Archive for the ‘Book of Genesis’ Category

The Disaster of Promoting Homosexuality

August 20, 2010

Title: The Disaster of Promoting Homosexuality

Text: Genesis 19:1-29

Time: August 18th, 2010

At this time, as I’m preparing this message, the State of California is embroiled in a controversy to preserve the traditional family definition of marriage as the union of man and woman. For a number of years now homosexuals have lobbied to redefine marriage as the union of man or woman with another man or woman, allowing for same-sex marriages. At one point they redefined the law to allow for same-sex marriages, then the law was changed back to the traditional definition, then that was reversed by a court decision, now it’s back to the traditional definition, but there are further court cases that everyone believes will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Why the conflict? Why the swinging back and forth? Because we are in the midst of a real cultural war between the forces that seek to preserve a sense of moral sanity and those who wish to overturn almost all morality. Just a few years ago the debate was whether there should be domestic partnerships for gay people to resemble in some sense the marriage relationship enjoyed by heterosexual couples. I’m not sure what happened to that debate because today it seems that we’ve come light years beyond it in the course of just a few years to the point where the debate is over gay marriage. What this shows is that homosexuality and all of the evils that go with it – gay marriages, the promotion of the gay lifestyle by the state, for example – is gaining momentum. If nothing interrupts it, this momentum towards a fully legitimate homosexual tolerance and acceptance in society should come about in the next few years. But if that happens, it spells the end to the noble American experiment in freedom and self-government, because it spells the destruction of the nation. How so? Through what means shall America be destroyed? That we can’t predict, but that it’s destruction will take place, we can confidently say for certain. How can we know that America will be destroyed if it finally reaches that point of accepting homosexuality as a legitimate and normal lifestyle? Because we have the biblical example of Sodom and Gomorrah to warn us. Here was an ancient society that fully accepted, tolerated and embraced the gay lifestyle – and it was destroyed by God! God sends angels to Sodom to investigate the wicked reports coming from the city, then the citizens converged on these holy messengers with the intent of homosexual rape. “All the men from every part of the city of Sodom – both young and old – surrounded the house. They called to Lot. ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them,’” Genesis 19:4-5. The result of this wickedness was destruction. The angels conclude, “The outcry of the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it,” Genesis 19:13. And that’s what happened, destruction. And that same judgment of destruction will come upon the U.S. for its growing acceptance, toleration and promotion of the homosexual lifestyle. But let me explain further. (more…)

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Men and Women: Their Shared Calling

June 7, 2010

Title: Men and Women: Their Shared Calling

Text: Genesis 1:27-28

Time: May 27th, 2010

We’re back to the early chapters of the Book of Genesis, exploring further the role and calling of men and women in God’s plan of Creation. I talked a little about the primary calling of man, which is to discover and carry out the specific vocation, career or calling that God assigns him. In Adam’s case it was to work and care for the garden in which God had placed him according to Genesis 2:15. I then spoke about the primary calling of woman, which is to aid and assist her husband in his primary calling from God according to Genesis 2:18, 20-22. But in addition to their own specific callings we also observe that there is a shared called they both receive from God, which comes in three parts according to Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created him. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” So in addition to their gender-specific callings, we find three other generalized callings shared by both men and women: first, they are to have and raise children together; second, they are to subdue the earth together; third, they are to rule the earth together. This three-part command of God to Adam and Eve – and by implication, to all men and women that follow – is called the creation mandate. It isn’t that men and women, Homo sapiens, happened to have evolved into superior creatures on earth through natural blind chance. No. God created men and women in his very own image in order to multiply, take control, and maintain control of the earth in his name. It’s interesting to consider that God placed Adam and Eve in a garden, the Garden of Eden, which already had vegetation “pleasing to the eye and good for food,” according to Genesis 2:8-9. In other words, God had already developed the garden – this little oasis or island of culture and cultivation in the midst of a vast uncultivated land — as a model and example for Adam and Eve. He then commissioned them to essentially maintain and then spread this beautiful patch of property far beyond the initial garden spot. Obviously, the assignment to multiply, cultivate and maintain the whole earth was too big a job for two humans, but future generations could and would be expected to contribute to the development of the earth and carry out the complete assignment. So in this way, we too are a continuation of the three-part calling of Adam and Eve to multiply, cultivate and maintain the world. We will be judged on how well we do it. But let’s explore further what these three assignments really mean. (more…)

