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Creation: All God Does Is Good
01/01/2006
Scripture: Genesis 1; 2:1-4
Track 1 of 27 in the Transforming Story As God Gave It series
Running time: 50 minutes, 48 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


"All God Does Is Good" January 1, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, at least that was the first line of every book that Snoppy ever started to write in the comic strip. Something about those opening lines. You know, if you hear the line "Once Upon a Time," you pretty well know you are ready for a story. Those opening lines are critically important. In fact, I thought about trying to read some opening paragraphs from some of my favorite books and thought that would take way too long just to make a point, but opening lines are really important. It sets the stage. It gives you the plot and the character and the story line. It sets everything in motion.

And what we are about to do this morning is to set this story in motion. As you recall, if you've been here in recent weeks, we're about to embark on telling the story, or retelling it, trying to understand it as God told it in the first place. We are going to spend the next several months just looking at scripture, trying to ask the question, what in the world is this story that God has been trying to tell?

Of course, you can't go anywhere without starting in Genesis Chapter 1. So if you want to go ahead and start moving in that direction, that's where we are going to end up. This story as God told it is really quite simple. It starts out in the garden. You know that. The world is good. God has created man. We get all the way into Chapter 3 before man falls apart. God goes into the process of setting into motion a redemptive plan, and man continues to rebel and fall. God sends his son. Man rejects him. God decides to initiate a final covenant called the church. Some people respond to it. Some people don't. The church is sent forth into the world to tell the story, or to retell the story. Some people receive it. Some people don't. Often men reject it. Ultimately God returns. We are back in a garden.

Well, that's the story. I don't know if you want to come for the next six months to hear the rest of it or not, but that's the abbreviated cliff notes for what we are about to encounter.

When we look at Chapter 1 of the story creation, we find ourself with two different approaches. We find ourself with what one man calls the prelude and the plot. Chapter 1, the music, the poetry, the setting up of the story. Chapter 2, helping us understand it from a little different perspective, setting the characters in motion and giving us the plot of the story.

I want you to know this morning some things I'm not intending to do with Genesis 1 and 12. I'm not hear to debate whether it's prose or poetry, because it is. It is both, history and poetry. It is not intended to be a science book. It was intended to be a poem. It was intended to set the stage for the rest of the story, and it's frankly an impossible debate to try to decide how the rest of it all fits together. That's not my point of what we want to do this morning.

I'm not here to argue design versus evolution. We can argue that if you want I'd be happy to engage you in that conversation someplace besides right here. I think there is an answer to that question. It 's just not the point of this particular message.

What I do want to do is begin where this text begins, with an assumption. It's the assumption that all of scripture starts with. "In the beginning God." No argument, no debate, no attempt to apologize, no explanation. Just this standing statement, "In the beginning God." Generations later when the Hebrew writer was writing to that group of Jewish christians, this is his comment about the start of our understanding. "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 Hebrew writer recognizes what everybody has to understand in coming to Genesis Chapter 1. This is a faith statement. You choose whether or not you want to accept that opening line.

Somebody once said that if you can believe Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 1 you can believe anything. I don't know whether they meant that positively or not. I mean it very positively. If you accept Genesis 1 "In the beginning God," then everything else about scripture falls into place and has no room for debate. There really is no reason to question anything else that happens, because if you can accept the fact that God has created the universe, that there is, in fact, a God, then everything else in scripture makes sense. "In the beginning God."

In fact, if you look at Genesis Chapter 1 Verses 1 and 2, that's kind of that opening line. That sets the stage for everything else that's going to happen. I want you to notice just three words particularly in that opening two verses. The word beginning, the word spirit, and the word water. Those are going to become important later on.

Genesis 1 opens this way in the New International Version. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now, the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Formless and empty. And the poetry begins, because the first three days of creation are a direct address to that issue of this being formless. Day 1, day 2, and day 3 attempt to address the question of the formlessness with which this earth came into being. Days 4, 5, and 6 address the other issue, the emptiness, the lack of substance. And so you have this marvelous creative story as we begin to see both shape and substance come into being.

Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 3 now picks up the creation story. Listen, if you will, for the repetition and the rhythm. It's the poetry of Hebrew that's attempted to be brought into English for our ear to hear the cadence of the story. "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning -- the first day."

"And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.' So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse sky. And there was evening and there was morning -- the second day."

"And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.' And it was so. God called the dry ground land, and He gathered waters and He called them seas. And God saw that it was good. And then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation, plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning -- the third day."

"And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night and to let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.' And it was so. God made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth to govern the day and the night and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning -- the fourth day."

"And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.' So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teemed according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water and the seas and let the birds increase on the earth.' And there was evening and there was morning -- the fifth day."

"And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds, livestock, creatures that move along the ground and wild animals each according to its kind.' And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."

Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image. In the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'"

"And then God said, 'I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground, everything that has breath of life in it I give every green plant for food.' And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning -- the sixth day."

"Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, and so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

You notice in the first account that you have a sense that you're viewing this from heaven's perspective, God speaking and the world coming into existence. That's the account that you're supposed to hear. It's this first run through of creation's story, and we begin to hear the rhythm of the story, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, day 6. There is a cadence to it, a music, a count, a tempo, and the poet captures your ear and the eye of your heart, and he begins to help you understand that there is going to be shape and substance to this formless void.

But if you look, suddenly you discover that it's not just 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Do you notice when you come back to the text that there is a bit of a different thing that happens on day 3? Verse 9 says, "And God said." Verse 11 says, "Then God said." He speaks twice on day 3. And then you'll notice he does it again on day 6. Verse 24, "And God said." Verse 26, "And then God said." And so the cadence is 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6. You hear the tempo, the beat, the music, the poetry, the cadence?

And then you get to Chapter 2 and you discover that when he talks about the seventh day he does something rather unusual with the cadence, the tempo. Instead of waiting until the end of the day to number it -- the evening and morning were day one -- he announces the day on the front end. This is the seventh day. And not only does he name it first, but he names it three times. This is the seventh day, this was the seventh day, this is the seventh day. And so suddenly you now have 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7. Poetry, music. It's designed for the ear and the heart.

Oh, and you couldn't have missed the repetition, right? I mean, the repetition is so profound in the first chapter. This opening account has such intricate repetition in it. Thirty plus times God is mentioned by name, Elohim. And God said, and God said, and God said. Thirty times in the first chapter Elohim.

And all the verbs, 34 of them. God created, God made, God saw, God named, God blessed, God called. Oh, and what we call in grammar inclusio, a parenthesis, a start and a stop. And God said, and there was evening and there was morning. And God said, and there was evening and there was morning. And God said, and there was evening and there was morning. And six times we run through that series of repetitious start and stop and start and stop.

And then you have the repetition, of course, of these phrases which you catch as you go through. And God said, and it was so; and God said, and it was so; and God said, and it was so. And then six times he says, it was good, it was good, it was good, it was good. It was very good.

The poet has captured our heart in such a way that he wants us to begin to feel this particular text and to understand that there is a music to the creation that's intended to help place you in time. Did you notice how much emphasis there is here on time? It was the first day, the second day, the third day. And we're going to have lights in the sky to help us understand the seasons and the years and the times.

This first emphasis, according to Eugene Peterson, is about the way we measure life. We're restricted, we human beings, to measuring life in one fundamental way. Time. I guess you know this is January 1st. It's a measure of time. It's . It's the measure of time. Do you remember just yesterday stocking up for Y2K? Somewhere a half a decade just disappeared. Time. And some of you woke up this morning and wondered not just about a half a decade but a half a century and thought, my goodness, where did it go?

When Paul writes or speaks to the Athenians a bit later, he makes this interesting comment in Acts Chapter 17. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. And he doesn't live in temples built by hands. He is not served by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth, and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." Time. It's how we measure life, and it's the way that we respond to God.

Peterson talks about the desecration of time in two forms. We desecrate time when we hurry, trying to grasp for control, trying to take in everything and bring it under our particular grasp, trying to make sure that nothing gets away from us. Hurry, hurry, hurry lest you miss something. Or you desecrate it by procrastination, when you are inattentive to God, when you don't respond in obedience or worship to the thing that God is doing in the moment. You'll do that later. The consecration of time, the consecration of life, the consecration of this first response to God is the only logical response that any of us have in this life, and that is the response of worship.

When you look at this chapter and its magnificent intricacies, when you hear the repetition, when you see the way the days unfold -- you noticed it, didn't you? Day number 1 you end up with light and dark. Day number 4 sun, moon, and stars. Day number 2 sky and water. Day number 5 fish and birds. Day number 3 land. Day number 6 animals. There is an intricacy here that God wants you to step back and just say, whoa, slow down and look around and worship. Adore me. Recognize me. Don't try to control. Just pay attention and be attentive to who I am.

It's a hard thing to do in the world in which we live. I don't know if you struggle with that as much as I do, but it's either the constant hurry, or there is so much to do or the decision is that you'll respond to this later when it's appropriate. It's one of the reasons, I confess to you, that I love to be up early in the morning out running because it's a time for me to worship. I run slow. Can't get in a hurry when I run.

One of the things I like to do is to run down to the lock and dams and watch the eagles. They weren't there early this morning, or the other morning when I was there. It was very disappointing. But I love to see them. Love to watch the fish and the ducks, but I really like to watch the eagles. I'm enamored by creation. I don't know about you. I like the world in which I live, and if I am doing what I ought to do, I am going to be attuned to the world, and I am going to sit back and notice the things that God has created and it's going to cause me to respond in awe and wonder.

Last night as I was celebrating the new year somewhere in the world -- I didn't wait until midnight in central standard time. I went ahead and celebrated with somebody somewhere. Just before I was getting ready to go to bed I checked my e-mail to see if anybody had anything I should know about before this morning. I got a message from a friend of mine. It included a picture. Well, I guess you could call it a picture. It looked kind of like a blob to me, and then over here on the right side of the blob was a little, well, it looked like a hole in the blob, and in the hole in the blob there was a shape. It was a sonogram of their newly discovered baby, and you just want to go "wow." I remember when my eldest daughter was having our grandson, and she actually said to me one day, I need somebody to take me to the hospital for my sonogram. And I thought, I've got time, I can do that. And so I drove her into the hospital to get this thing taken care of. And she said, do you want to come in? Like you mean in and watch? I'm old enough that they didn't do that kind of stuff when my children were born. And she said, sure. And she had a little whisper session with the doctor, because I didn't want to know what it was, other than a baby. And they began to do this gizmo over her big round tummy. Hands showed up and feet showed up and the heart started to beat, and pretty soon they quickly went over something else. And the doctor turned and said, it's the same as it was last time you were here. That's convenient. And I sat back in absolute awe.

Genesis Chapter 1, awe, wonder. The story is starting. Then you come to Chapter 2, and it's like God says, hey, let me turn this thing around. I want to show you this again, but this time I don't want you to see it from the heavenly side. I want you to see this from the earth's perspective. It's as if he turns the mirror around. Chapter number 1 sets the stage. Chapter number 2 begins to tell the story.

Notice this. Just as we begin to read, Chapter 1, Verse 1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Chapter 2, Verse 4, "This is the account of the heavens and the earth." Chapter 2, Verse 4 in the middle, "When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." Do you see the shift? Chapter 1, heaven and earth. Chapter 2, earth and heaven.

Oh, and notice one other minor detail here. Chapter 4 of Verse 2, "When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens -- and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but the streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground -- the Lord god formed the man from the dust of the ground and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

"Now, the Lord God had planted a garden in the east in Eden, and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden. From there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first was Pishon. It winds its way through the entire land of Havilah where there is gold. The gold of that land is good. Aromatic resin and onyx are there also. The name of the second river is Gihon. It winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris. It runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates."

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it, and the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"

"The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.' I will make a helper suitable for him. Now, the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field, all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field."

"But for the man" -- that's a better translation than Adam. You'll see it in a foot note in most of your bibles. "But for the man no suitable helper was found. And so the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping he took one of the man's ribs and he closed up the place with flesh. And then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. And the man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Ishah, for she was taken out of Ish." Those are the words, Ishah and Ish, woman and man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."

What an incredible turn we have here and what an interesting introduction has suddenly been made in the second account of the creation. "And the Lord God made." Chapter 1 30 different occurrences of Elohim, God. Suddenly in Chapter 2 it's Lord God. Do you notice in your NIV that the word Lord is written in all capital letters? That's because that's the word Yahweh. Jehovah in some bibles. It is the word that isn't even introduced to us until we get to the book of Exodus.

Remember when Moses is getting ready to go lead the people out of Egypt and he says, who do I tell them sent me? And God says, you tell them "I am" sent you. That's this word, I am, Yahweh. But Israel wouldn't pronounce the word. They wouldn't even say it. And so they always substituted the word Lord, Adonai, in the place of Yahweh.

And so in our English bibles they have done basically the same thing. They put the word Lord in here. And in every case in this chapter 11 different times Lord God is used instead of just God, and suddenly something surfaces of immense importance. Elohim, God, Yahweh, I am. And suddenly a relationship is formed. The old German theologian Martin Boober called it an "I/thou" relationship. A relational term entered into the picture. And God and man began a journey together.

Now, it's interesting when you divide this chapter, because this chapter divides up into two natural pieces; Verses 4 through 14 about the creation and the placement of man, and then Verses 15 through the end about the relationships of man. It's interesting. This is the key word. If Chapter 1 is about time, Chapter 2 is about place. Two little simple verbs. They both show up in Verse 8 and Verse 15. This verb, and God "put" Adam in the garden, "put" the man in the garden. And God "put," he "placed" the man in the garden.

In fact, location begins to take on great importance here. The place is actually named. It's called Eden. It's called a garden. It's even given boundaries. It's surrounded by four rivers. You have identification, you have boundary, you have location, and here is this emphasis upon the fact that we are put someplace.

Oh, but that's not where it ends. See, the man, I noticed in Verse 20 that the NIV translates that Adam. Well, that's because that's the word. In Hebrew the word is Adam. It means man. It doesn't become a proper noun, a name Adam, until Chapter 3. But all through this chapter, Chapter 2, 18 different times he talks about the man, the man, the man. Well, not the male. The man, humans, human beings, us, we. That's who he is talking about.

But what's interesting is that the word "ground" from which he was formed is the word Adamah. Adam, Adamah. The man came from the ground. Adam came from Adamah. Five different times he talks about ground. Then he adds to that references to earth and dirt and garden. In fact, 18 times the man is mentioned, and 19 times the soil from which he came is mentioned. It's almost as if the poet is trying to help you understand that we are made of the identical stuff of the world in which we live. And enter attention.

Last week or the week before some preacher said, this world is not my home. I'm just a passing through. And yet the Hebrew writer says, this is our world. We are made of the very stuff that this world is made of. This is our place. We don't live in some ethereal world somewhere. We live here in this world, the one that God has made. In fact, that's part of the challenge of understanding the nature of this text and its implications for us, that we live here in this world. Wherever here is is where you are supposed to be.

Do you hear that? God placed the man. Did you hear it back in Acts Chapter 17? He appointed certain places for every people. The great Francis Shaffer's wife, Edith Shaffer, has a book called "No Little People, No Little Places." Do you ever notice how place becomes so important, how we want to identify our place, and we want our place to be important? We are always trying to get to a better place.

Gregory of Nissa was appointed by his brother who happened to be the bishop to go to a little town called Nissa. I don't know exactly where Nissa was in that part of the world. I know where Nissa is in Idaho. It's a little podunk village on the side of the road smaller than the town I grew up in, which is hard to do. Gregory didn't want to go. It was too small a place. But he went. He went, and in the process of being in this little town he learned to be content.

Gregory of Nissa. Now, most of us have probably never even heard of him, but in church history he is the one responsible for helping the church come to grips with a little tiny issue, the trinity, God three in one. His writings have helped shape our understanding of the triune nature of God. And for those who read in the spiritual classics Gregory of Nissa is one of the writers most responsible for helping us understand the infinite nature of God and the finite nature of man.

