1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from His pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run His course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.
Today and next Sunday we will be doing a two part sermon mini series with a bit of a difference. The focus of these two Sundays will be on just two verses in the Bible: Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21, the very first and very last verses in Scripture.
Today’s verse is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and next Sunday is “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” It is neither an expectation or a requirement, but if you do feel inspired to read the remaining 31,100 verses between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 before next Sunday, that would be wonderful…
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
These words are far more than a mere introduction to God’s Word contained in what we know today as the Bible. It is no coincidence that the Bible begins where it does, and the truth contained in the first verse is the fundamental truth and foundation upon which the rest of God’s revelation to us is built.
A hot topic that has been debated for centuries, and especially in the world today is the existence of God. There is no shortage of books, internet sites, TV debates – you name it – you don’t have to look very far to find the question of whether God exists or not being debated in one form or another.
The Bible though, makes no attempt to argue the existence of God. It merely states it as fact. “In the beginning, God.” It is then up to us to decide whether or not we are going to believe the fact it proclaims in its opening verse.
Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music famously sang the words, “Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Genesis 1:1 is an excellent starting point when it comes to tackling all the big questions of life – not only those that explore the meaning of life and the purpose of our existence, but also when it comes to trying to make sense of what is going on in our lives here and now.
Many of the challenges and problems we experience in our daily lives come from beginning at the wrong place. When we build our philosophies and belief systems on the wrong foundations, they inevitably produce bad results. A lot of the struggles and heartaches we go through in life are a direct result of underlying, fundamental issues.
This is why it is essential that our search for truth needs to begin at the right place. Proverbs 9:10 says, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
The very first truth that the Bible proclaims is that God is real.
It’s obvious to us that the world exists – there is no debate that there is something rather than nothing, but the question we need to ask is, why is there something rather than nothing? And that then leads us to ask two further crucial questions: Who is responsible for the fact that we exist? And what should our response to this Creator be?
My purpose today is not to get involved in the creation versus evolution debate. I believe what Genesis 1:1 proclaims, so the theory of evolution is completely irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. What I’d like for us to do this morning is to look at what it means to have a Biblical worldview of God as the Creator of the Universe. I believe in the existence of God, and it’s on this foundation that we will be looking at the truths proclaimed in the opening verse of the Bible.
So who is responsible for the fact that we exist?
This is such an important question to ask, because life cannot be understood or explained if God did not create the world. An explanation for life is essential. Modern secular science assumes that a ‘what’ is responsible for the universe, rather than a ‘who’. In other words, most secular explanations of the universe are materialistic, but this is not really a reasonable alternative to what the Bible proclaims.
The mere fact that we are intelligent beings with individual personalities points towards a personal Creator with an individual personality. Acts 17:28-29 says, “In Him we live and move and have our being. We are His offspring. Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone - an image made by man’s design and skill.” John’s Gospel opens with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
It is in God that we “live and move and have our being.” We depend completely on God for every breath, every heartbeat, and every moment of our lives.
Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” What this means is that Jesus, the eternal Creator God, continues to be active in our lives and in the world. “Sustaining all things” means exactly what it says – His work in His creation continues, and the existence of everything we can see and have yet to discover has always been, and remains under His authority. Colossians 1:17 says something very similar: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
If you believe in the God of the Bible, then Genesis 1:1 is the rock on which the rest of what you believe in and stand for is built. It speaks of the very beginning – ‘a very good place to start.’
In answer to the question, who is responsible for the fact we exist, as Christians we believe that the God of Creation as revealed in the Bible and in the first 2 chapters of Genesis in particular, is the one in whom we “live and move and have our being.”
So what then, should our response be to this person?
The Bible teaches us that God created us in His image. Life is the most precious gift He has given us, and it is a gift given in love. 1 John 4:16 says quite simply, “God is love.” We know the words of John 3:16 so well: “For God so loved the world.” So the Bible is very clear in proclaiming love as one of God’s most defining characteristics.
And if we are created in His image, then love is something we are too. One of the greatest gifts we have is people who love us, and who we can love in return. But do we respond to God in love? Do we acknowledge Him as the source of our lives and the source of love? The answer to that question hinges on how you respond to Genesis 1:1.
Sadly, there are many who refuse to respond to God in love. Paul writes about this in Romans 1:20-21 – “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him.” If you reject Genesis 1:1, then you cannot glorify God, nor can you give thanks to Him. Remember from last Sunday, without faith, it is impossible to please God. Romans 8:7-8 says, “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
The evidence of a Creator God is there. There is something rather than nothing. In the words of Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” So why then, do so many people steadfastly refuse to acknowledge God and His existence, despite all the overwhelming evidence that is all around us?
