A Few Thoughts on Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. ~ Genesis 1:1 ~
This simple statement is staggering in its implications. It provides us with a wealth of information. A series of affirmations and denials can be derived from it that has a bearing not only on theology, but also anthropology, philosophy, history, science, and ethics. In fact, there is no area of human thought that ought not presuppose the truths contained in it.
(1) The statement denies atheism, not so much by affirming as by assuming the existence of God.[1]
(2) It denies polytheism in all its forms and teaches instead the existence of one eternal God, the Creator and Lord of all.
(3) It denies pantheism and affirms the existence of God before and apart from the heavens and the earth.
(4) It denies emanationism[2] and affirms instead that all things were made by a purposeful act of divine will.
(5) It denies eternality to the cosmos and affirms its beginning.
(6) It denies that the universe exists necessarily and affi…

Christianity and Science

Conventional wisdom has it that there is interminable conflict between Christianity and science, that the two are irreconcilable. The conflict thesis—as this idea is called—was touted in two widely influential books written in the second half of the 19th century:  History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) by John William Draper and History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896) by Andrew White Dickson. Draper, for instance, wrote:
The history of Science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other.[1]
The tale goes something like this: The theoretical foundations for science were laid by the ancient Greeks when they began the project of seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena instead of resorting to explanations involving the activity of…

Complete in Christ

In his letter to the Colossians, in which Paul takes great pains to tell his readers that nothing needs to be added to what Christ has done for our redemption, he writes, “In him you have been made complete” (Col. 2:10). We are complete in Christ because of who he is and because of what he has done for us.
Who is Jesus? He is a man like no other. He is quite literally in a class all by himself. People sometimes speak of the world’s great religious leaders and mention Jesus along with the likes of Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius, Zoroaster, Gandhi, and even Abraham and Moses. But when they speak this way, they are not speaking accurately. Why? Because Jesus is utterly unique. These other men were only men—fallen, sinful human beings like the rest of us. Jesus, on the other hand, is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). He is the divine Word made flesh (Jn. 1:1, 14). He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb. 1:3). He is the Son of God (Mk. 1:1). Th…

The Ascension of Christ

The ascension is perhaps the most overlooked and underappreciated event in the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection figure prominently in evangelical preaching, as well they should. But why is so little attention given to the Ascension, especially since the subject is mentioned so frequently in Scripture? Jesus foretold it (e.g., Jn. 6:62; 14:12; 16:5ff; 20:17); Mark and Luke record it as a historical event (Mk. 16:19; Lk. 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11); and both Paul and the writer of Hebrews explain its implications (e.g., Eph. 1:20-23; 4:8-10; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:3; 4:14; 9:24). Why then is such scant attention given to it today? I can only assume it’s because its significance is not well understood. What a pity! There are few things that demonstrate the glory of Christ quite like the ascension. It’s one of the greatest honors the Father has been pleased to confer upon the Son. Luke recounts it briefly:
And when he had said these things, as th…

The Resurrection of Christ and the New Creation

The apostle John begins his account of our Lord’s resurrection by telling us that it occurred on “the first day of the week” (20:1). In fact, all four Evangelists introduce their respective narratives of the resurrection by telling us this. I find this to be very interesting. Rather than emphasizing the fact that it was the third day after the crucifixion, they emphasize that it was the first day of the week. Of course both are true, but it’s the latter they emphasize.
I find this interesting because Jesus had said on several occasions that he would be crucified “and after three days rise again” (Mk. 8:31).[1] We might have expected that at least one of the Gospels would have begun the narrative of the resurrection by saying, “Now on the third day after he was crucified…” This would have tied in very nicely with all that Jesus had said beforehand and would have emphasized the fulfillment of his word. But none of them mentions the fact directly, only that it was the first day of the wee…

The earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord

I noticed something interesting today in the book of Numbers that I hadn’t seen before (even though I’ve read the book, who knows how many times?), namely, the Lord swears by the fact that the earth will be filled with his glory:  “Truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord…” (14:21).
In Psalm 72, we find the idea stated as a petition:  “May the whole earth be filled with his glory!” (v. 19) This is something I find myself praying for on a regular basis. As a petition, it might seem as if there is an element of contingency implied. In Habakkuk, however, we find it stated as a fact:  “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (2:14; cf. Isa. 11:9).
What is noteworthy in Numbers is the strengthened certainty of the fact by the unique oath formula. It is so certain that the Lord himself swears by it. We frequently find the formula, “As I live, declares the Lord,” meaning, “As certainly as I li…

Who do you say he is?

At one point during his ministry Jesus asked the twelve, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They reported that some claimed he was John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the other prophets risen from the dead. Then he posed the question directly to them, “Who do you say that I am?”
This is THE question in the New Testament—the question of Jesus’ identity. Is he the Christ, the Son of the Living God? Or is he a fraud, an impostor? Or maybe it was as some in his own only family had thought, that he was delusional.
There are still many differences of opinion today. Some people say he was an ordinary rabbi who was misunderstood by the twelve; that they made claims for him that he never made for himself; that they put words in his mouth he never spoke; that he never claimed to be the Messiah or the Son of God, but in their zeal for him they made grand and exaggerated claims on his behalf.
Some people say that he did in fact make the claims the Bible says he made, but that he was somet…