinny or fat, healthy or not. And to this point, science confirms theology. In other words, science gives the facts you need to arrive at a theologically sound conclusion. What the science of embryology makes clear is that from the earliest stages of development, human embryos and fetuses are human beings but just less developed than the adults they will soon become.
The question I pose this morning: at what point does the embryo begin to be made in the image of God? The answer to this question comes down to your view of God and human life in connection with God. The answer to this important theological question is packed into a little song that David wrote in Psalm 8.
1. GOD IS MAJESTIC IN ALL THE EARTH [Psalm 8:1, 9]
The psalm begins and ends with its main point: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” [8:1, 9]
The two words for lord (O LORD, our Lord) are not the same in Hebrew. The first LORD, with all caps, is a translation of the name YHWH. It’s His personal name. The name He gives Himself. It is built on the statement in Exodus 3:14, “I am who I am.” It’s a name to remind us that He absolute exists. He simply is. He did not come into being, and does not go out of being. He never changes in His being, because He is absolutely exists in His being.
His name is majestic in all the earth. There is no place in all the earth where God is not YHWH—where He is not the absolute One. Everything everywhere depends absolutely on Him. He depends on nothing, but everything depends on Him. He has no viable competitors anywhere. He has no challengers to His throne. He is above all things everywhere. He sustains all things everywhere. He is the aim and goal of all things everywhere. He is greater and wiser and more beautiful and wonderful than everything everywhere. “O YHWH, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth.” That’s the main point of the psalm.
In response you and I are to stand in awe of His majesty and worship. The majesty of God is awe-inspiring. Those who have seen His majesty have never been the same. John fell on His face in the presence of God. Isaiah cried, “I’m unworthy,” when in the thundering presence of God. Do you have a majestic view of God? If you have a majestic view of God you will have a majestic view of life. If you have a low view of God you will have low view of life.
2. GOD’S MAJESTY IS SEEN IN HIS SUPREME CREATION [Psalm 8:3-8]
We are going to skip over verse 2 for a moment. I promise we will come back to it. In verses 3-4 David responds to His majestic Creator, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” The point of these two verses is to see God’s bigness and my smallness. God is infinitely great, and man, by comparison, is nothing. God creates stars with His fingers and I am so small compared to Earth, the sun, and the billions of suns that form up our galaxy, and the millions of galaxies that are laid out in our universe.
Have you ever stood underneath the night sky and thought, “Wow, I am small and insignificant?” That’s the point. God created all that bigness so you’d have a sense of smallness. Some consider it a lot of wasted space, but space God’s natural billboard proclaiming His praise. Worship is not found in feeling big, but rather in feeling small.
An honest question arises in verse 4, “Why do You consider man when You are so majestic?” The answer comes in verses 5-8: “You [O God] have crowned him with glory and honor…You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…” Now that is absolutely astonishing! John Calvin summarized it by saying, “Whoever, therefore is not astonished and deeply affected at this miracle—God being mindful of man—is more than ungrateful and stupid.” Although man is nothing compared to God, He makes man His supreme creation.
God’s majesty is seen as He creates man in His image [Genesis 1:26-27]. One might ask when does the image of God begin in man? According to God, it begins even before one cell splits and multiplies in the womb. In the human embryo are found the marks of your Maker. No other creature in God’s creation is crowned with glory and honor like mankind.
God’s majesty is seen as He makes man dominioneers over all His creation [Genesis 1:28-31]. God gives you a job—care and protect life. However, when we read the Genesis account of Adam and Eve, their children, and observe history thereafter man does not do a good job caring for and protecting life. We don’t like our job. We want a new job. We’d rather redefine the job. Therefore we join a union and march with picket signs that say, “God, I have a rights!”
Do I have rights? Sure. In our society a woman has her rights. She can murder a child and get away with it. I am an advocate for civil and judicial rights, but not rights-gone-wild. The freedom and liberty to use our rights is not always right. Especially when it comes to shedding innocent blood. A human that demands, “I have rights!” Is saying what a sinner says when it rejects God’s moral rules. God determines what is right and wrong. He says we are to care for and protect life. Every man has the right to life.
You cannot starve an elderly human to death and worship the majesty of God. You cannot dismember an unborn human and worship the majesty of God. You cannot gas a Jewish human and worship the majesty of God. You cannot lynch a black human and worship the majesty of God. You cannot gossip, harbor bitterness, or curse a man to his face and worship the majesty of God. Jesus says to hate another human is commit abortion in your heart. You cannot worship the majesty of God while treating His supreme creation with dishonor.
3. GOD VALUES THE LIFE OF CHILDREN [Psalm 8:2]
You might be wondering what does this have to do with the sanctity of life or abortion? Let’s go back to verse 2. There is an incredible contrast between verse 1 and 2. Verse 1 says, “You have set your glory above the heavens.” And Verse 2: “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” The contrast is strange. God is highest of all beings. None could be stronger, wiser, or greater. But babies are weak; they seem to have no wisdom or knowledge. They are utterly dependent on others. They are insignificant in the world’s eyes.
So why does the psalm mention babies? Why are they here? What are they doing? The verse says what they are doing: They are defeating the enemies of God. They are opening their mouths and saying or crying something. And whatever they are saying or crying is powerful enough “to still the enemy and the avenger.”
