Monday, March 18, 2013

“Creation and the Gospel”

First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Creation and the Gospel”
For the week of March 23, 2013

Creation and the Gospel

       In Genesis 3, we have before us the first sin of Adam, the first investigative judgment, the first gospel promise, the first sacrifice, and the first covering garments symbolizing the righteousness of Christ.
     An Investigative Judgment (Gen 3:9-13). All judgments are investigative in nature. In the judgment, several principles are involved. Two of these are responsibility and accountability. Both Adam and Eve were responsible for their actions and both were accountable. Two sentences were declared, by God, at the close of that first investigative judgment. The sentences: acquittal and condemnation. In the acquittal phase, probationary time was given to Adam and Eve (Gen 3:15) while Lucifer, that serpent of old, was condemned by God’s court curse in the other phase (see Isa 14:12; Rev 12:9; Gen 3:14, 15).

      Jesus became the Savior of the world and thus of the first fallen human pair. The first promise to them was God’s covenant promise of salvation (Gen 3:15) which could come only through Christ crushed to death by the author of sin along with of our own sins. To illustrate, God’s promise of a sacrifice is implied in Gen 3:21 – “The Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (ESV). The sacrificial offering and the garments were emblems of Christ crucified and His covering of righteousness. The promise of salvation and the altar of sacrifice stood side by side, each casting clear lines of light from “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8) to the guilty pair. The gospel of the cross was clearly portrayed.

      The preaching of the cross is the proclamation of the power of God. (1 Cor 1:30,18, 23,24). This power is the power of redemption which is the power of creation. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor 5:17). The power of God’s Gospel is seen in His work of creation. Paul in writing to the Romans connected redeeming power and creative power: “The gospel of Christ…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 is the same in redemption as in creation. It takes nothing less than creative energy, as demonstrated in nature and in the cross, to save and to change us.

      Paul again joined the power of redemption to creation in Col 1:14 – 16 where he wrote, “in [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins….For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” And John, also, in the first angel’s message of Rev 14:6 – 7 links redemption and creation. In the preaching of “the everlasting gospel” heaven’s call to worship the creator is clear: “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” Both the first promise of redemption in Genesis and the last message proclaimed to the world before Jesus returns place creation and the gospel together.

      In 1893, E.J. Waggoner wrote a book entitled The Gospel in Creation. In the introduction, page 9, he penned:
“The first thing that Moses wrote, through the inspiration of the Spirit of God, was the story of creation. That, therefore, is one of the things through which we are to receive hope and comfort. Why is it that we can receive hope and comfort through the story of the creation? Because that story contains the Gospel.”
     Again he wrote, “It is in creation, therefore, that the power of God is to be seen by everybody. But the power of God in the line of salvation is the Gospel. Therefore the works of creation teach the Gospel.” Ibid. “When we consider the works of creation, and think of the power manifested in them, we are contemplating the power of redemption.” Ibid. p. 16.
"The Gospel, then, is simply the creative power of God applied to men. Any gospel that leaves creation out, or which does not preach the creative power of God, as seen in the things that He has made, and which does not comfort men by that power, calling upon them ever to keep it in mind as their only source of strength, is 'another gospel,' which is simply no gospel at all, since there can be no other." Ibid. p. 47.
      While the gospel in creation is very good news, the theory of evolution leaves both creation and the gospel out of its intellectual and emotional speculations. Think of this. Proponents of evolution present the idea that death preceded sin by millions of years! 570 millions of years of death before sin, measured off in their geologic column from the so-called Cambrian explosion in the Paleozoic Era through the Mesozoic into the Cenozoic Eras of mass extinction of animal and plant life. If this is true, then the Bible is false because it states unequivocally that death is the result of sin (Rom 5:12; James 1:15). Evolution also denies God’s salvation in Christ. This is because if death is not the result of sin, then there is no need for the cross, nor redemption.

      But if Scripture is true that sin brings death and that Christ was made “to be sin for” us not only “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” but also in order to destroy death and its author (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 2:14-15; Gen 3:15), then the future is bright with hope for believers in an atmosphere not tainted in any way by the enemy of God and man.

      In the memory verse for this week the work of the two corporate human representatives are in stark contrast: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” 1 Cor 15:22. In the immediate context Paul writes of three resurrections in 15:20, 23–28:
  1. Christ was raised first as the fulfillment of the sheaf of the first-fruits taken from the ripening crop at the Passover.
  2. Next is the Second Coming harvest resurrection. When Christ returns, all his people will be raised and taken to heaven.
  3. The final resurrection is of the lost and is post-millennial. At that time the final enemy, death, will be destroyed.
     The term order in 1 Corinthians 15:23 originally referred to military rank “each one in his own order.”  There is order, a sequence, in the resurrections. At the time when Jesus returns in the air, He raises from the dead all who have trusted Him having died in the faith. Jesus called this “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29). When He returns to the earth in judgment at the end of the millennium the lost will be raised in “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29; Rev. 20:11–15). No one in the first resurrection will be lost, while no one in the second resurrection will be saved.

     Finally, God cleanses and re-creates the earth and the heavens. He will wipe away every tear. Every ear will be tuned to His voice. Every eye will behold Him in His glory. Every voice will sing, giving Him praise and honor and glory forever (Rev 5:11-13).

-Jerry Finneman