The Gospel didn't start at the empty tomb or the cross or even the manger. The Gospel started all the way back in Eden. The opening lines of the Bible "'In the beginning, God' "set the tone for everything that follows.
“THE BOOK OF BEGINNINGS”
(Introduction to Genesis)
If you received the newsletter, I mentioned to you that we were going to begin a study that will take us through the Bible, book by book, and I almost heard from around Wake County a sigh of Uh Oh. Boy, this sounds kind of long. And I would warn you, I do not know how long it will take, but I did read that a pastor that I admired who has been pastoring for 25 years and he did same thing and he spent 17 years. Now there is a real sigh. We will not spend 17 years in the same book if it does take that long. I imagining that this is a commitment that may take any where from 5 to 7 years, but it is 1 that I have personally struggled with and I believe this is what God wants me to do.
So this morning we are going to begin by providing for you a foundation as to why we are about to embark on this kind of journey. And I would suggest that the notes that you have been given would be helpful in following along as I give you several reasons why we are going to study the bible in this way. The first reason why we are going to study the entire bible is because the bible is entirely true. There is no doubt that in our American society in the last 10 to 20 years there have been a battle raging on whether or not the bible is entirely true. And I think you would assume that I would believe that and you would had assumed correctly. But because we do believe that all of the bible is the word of God, all of it is true, all of it is without error, then we would begin such a study. And there are several reasons why I would believe that the bible is entirely true, let me give them to you for sake of your notes.
The first one is fulfilled the prophecy. What does the bible say about itself? If I were asked today what the primary reason is that I would perhaps consider the bible to be true, I would suggest immediately the fulfilled prophecies of scripture. We already know from studying that there are at least 300 prophecies doing nothing more or less than prophesying the coming of Jesus Christ, the birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension. Three hundred prophecies have already come true and they were written of course before the time of the events so we consider them prophetic. More than one quarter of the Bible, when it was written, was prophetic. Now we all pick on the weatherman, sometimes they prophesize that it is going to rain and it is sunny. We are happy then. Sometimes they say it will be sunny and it rains. We are not happy then.
But you know the Old Testament, criteria for a prophet was that he always correct. 100% of the time. In fact, the Old Testament records for us that if a prophet was ever wrong, he was assumed to be a false prophet taken out of the city and stoned. Now I am not suggesting we do that to the local weatherman, but you need to understand that the people would not place any creditability upon the prophet unless he was always correct. And there were a certain thing that the prophets had to do, the first if they declared themselves to be a prophet of God, they had to declare something prophetic in the near future and something that surrounded their city or people and then if that would come true then the people would trust him for a prophetic event that would take place in the years to come.
For instance, Miciah, a prophet in 1 Kings 22, told Ahab that if he went to battle as he planned he would not only lose the battle and but he would lose his life. And Ahab’s false prophets had told another story, Ahab, if you go to battle you will win. And of course Ahab being the humble man he was decided to believe in the false prophets and not only them but he took Miciah and threw him in jail and told his guardians to give him only bread and water and he said to Miciah, when I return victorious from battle I will take care of you. Miciah’s words were if you return from battle you will know that the Lord has not spoken through me.
And we know from the Old Testament recordings that Ahab had indeed lost the battle. The scripture says not only did he lost the battle, but as the battle was nearing an end, the scripture says that a soldier on the enemy forces act an adventure took from his quiver an arrow and shot it into the air. It has Ahab’s name on it. What that means that the battle was coming to a close and this soldier on adventure, that is, I have one arrow left, why not. He just plunged it into his bow and he shoots it at a random and it finds Ahab and it kills him.
We know then that that prophet was a prophet of God. And today the question comes, in fact, I have asked this more than any other, are there prophets living today? Are there people receiving revelation today? Would you turn just a moment, we will have to get off this passage and to another, turn to Hebrews 1:1, it is as clear as on the nose on your face there is no such thing as a prophet living today receiving revelations from God, whether it is one who claims to know Christ or one from another religious belief system. Because Hebrews writes God after He spoke long ago to the fathers through the prophets in many diverse ways have in these last days, did you notice that in these last days, the prophets are past tense, but the present tense in the last days, He had spoken to us how? By His son, whom he appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the world. So if someone suggests that there are prophets today, they would opposed the clear writing of scripture. That the prophets are past tense. That the present tense it is the living word and it is the written word of Jesus Christ. That is the revelation from God to us.
