God the Creator
Topic: English Passage: Genesis 1:1-2
One of the statistics that has been discussed in pastors’ meetings I’ve been a part of and in books that I’ve been given is the rising demographic of people who say they are not religious. One of the big names in polls and statistics is Gallup, which is an analytical company based in Washington D.C.
According to a 2020 Gallup study, the portion of Americans who said they were members of a church, synagogue, or mosque is less than half. This is the first time this has happened since the study began 80 years ago. In 1937, their study found that 73% of Americans were members of a house of worship. In 1999, that number was 70%. In 2018, that number was 50%. And, most recently, their 2020 data placed it at 47%.
That kind of statistic is connected to a decline in religious affiliation. Surveys continue to show that there is an increasing percentage of people who say they have no religious preference or affiliation. Some people see this trend and say things like, “Religion is being lost in America. Americans are no longer religious.”
Frankly, that’s not an accurate statement. America is as religious now as it ever has been. It’s just that the religion itself has changed. Don’t we talk about things that people do “religiously”? Some people watch a TV show, or follow a sports team, or frequent a restaurant, or check their social media religiously.
What do we mean by that expression? What does it mean to do something “religiously”? It means you do something faithfully. You are devoted to it. In fact, you make plans to make sure it happens. If religion is simply a personal set of beliefs, attitudes, and practices, then we should recognize that even if a smaller portion of the people align themselves with mainline religious groups, that doesn’t mean they’re not religious.
Every single person has something in which they place their faith. And that personal trust expresses itself in that individual’s behavior.
If you are a Christian, if you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, then you have recognized that He is the authority in your life, and He has spoken to us in His word. Therefore, you do what you can to understand what God requires of you and to live accordingly. None of us do that perfectly, but that is the pattern of a true Christian.
For many in this world, however, their authority is not the word of God. For religious cults, the authority is going to be some extra-biblical group or publication. For those who say they aren’t part of a religion, their authority might be science or the government or even themselves. Either way, everybody believes in and worships something. Everybody has some recognized source of authority and fulfilment.
As Christians, we are exiles in this world. We are surrounded by people and a culture that do not honor God. They do not accept Him as the ultimate authority. We need to be prepared to face that.
A good starting point for that preparation is the first book of the Bible. The first book of the Bible is called Genesis, which means origins. That’s an appropriate name because there we find the origin of humanity, the origin of sin, the origin of culture and language and nations, and the origin of God’s people. But before all that, we get the origin of this world.
Turn to Genesis 1 with me. I think many of you are familiar with the opening words of the Bible. Genesis 1:1, probably found on page 1 of your Bible—In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The opening verse, without any qualification or background or defense, tells us that there is a God, and He created the world. That’s the starting point of the Bible, and it’s the starting point to truth. Recognizing that God exists and that He created the world is the foundation of truth. The rest of human history, and the rest of our faith, flows from those simple, basic truths. There is a God, and He created the universe.
God as the Creator is not only the starting point for the Bible and the starting point for faith; it’s also the starting point for those who reject Him, because if you can eliminate God, you can completely disregard anything that claims to be from Him. You’ve removed the authority of the universe, and you get to name a new one in its place.
Every unbelieving individual and culture gets to name its new authority, but before we talk a little more about that, we should look at Genesis and see first what God tells us about how we got here. How did this world come into existence?
The simple, overarching answer is that God did it. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This world has not been here forever. It had a beginning, and God decided when that would be. God created time as we know it.
The infinite, all-powerful God chose to set the beginning and to create, out of nothing, everything else that exists. “The heavens and the earth”—that’s a reference to space and matter. That’s essentially our universe, we have time and space, and matter. God created it. He brought it into being out of nothing. The Latin phrase for this is ex nihilo, out of nothing.
This brings up questions about the nature or the purpose of God, and those are profitable discussions for another time. For now, we’re only looking at the simple assertion that God exists, and He created the world. You either believe, basically, that we all came from nothing, or that we all came from something, or someone. Either way, it’s an act of faith.
Hebrews 11:1 and 3 says: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen... 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 that are visible.
