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Characters of Creation | Dan Darling

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
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November 12, 2022 1:00 am

Characters of Creation | Dan Darling

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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November 12, 2022 1:00 am

You know the Genesis account of the beginning of the world, right? Adam, Eve, and God walking in the Garden of Eden. On this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author Dan Darling looks at the Bible’s story of how we got here and how things got so far from perfection. Learn more about the characters of creation and what they teach us about ourselves. It’s coming up on this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: The Characters of Creation

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God is not up in heaven wringing his hands over the things that keep us up at night.

He's not surprised by any of this stuff. And I know for some, some will say, well, that's just kind of a crutch, that's a whatever. Well, it is a crutch and I'm glad to lean on it because this is, to me, the thing that gives me comfort when I can't trust people, when the political parties disappoint us, when the world's falling apart, when there's war and there's famine and there's disease, to know that God is gathering everything for his glory and gathering history to himself is really, gives me comfort and hope. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, author and speaker Dan Darling takes us on a journey to the beginning of the world. The characters of creation is our topic. Dan has looked at those who populate story of Christmas and Easter, and now he's turning his attention to the men, women, creatures and the serpent who were present at the beginning of creation.

You can find out more about our featured resource at moodybooks.org. Our host as always is author and counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman. Gary, you have spent most of your lifetime helping couples work out their differences. I would imagine that you've spent a fair amount of time thinking about that first couple, Adam and Eve.

Well, I have, Chris. Both things we can learn on the positive side from them and also some things that have affected us that they did. I'm excited about our conversation to look back in those early chapters and discuss those characters with Dan today. One of the things that keeps coming back on programs is, you will mention this, God's first kids, encouragement to parents, God's first kids rebelled against him. I think we'll probably get into that today, don't you?

I would imagine that we will. Well, we're going to dig into that creation story today. To help us take a fresh look at it, we welcome back Daniel Darling. Dan's the director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, best-selling author of several books, columnist for World Magazine, regular contributor to USA Today, and he hosts the Way Home podcast.

He and his wife, Angela, now live in Texas with their four children. Well, Dan, welcome back to Building Relationships. Well, thanks for having me back here. It's an honor to be on with you. Now, you've written about the characters of Christmas and characters of Easter.

Chris mentioned that. Why did you decide to focus on the first few chapters of Genesis? Well, I really just enjoy writing about Bible characters, as you know.

It's one of my favorite things to do. I really feel like Genesis is so important to understanding the Bible. I feel if you don't understand the first 11 chapters, it's really hard to make sense of the rest of Scripture. On the flip side, if you do understand it, it really kind of opens up the Bible to you. And there's so much about our world today, so much confusion, so much questions of who am I? Why am I here? Why is the world so crazy and upside down? So many of those things, I think, are rooted, the answers are rooted in an understanding of Genesis. Yeah. Are there parallels or similarities that you found between the stories of Christmas and Easter and creation?

That's a really good question. I mean, obviously, if we see the Bible as one continuous story, everything we see, what we see at Christmas and what we see at Easter is rooted in creation. So for instance, the coming of the Messiah, of Jesus, the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus' birth at Christmas, is the fulfillment of that promise long ago in Genesis 3.15. And even the sort of conflict at Christmas between Herod and baby Jesus is rooted in the conflict that was predicted between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. And then, of course, that also is culminated in Easter, where Jesus is unjustly arrested and crucified. And again, that is the same clash between God and Satan. But of course, Jesus cries, it's finished, and he is triumphant over Satan.

And in his resurrection, he defeats sin and death in the grave. I do think one mistake we make is this idea that God and Satan are sort of an equal playing field, that they're both equals. And really, the Bible makes the case that Satan is a created being whom God is victorious over.

Absolutely. Now, in your introduction, you talk about God as the supreme character in the Genesis account. And I'm going to quote here. You say, but before we can understand the characters of creation, we must first bow ourselves before the author of creation. God is not just another actor in this drama, a figure we mold and massage into a deity of our liking. Instead, the Bible opens by describing the formation of the world as an act that begins with the one who had no beginning, who is always there. Why is this concept so important?

