April 8 - 14
Creation and the Second Coming
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: 2 Pet. 3:1-16; Isa. 65:17; Rev. 21:1; 22:1, 2, 13.
MEMORY TEXT: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last" (Revelation 22:13, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: Our concept of the origin of the world and life upon it affects our concepts of God and the Second Coming.
THE BIBLE AND THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION. The most popular theory of origin is the theory of evolution. It asserts that life on this earth evolved from matter by chance over a period of millions to billions of years. Some Christians (theistic evolutionists) accept the theory of evolution with modifications. They believe that life did not evolve by chance but that it came into being as a small cell by divine miracle and that life has evolved from that cell over long ages by God's direction.
The theory of evolution has brought about drastic changes in our view of the origin of life and in our moral values. Do we live by the golden rule or by the survival of the fittest? Acceptance of evolution even changes our view of salvation, why it was necessary, and what it accomplishes; and it destroys assurance in the Second Coming.
This week, let us keep in mind that a belief in a biblical Creation is essential for the certainty of the Second Coming. The purpose of Christ's coming is to restore humanity to its original state. Unless there were an original Creation of six literal consecutive days, as described in Genesis, there would be nothing to which to restore humanity.
How does the biblical concept of origins differ from the long evolutionary processes that we hear about today? Gen. 1:1-2:3; John 1:3; Col. 1:16, 17; Ps. 33:6, 9.
Though some interpreters wish to give the first eleven chapters of Genesis a figurative meaning, the rest of the Bible takes these chapters seriously. Christ and the New Testament writers referred to Adam as a historical figure (Matt. 19:4-6; Luke 3:38; Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45; 1 Tim. 2:13; Jude 14). They understood the Flood to be a literal event (Matt. 24:38, 39; 2 Pet. 2:5). The most radical critics, even though they do not take the Bible seriously, believe that the Bible writers thought they were recording a literal event.
The Creation account sets the stage for the relationship between God and His human creation. God and humankind were in face-to-face communion with each other.
Creation provides an important parallel to Christ's second coming when we will be restored to our original state and relationship with God. As you look up the following texts, write down in your own words what this restoration will mean. 1 Cor. 15:53, 54; Rev. 21:3.
The apostle Peter makes a connection between the Second Coming and Creation. In the last days scoffers will come saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2 Pet. 3:4, NKJV). They do not recognize that the same Word of God that brought about the Creation of the world will also bring about the events taking place at the Second Coming (2 Pet. 3:5-7).
"Before the Flood God sent Noah to warn the world, that the people might be led to repentance, and thus escape the threatened destruction. As the time of Christ's second appearing draws near, the Lord sends His servants with a warning to the world to prepare for that great event. Multitudes have been living in transgression of God's law, and now He in mercy calls them to obey its sacred precepts. All who will put away their sins by repentance toward God and faith in Christ are offered pardon."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 102.
|What connection do you make between Creation and the Second Coming? Do you long to be reunited with God face to face? How can you help others this week to meet Him?|
What does Peter warn the believers about, and what does he counsel them to do? 2 Pet. 3:15-18.
How would acceptance of theistic evolution affect what we think of the Bible? The evolutionary concept of origins calls the teachings of the Bible into question. Jesus, who Himself is the Truth, took Genesis and the rest of the Scriptures seriously; so should we. For example, if we have problems with the miracle of Creation, then we might also have problems with other biblical miracles such as the crossing of the Red Sea, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His second coming. If God either could not or did not act at the beginning of human history in the way described in Genesis 1 and 2, then why would we think that He will act to end human history by His second coming?
How does the promise of the creation of a new heaven and new earth affirm our faith in the doctrine of Creation and the Second Coming? Isa. 65:17; Rev. 21:1; 22:1, 2.
If Christ did not create by the word of His mouth, then why would we think that He will do so in the creation of a new earth and a new heaven? If we accept theistic evolution, we have already begun to question the biblical accounts and promises of God's miraculous activities.
Theistic evolution alters our concept of the nature of the Bible itself. It would lead to the idea that the Bible did not come by the Word of God to the prophet, but it came by social evolution. The Bible would be viewed as the evolving literature of many ancient Near Eastern societies. Over many generations and in many different social contexts various editors and schools of thought brought the pieces of literature together in the form in which we now find them in the Bible. According to this theory, the Bible is the result of human genius rather than the Word of God. This, however, is not so.
