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LESSON I
Creation, the Foundation of
the Biblical World View


Key Scriptures:

The doctrine of creation is the starting point of the Bible and of the Christian faith. It is reiterated throughout Scripture. All Christian doctrine is ultimately derived from it. To doubt or deny biblical creation is to declare God and Christ a liar, the Bible in error, and to make salvation in Christ meaningless. To neglect the doctrine of biblical creation is to rob the Church of its foundation for evangelism and instruction.

Unbelievers often understand this better than Christians. Thus G. Richard Bozarth writes:

The two most publicized secular humanist documents. Humanist Manifesto I and Humanist Manifesto II, begin by denying biblical creation and by affirming the evolutionist, self-existing emergence of nature. The framers and signers of these documents understood that if man is to be his own lord and master, the God of the Bible must be rejected first of all as the Creator of all things. No compromise is possible between Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" and the first plank of Humanist Manifesto I, "religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created." Neither the Bible nor its consistent enemies allow "theistic evolution."

Each of these incompatible world views has practical consequences with regard to the functioning of human society. Biblical Christianity insists that only the adoption and implementation of the biblical world view, starting with God Himself as Creator and God, can preserve and improve society. It teaches that man's troubles are caused by his rejection of the biblical world view, beginning with man's fall from his original goodness and perfection as the unique being created in God's own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-28: Genesis 3). The famous Christian writer C. S. Lewis explains:

Unbelievers, of course, disagree. They act upon their faith that man can “set up on his own as if he had created himself” and be his own master. For them Adam's fall into the root sin of wanting to be independent of God is not a disaster or wrong. Furthermore, they all deny that reality is fixed by God’s creative decree, but believe that they themselves can shape or define it as they think best. Before comparing their various social schemes with the implications of biblical creation for society, however, let us look at the most important facts about God and man revealed in the Bible.

A. God and His Creation Creator-creature Distinction
It is absolutely essential for us to always keep in mind that God is completely independent of all things—that is, all His creatures—for the very reason that He freely created them out of nothing by His Word (Genesis 1; John 1:1-3). He sustains them: they in no way sustain Him! He does not depend on, or "need," any of them, as we read in Romans ii:36: "For from him and through him and to him are all things." or in Acts 17:25: "For he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." Also see Ps. 50:12-13: Matthew 5:9; Acts 17:28; Col. 1:15-17: etc. etc. This is precisely the distinction between God the Creator and the creation itself: He is dependent on no one and nothing—it is dependent always and fully on Him.

Finally, He as Creator fully knows and has complete control over all things, His creatures and the works of His hands. Man only truly knows what God the all-knowing Creator reveals to him by creation itself (Ps.19:1-2; Romans 1:20) and especially by Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In speaking of God, creation and society, we must remember that the Christian God is a Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three Persons in one Godhead. The Christian understanding of the Trinity is unique among all religious faiths. Because God Himself is Triune, three-in-one, He Himself is the model for man in society, the life of the individual within the community. We are meant to live in society as the three Persons of the Godhead live together as separate persons yet in perfect unity and fellowship. This means that neither totalitarianism—collectivism nor anarchy are biblical; in actual practice in history both society at large and individual people have fared best where both the powers of social institutions and political office bearers and the freedom of individuals are limited and mutually supportive.

B. The Dependence of Man on God
It follows from the Creator-creature distinction that God does not depend on man, but man on God. God made us: we did not make ourselves (Psalm 100:3). God reveals Himself to man in two basic ways: (1) through His creation (Romans 1:18-20) and (2) in Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15-17). Scripture is needed to understand creation properly. Only God knows all fully and perfectly while man, the creature, can know only in part as God enables him (Psalm 36:9; Col. 2:3). Man also depends upon God for absolute, reliable morality. Only God Who created all things and man in His own image and likeness can give man absolute commandments (Genesis 1:26-28: Genesis 2:17). Man can therefore exercise his "dominion (stewardship, management) over all other creatures bestowed upon him by God (Gen.1:26,28) properly only in obedience to God. Without God, man's morality can only be relative and unreliable. As the great Russian writer Dostoevsky said. "If there is no God, everything is permitted": In a world without God “might is right” as the German anti-Christian philosopher Hegel put it. Even the Nazi holocaust or the Communist Gulag justify themselves by their power and the absence of any absolute standard of right and wrong.

