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November 2, 2020 12:01 am
Because our world is not a cosmic accident, neither are we. Today, R.C. Sproul takes us to the opening verses of the Bible, showing that God's account of creation lays the groundwork for our understanding of the world and our place in it.
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He speaks into the void and says, let there be, and by the sheer power of the command of one who eternally has the power of being in and of himself, a universe begins lucidly about into the origins of our university we see played out in the cultural confusion of her doing if God didn't create the world and anything goes. If the foundation is shaky.
All that follows is tricky to all this week we are pleased to feature a portion of Dr. RC Sproul's sweeping overview of the Bible just glory and we begin with. In the beginning I can remember 30 some years ago when I began teaching I was given the assignment of teaching introduction to the Old Testament and then introduction to the New Testament and I had students come up to me with great excitement and joy and say all Prof. Strohl you make the Bible come alive for me and I very much appreciated the compliment and the flattery on the one side by the side of the flesh. There was a part of me that was distressed by that kind of comment than I used to say to the students that were so excited, I was delighted that they were responding in that way to their maiden voyage of studying the sacred Scriptures, but I told him I said look, I can't make the Bible come alive because I can't make anything come alive that already is alive. There's nothing wrong with sacred Scripture what you're noticing with my animation and my excitement is my response to the Scriptures, they would be much more accurate to say that the Bible makes me come alive rather than my making the Bible, alive we see here in this setting today. All of these Bibles that are scattered abroad here in the bookshelves and we see all different shapes and sizes and versions and additions and we can scarcely find a home in this nation where there is not at least one version of the Bible to be found on the shelf and we have discussions about the nature of Scripture and arguments about its authority in its inspiration and some fallibility. How were supposed to interpret it and that sort of thing. But the great crisis in our day. Beloved is a crisis of neglect of the content of this book. It doesn't do us any good if we have a high view of Scripture, but don't know what's found in its sacred pages and I know that many Christian people begin with great resolve in their early Christian pilgrimage and say I'm going to read the Bible from cover to cover. I've spoken to groups all over the place.
Well ask people how many of you have read the book of Genesis and most everybody's hand goes up and asked okay how about Exodus and they raise their hand. Leviticus the hand start to go down and Numbers, and Deuteronomy that the hands are declining and that look at me and say I just can't find my way around the Old Testament. It's the details are so strange to me there so foreign and so on. But the whole scope of Scripture has been given to us by God for our instruction for our reproof and for our edification and I have found in the past that if we begin with a wide, broad survey of the major themes of Scripture that that can give us the hooks, as it were dying our hat as we then go back and look at each book of the Bible and finally to each verse of the Bible, and so on and so what I'm hoping will be able to accomplish in this brief time together is to light a fire under all of us that we may renew our resolve to come to grips with the content of sacred Scripture. So having said that, let's begin our study at page 1 the first chapter in the first book of Genesis, beginning at verse one. Let's look at it as we consider the teaching of the text we read these words on the first page of Scripture. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. That's the first proclamation the first assertion that is found in the holy Bible, and there are three words in this first sentence that I think are of crucial importance for us if were going to make a good beginning for understanding the whole scope of redemptive history from dust to glory, and those three words are these beginning God created us in these three words we have those central affirmations of biblical Christianity that set Christianity apart from all forms of atheism. All forms of naturalism, all forms of secularism, humanism, existentialism, and a host of other isms that compete with the faith of Christianity for people's allegiance. In our day as it could be said that the most controversial sentence of all of Scripture is this first one that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the controversy starts early. It starts with this first word beginning because what is asserted here in this affirmation is that from which the book of Genesis gets its name. That which is generated that which has a Genesis is that which manifestly has a beginning, a starting point in time and when we talk about the progress of the history of redemption from dust to glory. We are making an assertion that is radical for our whole understanding of who we are as people, and what our lives mean and what were supposed to be about in this world we are saying that there is such a thing as history and that history has a beginning point in time and the time itself has a beginning that may seem to be something that we just take for granted, but it isn't taken for granted in competing philosophical systems in our culture today. I think back to the 19th century to the philosophy of Frederick Nietzsche who is famous for his declaration regarding the death of God will early on in his philosophical studies. In fact, when Nietzsche was a student writing his doctoral dissertation.