The answer is because if we do acknowledge Him and His existence, there are huge implications for us.
It means we are now accountable to God. He has authority over us, and He is the one who determines our destiny, and sinful human beings don’t like that idea.
By God’s grace though, He has revealed His truth to us, and because of what Jesus has done for us, we are able to respond to Him as we should.
So if God is real, how should this truth affect our daily lives? This is another important question, because there is a difference between knowing something theoretically and knowing it experientially, or practically. Someone once said that God becomes very real to us when we’re lying on our deathbeds, but what about the rest of our lives?
Life is busy, and we become easily caught up in our routines and busyness, which means we don’t take time enough to contemplate the bigger questions of life, such as the meaning and purpose of our existence. The challenge we face in our everyday lives is to live right now in such a way that God is real to us. The truth that Genesis 1:1 proclaims should have a real impact on every aspect of our lives. This means that God should be real to us all of the time, and not just for an hour on a Sunday morning.
His existence is the most obvious fact in the universe. The evidence is crystal clear, so it’s ironic that the plainest of all truths is the one thing we struggle to apply in our lives.
So how then do we apply the truth of Genesis 1:1 on a personal level? What changes can we make in our own lives that will make God more real to us? Deuteronomy 4:39 says “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”
It all begins by spending more time with Him – we need to get into His Word. God’s reality confronts us on every page of the Bible, so if you want to know Him better, get to know the Bible better. Paul prays for the Church in Ephesians 1:17, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” Study the Bible and get to know it better, and you will get to know God better.
It’s a discipline, but we need to learn how to practice things like reflecting on His Word, and meditating on what it really means. It’s all very well to read the Bible (another very good place to start!), but the question we need to ask ourselves is, ‘Yes, but what does this mean to me, and how should what I have read and learned impact my life here and now?’ God’s Word must be read, and then applied on a personal level.
The first verse in the Bible teaches us that we came from God, and it is equally true that we will return to Him. He is our origin and He is also our destiny. When we die, our spirits will return to God. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says “The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
Ever since sin entered our world there has been a denial of the one, true God, but the general move away from God seems to be even stronger today than it has ever been. Governments all over the world are systematically removing any reverence of and reference to God in all aspects of society. Atheism has become almost militant in its single-minded determination to deny the God of the Bible. And yes, we should be concerned about its effects on our world, our children and our grandchildren, but what about us?
Do we really believe Genesis 1:1 and all that follows this opening verse of the Bible, or do we merely profess to believe what it says? Our arguments against atheism will mean very little if the world sees little or no impact of Jesus Christ in our daily lives. If you believe in God, then you will also believe that He has authority over you, and that you are accountable to Him. This means you have to live your life for Him, and not for yourself.
The closing verses of Ecclesiastes puts it like this: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) In other words, the whole point of life and the reason for our very existence is to respect and obey God. I have mentioned this before – the opening question of the Westminster Catechism is “What is the chief and highest end of man?” And the answer is “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.” That’s the answer to the biggest question of all: What is the purpose of my life?
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, “We make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
The foundation of life itself is proclaimed in the opening words of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Next week we will be looking at the closing verse of Scripture: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” It ends with Jesus, but just as importantly, it starts with Jesus. Do you have that foundation for your own life of faith? Do you believe ‘In the beginning… God?’
Homegroup Study Notes
Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This is one of the most profound and important verses in the entire Bible.
Discuss some of the fundamental statements in the Christian faith found in this verse.
In which ways do you think Genesis 1:1 provides a platform or foundation for the rest of the Bible?
Compare Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:19-20
Despite the overwhelming evidence of the God of Creation and His intelligent design we see throughout the universe, many people refuse to accept the existence of God. Instead they choose to believe that the universe and everything in it (including human beings) is the result of a cosmic accident, and everything has evolved as a result of this. Without getting into the usual creation v evolution debate, what do you believe is at the heart of disbelief in the God of the Bible?
In other words, why do so many deny the existence of God?
As Christians, we believe that God does exist. He is revealed in His Word (Scripture), and in His creation.
What are the implications for us when we believe that God is who He claims to be in the Bible? In which ways are we now responsible to Him?
Close by praying that Christians would not be swayed from their faith in the one true God.