Men and Women in God’s Plan

May 23, 2010

Title: Men and Women in God’s Plan

Text: Genesis 2:15-17, 2:20-22

Time: May 19th, 2010

Last message I talked about how there is so much gender confusion today in society and even in the church – I mean there is so much confusion as to what is a man and what is a woman, and how should men and women act. I stated that part of the problem, part of the confusion is that people are not reading the Bible, and particularly, they are not reading Genesis in the Old Testament. God spells out basic elements, the foundational parts, for a proper understanding of men and women, as individuals and as they relate to one another. Of course, the Bible goes on to outline in much more detail the plan and purpose of both men and women in the rest of the Old Testament and also in the New Testament, but for starters, Genesis lays the foundation. But human society today doesn’t read much of the Bible, and when people do read the Bible they have the bad habit of “reading into it” what they want to get out of it. So consequently not much is gained from this faulty approach. As I prepare this message there is news that the Episcopal Church has just ordained its first openly lesbian bishop in California. Here is an historical Protestant main-line denomination that traces its roots from the time of the Reformation, but today it has strayed so far from the spirit of the Reformation that it now ordains practicing homosexuals, not only to the priesthood but also to leadership above that – to the level of bishop or overseer of pastors. The gender confusion has now risen to the highest ranks of this historic church denomination. Don’t these leaders read the Bible? If they do read the Bible, don’t they believe it? Apparently not, because if one honestly reads and believes the Bible, one won’t place a practicing homosexual in church leadership. The Bible is very clear in its prohibition of all homosexual activity; it’s clearly a grave sin according to God’s Word. But the gender confusion isn’t limited to clear-cut cases of homosexuality, it’s also a problem in the average person’s understanding today of the purpose and plan of men and women, individually, relating to one another, and in society at large. How is a man to be? How is a woman to be? How is a man to act? How is a woman to act? The Bible outlines the answers to all of these questions, not necessarily in every detail, but the general outline. Our society desperately needs to hear God’s Word on this important subject. For far too long the church has been silent or confused itself on the issue. It’s time we opened up the Bible and taught from it on this subject instead of hiding our light under a bushel basket. The teachings of the Bible on the roles of men and women may not be popular today, but because of the terrible confusion and awful results that have come out of the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 60s, there might be more people today willing to listen. But whether they listen or not we must teach what God teaches us from his Word. Let me ask and answer three questions from God’s Word. (more…)