God has enemies. His foes are those who rebel against His majesty [8:1,9]. They do not see Him as majestic, nor do they want to worship Him. They get far more pleasure out of getting praise for themselves than giving praise to God. Our world has been ruined because of these enemies. And in order for the world to return to its proper purpose, these enemies will have to be dealt with. And what verse 2 tells us is that God, in His majesty and greatness makes babies the means of His triumph over His enemies. Let the strangeness of this sink in. God conquers his foes through the weaknesses of the weak—the worshipful coo’s of baby’s lips.
To understand verse 2 in it’s fullness you have to realize God comes to earth in the form of a cooing and crying baby. Jesus, the God-man, came into the world in childlike lowliness and human weakness. God takes on skin. He’s born of a virgin in a barn. He grows into a man, lives a sinless life, but certain men convict Him of a crime He did not commit. He dies on a cross and 3-day later He rises crushing His enemies under His feet [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:27].
During His earth ministry He welcomed children when others wanted to shoo them away [Mark 10:13-16]. Jesus loves all the little children. Moreover, He said the measure of our love for Him would be measured by our love for children [Mark 9:36-37]. He took the children in His arms as if to say, “Honor these little ones, and you honor Me. Send them away because they are weak, socially insignificant, and bothersome, and you’ve demonstrated you don’t understand the values of the kingdom.”
In Matthew 21, Jesus draws near to Jerusalem. It is Palm Sunday. He enters the city riding on a donkey. The crowds see what this means and they cry out in verse 9, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Hosanna means “salvation.” They are shouting that God’s salvation is coming. They see Him as a prophet or perhaps the Messiah himself—The king of Israel who would defeat the enemies of God.
Now there are children in the crowd. They see what’s happening. They hear their parents shouting. So they take up the chant in verse 15, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” These children are calling Him the king of Israel. The chief priests and the scribes cannot endure the ruckus any longer. They think it’s outrageous for Jesus to hear this kind of praise and not stop or correct them. So they say to Jesus in verse 16, “Do you hear what these are saying?” What they meant was, “We know you can hear what these are saying, but we cannot imagine why you don’t stop them, since you are most certainly not the Messiah.”
Jesus’ answer is as clear as crystal, and its connection to Psalm 8 is frightening. He simply says, “Yes, I hear.” With those few words He says, “Yes. I didn’t miss a word. They are not mistaken. They are not blaspheming. They are not foolish. They just seem foolish. I approve what they are saying” Jesus receives worship from children. And Jesus goes on to say to the chief priests and scribes: “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” It’s a direct quote of Psalm 8:2.
Two things happen when Jesus quotes this Psalm. First, it comes true. His enemy is silenced. The chief priests and scribes are speechless. The praise of the children’s lips won the day. God is defeating His enemies through the weakness of children and man. Second, the meaning of psalm 8 is amplified. When these children cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David !” Their praise was directed to Jesus. Jesus knew it. The chief priests and scribes knew it. And Jesus accepts their worship being God—the absolute One–Himself. On that day, the majesty of God had a face of flesh and a name. His name is Jesus.
In closing I want to share with you a story about my best friend, Ben. In high school our friendship grew through helping each other live for Christ. When I went to college I had less contact with Ben. While I went to Bible College, Ben was going to parties and sleeping with girls. His life became a mess. He got a girl pregnant. To cover it up she aborted. Although Ben had abandoned God, God did not abandon Him. He was relentlessly pursuing Ben.
I remember coming home on college break and visited Ben’s apartment. It looked like a disaster, smelled like beer, and felt dark. I asked Ben, “So what’s God been doing in your life?” I am sure he wanted to kill me for asking a question with an obvious answer. What Ben needed I could not give. He needed his enemies of pride and guilt and thinking “I have rights” to be defeated. In Christ they already were. I kept in contact with Ben. He left for Florida where he thought he’d be anonymous. The majesty of God prevailed, He would not leave him alone, pursuing his heart, and Ben repented of his sin.
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” [Psalm 103:11-13]
Jesus forgives sinners who come to Him with child-like faith. God redeemed Ben’s life. God has given him a godly wife and blessed him with two (so to be three) beautiful children. Today Ben is serving God in the ministry. Ben is an advocate for life.
Jesus can forgive you too. No matter how bad your sin or how dirty your past. He will not only forgive you but welcome you as His child in His compassionate arms. Come. He awaits you with an embrace.
Why do I need psalm 8? It inflames my heart with wonder, awe, and love for God. Seeing the majesty of God is the first step towards looking at myself and other humans rightly. In His majesty we see the sanctity of life.
I love this picture.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has produced the deepest image of the universe ever taken. Astronomers generated this picture by pointing Hubble at one small patch of the sky for several months and recording every tiny photon of light they could get. It is as if you took an average sized coin and held it up to the night sky. The entire image contains nearly 10,000 galaxies, but here you can see a small sample of what’s out there.
The universe is vast. Huge. Ginormous!
The Bible says, that God has given each of the stars a name,
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
(Psalm 147:4-5 ESV)
To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
(Isaiah 40:25-26 ESV)
Almost all the stars in the universe are collected together into galaxies. They can be small dwarf galaxies, with just 10 million or so stars, or they can be monstrous irregular galaxies with more than 10 trillion stars. Our own Milky Way galaxy contains an estimated 200 billion stars, which is average for a galaxy in the universe.
So how vast is the universe? Know one really knows nor has seen the edge of deep space. Astronomers estimate that there are approximately 100 billion to 1 trillion galaxies in the Universe [about 1024 stars] or between 10 sextillion and 1 septillion stars in the universe, but that may be on the small side of the scale. That’s a large number of stars. And God created each and knows each by name.