And ladies and gentlemen, may I suggest to you that if God would break the sound barrier and speak today He would repeat something that He has already said. One of the reasons I think the bible is entirely true, because of fulfilled prophecies.
Secondly it is because of its preservation. And this is an objective proof but yet is marvelous. Jeremiah tells us on one occasion the king was handed a copy of the Old Testament writings and he took out his knife and he cut it into pieces. And that attitude has come down through the centuries and even today when men outlaw the bibles from our schools and they would outlaw and attack the bible from our court, they would outlaw or attack the name of God from every institution in our land. They are still attacking this book and yet God miraculously continues to preserve His word. I have in my library a copy of two ancient manuscripts that goes back to the time of John the apostle. There is no one who would question the writings of Homer and yet you have to go more than a thousand years past the time of Homer before you find a manuscript of his writings. And our word goes all the way back to the time of the apostles. And from that time to this, God is miraculously preserved, although they have burned thousand copies although they have outlawed it, they have tried to stamped it out. He has preserved His word.
Before we get off this point, may I suggest to you that Satan has another strategy for America. It is stamping it out, it is flooding the market with something that is legal so you and I will take it for granted and read it as little as someone who does not own a copy. But the word has been preserved.
I love the story of Voltaire the atheist who once bragged, You have seen what a little fellow by the name of Paul has done for Christianity, now I will show you what a Frenchmen will do to destroy Christianity. And yet to this very day the Geneva Bible Printing Society has as its headquarters Voltaire’s Own Home. And they print bibles in his living room. God preserves His word.
The third thing I would suggest to you that proves to me that the bible is entirely true is that of Transformed lives. The Bible is the only book that can turn a sinner into a saint. I remember reading in fact just this past week someone brought a book into the office and I began paging through it was stories of men and poems they wrote, this story was written by John Newton who was born in London in 1725. His father was a sea captain. His mother was a devout believer. And she had an illness that she knew would take her life soon, so she invested every spare moment teaching her young son John the word. And when he was 7, she in fact, died. And he became a cabin boy aboard a sailing vessel. And he began a life of terrible sin that would one day see him captain of a slave ship. He was a drunken sinner, in fact his crew considered him nothing more or less than an animal. That was exemplify on more than one occasion when John Newton felled over board. And his crew did not even let down a boat to rescue him and instead they took a whaling harpoon and threw it at him. It caught him in hip and they pulled him back on board as they would a large fish.
John Newton limped the rest of the days of his life, but the grace of God gripped his heart and he one day came to Christ remembering the words of his mother, For by grace are you saved through faith. And as an act of appreciation and gratitude to his Lord, he would write the words that we sing so often, Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. A verse that is no longer in our hymn books but yet it was in the original poem written by John Newton says this and I like it for it has a direct relation to the transforming power of God’s word, it says this The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures; He willed my shield and portion be, As long as life endures. Now the Bible can turn a sinner into a saint, the greatest illustration of that is not John Newton, it is you. Is the word part of your life?
Let me suggest one final proof that we know that the Bible is in fact entirely true and then again this is not a proof to a nonbeliever but it is assurance to those who already believe because let me say and declare to you right now there is only one way that you will ever come to the point where you believe that this is God’s book, and that is by faith. But once you have that faith then logic can impose and you can see all the reasons that men without faith are blind to. One of the most beautiful things are archeology. That would be the fourth that you could jot into your notes. And I could preach on this for a long time, but I have brought with me just several illustrations. One is the city of Pithom that was recently uncovered. It was built by Ramese II or actually by the Hebrews slaves during the reign of Ramese II, this was a period in their captivity known as the hard labor. And you know when they uncovered this city they discovered the homes were made of sun baked bricks. Some bricks had straw in them and some bricks did not. An exact replica of what we find in Exodus where the children were commanded to build bricks without straw.
The scriptures also speak of another city we call Petra. And this is one that the liberals and the infidels had longed mocked at. The critics scoffed and asked where is your city Petra that the Bible mentions? Then one day they discovered a city built into the mountain of stone and it is as if a gigantic mountains watch over it as stone guards. It was a city built into solid rock just as the Bible declared. When finally it was discovered the archaeologists found within that stone tomb a city of home, theaters, temples, places of business, and a main street 6 miles long. There is no need to be afraid of the archaeologist’s spade. They have done nothing but substantiate the words of scripture and declared that this book is entirely true.