C. The Character of Man before Sin
Originally man was created perfect in the image of God (Gen.1:26, 28). Physically he was in perfect health and beauty. Inwardly all his talents and abilities fitted him for perfect freedom, that is, perfect service to God his Maker. Salvation in Christ is actually the re-creation or restoration of man to his original perfection (Col. 3:10; 2 Cor. 5:17).

Of course man as originally created was finite, for he was and always will remain a creature. Only God is infinite in knowledge and power: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9; also cf. Deut. 29:29; Rom. 11:33).

D. The Character of Man In Sin
The forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden was a test of man's faithfulness to God (Gen. 2:7). Would man be found faithful to God in that one "little thing." not eating from the one forbidden tree while all others were allowed7 The temptation Salon put before Eve was "to be like God" (Gen 3:4-5). Instead of remaining faithful and obedient to God. Eve set herself up as the ultimate judge between God and Satan (Gen. 3:6), as though she were independent of and above God. This is the original sin of which all men are guilty (Romans 3:23). All other sin and all non-Christian philosophies and religions descend from this sin.

We must keep in mind that though man may imagine himself independent of God, this is not true: man continues to be dependent on God in fact, and the Creator-creature distinction continues to exist. In fact, man needs God even to reject Him—John 15:5 applies in full force also to unbelievers! Man depends upon God's air to breathe, upon God's food and water to eat and drink, and his intellect and tongue by which he blasphemes His Maker. All these are His Maker's gifts to him (Matthew 6:24 applies). Man still bears traces of God's image in which he was created: unbelievers reflect God (distortedly it may be) as shards of a broken mirror may still reflect the light.

E. Man Cannot Know Anything Truly Without Dependence on God
A terrible consequence of man's attempt to be independent of God is man's rejection of God's revelation in creation (Romans 1:18-24a, 32). Man is not innocent in this: he actually "suppresses the truth by his wickedness" (Romans 1:18) and is "without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). He thus places himself in a difficult condition as he robs himself of all true knowledge. It is as Jeremiah tells us: “The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what wisdom is in them?” (Jer. 8:9; cf. Prov. 1:7; Ephes. 4:17-18). However, even God-rejecting men may be able to come up with bits and pieces of truth (inventions, math, medicine, surface morality). This is due to God's mercy. Jesus Christ tells us in Matt. 5:45: “your Father in heaven ... causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” We have already pointed out that God's image is not altogether erased in fallen men, We must remember, though, that the bits and pieces of God's truth which unbelievers find and may try to integrate in their belief systems are inconsistent with their own sinful principle of  “independent knowledge.” Lastly, if unbelievers agree with us, the agreement is only on the surface and not necessarily even a start toward their surrender to God.

F. No One Is Neutral: The Ultimate Meaning for Society
It ought to be clear from the foregoing discussion that no one is or can be neutral about depending on God. We either willingly depend on God, or deny our dependence on Him (see Matt. 6:24; John 3:18; 2 Cor. 6:14). Non-Christian philosophy is based upon human independence (the essence of “secular humanism”). So is agnosticism which says that God may exist—or He may not—and therefore rejects dependence upon God and sets itself up as did Eve, a judge between God and atheism. Non-Christian thought also reasons in a circle: it argues for human independence on the basis of human independence which is itself at issue first of all. In its assertion of human independence and taking man himself as its starting point rather than God, non-Christian philosophy also denies the Creator-creature distinction. It denies or remains “agnostic” about creation itself, for to acknowledge it would compel submission to the Creator. Hence non-Christian philosophy either does not deal with the origin of the world or explains it by some form of evolution.

G. Summary
We saw in this lesson that the doctrine of creation is foundational for the Christian-biblical world view and all biblical teaching. We saw the Creator-creature distinction: God, the sovereign Creator, Lord and Sustainer, in no wise depends upon His creation, but His creation, including man, depends wholly on God (Ps. 100:3; Acts 17:25). Therefore man's knowledge and morality also depend on God Who alone knows all things fully and perfectly (Ps. 36:9, Col. 2:3). He alone as Creator can and does determine absolutely what is good, and that which is contrary to His will is evil.

