God, People, and the Meaning of Life

Genesis 1

April 23, 2017

Sermon Manuscript

Amanda and I got married and then a few months later moved to Orlando, FL. Before moving I went down a few weeks early to meet with a realtor about buying a house. We had talked on the phone and emailed. He was a lighthearted jovial guy and we decided to meet at a hotel lobby. I showed up on time, looked around and didn’t see anyone I thought would be him. I kept waiting and after a few minutes made eye contact with a white haired gentleman in a suit who was waiting there too. Finally, we both looked at each other funny and said each other’s name. We laughed and shook hands. He then looked at me and said “Sorry, based on our conversations I thought you would have been older.” And being the wise guy I smiled and looked back at him and said, “Yeah, I thought you would have been younger.”

Sometimes you can have an expectation of someone those impressions lead you astray. I have found many people have opinions of the Bible and Christianity that are like that. They have thoughts about God and the Bible but those thoughts rarely reflect the Bible accurately. Few people have read enough of it to know what it really says. Today we get an introduction to who God is. As a church, we value the Bible and want to keep looking at it to understand who we are and what our purpose is. And we want to invite you to walk through it with us. We are looking at God, People, and the meaning of life today.

Let’s Read... (Kids pay attention and draw)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.

6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.

9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.

14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.

20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.

24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 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." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 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." 29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 1:1-3 NIV)

The word of the Lord...

Let’s look at what this passage tells us about...

    ● The God of the Universe

There is much we could say. The rest of the Bible fills out who God is, but here are a few things we can say about the God of the universe.

Independent and eternal: He was before the world was. He is in the beginning. God is not dependent on anything or anyone. He does not create out of a need for people or things. He is the beginning and the end. All things find their place in him.

People are needy. We need food. We need air. Our existence is dependent on other things. We can’t even sustain our own heart. God is not like that and is not dependent on anything. He has life in himself.

Powerful: it goes without saying that God is powerful. And not just stronger than you or me. Often the Latin word for powerful is potent and joined with the prefix omni meaning all. God is omnipotent. He is all powerful.

The earth is 1.3 x10^25 pounds and is traveling through space at a speed of 67,000 mph.

Consider the size of the universe...

On August 20, 1977, Voyager II, the interplanetary probe launched to observe and transmit to earth data about the outer planetary system, set off from earth travelling faster than the speed of a bullet (40 thousand miles per hour). On August 28, 1989 it reached planet Neptune, 2,700 million miles from the earth. Voyager II then left the solar system. It will not come within one light year of any star for 958,000 years. In our galaxy there are ~ 10 billion stars like our sun. Our galaxy is an average sized galaxy in a universe containing hundreds of millions of galaxies. Now, look with me at what Genesis 1:16 says right there at the bottom left of page 1. In what almost seems like an afterthought the writer tells us, “And God made the two great lights the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night and the stars.”

Creator: God creates all things. He is the source. Everything has a beginning. If you trace all motion back then at some point you have to come to a first cause. Aristotle called this the “unmoved mover.” The one that is unmoved by anything else and the originator of all things. The Bible calls this God.

We have to talk for a moment on this. Evolution is a big theory today and many have trouble with the creation account because of the awareness of basic elements of evolution.

There are differences of opinion among Christians on how to interpret certain aspects of Gen 1. Some believe the creation days are six 24-hour periods of time meaning the earth is only just several thousand years old. Others believe they represent six eras or ages of time. Others see a long gap of time between verse 1 and 2. And still others see the seven-day week as a literary device and therefore more symbolic. The interpretive issues are not as simple as one might think. Even so, I believe the rest of the Bible makes clear that aspects of Genesis are clearly historical and there are aspects that are symbolic

Though many authors would have you believe that science has, in a foolproof way, demonstrated that Darwinian evolution is the explanation for all the diversity and complexity of life. It is simply not true. There are many world-class scientists who are Christians and who, on the basis of science, are not persuaded by the theory of Darwinian evolution. It is not impossible to be a credible scientist and a genuine Christian at the same time.

And to point our discussion to the biblical text, I would just add that it is hard to be too dogmatic on the time of creation when the very things we use to mark time (sun, moon) are not created until day 4!

The Bible makes clear God created the world. It originated with him. If there was a big bang, then he is the one who lit the fuse. And the one who made the firecracker. He is the one who instituted processes like reproduction and adaptation. They do his bidding.

Authority: here God calls things what they are. He names... sea, sky, land. With a word he blesses and with a word he commands people. His primary means of creating and acting are through his word. He speaks and it happens. When you can say let there be light and there is light you have power, and that power implies authority. He rules the universe. If God is in authority over creation then he ought to rule over us.

Good. God takes a world that is cold, dark, formless and empty and he begin to fill it with goodness. Who wants to live in a place that is cold, empty, and formless?? He brings shape, life, fruitfulness to it. He acts to bring goodness to the world. When you see a sunset on the beach, watch a bird soar through the sky, eat a juicy steak, hold your spouse by your side, all these should remind you of God’s good work.

Goodness is an attribute of God. It goes along with him being merciful, loving, and compassionate. It is not encouraging to know someone is all powerful and mighty if they are not good. Many people in the world with lots of power but they are mean. God is good and it is seen in his creating of the world, his filling it with good things.

You may also wonder why God created. Why does he go to all this trouble? He doesn’t need creation. He just does it. Theologians say it is out of the overflow of his goodness that he does it. He creates freely and generously. You could say that God is the first liberal. He gives of himself for others and we will see just how generous of himself he is as we go through the Bible.

