God Created the Heavens & the Earth

The Creation of God

John MacArthurin-the-beginning7Audio Link: http://www.gty.org/MediaPlayer/sermons/90-213

This is the first time I’ve really gone verse by verse through the account of creation.  Obviously, I’ve studied it through the years and, of course, writing the notes for the Study Bible as well, going into it in some depth.  But this is the first time for me, so I’m sharing with you as I go.  And that’s the richest way to do it actually.

Now, as we come to Genesis chapter 1, we come to that now very familiar verse to us.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and that answers the questions of origin.  The heavens and the earth, which was a Jewish phrase substituting for the absence of a word for universe by which they described the universe.  And it answers the question of origin.  “In the beginning God created the universe.”  Now, we’ve been adding to that as we’ve been working our way into the text of Genesis a little bit.  And let me sum up what the Word of God in Genesis teaches about origin.  It is really unmistakable.  It is plain language.  There is an inescapable account here in Genesis telling us about the origin of the universe.

And, summing it up, this is what it says.  The eternal God, at some point in the past, created out of nothing, without preexisting material, the universe as it is now in six solar days.  He captures creation on the sixth day by creating man in His own image.  That is intelligent, with personality, with self-consciousness and cognition, or the ability to think and reason.  This creation occurred in six days.  The seventh day it was over, and God rested from creating.  It occurred about 6000 years ago, and the entire creation was mature and aged at the instant of its creation.  At the time of creation, death did not exist.  In fact, no corrupting influence of any kind existed.  And that’s why God looked at His creation and said, “It is very good.”  There was no death.  There was no corrupting influence.  Therefore, there couldn’t have been any animals dying, any plants dying.  There couldn’t have been any kind of natural selection process going on.  There couldn’t have been any survival of the fittest because everything survived in that perfect creation.

Death and corruption entered the creation for the first time when Adam and Eve sinned and disobeyed God.  Then came death and then came corruption.  But that is described in chapter 3 and has nothing to do with the six days of creation.  Later on, after the fall, the surface of the now-cursed earth was reshaped drastically by a worldwide flood.  It was so deep that it completely covered the mountains all over the face of the earth.  It was that cataclysmic world flood that drastically reshaped the surface of the earth, which also deposited fossil beds all over the globe.  That flood wiped out all humanity, with the exception of eight people and the animals in Noah’s ark.  They alone were the survivors.

Now that is the Genesis record of origin…creation, the fall, the flood reshaping cataclysmically the face of the now corrupted cursed earth.  Great judgment falls on all of humanity so that only eight survive.  All of us then are the descendants of those eight.  Noah, his three sons, Noah’s wife and their wives.  That is the Genesis record.

And let me say something to you that maybe you can just kind of file in your permanently useful file.  Science is not a hermeneutic for interpreting Genesis.  Or, for that matter, for interpreting any other portion of Scripture.  Science is not a hermeneutic.  It is not a principle of interpretation.  The Bible does not bow to science.  The accuracy of the Genesis text is no different than the accuracy of any other portion of Scripture.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.  All Scripture is God-breathed.  All Scripture comes not by any private interpretation, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus summed it up when he said, “Thy Word is truth.”  The Bible is true whether you’re talking about Revelation and eschatological prophecy or whether you’re talking about Genesis and historic origins.  The Bible is true whether you’re talking the history of Israel or the history of the Canaanites.  The Bible is true whether you’re talking about salvation or sanctification, whether you’re talking about the life of Jesus or the theology of Jesus.  Whatever the Bible says is absolutely true.  And the Bible is as true in Genesis as it is anywhere else and everywhere else.

Furthermore, since origins are not repeatable, they are outside the realm of science.  Since origins were not observable, since there was only one there and that was God, no one can comment on origins but God.  And so what you have in Genesis is the only and accurate firsthand eyewitness account of origins by the Creator, Himself.  Now, in spite of that very clear-cut approach to the Word of God, many people, including Christians, have turned to science and turned to scientists who speak authoritatively on Genesis.

In fact, there are theologians, many of them, bible commentators, pastors, well-known, popular pastors and preachers, some of whom you would even know, who deny the Genesis account.  They flatly deny the Genesis account because they accept evolutionary science to one degree or another.  I’ve said this to you all the way along, and I’ll repeat it again without going into all the verification.  Science has proven nothing that negates the Genesis record.  In fact, the Genesis record is what answers the mystery of science.  But, sadly, Christians and Christian theologians, bible commentators, Christian college professors, as well as pastors and teachers, have denied the Genesis account, being intimidated by science.

Now, there is one book.  There is one book that comments on Genesis, of great note.  One book that I would say is absolutely authoritative, and it’s the only authoritative book.  One true, infallible, inerrant, authoritative commentary that has been written on Genesis.  One unarguable divine book, one heavenly inspired commentary on Genesis that speaks with absolute authority, is to be unchallenged in its truthfulness.  And, frankly, for me, this Book forever settles the issue of the accuracy of Genesis.  What Book is it?  It’s the New Testament.  It’s the New Testament.

It was not written by any scientist and not even by a creation scientist.  It was not written by theologians or a theologian.  It was written by simple men, who were given the words to write by God, Himself, so that the Creator is the author.  You have in Genesis the account of the creation.  You have, in the New Testament, the Creator’s inspired commentary on the Genesis record.  If you go to the New Testament, you will find there is an affirmation there of six-day creation.  There is an affirmation of divine fiat, or instantaneous creation.  There is an affirmation of man being made in the image of God, an affirmation of Adam being created and then Eve.  There is an affirmation of the fall there in very specific terms.  There is an affirmation of the flood there in very specific terms.  There is an affirmation of Noah and the surviving family of Noah.  All of the Genesis record is very carefully referred to by the inspired New Testament.

Hubert Thomas, in his French book on Genesis 1 to 11, in the introduction, writes this, “In effect, three main points are demonstrated by reading the list we provide.  These three points confirm that the New Testament can in no case whatsoever be appealed to in order to sustain any sort of evolutionary theory.”  He’s absolutely right.  You can’t find anything about evolution in Genesis.  It’s not there.  You can’t find it anywhere in the Old Testament and you can’t find anywhere in the New Testament where, commenting on Genesis, somebody casts it into an evolutionary light or into the light of legend or fantasy or some kind of poetic license.

And then Thomas goes on to give three reasons.  “First, without exception, references to creation and especially the citations of Genesis 1 to 11 point to historical events.  They are no different than the historical death of the Lord Jesus Christ on Golgotha.  As far as the New Testament is concerned, creation ex nihilo…that is out of nothing…and the creation of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, as far as the New Testament is concerned there is no legend and no parable.  All deal with persons and events of historical and universal significance.”

“Secondly,” writes Thomas, “without exception creation is always mentioned as a unique event which took place at a particular moment in past time,” not something that’s going on all the time, as is the theory of evolution.  He further says, “Creation took place, it was finished.  Events occurred which corrupted the world, and now it awaits a new creation which will take place in the future at a given moment.”

“Thirdly,” Thomas says, “recitations of creation given in Genesis 1 to 3 are considered in the New Testament to be literally true, historical and of surpassing importance.  The New Testament doctrine based on these citations, out of Genesis 1 to 3, would be without any validity and even erroneous if the events of Genesis were not historically true.  For example, consider the entry of sin into the world.  If Adam were not the head of the whole human race, then Jesus Christ, the last Adam, is not the head of the new creation,” end quote.  He’s referring to Romans where it says as in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.  And clearly the New Testament writer, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw sin and death enter the world through the very historic man, Adam, and through his very historic act of disobedience.

And so, that sort of sums up the issue for us.  The New Testament makes no small number of references to Genesis and to creation.  And it does so very naturally.  It doesn’t…it doesn’t come across affected.  It doesn’t come across as sort of incredulous.  It doesn’t come across saying, “Oh I know this is hard to believe and I know you’re going…you’re going to really have a tough time swallowing this, but this is how it is.”  It doesn’t do that.  There is no attempt to defend, no attempt to explain somebody’s incredulity, it’s simply stated as fact.