Without God’s grace on Noah and his family, you and I would not be here today. Remember, the reason God chose to save Noah is given in Genesis 6:8, “But Noah found favor [grace] in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah did not begin his life a blameless [6:9], righteous man [7:1], “walking with God,” but he began a sinner. The only difference between Noah and the other sinners who drowned in the flood was that God was gracious to Noah. God choose undeserving Noah to be an object of His grace. This is the first time in the grace appears in word form in the Bible. God is so faithful to mankind despite their flagrant sin.
The time has come [Genesis 7:1-5]
God calls Noah to enter the ark. Final preparations from God arrive about the ark and the future flood. There are two very interesting items to note. First, God asks Noah to gather seven pairs of clean animals, and a pair of unclean animals. In God’s wisdom, the mixed genders of the animals give the ability for the animals to procreate after the flood, but what is the deal with the clean and unclean animals? At this point, there was no law [cf. Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14:3-12], nor any recorded conversation with Noah concerning the difference between pure and impure animals. In the context of the first chapters of Genesis, I tend to lean towards the belief that the distinction of clean and unclean animals was for the purpose of sacrifice. Sacrifice and worship were already a big part of God’s created order [cf. 3:21; 4:3-5; 9:20ff].
Second, God’s patience for man’s sin extended for 1600 years [Genesis 5], He allowed 120 years for people to repent [6:3], but no one did. The time has come and Noah has only one week to gather two of every kind of animal. This is totally an impossible task for one family to accomplish on their own, unless they have divine help [cf. 7:16; 2:19]. And again, Noah obeys all that God commands Him to do [cf. 6:22]. God’s sovereign rule and His expectation for man’s obedience run parallel to each other. God requires Noah to build the ark—taking 120 years—possibly showing the diligence of Noah’s obedience.
Put your feet in Noah’s Nike’s [Genesis 7:6-24]
Noah builds a big boat in a desert, for 120 preaches with no one listening only mocking, and God gives him 7 days to gather all the animals of the field and air before the flood walls burst [note: water came from above and below]. The decree of God comes to pass just as He promised. His sovereignty is displayed in His wrath against sin. This is one of the most sobering passages in all the Bible. The destruction was all encompassing and annihilating to every living thing on earth [7:19-23], except for what was in the ark of His grace. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to celebrate your 600th birthday? I am sure Noah was flooded with emotion.
What would you be thinking? Could you image what Noah and his family was thinking as the storm clouds move in, as he notices neighbors and friends working the field, as he hears the voices of children and mothers in their homes, as they stand in the ark during the flood? “What about the other people who do not get into the boat? Is it fair that they are out there and we are in here? Has God left us alone? Will this boat stand the strength of this storm? Will we ever be able to get out of this boat? Will we have enough food?” We do not know what they were thinking, maybe fear, doubt, or loneliness.
I remember as a child, I would hide from my mother in the clothing racks while shopping. She did not like that very much. One time we were in JC Penny’s and I thought it would be fun to hide extra hard and extra long. So I hid in the center of a tall rack of jean. I could hear my mother saying, “Justin, where are you? Come out this minute!” I waited until I couldn’t hear her anymore. I peaked out from the clothes and she was gone. I was alone. For a split second, I was excited because I lost her, but then I was filled with fear because I didn’t want to live in JC Penny’s the rest of my life. I loved my mom and didn’t want to lose her. I searched throughout the store yelling her name, but could not find her. Until I heard a voice from above say, “This is the costumer service counter. Would Justin Hutts please report to the service counter immediately.” The voice said it again. I ran to the front of the store. There was my mother with a look anger mixed with an embrace of grace.
God has already shown Himself faithful. He is in the storm. His sovereignty is displayed as He fills the ark, He shuts the door on time, and He unleashes the flood re-creating of all He created. Holding the boat afloat and by His grace filled it with 8 people and enough animals to replenish the earth. God’s progress of redemption again takes chaos and shows His absolute control. The same language in Genesis 7 is used in the initial act of creation [Genesis 1; Note: Creation and Re-creation Comparison chart].
God Remembers Noah [Genesis 8:1-19]
Even in the floods of judgment, when God seems most distant to our eyes, He is faithful to remember His own [8:1]. Noah is not forgotten. God gives Noah a glimmer of hope amidst the stormy seas. The word “remembrance” is found twice in this passage and only two other times in Genesis in relation to God and man. This word is used primarily to speak of a covenant God makes with His people, thus recalling a promise made by God to sustain man. In Exodus, this word used again, as God recalls the covenant relationship between Abraham and His children as they are living in Egypt [Exodus 2:24; 6:5]. This is the kind of remembrance that God has for Noah and his family in the ark. God is faithful in carrying out His plan and executing His promises to Noah [cf. 6:18].
It only took forty days for the waters to rise and destroy the earth, but it took about 5 months for the waters reside. What is Noah doing during this time? He patiently waits [8:10, 12]. How many of you would be willing to wait on God like Noah? How many of you when bad things happen with impatience plead with God for immediate relief? Noah simply waits. He waits for a word from God before leaving the ark [8:15, 18]. God speaks; Noah obeys. Noah knew God was at work. The rain stopped and the waters began to reside. Do you see the sovereignty and faithfulness of God at work? Do you see the rhythmic ebb and flow of the flood story?