What is another reason that we study the word in its entirely. Let me give you a second reason. Not only because it is entirely true, but it is entirely profitable. Will you turn to 2 Timothy 3: lets look at several passages that declare this to every believer, 3:14-17, you will notice that there are 4 things that the word does in its profitable sense to the believer, Paul writes to the sons of the faith, you however continue into the things that you learned and have become convinced of knowing from whom learned them that is myself. And yet from childhood you have known the sacred writings that is from his mother and grandmother. Which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Now Paul declares to him a truth about the word, All scripture is inspired by God. The word inspiration means the breath of God, thief news golf ?? which means literally that God breathed through the author or the human instrument. It was the wind or breath of God. In fact we find the same original word used in Acts. Where it talks about the wind blowing into the sails of a vessel. It is that same breath or that same thought, the wind, the breath of God blowing through the author. The human instrument. Directing him to writing exactly what we find here. All scripture then is breathe by God.
And it was profitable for four things: teaching or doctrine as your translation may read, doctrine is what you believe. Doctrine tells you how to think. You know I have heard on many occasions in fact I believed it until a couple of years ago when someone would say that we know enough about the bible, we just don’t have enough of it applied. Now I reject that statement because I believe there is a famine in the land as to what the bible teaches. We do not know enough about this book. And the bible is profitable for that kind of doctrinal foundation. That kind of truth. But it goes on to say it is also profitable not only for teaching or doctrine but for reproof. Or rebuke. This tells you where you are wrong. Doctrine tells you what to think or how to believe. Reproof tells you where you are wrong and he goes on to say not only for reproof but for correction. This tells you what is right. And then for training and righteousness. This tells you how to do what is right. I think the main part of this scripture is that the bible is the primary source for equipping the believer. Without it you stand naked against the attack of the evil one in the world. It is this that will equip you. It is profitable.
Turn over to 2 Timothy 2:15. It gives us another thought about the profitability of the word of God. Lets read that verse 2 Timothy 2:15, be diligent to presence yourself to prove unto God a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately or rightly dividing the word of truth. I have heard one man say that this is the bottom line of Christianity. This verse right here. The bottom line is found in 2 questions. The 2 questions are: Am I pleasing to Jesus Christ? Be a workman pleasing to God. And then secondly Is my life measuring up to the standard of scripture? Studying in such a way that I am not ashamed, in fact the literally translation of verse 15, could be a workman whose work is never a disgrace. That is the idea. And I think the main idea in this passage would be the word is the primary assurance, a creditability in your testimony. Without the study of scripture your walk will never match up as they say to your talk. I read a poem that reads the gospel is written a chapter a day by the deeds that you do and words that you say. Men read what you say whether faithless or true. What is the gospel according to you? The only way that gospel will have creditability is if we are in this book.
One other passage, Hebrews 5: 11-14. Here it gives us that the bible is the primary guarantee to spiritual maturity. "Concerning Him, we have much to say, but it is hard to explain since you have become voluntary." There was a problem with this church, a hearing problem. A spiritual hearing problem. They had to have things repeated over and over again. And as a result, he compares them to a child. Verse 12, "Although by this time, you ought to be teaching, you have needs again that someone teach you the elementary principles of the basis truths of the origins of God. And you have come to need milk, and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustom of the word of righteousness. For he is a baby, but solid food is for the mature. Now he will be define with maturity. Solid food is for the mature. Who is the mature? Those who because of practice have their senses trained to concern good and evil."
He is saying that spiritual maturity is not learning simply about this book, but it is practicing this book. Spiritual maturity is the individual who begins to live what he has learned, and I think the only way that we can have the guarantee, that in fact, we will live what is learned which is nothing more or less than spiritual maturity that comes from this book.
Let me add one other passage that continues this same thought and i.e., I Peter 2:, the main idea is that the bible is the primary method for spiritual growth. I Peter 2:1-2, "Therefore, put aside all malice and all hypocrisy, and envy and all slander. Like newborn babies, long, desire this sincere of this pure milk of the world by it that you might grow in respect to your salvation."
Why does God want you and I to study the bible? For us to become smarter? Absolutely not. So we can become transformed. So that we may grow up. He is implying that it is possible to grow old in the Lord without growing up in the Lord. I fear that we have many believers who are 5, 10, 15 and 20 years old in the Lord but are still in the nursery. You see my friends it is without this book that we stay in the crib. Without understanding the words of scripture, we become or remain an infant. Someone always have to come along and burp us, change our diapers, why? Because we have longed refuse to allow this book to be part of our life to transform and renew our minds.