"The deepest students of science are constrained to recognize in nature the working of infinite power. But to man's unaided reason, nature's teaching cannot but be contradictory and disappointing. Only in the light of revelation [Scripture] can it be read aright."Education, p. 134.
|Recall times in your spiritual walk when God's revelation in the Scriptures helped you to view things in the right perspective. Why is such light so essential to guard you against Satan's deceptions?|
What do the following texts tell you about our Lord's characteristics?
Ps. 139:4 __________________________________________________________
John 16:30 _________________________________________________________
l John 4:7, 16 _______________________________________________________
Jude 25 ___________________________________________________________
Rev. 16:7 _________________________________________________________
God is not only a God of power and intelligence but also a God of love. Would a God of love drag His creation through such a long process of evolution with all the suffering that comes through the survival of the fittest-finally to bring forth a creature in His own image?
Some mistakenly suppose that if God is a God of love and power, maybe He is not very intelligent. After all, how smart could He be if only through the process of suffering could humanity be created? With theistic evolution, suffering is not the result of sin. Accordingly, since humanity came into being through a process of the survival of the fittest, it is implied that suffering is inherent in God's process of creation.
Another unacceptable possibility we are left with is that God is a God of love and intelligence, but lacking in power. The best that He could do was to create humankind through evolution. He could not bring us into being by the word of His mouth. Thus, we cannot choose the biblical notion of God as all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving and also hold the notion of theistic evolution.
Furthermore, theistic evolution raises questions about God's actions in history. If God operated only in the shadows of history while creating life, we must ask whether He will step decisively into history in the Second Coming. If He did not create us by the word of His mouth, will He re-create us in the resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming? Theistic evolution, in actuality, is stating either that God does not or cannot act in the way the Bible says He has acted in history.
|"Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God's wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which 'angels desire to look.' "The Desire of Ages, p. 19.|
How was humankind created? Gen. 2:7. How do you relate this creation to the resurrection and Christ's second coming? 1 Cor. 15:42-55.
The Bible presents Adam as one. The soul is not a separate entity; rather, it is an integral and indivisible part of what it is to be a living being.
Theistic evolution challenges this biblical concept of human nature. It does not allow our creation as a living soul. It states that we evolved from nothing over many years and were at some point given a soul. It teaches that the soul is an essence separate from us (that we are not a unity). Thus, room is left for the concept of the immortal soul and its preexistence.
At this point, the concept of theistic evolution is self-contradictory. First, it questions whether God steps into history at all and whether miracles actually take place. Then it states that some animal was infused with a soul and became a human. Is not the infusion of a soul, at some point in time, however, a historical and miraculous event? If so, why not simply accept the biblical account rather than create another?
Theistic evolution also raises questions about the resurrection. If God either cannot or does not create by simply uttering His creative word, why should He do so in a resurrection? Furthermore, if He does bring about a resurrection by the word of His mouth at the Second Coming, why not acknowledge His original creative act?
"These philosophers would make us believe that man, the crowning work of creation, came by slow degrees from the savage state, and that farther back, he was evolved from the race of brutes. They are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the universe, that they demean man, and defraud him of the dignity of his origin. Nature is exalted above the God of nature; she is idolized, while her Creator is buried up and concealed from sight by science falsely so-called.""Science and the Bible in Education," Ellen G. White Articles, The Signs of the Times (March 20, 1884), vol. 1, p. 419.
|Humans were originally created in God's image (Gen. 1:26, 27). How does this concept contrast with the evolutionary concept of human development? Many believe that humans are becoming better and better. Contrast this optimistic notion with the biblical concept of sin (2 Tim. 3:13). What blessings result from trusting God's Word and His plan in our creation and ultimate restoration?|
What does the Bible teach about the origin of sin and its effects upon all of humankind? Rom. 5:12, 14, 21; 6:23. How does this biblical concept contrast with the ideas of evolution?
The biblical concept of sin is called into question by theistic evolution. Accordingly, human beings did not fall from the image of God into sin, for they were never created in the image of God. Rather, they were and are evolving into the image of God.
If, perchance, theistic evolution accepts the biblical concept of sin, it must assert that humanity was created sinful in the process of evolution. If so, what might we be led to assume about a God who would create sinful human beings?