Well, I think it's important for a number of reasons. I struggled when I was thinking about writing this book because I didn't want to make God like he's just another character. This is why I wrote this lengthy introduction that it's important for us to understand who God is. The Bible doesn't begin with who we are or our thoughts about God.

It really begins with this bold statement that in the beginning, God. I think sometimes in Western Christianity, we're tempted to domesticate God in a way where we have lost sense of his transcendence and his bigness. But I do think in the deepest part of ourselves, we want a God who is bigger than us. We want a God who is not like us. We want a God who is other than us. When I lay my head on the pillow at night, when I send my kids out into the world, when I read the newspaper, read social media and read all the horrible things going on in the world, it gives me great comfort to know that there's a transcendent God who is bringing all this to a close, who is in control of the world. And so I think it's important for us to begin our study of Genesis with this idea of the bigness and the transcendence of God.

Can I jump in? You know where I find this personally, as well as in the church that I hear a lot, where I find that working itself out is, oh, I don't want to bother God with my little troubles here. He's got a lot bigger things to worry about. And we hold back because we think it's just God just concerned about the big things, not concerned about the small things, and that we are somehow bothering him with the small things of our lives. And that's making God like us, projecting on him how we feel.

It really is. And I had a professor tell me that, and these are fancy terms that I had to look up, but that told me that the Bible doesn't begin with epistemology, doesn't begin with how we think about God, but it begins with who God is. He just declares in the beginning God.

I think that's really important for us. We don't want a God that we can bring down to our size. We want a God who is bigger than us, who can make sense of the world, who we can pray to, who we know can change things.

When we're praying for a relative who has cancer, when we're praying for a prodigal to come home, when we're praying for stuff that is so overwhelming we can't grasp it, like the suffering people in Ukraine or any number of things, we're praying to a God that we want to be bigger than us, that can do things bigger than ourselves. And this is the God that Genesis gives us. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Find out more simple ways to strengthen relationships at our website, FiveLoveLanguages.com. Our guest today is author and speaker Dan Darling and our featured resource is his book, The Characters of Creation, The Men, Women, Creatures, and Serpent Present at the Beginning of the World. Find out more at BuildingRelationships.us.

That's BuildingRelationships.us. Dan, talk a little bit about the order of creation and what that reveals about God. Well, I think it matters because Genesis reveals a God of order and beauty and discipline, a God who has made the world in a certain way. Not because he likes rules and he woke up cranky one day, but because this is what's best for our flourishing. The one who created us knows what's best for us and what's best for the world. I think we push against that because we think as creative beings, we think we have a better idea of what is best for ourselves.

That always ends up in sort of heartache and pain. I think Genesis gives us the comfort that God has created a world in a certain way for it to work. He's got order and beauty.

It's not just haphazard. I think it also gives us comfort in the sense that we can read Genesis and realize God made me in his image. He made me with a purpose. I'm not just here.

I'm not just sort of floating. I'm not just some random, you know, assemblage of tissue and bones and all that, but that there's a purpose behind my creation. Do you think that the reality that God is a God of order is somewhat an explanation of why we as humans have an appreciation for order? Or at least some of us do. I mean, is that a human phenomenon?

I think so. I think ultimately we do long for that. Although, you know, I have teenagers, so I wonder if they appreciate a God of order when I look at their bedrooms. But, you know, we do long for that. I mean, you think about some of our favorite TV shows, right? They long for things to be made right. We long for justice. Instinctively, I think, in the human heart is this idea that the world is not as it should be. This is why people get involved in politics. This is why people join movements. This is why people speak out about injustice, because we know instinctively there's a way that the world should be, and it's not as it should be.

