“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 ESV[i] is a straightforward account of the origins of the universe. This verse is so simple, a child can understand it. Yet in all its simplicity and clarity, men in recent centuries have struggled to accept this simple verse by faith. By its very position as the first verse of God’s inspired word, Genesis 1:1 is the cornerstone of the foundation of our faith and our understanding of God. God’s claim of worship, sovereignty and power are directly linked to the truthfulness of Genesis 1:1. If God did not create the heavens and the earth as recorded in Genesis 1-3 then He has no power and neither is He worthy of worship. In this lesson we will explore the implication of “In the beginning, God…”
IN THE BEGINNING, GOD EXPLAINS OUR ORIGINS:
Genesis 1:1 is not an ambiguous statement. It is here that God explains how everything was supernaturally created in six days. There is no hint of a natural process involved in God’s creation. The Psalmist affirms the truth of Genesis 1:1 when he said, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made and by the breath of His mouth all their host” (Psalm 33:6). The Hebrew writer also reminds us that God spoke all things into existence saying, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). These two passages confirm for us the truth of Genesis 1:1 that God spoke the universe into existence by the word of His mouth.
Yet some Christians feel the need for science to explain the creation account; however, science can add nothing to God’s explanation of our origin. Think back with me to your science classes. What two things were we taught that science needs in order to be legitimate? Observation and verification through repetition. Science can do neither of those two things when it comes to the creation. Scientists can observe and verify what exists now, but how something exists now cannot explain the miracle that took place to create it. Let me explain.
Let’s say you were there the day Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44) and you wanted to explain how Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead. What would you do? I guess the place to start would be to look inside of him, take some DNA samples, maybe do some blood work, or do a brain scan. You would want to observe his daily routine, from how much he slept to what he ate; everything he did would need to be documented. Our list could go on and on, but there is one problem; nothing that we would learn from studying Lazarus’ post-death life (or pre-death life for that matter) would shed any light on how Jesus raised him from the dead. The reason is, a miracle cannot be explained; or else it would not be a miracle. Just as science could not explain how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it offers no help in explaining the origins of the universe, only Genesis 1:1 can provide that explanation. It is a mistake to think that the man-made theories of creation science, intelligent design, or day-age theory can add anything to God’s authoritative account of our creation beginning with Genesis 1:1.
To those who would seek to espouse their “so called knowledge” God says, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know!” (Job 38:4-5). All who would seek to add science to the creation account of Genesis 1:1 would do well to pay special attention to Job 38-40:5. In the context of dressing down the thinks-he-knows-it-all Job, God crushes the pride of scientific understanding regarding the origins of the universe by rhetorically asking that only God can answer. Many would do well to follow Job’s example when he answered God by saying, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).
Rather than looking to science, whether it is the atheistic version, or its deistic adaptation, as an aid to explaining our origins, let us, by faith (Hebrews 11:3) accept God’s authoritative explanation of our origin; “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Nothing more needs to be said, God has given us a wonderful, awe-inspiring explanation of our origin. To seek to add anything else to Genesis 1:1 is to rob God of glory, honor and power.
IN THE BEGINNING, GOD TEST OUR FAITH:
You cannot get past the first verse of the Bible before God is testing your faith. God is saying to you, “Do you believe that I created the heavens and the earth?” There are many in the religious world today that shrink back from believing in the truth of Genesis 1:1. They fail God’s first test of faith. Either you are going to believe that God created the heavens and the earth or you are not. If your faith does not start with Genesis 1:1, then where does it start? Friends, you must know that the scriptures tie together faith in the creation account of Genesis 1-3 with faith in Jesus, His redemptive power, and the sovereignty of God. Belief in these things is founded upon a faith in the creation account of Genesis 1:1.
A failure of faith in Genesis 1:1 means a failure of faith in the deity of Jesus, since faith in the creation account of Genesis and faith in Jesus are so intertwined they are inseparable. Let’s examine two passages that link together Jesus and the creation:
The first is John 1:1-3. As John begins his gospel, he hearkens back to the beginning of time when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2). Now pay special attention to the next verse, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). We might read it this way, “All things were [created] through Him, and without Him was not anything [created] that was [created].” A failure to pass the test of faith in Genesis 1:1 equates to a failure to have faith in Jesus, through whom all things were created, and without Him was nothing created.
Not only does John 1:1-3 link our faith in the creation to faith in Jesus, we also have the words of Paul to the church in Colossae that connects faith in Jesus to the creation account of Genesis 1:1. In Colossians 3:15-17 Paul, speaking of Jesus, said, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Jesus has a position of preeminence over all creation because all things were created by Him, for Him, and all things are held together by His power. If we fail the test of faith at Genesis 1:1, then we fail the test of faith regarding Jesus and the truth of the words spoken about Him.
A failure of faith in Genesis 1:1 means a failure of faith in Jesus’ redemptive power over sin and death. In Romans 5:12-21, the apostle Paul contrasts the power of sin that came into the world through Adam and the even more powerful redemption that comes through Jesus. The crux of Paul’s contrast is found in Romans 5:17 where he says, “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through the one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” The literalness of Jesus’ power to redeem us from sin is predicated on the literalness of the creation account beginning with Genesis 1:1. If the creation and fall of Adam is not literal then neither is Jesus power to redeem us from sin. Paul takes this argument one step further in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 where he links together a literal Adam with a literal resurrection, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21). If we fail the test of faith in Genesis 1:1, then we fail the test of faith concerning Jesus’ redemptive powers to overcome sin and death.
