June 26 - July 2
God the Creator
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 1, 2; John 1:1-18; 14:16-28; 16:5-16.
MEMORY TEXT: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: The divine unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is reflected in the Creation, God's acts in the past, present, and future help us understand where we come from, who we are, and where we are going.
UNITY IN CREATOR AND CREATION. People are interested in their roots and backgrounds. They want to know about their origins, for that has an impact on their present experience and future destiny. They are proud of their lineage and heritage, which helps them to have an anchor and a connection to their world.
Yet regardless of their lineage, heritage, gender, race, education, or position in life, their glorious origin is found in God Himself. In recounting the genealogy of Jesus, Luke concludes the list with this striking verse, "the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God" (3:38, NKJV). People originate from God and belong to Him by Creation and redemption. This is the sure basis for true human worth, meaning, and destiny and also the sure basis for unity and communion with God and with one another.
Although as humans we are different, living in a diverse world, yet we all find our unity in God, our Creator.
What can we learn about God from the following texts?
Isa. 45:5, 6 ___________________________________________________________
John 17:3 ____________________________________________________________
1 Cor. 8:4-6 __________________________________________________________
The God of Israel testifies: "I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God" (Isa. 44:6, NIV). In contrast to the nations around them, Israel's confession of faith, called the "Shema," testifies that there is one divinity. "Hear, 0 Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Deut. 6:4, NKJV). Jesus also emphasizes divine unity. He begins His comments on the greatest commandments by quoting the Shema (Mark 12:29).
What do these references from Genesis tell us about the nature of the one God? "Gen. 1:2, 26; 3:22; 11:7.
There seems to be a tension between Paul's statement that "there is no God but one" (1 Cor. 8:4, NIV) and that there is one Spirit, one Lord, and "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4:4-6). Consider also his reference to "one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).
However, reference to Jesus as mediator does not contradict His divinity any more than His reference to Himself as God's unique Son contradicts it. The Jews sought to kill Him because they understood this to be a claim of equality with God (John 5:18). The apostle Paul also regarded Christ as equal with God and therefore divine (Phil. 2:6). Similarly, reference to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Father and of the Son (Gal. 4:4, 6) makes Him the divine Spirit. The Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together constitute divinity.
What relationship do you see between the Godhead and creation? John 1:1-3, 14; 14:16, 17.
The Bible distinguishes God from His creation. Yet He has not abandoned it, for He sustains and directs it. The Bible presents the Creator as active within creation through the Father, the Son, and the Spirit (John 5:17; 14:16, 17).
How can the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be equal and yet different? 1 Pet. 1:2; John 20:28; Acts 5:3, 4.
The Bible presents the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as equally divine yet distinct Persons. Christ is the express image of the Father's Person (Heb. 1:3), but He is not the Person of the Father. The Holy Spirit reflects the Son and the Father, but He is Himself a divine Person. "There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons."—SDA Fundamental Belief, 2.
How do titles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit indicate their equality? Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-3; 2 Cor. 3:16-18; 11:31.
Titles that are used primarily for one divine Person are often attributed to the other divine Persons as well. According to the Gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word ... and the Word was God. ... All things were made through Him" (1:1-3, NKJV). This echoes words from the book of Genesis: "In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth" (1:1). This suggests that the title Elohim, which is used for God in the Old Testament, also applies to Christ through whom all things were created. This is confirmed by the use of this title, as well as the word Father, to refer to Christ in the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6. The sharing of divine titles may explain why Jesus referred to the singular name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the baptismal formula. Paul uses the titles God and Father interchangeably (2 Cor. 11:31). Christ and the Spirit are also referred to as Lord (2 Cor. 3:14-18).
How does Scripture describe the creative activity of the three Persons of the Godhead?
The Father (Gen. 2:7; Ps. 102:25; 1 Cor. 8:6) ________________________________________
The Son (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2) _____________________________________________
The Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; 33:4; Isa. 40:12, 13) ___________________________________
Explain the significance of what John 14:10 says about the relationship between the Father and the Son?