By faith, we understand that God made this world out of nothing. God created time and space and matter in its raw form. And then what happened? Look at verse 2—[And] The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
“Without form and void”—that’s a reference to the raw elements of creation, particularly this world. There was time and space and matter, but it was not organized, the way we see it today. What we now call a planet was completely dark, without life and without order.
Verse 2, refers to this unorganized mass as “the deep” or “the waters.” Those are being used synonymously here. The idea is that the unorganized elements of creation was some form of water. Second Peter 3:7 tells us: the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God.
So, what you’ve got is some kind of dark, watery mass. Left alone, it would do nothing, but God is working, and by His power, He is going to infused energy into it.
The end of verse 2 says the Spirit of God was moving over the waters. That word “hovering” is connected to a mother hen covering her young ones to protect them and to give them heat. The idea behind the word “hovering” is something moving back and forth, so it could also be translated “shaking.”
This imagery has a couple interesting implications. For one, it demonstrates that God is not a detached Creator. He carefully guards and watches over what He has made. He is intimately and personally involved with His creation.
A second important factor here is that it may be pointing to the fact that God, by His Spirit, imparted energy into creation. That could be what’s behind this idea of movement or vibration. This could be telling us how God activated what He created.
Dr. Henry M. Morris, who started the Institute for Creation Research, wrote about this, and he points out the distinctiveness of comparing unorganized matter to water and to the importance of it being energized by the Spirit. Here’s what he writes:
“It is significant that the transmission of energy in the operation of the cosmos is in the form of waves—light waves, heat waves, sound waves, and so forth. In fact (except for the nuclear forces which are involved in the structure of matter itself), there are only two fundamental types of forces that operate on matter—the gravitational forces and the forces of the electromagnetic spectrum. All are associated with ‘fields’ of activity and with transmission by wave motion. Waves are typically rapid back and forth movements and they are normally produced by the vibratory motion of a wave generator of some kind. Energy cannot create itself. It is most appropriate that the first impartation of energy to the universe is described as the ‘vibrating’ movement of the Spirit of God Himself.”
So, just in the first two verses of the Bible, we see that God exists, that He created time and space and matter, and that He is intimately involved in His creation. He infused energy into all that exists.
I’ll talk more next week about the verses that follow, but what they tell us is that God went on to form and to fill an empty world in six days. And then on the seventh day, He rested. For today, I’m just trying to introduce the biblical idea that God exists, and that He created the universe. This is the message God intended mankind to understand. He made us.
Like I said, we live in a world that rejects that idea. We know the truth, and yet we are exiles in a land of lies. Along those lines, turn with me now to a passage many of you have read recently. Go to Romans chapter 1. Romans 1:18. This is the Apostle Paul’s description of the world’s response to God as Creator. Romans 1:18.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Apart from the mercy of Jesus Christ, the world is under God’s wrath. It’s not because they don’t know the truth; it’s because they suppress the truth. And they suppress the truth “by their unrighteousness.”
The world rebels against God, not out of ignorance, but out of a desire to continue in sin. And in continuing their sin, they want to quiet their conscience against what they’re doing.
Someone once compared that truth to an inflated beachball which the world tries to keep underwater. If you let it go, it keeps coming back. So, you have to actively suppress it. You continue in sin, you keep repeating the lies, hoping the truth will stop bothering you.
And what is the main truth being suppressed by the world? It is that God exists, and that He created us. That’s what is being suppressed. They know it already. How? Look at verse 19— For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
How has God shown Himself to the world? How has He given proof of His existence?
Verse 20—For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
A lot of you know this already, theologically, this is what we call general revelation or natural revelation. God introduces Himself to the world through creation. Creation itself bears witness to the reality of a Creator. It doesn’t tell you everything about Him, but it lets you know that there must be some powerful being outside of this world who made it.
Like I read at the beginning, Psalm 19 says: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Creation bears witness to the existence of a Creator. So listen, when you talk to someone who claims they don’t believe that God made this world, don’t let them put you on the defensive. It doesn’t fall to us to prove that God exists. Creation itself is the proof. And Romans 2 adds the human conscience to that as well. Creation and conscience give testimony to a moral, eternal, and powerful God. So, we don’t need to prove God exists; it falls to those who reject Him to prove He doesn’t.