So the bible is the primary method for spiritual growth. So friends, I would suggest to you that don't pray anymore that God will help you grow, but pray that God will give you diligents to study the word, because when you do that you will grow.
Why do we study the bible? Because the bible is entirely true and because the bible is entirely profitable. Now that forms someone with the foundation for the reason that I think we should begin the beginning.
Turn to Genesis 1:1 Now we are going to take a few moments to introduce the first verse and then next Sunday we will take more detail survey of the six days of creation. Verse 1 of Genesie 1 stands by itself and it ought to. This is a foundational verse. It reads, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Now let us disect for the sake of study these words, look at the words individually and put them together into one unit and in your notes I have divided this verse into different sections.
The first is "In the beginning," and could be tranlated literally as In the beginning of things, in other words, before there were anything other than God this is when he began. "In the beginning." Now I have got to admit to you, ladies and gentlement, in my study I so often scratch my head. It would had seem so much better if God had written 100 words instead of 10 as it is in your translation. There are 7 words in the original Hebrews. Lord, it would had been so much easier if you had just written a book on verse 1 and told us all of the details, but he did not do that. Perhaps that is what the writer of Hebrews meant when he said in chapter 11:3 & 4, "By faith you believe that God formed the world by the word of His mouth." Because whether it is 10 words or a 1,000 words, it is still a matter of faith. Questions will never be completely understood until we get to Heaven and then it will take all of eternally before we truly comprehend.
In the beginning, God...God, the original is the word hallohean?? which is a beautiful powerful name of God. This name will appear many times in the Old Testament and the word hallohean means God of Power. And rightly it is used here, because this act of miraculously creating the worlds is a act of great power, so when the writer seeks to express who this individual is, when God would express himself through the writer, he chooses the name "Hallohean", the God of Power. It is through this name that always pulls a response through us of one of trust and awe.
In the beginning God, as I read this verse and read it and read it, it became clear to me again, things are left out. There is no proof for the existence of God in Genesis 1:1. There is no argument, in fact, the bible is silence when it comes to arguing the proof of existence. Why? I think it is because of the only verse that even farfetched mentions it is the fool set in his heart there is not God. So in other words, I am not going to discuss it. It is the fool that does not believe that there is no God. What you find in verse 1, is a simple statement, it is not a deduction, it is not an explanation, it is a declaration, it is revelation. He is simply saying, "In the beginning, I created God." Take it or leave it. Believe it or don't believe it. This is the fundamental statement that needs no proof. I think as we study Romans that every man and every woman that has lived is without an excuse according to Romans 1, why? Because written on the heart of every human being is the fact that there is a God. In fact, if you would go to some remote part of Africa, you would go to the jungle and find some tribe that has never been discovered, guess what you would find them doing? Worshipping something. A missionary does not go to the field to tell people there is a God, he goes to the field to tell them how to get to the true God. So He merely states, "In the beginning God".
Notice the next word, created the word is Bara which means created out of nothing. Not a Hebrew word that means to form or to fashion, but the Hebrew word here is Bara which means to create out of nothing. He didn't form something that already existed. He didn't pattern after something already in existence. He created out of nothing, planet earth, and the heavens.
It says that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Heavens could be translated as space, and the earth as a little reference to this planet or matter. That is in the first verse of Genesis 1, you find that God created space, matter and time. In the beginning, time. God created the heavens, space. And He created the earth, mass. No scientist could ever improve on Genesis 1:1. If they by faith believe it, then they have the logical answer of the creation of everything that ever have been. Oh, I know that they scrap for things, for theories, and that even today the theory of revolution. In fact I read that one scientist who said that in the space of 20 or 30 years, that particular theory will be expanded for another. I think I mentioned one Sunday, theories have always existed. The theory of revolution just happens to be the one for our generation. One for our time.
And the theories of the origings of the earth and of space have changed through time. Because of after thorough investigation they have discovered this to be untrue. You might suggest to me if you are an unbeliever that this view of Genesis 1:1 is narrow and there is not any more room for anything else other than that God created the heavens and earth. And I would say yes it is narrow. All truth is narrow. What would you think of a mathematician if he said, "I am no god mathematics for I am liberal and open-minded and 2 + 2 could equal 3.999", but you are foolish for 2 + 2 will always equal 4. Never did a math teacher gave any credit, including me, that any answer close as the correct one. It had to be dead on.