Such theory calls into question the biblical concept of the substitutionary death of Jesus. If we are in the process of progressive evolution, then there was no event of sin; and if there was not a fall into sin, then there is no need of a savior from sin. Jesus might play the role of a moral, visionary leader, a catalyst to speed up the process of progressive evolution, but not the role of our substitute, for no substitute would be needed.
What does the Scripture say about the basis of our salvation from sin? Rom. 5:6-11; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22; Heb. 2:9-18; 9:15, 16. How does the biblical teaching on salvation from sin and ultimate restoration contrast with evolutionary concepts?
The themes of the great controversy and the plan of salvation are crucially important to Seventh-day Adventist theology. Theistic evolution would reinterpret these themes: The great controversy would be played out in the process of evolution, rather than between Christ and Satan. The plan of salvation would be worked out as evolutionary progress, rather than as God's communication, presence, incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, sanctuary ministry, second coming, re-creation of the new earth, etc.
How would I regard myself and my role in life If I thought my origin were found apart from God? How would this vision of self affect my morals, my treatment of others, and my concept of the future? Compare your answers with those given as you regard yourself as a son or daughter of God, created in His image, restored to His image by His grace, and destined to eternal life in glory at His second coming.
FURTHER STUDY: Read the entire chapters of Genesis 1; Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15.
Read the chapter "Science and the Bible," in Education, pp. 128-134.
Adventism will not be Adventism if it accepts theistic evolution. We must always affirm our faith in the active God who created by the word of His mouth and who communicated through the prophets and apostles. The Savior who lived among us, died in our place, and was resurrected and ascended to minister for us in the heavenly sanctuary. Our Lord will return the second time to receive us unto Himself, will bring about the resurrection of the dead and the recreation of the new earth, and will finally destroy sin. This is the God we worship. We worship the God of Creation, a personal God who desires to fellowship with us, dwell among us, and finally receive us into His eternal kingdom of glory.
"The warnings of the word of God regarding the perils surrounding the Christian church belong to us today. As in the days of the apostles men tried by tradition and philosophy to destroy faith in the Scriptures, so today, by the pleasing sentiments of higher criticism, evolution, spiritualism, theosophy, and pantheism, the enemy of righteousness is seeking to lead souls into forbidden paths.... The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God's word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives."The Acts of the Apostles, p. 474.
SUMMARY: We do not need to reinterpret the biblical concept of the Second Coming and the New Earth. The Bible teaches us that God did break into history in Creation, and He surely will do so in a literal, visible second coming. He did create by the word of His mouth, and He will re-create in the resurrection. He did originally create the Garden of Eden, and He will re-create the new earth. Thank God we can have hope in the future Second Coming, because God is our Creator and Redeemer!
Mr. Eae (ee) couldn't wait to share with his neighbors what he was learning about the living God, who hears and answers prayers. Soon four families in his village in Cambodia were meeting together in a tiny house to worship. The group continued to grow, and soon they needed a larger place to worship.
As they began searching for suitable land on which to build a church, they realized that all the suitable land in or near their village had been claimed and built upon. The only land not already claimed was low land which often was under water during the rainy season.
There remained one place where no one had built. It was the highest land in the area and was located at the edge of the village. No one had built on the land because a spirit lived in the banyan tree on the property. The land belonged to one of the new believers, who suggested, "Let's ask God to chase the spirit away so we can build the church there." The believers agreed.
The following morning the men gathered around the little spirit house that stood in front of the banyan tree. They sang praises to God and claimed God's promise to "resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7, 8, NIV). They moved the spirit house to the foot of the hill, where the other villagers could still worship at it. Then they leveled the ground and built a temporary chapel from palm thatch.
Before they could build a permanent church, the group had to get permission from several government leaders in the area. The village chief willingly agreed, but the district officer, a strong Buddhist, refused. The believers asked their district pastor to appeal to the officer on their behalf, but still the man refused. "I do not want any other religion, especially Christianity, to come into this district," the official said. "Buddhism is the state religion; it has served the people for centuries. Why should I allow this foreign religion to disrupt the peace in the area? Besides, what can a small group of Christians contribute to the happiness of the people here?"
Nothing the believers or the pastor said convinced the official to change his mind. All the believers could do was pray.
(Continued next week)
Khut Chouen works in the Cambodian Mission.
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