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By John Piper — 7 months ago
http://rss.desiringgod.org/link/10732/15312753/grace-from-start-to-finishPost Views: 211
By Jonny Gibson — 8 months ago
In 1969, as Apollo 11 orbited the moon, the voice of Neil Armstrong sounded back to earth with some of the most familiar words in the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” As Genesis 1:1 stands, it is a simple yet profound statement of fact. Yet it is also more than that. It is factual, yes, but it is also liturgical. Genesis 1:1 is the first call to worship. In the opening line of Scripture, God calls us to worship him for who he is and what he has done in creation.
Theology Behind the Liturgy
Genesis 1:1 is liturgical because it is first theological. By good and necessary consequence, we may reasonably deduce twelve attributes of God from this one verse.
1. God Is One
In the beginning, there was God and only God. This is one of the Bible’s great claims: there is one God, and besides him there is no other (Isaiah 45:5). Connected to this truth is God’s oneness, otherwise known as his simplicity. Because God is Creator, not created, he is a simple being, not a composite being. God is one; he has no parts. Indeed, in the Old Testament, the oneness of God is at the heart of Israel’s worship: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
2. God Is Spirit
Before the creation of the heavens and the earth, there was nothing but God. Space, time, matter, and energy were all created by him, which means that he himself does not consist in space, time, matter, or energy. As Creator, God is distinct in his essence from the world he has created. In the New Testament, Jesus states explicitly what is said here implicitly: “God is spirit” (John 4:24).
3. God Is Eternal
For God to be present in the beginning, he had to exist before the beginning of time, which means that God is outside of time. His existence is eternal. He was there in the beginning because he had no beginning, and he will be there in the end because he also has no end. God was and is and is to come — he is eternal. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2).
4. God Is Infinite
The phrase “the heavens and the earth” is a merism: two polar opposites that also include everything in between. In other words, “In the beginning, God made everything.” By everything, however, we should think not simply of the physical universe. The heavens and the earth include the invisible as well as the visible, realms unseen and seen. Given their created nature, these realms are finite, but for God to create finite realms, he himself must be infinite. The Bible conveys this truth by affirming his immensity or omnipresence (Isaiah 6:3; Jeremiah 23:23–24), but also by stating how unfathomable his majesty is: “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3).
5. God Is Unchangeable
Before God created everything, he simply was. This means that there was nothing external to God that could change him — his being was the same throughout eternity past. And after he created everything, since the universe was (and is) dependent upon him, it could not (and cannot) change him. God has remained the same in eternity past, and he will remain the same in eternity future. The God who was and is and is to come is the same God. In short, he is unchangeable. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
6. God Is Self-Existent
God existed before the world, and therefore he was not dependent upon what he created. In his essence, God is independent; he relies on no one and nothing for his existence. Theologians call this God’s aseity, from the Latin a se, meaning that God is “from himself.” That is, God derives his existence from himself and not from anything else. God is pure being; indeed, his name is Being. When Moses asks God for his name, he answers, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:13–14).
7. God Is Life
For God to create life in heaven and on earth — angels, vegetation, fish, birds, reptiles, animals, and mankind — he had to have life in himself. God had to be the living God to create living beings. The Bible affirms that God is life itself (1 John 5:20), has life in himself (John 5:26), is the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9), and is the one in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Indeed, God says of himself, “As I live forever . . .” (Deuteronomy 32:40).
8. God Is Immortal
Since God lived by himself in an undisturbed life before creation, there was nothing that could take his life. And since what he created is dependent upon him for life, there is still nothing that can take his life. God has life in himself, which means that nothing in heaven or on earth can take it from him. God cannot die. He is immortal. As Paul says to Timothy, “[God] alone has immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16).
9. God Is Creator
The verb create is a rather unique verb in the Old Testament. It occurs about forty times and only ever has God as its subject. In the Bible, only God creates, which is just another way of saying that only God is the Creator. “All the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5).
10. God Is Omnipotent
If, in the beginning, God the Creator made everything from nothing, then he must be all-powerful. He must be omnipotent — able to execute his will as he pleases. As Paul affirms to the Ephesian church, God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” Therefore, “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20–21).
11. God Is Omniscient
If, in the beginning, God the Creator made everything from nothing, then he must be all-wise. He must be omniscient — able to execute his will without instruction or input from anyone. As Jeremiah the prophet says, God is the one “who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens” (Jeremiah 10:12).
12. God Is Sovereign
If God is the all-powerful, all-wise Creator of everything, then after he made the heavens and the earth, he must have remained in control of them. The heavens and the earth cannot escape the sovereignty of God because they were created by God and remain dependent on God. Thus, whatever unfolds in the history of the heavens and the earth must remain under God’s sovereign control. “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
Spirit and Word
We can sum up these twelve great truths about God from Genesis 1:1 in a single sentence:
God is one spirit, eternal, infinite, unchangeable, self-existent, living, and immortal in his being, the omnipotent, omniscient Creator and Sovereign of all things in heaven and on earth, of all things visible and invisible.
“God has remained the same in eternity past, and he will remain the same in eternity future.”
This is the God we meet in the first verse of the Bible. And as such, we are called to worship him. Worship is what the living creatures in heaven are doing right now as they sing, “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” (Revelation 4:11). If that is the response of the creatures in heaven as they contemplate who God is and what he has done in creation, then what ought to be our response as his creatures on earth?