What would you say to the man who says he is not no geographical dogmatist. I believe the text is next door to North Carolina. That is foolish. Some of you would say I am glad it is not true. See the truth of the scripture is as well, my friends, very narrow. In the days of Noah, there was salvation and there was only one way. You were either in the ark or you were out of the ark. In the days of Moses, deliverance came only one way, either you had the blood on the door post or you didn't have the blood on the door post. Today, the scripture tells us if you believe in the Son of God you will have eternal life, if you don't, the wrath of God abided upon you. It is that narrow. It is that simple. It is that plain.
May I suggest to you that this verse Genesis 1:1 provides a foundation upon which every other verse in the bible rest. If you can believe, ladies and gentlemen, the first 10 words of scripture, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." You will have no problem believing 15 other words. Therefore, any man being in Christ he is a new creation. If you can believe In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, then you can then believe that "God so loved this world that He gave His only begotten Son. That whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have a everlasting life." If you by faith can believe these first 10 words, you can believe all of scripture. Let me apply this foundation of study in 3 ways:
1. I think and I hope it is obvious that teaching the bible is not voluntary, it is imperative. Let me suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, that it is not preaching about the bible. We live in a generation that has literally sap the vitality out of the Christian world because pulpits are filled with men who preach about the bible. And one of the things that I fear, is preaching something other than the very words of scripture. I had a professor in college who told us on one occasion that his greatest fear was preaching error. One of the questions I believe you should ask yourself as a Sunday school teacher, or as a preacher, or as a teacher is: You ought to ask yourself on Monday morning, Did I teach or did I preached the word? Paul told Timothy to preach the word and there is an exclamation point after that in the original it is imperative.
2. Studying the bible is not optional. It is essential. If it is the only method for spiritual growth, it is the only guarantee for spiritual creditability. Or if it is the only promise or hope of spiritual maturity, this is all we have. The question is not "should I study it", but the question is how can I afford not to.
3. Obeying the bible is not something suggested. It is demanded.
A recent archeological found in the biblical city of Estabona??, Joshua 21:39 presents an ironic twist, 62 pounds of cut up silver jewelry was discovered stored in 5 earthen jars. What is even more significant is that this discovery was not found in some mount in the middle of nowhere, but it was found or discovered 18 inches under the earthen floor of a home that had been lived in over the past 3 centuries by individuals. There were people who had these valuable things within their grasp and you could almost imagine the reaction of someone who discovered that after moving out. They would probably say something like oh, if I had only known, I would had dug down and gotten it for myself.
My friends, I submit to you that we have within us, and in front of us, a treasure house filled with precious gems. And I would encourage you to not come on Sunday and to take your bible with you for we are far more willing to do that, than we are to walk across the living room floor and pick it up during the week. My friend did you dust this book off when you came this morning? Is the Word at work in your life? Is this book having a transforming power and a part in your daily existence? See the challenging thing is that whenever I get out of sorts, whenever my life gets out of bounce, it can be directly traceable to the fact that I do not either know what the Word says, or I am not obeying what I know what the Word says. So we begin a journey. I would suggest that every Sunday you would bring your bible. We will begin tonight a study on the New Testament book, and we will have both the Old and New Testament going and what a joy it will be to study the words of God.
With every head bow and every eye closed, I must speak to one who is hear this morning who may not know Jesus Christ as his personal savior. You have never experienced the life that comes from Jesus Christ personally. And this book is a dead book to you, dry. It doesn’t have meaning. I submit to you because you do not have the holy spirit dwelling within you who is your teacher, who can lead you to the truth. Before you leave this building this morning, I would ask if I could plead or beg I would. That you do not leave until you approach myself or someone else you may know that knows Christ that we could take the word and show you the truths. It is a narrow truth, but yet it is true. That Jesus Christ died for you. That you could know life. He shed His blood on the cross that you could be forgiven, wash as white as snow. I pray that you make decision this morning.
Father, thank you for those who are here this morning, who may already know the truth and the light and the way sound in you. Lord, I pray that You would burden our hearts and convict us even now with in fact that the word may not have the proper place in our lives. We have not sat under its teaching, its reproof, its correction. Its training and righteousness. And we ask that you would forgive us. And give us courage to fight the flesh in the forces of the underworld. And the pressure of our world to place this book at the top of our list.
While you are sitting there with your heads bow and eyes closed, will you speak for a moment to the Lord. Maybe you need to ask Him to forgive you because it is collective dust throughout the week. Perhaps you are disobeying a portion of the Word. Would you make that right?