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June 7, 2020 Sermon

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Genesis 1:1-2:3

  The most important part of a building is its foundation. No matter how big or beautiful a building is, if its foundation is bad, it won’t last. Jesus used this fact in one of his parables where he talked about being careful not to build on sand, but on rock. Of course, Jesus was not talking about a physical building. He was talking about our faith. We need to be sure that our faith is not resting on the sand of human philosophy, or scientific theories that change from year to year. We need to be sure that our faith is resting on the rock of God’s true and unchanging word.

  In the first three chapters of Genesis God answers all the basic questions of life for us. He tells us where everything came from. He tells us who we are and why we are here. He tells us why there is evil. And he tells us who he is and what he is like. He tells us the truth. He is the only one who can give us truthful answers to these basic questions of life because he is the only one who was there even before the beginning and is still around today. Answers that come from anywhere beside God and his word are based on human assumptions, fallible models, and guesses. Those are certainly not things on which you want to base your eternal life, or even our everyday life on earth for that matter.

  The account of the creation of all that exists in Genesis one not only tells us how everything got here. It tells us a lot about who God is and what he is like.

  Think about the first four words of the Bible. In the beginning, God. What does that tell us about God? It tells us that he existed before everything that we know began. He was there before the beginning. The fancy word we use for that fact is “eternal”. God is eternal. Yes, in a sense, we are also eternal because we will be raised from the dead on the last day join God in eternity. But, unlike God, our eternity has a starting point. It’s a timeline that starts at zero with an arrow that points off to infinity. God’s timeline has arrows that point to infinity in opposite directions. He alone is without beginning or end.

  Although we can’t fully comprehend anything that is without a beginning, it’s comforting to know that the God in whom we trust has always been there and will always be there for us.

  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The rest of the chapter tells us how he did that, and how long it took.

  As we read the words of this chapter, we can’t help but see the power of God. Who do you know that has the power to call something that doesn’t exist into being? God said, let there be light, and there was light. And remember, the things that we think of as giving light, the sun, and the stars, weren’t created until three days later. We have the world’s smartest and most powerful people working non-stop to create a vaccine for the COVID 19 virus and we will pat ourselves on the back if we discover one in a year or less. God created light in the time it took to say the words. We have the smartest and most powerful people working to come up with replacements parts for people, a heart, a pancreas, a prosthetic arm, or leg. God created bodies for Adam and Eve and gave them life, and their organs which we can’t duplicate, in less than a day.

  God shows himself to be almighty, but we all know that brawn without brains is not a good combination. God shows himself not just to be all-powerful. He shows his wisdom to be beyond our comprehension as well. Consider the complexity of the universe, or just look in the mirror. We have studied God’s creation for thousands of years and we still don’t completely understand how everything works. God thought up everything that exists and then he planned how everything would be made and how stars, planets, plants, animals, and humans would all interact. We divide the study of the things God made into the different disciplines of science. An expert in one discipline might not know much about what an expert in another discipline has discovered, but God understood it all even before he called it into being.

  God also shows himself to be a God of order. He demonstrates that he had a plan and that he followed the plan. When we build something, if it’s going to be worth anything, we need a plan. We have a blueprint that has been checked by engineers. When everything is approved, the raw materials are delivered, and things are put together in an orderly way according to the plan– foundation, framing, roofing, windows, doors plumbing, electric, HVAC, drywall and then the finishes. In the same way, God followed an order. He created water before fish, dry ground, and plants before animals, and then he made humans as the finishing touch after he had provided all the other things for their use and enjoyment.

   That brings us to what is the most important attribute of God; the thing that John tells us is part and parcel of his essence. God shows himself to be a God of love.  In love he created the only beings who would carry his image last. In love he made sure that everything they could possibly need was provided for them. They didn’t have to plant anything or build anything. God made them and put them in Paradise, in a garden that was beautiful beyond our imagination. He told them, “here, it’s all yours, it’s my gift to you because I love you. Enjoy it.”

  God showed himself to be a God of love in the way he created humans. He didn’t do what he had done with everything else he created. He didn’t just say, “let there be two humans.” He personally and carefully formed a body for Adam from the ground. He personally breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Before he created Eve, he helped Adam realize that he was alone. Once he recognized his need, then God provided. He formed Eve, not out of the ground, but from a piece of Adam’s side. He personally breathed life into her. And then he brought her to Adam like a father walking his daughter down the aisle. He provided Adam with a suitable partner. They were a perfect match. She complimented him physically and emotionally, and he complimented her physically and emotionally.

  So far, although we cannot grasp the extent of God’s power, wisdom, and love, we do understand something about power, wisdom, and love. But God reveals something about himself that is completely beyond our grasp because there is nothing to which we can compare it. He reveals to us, already in this first chapter of the Bible, that he is Triune. That’s the fancy word the church came up with to describe the indescribable. God reveals himself to us as one divine being – “une” (like saying Uno when you only have one card left). And yet, he is three persons, “tri” (like a tricycle has three wheels). He says that he is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons, yet one divine being. As I said, that’s beyond our comprehension. There is nothing in all creation that can give us even an idea of how this works. All we can do is represent what the Bible says with a triangle with a circle in the middle- The father is not the Son, nor the Holy Spirit; but Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all one being.

  Where does Genesis One teach this about God? Remember verse 2? The earth was undeveloped and empty. Darkness covered the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  God created, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And since the Holy Spirit is often called the life-giver, it may be that was his role already here at creation.

  What does it say in verse 26? God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that crawls on the earth. 

  The Hebrew word for God is plural. God says, “Let Us.” He says, “in our image.” Now, it would be hard to understand just from these words that God is three person in one divine being, but as we read the rest of the Bible and hear what we did in our other readings this morning, the plural makes perfect sense. Jesus commands us to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Paul speaks the blessing of the grace of Jesus, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit upon us.

  So, God created, the Spirit hovered, but where is the Son? John helps us answer the question. He tells us that Jesus is the Word who was with God in the beginning. He tells us that through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

  He is the one who, in the fullness of time, came into the world to redeem it. He is the one who makes God known to us, not just by taking on flesh and blood and becoming one of us, but by making it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves us and wants us to spend eternity with him. After all, he willingly sacrificed his son in our place.

  The first chapters of Genesis set the foundation for the Christian faith. They let us know that God created all things that exist. He created humans to rule over and enjoy all that he created. He is a God whose being is beyond our comprehension, whose power and wisdom are unlimited, and whose love is not earned but given freely.

  Because of our sinful nature we reject this God. We want a god we can understand. We want a god we can control. We want to make God in our own image. And Satan has been working hard for thousands of years to destroy the foundation of the Christian faith, promoting evolution, calling anyone who would believe that what it says in Genesis is true uneducated and foolish. He continues to ask us the question he asked Eve, “Did God really say? Can these things that are beyond your comprehension really be true, or are they just fairy tales?

  If you have fallen for his schemes; if you have been tempted to doubt; if you have preferred to make a god in your own image; confess your sin. Realize that you are giving up a solid foundation of truth and replacing it with the sinking sand of human philosophy. Rejoice in the truth that God the Father created you and still preserves you; that the Son came into this world to reveal the truth about God to you and to redeem you from your sins; that the Holy Spirit has given you life, the new life of faith. He helps you overcome your doubt and the temptation of what claims to be wisdom but is not. He helps you to keep building on the firm foundation of God’s Word.