In conclusion, the flood flexes the character of God as sovereign dealing with sin [death, Romans 3:23; 6:23], and faithful to His own through the flood. We are also confronted with the patience of God and how He is offended by sin. We are encouraged by Noah’s faithful obedience. Noah was particular, not partial, in following God’s instruction. ‘Cutting corners’ would mean the destruction of his family too. God expects lifelong obedience. Noah is an example to all of us not just of obedience but also the faithfulness of God in the midst of the fierce flood.
Questions for Reflections and Application: In light of Genesis 6:5-7 and 2 Peter 2:4-9 why did God send the flood? What does the flood reveal about the fate of those who continue in sin without repentance? According to Romans 3:21-28, how is the Old Testament act of atonement ultimately applied to Jesus Christ? According to I John 4:7-21, how is Jesus’ atonement related to Gods love and ours?
 Later, Paul the apostle carries this word in his New Testament teaching on salvation ”by grace through faith alone”. Noah was a favored because God saved him by grace and he had faith in God alone.
 Is God just to send the flood? Yes. Why didn’t He give them more time? He gave them 1600 years, plus 120 years of warning, and 7 final days to turn. Why didn’t he send a preacher? He did. Noah preached for 120 years, but no one repented. He was the Billy Graham of his day. Why didn’t God let them sin? You would curse God for His injustice. Why didn’t God save them? He did. He had Noah build a boat. No matter all that God does to people still choose not to heed God.
 The flood was a day of judgment, which would be echoed in God’s prophets as they foretold the Day of the Lord, “The prophets also appealed to the imagery of creation’s reversal to depict the day of the Lord’s judgment [i.e. Isaiah 24:18b; Jeremiah 4:23-26; Amos 7:4].” (cf. Bruce Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI. 2001. 139.) This type of imagery is not seen until the end of time, which is prophesied in the Book of Revelation.
 Cf. 9:14-15; 19:29; 30:22; Exodus 2:24; 6:5; 32:13; 1 Samuel 1:19; Judges 16:28; Job 14:13; Psalm 8:4; 9:12; 74:1-3; 98:3; 105:8; 106:45; 111:5; Jeremiah 15:15.
I am the product of the normal dysfunctional American home, which means my parents divorced before I was able to speak, I was in and out of special education classes in school, needed specialized counseling, and struggled with parental authority until after college. I am grateful today for my family situation and how God used it all as a means to mature me into the man I am today. However, when I was younger, I was not so grateful. In fact, I was bitter, jealous, self-centered, and had ungodly expectations of my parents, especially my mother.
It was until the summer after college, I came under conviction for my sinful expectations and need for reconciliation with my mother. After years of church, 4-years of Bible College training for the ministry, and life of ministry awaiting ahead God convicted me through His Word and His Spirit, “Justin, if you are going to be a vehicle of reconciliation into the lives you are ministering and have not reconciled with your own mother, you are living a lie. I have reconciled your relationship with Me. How dare you are slapping Me in the face.” By the end of that summer I sat down with my Father seeking forgiveness, and my mother seeking reconciliation for my hidden expectations. And God reconciled.
First, God promises to conquer sin and remove it from His creation [Genesis 3:15]. In the beginning of the fall of mankind, God gives a glimmer of hope. This verse is known as the protevangelium, or the first proclamation of the gospel. In the seriousness of the situation, Adam’s sin, gives a sobering mention of a seed of salvation. Although centuries of conflict will follow this fall, a day would come when the seed of the women triumphed over sin. Eve’s daughter, Mary, gives birth to the promised seed. “He”, namely Jesus, the promised seed [Galatians 4:4], will one day crush the head of Satan [Galatians 3:16-19]. In a sense, as followers of Christ live under the gospel and become reconciled to God they are destroying the devil and his work [Romans 16:20].
Second, God works throughout history to reveal Himself and reconcile His creation to Himself. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, God progressively works out His redemptive plan. In Genesis, we will see His plan worked out through Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and later with Moses, David and the prophets. God is relentless and passionate about His redemptive purposes for the people of this planet. God remedies creations need through the Redeeming Seed. He is the climax of history and the saving activity of God. He conquered sin, death, and Satan.
Third, God uses sacrifice as the means for reconciliation. It is a sacrifice that clothed Adam and Eve [3:21]; a sacrifice where blood was spilt because of sin. God provided this sacrifice. God initiated reconciliation and provided its means. What the Lord Jesus Christ is called in 1 Corinthians 15:45 is the second Adam. That the first Adam failed, and that the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ succeeded.
Interesting connection, in the Garden before Jesus’ death, remember who comes to the second Adam? The serpent. The serpent tempts Jesus as He did Adam with food. He also tempts Jesus with pride. He takes Him and shows Him all the kingdoms of the earth, and says, “You can rule and reign over all. You don’t need to go to the cross and suffer. All you need to do is bow down and worship me.”
The first Adam allowed the serpent to speak. Jesus steps in and speaks. The first Adam allowed the Word of God to be misquoted. Satan again, in his temptation of Jesus as Adam, misquotes Scripture and changes its meaning. But Hebrews 4:15 says that every moment that the serpent came to tempt Him, He was tempted in every way as you are, yet without sin. At every moment that the serpent came to Jesus, He emerged sinless, triumphant, and victorious.
And so the serpent devised one final plan. As he had caused the first Adam to kill himself via sin that led to his death, he knew that he could not get Jesus, the second Adam, to kill Himself, so he decided that he would simply kill Him. In Luke 22:3, we are told that Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ own 12 disciples. He possessed Judas Iscariot, fulfilling the prophecy of Zachariah in which a friend through a kiss for 30 pieces of silver would betray Jesus. Indeed, Jesus was betrayed. Jesus was handed over. And Jesus was ultimately murdered unjustly.