Yeah. On this whole concept of being made in the image of God, as the Bible records that, with that, let us make man, there's something there about a relationship within the Godhead. What would you say about that? Well, I think it's so important for us to understand this. The way that Genesis opens and the rich language the Bible uses to describe the creation of human beings is so profound. I mean, here you have Moses describing God creating the rest of the creation with his mouth by speaking the creation into existence. But then he pauses and slows down the narrative, and he uses such rich language to describe God reaching to the ground with his hands and sculpting humans from the dust of the ground, breathing into humans the breath of life, stamping on humans the image of God. This phrase, let us make man in our image, this implies that the creation of humans provoked such care and deliberation among the Godhead. I think what it tells us is that of all of God's creative acts, his creation of humans is his most prized act, that there was such care and thought. King David picks up on this in Psalm 139 and talks at length about the care by which every human being is crafted in their mother's womb. And it tells us that humans have value.

It tells us that humans have worth and dignity and that we as ourselves, we're not just here randomly, but God has created us for a purpose, but also that our neighbors have worth and dignity as well. Yeah, I've always been fascinated by the fact that Adam and Eve were living in perfection in their relationship with God, the Creator. I mean, you look at that and just think, whatever could go wrong with this?

I mean, this is absolutely incredible. What thoughts do you have about their relationship together, Adam and Eve? Well, you imagine what it must have been like to grow up, to be the very first humans, to open their eyes and be the very first humans. They didn't have a template for what this looks like.

They didn't have access to the love languages by Dr. Gary Chapman to help guide them. Everything was new to them. And yeah, I think it's interesting. Again, Moses writing in Genesis makes a point to say, after the creation of Adam, to pause and say, it's not good that man should be alone, that God is making a statement that humans were born to live in community, to live in intimacy, to live in fellowship.

I think there's a lot there. I think it also, men and women living side by side is God's design and purpose, the way that men and women complement each other in God's creative acts. After the fall of Adam and Eve, many read that passage that says, where God says to Adam, where are you? And some people see that it's like, okay, God's caught him in the act of sin that he did along with his wife. But you see this as an act of grace toward Adam and by extension, obviously grace toward us.

Explain that. It's really struck me. I've read Genesis my whole life, but this time reading through, I read that a little differently. When God comes looking for Adam, you know, here Adam has sinned. Adam and Eve have sinned. They're shamed, which sin always brings shame.

They want to hide. We all understand that when we've sinned, when we've done something wrong, we want to hide and protect ourselves because of shame. That God comes looking for Adam, he says, where are you? And we know God knew where Adam was. It's not like he had misplaced his prized creation. God is omniscient.

I think these are words of grace. The fact that God came looking for Adam after his sin tells us that God pursues sinners, that he didn't just give up on his creation. He pursues sinners.

And in some ways, where are you? It's not just the story of Adam, but it's the story of the entire Bible, of the gospel. It's our story. God came pursuing us. For some people, God asked, where are you?

He pursued them in a dorm room. Or like my dad, he pursued him at a Billy Graham crusade in 1971, a young, lost 20-year-old who had no direction. Whatever your story is, God came looking for you. This is the story of Christianity. This is what separates Christianity from the rest of religion, is that we have a God who comes looking for us. He comes looking for us when we are at our worst, when we're trying to hide, when we are trying to mask our shame and our sin. What a beautiful portrait of grace that is in Genesis.

Yeah. I'm thinking about that passage that says, we love God because he first loved us. We didn't initiate this, right?

No, we didn't. It shows us that we can't save ourselves. They tried to cover themselves, tried to cover their sin and their shame, and they couldn't do it. Their coverings were inadequate, and God had to. I think a sort of nod to what would come later, that an innocent animal had to suffer.

Innocent blood has to be shed to cover sin. Yeah, there are scholars who say, Adam was not a real person. This is just mythology. How do you view that? It's all too common in our culture today among certain scholars.

How do you respond to that? There are a lot of scholars, even some evangelicals, who doubt, was Adam and Eve a real person? Is it just metaphorical?