Now, for example, Matthew 13:35, “I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world,” indicating there was a point in time when the world was founded.  Mark 13:19, “For in those days shall be affliction such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created.”  John 1:3, “All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.”  That is there alone a verse that would immediately cancel the creation of anything by chance by some random process.  Everything made was made by God.

Acts 4:24, “Lord, Thou art God which has made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them.”  That’s as comprehensive as you can say it.  Acts 14:15, “That you should turn from these vanities, these idols under the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all things that are therein.”  Everything, the heaven, the earth, the sea and everything that inhabits all of that.  Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of Him…that is of God…from the creation of the world are clearly seen.”  Second Corinthians 4:6, “For God…and we studied this last Sunday night…who commanded the light to shine out of darkness.”  That’s exactly what He did on day one.  He commanded the light to shine out of darkness.

Colossians 1:16, “By Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, all things were created by Him and for Him.”  Hebrews 1:10, “And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the works of Thine hands.”  And we’re going to see that a little later on day two.  Hebrews 11:3, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.”  He spoke them into existence so that those things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  That’s ex nihilo.  He created things which are seen but they weren’t made from anything which existed before.

In Matthew 19 Jesus said, “Have you not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female?”  Again, speaking of mankind as being the direct result of the creative act of God.  Acts 17:26 says, “God has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth and has determined the times before appointed in the bounds of their habitation.”  He is the creator of all the nations of men.  First Corinthians 11:8 and 9, “For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man, neither was the man created for the woman but the woman for the man.”  Again created.  First Timothy 2:13 and 14, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”  Romans 5:14 takes us to the fall, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses.”  Romans 5:17, “By one man’s sin, Adam’s, death reigned by one.”  First Corinthians 15:21, “Since by man came death”…by man meaning Christ…“came the resurrection from the dead.”

And I remind you again of 2 Peter 3:5 and 6, how that Peter refers to the flood and even to the pre-shaped world when it was engulfed in water, when he says that, “By the Word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of the water and in the water,” and so forth as we noted last time.  Ephesians 3:9, “The mystery which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God who created all things by Jesus Christ.”  James 3:9, “Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men which are made after the similitude of God.”  Again, God is the One who made man in His image.

Revelation 4:11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for Thou hast created all things and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”  Revelation 10:6, “And swear by Him that lives forever and ever who created heaven and the things that therein are and the earth and the things that therein are, and the sea and the things that therein are.”  Revelation 14:7, “Worship Him that made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of waters.”  Romans 1:25, “Man worships and serves the creature more than the Creator.”  And so it goes.  Hebrews 2:10, “It became Him for whom are all things and by whom are all things.”  And so it goes.  Over and over and over and over in the New Testament creation account is referred to.

Now as we have been saying, evolution has been introduced really as an atheistic alternative, as a godless alternative.  And evolution demands irrational faith in impotent chance.  Evolution can’t happen.  It is impossible.  It has been proven by science that it can’t happen, as we saw, because of DNA, genetic code information systems.  Creation is rational faith in Almighty God.  Evolution is irrational faith in impotent chance.  Evolution is…is really naturalism.  Any sort of evolution is a form of naturalism.

Naturalism believes that God exists only in the mind of non-intellectuals, only in the mind of low-level religious people.  Naturalism says nature is all there is.  That’s really all there is.  And that is virtually the assumption that underlies all natural science.  It underlies all naturalistic, humanistic philosophy.  It underlies all intellectual work.  It underlies all morality, or better, immorality.  In other words, the underpinning of our entire culture is this idea of nature is all there is.

If naturalism is true, then man created God, God didn’t create man.  And belief in God is nothing more than a groundless superstition, and more importantly, since it is a superstition, we don’t have to listen to anything in the foolish Bible, certainly not the Ten Commandments, the moral laws, and so forth.  So, we aren’t interested in what religious people think.  They’re a threat.  They’re non-intellectuals.  They’re…they’re more than a bother.  They intrude on our moral freedom.  In fact, we don’t even talk about morality anymore.  We just talk about rights and values, don’t we?  Rights and values.  And rights and values are to be decided on by every individual.

People don’t do wrong because of sin.  With all…in the wake of all this massacre up in Littleton, Colorado, you haven’t heard anybody talking about sin.  People don’t do wrong because of sin.  They do wrong because somehow they overextended their rights.  Somehow they had warped values.  They are psychologized rather than theologized.  There is no Creator, there is no moral law, there is no moral judge.  There is no purpose for life.  There is no reason for life except to get through it as happy as you can.  There is no destiny.  And there is no true theology.  Folks, I want to take you there ‘cause that’s the most important thing.  There is, in a naturalist’s world, the humanist’s world, the evolutionary world, no true theology.  So a theologian is really a useless interruption.  In fact, they would probably hope that theologians are so low on the evolutionary chain as to be unable to survive.  There’s no such thing as a true theology because there’s no such thing as a true God.

The issue for evolutionists is not that Genesis is not believable.  It’s just a simple, straightforward account.  It’s not that they want to argue about whether Genesis is true or not, I mean that…they’ve already won that battle.  And that’s why I’m going back there.  Listen, they’ve already convinced most of the Christian world that Genesis isn’t true.  They have successfully attacked with their relentless theories and scientific illusions and sleight of hand and misrepresentation.  They have successfully attacked Genesis and gotten most of the evangelical Christian world to believe that Genesis is not a true account.  But that’s not really…they’re just not trying to debunk Genesis.  I mean, that in itself doesn’t gain them much ground.

The real issue with evolutionists is that if God created man and cares so greatly about what he does as to identify eternal consequences for his behavior, that is a serious threat to their sinful pleasures.  The naturalistic evolutionist hates God and loves sin.  Sometime you should read Paul Johnson’s book, the historian’s book on the Intellectuals.  Read the…read the biographies.  It’s absolutely riveting reading, the biographies of the people who shaped western society.  They were perverse, to put it mildly, in their own personal lives.  The naturalist hates God and loves sin.  The theistic evolutionist who wants to bring evolution and impose it on Genesis and kind of marry it up with God, he will say he loves God and he will say he hates sin, but he actually loves God a little and his academic reputation a lot.

Now let me tell you something, and I’m not blowing my own horn.  It just so happens that it does refer to me.  The governing discipline in the world, the governing discipline in the world, the governing discipline in the matter of life on this planet, the most important realm of thought, the most important arena of understanding is not science.  Did you hear that?  Now you would think it was.  You would think it was.  That’s what our whole society goes back to all the time.  And what do we do?  I picked up three magazines this afternoon to read them, Newsweek, Time magazine.  One of them had some kind of a missing link on the cover.  The other one promised on the pages on the inside to show the difference in the brain makeup of a criminal from a normal person, and it had some kind of photographs of some medical analysis of brain patterns.  And then the discussion is all about the processes of evolution that lead to or away from that kind of behavior.

Listen, the queen of sciences in our world today, in the sense of knowledge is naturalistic science.  They’re supposed to have all the answers for everything and the fact is they don’t.  The governing discipline in the matter of life in the universe at every single point is not science.  The governing discipline is theology.  The only way you will ever understand the universe, the only way you will ever understand the history of man, the only way you will ever understand behavior and why people do what they do, the only way you will ever understand the flow of life and where we came from and where we’re going is when you understand a true theology, the only way you’ll ever understand it.

We cannot then allow our theology to vacate its throne at the beginning of the Bible and take a footstool while science ascends the throne.  Science and every other discipline, every other realm or arena or sphere or paradigm of human thought bows to the king of all disciplines.  And the king of all disciplines is a true theology, and a true theology is a theology that comes from the Word of God.  Theologians aren’t respected today.  That’s tragic.  And in some measure they’re not respected because they’ve jettisoned their position.  Theologians aren’t respected who hold their ground because they’re the enemy.