This younger brother of a bishop appointed to a little wide spot in the road found his place where God put him, and there he blossomed into one of the great theologians of the history of the church because he understood that this placement is what God has in mind for us, that we are where God wants us to be. We don't have another place. If you're always looking for another place, then you will never be of any value where you are.

Well, some things come out of this second chapter that are absolutely remarkable. You'll notice all the emphasis on the meaning and value of work? You know, if you thought Eden was a place where you sat around and did nothing, that's not the nature of it at all. In fact, one of the things that has to be understood in light of where we are going next week in Chapter 3 with the fall of humanity is to understand that work, meaningful, valuable work, is something on the good side of creation, not on the fall side of humanity. Work is good. It's the nature of man to work and to produce, to reproduce, to have dominion over the soil and the fields and the waters and the animals, and to be responsible for them and to participate.

Do you notice that we participate in creation? The language of creation, by the way applies, only to God. The verb create, bara, never has another subject than God. But there are lots of other words associated with create like make and stretch and form. There is about eight of them, and all of the rest of them man does. Do you notice that that's what happened? God made the world, and then he made us and he put us here to make things, and that creative nature of God comes out in the creative nature of humanity, and we help participate in creation. It's not a curse. It's a contribution. We get to make a contribution. In fact, it's man that does the work. God just creates the place, and then man names all the animals.

But notice also relationships. The very first thing that you have to notice here is that we have a relationship with God in which there is incredible freedom. Did you notice that in Chapter 2, Verse 9? The Lord God made all kinds of trees, and he put a tree of knowledge of good and evil and a tree of life in the garden. And he said to the man in Verse number 16, you can eat of anything that you want, you can have any tree that you'd like, except one. Don't eat of it. That's freedom. Man is free to choose. That's unlike any other part of creation.

You know, birds and animals fascinate me. I am utterly fascinated by those enormous eagles that fly out here and they land in these trees and they sit out here during the winter and then they go someplace else, but they don't wake up one day and say, I think I'll go somewhere. They just do it because it's instinctual. It's built into their system. They don't know anything else. They don't make choices about it. They just do it.

Man chooses what he does or doesn't do. We have been given enormous freedom, but we've also been given responsibility in that freedom to make right choices. You can have any tree that you want, but don't eat this one because if you eat this one there will be consequences. Choice always brings responsibility. It may be the greatest mistake a parent ever makes to give their children choice but never hold them accountable and responsible for the decisions.

God gives us choice. That's part of this placement. He puts us in a world. He gives us freedom, and yet he gives us boundaries. And we have a relationship with God. We are identical with the soil. We are made from the earth. We are humans, but we are not just like the animals. And therein is where our educational system has failed us. Please hear this. We are not just a higher grade of animal. In this text the ground receives something that no other part of creation receives. God breathes on it, and it becomes a living being. It has life, but it's a different kind of life, because it's a God given breath, and it creates in that person a soul. And God gave everything to man for his pleasure and his supply, and He wanted a wonderful relationship where everything was good.

And not only do you have work introduced and relationships introduced, you have marriage introduced. The only time in this entire text that anything is not good is when God says it is not good for a man to be alone. How many of you men would agree? Well, maybe I won't ask for a public show of hands. It could get you in trouble. And so what does he do? Well, you know, our response is he sends a wife. But that's not true. The first thing he does is he asks him to name all of the animals, and you can imagine after having looked at a hippopotamus and a giraffe the man saying, I'm sorry, but this just isn't going to work.

And so He causes him to have a deep sleep, and He takes a rib out of his side and He makes, the text says, a helper suitable for him. This is trite but true. The woman came from the side of man, not from his feet nor from his head. We are companions, and in scripture we are equals. This word for suitable, a helper suitable, that same language is used about God being a helper suitable for Israel. God is certainly not submissive or subservient or less than Israel. Nor is a woman less than or subservient to man, not in this text.

And so you have all of this culminating in one simple phrase in Chapter 2, Verse 25, "The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame." Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, the opening chapter of our story, ends with man innocent in the garden.