He looked back to the conflict of ideas that had already arisen in the ancient Greek world and he recovered for his day what he called the myth of eternal recurrence. An idea that was rooted in ancient Greek philosophy that the universe doesn't have a beginning, a starting point, but rather the universe and everything in it basically is eternal and everything goes round and round and round without a beginning and without an end.
This is captured or summarized in one of the most important pieces of literature in the Old Testament, for example, the book of Ecclesiastes addresses the pagan notion of skepticism that is tied to this idea where the sun sets and as Hemingway borrowed for the title of his book the sun also rises, and then the sun sets and then it rises it sets it rises and you begin to see this cyclical view and leads to the conclusion that there is no purposeful beginning.
There is no specific endpoint of human history or of natural history, and the result is vanity of vanities, all is vanity because we are in a cosmic sense. Caught in the trap of running around in circles, heading nowhere, but at the very beginning of sacred Scripture, there is the affirmation that there is a beginning, but there was a time when the universe did not exist, but we know that even in modern cosmological theories.
There is much debate on how the universe came into the present form and structure that it is there been debates between steady-state views of cosmology and the expanding universe and big bang cosmology and all of that, but today the consensus is that there was a point in time.
15 to 18 billion years ago run some of the estimates were suddenly there was this massive explosion were all of the current matter and energy. Previous to that moment had been condensed into one tiny little point. It's called a point of singularity and that on one Tuesday afternoon, it blew up and the results of that explosion are still reverberating throughout outer space. And though in many cases people don't like to speculate about what was going on before that. At least this carries the idea that there was a beginning and if there is a beginning, to this world. The obvious question that becomes the central focal point of controversy and debate is how did it get started what started it. If everything was in a state of pure organization for eternity. All matter all energy condensed and compressed into this infinitesimal point of singularity and in an eternal state of inertia. Why did it move you know the law of inertia with things at rest and remain at rest unless what acted upon by an outside force. Those things are in motion tend to remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force and cosmologists like Josh Stroh say that perhaps the mountain with the scientists are climbing today. When they reached the summit drew the acme of that mountain will find the theologians already and from the tent, waiting for them there to tell and hope that there has to be an outside force or anything to change to move or to come into existence because the one thing we know for sure, even apart from the work of sacred Scripture is that if there was ever a time when there was nothing that would be now would be nothing and even that's improper to say because you can't say that there would be nothing because nothing has no BA and the term can be nothing would be self-contradictory wouldn't. But the idea here is that there is a radical difference between all creaturely existence. Everything that is part of this finite temporal universe and its author. That's why Christianity doesn't stop by simply saying in the beginning but it says in the beginning God at this point there's no argument for the existence of God. All we have. On the opening page of sacred Scripture is the bold declaration of God's being the author of every thing that is in the beginning God if there is any kind of a beginning to anything whatsoever that which has a beginning in time must have something preceding it. Or, it could not begin this simply another way of saying what I said a moment ago if there was ever a time that there was nothing there couldn't possibly be anything now and so now were speaking here in Scripture about the beginning of space and time. The beginning of the created universe, but for there to be a beginning to the created universe.
There must be something that stands above and beyond the created universe, something that has no beginning, something that is in and of itself eternal and self existence something that has the very power of being in itself, and that's also part of the radical affirmation of the first statement of sacred Scripture.
The proclamation of the reality of the existence of God. Now were to come back to this word in a moment, but let's go to the next. In the beginning God does something were not sold simply of the bear existence of God in the first chapter of Genesis, but the book of Genesis introduces God in action. God doing something and what he's doing here is the most magnificent and fantastic work that has ever been done in terms of activity and it is the creation of the universe. I know we use this word to create in metaphorical ways. I like to babble on the side and some of the arts. I like to play the piano. I'm not very good at it. To tell you the truth, and I dabble in painting as a rank amateur and I read the books about these things and they talk about the inherent creativity of the musician or of the artists and I find this great fun to get the pallets set out in the get the little tubes of paint and spread the mountain ice for like a kid playing in the mud and I begin to mix these colors together and try them out on the canvas and I look at that. I think the earth doesn't look so good I changed it around and we call this creativity, but there's really no creativity inherent all in the biblical sense. All I'm doing is taking substances that are already there and shaping them and forming them and mixing them and arranging them on a Candace, so whatever creativity the artist has is a mediated creativity creativity within the framework of some kind of medium but the biblical view is far more startling than that because the biblical view presents an act of creation where there is no median. It's not as though 15 to 18 billion years ago God came down with his brush and his politics and he began to mix his pain and shape and figuring draw and organize a picture now there was no paint, no brushes. There were no pallet no campus and so in biblical theology. When we try to get a hold of the biblical account of creation. We get this concept but God creates ask the hello which means nothing, but there's no preexistent matter that he forms and shapes and arranges, but that which exists comes into being through this active power that God alone has is the New Testament indicates in the writings of the apostle Paul that God alone has the power to bring life out of death and something out of nothing out of the do it again. I think there's great value in tracking the movement of astronomical bodies and speculating on what happens when various gases and elements collide with each other and mixed together and and how Caesar formed them and how flowers grow.
I think there's a great great value in the studying of the natural realm of God himself is called us to do that but no amount of studying that describes those things that are going on in the intricate patterns and workings of natural forces can account for this. This is the supreme work this not just natural but it is super natural. That is, it takes us above and beyond the theater of nature to the beginning of nature to the author of nature who creates out of nothing. Again the Bible doesn't give us a scientific description on how he doesn't. The only thing that we are told in Genesis about God's mood of creation is that he creates by the speaking of his word. St. Augustine calls this the divine imperative the divine imperative for the divine fiat not to be confused with a small Italian car divine imperative simply refers to God's transcendent majestic holy command where he speaks into the void and says, let there be, and by the sheer power of the command of the one who eternally has the power of being in and of himself. I universe begins to look at the text quickly for a second. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters here in verse two of Genesis, we are given a graphic description of the often ordered unstructured really on created universe is described in terms of three basic negatives formlessness emptiness and darkness.
If you see the way in which those three words are used in the imagery of ancient cultures. Those three terms tend to combine to encompass and capture three of the most threatening ideas, there can be to human existence and meaning. Formlessness is really unimaginable because absolute formlessness would be absolute chaos and you couldn't even recognize chaos as being chaotic without some idea of form emptiness how we use that term to describe the worst sensations that we have in our souls when we feel frightened or alone and say our lives are empty.
Imagine not just an empty house and empty bed and empty garage.
But imagine an empty universe.
No form, nothing darkness and darkness itself is a pure negative term. Because darkness is not so much the presence of something as it is the absence of something. The absence of light and so all we have so far in this picture is the void, the formlessness emptiness and the darkness and in verse three we have a new agent mention in the spirit of God hovered over the abyss over the deep over this darkness and emptiness and void and then we hear for the first time the voice of God and God's ass let their be light instantly. Life breaks into the universe bursts over the darkness is vanquished as the darkness begins to fill the empty cavities and begins to provide a structure for God to form his world with waters and trees and plants and animals and ultimately with people but the very reality in which we live every moment of our lives is utterly inexplicable. But apart from someone, somehow, somewhere, say, let there be in by the power and the force of the command like Sycamore and the world begins in the setting is established for God to scoop his hands into the dust and to prepare a creature for in the beginning God. Those are for the most important words in the Bible and over the next several days here on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul will continue his look at the first chapters of Genesis. This lays the groundwork for our understanding of everything that follows in Scripture. These messages are part of a much larger series called dusted glory in 57 lessons RC explores the major themes of events and people we find in the Bible.
He lays the foundation in Genesis as were hearing this week and works his way all the way to Revelation.
We like to send you the special edition of the series. There are eight DVDs plus a bonus disc containing the study guides for all of the messages and the audio files for every lesson again. The title is dusted glory.
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