There’s a concerted effort to paint them as non-intellectuals, people who are bound up in superstition and fantasy.  But every one of you, as a Christian…and I am going to elevate you, you don’t even have to take any classes.  I’m going to do this to you just…you are all theologians.  And I want you to understand what I mean by that.  You understand theology.  You may not understand every nuance of theology.

You may not be able to tell the difference between sublapsarianism, infralapsarianism, and a Labrador retriever.  You may…I just threw that in.  You may not be able to explain the doctrine of the imago or every aspect of kenosis.  You may not know all the terminology.  You may not know all of the ins and outs of every theological concept.  But let me tell you something, folks, you are all theologians because you know the true and living God, and you know the means by which He is known.  And furthermore, you know the Word of the living God which is the substance of all truth in theology.

Give evolution the throne and you make the Bible the servant of man and you court disaster.  But the queen of sciences today is natural…naturalism.  Everything goes back to it, and naturalism is defined in evolutionary terms.  So what rules our whole society is evolution.  It’s even gotten into theology to the point now…I am reading a number of different resources lately where the writer is saying, “God Himself is also evolving.”  Oh yeah.  This is God in process of becoming what He would like to become.  So even God has been swept up and God is just another little piece of the evolutionary process.

Give evolution the throne and it takes over everything.  Give it the throne in the first few verses of the first book of the first page of the Bible and you’ve abdicated at the very outset.  And in a world that evolves, it’s very hard to have any fixed points.  That’s why educators today are relativists.  And they’re basically relativists on everything.  You know, you hear all this about we’ve got problems in the schools, and you’ve heard it lately.  “Well what are we going to do?  What are we going to do?  We can’t have kids going shooting up the schools.  What are we going to do about this?  We’ve got to teach them some standards.  We’ve got to teach them some standards.”

So I have a great solution.  Just take into every single school the very finest Bible teachers in a given community and let them have the kids every day for a week, and just let them teach the Word of God to them.  That’s the standard.  That’s the absolute standard.  Fat chance.  That isn’t going to happen.  And until it happens, things are going to get worse ’cause there are no answers.  What they’re talking about…and when the educators get into this and they say, “We need help, we got to do something,” they use this phrase, “Values clarification.”  Values again.

What does values clarification mean?  Well they…it basically…you know, they’ve got it down to you work hard and you don’t hurt people.  Moral reasoning which means I have all the freedoms to do whatever I want but my freedom stops where your nose begins.  If I want to go out and beat my head against the wall, and if I want to go out and behave in a certain fashion, that’s fine.  But I cannot take a weapon and shoot you because now I’ve invaded your space.  So I have to learn to reason morally and know that my freedoms have some moral limitation and the limitation is where, by society’s standards I’ve stepped over some line that effects you.

By the way, it gets very, very fuzzy, and the society is so fuzzy on it they don’t know what to do about it.  They’re letting people produce video games, television programs, music, movies that cross the line by miles in creating evil influences in the lives of young people that are as deadly as if somebody put a gun to their head and fired it.  There is no hope for a society where naturalistic evolution is the queen of the sciences, where everything has to answer to that.  Students are supposed to be given values clarification by teachers who don’t have any moral standards.  They’re supposed to be taught moral reasoning by people who don’t have any absolutes.  And then they’re told they need to forge their own lifestyle.  No authority, no sin, no fixed divine law, no shame, no guilt, no set consequences.

But there’s one thing in our society that they’re not relativistic about.  Do you know what it is?  Evolution.  That is the one dominating absolute in our society.  If you say you don’t believe in evolution, you literally are viewed as a moron, somebody who doesn’t have all his marbles, somebody who is bereft of normal reasoning ability.  There’s a sweeping relativity until it comes to the one fixed absolute that makes the relative system work, and that is evolution.  You see, if you come and say, “Well, you know, I don’t believe in evolution; I believe in divine creation by God,” the whole relativistic house of cards collapses cause you have to have…you have to have randomness, free choice, free expression.

You can’t have fixed absolutes, you can’t have the lawgiver and a law and a judge and all of that.  So the one absolute that perseveres in the midst of this relativity is the absolute of evolution.  And that is they are absolutely convinced beyond any argument that everything that exists today is a result of chance and random processes.  As one writer said, and I’ll never forget the statement, “The universe as we know it is just one of those things that happens from time to time.”

But contrary to all of that, theology is the queen of science.  This theology is what is the most important realm of thought.  Theology is the controlling element in all of human understanding.  And an unwavering faith in the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible is at the heart of all sound theology.  And it starts with believing the Genesis account.  That is critical to a Christian worldview.  As I told you a few weeks ago, the Master’s College participates in the Christian College Coalition, 110 Christian colleges, of which five or six affirm the Genesis account.  So we have a hundred Christian colleges that do not have a Christian worldview.  What is a Christian college?  Well, I get exercised about that but let’s go to the text.  I’m trying to do two things in these messages, give you some…some rational thought, a little philosophical thought, some scientific stuff before we slide into the text, but let’s go to the text.

Let’s look at day one.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was formless and void”…desolate and uninhabited.  Remember, that’s what we told you that means.  It was desolate and uninhabited.  It hadn’t yet been shaped or inhabited by any living thing.  And it was completely engulfed with darkness.  “The earth”…it says…”was covered with the deep, covered with the water.”  Says, “The darkness was over the surface of the deep,” which is an Old Testament word for the ocean, “and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”

So what you had, day one, is God creates time, space, and matter.  Those are the elements…time, space, and matter.  God creates them out of nothing.  And you have this tohu and bohu, this unformed, unshaped and uninhabited mass of these elements.  And this earth that He has…the elements are mixed perhaps like so much mud, as it were, not sorted out, and it’s covered with water completely and then surrounded by darkness.

And then on day one, verse 3, “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”  So God created light.  “Saw the light that it was good, and separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day, the darkness He called night, and there was evening and there was morning, one day.”  So, on the first day God created the essential elements of time, space, and matter.  God then added light.  He fixed the light/dark cycle in the permanent day/night continuum of 24-hour solar days.

That’s why it says in verse 5 there was evening and there was morning.  And somebody says, “Well, the sun hasn’t been created, or the moon.”  That’s fine.  God could still cycle the light any way He wanted until He attached that light to the heavenly bodies, which He does, as we’ll see later on.  So, basically, the first day the elements are created and they’re left in a shapeless and uninhabited form and surrounded by darkness.  Then light is created and there’s a mingling of light and darkness in the normal 24-hour cycle and that’s day one.

Let’s go to day two.  God continued to shape those elements into a habitable environment for the life that He would create.  And then God said in verse 6, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.  And God made the expanse and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse and it was so.  And God called the expanse heaven and there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”  All right, let’s jump in and see what happened here.  Day one, God separated light from darkness.

Day two, God separated heaven from earth.  That’s what the expanse is referring to.  Day three, as we shall see, God separated water on earth from dry land.  So day one, day two, day three, series of separations.  Before God can create life He has to separate light from darkness, and create the continuum of light and dark in the 24-hour solar day.  He has to separate the heaven from the earth, which He does on day two.  Then He has to separate the water that is now completely engulfing on day one and two, He has to separate that from the dry land so there’s a place for the fish in the sea and the land life on dry land.  Thus the universe is made ready for life in the first three days, a very reasonable approach.  Light from dark, heaven from earth, dry land from water.

Let’s look at it then in more particulars.  Verse 6, “Then God said,” and again I remind you that creation was simply by the Word of God.  He spoke things into existence.  As day two began, when the dawning of the day came, the universe was light and dark, the earth was an undifferentiated mass of elements completely engulfed in water.  But then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate from the waters from the waters.”  And this is quite interesting.  On day one the earth was covered all with water.  On day two, God separated that water in to two places.  That’s what it’s saying here.  He put an expanse in between and some water was above and some remained on the earth.

