Sermon series: God's Story, Part I
Up to this point we have examined the doctrine of scripture and taken an in-depth look at the nature and characteristics of God.
As we continue our study in this doctrinal series this morning, we come to the doctrine of man, appropriately called anthropology. It is important to realize from the outset that the Bible is Theocentric, not anthropocentric. That is, it centers around God and not on man. One of the most common mistakes many well intended people make is to think that the Bible is merely an instruction manual for mankind. To the contrary, it is God's revelation of Himself to humanity. It is only when we understand God for who He is that we can understand ourselves for who we are. So it is within the context of understanding Who God is, that is our perspective on theology, that we are able to truly comprehend who we are and have a sure word about anthropology.
Our text today is found in Genesis 1:27. It is a short and simple text and yet it is one which is loaded with inestimable significance. Not only does it positively declare what man is and where he came from and Who it is that made him, it negatively declares what man is not and how man was not made.
The Baptist Faith and Message, our confessional statement, summarizes and encapsulates the biblical teaching on man when it says,
"Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowing work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus a part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of god, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love."
For the purpose of our study this morning I want to divide our discussion into three parts. We will begin by looking at how humanity came to be, then move on to understand something about the nature of and state of humanity, and finally understanding these things, we will consider what this knowledge calls us to do.
First, the origin of humanity.
I. The origin of humanity: How did we get here?
Before we get into the specifics of what the scripture has to say about how we got here, it would probably serve us well to address and seek to dispel the most prevalent modern myth concerning the origin of man, the theory, and let me stress that word theory, of evolution.
As you all know, it was in 1859 that Charles Darwin published his widely acclaimed book entitled, The Origin of Species, in which he set forth his own theory as to how humanity came to be. Interestingly enough, Darwin offered no real explanation about the origin of anything. Instead he merely offered a theory as to the evolution of species. In other words, he could not explain how matter first came into being; instead he hypothesized how one form of matter mutated into another form of matter. And even that has been impossible to prove.
Dinesh D'Souza, in his book What's So Great About Christianity, says that despite a long history of experimentation, breeders have never been able to breed across species lines and produce new species. He goes on to ask, "So how can random mutations achieve what carefully orchestrated cross-breeding has failed to do?" D'Souza says. While the fossil record shows evidence of microevolution, that is one type of finch evolving into another type of finch, there is no evidence for macroevolution which shows one species evolving into a different species. In other words, there is no proof that evolution is valid as a theory.
While I do not agree with all of his conclusions, Dinesh D'Souza, in his book, goes on to make a strong case not only for the existence of God, but also for the creationism. D'Souza correctly states that there are three things the theory of evolution cannot account for.
First he says that Evolution cannot explain the beginning of life. Darwin didn't even try. He assumed the first living thing and then he tried to show how one living thing could be transformed into another.
Second, Evolution cannot explain consciousness, which illuminates the whole world for us. We know as human beings we are conscious. How did unconscious life transform itself into conscious life? Evolution has no answers.
Finally, says D'Souza, Evolution cannot explain human rationality or morality. Rationality is the power to perceive something as true. We can include in rationality the unique human capacity for language, which is the ability to formulate and articulate ideas that comprehend the world around us. People in the most primitive cultures developed language as a means of rationality while cats cannot utter a single sentence.
Furthermore, authors like D'Souza and Ken Ham, author of the book, The Lie: Evolution, demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt how Darwinism is based on an atheistic philosophy and is just as much of a religious dogma as anything taught in the church. This is based on the fact that no one is neutral. Since evolutionists and creationists both have the same evidence as to the origin of the universe, the question comes down to how that evidence is interpreted. While scientists would have us believe they are totally neutral and objective in their interpretation of data, nothing could be further from the truth. You see both the Darwinists and the Creationists work from certain presuppositions.
The Christian worldview works off of the presupposition that there is a God who created all things and who intervenes in time and space, many times in miraculous ways, as He relates to mankind, His supreme creation. The Darwinist worldview is agnostic or atheistic. Agnostics say they cannot know whether or not there is a God, while atheists assert that there is no God. D'Souza points out that within this worldview there are two philosophical doctrines which rule all thought, the doctrines of naturalism and materialism. Naturalism is the doctrine that nature is all there is. According to naturalism, there are neither miracles nor supernatural forces. Therefore reports of the supernatural can only be interpreted naturalistically. Materialism is the belief that material reality is the only reality and that there is no separately existing mental or spiritual reality.