Scripture describes each divine Person of the Godhead as having a unique role in His relationship of mutual indwelling. While the Father is not the Son, yet the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father (John 14:10). Thus Jesus says: "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father" (John 14:9, Contemporary English Version). Jesus says that the Father sends the Son and the Spirit (John 14:24, 26). The Son sends the Spirit (John 15:26). Jesus gave Himself (John 6:51), yet He was given by the Father (John 3:16) and by the Spirit (Matt. 1:18, 20). The same is true when Paul writes of Jesus Christ: "through whom are all things and through whom we exist" (1 Cor. 8:6, RSV). The Father's work in Creation is also described by the word through (Rom. 11:36; Heb. 2:10). Distinct roles of the three divine Persons may be described in similar words.
Explain how creation reflects the unity and diversity of the Creator? Gen. 1:26, 27; 3:22; Mal. 2:10.
Sinful human beings tend to overlook the important distinction between the creation and the Creator. This leads to the worship of creation rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:20-25). While sin distorts God's creation, it does not completely destroy the revelation of God in creation.
All things exist in a network of relationships. The world is shaped in part by what human beings make of it. The image of God in creation includes a diversity of human individuals united by relationships. This reflects the fact that God is a Person experiencing time and space. He said: "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26, KJV). The plural image of male and female is simply "God's image" (Gen. 1:27). Concerning human relations in general, Malachi asks: "Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?" (2:10, NIV).
|As you read this statement, contemplate God's glorious plan for you to reflect His image now and for eternity: "When Adam came from the Creator's hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. ... It was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal his image. ... All his faculties were capable of development."—Education, p. 15.|
What does Revelation 1:8 tell us about God and how He views the past, the present, and the future?
The present and future nature of reality is determined in part by its past history. God is Lord of time and eternity. The past is the divinely sustained womb from which our present is birthed. The present is the gift of Christ, in whom all things consist (Col. 1:17). The future is a promise through the Spirit (Rom. 8:23, 24).
The unity of time in the past, present, and future reflects the unity of God and His eagerness to bring all things to culmination. The whole creation has been groaning for future restoration and for the manifestation of all the redeemed at the Second Coming (Rom. 8:19, 23). We, too, who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we eagerly wait for our adoption as children of God and the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:21-24).
It is interesting to note that the unity among the divine Persons is also evident in the use of the terms adoption and redemption in connection with the Spirit. The Bible also refers to adoption and redemption by the Father and the Son (Isa. 63:16; Heb. 9:12; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). Moreover, the future is described in terms of the Father. For when the controversy between good and evil is over, Christ will subject Himself to His Father and God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).
How does God act in history? How did He act in the past? How does He act in the present? How will He act in the future? 1 Cor. 10:14; 2 Cor. 5:19; Acts 1:11.
Scripture records the mighty acts of God as the Creator, Sustainer, Deliverer, and as the One who intervenes within history. "All through the pages of sacred history, where the dealings of God with His chosen people are recorded ... the glory of God was manifested through Christ. Not alone at the Saviour's advent, but through all the ages after the fall and the promise of redemption 'God was in Christ.' "—That I May Know Him, p. 102.
In the midst of history, God had acted in a special way in the incarnation of Christ (2 Cor. 5:19), who was active with the Father and the Spirit in the original Creation (John 1:1-3). This same Jesus (Acts 1:11) promised to return in history (John 14:1-3) in the glory of His Father (Matt. 16:27) and the Spirit to inaugurate a new creation in history (2 Pet. 3:13).
Naturalism may be defined as the teaching that scientific laws and observations are sufficient to explain all reality without the supernatural. Why can't naturalism explain the unity of God's acts in the past, present, and future of creation? 2 Pet. 3:4-7.
Scripture teaches that God sustains His creation moment by moment and that He has a goal for creation, which includes the restoration of its original perfection. Yes, the creation is subject to futility because of sin. But God will act decisively. When sin is eliminated, fallen creation will come to an end. The creation of God will be restored when sin and sinners are no more.
If we reject the miracles of the original creation and its present sustenance, we are likely also to reject the miracle of its future recreation. God's Word guarantees the actions of God. The apostle Peter writes that as the world was created by the Word of God, so its future is determined by that same Word (2 Pet. 3:5-7).
