~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Valuing what God Values (Part 4: The Truth about Creation) by clicking here.
If our conscience is weak (not dirty, but weak) about issues that are controversial to the world, then we will shrink back in the face of opposition – instead of holding fast to the truth and setting them free. You cannot set people free with the truth if you won’t hold on to the truth when they question it! Jesus is the Truth (Jn. 14:6) and 1 John 4:8 says that God is love. The bible says we should speak the truth in love. Why? Because if you remove love from the truth, it is no longer the “T” Truth!Likewise if you remove the truth out of love, it is no longer love.
John 1:17 says “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” In John 8:5, the Pharisees asked Jesus what He “Grace and Truth” says about the woman caught in the act of adultery. So what did Jesus (Grace and Truth) say to this woman? “Neither do I condemn you (GRACE)… go and SIN no more.” (TRUTH) (John 8:11) Grace & Truth!
The inability or unwillingness to correct is NOT love. Proverbs 24:23-25 says that if we will correct at the lead of the Lord, a delight is going to come on us and a special blessing is going to be given to us because we have partnered with that person’s heavenly Father who desires us to partner with Him in parenting His creation!
God is not so concerned about His Word being destroyed – He simply doesn’t want people to be destroyed. He is NOT willing that any should perish. Many people have been perishing because they have been believing a lie that His Word is not true. A Barna study found that out of those people raised in the Christian faith in America, by the time they were 29 (as of 2006), 80% were no longer spiritually active. Our nation’s children are falling away from the faith before they go off to college! It turns out that 40% had their first doubts about the truth of the Word of God in middle school. Another 43% had their first doubts in high school. This leaves very few left to doubt it in college. 12, 13, 14, 15 years old and they are being taught the religion of naturalism at school and pastors and parents aren’t speaking to it! Likewise, in a recent Pew research study, 70% of Americans identify as Christians (which is great!) 46% of Americans say they have a biblical worldview. However, when surveyed over 40, Christianity 101 questions, only 10% of Americans have a biblical worldview. The numbers are even lower for the younger generations. We need to speak clearly about what the bible is clear about!
So, is Genesis Literal about the 6 days of Creation? Dr. James Barr, Hebrew scholar and Oriel Professor at Oxford University, has written:(a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience; (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to latter stages in the biblical story . . .” This is not defense of doctrine, but simply a commentary on the Hebrew text from a linguistic perspective.
Don’t feel bad if you are grappling with the truth about creation. Hebrews 11:3 says “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” It’s by faith that we can understand the creation. How do we increase our faith? By hearing the Word of God! So, be patient with yourself if you’re not fully settled about these topics yet. Dig into the Word and let the Words do the work … This teaching is mean to be a door-opener that hopefully addresses some of the things that we’ve maybe heard.
Should the creation account in Genesis be taken poetically? There is Hebrew poetry – many examples of which in the Old Testament are historically accurate. There is indeed poetry in Genesis. Genesis 4:23-24 is in poetic form. Genesis 1-3, however, is NOT in poetic form. Even were Genesis 1-3 written in poetic form, it could still be historically accurate, but it is NOT in poetic form! So, is Genesis 1-3 meant to be taken poetically? No! It would have been written poetically (like Gen. 4:23-24) if it was meant to be taken poetically. But it is not written poetically!
People will also ask if there are gaps in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies. Note that 1 Chronicles 1, Luke 3, and Jude 14 all site the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies as literal, historical genealogies. Also note that while the bible contains many “lineage-establishing” genealogies, those lineage-type genealogies are not about years. There is something very different about the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies in that they always say the age at which the next generation was “begat” or “fathered.” Why? Because you quickly add up the history. Genesis 5 and 11 represent what could be called a “chrono-genealogy.” They do not only establish lineage, but also a timeframe for the history of the earth. This is exactly what the Hebrew scholar said “the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to latter stages in the biblical story . . .”
Now let’s look at the actual language of Genesis. The literal translation for Genesis 1:5 is “and evening was, and morning was, a day, one.” It’s clear as day! “Evening” means evening. “Morning” means morning! A day – one. God is so emphatic. Similarly telling, in Genesis 1:14 God, through Moses, uses the word “year” in the same verse as “day.” The same word for “day” (like in Genesis 1:5) is used all the way through the creation story in Genesis 1. In verse 14, the word for year and the word for day appear in the same verse. What does that tell us? Moses knew the word for year but chose not to use it throughout the description of the 6-literal-day creation event – because they were talking about days not years!
Genesis 2:3 “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” This connected the sabbath of a week to the week of creation – not a coincidence. Speaking of the 6th day of creation, Genesis 5:1-2 twice says God created man in a day “…In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.” In Exodus 20:11 we read what God Himself spoke to Moses “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.” Day, day, day! They were 6 literal days!
But what about 2 Peter 3:8 where we read that “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Let’s look at that. There is a bit of a problem using 2 Peter 3:8 to try to “interpret” the days of creation because 2 Peter 3:8 says both (1) one day is as a thousand years, and (2) a thousand years is as one day. If 2 Peter 3:8 was meant to unlock a hidden timing in Genesis, it is awfully confusing! So, was God confused in the historical timeline He was giving us? No! 2 Peter 3:8 has NOTHING to do with the historical Genesis timeline. We must look at 2 Peter 3:8 in context! These verses are saying “don’t think that God is running late. He is not slack concerning His promise to come back and judge the world. He simply doesn’t want anybody to perish and He exists outside of time so it doesn’t hurt Him at all to take extra time so that more can come to repentance!”
All of this is so you can total confidence in the Word of God! Now, what did Jesus say about the age of the earth? Let’s look at Mark 10:6 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.” What is the context of this conversation in Mark 10? Divorce – and therefore marriage. This is our Lord speaking! He said that people were made by God at the BEGINNING of creation. Jesus would NOT agree at all with any part of historical evolutionary theory! From the beginning of creation God made humans! So when did Homo sapiens appear? After the apes “evolved” for 3 million years? From the BEGINNING of creation man and woman have been on the earth – and marriage has been on earth! So encouraging!
It is so key that as part of our bible-reading time that we slow down enough to catch these things. Let’s also look at Luke 11:49-51. “Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.” You can take Jesus at face-value. He just said that there were prophets at the foundation of the world! Jesus was saying that Abel was a prophet! Hebrews 12:24 elaborates on the exact same thing.
Why all of this talk about Creation? Remember that in John 5:45-47 Jesus says “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” Charles Lyell came up with the principle of uniformitarianism. Lyell’s theory of uniformitarianism was prophesied in 2 Peter 3:4 a full 1775 years before it was published in 1830. His name was “Lye – ll.” God has a sense of humor. He put a neon sign on this one for us!
According to Jesus Himself, to the proportion we don’t believe the writings of Moses, to the same proportion we will not believe the sayings of Jesus! That is what is driving these statistics. There is a generation that has been raised up in the religion of naturalism which says “don’t believe the bible.” Even Lyell wrote in letters to friends that his goal was to “rid the science of Moses.” Lyell, a trained lawyer, said they would take the pastors with them on this theory. May we not be stuck between the Word of God and evolutionary worldview but instead be able to take all of the Word of God at face value!