Wednesday, January 11, 2012

“In the Beginning”

First Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“In the Beginning”
For the week of January 7-13, 2012
Key thought:  The doctrine of a literal six-day Creation is foundational.
We will consider the vital relationship between creation and the gospel, the cross and grace.  We will also consider the doctrine of evolution. This teaching, in its opposition to creation, is likewise in oppositioin to redemption, the Cross of Christ and the grace of God.
Evolution: the Counterfeit Religion
Evolution is a counterfeit religion opposed to the religion of the Bible.  Both religions are concerned with beginnings.  Both theories of how man began must be accepted by faith alone because no man was there to observe any beginning.  Both religions are concerned with ethical/moral growth . The Bible classifies this as sanctification—growth in grace.  Evolution teaches ethical growth by nature—a process of natural selection (and of course survival of the fittest) where man gets better and better.  Evolution teaches a supposedly natural process resulting in the survival and reproductive success of individuals or groups best adjusted to the environment in which they find themselves.  This in supposedly leads to the perpetuation of genetic qualities best suited to that particular environment.
Both the Bible and evolution look for a savior.  This savior is the perfect man.  When evolution’s perfect man arrives he will live forever because he will have adjusted himself to every environmental hindrance to perfection and eternal life.  All others, lacking perfection, must die.  On the other hand, the Bible teaches that the perfect Man has already arrived, and that in Him is eternal life.  The One Perfect Man died and the rest of mankind lives.  Whoever is joined to Christ will live eternally.  This is not a natural process, it is the gift of a gracious Creator and Redeemer.   
One of evolution’s consequential teachings is that death preceded sin by millions of years.  In this structured geologic column, beginning with the Cambrian Explosion of death and destruction, supposedly 570 million years ago, to the Tertiary mass extinction of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago there is nothing but a record of death.  The evolutionist’s line of reasoning demands the existence of death before the entrance of sin.  To him the wages of sin is not death.  If there is no casual relation between sin and death there is no need for the death of Christ as our Representative and Substitute.  In sharp contrast to evolution, the Bible reveals that sin produced death.  Death is the consequence of Adam’s sin about 6,000 years ago: “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin” (Rom 5:12).  Because of this Christ was made to be sin and tasted “death for everyone” (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 2:9).
Creation and Grace
Evolutionists, in denying creation, deny the cross of Christ, and in a very real sense they deny the grace of God upon which creation and redemption are founded.  Evolutionism is a fall from grace because its adherents have “become estranged from Christ” and “attempt to be justified by (natural) law” (see Gal 5:4).
Creation itself rests upon unmerited favor—the grace of God who denied Himself, who gave Himself, who emptied Himself, who continues to give Himself for the life, the joy, and the good of all mankind. Before earth’s creation week, grace was promised to us in Christ (2 Tim 1:9).  Consequently, as soon as Adam sinned, grace was waiting to take him by the hand.  Grace was accomplished in very fact on the cross of Calvary 4,000 years after sin entered the human race.  However, the cross of Christ is not merely a point in time, because He is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).  As soon as there was sin there was the Savior of the world mediating in behalf of mankind.
Creation and Redemption
Consider the relationship existing between creation and redemption. Both creation and redemption meet in Christ.  He is both Creator and Redeemer (John 1:1‑3, 14, 10; Eph 3:9; Heb1:1‑3).  Compare also Col 1:13‑16, where we observe redemption and creation united.  It takes nothing less than creative energy to recreate us (2 Cor 5:17).  The power by which Jesus saves us from sin is the power by which He created the worlds.  Redemption is simply the carrying out of God’s original purpose of creation—that man should be in His image (Gen 1:26; Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 15:49).  Evolutionists in denying creation deny the purpose of redemption.
The last message of mercy to a dying world of evolutionistic believers is the united messages of the gospel and creation.  It is the first angel’s message (Rev 14:6, 7).  Those who believe in evolution either deny this message now or will do so in the future.  On the other hand, those who will believe this message will not be swamped by the theory of evolution.
The Cross and Creation are Inseparable
The preaching of the cross is the power of God unto salvation (1 Cor 1:30,18,23,24).  This is the power of the gospel.  That power is illustrated in nature.  Notice what Paul wrote to the Romans: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes… For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Rom. 1:16-20).  The power of God in the gospel is the power of the cross. And this is the power that created the universe.  The power of the cross is therefore the power of creation. The cross of Christ has in it creative energy, which is the power that redeems.  Evolutionists, in denying the biblical account of creation, deny the cross of Christ.
There is more.  In the gospel there is revealed the righteousness which is the very life and power of God: “For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” (Rom 1:17).  Here is a foundational Scripture for justification by faith coming from God’s righteousness.  This righteousness is revealed in the gospel.  The gospel is the power of God and that power is illustrated in creation.  This power of God’s righteousness is placed in the mind and heart of everyone who believes.  Evolutionists in denying creation deny righteousness by faith.
The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ and cannot be separated from Him.  We receive righteousness by receiving Christ.  This message was proclaimed in 1888. Righteousness by faith in Christ alone is the third angel’s message.  Evolutionists—those who deny creation, redemption, the cross of Christ and the grace of God will likewise deny the last message of Christ and His Righteousness.
So how is it with you?  Are you a creationist or an evolutionist?  You cannot be both. Destiny depends on where we place our faith.
--Jerry Finneman