Yesterday at Aletheia we kicked off our new teaching series in the book of Genesis. It was a great start, and I'm more excited than ever to dig into this crucial book. But the fact is, the scope of the book of Genesis is beyond what sermons and Sundays can capture. This 50 chapter book covers more time than any other book of the Bible. Taken in its most natural sections, I could happily find myself preaching through this book for 7 years. Let's be honest. No one really was begging me to do that. So, we wrote a book for you, hoping it would empower and encourage you to do some digging yourself.
The Point The main theme of Genesis 1-2 is simple: God creates. In those two words lie volumes of theological beauty, some of which we explored yesterday. These two words confront us with the fundamental reality of God, and his rights as creator to write our story. None of us get to self-define. None of us get to take God's good gifts and redefine them. Creation, humanity, marriage, sex, and work—all of these are good gifts, made by a good God, for a good purpose, within a good context. If God creates, then we don't get to change them, because they are not ours to change.
Secondary Issues There are some other issues that we bring to this text that—in my opinion and those of my commentators—are not the main point of the text. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't ask these questions, but it does mean that when we do, we must realize that the text wasn't written to answer these questions, primarily.
- Age of the Earth - This is an interesting in-house debate among Christians. What does Genesis teach regarding the age of the earth? Broadly, there are two camps: young earth and old earth. While there are dozens of varying theories within each heading, a few issues come up. Young earth advocates will point out that the text, read most naturally, leads us to think that God made the earth in six, literal, 24-hour-day periods. The best arguments I've seen for this position come from Answers in Genesis. More popular these days is the Old-Earth position. This view tends to synthesize some degree of evolution and modern cosmology with the biblical witness. Good work on this view can be found from Reasons to Believe. This is an old, often passionate debate. Before you dive in remember: unity in the essentials (creation, christology, the gospel), diversity in the non-essentials (age of the earth), and in all things charity (love those with whom you disagree).
- Evolution - Not surprisingly, neo-darwinian synthesis, DNA, and the exact date of the Cambrian Explosion are not mentioned in Genesis 1-2. Why? Because this work was written to Israel en route to the promised land, not to the director of the NIH. However, the scriptures do give us some guidelines on how to think about evolution. If God creates, then we cannot think of evolution in the way our atheistic counterparts do. It cannot be blind, merciless, and infinitely creative. (Creativity, by the way, can never be the product of a process, but only of a mind...) A lot of good work has been done on this topic. My favorite few books that open this up are Signature in the Cell (Meyer), Three Views on Creation, and Darwin's Black Box (Behe). Before you grind your axe over your favorite view, read. Always a good idea.
- The Goodness of Sex, Love, and Marriage - The Scriptures have a lot to say about sex, love, and marriage. These are all good gifts that God gave us for with a good context. Last year, I wrote my first book on the topic, and I'd like to shamelessly self-promote it to you.
Growth Recently, we've experienced a real surge of numerical growth in Sunday attendance. For that grace, I'm grateful. This has caused us to launch a second service, and think more about the future. Here are my thoughts about our growth:
- Everything good comes from God, and I'm not him. While your pastors are God's people, this growth is a gracious gift from our King, not due to primarily to any awesomeness on our part. So, make Jesus your rockstar, not your leaders.
- This increases our responsibilities. More people means more lives to steward and more disciples to make. So don't just sit back and watch the show. Get involved, get trained, and make disciples.
- Growth must always be rhythmic to be sustained. We must grow toward God in holiness, sanctification, and worship, and toward others in love, mission, and discipleship.
- Pray. Pray all the time. Pray that we'd make disciples, plant churches, reach campuses, and do more for the Kingdom as God gives more to us.
I'm pumped, people. Simultaneously grateful and more determined than ever, I'm ready for a great week alongside you.