Christian Worldview 6 – Food

(For Part 1 click here)

We are continuing our thoughts on creation and God’s provision for us and how this helps us establish a biblical frame of reference for living.

One of the key resources we get from the earth is our food. In the Bible we see a progression of revelation about man and his food. In Genesis 1:29 and 2:16 we find God providing mankind with plants for his food. Adam and Eve were given plants of all kinds for their food with the exception of the fruit of one particular tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But as is the case with most of us, we focus more on the thing that we can’t have than the abundance of provision of what God has given. Adam and Eve did the same thing and this ultimately led to their downfall.

After the flood, God gave animals for food along with the plants (Genesis 9:3). The only prohibition was that we were not supposed to eat meat if it still had its blood in it. When the Jewish nation was established there were entire lists of animals that were out of bounds (Leviticus 11 for example).

After Jesus’ death and resurrection when the church was being established, God told Peter to kill and eat animals that had been on the unclean list. Peter refused, but God told him that he should not call unclean what God said was clean (Acts 10:15). So now, biblically speaking there are no foods that are off-limits for Christians.

In 1 Timothy 4:3-4 Paul warns believers about making human rules about what can be eaten and what can’t. All foods were created by God and are to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. He says that every created thing is good and nothing is to be refused if received with thanksgiving. It is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Obviously we are to be careful of gluttony which is prohibited in the Bible and we should eat in moderation, but we should not be making rules for one another as to what we should and shouldn’t eat. The Bible is very clear that these man-made rules do nothing to improve our spirituality (Colossians 2:23).

(Part 7)

Christian Worldview 5 – Made in the Image of God

(For Part 1 click here)

In the Bible class I teach we are discussing how to develop and defend our Christian worldview. This week we are investigating the creation narrative and what it tells us about being made in the image of God. Along with that we are discussing the position God has given mankind in subduing and having dominion over the creation.

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? We know that God does not have a physical body like we have. He is a spirit being. So that can’t be what the Bible means. There are certain characteristics that God has given us that he also possesses. For example, he is able to think and we are able to think. God is creative and he has given us the ability to create. God can communicate and we have the ability to communicate. I’m sure you can think of others. Internally we are a spirit as well. God says that his spirit bears witness with our spirit. So we are spirit beings inside of a physical body.

God has given us the dominion over his creation and has told us we are to subdue it. To subdue means to bring it under control. We are God’s representatives to be the stewards or care-takers of his creation. One of the first things that Adam did was to name the animals. Naming things is one way we make sense of and gain control over our environment. After Adam’s fall, this stewardship responsibility became much more difficult. Work was harder and more laborious.

As God’s managers we have the responsibility to take good care of the created world, the environment we live in. But we are to remember that God has created this world with resources for us to use. Some of the creation has been given to us for food and so we should not be afraid to take plants from the ground or kill animals for our nourishment. On the other hand, having dominion doesn’t mean we should wantonly waste resources or pollute them so that they are unusable by others. There’s an important balance that we must maintain as we serve God by managing his creation.

(Part 6)

Bible Study – Genesis 1:2

Genesis 1:2 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 the second verse of the Bible we read some interesting things. The first thing we notice is that the earth was without form and void and it was dark. Why is this the case? Is this just the first stage of creation or did something happen between verse 1 and 2? The truth is that we don’t know the answer to those questions. We do know what we read in Isaiah 45:18. “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.'”

This passage tells us very clearly that God did not make create the earth in vain. He made it to be inhabited. As of verse 2 of Genesis, it is not inhabited and therefore there is work to be done.

Some people quote Jeremiah 4:23 which says, “I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; And the heavens, they had no light.” Jeremiah goes on to describe the reason for giving this description of the earth. There has apparently been some form of judgment which has caused massive destruction.

In my opinion there is no reason to attribute this description of events to the period between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. It could be, but I don’t think there is any reason that it must be. Jeremiah’s description in its entirety sounds like a future judgment on God’s people Israel. He sees the destruction as so devastating that he uses the same description as the condition of the world was during its creation.

Most of the time when people attempt to explain Genesis 1:2 as a judgment, the reason is often in order to provide more time for fossils to form and other events that presumably have taken place over extremely long periods of time. The problem is that even if we were to grant the long ages needed for geologic and evolutionary events to take place, it is evident from the rest of the description of creation that the order of events does not remotely match the order posited by those who believe in evolution.

So let’s just take this description for what it is, a statement of the condition of the earth right after God created it.