So you have the water that was still on the earth and now some water that’s separated and taken above.  That’s exactly what it is saying.  And in between those two elements of water there is an expanse.  Now the word “expanse” is the Hebrew word raqia.  It means…interesting word.  It means expanse.  It means spread out thinness.  And looking in the Old Testament to find its usage, in Exodus 39:3 when they were making things for the worship of God in the tabernacle, it says they got gold and they hammered out…they hammered out sheets of gold.  They flattened it out and spread it out and hammered it into thinness.  They use the same verb as the verb expanse.

The picture is of a thin area that God just cuts right through the waters that surround the earth.  All the way around the earth is this water and God just cuts as if you would go in there with a knife and just cut all the way through that sphere of the undifferentiated mass of elements of the earth, separating it into two parts.  There’s still the part that’s spherical and the water surrounding it, but now there’s water above it, separated by this expanse.  Expanse is intended to convey the idea of space…space.

Look at verse 8.  God called this expanse what?  Heaven.  It’s what we understand as heaven.  It’s what we understand as the space above us.  Heaven is shamayim, and it literally means the sky, or the skies.  It refers to the universe and the space above us.  So there was no heaven.  There was no space as we know until the second day, and God just cut all the way around that sphere and released some of that water and sent it up, creating between the waters above and water below space.  The Jewish writer, Cassuto, says, “From this we may infer that immediately after its formation the firmament occupied of its own accord the place appointed for it by the will of God, which is the sight of the heavens as we know it.”  Literally created space.  “Thus as soon as the firmament was established in the midst of the layer of water, it began to rise, arching like a vault.”

That’s very graphic.  God cuts that water and then it just begins to rise, and it begins to expand until it’s going further and further, creating in between space.  Cassuto says, “In its course…in the course it expands arching like a vault, in the course of its upward expansion it lifted at the same time the upper waters resting on top of it.”  It just took them right up.  “This marked a considerable advance in the marshalling of the components of the universe.  Above now stands the vault of heaven, surrounded by the upper waters.  Beneath stretches the expanse of lower waters, that is the waters of the vast sea which still covers all the heavy undifferentiated matter on the earth.  “The universe”…he writes…“is beginning to take shape.”

Now that’s a very reasonable account written by Moses.  At this…at the…as you go back into ancient literature you…you read some other legends that developed in the Mesopotamian mythology that are kind of interesting to compare with this.  And pagan stories, there’s a lot of them to try to explain creation.  None of them teaches evolution.  But, for example, the legends of Mesopotamia say that after the God, Marduk…and by the way, you can name him a lot of different names depending on what the nation you belong to or what version you want…but the God, Marduk, had vanquished Tiamat, the goddess of the world ocean, depicted as a great and mighty sea monster, as well as the other monsters and monstrosities that she had created to aid her in her combat.  And after he had slain his chief enemy with his weapons, he cut her carcass horizontally and divided her into two halves which lay one on top of the other and out of the upper half he formed a heaven and out of the lower half he made the earth, which included the sea.

You can read that whole story in the Babylonian account of creation.  And it says actually in the text, translated, “He split her like a fish into two parts.  The one half of her he set up and laid there with the beams of the heavens.  He pulled down a bar and stationed a watch,” which refers to the earth below.  In summary then the Babylonian priestly myth, which the Greeks also followed, says that the upper part of the universe and the earth here is the result of the cutting in half of the body of Tiamat, or Tamtu, or Tamte, a lot of different names.  And that’s just…I just tell you that to show you how bizarre and silly those legends are.

But what the Bible says is completely reasonable.  God took the waters way up…way up.  Left some still engulfing the earth, and in between created the separator between the waters which was the expanse we call heaven, space…the vast space of the universe.  Go to verse 7, and verse 7 basically reiterates, “And God made the expanse and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse and it was so.”  And, again, he repeats the same thing again just to be sure you get it.  There is an expanse and God separated it.  The waters went up, some of the waters stayed below, He created space in between.

Just a couple of footnotes here.  It’s important to understand that this is all creative.  That is to say it is all creative power going on here of proportions that are just absolutely beyond our capacity to comprehend.  And I want you to…I say that in reference to verse 7 because the word used there, God made the expanse.  And some people have said, “Well this isn’t create, this isn’t the word bārā.”  This is another word, asah, in Hebrew.  Does it signify some different activity?  But does it signify that this…and do we need to make a distinction here?  A lot of times Bible teachers will make distinctions that they shouldn’t make because all languages have synonyms, and even words that have shades of variation can be used in a synonym fashion.

And the question here is does the word “made” change the actual action of God?  And the answer is no.  It does not signify any different activity on God’s part than creating out of nothing.  In fact, over in chapter 2 verse 3 the verse ends, God rested the seventh day, blessed it, and sanctified it.  Rested from all His work which God has created and made.  And there you have those two words bara and asah and, basically, presented as synonyms.  And I think that’s a wonderful note that the Spirit of God has placed there so we wouldn’t worry about whether there was some distinction.

The word bara is the defining word.  And here in this context it…it means to create something out of nothing, or to put it another way, to do something that transcends normal ability, to do something that can’t be done.  That’s bara in this text.  And made is just a synonym to use another word referring to the same thing.  Now bara can be used simply for something normal.  It’s used in Isaiah 54:16, “Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire and coals and brings out a weapon.”  God…57:19 of Isaiah, says, “Creating the praise of the lips.”  Those things are more normal.  They don’t necessarily speak of the same power of creation exhibited in Genesis.

So bara doesn’t always mean creating in the sense of ex nihilo, divine fiat creation, but in this context that is distinctively what it means.  And the word “made” is just another word to affirm the same thing.  We could say it is a synonym.  And by the way, in Exodus, for you scholars, Exodus 34:10, asah is used as a synonym for bara in Exodus 34:10.  So I see them used in synonym fashion.

We could say it this way.  In the Genesis context this word, asah, is used to specify the kind of bara, the kind of creation of which the verse speaks.  God is creating and in this creating He makes something that never existed.  He is creating but in the creating, as verse 1 indicates, the broad picture, He is making things expressed by the use of the other word.  And so in verse 7 He made the expanse.  It was still creation, but it was a component of creation, it was the making of something that never before existed.

Now, I’m going to hurry and finish.  The separation of water above the sky and below has led to much discussion, folks, much discussion.  The question is what is this water?  And, you know, I have to confess to you, I don’t know.  I don’t know.  It could be that clear out at the end of infinite space there is water.  We know that there is water in the air, that we know.  We feel the rain.  There…there may be some other feature that we don’t know about way at the other…at the very end of the limitless vault of heavenly space.  I don’t know.  There are many who believe that there…there’s a…in this creation there was created around the earth a canopy, a canopy of water.

This is the view of Whitcomb and Morris, that the waters above the expanse, the waters above heaven were…were like a vapor that just engulfed the whole earth and created a kind of a hothouse environment.  And that’s, they suggest, why animals lived so long and plants lived so long.  You had animals living long enough to become dinosaurs.  You had people living long enough to become like Methuselah, 900-plus years old because they were shielded from ultra-violet light because of this water canopy.  And then at the flood, that canopy burst loose and drowned the earth, along with the tectonic cataclysm that occurred underneath the earth that broke up the basic elements of the earth and created the post-flood environment.

But we can’t know that for certain.  The suggestions are made that this vapor was a water vapor canopy up over the earth.  There’s nothing in here about that.  So, folks, you can’t be dogmatic about it.  It seems a reasonable explanation.  And the suggestion has been made that water vapor has the ability to transmit incoming solar radiation and to retain and disperse much of the radiation reflected from the earth’s surface.  So it would serve as a global greenhouse, maintaining a uniformly pleasant warm temperatures around the world.