A failure of faith in Genesis 1:1 means a failure of faith in recognizing God’s sovereignty. When writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul ascribes God as the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). But why is that? Why is God the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe and what are the implications of such a position? When the believers prayed for boldness in Acts 4:23-31 they began their prayer by addressing God as “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them” (Acts 4:24). The reason that God is the Sovereign Lord is because He created the heavens and the earth, it belongs to Him. So what are the implications of such a position?
Because God is the Sovereign Lord, He alone is worthy of worship. While Paul and Barnabas were preaching the word in Lystra, Paul healed a man who was crippled (Acts 14:8-10). This miracle leads the people to believe that the gods Zeus and Hermes had come down to earth in the form of men (Acts 14:11-12). The priest of Zeus then began to offer sacrifices and worship Paul and Barnabas who refused to allow the crowds to worship them, rather they directed them to worship the Living God saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them” (Acts 14:15). In this brief plea, Paul appeals to the people to worship the Living God since He created the heavens and the earth. Later in Athens, when Paul addressed the Areopagus, he argued for the sovereignty of God over idols by appealing to the creation.
“For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an alter with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. (Acts 17:23-27).
Just as he did in Lystra, Paul appealed to the Athenians to turn from idols and worship God because He created the heavens and the earth. When we move from earthly worship to heavenly worship, we find the twenty-four elders bowing down and casting their crowns before God crying out, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things and by Your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11; cf. 14:6-7). God alone is worthy of praise because He is the Sovereign God who created the heavens and the earth.
Because God is the Sovereign Lord, He alone has the right to judge humanity. In Peter’s second epistle he addressed the claims of those who claimed that Jesus was not going to return (2 Peter 3:1-4). As a result of their belief that Jesus was not going to return, since He had not already done so, these people lived their lives by “following their own sinful desires” (2 Peter 3:3). To prove that Jesus would return and the world would be judged, Peter appeals to the creation, namely Genesis 1:1.
“For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God… By the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly… Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” (2 Peter 3:5, 7, 11-12).
In Peter’s teaching on the coming judgment, He said the same word that created the heavens and the earth are preserving it for judgment. Since He created the heavens and the earth, then He alone has the authority and ability to destroy it.
Satan is feverishly trying to destroy man’s faith of the truthfulness of Genesis 1:1. He knows that if a person fails the test of faith on Genesis 1:1 then he will have no faith in Jesus. If he has no faith in Jesus, this leads to doubt in His redemptive power over sin and death. All of which leads to a disregard for God’s sovereignty, and if God is not sovereign then He does not deserve worship, nor is He to be feared since He has no authority to judge humanity. If Genesis 1:1 and the entire creation account are not true, then none of the Bible is true. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Our faith in God and His Son demands that we pass the first test of faith at the beginning of scripture, because if we fail, nothing else really matters.
IN THE BEGINNING, GOD ESTABLISHED OUR HOPE:
The God of Genesis 1:1 is the same God we pray to today. The God who created the heavens and the earth with the words of His mouth is the same God “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20). The magnificence of God’s creation and the faith that comes from Genesis 1:1 give us hope as we serve Him who created all things.
When God called Abram to leave his country and kinsmen, he was promised that his descendants would be a “great nation” and as numerous “as the dust of the earth” (Genesis 12:2, 13:16). However, God was slow, as some count slowness, to fulfill His promise of an heir. Abram expressed his concern to God saying, “‘O Lord God, what will You give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir’” (Genesis 15:3-4).
To this heartfelt plea for understanding God directed Abram to “‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:5-6). What caused Abram to believe God would fulfill His promises? The creation. God gave Abram hope; He strengthened his faith by pointing him to the heavens, the very heavens God created with the word of His mouth.
The creation served to establish not only the hope for Abram but also the hope of the Psalmist. In Psalm 121:1-2 the Psalmist ask, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” In Psalm 124:8, David proclaims that “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Finally in Psalm 146 we learn that “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them…” (146:5-6). Why could the Psalmists look to the Lord for help and why could he put his hope in God? Because the Lord is the creator of the heavens and the earth.
When all hope seems lost, when your faith is low, when you just want to give up, go outside. Go outside and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Count the stars if you can, take a moment to stop to smell the roses; but above all, simply bask yourself in the glory of God’s creation. It is there that you will find hope because the God who created all these things is the same God that will come to your aide and He will be your hope. Our hope in God as our deliverer is tied to our faith in the words “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Without Genesis 1:1 there is no order, there is no power, there is no God, and there is no hope.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” shape not only the way we understand the universe but how we understand God, His Son and our relationship toward Him. It is essential to our faith that we believe the creation account of Genesis because it serves as the foundation of our faith in God. The stronger our faith is in Genesis 1:1, the stronger our faith will be in God, Jesus and His power to save our souls.
[i] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright© 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.