First Mennonite Church
June 6, 2021
Basics of Christian Life: God Our Creator
Texts: Genesis 1:1-2:1-4; Hebrews 1:1-4
Today, I started a four-class series for beginners in the Christian life. As a way of expanding on the topics I will be sharing with them, my sermons in the next couple of Sundays will be on the basics of our Christian faith as well.
The most important question in the world is, who is God? How do we know there is a God? Can we know God?
For believers and non-believers, the question about the existence of God is primary, before any other religious question. People turn to religion in order to answer these questions. That is why we are here. For us who are believers, the question about God always has the purpose of deepening, both our understanding and relationship with Him.
Today, I will start with the first portrait given about God in the Bible, the portrait of God as the Creator God.
Read Genesis 1:1-2:1-4
Let us pray
It might be a surprise to some that Genesis does not begin by explaining the nature or the background of God. Genesis does not begin by describing the face of God nor how he came to be or where did he come from. Genesis portrays God as metaphysical mystery, but in action within the material realm so human beings can be able to grasp his essence. Genesis portrays God, first, as the Creator God.
As Christians, we confess that God is the Creator, that the universe was created by the word of God. “God said . . . . And it was so” (Genesis 1:19). Yet, often times when we read or hear the Genesis story of creation, our modern minds are sometimes troubled by scientific questions. We, somehow, expect the creation story to address those questions, but it simply does not. It is here that we should be reminded that Genesis 1 and 2 are not a scientific reports of the origin of the world and they do not intend to tell us the process in which things came into being, except that God said . . . and it was so.” Genesis simply affirms that by the word of God everything came into being.
The Genesis creation story is confession of faith. With this story, the people of Israel attribute to God everything their eyes could see. Through this confession of faith of a Creator God, Israel affirmed a fundamental aspect about themselves and about the world: they all came from the hand of God.
With this affirmation, the Bible story rejected polytheism, which is the belief that there are many gods. Genesis tells us Yahweh, the Lord God, is Creator. Through this story, the Bible also rejects pantheism, which is the belief that everything, the oceans, the sky, the earth, etc., are all parts of the divine. Genesis tells us that God is completely other and separate of created world. Still yet, another belief the Bible rejects with the creation story is animism, which is the belief that God is in all things. The people around ancient Israel were animists. Some worshipped the sea, the stars, the moon, or the forces of nature. Israel was forbidden from bowing down before or worshipping images of things on earth, heaven, or the seas. The creation story set the foundation for Israel’s confession of faith in one God. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength(Deuteronomy 6:4, 5). Therefore, Genesis presents God as not being part of the created world, but of a sovereign God who is actively involved in history.
The creation story is the affirmation of God’s people on how God carries out his purposes in history. With this in mind, it is important to know that the creation story in Genesis one and two is only complete when we read Genesis one to eleven. These chapters give the stories of the origin not only of the world, as the stage from which Israel’s history evolves, but also of the origin of marriage, sin, death, the world’s peoples and cultures. With the Creation story and God being its maker, the people of Israel also understood that time will come when this linear history is will come to an end. This end of time, the prophet referred to as “the Day of the Lord” (Isaiah 13:9; Mal. 4:5). The human fall that occurred at the beginning will be made right at the consummation of history. This is what Paul says in 1Corinthians 15, 24: Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. Also in Revelations we find these words: The one who seated on the throne said, “I am making all things new.” On that day there will be no pain nor tears in our eyes. The old will pass away and God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Our belief in a Creator God, as portrayed in the Bible is that of God who was at the beginning and who will be at the end of time. He is first and last (Isaiah 48:12). God is eternal.
Again, the portrait of a Creator God is an invitation to the creature to give honor and worship to the Creator. Every time the theme of creation appears in the Bible, the call to worship God rings clear. There is a clear connection between creation and worship in the Bible. Listen how eloquently it is presented in this song of praise:
1 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:1, 2-4)
Hear this other one:
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice (Psalm 95:1-7)
There is something special that happens every time I go with my family on hiking trips. The beauty and majesty of the mountains, the natural flow of water winding down from higher elevation to the lower, the animals and diversity of plants and the beautiful flowers, always inspire me to acknowledge the unfathomable wisdom of God in his creation.
The confession that God is Creator is fundamental to our Christian faith. We believe that the redeeming work of Jesus Christ is best understood in light of a Creator God. Our first human ancestors breached their God-given boundaries. They heeded to the word of the crafty creature instead of the Creator God. That is exactly what Paul says in Romans one, verse 25: (They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.). However, God in his endless mercy did not destroy Adam and Eve and restart with new characters. Rather, God put forward a plan to restore them. In this forward looking act of God to restore the human race, the coming of Jesus makes clear sense. Jesus is the Word of God who speaks life where death reigns. He gave us life when we were dead in our trespasses, says Paul. And it is in us where God’s presence and continuous creative activity is most visible. God continues to create and regenerate humans, like you and me, through the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. You and I have been recreated by God. We are the works of his hands not only in the sense that the human race came from God, but also because our lives give witness to the regenerating power of God in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation,” says the apostle Paul. Let us allow God to recreate our heart. Let us be witnesses that the Creator God continues to create newness in each of us. Amen!