Faith and understanding our origins
Where did we come from? How did the world come into being? Can we really understand the origins of the universe?
These are critically important questions that great minds have probed into for centuries. The problem is, of course, no one was there to witness it all. That is, except for God. “In the beginning, God….” We are not left with the impression that anyone else was there. This is confirmed later on in Genesis 1 with the creation of man. God was the only One who witnessed the creation of the universe. Therefore, if we are going to understand the origins of the universe, we must trust God’s self-revelation.
The Scriptures have much to say on this, but perhaps a good place to start is Hebrews 11:3. “By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God.” The world came into being by the word of God. In Genesis 1 we see how God spoke, and everything was created. God said, “let there be light, and there was light.” This same pattern is followed throughout the rest of the chapter. The Psalmist picks up on this in Psalm 33:6: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.”
So how did God create the universe? BY HIS WORD! God spoke and the world came into being. But it gets even more amazing – God didn’t have any pre-existing materials to create with. If you were to tell your neighbor that you could make something out of nothing, they would think you were nuts, and, they’d be right. If you want to make a chair, you don’t go “abracadabra” and poof – there it is. No, you need certain materials, certain tools, and then you have to form and fashion them in a particular way. You can’t make that chair out of nothing.
The only One who has ever performed such a work is the Creator God and His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible says that it is God “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Romans 4:17) And Psalm 90:2 tells us, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God has always existed, but at a particular point in time, God made everything out of nothing. Theologians calls this “Creation Ex-Nihilo.”
Going back to Hebrews 11:3, the only way we can understand creation is “by faith.” That will not satisfy everyone out there, but it is biblical truth. There is a sense of mystery in terms of how God “spoke” the cosmos into existence. As it says in Revelation 4:11, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Yes, there is a sense of mystery, but we take God at His Word.
If we go back to the beginning of Hebrews 11 and verse 1, we see that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Now compare that with verse 3. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” If you are a “doubting Thomas” type of person, then ask yourself this very simple question. Where did that material world come from? How did it originate? A typical modern answer is – the big bang theory or evolution. But that theory still doesn’t answer a very basic, fundamental question – where did all that star-stuff come from that was involved in the big bang? How was it created? How did it come into being?
If you want to understand the origins of the cosmos, then it starts with faith. There is no other way to explain the created world. There is no other way to explain the seen, but by the unseen. There has to be a first cause to everything, and the Bible tells us that first cause was God.
At the beginning of time God set the world in motion. He spoke the universe into existence and the way He did it was totally unique. What is seen (that being everything around us) was not made out of things that are visible. God didn’t create from pre-existing materials. No, He created everything, out of nothing. As Christians, we understand this by faith.
It takes a lot more faith to be an atheist (someone who doesn’t believe in God) than it does to be a theist (someone who believes in God). And while we must believe, by faith, in the Triune God and in His Word, there is evidence all around us. The apostle Paul writes, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
What about you, friend? Have you accepted God’s self-revelation? Let me encourage you to start with what the Bible tells us about the origins of the universe (or any subject for that matter) and then allow God to confirm His testimony through the created world and “the things that have been made.” And then trust God with what He says about the redemption of sinners. “Repent and believe in the gospel,” (Mark 1:15) and your sins will be washed away!
The Rev. Daniel Stegeman is pastor of Pine Glen Alliance Church in Lewistown. You can find more articles like this on his blog www.pastoral-theology.com