Some More Important Observations from Genesis 1

May 19, 2010

Title: Some More Important Observations from Genesis 1

Text: Genesis 1:27, 28, 31

Time: May 18th, 2010

Genesis is such a treasure trove of important and essential nuggets of truth that one could almost forever spend time discussing vital doctrines we find here that will come up over and over again throughout the whole Bible. In an earlier message I covered three important observations from Genesis 1 – the plural name of God, elohim, that reveals the Trinity, the word for “create,” bara,” that supports the doctrine of creation ex nihilo or “out of nothing,” and the Spirit, or ruah, mentioned in connection with creation that reveals the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit. All of these important doctrines will prove essential in later Christian orthodox teaching; but here they appear early in the Genesis account. Today, I’d like to look at another three important and essential teachings from Genesis 1 – God creating mankind male and female, God giving mankind authority and responsibility for the whole earth, and God originally creating all things good. There is great confusion today over simple and basic issues. We hear in the news great debates and divisions over sexual identity among teenagers and young people today. There is an alarming trend among high school and college students of questioning and even changing one’s own sexual identity – boys questioning there masculinity, girls questioning their femininity. We see a growing number of young women turning to lesbian relationships, while both men and women are moving into lifestyles of bi-sexuality – switching back and forth between sexual relationships with both men and women. There is a lot of confusion in society over gender issues today, there can be no doubt. To make things worse, society’s leaders in government, businesses and private organizations, even in churches, send mixed signals to citizens about sexual identity. Some state governments sanction same-sex unions and marriages, making it legitimate in a number of states. The nation as a whole seems to moving towards the total normalization of homosexuality. School children are taught that marriage and family can be defined as whatever people want them to be because they were formed by mankind, they can be reformed by mankind. Leading Hollywood celebrities form all types of alternative sexual lifestyles and their odd practices are front-page headlines all over the world. No wonder there is great confusion today over sexuality and identity. But all of this is because people are not reading their Bibles – or not believing their Bibles – about such issues. The Bible is clear, especially in Genesis 1, that God created mankind male and female, only two categories of sexuality. This is just one example of essential truth we’ll cover today as we review three more important teachings from Genesis 1. Hopefully, by message end, we’ll have a greater knowledge of foundational biblical teachings and be more motivated to commit to these truths in life. So let’s turn to the three important truths. (more…)

God-of-the-Gaps or Darwin-of-the-Gaps?

May 13, 2010

Title: God of the Gaps or Darwin of the Gaps?

Text: Genesis 1:1

Time: May 10th, 2010

It’s a common accusation leveled against Bible-believing Christians – as distinguished from people who call themselves Christians but don’t believe the Bible – that they rely on a god-of-the-gaps theology. What is this kind of theology? It’s the kind, so say the critics, that depends on the reality of God intervening into the natural world – such as in creation or miracles – but then backtracks when science is able to explain the same thing naturally. For example, an example of god-of-the-gaps theology might be belief in the supernatural miracles of Moses during the time of the Exodus. Today, a lot of people feel that the biblical miracles as recorded in the Bible can be explained naturally. There are probably two or three television documentaries that attempt to explain the miracles of Moses without the need for any divine intervention; in other words, without the need for supernatural miracles. In retelling the crossing of the Red Sea, one scientist at Oxford University in England believes he’s figured out the parting of the waters naturally. To demonstrate his theory he recreates the Exodus scenario using a tiny kids pool lined with pebbles that in the middle rise to a point just believe the surface of the water. He then uses a common variety leaf-blower to recreate a strong wind blowing upon the water. He aims the leaf-blower at the middle section of the water, thus blowing the water away from the middle ridge of pebbles enough to expose them. This, he claims, demonstrates that a strong wind came up and blew the water in one direction enough for the children of Israel to walk across the water on the exposed ridge. After the Jews had all crossed and during the time Pharaoh and his army attempted to cross the same way, the wind died down, the ridge submerged back under the surface of the water, and Pharaoh’s army was trapped in the water and drowned. So goes the Oxford professor’s theory. I’m not sure if that explanation convinced anyone, but whether it’s by this theory or another, today, many or most people now think that the miracles of the Bible can be explained in one way or another – therefore, there’s no need to resort to the supernatural. So the god-of-the-gaps theology retreats from the parting of the Red Sea miracle to the firmer ground of some other biblical miracle that hasn’t yet been explained by science. But the feeling is that as time goes by more and more miracles will be explained by science, so the biblical miracles shrink further and further until at some future time all supernatural miracles will be explainable naturally. Bible-believing Christians are accused of believing in miracles of the Bible until science explains them, then of retreating to other miracles science hasn’t explained yet – so, in other words, perpetually in retreat. Now this accusation isn’t exactly fair, because it’s partly based on what we define as an “explanation.” If one accepts the Oxford professor’s “explanation” of the Red Sea crossing, then they have us Christians. But we’ve good reason to doubt even the learned professor’s recreation – it doesn’t really fully fit as an explanation! But I’d like to turn the whole god-of-the-gaps accusation around and say that there’s also a “science-of-the-gaps” too. Or to put it in more personal terms, a “Darwin-of-the-gaps” – meaning, there are plenty of cases where Darwinian science fills in gaps in theories by faith just as Bible-believers do. I’d like to point out just three areas that could be labeled either god-of-the-gaps or Darwin-of-the-gaps, depending on which side or perspective you happen to be on. (more…)