They say that with nearly uniform temperatures, great air mass movements would be inhibited, windstorms would be unknown.  With no global air circulation the hydrological cycle of the present world could not be implemented.  There could be no rain except directly over the bodies of water from which it might have evaporated.  With no global air circulation, because it’s all protected by this canopy, there would be no turbulence, no dust particles transported in the upper atmosphere.  The water vapor in the canopy would have been stable and not precipitate itself.

Further, the planet would have been maintained not only at uniform temperature, but at comfortable uniform humidities by means of daily local evaporation and condensation, like dew or ground fog.  The combination further of warm temperature, adequate moisture everywhere would be conducive to extensive stands of lush vegetation over the world.  No barren deserts and no ice caps.  A vapor canopy would be effective in filtering out ultra-violet radiation, cosmic rays, other destructive energies and it goes on and on and on.

And then at the flood when God wanted to drown the earth, He just broke that thing loose and it plunged to earth and we were all exposed to the ultra-violet light and life was shortened up and people just lived 60 years after that.  Is that really the way it was?  Well it doesn’t say that in Genesis.  The text of Genesis doesn’t specify a canopy, but it does say there were waters above and waters below.  There have been scientists, good creation scientists who have said this canopy theory doesn’t fly.

Robert Whitelaw and Walter Brown summarized the difficulties like this.  “The heat problem, a large vapor or ice canopy would so increase heat that it would roast all living things if you have no movement of air and you just have this heat.  The light problem,” they suggest, “starlight, which God said would be for signs and seasons, could scarcely have been seen and sunlight could not have reached through with sufficient heat to support tropical plants.  The pressure problem, a vapor canopy holding more than 40 feet water would increase such high pressure at its base that its temperature would exceed 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The support problem, neither vapor, liquid, nor ice canopy, could have physically survived for the many centuries between creation and the flood,” a couple of thousand years.  It would condense, evaporate, or vaporize, it wouldn’t just stay there.  And then the ultraviolet problem.  “A canopy surrounding the atmosphere would not have been protected from ultraviolet light which would have disassociated water into hydrogen and oxygen, thus immediately destroying the canopy,” and on and on and on.

Look, I’m not going to get into this argument.  I haven’t got any idea.  All I know is there was water here and water up there.  That’s all I know.  Now the canopy makes sense…there’s a canopy…there was one up there somewhere, there was water up there somewhere.  Obviously it didn’t do what all those…maybe it didn’t…maybe it wasn’t water like the first group of scientists said it was, and maybe it wasn’t doing what the second group of scientists thought it would do if it was up there.  But it was up there.

Now you say, “That’s a pretty simple non-scientific explanation.”  Well I’m a theologian.  That’s what the Bible says.  It doesn’t give an explanation of science.  it just says water went up and some water stayed here.  We could safely say this.  The resolution may be as simple as this.  God creating the kind of canopy, the kind of vault in the universe, the kind of water in the atmosphere that was controlled so as not to produce the ill effects that Whitelaw and Brown mentioned.  We do know this.  There was water up there and at the flood, water came pouring down, according to Genesis 7, and drowned the entire earth.

So, between the waters God created space.  Look at this note, this is really interesting.  Verse 7, end of the verse, “And it was so.”  Is that redundant?  Is that redundant?  He said in verse 6, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters.”  In verse 7, “And God made the expanse.”  And why does He add, “And it was so,” is that just a redundant sort of editorial comment?  No, it serves a very necessary purpose, very critical statement.  There is no such comment in verse 3.  God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”  It doesn’t say, “And it was so.”

I’ll tell you why.  That little phrase used here in verse 9, verse 11, verse 15, and verse 24 is used to affirm something that is fixed, something that doesn’t change, something that has remained for all time.  You can’t say that after verse 3, “Let there be light and there was light,” cause there’s light and darkness, light and darkness, light and darkness.  It’s not fixed.  But when you say God created the heavens, that’s fixed.  “And it was so” lends itself to the understanding of the firm and fixed and unchanging nature of that element of creation.

And verse 8 ends, “God called the expanse heaven.”  And by the way, He doesn’t say it was good yet.  He didn’t say it on day one.  He didn’t say it on day two.  He won’t say it until verse 10 when the earth is habitable.  Then He’ll say “It was good,” only after it’s finally shaped into its habitable condition.  And verse 8 ends, “God called the expanse heaven and there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”  He did it in a day.  Created the firmament, the expanse, the heavens, the sky.  We’re ready for day three.  Somewhere in here, just plant this thought, the angels were created.  Do you know where?  Stay tuned.  I was going to tell you tonight but now I don’t have any time.

I would just like to close with a little praise, if I could.  Psalm 104 probably is as good as any.  Listen to this.  Psalm 104, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, O Lord, my God, Thou art very great.  Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Thyself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.  He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters.  He makes the clouds His chariot.  He walks upon the wings of the wind.  He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers.”

Now if there was wind at the time of the creation, then maybe Whitcomb and Morris are wrong after all…or least they’ve overstated the effect of the canopy.  But here is…here is the psalmist’s praiseful recollection of God stretching out heaven, of God taking the water to the upper chambers.  And he praises God saying, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”  And in verse 5 he says, “He established the earth upon its foundation so that it will not totter forever and ever.  Thou dost cover it with the deep as with a garment.”  You can see all the creation allusions here affirming what happened.  And we’re going to see more in that Psalm as God separates the land from the sea and creates the springs and the valleys and the animals.  It’s a tremendous, tremendous text.

Hills that Help

Hills that Help–The Last Sermon Preached by Lester Roloff before taking off for Heaven.

https://archive.org/details/HillsThatAHelp-TheLastSermonPreachedByLesterRoloffBeforeHisPlane 

Roloff’s legacy

Brother Roloff  Brother Roloff is cited as a major influence on both the Christian fundamentalist homeschooling and youth movements. His final recorded sermon was preached at Tennessee Temple University in ChattanoogaTennessee, and is entitled “Hills that Help.” It is regarded as a classic by his supporters. Perhaps his most well-known sermon was “Dr. Law and Dr. Grace.”

Roloff was posthumously inducted in 1993 into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Lester Leo Roloff (June 28, 1914 – November 2, 1982) was an American fundamentalist Independent Baptist preacher and the founder of teen homes across the American South. It was the operation of those teen homes (primarily hisRebekah Home for Girls) which placed him in the public spotlight.

Early ministry[edit]
Born of German descent, Roloff was reared in Dawson in Navarro County in east central Texas. He began preaching at the age of eighteen. He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas (Roloff is reported to have brought his dairy cow with him to raise tuition funds through the sale of its milk) and later Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
After graduation, Roloff began preaching at small country churches in southern Texas, before taking on pastoral duties at churches in Houston and later Corpus Christi.
The Family Altar[edit]
It was in Corpus Christi in 1944 that Roloff began his radio show, The Family Altar.
The show consists of recordings of his sermons, aired in both 15 and 30-minute programs. Roloff also incorporated singing into his sermons, and would occasionally break into impromptu singing of hymns and/or leading his choir to sing along. The Family Altar program begins and ends with a recording of Roloff singing (“When Jesus Comes (One Sat Alone Beside the Highway)” at the beginning, and “The Stranger Who Sat By the Sea” at the ending) accompanied only by organ.

Brother Roloff

 

 

School of Faith

school-of-faith

A SAVING FAITH

Faith is one of the greatest assets God has given us, and the Father has provided it for everyone who is rightly related to Him through Jesus Christ.

https://www.intouch.org/watch/in-the-school-of-faith/a-saving-faith-video 

ADVANCING IN FAITH by Charles Stanley

Are you growing in your faith? Is your trust in the Lord increasing? Do you believe that God hears and answers your prayers?