Is it just figurative? There are a lot of things about Genesis that I think good Christians can debate and discuss. But when it comes to Adam and Eve, I don't think we can. Jesus, in talking about Adam and the Gospels, assumed Adam was a real person. Paul, in his letters in Corinthians and Romans, and even in the book of Acts 17, when he's on Mars Hill, he said, From one man came all of humanity. Paul, who was a Hebrew scholar, he assumed that there was a real Adam. I think for the whole storyline of scripture to work, by one man sin came into the world. I think we have to believe that God did craft Adam and Eve as the first human beings, and they're sort of the fountainhead of the human race. I know scientifically and rationally, sometimes it doesn't fit with our sort of secular world. But I think as Christians, I think we have to believe, if it's good enough for Jesus and it's good enough for Paul, I don't know more than Jesus and Paul. So I'm just going to take their word for it.

Yeah. I think that's strong evidence, especially what Jesus said. Now, if Adam was the first human being, which I certainly believe he was, as you've described, you ask your readers to wonder what it must have been like to wake up as that first human in history.

Now, I know the Bible doesn't spell it out, but what do you think? It may have been his thoughts and feelings and experiences. This is one of the reasons I wanted to write this book, to try to put us in Adam's place there and wonder what it would have been like to wake up, to open your eyes for the first time as the first human being on the face of the earth.

You don't have a template. You don't have a father to say, this is what it looks like to be a man. You don't have other siblings or other family to show you what humanity is supposed to do or look like he's the first human. Of course, he's created in innocence. He's created not in sin. So all the aspects of a fallen world that hurt us, he didn't have in the beginning there. Yet Adam has a unique perspective because Adam was alive for both sides of the fall. He saw what the world was created to be, and he saw what intimacy and communion with God looked like before sin. He also saw the consequences on the other side of the fall. I also wondered too, what kind of crushing weight did Adam feel that because of his sin, he's responsible for the cascading sin and death that came into the human race. He lived for 900 years, the Bible says, so he could see those effects on his children.

Imagine the weight that was on his shoulders. In a sense, all of us feel that way because all of us understand what we've lost in Eden, and all of us understand the weight of a fallen world. We bear the burdens of our own decisions, our sins that not only hurt ourselves but hurt others. Yet the Bible says there's a second Adam who came who bears the weight of that sin. Adam doesn't have to bear the weight of his own sin, neither do we. The second Adam not only bore that weight, he defeated sin, and he offers us grace and reconciliation with our Creator. So I think there's a lot to think about when we think about Adam. When you say that, and we think about Adam and the guilt which you mentioned, it's hard even to comprehend the sense of guilt he must have felt. I think as parents sometimes, we make poor decisions that later affect our children in negative ways, and we feel guilty about that.

It's a part of who we are because we have this sense of morality. You just wonder how deeply he must have felt about what he had done. Yet God's grace allows us to get up and go on, right? It really does, and he could cling to that promise that God gave in Genesis 3.15 that there would be one, a seed of the woman who would crush the seed of the serpent, the heel of the serpent. He had to cling to that to know that God had not given up on his creation, that he was going to initiate a plan to renew and restore his creation, restore human hearts. Of course, we have much more of God's revelation than Adam did. We have the entire scripture. We're on this side of Calvary, and we can see that Christ has come, that God has fulfilled his promise. Yet we also cling to the promise that Christ is coming again, that the world we see as it is is not the world as it will be. In some ways, we can resonate with Adam that way. In the chapter on Eve, you write about temptation.

I'm quoting again. You say, because Adam and Eve sinned, we live with this lie embedded in our hearts, embedded in the world around us, the advice that tells us to just follow our hearts, to throw off the shackles of God's good design. As a result, so many sons and daughters of Eve live enslaved to desire. I think all of us see that in the world around us and in ourselves, but speak to that for a moment. Well, Eve, through the eyes of Eve, we really see the nature of temptation. The serpent comes to Eve with this lie, really two lies. One is that the Father who created you, who had innocence and beauty and gave you everything that you need to flourish, is somehow holding out on you.

There's something he's holding back from you. This is really where sin begins. This idea that you can be like God, it's not enough to reflect God, it's not enough to be a finite human with limits. You can be God. When reaching to be like God, you actually become less than human.

Here, Eve is, instead of taking dominion over the animals, she's listening to an animal. When we sin, sometimes people say, when you sin, I'm just being human. Actually, to be sin is to be less than human.

It's a distortion of our humanity. The other lie is that in order to really truly know, you have to experience sin. There's a kind of knowing that is a kind of intimacy with sin that is destructive. James says, when sin conceives, it brings forth death. What the serpent was promising was this kind of higher knowledge, this ability to be all-knowing, to be like God. In fact, what the serpent was delivering was death. It was an assault on our humanity.

This is the lie that's whispered throughout our culture today. If you just throw off these shackles and throw off these rules and get away from God's consent, then you really experience it. If you're really going to, you'll be in the know.

You'll be experienced. All that does is bring forth destruction and death. Genesis kind of gives us a bird's-eye view of what temptation really looks like. But it's not just in the culture, Dan.

It's also in the church. In our lives, we can think about God's goodness, His grace and His mercy, and discount that when we have circumstances that cause some stress and struggle. Absolutely, especially in a fallen world where life is a struggle. I think the biggest temptation is that God is not good, that He's not for our good. When we start to think that, I think that's where we go down that sort of pathway.

I think you're right. This lie is not just embedded in the culture. It comes to us directly. Satan came directly to Eve in a world that was perfect and innocent without cultural influence, and her heart turned that way.

That happens with us as well. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Our guest is author and speaker, Daniel Darling. We're talking about his book, The Characters of Creation, the men, women, creatures and serpent present at the beginning of the world. You can find out more at buildingrelationships.us.

That's buildingrelationships.us. Dan, before the break, we were talking about Eve and the temptation. You make it clear that Eve is both one who was deceived, but she was also the mother of all living.

All of us came from Adam and Eve, ultimately. You write that through the woman, God's promise of redemption was delivered. That the same one who sinned, it was through her seed that were delivered. That's pretty significant.

It really is. I mean, you cannot look at the story of, God's redemptive story starting in Genesis and all working its way through Revelation without looking at it through the eyes of women. The promise to Eve through childbirth should be saved. What that means is that, number one, Eve giving birth is a sign that God has not given up on creation, but that He wants the human race to continue. Also, through birth would come the Messiah. If you look through the thread of the Bible, there's always significant moments in the story of Christianity where there's a miraculous birth. You have Eve being the mother of all living, but then you have Abraham and Sarah. They can't have children, and then there's this miraculous birth with Isaac, who becomes patriarch of Israel, and out of Israel comes the Messiah. Then you have Mary, the virgin birth of Jesus. It's also a sign of what God wants to do in us, that God is in the business of creation and recreation.

In us, He is doing a new birth. I think it's really a powerful metaphor that the Bible gives. You also, in the book, give a chapter to Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve. Why are these two so important?

Well, I think it's interesting for a couple of reasons. Number one, here you have in the very first family, again, as James says, when sin conceives, it brings forth death. It brought actual, literal death in the first family, the second generation, their children. This is the fruit of sin. Sin is not something to be trifled with.

It is dangerous. You have an example here of Abel, who is faithful. He brings a sacrifice, which it seems, although we're not clear, but it seems it was required to be accepted by God, a sacrifice of an innocent one, which is a sign that something innocent has to die in order to cover sin. Then here's Cain bringing the fruit of his hands. What Cain brought was much more beautiful, much more pleasing to look at, but it's not what God required, and God rejected it. I think this is a sort of contrast between religion, which justifies the self, that I can improve myself.

I can do all these things in order to gain acceptance with God, which is through the sacrifice of the innocent one and repentance, we can find access to God. I also think we see in Cain's life, example of grace, that God warned him that sin lies at the door. Cain didn't heed that warning.

He killed his brother. Even after that, God puts a mark on Cain and says, I'm not going to let anybody hurt you. Even though Cain is moving away from God, God is still protecting him. I think in some ways it's a sign of common grace where God even offers protection and care many times for people in the world who don't acknowledge him. You think of the sun coming up, the earth rotating on its axis, all the benefits of God's care of the world that are enjoyed by people who don't acknowledge him. I think we see that in Cain. Yeah, it rains on the just and the unjust. That's right.

Another way of putting that right. Now, you describe Abel as the world's first martyr. What can we learn from the short life? I assume it was a rather short life that Abel lived. Hebrews says that though Abel is dead, he still speaks.

He speaks a word in a number of ways. I think number one, he's an example of coming to God on God's own terms. If Cain is an example of coming to God on terms that Cain wanted, Abel is an example of coming to God on God's own terms. God has said today that you come to him through his son Jesus, through the sacrifice of the innocent one. Whereas Cain is an example of saying, well, I want to come to God in my own way. I don't want to come through Jesus.

I want to come through these other beautiful ways that I think are good. But he's also an example of just faithfulness. Sometimes faithfulness to God will result in temporary prosperity or praise of men. We see that sometimes in Scripture.

But sometimes faithfulness to God will result in hardship and even death. I think of martyrs around the world, those who are being persecuted for their faith. In some ways, Abel was the first martyr.

And yet, though he's dead, he still speaks. Moses says in Genesis that Abel's blood cried out to God from the ground. Even though nobody else saw what was happening with Abel, God saw. There are Christians around the world who are suffering, who are living out their faith underground, who are persecuted for their faith that maybe nobody sees, but God sees them. And that's what I think is the example of Abel there. You know, when Abel followed what God had laid down, we have to assume that it would be a lamb that he would bring. And there's the words that Jesus said about himself when he said, I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No man comes to the Father except through me. There are a lot of folks that raise questions about that. You know, it's the exclusive claim that the only way to have a relationship with God the Father is through Christ and what he did on the cross. And as you know, in our world, many people don't want to accept that.

They say it's too exclusive. How do you respond to that? Well, I think if God is who we believe he is, and if he is transcendent, and if he's God and we're not, then he sets the terms on how we approach him. But we have a God who's merciful, who pursues us, who says, Where are you?

comes after us. And he's offered a way of salvation. Anybody who believes could come to faith through Christ.

He will not turn anybody away who puts their faith in Jesus. But there is one way. And for us to say, Well, I'd rather try a different way is really, you know, prideful and foolish. If you have a, if there's a cure for the kind of cancer that someone has, and we know it works, but you say, Well, I'm not, I'm not going to try that. I'm going to try in my own way. Well, we would say, Well, that's, that's kind of foolish. There's a cure sitting right there.

Why don't you take that? And I think that's that way with salvation that God is loving. He's very inclusive. If you come to him by faith, he will not reject you. But you do need to come to him by faith in Christ. And I think as Christians, we have to, that's pretty much a solid foundation, is what God said.

And yet, as you know, in our culture, we want to go our own way in a lot of things. And certainly one of them is, you know, how we relate to God. You know, in the first few verses of Genesis chapter six, there's a lot of questions raised about what's said there, because it talks about the Nephilim. And what do you think is happening in that part of the Genesis account? That's really one of the most perplexing passages in Scripture in Genesis six, where it talks about the Nephilim. And you have the sons of God come to the daughters of men. And Christians have historically held one or two positions, and we've debated this for 2,000 years of church history.

The one position is that these were angels and humans cohabitating. And that is one of the signs that things have gotten so evil in the world that God had to judge the world. Another position holds that, no, the idea of sons of God is sort of symbolic for the righteous and sons of men is the unrighteous.

And that is a sign, you know, that the evil so bad got to judge the world. And people are mixed on this. You know, I studied the church fathers. They believed it was angels and humans, and these Nephilim were sort of these like half-human, half-angel sort of monsters, creatures. The Reformers, Luther and Calvin, they thought differently that this was more sort of metaphorical. And people today, you know, modern pastors are on all sides of this. I read and listened to so many sermons and articles trying to figure things through this.

I don't really know. I mean, on the one hand, when you read 2 Peter and Jude, it seems like they're talking about angels and humans cohabitating, that the Nephilim are these sort of like mega monster giant folks. But on the other hand, you could see the symbolism. I think the lesson we learned from this is twofold. I think, number one, it shows us just the level of evil in the world got so bad that God had to judge the world, that God takes evil seriously. I think the second lesson we learned is that there's a supernatural aspect to sin and temptation, evil in the world. You know, we, in our Western minds, try to rationalize everything so much that we can't see the spiritual warfare going on. But the Bible says that there's spiritual warfare that Paul says we don't fight flesh and blood, but principalities and powers in a very dark world. So I think we don't want to be so too rationalistic that we can't believe that there is spiritual warfare in the world.

I think that's important for us. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Dan Darling is our guest and our featured resource is his book, The Characters of Creation, the men, women, creatures and serpent present at the beginning of the world.

Find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Dan, one of the other characters in the first few chapters of Genesis is Noah. Talk about Noah and his faith. He followed God in the face of a lot of people mocking and scorning.

Say a few words about him. Well, Noah is such an example of faithfulness in the face of almost total opposition. We gloss over that story of Noah.

Our nurseries are decorated with Noah's ark and all that. That is a cute little tale. But here's a man who in the face of an evil, the entire world was going one way and he said, no, this is the wrong way. I'm going the other way. I'm going with God, him and his family. Think about this. For a hundred years, he's preaching.

For a hundred years, he's building this boat. Everyone thinks he's crazy. He's saying God is going to judge the world. You better get right with God. He's going to judge the world. Everyone thinks he's crazy. In a sense, that's somewhat the call of a Christian to say God is coming in judgment, but there's a way of escape.

People think we're crazy for saying that, almost dangerous for saying that. In another way, I see in Noah an example of ordinary faithfulness. He had to build that boat one board, one nail at a time.

It didn't happen overnight. Noah's faithfulness is measured less in the big things, but in the daily obedience. He'd get up every day, go back to building that boat, everybody mocking him, only his family believing in him, knowing and clinging to that promise that God would do what he said he would do. I think he's an example of extraordinary faithfulness. For us, we need some of that today to be willing to be courageous and believe what God has said in a culture that is increasingly hostile.

I think he's a great example for us. I try to imagine what it would have been like all those years. That's a long time that he was building that ark and proclaiming that judgment was coming. Over and over again, we see that in the Old Testament. A nation of Israel, for example, walk away from God and the prophets would say, judgment's coming, judgment's coming. Even today, those of us who are Christians, we're saying judgment is coming. God is a judge. He's a loving God, but if we refuse to walk with him, then we have to suffer the consequences of that. It's a very sobering reality. There's a lesson there for us, both of judgment and grace, that God is serious about sin. He's going to judge the world, but there's also a way of escape. There was room on that ark. There was room in that boat for more people. People did not want to listen. I think our message is, hey, there's room at the cross for you.

It's not too late. You can come and find grace. Are you devoted also to an entire chapter on Satan? A lot of folks have different ideas about Satan. What are some of the myths, the common myths, that the enemy of God uses? I think there's really two misconceptions about Satan.

I think the first one is that as human beings, we can take him. We think, oh, I could take on Satan. The truth is Satan is more powerful than we are. He's a fallen angel, but he's the prince of power of the air. He has a power to tempt us and lead us astray.

We are foolish to think we could take him on our own. The second misconception is the opposite one. It's the idea that Satan and God are equals, and there's an equal match between them. The truth is Satan is a created being.

Anything he does, he only can do at the permission of God. God has ultimately defeated him in Christ when Jesus cried at his finish on the cross. He defeated Satan.

Satan is a toothless lion. I think for Christians, the proper perspective is to say Satan is more powerful than me, but in Christ, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, I can resist the devil. The Bible says to resist the devil, he will flee in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We can walk and step with the Spirit. Satan would love us to think that he doesn't exist. He would love us to think that he's just a benign figure.

I think we have to be wise to Satan's tricks, but also not fearful because he that is in you is greater than he that is in the world. You know, Dan, as I was going through the study of yours, the characters of creation, the overwhelming thing that came to me was the sovereignty of God that I think a lot of people think of the world and the way it is. It's like God created this. It was perfect.

We fell. Oops, he's got to come up with plan B. But as you said in Genesis 3, from the foundation of the world, the lamb was slain. This was all baked into his eternal plan and it's happening to us today. So even though we don't understand what's going on, we have questions about the Nephilim and others, we can trust him because this is part of his sovereign plan.

That's exactly right. This is why I really want to encourage folks to read Genesis. Everyone's grasping for questions about why is the world so messed up? Why are humans messed up?

Why is the world violent? Where are we going with all this? Genesis not only diagnoses our problems, but it gives us the solution. We can take comfort that there's a plan, that God has a plan, that none of this falls outside of his purview, that God is not up in heaven wringing his hands over the things that keep us up at night.

He's not surprised by any of this stuff. I know for some, some will say, well, that's just kind of a crutch. That's a whatever. Well, it is a crutch and I'm glad to lean on it because this is, to me, the thing that gives me comfort when I can't trust people, when the political parties disappoint us, when the world's falling apart, when there's war and there's famine and there's disease, to know that God is gathering everything for his glory and gathering history to himself is really, gives me comfort and hope. When you talk about Satan, and as you said, some Christians kind of downplay the reality of Satan, but is it true that true Christians will be tempted by Satan to walk away from God, to disobey God's laws? Well, I do think that Satan, first of all, he can't get our soul.

If we have put our faith in Jesus, if we are redeemed by the blood of the lamb, if we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit, if we're kept in God's hand and in Jesus' hand, nothing can take us away. However, what Satan can do is he can tempt us away from effectiveness. He can get us to be distracted. He could get us fighting over petty stupid things. He could get us overcome with materialism.

He can make us ineffective. And this is what I think he wants to do to the church. You know, he knows that he can't take his bride, Jesus' bride, but he can distract us in a way that we're not fulfilling the mission of God. All of us need to be running toward God when we're tempted to move in other directions. Well, Dan, as we come toward the end of our time together today, this has been very, very exciting, and I hope it does encourage people to read the book of Genesis again. What do you hope people will take away from this look at the first few chapters of Genesis? Well, what I really hope people will take away is that, number one, God has created humans with a purpose and a plan, that God has created every one of us, that in our sin God pursues us and wants to save us and rescue us, and that these human beings that are swept up in the story of creation, just like the story of Easter and the story of Christmas, are just ordinary human beings that were caught up in the story of God.

And for us, it's very similar. Our story is a part of God's larger story of what he's doing in the world. And for us to remember that, whatever our short life may be like, we want to make an impact by doing the things that God has laid out for us to do. So thanks for being with us, Dan. May God continue to guide you in your journey and what you're doing as well. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. I'm just honored to be on here with you and thankful for your life and ministry. Thank you. Now, what a great conversation with Dan Darling today. He's one of our favorites around here. And if you'd like to read more about the book of Genesis and the ideas that we've only scratched the surface of here in the conversation, go to buildingrelationships.us.

The book is titled The Characters of Creation, Men, Women, Creatures and Serpent Present at the Beginning of the World by Dan Darling. And while you're there, subscribe to the podcast or take the free love language quiz at buildingrelationships.us. And next week, protecting your children from internet pornography. Don't miss that important discussion in one week. Our thanks to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chowman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-15 22:07:26 / 2022-11-15 22:24:42 / 17

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