However, Christian worship is more than just an unqualified worship of God as the Creator of all. The verses that follow Genesis 1:1 can help us here. After the initial act of creation, the Spirit of God is said to be present (Genesis 1:2), hovering over the waters. And then God speaks by his word to form and fill his creation (Genesis 1:3–2:3). So we might accurately summarize God’s work in creation like this: In the beginning, God created everything from nothing by the agents of his word and Spirit.
The apostle John expands on this truth as he commences his Gospel, stating that it was indeed Christ, the eternal Word, who was present in the beginning with God, working as his agent in creation (John 1:1–5). And the apostle Paul writes of Christ in similar terms:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15–17)
“In the beginning, there was God and only God.”
Thus, what we have in Genesis 1:1–3 is a call to worship God for who he is and what he has done in creation — through Christ and for Christ.
Our worship of God, of course, involves so much more. But the first few verses of the Bible provide us with the beginning and foundation of Christian worship. So, the next time you hear the opening words of Genesis, hear them as God’s call to come and worship him through his Son and Spirit. It’s what the heavenly creatures have been doing since the beginning of creation:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
By Greg Morse — 9 months ago
If you are a Christian man, I know something about you. I know you want more.
You want more thrill in your walk with Jesus. You want more life, more wakefulness, more awe and wonder, more heavenly ambition, more consistency, more urgency, more sin lying slain at your feet. You want more of an inbreaking sense of God’s utter immensity, his total majesty, his relentless love for you by name. You want fewer clichés and unrealities, and more of the real thing.
You want to live for more, with more power and purpose. And if you have a family, you want more skill to lead them to Christ. You want to live in a world of worship and mission with them. You want your wife to increasingly blossom as she beholds more of Jesus. You want to hear your kids singing to Jesus. You want to pray real prayers together, and face difficulties as a family, saying as Jehoshaphat did to God: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). And you want to see him answer mightily.
In other words, you want true, living, family religion that spills into your neighborhood and your local church. But is it possible? This desire, perhaps now neglected and starved, only visits with whispers of guilt as you look around at what your life is really like: a fight for survival. Maybe you have conceded to a listless and half-living expectation: just get through the day, enjoy a little entertainment in the crevices, sleep, and then repeat.
But just as you want more for yourself and your family, God wants and promises more too.
Family Alive to God
Christian man, you have a delightful duty to provide for your household, both physically and spiritually. Such a privilege was long foretold, given not just in the cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28) but in the great command to God’s covenant people:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4–9)
“Christian man, you have a delightful duty to provide for your homes, both physically and spiritually.”
This vision for the family could not be higher: nothing less than a world submerged with God. God raised the ultimate banner, “Love the Lord with everything,” which is to fly in the wind over everyday life. He meant for all facets, every corner of family life, to be inscribed with reminders of God and his unchanging worth. He meant to be supreme in all things for the joy of all his people and their families.
Parents diligently passed this passion along to the next generation, praying that God would give new birth. The truth that made one wise for salvation was to be repeated, again and again, as a man strikes a blade repeatedly to sharpen it, in hopes that God would fashion children who also love him with their all.
More than simply passing truths along, however, we see how a faithful man creates an atmosphere into which he draws his children. The home stood as a place where discussions of God continue:
as you sit down
as you walk by the way
when you lie down
when you rise up
When at home, or when traveling away from home — from the early morning to the laying down at night — conversation was to revolve around God. Israel even decorated themselves and their world with physical reminders of God’s word: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes,” and, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
I tremble myself to write this to you in Christ: Not a day should pass when God’s ways, God’s gospel, and God’s return should go uncontemplated and unspoken in our families.
Men with Burning Hearts
The point is that this vision for family religion wasn’t something to check off a list; it was a lifestyle. Not merely a devotional squeezed in the cracks, but a consistent disposition to worship. The God worthy of our all devotion fills the believer’s sphere, especially his household. A vision that matches the secret desire.
If you are a Christian man, you especially bear the responsibility of this — and again, you desire it, heavy as it is.
How do I know? Because the text says so.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
“This vision for the family could not be higher: nothing less than a world submerged with God.”
You will be convinced — Christian father, Christian son, Christian brother — to give yourself to cultivating a world full of God, whether or not you have your own family yet. And not because you read an article or good book, but because God has inscribed his great blazing commandment on your heart. No one needs to twist your arm to want to live for Christ to greater and greater stature. “For they shall all know me” (Jeremiah 31:34).
Does Your Spirit Burn?
In the old covenant, getting the commandments on one’s heart entailed memorization, meditation, prayer, obedience. In the new covenant, these means are likewise employed but from a very different starting place:
This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)
Does your spirit not burn within you? You may feel guilt for past laziness, you may feel convicted about current neglect, you may need to fall to your knees and beg God’s forgiveness for leaving him forgotten in the attic, but one thing is sure if you know Christ: You long to provide spiritual blessing to your home. Perceive the Lord Jesus extending more grace and providing fresh opportunity. No longer resist plunging into this promised sea of blessing: “those who honor me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).
If you are real, brother, his law is already etched on your heart: You want to care for your family. You want to put away trivialities and live for Christ. You want to build your home and fill it with great thoughts and loving deeds. You want Bethlehem’s star resting above your roof, indicating the King’s presence. You want to provide spiritual meat and everlasting drink to those you love most. You want to truthfully and continually say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”