Colossians 2:13-15 says that though this appears as a victory for Satan and his minions, it was the greatest victory in the history of the world for the Lord Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus did something extraordinary. He took sin upon Himself. And Romans 5 says, “We’re either in the first Adam – dead, or in the second Adam – alive.“ Are you dead or alive? Which Adam do you follow? The Second Adam is your only hope of salvation and a forever. Follow Him.
I love lots of things. I love Taco Bell, IKEA, Swedish Fish, Wisconsin, VW’s, my wife, and traveling around the world. I understand that is a random list of things. How can a list of things that are so good be so bad? Everyday things that are good can be twisted towards evil, in turn, ruling my heart and distracting me from wholehearted worship towards God.
John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” [1 John 2:15] But then in another place John says, “For God so loved the world…” [John 3:16] and Jesus says, “As [God] sent Me into the world, so I have sent [believers] into the world.” [John 17:18] So on one hand, I am not supposed to love the world, but God loves the world. And on the other hand, I am not supposed to love things in the world, but Jesus sends His followers to live in the world. Okay, let’s decipher and answer: What is the world? Should or shouldn’t I love the world? How can I love the world?
What is the world?
I am going to begin with biblical worldview of the world. The gospel message sums up the biblical worldview of the world. The gospel is a belief that the Bible is absolutely true in that God is a loving Creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God. In other words, since God is my Creator I am responsible to Him, but I have rebelled against His authority, therefore I need a Redeemer to restore me to a right relationship with God, so I must respond the gospel of Jesus Christ with wholehearted commitment.
According to the gospel, God created the world and the world God created He created “good”. The “good news” does not begin with Jesus, it begins with the good world created by Jesus. The Bible says that God’s creation worships Him and honors Him as the Creator. However, the sinful fall of man has tainted the world. The Bible says that creation and humanity groan for the day when they will be recreated. The world I am called to love is the world God created, not the sinfully rebellious, self-centered, God-forsaken; independent-spirited that marks worldliness.
How can I love the world without loving the world?
First, love the world by enjoying the world God created. All of creation enjoys and worships God, so must I [Psalm 19:1-4]. God created the world for His glory. The created world does not just sit still in its place, it shouts out constant worship to its Creator. Creation worships a real and tangible Creator whose fingerprint is on that creation [Romans 1:19-20]. Not all created beings acknowledge God as Creator, rather they ignores Him [Romans 1:18] and worship the creature over the Creator [Romans 1:21-25].
God created the world good for you [Genesis 1-2; 1 Timothy 4:4-5; 6:17]. Eden, which means “pleasure” or “delight”, was meant to be that for the humans He created to indwell the garden. The garden was a sanctuary of God’s goodness. How can I practically enjoy the world God created? Take a walk outside and breath in the fresh air. Worship God’s worldwide beauty in how He formed the planet, scattered the stars in the sky, carved the mountains, plains, deserts. Worship God in how He made the human body works from the smallest electron to the beat of the heart to the mysterious brain. Worship the simple ways God cares for you,
“The earth feed us. And clothes us. And shelters us. Think of grass for a moment—possibly the most abundant form of vegetation on the planet, in its myriad varieties in all climates. We eat grass, one it has become meat from grazing animals whose only diet is daily grass. We drink grass, in the form of milk and curds. We wear grass, in clothing made from wool or shoes made from leather. Millions of humans still use grass for effective thatched shelter from sun and rain. Grasses are woven in ropes baskets, and floor coverings. Grass alone provides humans with incalculable benefits and supplies so much of our needs, even before we go on to talk about cultivated grasses that produce the vast variety of nourishing grains we shake into our cereal bowls in the morning.”
God created the world as your home, a temporary home. The world is your temporary residence, not your eternal dwelling place. You are a temporary steward of the home God has given you. The Bible says in this present world you are strangers and aliens to this world [Hebrews 11:13]. You are homeless and God is calling you home. Your time here on earth is worship practice for what is to come afterwards. To a home that He will recreate [Revelation 21:14] not filled with worldliness.
Second, love the world by serving of the world. In Genesis 1:28, God give you a creation mandate: care for creation as a royal steward [cf. Genesis 2:15]. As a dominioneer, you are charged to take care of everything God has created on earth, spread yourselves out in population, and spread the popularity of God’s fame through your obedience. You were made in the image of God to bear His name, to work, to rule, and to serve as God’s steward [Genesis 9:1].
Remember at the end of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when Sam was giving a speech to Frodo to continue on the journey of carrying the ring of burden?
Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo; the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was, when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going… because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.
What is good in this world? What in this world is worth fighting for? God. God is what this world is about. Your life now matters. Your work, family, sleep, and daily routine all matter. Every square inch of the earth you trod matters. Every second of life is significant. God rules it all. He owns it all. As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!” God is supreme over every sphere you enter and roam.
Third, love the world by shining the light to the darkened world. People tend to fight for the spotlight. We want the spot to shine on us. However, the gospel reminds us that we are not the central actors in this divine drama. It is not about me. My fame will fade. The story that matters, which all history focuses upon is: Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world [John 8:12]. He is the primary light. We are just secondary reflectors of His light, like the sun and the moon.