So what do we learn? We learn this. God is absolutely sovereign. He doesn't need us. He is totally self-sufficient. He is supreme. And yet the tension is this God who is absolutely sovereign is a God who desires a relationship with us. What do we learn? We learn that the world is good. Everything about creation was good. In fact, when he made us, it was very good, and yet it's not a Utopia. Eden was not a Utopian place because Eden had in it the possibility for evil. What do we learn? We learn that man has absolutely incredible value, the highest of creation. And yet man is not God. Man is man, and God is God. What do we learn? We learn that everything about creation is good and that God has created us and he has given us a meaningful abundant life.

Now, somewhere in the middle of all of this information about creation we have not mentioned someone rather significantly important. His name is Jesus. And while he is never mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2 in Genesis, he is most clearly there. Let "us" make man in "our" image. And so you hear in John Chapter 1 the parallel text in the new testament to the Genesis text in the old testament. "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. Nothing came into existence except through him, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us."

prior to the service if you were watching the screen, Colossians Chapter 1, Verses 15 and 16 were up there about the creator, and the creator in Colossians 1 is Jesus who holds all things together by the word of his power. And if you read Hebrews Chapter 1, Verses 1 through 3, you would discover that it was the word of God in Jesus that created the universe and brought it into being.

But there is another place I'd like to turn just briefly. Mark Chapter 1. See if any of this sounds familiar. Mark chapter 1, Verse 1. "The beginning." Sound familiar? Same word. "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the son of God." Now, drop down to Verse number 9. "At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened and the spirit descending on him like a dove."

Do you remember Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form and void and the spirit of God hovered over the waters." Just as Genesis 1 is the beginning of "the" story, Mark chapter 1 is the beginning of Jesus' story and how "the" story becomes the transforming story in the lives of humanity.

Genesis Chapter 1, Genesis Chapter 2 serve one fundamental purpose. Well, multiple purposes, but one reason that was written the way it was written was to confront the culture. There were lots of creation stories, a new elish, stories from this country and that country and this kind and that kind and God's coming into existence and being born. And God writes a story to confront those cultural statements, and I think Genesis 1 -- and the story confronts our world, too. You and I are living in an age where everybody is interested in spirituality, angels, demons, and life after death, and you just turn on your television programs and spirituality is everywhere, but nobody wants to talk about what it is or what it means.

The creation account, if you'll allow me to borrow this, is just one more form of something back in the old days called gnosticism. We think we know. It seems to be. We have a special knowledge. We're in on the elite information. And in our world what we are going to encounter when we confront culture with "the" story is a confrontation of a spirituality that our world will not like.

Because, you see, the spirituality of our world has no room in it for creation, because creation implies sovereignty and sovereignty implies submission, and we don't want a spirituality that causes us to be submissive to something. We want a spirituality that makes us feel good. The story of creation is going to confront the sin and immorality of our world, because the spirituality of our age wants nothing to do with guilt. We just want to feel good.

And the creation account, the story, the transforming story is going to be a problem for those who want just a spirituality, because a spirituality by contemporary terms means that I can be over here and you can be over there and never the twain do we ever have to meet because I live in my own elite little world over here. And the story is going to talk about service and equality, and, frankly, the spirituality of the 21st century wants nothing to do with the inconvenience of God. We want a spirituality that is of our own making with man as its highest value, and the story, the transforming story, the story of God, the story of creation is all about a God who holds us accountable and responsible for who we are.

Here is the story. Let me summarize it for you very quickly. The transforming story as God gives it is this: God is God. We are not. We need him, and the wonder is he wants us. He creates and he also recreates. See, that's the marvelous idea of a new beginning. Genesis 1 starts this way, "In the beginning God." Mark 1 starts, "This is the beginning of the gospel," the good news.

And today, today is January 1, the beginning of a new year. Is this a good time for you to start over, for you to make a decision to live the story, to experience the story, to have a new beginning where the creator recreates your life and makes it what it ought to be? That's what you're invited to. You don't even have to come up here and say that. You just need to make that decision right where you are, that 2006 is going to be a year of beginnings for you, new beginnings where you honor God and you respond in worship to everything he is and all that he has done.