 

THE STAGES OF OUR FAITH

Throughout Scripture, it is evident that God honors faith. Our wholehearted belief in the Lord is important because when we truly place our trust in Him, the Savior is glorified. Our Father wants us always to have confidence that He will fulfill His promises.

https://www.intouch.org/watch/in-the-school-of-faith/the-stages-of-our-faith-video

 

WAVERING FAITH

Whatever we become and achieve in life is determined by our ability to trust God.

https://www.intouch.org/watch/in-the-school-of-faith/wavering-faith-video

Do You Have the Peace of God?

http://www.gbccf.org/sermon_audio/…/041716_ThePeaceOfGod.MP3(Audio Message by Dr. Gene Pritchard

“THE PEACE OF GOD”
(John 14:27)
I. WHAT IS “THE PEACE OF GOD”?
*Philippians 4:11-12 *John 16:33 *Isaiah 26:3-4 *Psalm 119:165
*Revelation 14:11-13 *Psalm 34:14 *Colossians 3:15
1. It is {not} dependent on circumstances!
2. It is {constant}!
3. It is {eternal}.
II. WHERE DOES A PERSON FIND “THE PEACE OF GOD”?
*Romans 5:1-5 *Romans 16:20 *Galatians 5:22 *Isaiah 9:6
*Isaiah 48:22 *Isaiah 57:20-21 *Philippians 4:9 *Philippians 4:6-7
*I Peter 5:7-8 *Matthew 8:26 *I Samuel 17:32-37 *I Samuel 17:47-48
*Luke 5:4-7
1. A personal {relationship} with Jesus
2. A {righteous} walk with God
3. {Repeated} prayers
4. {Ridiculous} faith

Dr. Gene Pritchard
Dr. Gene Pritchard

Understanding The New Birth

http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/player/understanding-the-new-birth-549615.html

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail(John 3:1-7) (RA2259 ~ Program 3716, Air dates 09.11.16 & 09.18.16) Downloadable PDF version INTRODUCTION   (John 3:1-7) If you are a Christian, then you are born again. It is a divine imperative that we must be born again. Why must we be born again? Because of our undeniable sinfulness. If we believe we can go to Heaven without being born again, then we do not know: How sinful we are. How holy God is. …READ MORE

Understanding The New Birth                                     By Adrian Rogers

(John 3:1-7)
Downloadable PDF version

  1. INTRODUCTION   (John 3:1-7)
    1. If you are a Christian, then you are born again.
    2. It is a divine imperative that we must be born again.
    3. Why must we be born again?
      1. Because of our undeniable sinfulness.
        1. If we believe we can go to Heaven without being born again, then we do not know:
          1. How sinful we are.
          2. How holy God is.
      2. Because of our unsatisfied longings.
      3. Because of our unending existence.
        1. Our souls will be in existence somewhere forever; either in Heaven or Hell after this present life is over.
  2. SIX WAYS THAT BEING BORN-AGAIN SPIRITUALLY IS LIKE BEING BORN PHYSICALLY
    1. In a birth, conception takes place.
      1. What are the two parents in a spiritual birth?
        1. The Word of God and the Spirit of God.
          1. John 3:5
          2. 1 Peter 1:23
        2. When the Word of God and the Spirit of God come together in the womb of faith, a conception and new birth takes place.
    2. In a birth, continuity is involved.
      1. Parents transfer, or transmit, life from themselves to the child.
      2. When we are born again, the life of God comes into us.  We become partakers of the divine nature.  There is new life within us.
        1. Salvation is not simply getting man out of Earth and into Heaven; it is getting God out of Heaven and into man.
      3. John 10:10
    3. In a birth, character is produced.
      1. We receive the character of God by our new birth.
      2. Christians are not just nicer people; we are new creatures.
      3. John 3:6
      4. 1 Corinthians 15:22
      5. 2 Peter 1:3-4
      6. 2 Corinthians 5:17
      7. What are the traits of the twice-born?
        1. There will be a love for Jesus Christ.
        2. There will be a desire for holiness.
          1. 1 Peter 1:16
          2. 1 John 3:9 – this does not mean that we can never sin; we still have the old nature that we inherited from our earthly parents.  The Greek word used in this passage means that we cannot habitually practice sin.  If sin is our lifestyle, then there has not been a change in our life.
        3. There will be the inner witness of the Spirit.
          1. This is not an emotional feeling; this is an inner-consciousness that we belong to Jesus.
          2. 1 John 5:10
          3. 1 John 4:13
        4. There will be a desire to share the Lord Jesus Christ.
          1. You will want people to know Jesus.
          2. What is the burning desire of God the Father?  To hear Jesus Christ.
            1. Matthew 17:5
    4. In a birth, a completion transpires.
      1. A birth is a once-for-all experience.
        1. In the physical realm, the birth takes place one time.  In the spiritual realm, the birth takes place one time.
        2. Luke 10:20 – the Greek word in this passage means that your name stands written.
        3. You will always be a child of God if you’ve ever been twice-born.
    5. In a birth, a commencement occurs.
      1. Once there is a completion (the birth is finished), now the growth begins.
      2. No matter what your past has been by the old, physical birth, if you have a new birth, you get a brand new start.
      3. Psalm 103:12
      4. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
        1. Sanctified – you’ve been set aside, clean and holy for God.
        2. Justified – as if you were never impure to begin with.
      5. Philippians 1:6
    6. In a birth, a certainty is expected.
      1. A new birth is a certainty; we should be able to say that we know that we have been born again.
      2. What is the proof that you are born again?  That you are now trusting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord.
      3. John 3:16

 

You Can be Religious But Lost

OLD-TIME RELIGION

By Evangelist Joe Henry Hankins, D. D. (Sermon preached at Wheaton College, September, 1943. Stenographically reported for The Sword of the Lord).

Joe Henry Hankins
Joe Henry Hankins

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:6-12.)

When I speak of “old-time religion” I do not mean religion in the common acceptation of the term, but I refer to salvation – genuine, old-fashioned, Holy Ghost regeneration. In the thinking of the average person religion and salvation are synonymous terms. But nothing was ever farther from the truth. There is a vast gulf between the two. A person may be ever so religious and know nothing of salvation. The fact is that more people are going to Hell the religious route than any other.

Multitudes of people think that because they have adopted the Christian philosophy of life, accepted the Bible as being or “containing” the Word of God, accepted as being true the fact that JESUS CHRIST is the Son of GOD, and believe in the principles and tenets of the Christian faith, – that they are saved. You can cultivate religion, teach its precepts and fundamental truths, train a person in its ceremonials, rituals and tenets, but you cannot cultivate one into salvation. Someone has said, “Man is incurably religious.” This is a fact of human nature. Therefore, it is quite easy to take a child and teach him any religion, pagan or Christian. It is also very easy to incite religious emotions by certain types of music, rituals and religious ceremonies. Many people imagine that they are saved because they “feel religious” under the influence of this kind of environment, forgetting that feelings of reverence, worship, or ecstasy can easily be stirred in an unsaved heart. There is no doubt that the Buddhist, the Mohammedan, the Confucianist, or any other pagan has the same feelings when going through his religious ceremonies of worship and prayers. But who, knowing anything about the Bible teaching of salvation, would even intimate that these are saved? They are religious but lost, and many of them even more devoutly religious than many who call themselves Christians.

Oh, how we need to distinguish in our thinking between religion and salvation! There is no doubt that there are multiplied million of people in the churches of the world who have never known or experienced real salvation. Religious But Lost JESUS said, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, not everyone who professes to be a Christian is really saved. He even goes so far in this statement as to say: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22,23). Can you imagine anything more tragic than a person going through life living a religious life and doing religious works, thinking all the time that because of these he is saved and finally hearing the Lord say, “I never knew you.” Religious but lost! As an example of what I mean by religious but lost, I cite the Jews. Paul said of them: “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:1-3). You see from this that a “zeal of God” and an earnest effort to live right (“establish their own righteousness”) are not salvation. Another example in the Bible is Cornelius. GOD says of him that he was “a devout [deeply religious] man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway” (Acts 10:2). It was further stated of him by his servants that he was “a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews” (Acts 10:22).