Men and Women Created in God’s Image

May 11, 2010

Title: Men and Women Created in God’s Image

Text: Genesis 1:26-27

Time: May 7th, 2010

Some of the most important lessons from the Book of Genesis, we take for granted as simply “self-evident.” For example, The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Now when Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, which were approved by the Founding Fathers, mention of the Creator and the concept of equality could be traced directly to the Bible. But today, while we still hold to the concept that all men and women are equal, the link to the Creator and the concept of created by God is slowly fading. But that raises the question, “Without a foundation for human equality grounded in the Genesis creation account, without an acknowledgment of a Creator who created all men and women equal, how long can the concept of unalienable rights hold up?” It’s an important question. Today, men and women seem to feel that we can have human rights without any transcendent moral values, or any grounding from a Higher Power to guarantee them. But even Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Father didn’t try to claim human rights without also appealing to the Creator and Supreme Law Giver – God. It isn’t stated directly, but everyone knew then and everyone knows now (everyone who thinks about it long enough), that the source of Jefferson’s “unalienable rights” is found in the creation account in Genesis 1 where God the Creator creates men and women in his own image and likeness. But in our secular society today all we hear about is raw “human rights” or “equality” without any moral or ethical foundations. We seem to take it for granted that “rights” and “laws” just come out of thin air. We don’t stop to realize that we are living largely on the moral and spiritual capital of the past. If we don’t renew and revive that spiritual and moral capital, if we don’t rebuild the ethical foundation that once was the general consensus in the United States, our precious rights will be swept away in a flood of moral relativism. Just as in the days of Noah before the flood, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was evil all the time,” Genesis 6:5.  There needs to be a renewal of appreciation for the Bible’s teaching that all mankind is made in the image of God. Here is the foundational passage that has so shaped the progress of human rights throughout the world: “Then God said, ‘let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” Genesis 1:26-27. I’d like to point out a few profound implications for being made in the image of God. But first let’s try to better understand what the “image of God” or imago dei means. (more…)

Important Observations from Genesis 1

May 10, 2010

Title: Important Observations from Genesis 1

Text: Genesis 1:1-2, 26

Time: May 6th, 2010

For the Jews, the first five books of the Bible have always been most important of all the Hebrew writings. The so-called Torah or Law is actually the five books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  Now the Jews have always recognized these books as most important, but why is that the case? Why not the Books of Psalms or Proverbs or one of the prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel? Why is priority given to the Torah – and why is the Book of Genesis first in the Bible? It’s easy to see why Genesis is first because it describes first things or origins; that’s a logical place to begin. But outside of the description of creation there are many other good reasons why Genesis is the first book of the Bible. Probably the most important reason is because Genesis addresses many or most of the really important issues of existence. It talks about the really big questions of life, issues that everyone, everywhere, at all times has asked about life. It doesn’t just deal with issues that pertain only to the Jews, but it covers topics that are relevant to everyone. That’s why Genesis, especially the early chapters, is so important for faith and life. Without Genesis we wouldn’t know very much about where we came from or the purpose for which we are here. In fact, without the early chapters of Genesis both Judaism and Christianity make little sense because the solutions they give to the most important human problems wouldn’t be known without the Genesis account. The solutions Judaism and later Christianity give make little sense without the problems described in Genesis. For example, without the description of the Fall – the original man and woman and their disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden – without this account, the problem of sin makes little sense. And of course without an understanding of human sin, the solution of the Savior Jesus Christ to die for our sins makes little sense. In the early church there was considerable debate over the relevance and importance of the Old Testament writings to the new Christian faith. One leader, Marcion, argued that the Old Testament had little relevance to Christianity; he argued we didn’t even need to read the books of the Old Testament any more because of the new Christian writings, the New Testament. But Marcion was rightly condemned as a heretic by the church fathers and the Old Testament was officially seen as part of the Christian Bible along with the New Testament. The importance of the Old Testament and the Book of Genesis in particular is hard to overstate. For example, today, I’d like to point out simply three very important observations we can make about the early chapters of Genesis. These are important but easy-to-miss points we should consider because they determine how we view not only the Bible but our own faith as well. (more…)