We saw that God reveals Himself to man through the creation itself (Ps. 19:1-2, Romans 1:18-20), and through Scripture, and that we need Scripture to understand God and creation properly (2 Tim. 3:16-17). All Scripture from Genesis to Revelation testifies to Christ (Lk. 24:25-27; Jn. 5:39; Col. 1:12-17: Heb.1:1-2), and whatever is contrary to Scripture is contrary to the truth (Is. 8:20; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet.1:20).

Christianity insists that only the adoption and implementation of the biblical world view, starting with God Himself as Creator, Lord and Sustainer, can preserve and improve society. The Trinity of the Godhead, three Persons dwelling together in perfect oneness of love and fellowship, is the model for society at large, even as Christ is the model for each individual. Non-Christians believe that man can organize society independently without God.

Finally, neutrality between dependence on God and declaring oneself independent of God is impossible (Matt. 6:24; John 3:18; 2 Cor. 6:14). Non-Christian philosophy by definition reasons from alleged human independence. We must remember that man in fact always remains dependent on God even when rebelling against Him, and that even the bits and pieces of truth he may come up with in his thought and action come ultimately from God.





Review Questions:
1. What do we mean by the "Creator-creature distinction"?
2. How is creation dependent on God? Cite Scriptures for your answer.
3. In what two basic ways does God reveal Himself? Which helps us understand the other?
4. What does it mean to say that man is "in the image of God"?
5. What effect does commitment to independence have on knowledge, morality, society?
6. Is it possible to be neutral about God and Christ?

For Further Reading:
Ken Ham, The Lie: Evolution. El Cajon, CA: Master Books. P.O, Box 1606. El Cajon. CA 92022. Cloth, 168 pp., $12.95 ppd.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. New York: Macmillan. First Paperback Edition 1960, Paper, 175 pp.. $4.95.
Richard L. Pratt, Every Thought Captive. Phillipsburg. NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1979, Paper. 132 p.p., $6 (est.)
A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1961. Paper. 120 pp., $7.95


Student Summary for Lesson I
Biblical Creation and Society

Lesson I  Creation, the Foundation of the Biblical World View Key
Scriptures Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; Acts 17:24

Introduction
1. All Christian doctrine ultimately derived from doctrine of creation
2. Neglect of biblical creation robs Church of foundation for evangelism and instruction
3. Unbelievers often understand this better than Christians
a. Without creation and original sin, no purpose to Christianity
b. God made us to depend for life on Himself
c. Unbelievers think they can be independent this affects society

A. God and His Creation Creator-creature Distinction
1. God, independent of all Rom.11:36, Acts 17:25
2. Creation dependent on God Acts 17:25, Col. 1:17
3. God revealed to man by Scripture and creation Ps. 19:1-2: Romans 1:20: 2 Tim.3:16-17 (Scripture revelation helps us understand creation]

B. The Dependence of Man on God
1. Man's dependent knowledge Ps. 36:9; Col. 2:3
2. Man's morality depends on God Gen.1:26, 28; Gen. 2:17

C. The Character of Man Before Sin
1. Man in the image of God Gen.1:26, 28
2. Salvation in Christ is re-creation/restoration to that original character Col. 3:10; 2 Cor.5:17
3. Sinless and finite ls. 55:9: Deut. 29:29; Rom.11:33

D. The Character of Man In Sin
1. The forbidden tree tests man's faithfulness to God Gen. 2:17
2. Satan's temptation: "To be like God" Gen. 3:4-5
3. Eve set herself up as ultimate judge between God and Satan Gen. 3:6; Rom. 3:23

E. Man Cannot Know Anything Without Dependence on God
1. He rejects God's revelation in creation Rom. 1:18-24a, 32
2. He cannot know anything truly or fully Jer. 8:9: Prov. 1:7; Eph. 4:17-18

F. No One Is Neutral: The Ultimate Meaning for Society
1. Non-Christian philosophy based on man's independence Mt. 6:24, Jn. 3:18
2. Non-Christian philosophy denies Creator-creature distinction 2 Cor. 6:14

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