Let us analyze these statements from the Word of GOD about this man. GOD says he was “a devout man,” or deeply, sincerely, consistently religious; a man who “feared God with all his house” (not only feared GOD himself but by his example and precept taught his whole household (children and servants) to fear GOD; a man who “prayed to God alway,” and who was liberal with his means toward helping the less fortunate; a man who had compassion upon human suffering and “gave much alms to the people.” His servants said he was “a just man” or a man who was fair in all his dealings with his fellow man and treated everybody right. I know multitudes of people who are depending on these very things for salvation. Not only that, but they imagine they are wonderful Christians because of them.

But was Cornelius a saved man? Let the Word of GOD settle it. While Cornelius was praying one day an angel appeared unto him and said, “Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:13, 14).

I once asked a woman about her soul’s salvation and her reply was, “I’m not a member of the same church as you, but I think if you are a member of any church and live up to it you will get to Heaven.” I said, “Lady, I may shock you when I say it, but you can be a member of any church and live up to the required standards of all of them and die and go to Hell. You could easily be the best, most faithful and most consistent member any church has and still be unsaved.”

What Is This Old-Time Religion? 1. It is a revealed plan of salvation. Paul says, “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11, 12). This is very evident from the very content of the Gospel and is especially clear when compared with any or all of the ethnic religions of the world. These are the highest product of the mind of the natural man. When you have read all their sacred writings you feel like saying with Paul, “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (I Corinthians 1:20). No human mind has ever yet conceived of anything that even begins to compare with GOD’s plan of salvation through the atonement of CHRIST on the cross. Truly, “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).

We hear and read a great deal of nonsense today about the need of a new gospel for a new age, about the world having outgrown the old-fashioned ideas of religion. The Holy Spirit knew that the time would come when men would ‘turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables,’ so He had Paul to write, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8, 9). No, my friends, we don’t need a new message for a new age. We need a new generation of preachers who will stand up and preach the old-time Gospel; who will tell men-in spite of the philosophies of men, modern psychology and the babblings of modernistic preachers – that the Word of GOD says they are sinners, doomed and damned for Hell, without GOD and without hope in the world; and call them to repentance and faith in the shed blood of JESUS CHRIST as GOD’s only and all-sufficient remedy for sin. As long as there is sin in the world men need to hear the old, old story.

2. This old-time religion is salvation by grace. “I marvel,” said Paul, “that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6). Paul here clearly indicates that any deviation whatever from a plan of salvation by pure grace is a perversion of the Gospel of CHRIST. And his calling for a curse upon even an angel from Heaven who would dare to pervert this Gospel most certainly means that a perverted gospel has no power in it to save. The natural pride of the human heart has always caused man to want to be his own saviour, or at least to do something to help save himself. The natural man has always hated a Gospel of salvation by pure grace. This was first evidenced in “the way of Cain,” and is continued to this day in man’s additions to the way of grace in the form of works and human merit, ordinances, rituals, church membership, et cetera. Even multitudes who claim to preach salvation by grace add good works as a condition of “keeping saved.” Yet the Scriptures say, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). But man is so loath to confess himself a helpless, lost sinner, ruined and undone, and to come as a beggar to a throne of grace that he will go to any extent to add something to GOD’s way of grace that will cater to and pacify the flesh.

BUT WHAT IS GRACE? Someone has said, “Grace is unmerited favor.” It is that and more. It is the favor of GOD extended where there is no merit – in the complete absence of merit. Grace is the only possible way salvation could be made available to all mankind. It means that there is no condition attached to salvation that cannot be met by any man, anywhere. In the fourth chapter Paul is arguing salvation by grace. He uses Abraham’s salvation as an example and states that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” He climaxes his argument by saying, “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed” (Romans 4:16). That most assuredly means that no man will ever find himself in a position or possible circumstance in which he could not be saved if he wanted to. Imagine a man on a submarine ten thousand miles from land. The submarine is torpedoed and goes to the bottom, never to rise again. This man finds that he is the only one left alive of the crew. He is lost and knows it. He wants to be saved. There is a Bible on the table. He picks it up and turns to the third chapter of John. Can that man be saved? If not, then the promise is not “sure to all the seed.”

But, thank GOD, he can be saved just as the thief on the cross was saved. That is grace. There is but one thing in all the universe that can keep you from being saved, my lost friend, and that is your own will. JESUS said, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” My life, my character, my morality and my works have absolutely nothing to do with salvation. But I want to tell you, if I really have salvation it is going to have everything to do with the kind of life I live. It is the other way around. My character, my morality, my works do not produce salvation. But genuine, Holy Spirit-wrought regeneration in the human heart produces a new creature in CHRIST JESUS, gives us a new nature, gives us new longings, new hopes, new aspirations, new loves. “If any man be in Christ,” says the Scripture, “he is a new creature [or a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

Sam Jones used to say, “You can raise a pig in the parlor, and something will change, but it won’t be the pig.” I don’t care what you do with him – perfume him, curl his hair, marcel it, tie a pink ribbon around his neck, and feed him from your table – you will never do that hog any good unless you change his nature. And that is what GOD proposes to do in salvation – change man’s heart.

If a person is in the church unsaved, that person will always love the world because those that are of the world love their own. JESUS said, “Because ye are not of the world . . . therefore the world hateth you.” You can do all you please to the unregenerated human heart: you can educate it, cultivate it, refine it, teach it religion, bring it into the church; but until it is regenerated nothing will do it any good. The fact forever remains, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” The mistake that people make is in the conception that in salvation GOD is dealing primarily with man’s sins, with what man has done, whereas GOD goes deeper than that and gets to the taproot of the thing. GOD, in salvation, is dealing primarily with what man is and proposes to change what he does by first changing what he is. Hence the words of JESUS to the Pharisees: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:25,26). No man can ever merit salvation. Everyone of us has sinned, willfully sinned, turned our backs on GOD, gone away from GOD, rebelled against GOD, hardened our hearts against GOD knowingly and willfully, and everyone deserves to go to Hell. We have nothing to commend us to GOD. We talk about human character and human morals. Suppose we had the character and morals of the best and finest there is on earth; would that commend us to GOD? The Scriptures say, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

Just take a look into your life. There is plenty of sin and slime and filth in the very best of us – sin in thought, sin in motive, sin in word, sin in deed, sin in impulses. Oh, what a foul brood there is in every human heart! Then look at the perfect holiness of GOD and see what you look like in GOD’s presence, and you will realize that you need something you cannot do for yourself. GOD is so holy that “even . . . the stars are not pure in his sight.” The Scriptures tell us that He is too holy to look on sin. GOD is so holy that when a man like Moses asked if he might see GOD’s face, GOD said, “‘There shall no man see me, and live.” The best that GOD could do to answer Moses’ request was to hide him in the cleft of the rock, cover him with his hand and pass by and let him see the afterglow of His glory. Moses was one of the holiest men who ever walked this earth, one of the holiest servants of GOD who ever lived. Yet GOD had to say to Moses, “If you looked on my face, you would perish.” Why? Because sinful flesh still is the tabernacle of the redeemed soul, and sin and holiness cannot come face to face lest sin be destroyed. That is the reason JESUS said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Note the language. He did not say, “He will not”; He said, “He cannot.” If there were some way you could put an unregenerated person into Heaven, the minute he came into the presence of GOD’s holiness he would perish.

Old-Time Religion Is Heartfelt Religion Millions of people go through life hoping to be saved, trying to be saved, hanging onto something, not knowing whether they are saved or not. You can be saved and know it; for this Bible salvation, this old-time religion is heartfelt religion. Listen to the Word of GOD: I John 5:10: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” Galatians 4:6: “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15, 16: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. And the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” When you are saved you not only have the witness of the Spirit, but salvation itself is a definite experience.