The best way you can love the world is to be an ambassador of the gospel to a darkened world. Shining His light into it through your words and deeds. The way you live, the way you work, and the way you talk all reflect on the God you love. Your first mandate was to subdue the earth [Genesis 1:28] and your final mandate is to make disciples of all peoples [Matthew 28:19-20]. Both mandates spread the fame of God’s name along the way putting the gospel on display.
In conclusion, Should or shouldn’t I love the world? Yes and no. No, I should not love the things in the world that steal my affection for God and rob me of wholehearted worship. Yes, I should love the world God created. How can I love the world? I can love the world by enjoying God’s creation, ruling over His creation as a servant, and shine His light to the darkened world.
What came first the chicken or the egg? That is the infamous question of origins. Except today we will unlock the mysteries to the question, what came first the human or ape? I am not satisfied with the conclusion that I evolved from an ape or primordial ooze. Is there another option? A better option?
Genesis does tell you a lot about God and everything He created, and it also says a lot about yourself. First, man is made in God’s image [1:26]. You were created. God made you. He made you to be a reflector of one thing—Himself. But what does it mean that God has created you in His image? The answer is in the context of Genesis 1:26. You are imaged as a dominioneers. A dominioneer is a ruler, a mini king like the King of kings. This is what sets you apart from every other animal, plant, or planet that God created.
As dominioneers you are charged to take care of everything God has created on earth and spread yourselves out in population as well as spread the popularity of God’s fame through your obedience. You were made in the image of God to bear His name, to work, to rule, and to serve as God’s steward. The earth is not our mother; rather God is our very good Father. This cultural mandate is supposed to carry forth as the church building a kingdom counter culture that honors God, obeys His Word, and expands His fame.
Second, man was created as male and female [1:27; 2:4-25]. God created man equally in His image, but He created them differently in sex and roles. God made the male a helpmate suitable for him [2:18] because God knew he needed a personal companion and complement [not compliment, but a counterpart]. These verses on male and female are critical for relationships, marriage, and sexuality issues. Issues our culture would rather ignore. Man and woman become one flesh in marital union as designed by God. This is the miracle or marriage.
Third, man was created very good [1:31]. Above all of God’s creation He sets man apart as not just good, but very good. Man was innocent and sinless at first [2:25]. Man had direct communication with God in the garden. And man felt no shame with God. That is why they were naked. They had nothing to hide. They were completely open and transparent with God. Today, you would never walk outside your house without any clothes on because you would either be embarrassed or arrested. Today nakedness equals shame and hiding things is natural. Why? You will have to wait for more on this next week.
In conclusion, history and humanity has a beginning The Bible begins with God and the creative act that sent time into motion. The Bible addresses the origin of man and the universe [and everything] in Genesis 1-2. These first chapters of the Bible reveal to you the character of God, the beginnings of creation and the beginnings of man. You and I are left to ponder and wonder, let us draw to God in worship and praise for His wonderful creation.
 D.A. Carson, The God Who Is There, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI. 2010. Pg. 23.
In the comedic book, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams everyone is on the quest to find the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. A super computer is built, named Deep Thoughts, to calculate the answer, but it must take 7.5 million years to compute. The great day arrives and the world awaits its answer. And the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is, 42. Not the answer they were looking for. Deep Thoughts answers their disgruntlement, “So once you do know what the question actually is, you’ll know what the answer means.” Then Deep Thoughts suggests they build a computer, named Earth, to calculate the right question. The question will take another 10 million years, but a bypass is being built that just demolished earth. So long and thanks for all the fish.
You do not have to build a super computer or search the worlds end to find the answer to the origins of life, the universe and everything. Genesis tell you a lot about the originator, and its origins. First, God created everything with order to reflect His character. Check out the precision and order to the days of God’s creation:
|Day||Day of the Week||What God Made||More Details||Interesting Tidbits|
|1||Sunday [Forming]||light and darkness||The light rose and set. [Sun? Not sure.]||Sunday is the same day Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is the illumination of Heaven.|
|2||Monday [Forming]||sky and waters separated||Water in the sky, water in the clouds, water in the middle, and water below.||In Genesis, God separates things by His Word. God does not say Monday is good!?|
|3||Tuesday [Forming]||dry ground and waters separated||Land and seas. God made things grow on Tuesday.||Land appears 400 times in Genesis. Important. Also, you plant seeds in ground and grow with water. Seed is a key word in Genesis too.|
|4||Wednesday [Filling]||sun, moon, stars (lights separated in Heaven)||2 lights. Great light: Sun. Lesser light: moon.||How did God create light without the sun, moon and stars on Day 1?|
|5||Thursday [Filling]||fish and birds||God created things to swim in the water and fly in the sky.||God is preparing man’s real-estate to be lived in. God blesses [v.22; 40x’s in Genesis]|
|6||Friday [Filling]||animals and man, plants and trees||God puts all the animals together in order [i.e. livestock/farm].||God gives the animals to man to use to help with work.|
|7||Saturday||rest||Sleep; day off from work to worship||Days are for working and evenings are for sleeping.|
Did God really need 6-days to create everything? It is just like asking the question, if God got tired after creating everything? No. God could have created everything in the blink of an eye or the snap of a finger, but He chose 6-days to demonstrate the week of work and need for day of rest. God made all this great stuff before He made you. He desires to take care of you from the get go. What a great God!
Second, without an understanding of Genesis 1-2, you cannot understand Genesis 3 and beyond. Without understanding how good God created everything, you cannot completely grasp what happens in the rest of the Bible.