How did this pulpit get here? Would you believe me if I said we chopped down a tree and this came out al by itself? No! This was designed. This was made by Richard. He spent hours planning and working to put it together. Entering into a debate as to whether or not this pulpit was made by someone would be foolish. It’s obvious that someone made this.
Now think about the systems that exist in this universe—the solar system, or the ecosystems of this planet. Or how about in your ow body? You’ve got the skeletal system, the nervous system, the muscular system, the respiratory system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the reproductive system, the digestive system.
Why do we call those “systems”? We call them systems because they are made up of things that work together to achieve a purpose.
You think a computer system can just build itself? Do you think your HVAC system built itself? Do you think a highway system can work without some planning and design? No, someone has to think it up and put it there. The same is true with creation and with your body.
Yes, there are problems, but if you think about about how it all works and how it’s designed to keep going, do you really think that is all the result of chance and randomness? If you don’t, how is that not an act of faith?
Our faith is in God, who has told us that He put it here. And yet the world suppresses that blatant fact to excuse its sin. Listen to verses 21 and following: For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
In Paul’s day, the pagans of the Roman Empire worshipped carvings of birds and animals. They claimed that the power of the gods lived in little statues made of gold and silver. And Paul is simply pointing out the absurdity of worshiping things in creation rather than the Creator Himself.
Today, we don’t have many people bowing down to idols in their living rooms, but what is the dogma of the day? What is it that has replaced this idea that God created the world? It’s the scientific community. The most prominent scientists tell us that there is no God, that all of this came about on its own. And we’re supposed to believe it.
In the beginning, according to the prevailing scientific view, there was a big bang, and the universe exploded into what it is now. You can add all the scientific, expert lingo you like, but that’s the idea. A massive explosion of energy led to the universe as we know it.
I’m not a scientist, so I’m not very well-versed in all the discussions about quantum physics and whatever else. But no matter what someone believes, they still can’t escape the question: Where did it come from? Even if a massive explosion led to the creation of our universe, we’d have to ask where the “stuff” of that explosion came from. Who put it there?
To be fair, as Christians we can get asked the same kind of question: where did God come from?
Either way, it’s a question outside of empirical science, and the response is one of faith. You either believe that an all-powerful being brought this into existence, or that this all happened by itself.
I’m not trying to say that science is bad. God is pro-science, but we need to understand that science has limits and limitations. We cannot allow science or pseudo-science to be the single authority that determines how we live our lives. But that is what is happening. Some have called it scientism. Science is the new god.
Originally, science was developed by people who expected an order in creation because God had made it. And there was a delight in understanding how God ordered this world. Psalm 111:2 says, “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.”
Those of you studying chemistry or physics or biology or mathematics in school right now, you should learn about how life works, and you should be praising God for it.
Seeking to understand how this world works is, what some call, operational science. That’s a term I read about from an organization called Answers in Genesis. If you really want to learn more about this subject or teach your kids about this, two helpful sources are the Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis. They’ve got resources that are very academic and stuff for kids too. Anyway, Answers in Genesis is the group I saw use the term operational science.
Operational science is what I grew up learning. It’s the science connected to how the world works right now. When I was in school, I learned about the scientific method. You ask a question, you do some research, and then form a hypothesis. That hypothesis gets tested repeatedly through experiments, the information is analyzed, and you form a conclusion. As we study things like that, we should praise God for the understanding He’s given us and for His wisdom on display in the world. That’s operational science.
But over the years, science has branched out into areas it was not intended to answer. Trying to answer questions about love and purpose and existence are not part of operational science. In fact, the act of God creating the world isn’t part of science because, by definition, it’s outside the normal way the universe works. It was a miraculous event.
Using science to determine the origin of the universe is like trying to use science to figure out how Jesus walked on water. It’s not going to happen because, by definition, a miracle is working outside of the normal, scientific rules that govern this world.
Today, we have added, what some call, historical science. It is using science to try to answer questions about things that can’t be repeated. Did you know that you can’t scientifically prove that Abraham Lincoln existed? That’s not a scientific question. It’s a historical one.