So despite any evidence which may point to a Creator or to a Designer of the universe, modern science has predetermined that God cannot exist and therefore is working from a bias or presupposition which will not allow for His existence, even if the facts point to Him. D'Souza makes his point by asking, If a space shuttle were to produce photographs of never before seen solar bodies that bore the sign, "Yahweh Made This," would the scientific community still refuse to acknowledge the existence of a supernatural Creator? Yes it would, he answers, because modern science was designed to exclude a designer.
I mention this to assure you that secular reasoning refuses to recognize the truth that is set before them. This is precisely what Paul says in Romans 1:20 when he says, "From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse."
As Christians we do not check our intelligence at the door, to the contrary, we welcome scientific discovery, for the more we learn about our universe, the more we seen the fingerprints of God on everything that is. While the Darwinists work from a presuppositional position of atheism, as Christians we too have a presupposition. We work from a worldview where God is and is the Creator of all that is. Every time we see a sunset, a newborn baby or a bird in flight, it affirms what we know to be true that there is a God and He is the Creator.
Not only do we rely on general revelation, that is nature itself, to reveal the glory and presence of God, as believers we have special revelation, scripture to give us a sure and certain word, not only about who He is, but about who we are and how we came into existence.
You see folks, at the end of the day it takes a lot more faith to believe in the theory of evolution than it does to believe in the Bible. There is nothing in nature which proves the theory of evolution, but everything in nature points to the existence of God. Every word of God is true. While time and time again the proponents of Darwinism have had to eat their words, scripture has never been proven false. Human history and archeology do nothing but continue to affirm the reliability and veracity of scripture.
The scripture gives us a clear and straightforward affirmation about the origins of humanity. In Genesis 1:27 the Bible says that "So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female."
So while the theory of evolution says that mankind is nothing more than a highly evolved animal, the biblical record is clearly different. It says that man is the unique and crowing creation of God, created in His own image, with inherent value and worth. Man is no mere accident, the product of a blind, naturalistic process over untold millions of years. Man was created as an adult, and placed on the earth to subdue it and rule it. Man is made in the image of God and therefore stands light years above all of God's other creations.
We know we got here. But what about who we are? What does God's word have to say about human nature and our state of being?
II. Human nature and our fallen state
The book of Genesis tells us that in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, God created Adam and Eve, two individuals; one man and one woman. It says that He created them in His image.
What does it mean to be created in the image of God? Well it means that while we are not exactly like God, when God created us, He gave us some of His own qualities.
A. We are created to be persons
That is, we each have individual personalities we were created for intimate relationship, mankind, like God, can know and be known. As we have studied the Trinity, we know that God is one God who expresses Himself in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each can be known and can know others. So this is one sense in which we have been created in the image of God.
B. We have been created to be eternal.
The Bible tells us that God has put eternity in our hearts. In the New Testament we read that at the resurrection some will be raised to eternal life and others to eternal retribution, again, this speaks to the eternal nature of man. Each person is tripartite, that it, they are made of body, soul and spirit. The beasts of the field have bodies, they have the spirit of life within them but they do not have eternal souls. Of all of God's creations only man was given an eternal soul. It is this eternal element which imprints us with the image of God who Himself is eternal.
C. We have been created in God's image with certain physical aspects
While God is a Spirit and does not have a body there are things which God has given us physically which enable us to be like Him. For instance, our eyes enable us to see. While God sees everything and we see only some things, nonetheless we are able to see, which makes us like Him. God hears all things, and our physical ears enable us to hear some things, again, one of the ways wherein our physical bodies endow us with certain qualities of the Divine. Our mouths and voices give us the ability to speak, God speaks, and thus we are, in this way, like Him.
D. We are created in God's moral image
As creatures who are morally accountable to God for our actions, we have an inner sense of right and wrong that sets us apart from animals who merely respond from fear of punishment or hope of reward. C.S. Lewis calls this a moral "oughtness," that is, we know what we ought to do and what we ought not to do (see Mere Christianity).
Of all of God's creations, man alone was given a choice by God to obey or disobey the voice of God. The beast of the field, the fowl of the air and the fish of the sea live by instinct, and do not possess the ability to reason and rationalize moral, as does man. Cats don't sit around and discuss the nature of the person of Christ. Dogs don't have the ability to delve into the finer nuances of ethics and morality. Man alone was given that ability, and in this we bear the image of our creator, who is Himself the personification of righteousness, justice and moral uprightness. Our likeness to God is reflected in behavior that is holy and righteous before Him and our unlikeness to Him is revealed whenever we sin.
E. We were created to rule
God told Adam and Eve to have dominion over the world. He gave them the power and the ability to rule over it. Think about it, before the fall all of nature was under Adam's rule. The animals obeyed his voice. He was the king of the earth. But when he rebelled against God, nature rebelled against him and has been in rebellion ever since.
So, we can say that in the realm of intellect and reasoning, in the dominion He has give us over creation, in our spiritual capacity to know God and be in fellowship with Him and in our physical appearance and ability to walk upright, something which sets us apart from all animals, we reflect the uniqueness of the image of God.
This truth has a profound impact on the way that we as Christians view every other human. We oppose abortion because God is the giver of life and every child, from the moment of conception, is created in the image of God and has dignity and worth. We oppose homosexuality because God created male and female. He did not create two males nor did He create two females, from the very beginning, God designed and defined the roles each gender was to play in the family. Homosexually runs contrary to God's design, not to mention that God specifically condemns it. We oppose euthanasia because all people, regardless of their age or physical or mental capacity, have dignity and worth.
Make no mistake about it: the theory of evolution is more than simply a theory about how humanity came to be. It is rooted and grounded in a philosophy which seeks nothing less than the denial of God's existence. That's why we often call it atheistic evolutionism. The evolutionist says that man is merely an animal, perhaps more highly evolved than the rest of the animals, but none the less just an animal. And if that is so, if we are here by chance and there is nothing more than naturalism and materialism, and there is no God then man is free to follow his instincts, after all, he's just doing what's natural.
You don't have to be overly imaginative to see where that would take you. Yes, the godless theory of evolution has a moral side to it as well, and it's a dark side. Evolution champions a theory known as the survival of the fittest, which simply means that in a world where natural selection is the law of the land, only the fittest survive, in fact, only the fittest should survive.
In the moral universe of the Darwinists there is no room for handicapped children, for unwanted pregnancies or for the feeble and sick seniors. With a cold and efficient determination that would make Hitler proud, the morality of evolution would not only allow but justify the extermination of those who are not society's fittest.
This is why some Christians get so upset about the evolution lie being taught in our schools and shoved down the throats of our children. This is why as Christians we need to make sure our voice is heard and the truth about our great Creator is proclaimed.
We are not animals. We are humans, uniquely formed by a loving and personal God, formed for His pleasure and each of us is, by our very existence, of inestimable worth to our Creator. We have been made in His image not in the image of some primordial pond slime.
But not only are we created in His image, but as we have seen, in the beginning man was created without sin. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Even lived in the perfection of God's paradise on earth. They were morally innocent and without sin. Genesis 2:16-17 tells us, "And the Lord commanded the man, ‘you are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die."
Genesis 3 goes on to tell how Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted the woman and how Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation and ate of the forbidden fruit, willfully and knowingly defying God's moral law. They had the ability to choose between obeying God or disobeying Him and of their own free will they chose to disobey Him. Of course the consequences of their actions were disastrous. Because they rebelled against God, God not only cast them out of the Garden, but through their sin, sickness and death came into the world and the entire earth became hostile to humanity.
Once Adam and Eve sinned, all of humanity, that is, all of their descendents came under the condemnation of sin. That means that you and I and every other human born is born with a sinful nature. We are not only sinners because we sin, we sin primarily because we are sinners. As soon as we are morally able, we sin; not just because we want to but because it is simply our nature. We are born with a natural inherent bent toward sin. It's just in our nature. That's why the Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the Human heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked. This is just the truth about human nature.
There are some, like the heretic Pelagius, who teach that man is born morally innocent and that sin is merely a learned behavior. But not only does scripture tell us different, mere observation itself should be enough to convince anyone that we are all sinners. You don't have to teach a baby to be selfish or to fight another child for a toy, this comes natural. You have to teach children to behave, not to misbehave. You have to teach them to be nice, not to be mean; that comes natural.
The one and only exception to this was Jesus, who was born of the Holy Spirit and of the virgin Mary. The Bible calls Jesus the second Adam, that is, He is the only other man who did not naturally possess a sinful nature. Someone asked me this week whether or not Jesus could have sinned. But I told them that's not the right way to look at it. It's not that Jesus did not have the ability to sin, I believe He did, otherwise He would not have been 100% human and could not have been truly tempted. What set Jesus apart from us is that He had the ability not to sin and He resisted the temptation to sin, thus succeeding where our ancestor Adam failed. That's why Jesus was an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin on account of us. Because He was innocent of sin, He was willing to pay the penalty for our sins with His blood.
So you see, while we were created in the image of God, and part of that initially meant that man was without sin, when Adam sinned against God, his sin not only separated him and his wife from God, but all of their descendents. But God, in His great love, who created us to be in fellowship with Him and to live for His glory, desired so much for us to be restored, that He sent His only Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins so that by placing our trust in Him we could have forgiveness of sins and once again be in fellowship with God.
So, now that we understand about our origins and something about our nature and our fallen sinful state, what do we do with this knowledge? How do we take what we know and translate it into actions? What action does this knowledge call for?
III. What are we to do?
Allow me to suggest four things I believe this knowledge calls for us to do - four practical suggestions as to how we can apply this teaching to our lives.
A. Live in relationship with your Creator
The greatest truth we will ever understand about ourselves is that we are sinners in need of God's grace. On our own, without God's grace and His giving of Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, there is no way we can ever be in fellowship with Him. But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. God loves us and invites each of us to freely receive His gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. All we have to do is accept His free gift. He is offering it to you today.
If you have never come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, if you've never placed your trust for eternal life in Him, God is inviting you today to be in fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ the Son. By placing your trust in the finished work of Jesus you can overcome the curse of sin and be restored to fellowship with God. And there is no other way to be in fellowship with God. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Only in Jesus will you find a pathway which leads to fellowship with God.
B. Live in accordance with your Creator's purpose
God did not need man, but scripture tells us in Isaiah 43:7 that He created us for His own glory. This tells us that we are significant and that we are important to God. Our purpose in life then, is not to glorify ourselves which is narcissism, or to seek our greatest pleasure, which is hedonism, but to glorify God, which is part and parcel of creationism. According to scripture God created mankind in a perfect state with the desire and intention of being in fellowship with Him. But sin made us selfish and directed our desires and attention away from God.
When we come to Jesus, when we allow Him to restore us to fellowship with God we can once again live in accordance with our Creator's purpose. Since we were created for His glory, our greatest joy and our greatest fulfillment is to be found in being in relationship with God and glorifying Him through our lives. That means everything we do, everything we say, every breath we take should bring Glory to God. That'll revolutionize the way you live your life. Everything you do should be to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, " Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God's glory."
C. Live in accordance with your Creator's principles
Simply put this means allowing God's truth to govern your thoughts and actions. For so many Christians there seems to be a disconnect between what we do at church on Sunday mornings and what we do throughout the rest of the week in the work-a-day world, but this should never be the case. If we are Christians than we are called to be ambassadors for Christ, demonstrating His truth to the world around us in all we say and do. Through our lives the world should be able to see that Jesus is real and that our God lives and reigns. You cannot be in right fellowship with God and you certainly cannot live for His glory if you are not living in accordance with His word.
D. Live to advance His rule and reign
This means making the Kingdom of God and His righteousness the central and dominant focus of your life. This means telling others about Him. Knowing what you know about all humanity, that they are all sinners and possess a desperately wicked heart, and knowing that Jesus is the only cure for the sin sick heart of humanity, you and I have a responsibility to go and tell others how they can know their Creator and how they can live in consonance with His divine purpose for their lives.
What about you this morning? Have you ever come to terms with your own sinful nature and recognized that you need Jesus to forgive you of your sins? The scripture says that whosoever will may come. All you have to do is to come and ask Jesus to forgive you and to give you His gift of eternal life. He has promised that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.