Third, creation is a theme found throughout the Bible. You will see the notion of creation pop up other places in the Bible. It all starts in Genesis with God creating all things. Later in the Bible, Jesus Christ comes as the Savior of mankind, redeeming His creation. Those who believe in Him become new creations. Even later in the Bible, following the second coming of Jesus Christ, the idea of creation will reappear with the creation of a new heavens and new earth that are not stained with sin. God loves to create.
Fourth, since God created everything, everything is under his authority. You are responsible and accountable as a creation to your Creator. Why should I obey God? He made you. He owns you. He holds the deed to your life. You can still choose not to believe or obey, even create your own gods to worship, but that does not erase the fact that He is God and you are not. He owns your life, and you owe Him your life. Since, He is the authority everything will give account to Him. It is best to obey Him today than tomorrow.
 Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,Portland House, New York, NY. 1997. 117-122
The theme Genesis is God, “In the beginning, God.” The book is about God. All the books of the Bible are about God. All of history is about God. Everything is about God. Genesis is not exhaustive; it does not tell us everything about God. The book of Genesis covers about 2,000 years of human history. It covers as much history as all of the rest of the Bible combined. Genesis is a selective telling of history by Moses. He gives the things that you need to know because they are most important and most related to our understanding of God. This leads you to what Genesis tells you about God.
The first information we have about God from Genesis is obvious:
God is [1:1]
There is not a long argument, just a statement of fact, “In the beginning, GOD.” He is. God exists as He is. He always was and is. God simply is.
However, God is not just simple, He is also complex. God is One [1:1, 26]. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is that there is one God, and this one God is three equal persons—Father, Son, and Spirit [cf. Isaiah 48:16; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:18-20]. Although Moses might have understood the Trinity concept completely because of progressive revelation, therefore, the rest of Scripture teaches that each member of the Trinity was involved in Creation: the Father created 9Psalm 19:1; Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 8:6], the Son created [John 1:1-3, 10, 14; Colossians 1:16-17], and the Spirit created [Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13].
God did not keep silent about His creation and plans with creation. God is a talker [1:3a]. God spoke His creation into existence with the power of His words. God said and it was. God created light, stars, planets, plants and animals all by saying so. He spoke to His creation and charged them on how to live. God is verbal. If God talks, you must listen.
God make everything [1:3-25]
The question is not often whether God created everything [Hebrews 11:3], rather how did He create everything. For the sake of time and space, I will not indulge in a scientific treatise of Genesis and creation. Yet I will give you a few thoughts to chew on. First, there are differences in opinion among Christians as to whether God created a young earth [7 literal days] or old earth [i.e. gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2]. There are tensions because in Genesis 1-2 there is a mixture of history and symbols. Second, there are even more differences in opinion in the claims of science. Scientists have wrestled with the origins of the universe and human kind for millennia’s [i.e. Darwinism, atheism, intelligent design, irreducible complexity, etc.]. The theories and hypothesis among scientists come in all shades of colors, sizes and textures.
Let it be known, Genesis is not a scientific textbook, but what Genesis does tell us is enough—God created everything. This must be clear or Genesis 2 and following do not make any sense. Galileo said it well, “The Bible is not preeminently concerned with telling us how the heavens go. The Bible is, instead, most concerned with telling us how to go to Heaven.”
When God made everything He made it good [1:25]. God openly says, “Let there be this, and let there be that,” not half-heartedness or with reckless speediness. He did not make cheap trinkets that would easily fall apart. He created everything good. In the beginning there was no need for a policeman, fireman, garbage man or handy man. Everything was created good—without death, defect, or decay.
God rests after making everything [2:1-3]
Why did God rest? Did He get tired from using all His creative juices? No God is limitless in His creative powers. He does not need a break because of tiredness or vacation from stress. He rested the seventh day because He knew in His infinite wisdom that His created man would need this as an example to live by. Man is a finite creature and needs to rest weekly in order to remain sane and Sabbath. Rest is something God models and makes for man. Rest is best for mankind.
God gets glory for His greatness
Every molecule, ameba, moth, mosquito, Madagascar hissing cockroach, muskrat, monkey, moose, mouse, mountain lion, manatee, and man were created to give back praise to their Creator. God made creation to glorify Himself [Psalm 19:1]. God made creation to pour forth His love [Psalm 136]. God made creation for Himself [Colossians 1:16]. God made creation to show you His attributes [Romans 1:20]. And God made creation to worship Him [Revelation 4:11]. Everything was made by God and for God. Only “the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” [Psalm 14:1]
There are many different views about what God is like. He can be depicted as a nice old man upstairs or an ogre under the toll bridge. We often make God what we want Him to be like rather than who He really is. The God of the Bible is often different than the popular persona of Him. The way we—including many Christians—like to picture God is not the way God. What is God like to you? Here are some common views of God voiced by people today:
God is like a Grandpa. The grandpa-God is popular, forgiving, and a generous giver. Whenever we do something wrong he smiles and says, “It’s okay, I understand, don’t worry, I love you. Here’s some ice cream.” He is positive and reluctant to punish—sometimes forgetful. Grandpa God loves to spoil and send home his grandchildren satisfied.
God is like Santa Claus. Some think God is like a Cosmic Easter Bunny, Mr. Rogers, or jolly old St. Nick. “He sees you when your sleeping, He knows when your awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” He likes to give lots of gifts; blessings to all good kids and coal to the bad kids. All we have to do is ask and He will give us whatever we desire, like a genie in a bottle. The problem with the Santa Claus God is that the older we get the harder it is to believe that He is real.