Creation, in the same way, is not a scientific issue. It’s historic. What we have is not a scientific account of creation; it’s God’s self-testimony. You can either you embrace naturalism and materialism, which teach that there is nothing supernatural and that only the physical world exists, or you accept that there is a God, and He made this world.
People who say they embrace science, talk as if they come with a neutral position. But they don’t. All of us come with some assumptions, some presuppositions. Our assumption is that God exists. The naturalistic or materialistic view assumes there is no God. Both sides, we can say are a worldview. Both sides are a form of religion. And if you interact with people who claim there is no God, you should at least help them realize that it’s a kind of faith. Our ultimate authority is God who never changes; their authority is a scientific consensus that is always adjusting.
As we wrap up our time together today, I want to close by sharing two very simple responses that we need to have to God as Creator. And even if you’re here today, and you completely reject the idea that God created this world, God expects you to respond like this. This will determine how He judges you.
Number 1: God created the world, and He wants you to worship Him. God created the world, and He wants you to worship Him.
In addition to God’s work of redemption, the Psalms praise God because of Creation. Psalm 33:6-8 for example, says: By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
Psalm 95:4-6—In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
And lastly, for now, Psalm 100:3—Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
God created the world, and He wants you to worship Him. That’s the first response we should have. Remember, in Romans 1 it said the unbelieving world did not honor Him as God or give Him thanks.
Parents, teach your children to give thanks to God for waht He’s done. He made the trees. He made our bodies. He gave us life and breathe. Let’s worship the God who created everything.
There’s a second response, however, and it’s so important because creation, like many of you know, can only give us an introduction to who God is. We can say that a design points a designer, but that doesn’t mean we can get to really know the designer through what He has made. That’s not how it works. You can praise an artist or an architect for what he’s done, but it doesn’t mean you know who he is.
In the same way, we can’t use human reason and human understanding to truly know God. If anyone think that’s possible, they don’t understand the great difference between humanity as finite, created beings and God who is infinite and eternal God. You can’t reason your way to God; He has to reveal Himself in order for us to know Him.
And this leads me to the second response we should have. Number 2: God created the world, and He wants you to know Him. God wants you to know Him.
In fact, God wants you to know Him so much, that He came to earth. The Apostle John said it like this. These are the opening words of his gospel—In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John was talking about the eternal word of God, also known as the Son of God, whom we know know as Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was at the same time was God, and yet He was with God. That’s talking about His distinction from the person of the Father and His union in essence with Him.
At creation, the Father was there, the spirit was there moving and energizing, and the Son was there through whom everything was created.
In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul tells us that by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
The God who made this universe came to earth, so that we could know Him and know the Father. How is that possible? How do you and I, who are worthy of God’s wrath and who don’t live up to God’s infinite glory, get to draw near to God?
It can happen because Jesus sacrificed His life to pay our eternal penalty. He died to satisfy God’s justice and wrath. And as proof that God accepted that sacrifice, God raised Him from the dead.
And if you will repent of your sin and trust in Jesus alone, God will bring you to Himself by the power of His Spirit. God will forgive you and place His Spirit within you, and you will know Him more and more for all eternity. That’s what Jesus said it means to have eternal life—to know God more and more.
When Paul preched to the crowd in Athens in Acts 17, here’s what he said: The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us... Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
As they say, the day will come when you will meet your Maker. And you deserve judgment. But our Maker has provided a way of salvation. And for all who trust in Him, He will create a new heavens and a new earth and we will live forever in perfect peace and undilluted joy.
Turn to Jesus today. He is your Creator. He is the Judge. And He will be your Savior if you turn to Him in repentance.
For those of us who have trusted in Jesus already, we should be comforted knowing that God who made everything holds us securely. We will be with Him forever.
I’d like to close by reading Psalm 148. Feel free to turn there if you’d like, or just listen along. This is a Psalm completely focuse on praising God for His mighty acts of creation, and for the salvation He has given His people. Let’s bow our heads and let the psalm serve as our closing prayer this morning. Psalm 148.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! 2Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! 3Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! 4Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! 5Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. 6And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. 7Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, 8fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! 9Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! 10Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! 11Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! 12Young men and maidens together, old men and children! 13Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. 14He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord!