By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
The very first words of Scripture are, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The first two chapters of Scripture detail how God did that. So why is this sermon on creation and preservation number 6 in our Lutheran Legacy series, when it is on page number 1 in the Bible?
The answer is here in Hebrews 11:3. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command…” By “faith” the writer means saving faith, faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Without knowledge of Christ and trust in him alone, the account of creation makes no sense.
That means we first need to know who God is before we can understand what he made. We covered that in the first week, the festival of the Holy Trinity. Before we understand how this world got here we also need to know what our standing is before God, how does he see us. That’s where those 4 key concepts of the Bible that we covered in the 2 and third weeks come in. God tells us about our sin and he shows his undeserved and unearned love toward fallen mankind. His grace gave us the greatest gift we could ever have, a Savior, Christ the Lord. His grace is so completely responsible for turning us from unbelief that it also creates faith in us to believe and understand who God is and what he does. The faith he plants in us through the Word and sacraments will produce the fruit that God expects of his children.
Does all of this sound familiar? It’s what we have covered so far. It’s the legacy that we carry on as Lutherans. It’s this faith alone that we confess before all the world, faith that is built on grace alone found in Scripture alone. This is the faith that God gives us so that we can believe, teach, and confess how God created and preserves the world.
So, here we are now at week 6, Creation. Genesis 1 and 2 tell us that God created the universe out of nothing in six normal days, by the power of his Word. On Day 1, he began his creation with light. He simply spoke and it came into existence. God divided the day into a period of darkness and a period of light. On Day 2 he separated the water into waters above and waters below, with the sky or heavens in between. On Day 3 he organized the waters below the sky into seas and had dry ground appear. He also had the land produce seed-bearing plants and vegetation, according to their kinds. On Day 4 he created the sun, moon, stars, and all the heavenly bodies to serve as signs, to regulate the time into seasons, and to give light on the earth at various times. On Day 5 he created the sea creatures and winged creatures, according to their kinds, and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. On Day 6 he created the land creatures, according to their kinds, and then he crowned his creation with mankind. He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being. After Adam had named all the animals, God caused him to fall into a deep sleep and he took a rib from Adam and used it to build Eve from the dust of the ground. He also commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. And on Day 7 God rested from all the work of creating, with which he was now finished. It was all very good, perfect.
Of course that perfect creation has changed tremendously since God made it. The devil, a fallen angel, tempted Adam and Eve to sin. They used their free will to follow his temptation. With that sin changed the world into a place of selfishness, corruption and death. Every human conceived by a human father and mother since the fall into sin is conceived and born sinful. Yes, we enjoy the blessings and beauties that remain in God’s creation, but it’s not the perfection of Eden. Instead, this world continues to suffer the decay sin causes.
And as the stench of sin grows, the sweet fragrance of God’s Word is covered up and his creation forgets about him. This even happens among us. Where God planted faith to make us beautiful and holy in his sight, the devil uses the Old Adam to rear sin’s ugly face. Many get caught up in the apathetic mantra, “who cares.” Some say the Bible serves as a good resource of life lessons and self-help tips, but they also turn to the trending “wisdom” found in posts and blogs. Others defiantly deny God’s work and his word as a bunch of fairy tales.
And the biggest argument against God’s account of creation coming from science is evolution. Everything happened to work out over billions of years. The sun, the stars, the planets, they just formed out of a massive expansion of energy called, “The Big Bang.” Gradually since then, life grew from simple forms to the more complex until it reached its highest form, mankind.
The “scientific theory” of evolution is a closer to faith-based thinking than scientific reasoning. Because where did the rapidly expanding matter come from? Why has another Big Bang not happened? If everything has been gradually evolving over billions of years, then we should not be able to classify all life into different kinds. It should just be one long continuum ranging from less complex life to more complex life, with every possible combination and variation in between. At the very least, there should be tons of evidence for these in-between life forms. But there is not.
Ultimately, though, we can’t prove creation either. So how do we know and follow what God says about creation? Why do we care about it? It’s a faith issue. The Bible says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” We believe it because God says it, because God made it happen. It’s the same for everything in the Bible. We believe that God had a plan to save us from the corruption of sin, from the decay of this world, from the destruction of death. We believe that Jesus left heaven to carry out that plan. We believe that God’s Son paid the full price for our corruption. We believe that God’s Son proved this by conquering death on the third day. We believe that God’s Son ascended back to heave to rule all things for the benefit of his people and to prepare a place for us. And we believe that if God loved us like this, even when we don’t deserve it, that he is more trustworthy than any mortal scientist or modern philosopher who claims to have the answer.
If Bill Nye would die for my sins and rise from the dead, then I would believe in him and his theories of how this world got here. But he has not and he cannot. Only Jesus Christ could and did. Jesus Christ does not teach me the theory of evolution or allow it be an option for my understanding. Instead, he takes me to his Word and the account of creation, inspired by the Spirit. So that is what you and I believe, teach, and confess.
What is important to remember in all this, is that the Lord God who created this world in 6 regular days and then rested on the seventh, did not rest from that point on. He still sustains the processes that he himself put into action at creation. If he withdrew his hand at any time, the universe would fall apart. We heard Paul say he gives all people life and breath and everything else. The Psalms say he sends the rain, makes grass grow for the cattle and plants for man to cultivate, bringing forth food from the earth (104:14). We might be tempted to attribute those things to nature and it’s order, but who created the natural order? Who regulates the seasons? The Creator does.
Jesus says, You are children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil (unbelievers) and the good, (believers) and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Our heavenly Father feeds and waters the whole world, whether the unbelievers acknowledge it or not. One quarter of the world’s population confesses to being Christian. That means our one true God feeds ¾ of the population even when they do not worship him or give glory to objects of their own creation. See how gracious our LORD God is, how he still preserves us?
This week in the devotions that I posted to our facebook page from Your Time of Grace dealt with worry. They were great reminders taken from Matthew 6 where Jesus reminds us we don’t have to worry about anything. We have a heavenly Father who knows all things and knows how to provide exactly what you need so that your physical and spiritual life will be taken care of. Elsewhere in Scripture, God tells us he even has an army of angels that he sends to carry out his will. You have nothing to fear.
What is our response to all of this? David wrote in Psalm 8, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings (angels) and crowned him with glory and honor.” Our response is awe and wonder that the LORD God of all creation sent his Son to save us from our sin and death, to make us children of God. Our response is to thank and praise, serve and obey him! Our response is to carry on in life knowing that nothing is really ours, but everything is the Lord’s to be used for his glory and purpose. Our response is to trust our creator God, not worry. Our response is to remain calm day by day even during a drought. We can trust our loving God’s care and protection. Our Lutheran Legacy is to believe, teach, and confess these simple words, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”
God grant it. Amen.