God is like my Buddy. Some think God is like a casual friend. We go together like milk and cookies or macaroni and cheese. We text and Facebook each other often, but it is nothing more than casual and fun conversation. We like to call on Him when we need a friend because he is non-judgmental and low-maintenance. He will look out for us, but doesn’t interfere with our personal business.
God is like an Unfair Judge. Some think God is commonly known as the overbearing, always anger judge. He wears a long flowing judicial robe and carries a gavel waiting to inflict punishment and pain on sinners. He keeps a list of our tardies and demerits. This God is overly involved in our daily lives and world events. He is angry at sin and rightfully punishes the unfaithful. Feeling guilty?
Is God like some of these characteristics? God is loving, forgiving, and blessing. He is a friend. He is just and angry at sin. God is very different—compared to you and than most popular concepts of Him. As we read through the Bible we see that God is not like us. We have already discussed that I believe the Bible is absolutely true, which includes what that Bible says about God. He is set apart. He is in a class of His own. He is not untouchable or unattainable; rather He is distinct in His divine attributes. Here is what the Bible says God is like and humanity’s responsibility to Him:
Man is responsible to God because He is an indefatigable Creator
In the first verse of the first book of the Bible it declares, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1] Everything exists [i.e. mountains, mammals, microorganisms, Milky Way] because God is—including you and me [cf. Genesis 1:26-27]. God spoke and it was. The Bible says that the creation itself sings of it Creator, “The heavens declare Your glory” [Psalm 19:1; cf. Romans 1:19-20].
God is a beautiful Creator. As the Creator of the universe and everything He does not get tired, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.” [Isaiah 40:28] It is true God rested the seventh day of creation not because He was tired, but as a model for His creation who is not omnipotent. As Creator, there is not a job God cannot handle, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.” [Jeremiah 32:17]. The affairs of seven billion people on this planet are not outside His job description either.
Now there are some people that argue, “So what if God made all that is and me? That doesn’t mean He is intimately involved in the affairs of His creation nor govern over it? Even if He is governing, He is not doing a very good job!” This is easily debunked when we look at the remainder of the Scripture that follows Genesis 1. From Genesis 2 through Revelation 22—even now—God is intimately involved in the lives of His people. God is alive and at work. Since He is my Creator and Originator, He owns me and expects me to obey.
Man is responsible to God because He is infinitely Holy
Not only is God a Creator—He is infinitely holy. In other words, God cannot sin. It is not that He doesn’t know the nature of sin; rather His holy character prevents Him from sinning. When getting a glimpse of God, Isaiah see angelic beings praising God saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” [6:3] God is holy, which means He is sinless. When Isaiah saw God for who He was [holy], he also saw himself for who he was [unholy].
Since God is sinless He cannot be prejudiced [Acts 10:34-35]. He cannot break a promise [Psalm 89:34]. Therefore, He does not know of a sin He cannot not forgive nor think of a better plan of salvation than His own [Exodus 34:6-7]. God is who He says He is—perfect and infinitely holy. Since God is holy, He expects holiness from His creation. There is no sin in His heaven. Those whose sin is not covered by the blood of Christ will not be in heaven either.
God is not a garbage man throwing out our sinful trash without a cost and delivering to the local dump never to be recovered again. Our sin does have a severe cost: death [Romans 3:23]. Sin must be judged. Yet in God’s grace He sent Jesus Christ to pay the ransom for my sin and He stands as my advocate before the throne. When I commit my life to Christ His blood declares me, “Not guilty!” He loves righteousness and justice.
In Summary, what is God like? He is not like us. He is Creator and Holy. He is perfect and without sin. Since God is my holy Creator I am responsible to Him. He owns me. I report to Him. He is the standard by which I live by and will be judged. If you want to know about what God is like look at Jesus [Read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John]. Is this your God? Do you know Him?
Sarah and I just got back from our wonderful vacation filled with family, friends, and new memories of glorious mountains. We were able to spend a few days hiking and exploring the back country of Rocky Mountain National Park. We climbed up to the base of Mummy Peak and tented at the treeline basin nestled below Fairchild and Hagues Mountains. We did not encounter any bears at 11000 feet, but we did have plenty of encounters with chipmunks. They don’t warn you at the park office about those pesky varmints!?
When standing within the virgin forests gazing up at the sharp rocks jetting into blue skies one cannot help but think, “God is powerful and mighty to have created this natural art.” The picturesque mountains are certainly contagious. I miss the sounds of mountain birds singing and wind whirling in the tall evergreens, the smell of the crisp snow capped air mixed with ointment of perfuming flowers. God is so creative in the way He attracts our senses to His beauty and majesty within creation.
Much of this vacation was imagined and planned by my wife Sarah. Even though she is 5 months pregnant she did not complain much about the elements. Sarah is perched for adventure. Next week she departs for over a week with a group from our church to Haiti. There she will again hike a mile up a mountain to serve faithfully in a forgotten village 6 months after the devastating earthquake. Some say Sarah is crazy for going overseas this far into her pregnancy, while others have offered her money to stay home, but she presses on with the support of her husband.
I have confidence that Sarah will do be just fine in Haiti, especially after climbing the 6.2 mile trail up and down Lawn Lake. Our baby is going to be a little climber and adventurer just like mama. Our God is a protector and provider. He is the God who has given us our child and He is the God who will also hedge my wife and child as they go to unknown places spreading the fame of His name.