Who Wrote the Book of Genesis?

May 5, 2010

Title: Who Wrote the Book of Genesis?

Text: Genesis 2:4

Time: May 3rd, 2010

The other day I watched a documentary produced in High Definition by the BBC entitled, “Who Wrote the Bible?” But instead of an interesting survey of the Old and New Testaments I encountered a sustained attack on the Bible from a modern academic perspective. The narrator seemed friendly enough in his introductory remarks, but only a couple of minutes into the documentary the truth of his agenda was fully presented – and that was to totally overthrow the traditionally accepted view of the Bible. The Bible presents itself and believers have always assumed also that the Bible was written and recorded by the actual names on the individual books. For example, in the Old Testament, the books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible called the Torah or Law, were really written by Moses. That the Book of Isaiah was really written by the prophet Isaiah – and so on. In the New Testament, the assumption has always been similarly that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John actually wrote the books that bear their names. Paul, it is believed, also wrote his Epistles or letters, such as the Epistle to the Romans. But more and more as I listen, watch and observe in today’s contemporary world, I run into people who try to debunk the Bible and argue that hardly anybody whose name appears on a biblical book actually wrote the book itself; instead, other unknown authors and editors wrote nearly all the books of the Bible. Now I’ve been to seminary, both at the master’s degree level and also at the doctorate level, so I’ve heard all the arguments before – they are the so-called higher critical theories of biblical authorship. But I’ve never heard or seen these academic theories pushed on the general public as much as I’ve experienced lately. In addition to the BBC documentary I’ve already mentioned, I was reading along in a book I picked up at a used book sale called “The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels” by Thomas Cahill. I expected to read about how the Jews influenced Western culture, but what I encountered was a full-scale assault on the Old Testament of the Bible. Listen to what the author says, for example: “It is no longer possible to believe that every word of the Bible was inspired by God. Fundamentalists still do, but they can keep up such self-delusion only by scrupulously avoiding all forms of scientific inquiry.” He goes on and teaches us that not only are the books of the Bible not written by the designated authors, even much of what the unknown authors and editors recorded isn’t true. But the attack on the Bible doesn’t stop with television and books, the Bible is also assaulted in college and university classrooms – sometimes even as early as high school in classes taught under the label “The Bible as Literature.” Send a child to the Encyclopedia Britannica and he’ll likely find information explaining how Moses did not write Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy. So what should be our response to all of this? We need to be fully informed about the arguments against the Bible and be ready to present the best arguments in defense of the Bible to counter the attacks. “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created,” Genesis 2:4. Who wrote this account, Moses or some unknown person? Let’s explore. (more…)

The Bible and Science

March 7, 2010

Title: The Bible and Science

Text: Proverbs 3:5-6, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Time: March 8th, 2010