Personal: In Genesis 1 God speaks. He sees. Many religions advocate a God who is so great and powerful he is completely removed from and even disinterested in creation. The God of the Bible is independent and powerful but he is also present and with his creation. He is aware of his creation, he cares for it, he shapes it. He creates it to be in relationship with him. He cares for you. He desires you to be in relationship with him. Its astounding!

This is who God is. The rest of the Bible gives a better understanding of him, but for now we can conclude that he is the all knowing, all powerful, good, loving, and wise creator of the universe who should be followed and obeyed in all of life.

    ●  People

The creation account moves from the general to the specific, and to the significant. The last thing God creates is people. It’s the apex of his creation. Of all creation in the world only people are created in the image of God. only people are created in his likeness. That is said of no other part of creation!

God creates people to do have dominion. He creates them to work. You are not created to lounge around doing nothing. Paul Minear said, “The God of the Bible is preeminently a worker” (Genesis 1; 2:1,3). You are created in his image. You are to do something. You are to bring shape to the world. You are to bring goodness. If you want to discover your calling and purpose then find where the world is slipping into chaos and try to bring life, order and goodness to it. Music, carpenter, salesman, entrepreneur.

People are created in his image. when it says people are created in his image, the word image is also used of ancient kings that would build images tselems of themselves in lands to remind who is in charge. These images reflected the king of the land and were valued and esteemed because of who they reflect. Here each person is created with dignity and significance. They are the image of the king of kings.

Male and Female. God makes people in his image, says that twice. And yet he makes them male and female. We will see as we go that men and women are different, and that it is part of God’s plan. It also means that they reflect him in different ways.

It shows there is no one person who can fully image God. For who could fully image his power or his goodness. Who could image all of his attributes fully. So we see people who better image his goodness, others image his power, his governance, his love. We are created/designed to live in a community. Individualistic living is not God’s design.

As a parent this truth is incredibly helpful because I want to help my kids discover who God has created them to be. They are all different. They are not the same, and they are not the same as me. They are going to have limitations. They also have strengths that better reflect God. But they have purpose and significance and reflect this amazing God in amazing ways.

Responsibility: Being created in God’s image gives dignity to each and every person, but it also gives responsibility. We can’t live any way we want. We must conform to God. He is the standard and we must not deviate from that. Perhaps God is the first conservative too. And you see now how God cuts through all political systems just as he cuts through us. We are to rule over creation as his image in ways that reflect him.

    ● Purpose of Life

What is your purpose in life?

Many people and philosophers have taken a shot at explaining this. I think anything apart from the biblical teaching falls short.

Deep thinkers. Plato said the meaning of life is in attaining the highest form of knowledge, which is the Idea (Form) of the Good, from which all good and just things derive utility and value. But then it was debated on how we know what that form or good is.

Average Joe’ s. In the movie, City Slickers, Mitch Robbins, a confused city boy going through a midlife crisis talks to Curley the rugged cowboy about the meaning of life. Curley holds up one finger and tells the dejected city boy this is the meaning of life. Mitch, responds asking “Your middle finger.” “No, It’s the one thing most important. What’s the one thing? You have to figure that out.” Mildly helpful.

The hopeless. The atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, said there is no God and no meaning to life. We are to just be who we want. Complete freedom and don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something. you just need to be who you are. (Heard Kim Kardashian share this a few years ago. When moving on to her 4 th or 5 th husband she got advice from another Star with 5 husbands who said, “Just follow your heart.” Jean Paul Sartre would trace out this philosophy more and end up concluding life is absurd because we search for meaning when it can’t be found. He said the one question he can’t answer is why don’t we all commit suicide. Sartre also had a hard time explaining why there would be any morals if you are just supposed to be and do whatever you want.

The Bible says your purpose is to image God. We talked about elements of this already, but let’s zone in on imaging him.

Image and Glory. What does it mean to image God? It means we reflect him but how exactly do we do that. The rest of the Bible spells out more who God is and how we can image him. The commandments do not lie, do not steal, do not commit adultery all spell that you. But it’s more than that. In the Bible the words image and glory often get interchanged (2 cor 3, 4).

People are reflective beings. We reflect what we value. When you value a person or thing you start to become like them. Think about when a teenager starts to look up to a singer, actor, sports figure. They start to talk like them. They dress like them. They start to conform to what they look like. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius said, “... Imitation is the most acceptable part of Worship” .

Whatever we most value we begin to look like it, for better or ill. If we worship the wrong things like money we begin to become cold and heartless like the things we worship. Only God is big enough, mighty enough, powerful enough, and good enough for us to worship him and want to become like him.

A theologian of the early church named Irenaeus said, “ For the glory of God is a living man, and the life of man consists in beholding God.” .

Read the Bible. In order for you to know God, to image God, to reflect God, you have to take time to know him. We must be in a good relationship with him. One of the primary ways to know God is to know his word. Since creation he has spoken and revealed himself through Words. The Bible is God’s word to us and it is how we know who he is.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” . We know God through his word.

Conclusion

-GPS that is all out of whack. Turned out the screen had been moved so North was at bottom. Everything was moved.

-We can know who we are...

-Is God who you thought he is? Are you who you thought you were? Is this the purpose you thought you were created for? What are you telling your kids...

-right here in genesis we see who God is, we see who we are, we see this God who creates all things and is brining light out of darkness and filling the world with good, is worthy to be trusted and followed. Its our chief purpose in life.

Discussion Questions:

  • What are some things that describe God from the creation account? Which most surprise, encourage or confuse you?

  • What are some things about people that help you better understand who you are and what your responsibility is? Do you see any problems when people go against this?

  • What would you say is your purpose in life? How does this fit with Gen 1:26, 28?

...

Keith Welton

Lead Pastor

sermons sermon audio genesis manuscript series: discovering christianity


April 23, 2017
Words: 3623
Read Time: 20 mins