God created human beings for face-to-face communion with Himself. This communion was interrupted by sin but will be restored at the end (Rev. 21:3). Christ promised to send to the church the Holy Spirit, who would continue His work there. Neither Creation, the church, nor the future re-creation to come can be explained by natural law independent of God. The Scripture is essential to the understanding of Creation.
Why was the Bible given to us? 2 Tim. 3:16; Isa. 8:20.
|As you reflect on the lesson for today, how
does this statement encourage you to put your full trust in God and His
word? "God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the
Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the
basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the
deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical
councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they
represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all
of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of
religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we
should demand a plain 'Thus saith the Lord' in its support.
"Satan is constantly endeavoring to attract attention to man in the place of God. He leads the people to look to bishops, to pastors, to professors of theology, as their guides, instead of searching the Scriptures ... for themselves."—The Great Controversy, p. 595.
FURTHER STUDY: For further insight on God's relation to His creation, read Job, chapters 38-41, and Patriarchs and Prophets, "The Creation," pp. 44-51.
"In dwelling upon the laws of matter and the laws of nature, many lose sight of, if they do not deny, the continual and direct agency of God. They convey the idea that nature acts independently of God, having in and of itself its own limits and its own powers wherewith to work. In their minds there is a marked distinction between the natural and the supernatural. The natural is ascribed to ordinary causes, unconnected with the power of God. ...
"This is false science; there is nothing in the word of God to sustain it. God does not annul His laws, but He is continually working through them using them as His instruments. ... Nature in her work testifies of the intelligent presence and active agency of a being who moves in all His works according to His will. ...
"The mechanism of the human body cannot be fully understood; it presents mysteries that baffle the most intelligent. It is not as the result of a mechanism, which, once set in motion, continues its work, that the pulse beats and breath follows breath. In God we live and move and have our being. Every breath, every throb of the heart, is a continual evidence of the power of an ever-present God."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 259,260.
SUMMARY: The triune God, who was, is, and is to come, created, sustains, and will consummate all things through the Son by the Holy Spirit. God holds the past, the present, and the future in His hands. The reality of Creation is illuminated by the revelation of the triune nature of God. We have assurance of these things because of the sure Word of God, the Bible.
J. H. Zachary
Eugene Again turned to his friend Serge Kolinsky. "We must return to Votinsk (voh-TINSK)!"
Serge also had been thinking about the new believers the two had brought to Christ in Votinsk. "I am eager to see our brothers and sisters and to be sure that they are remaining faithful to God," Serge agreed.
Eugene, 20, and Serge, 19, had spent several months working as Global Mission pioneers in Votinsk, a city some 550 miles from their home town of Nizhni Novogrod (NEECH-nee NOV-oh-grod) in the Russian Federation. They had raised up a small group of believers and yearned to visit their new brothers and sisters and encourage them.
They had no money for train tickets, so they borrowed two bicycles and set out for Votinsk. The snows of winter had given way to spring rams, making the journey difficult. They stopped frequently to inflate a leaky tire, and their ration of bread and cheese ran out before they reached their destination, but the boys pressed on. Finally, after more than four days, they arrived in Votinsk.
Word of their arrival spread quickly among their friends; that evening the new believers greeted their former Bible teachers with love. With joy the two youthful missionaries noted that the entire group of believers had not only remained faithful, but were reaching out to others.
Eugene and Serge spent two weeks visiting and nurturing the believers in Votinsk. And even though the trip home took nearly a week, they were grateful for the chance to encourage the new believers.
Serge and Eugene have been assigned to a town not quite so far away, where they are seeking out interests to start a new church.
The Quiet Hour has sponsored hundreds of Global Mission pioneers such as Eugene and Serge, who enter cities throughout the former Soviet Union to study the Bible with interested people and plant churches. These dedicated workers usually remain for a year, teaching and nurturing the new believers. When properly grounded, these new believers remain firmly in the church when the pioneers move on.
Eugene Again and Serge Kolinsky (left). J. H. Zachary is evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour in Redlands, California.
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