Why Creation Matters to the Gospel

Dec 21, 2015 1282


1. What is God Like?

The Bible presents God as a loving, personal God. Contrary to what some think, the God of the New Testament whom Jesus reveals is the same loving God of the Old Testament.

The One who bent down and wrote in the dust to give new life to a sinful woman, is the same one whom Genesis represents as bending down to give first life to humanity, “from the dust of the ground”, and “breath[ing] into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). There could be no more intimate and loving description of God’s action in creating the first human being than that.

From the start, the Divine Author of Scripture wants you and me to know what He is like. If we know what God is like, then we will know that we are not a random collection of molecules hurtling through space on some meaningless rock.

Instead, God wants you to know that you mean something to him – that you have always meant something to Him, right from the start. You have felt his hand. You have been blessed by his breath. Although it may not always seem like it, there is a plan – there has always been a plan.

God is not an absentee landlord. Our God is a personal God who intervenes in history. He made himself present, up-close and personal from the beginning of history. Our loving God was never going to abandon his children. He intervened at the incarnation, the Cross, and the resurrection. He will intervene at the second coming of Christ. He has intervened in your life countless times, calling you to Jesus.

That first touch of the Creator’s hand was a foretaste of when he would take hold of the sins of the world, by means of a cruel Roman nail. That first breath of life was a foretaste of when he would breathe life again into the dying sinners of the world as he painfully exhaled and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Just as we were not present at our first creation, neither were we there at our re-creation. But the blessing was for us.

Creation shows us what the God of the Gospel is like.

2. The Biblical Redemption Pattern

The creation is important to the Gospel because it is part of the Biblical pattern of redemption. We can represent this as:

Creation – Fall – Atonement – Re-creation

This is a pattern that is found throughout the Bible, and that forms the crucial backbone to the salvation story.

The gospel focuses on the “atonement” part of this story, and the results of the atonement are the “re-creation” part of the story.

You see, beginnings matter. That’s why creation matters. Without a creation, there’s no reason for a re-creation. Without an Eden, there’s no need for Paradise.

A key promise of the New Testament is found in Rev 21:5:

Behold, I make all things new.

Compare this with 2 Cor 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This new life is the result of the gospel. It is spiritually fulfilled for the person who is “in Christ” right now, and it will be physically fulfilled for that person at the second coming, in the Kingdom of Glory.

Each of the components of the Biblical Redemption Pattern is necessary. There can be no re-creation if there was no creation, and there need not be any re-creation if there was no fall. There would be no need for the atonement if there had been no fall from an original perfect creation, and there would be no role for an atonement if there was to be no re-creation.

The atonement of Christ – the Cross and Resurrection – stands at the heart of the Biblical Redemption Pattern. It shines its glory upon creation and on the coming re-creation, and in turn, without these the Cross itself would have no purpose.

That’s why creation is important for those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Biblical Redemption Pattern is a single menu, not a smorgasbord buffet –  you don’t get to pick and choose.

Creation Foreshadows The Gospel

God inspired the writer of Genesis to write the account of the creation in such a way that it foreshadows the Cross.

Genesis 1:2 tells us that just before the creation,

the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

So too, before our redemption we were formless and empty, with no identity or substance. Darkness was over all of our faces. Yet the Spirit of God was there, above it all, calling to us, whispering to us of possibilities undreamed in our shadows, and of love beyond our comprehension.

That day at Calvary too, “darkness covered the whole land” (Mark 15:33). Christ’s final cry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” from the One who was lifted up over the darkness, announced the infinite possibilities of the Spirit of God for a world that was lost.

Each of the creative acts of God are represented as an announcement, as is for example the first one,

God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light (Gen 1:3).

The Psalmist writes,

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made…
For he spoke, and it came to be;
He commanded, and it stood firm (Psalm 33:6,9).

The Apostle John affirms the same fact that “all things were made through the word of God, and that without it, “nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3¬–4, NIV). However, the New Testament brings us new revelation, and the astonishing new revelation that John makes as he commences his gospel is that the “word of God” in Genesis always was the “Word of God” who was to become incarnate in Jesus Christ. The “word of God” in Genesis was never an “it” but a “Him”, and his name is Jesus.

The Christ of Creation is the Christ of Calvary. You cannot separate the two. To do so is to diminish the glory of creation and of Calvary.

That is why the crowning act of the Genesis creation is the rest of the Christ the Creator, after his labours, on the seventh day. And then the joyful work of Adam and Eve began on the first day as the sun first rose upon a brand new and perfect world.

And that is why the crowning act of the atonement is the rest of Christ the Redeemer in the tomb, after his labours, on the seventh day. And then the joyful work of God’s new creation began on the first day as the sun first rose upon a blood-bought world with the announcement, “He is risen!”

Those who love the gospel will see in Christ’s announcement on the cross, “It is finished!” an echo of Genesis 2:1, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished.” The Kingdom of God has been renewed through the blood of Christ! We are his perfect and finished work, accounted so through his imputed righteousness!

You see, creation matters for those who believe the gospel.

A Question of Faith

As a Christian ministry that focuses only on the essentials of the gospel, Good News Unlimited does not take a position as to how creation occurred. We leave believers free to understand and study these things for themselves and to come to their own positions. However, Good News Unlimited affirms God as Creator, and we affirm that to accept God as our Creator, or not, has important implications for our understanding of the gospel. Beginnings have implications, because beginnings have endings.

Ultimately, the New Testament presents the fact that God created everything as a matter of faith. We don’t understand it through science, no matter how we may adduce evidence for one position or another. We don’t ultimately understand creation through logic, no matter how important that may be; and we are not left free to consider God’s creatorship as an optional extra subject to personal opinions.

Instead, the New Testament positions the fact that God created all things as a matter of faith.

In the often-quoted “faith chapter” of Hebrews, we are told,

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Heb 11:3, ESV).

The author of Hebrews says this to explain what saving faith is; he has just been talking about it in the previous chapter.

And so, you see, creation and the gospel are again linked. It’s all about faith.

What kind of faith does it take to believe that God made himself to be a man, took your sins upon himself, died crucified as a common criminal, then rose again to give you eternal life. Ultimately, we don’t believe the gospel on the basis of science, although there are those who try to deny it on the basis of scientific materialism.

What kind of faith does it take that God is the Creator of all that there is? Sure, there are plenty who try to deny this on the basis of scientific materialism, just like the gospel. Which takes more faith to believe?

There is much that I don’t understand, although I do follow some of the scientific debates. However, the writer of Hebrews is clear. It’s all by faith. The same faith that saves is the faith that will lead you also to understand that “the universe was created by the word of God.”

That faith – the gracious gift of our loving God into the empty hand of the penitent – is all that matters. Perhaps we may not agree as to the “how” of creation, but let us always agree on the “Who,” so we may fix our faith on Him alone.

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