Let the Light Shine in the Darkness

Genesis 1:3-4 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

So, the heavens and earth were created and the earth had no form and was void. And it was dark! The form of energy we call light did not exist. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And what happened?  Light came into existence. Words are very important to God and they have power. In this case, as we looked at several articles ago, we discover in John 1 that this Word was none other than Jesus Christ. At that time he didn’t have that name, but was what we call the Second Person of the Trinity. He was the Word of God and he was with God and he was God. All things were made by him. Every atom and molecule, every authority and power in heaven and on earth was created by him and for his use and pleasure. God’s word is powerful.

This situation reminds me of another darkness that exists in the world. It is the darkness of our souls when we are born into this world. Because of Adam’s rebellion, humanity lost its light, it’s spiritual life. Speaking of Jesus, John says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).  “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life'” (John 8:12).

How is that darkness remedied? There is only way. It is the same method that was used in the original creation. Light can’t generate itself. Paul writes, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

God must say, “Let there be light” in any heart and soul if there is to be any hope of spiritual sight. This is what Jesus meant  when he told a Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, that in order to see the kingdom of God he needed to be born again. There is a natural human birth and there is a spiritual birth. Just as we cannot design and arrange for our natural birth, we cannot design and arrange for our spiritual birth. It is accomplished by the working of the Spirit of God according to his unique work in the hearts of men. Just as the Spirit of God was brooding over the dark waters of that primitive earth and brought light to the earth, the Spirit of God must bring light into the darkness that is the human condition by nature. This comes about through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul sums it up this way, “[God] who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:9,10).

Bible Study – Genesis 1:1-3

When and how did God create the universe? The Bible tells us that he created the heavens and the earth “in the beginning.” We discussed that truth last time. But how did he create? Remember there was nothing to create with. There was no material in existence to make something out of. And “God said, ‘Let there be light'” (Genesis 1:3). “Then God said, ‘Let there be a firmament'” (Genesis 1:6). God’s method of creation was to speak. Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”

God spoke and the universe and all it contained came into existence. He continued to speak and various parts were separated from other parts. For example water on the earth was separated from water above the earth and an expanse was created between them. Light and darkness were separated from one another. Water was gathered together into one place to allow the dry land to appear. All of these things occurred because God spoke. God created through the spoken word.

When we look at John 1, we find that the Word was in the beginning with God and the Word was God. But the Word became flesh and lived among us. This Word is the second person of the trinity. He is the Word of God and he is God. And that Word took on a human body and his name is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Messiah. All through the description of Jesus’ ministry here on earth he says things like, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). And, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49).

Jesus is God’s Word to man and it is through him that all things were created.

Hebrews 1:1,2 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

The answer then to how God created the universe is that God spoke the word and everything came into existence and that Word ultimately took on bodily form and came here to dwell with us – Jesus Christ.

Bible Study – Genesis 1:1

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Bible begins with this amazing assertion. Whenever the beginning was, God was there. What was there moments before God created? Of course, there weren’t moments, because there was no such thing as time, but you know what I mean. Who or what was there? When God created, he created all matter, time and energy and all of the “natural” laws that govern all of these things. But before this, all there was was God — the triune God.

The Bible teaches us that God exists in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of these persons is fully God and has all of the characteristics that God has. So before anything was created, these three persons of the Godhead existed together and had existed together for all eternity. Since God is a personal being, he has the characteristics of personhood. He is able to communicate, love, rejoice and so forth. So for all of eternity past, the persons of the Godhead had fellowship and communication with one another.

In John 1 we read: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” The passage goes on to tell us that everything was made through him. So who is/was this Word? Here is what we read in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” From this we can figure out that the Bible is talking about Jesus Christ. So Jesus is God and was with God in the beginning and everything that exists was created through him.

Other passages confirm this picture. Here is what we read in Colossians 1:16

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Here’s another example: Hebrews 1:10 And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

We get a little snapshot of what was going on before the world was created from Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17. “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Verse 5). And in verse 24, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

As far as the Holy Spirit is concerned, we know that he is eternal (Heb 9:14) and that he was present “hovering over the face of the waters” at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:2).

Let’s summarize what we know about things prior to the beginning of creation. We know that God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit were present in a loving, communicating relationship throughout eternity past. Nothing else was existent. There was no time, space or matter. God is totally self-sufficient and has no needs. There was no need for fellowship or companionship. There nothing lacking within the totally self-existing Godhead. And then God created!