For the past few months I’ve talked a lot about the Genesis creation account and the modern scientific theory of evolution, but I haven’t talked much about the general relationship between the Bible and science. I don’t have to tell anyone that there obviously are points of tension between the biblical Christian faith and modern science. I say “points of tension” because I don’t want to state that all of modern science is at odds with the Christian faith, or that even most of science is at war with the Bible, it isn’t. For example, probably most areas of modern science today are completely compatible and pose no problem for Christians working in these areas. I think, for example, in the field of physics, most Christians working in this field would find themselves completely at home with the other scientists, say for example working at NASA in the space program, to mention a well known area. Only the most radical and speculative fields within physics might cause a Christian any problems. And it’s probably that way in most areas of science. But then, on the other hand, there are fields of science that are filled with controversy and conflicts for Christians, biology being the most specific example. If Darwinian evolution is the heart and soul of most biology programs – and it is – then it would be difficult for a true Bible-believing Christian to function in that environment without great conflict, unless he or she were working in some narrowly-defined specific area of biology that didn’t require assent and affirmation of Darwin’s theory. In that case it would work. But unfortunately in our modern world today, it’s almost impossible to live and work in any field today without running into evolution. It’s hard to simply live in the 21st century without running in Darwin in big and small ways all the time. For example, for myself, I like to watch television documentaries on the History Channel or Discovery Channel or National Geographic, but it’s difficult to watch these cable channels for any period of time without being presented with the theory of evolution in one form or another. PBS is another television network committed to propagating the teachings of evolution, along with all the other major networks like ABC, NBC and CBS. And these outlets don’t seem to mind that they run roughshod right over the teachings and sensibilities of Christians. So there can be no getting around it – the modern world and its many communications outlets are at odds with biblical Christian faith much of the time. Modern science, in this particular area, is at odds with Christianity. So then how does a Christian come to terms with science today? Can a true Christian come to terms with science? How are we to relate our Christian faith to science? I’d like to try to answer these and other questions today, so that we can approach this important aspect of our modern world with confidence and conviction. I’ll use Proverbs 3:5-6 as my text, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your path.” (more…)

In the Image of God He Created Them — Male and Female

March 7, 2010

Title: In the Image of God He Created Them – Male and Female

Text: Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7, 21-23

Time: March 7th, 2010

So far, 2010 has been a year of exploring origins – the creation of all things by God in the early chapters of the Book of Genesis. I’m still working my way through the first and second chapters of Genesis, dealing with such topics as creation vs. evolution, literal “days” vs. day-ages, fixed vs. mutable species, and the relationship between faith and science. Today I’d like to examine more closely the biblical teaching on men and women created in the image of God. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” Genesis 1:26-27. The plain sense meaning of the biblical text just mentioned is that men and women are special – set apart from all other creation by God. In contrast to all other life forms, such as plants or all other living organisms including bacteria, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, birds, mammals – man is specially created by God to bear his very image. What is God’s image? What does it mean for mankind to be made in the image of God? A lot of ink has been used in writing on this complicated subject. Not only entire books, but entire shelves, entire sections of libraries have been devoted to exploring this vast subject, so I won’t presume to answer the question, “What is the image of God created in man?” But I will list a few common sense features that probably capture the essence of what the biblical author – in this case, Moses, who we presume was inspired by God himself – meant to communicate. Certainly, what sets man apart from the rest of God’s creation, what makes man unique in all of the created order, and thus provides us with a clue as to the meaning of “created in the image of God” is his moral and reasoning ability. God, as we learn from the Bible, is an infinite intellectual being and also is an infinite moral being. God is intelligent, he can think and reason, and most important, he is self-conscious or self-aware. In the similar way, although in a lesser way, men and women made in God’s image are intelligent and can also consciously think about themselves, others, God and the world. God also makes moral value judgments, grounded in his own perfection, and can make decisions about what is right and wrong. So also men and women made in his image have the ability to make value judgments about what is right and wrong, but their standard is the character of God. Thus, man made in God’s image has always been seen as special, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition. But in the mid-19th century Darwin’s theory of evolution challenged this understanding of man’s place in the created order. Darwin raised the possibility that man is just another animal, different in no way other than evolutionary development. Modern science with mapping of the human genome confirms further how similar we are with apes. Does this confirm the theory of evolution? Does this prove that there is nothing special about man? Does this mean that we aren’t created in God’s image after all? Let me take a few minutes to explain what the Bible says on this important subject, because it has a lot to do with how we view each other and ourselves. (more…)