Being Born Again is a very definite experience. Job could say in the midst of the wreck of everything he had, “I know that my redeemer liveth.” How did he know? By a personal experience. Paul could say, “I know whom I have believed.” How do you know, Paul? “I have had a personal experience.” Do you know you are saved? This Old-Time Religion Centers in a Person Salvation is in a Person – not in works, not in character or morality, not in a church or church membership, not in the externals of religion; but in a Person; and that Person is JESUS CHRIST. Paul said, “I know whom . . . ” Get it; the word is not “what.” Salvation is not in a “what.” “I know whom I have believed [trusted], and am persuaded [fully convinced] that he is able to keep that which I have committed [entrusted] unto him against that day.” Notice he did not say, “I know what I have done,” or “what kind of life I have lived,” but simply, “whom I have trusted.” I sat by the bedside of a man in a hospital one day, trying to lead him to CHRIST. I explained that Paul told his experience of salvation in one brief sentence, in these few words: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” I said, “Listen to the word ‘whom’ first – a Person. Paul said, ‘I know whom I have trusted.’ He had trusted JESUS CHRIST, a Person, the Son of GOD, as his personal Saviour, his sin-bearer. Then he committed or entrusted something to Him. He had entrusted his soul and its destiny for time and eternity to Him.” And I said, “That is his experience. That is his testimony.” And I said to the unsaved man, “Do you see it?” “Yes, I see it,” said he. “Paul meant that he had put his trust in JESUS CHRIST as his personal Saviour, and had handed his soul over to CHRIST.” I said, “You are an unsaved man, but I have never heard a theologian give a better exposition of that text of Scripture than you have given.” He replied, “You mean I was an unsaved man. But I am not now. For the minute that light flashed into my soul, I trusted Him, I accepted Him, and I turned myself over to Him, and I am not an unsaved man any longer. I am saved!”

This Old-Time Religion Rests Upon Three Great Facts 1. The first is the atonement of JESUS CHRIST. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21). He took my place; He bore my sin; He paid the penalty for my sin, the wages of which was death. My sin fell upon Him; the judgment of GOD was upon Him. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5, 6). The modernist would tell us that we are to be saved by imitating the beautiful life of CHRIST. But if you tell me that that is my only hope of salvation, I will tell you that you have not offered me any hope of salvation; for when I look at that marvelous life, I tell you frankly I can’t live like that. – the man who sentenced Him to death and turned Him over to be crucified testified: “I find no fault in him.” – Pilate’s wife came and said, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man.” – Judas, who sold Him for thirty pieces of silver, said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” He was such a man that He could stand in the presence of His bitterest enemies and say, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” Not a sin, not a stain, not a fault, not a shortcoming! He never made a mistake. He never said nor did the wrong thing, nor had the wrong attitude. And you tell me that I must imitate that life in order to be saved? I will tell you, as I look into my poor sinful heart, that you have not held out to me any hope of salvation. Instead, you have thrust me into the very depths of eternal despair; for try as much as I will to live like that (how I would love to!) I cannot, and there is no hope, if that is the way of salvation. But if you tell me: There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s veins; And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains, then my poor heart cries out, Lead me to that fountain. That is what I need. Oh, I need something that will make me clean, that will rid my conscience of the burden of sin; something that will bring me again into reconciliation and peace with GOD. Thank GOD, He has promised that when I am washed in the blood of CHRIST He will put my sins behind His back and will remember them against me no more forever! He has said, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Oh, that is what I need!

2. The second fact upon which the old-time religion rests is the resurrection of CHRIST. Oh, that grave could not hold Him! He is not a dead CHRIST. We do not worship a CHRIST on a crucifix. We worship a CHRIST who is living today; One who burst asunder the bonds of death and brought out with Him the keys of death and Hell. He is living now at the right hand of GOD. GOD the Father said, “Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.” This is why Paul said, “He must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet.” Oh, praise GOD, He is a living, conquering CHRIST. And the risen CHRIST is my hope of victory along the journey of life after I am saved. So many preach only half the Gospel. The first half is that CHRIST died for our sins, that He bore our sins on the cross and in that atonement made satisfaction for our sins, satisfying GOD’s justice and holiness. GOD can now be just, and the “justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” But that is only half of the Gospel. The other half is this: “He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” He lives! He lives! He lives in me! That is salvation! Not in works, not in character, not in religion, but “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” I have heard many a person say, “I would like to be a Christian, but if I were to be a Christian I would want to know that I could hold out.” I want to tell you, my friends, you cannot do it, and nobody in the world could do it if it were not for the fact that CHRIST lives and when you are saved He comes into your heart to live there. Then we can say with Paul, ‘It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me.’ And, praise the Lord, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” The victory is in trusting in His power, trusting in His divine leadership, trusting in His work in us to break the power of sin.

3. The third great fact is the intercession of CHRIST. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). “Uttermost” means in every battle; it means every step of the way, in every trial and every temptation; it means until I am safe in Glory. That is why Paul said, “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” What day, Paul? That day of all days; that day when the heavens shall be rolled together like a scroll and elements shall melt with fervent heat. He, the living CHRIST, is able to keep against that day; that day when the angel shall stand with one foot on the land and one on the sea and declare there should be time no longer. The living CHRIST is able to keep against that day. Isn’t it great to be a Christian! Isn’t that a glorious salvation! I did not do the saving; I just did the letting. I just received. Faith is an empty hand that is held out to receive. That is all. Eternal life is a gift that is offered; and it is held in a nail-scarred hand. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” When a gift is offered, the receiver – does not have to beg for it; – does not have to merit it; – does not have to purchase it; – does not have to work for it he just holds out the empty hand of faith and receives it. That is all that stands between any soul and salvation – just to receive it. – GOD is able. – CHRIST has died. – CHRIST has paid the full penalty of sin. – He has done everything necessary to save every soul on earth. – He does not need your help. – He is able to do it. – GOD is satisfied with His finished work. – GOD is reconciled with a lost world; and – GOD is now saying, “Receive”; “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). People stumble over the simplicity of it. In the pride of the human heart we want to help do it and so we pervert the Gospel of His grace and mix in our works. This Old-Time Religion Satisfies It satisfies every longing of the human heart.

A dear girl came to me recently who had been taken into the church without having had an experience of grace. She had been disturbed for years. Her soul had been torn asunder; she had been wondering and groping in darkness. When she saw the simplicity of the plan of salvation in CHRIST, she said, “I reckon I have been trying to make it too hard for myself.” “No,” I said, “the Devil has been trying to deceive you and make you think it is hard.” Then that dear girl said these words, “With all my heart I am opening the door for JESUS.” She left that room all but shouting happy, saying, “Oh, such peace! Such peace! Such peace!” He satisfies: nothing else does. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ”It Will Do When I Am Dying” It will not only give you that peace and satisfaction in life; make you happy every step of the way; put a new song in your soul; send you down the road of life rejoicing, but when you come to the end and lay your head on the dying pillow, there will be victory and glory even then.

I was called to the home of a little mother who was dying of tuberculosis. She had been on the bed more than three years, simply wasting away. One Sunday morning they called for me, saying, “Can you come? Delta is dying, and she wants you here.” When I walked into her room she was so weak she could hardly speak. When she saw me she smiled and said, “Brother Hankins, I am so glad you came. I wanted you to see how a Christian can die, so that you can tell others.” She had two little girls, one seven and one ten. She called them to her bedside. The little seven-year-old girl sat down on the bed beside her mother. The mother put an arm around each of them, drew them close to her, kissed them and bade them good-by. Tears were gleaming in her eyes, and the dying woman’s mother, who was beside the bed, took a handkerchief and wiped them away. As she did there broke a smile on that dying face and the glory of another world lighted it. I got a little peep right into Heaven when she looked into her mother’s face and said, “Mother, in just a few minutes GOD will wipe away the last tear that will ever be in these eyes.” And then she said, “Babies, don’t cry: Mother has had a hard time. It has been a hard struggle. But it is over and I am going to be with JESUS. Good-by. JESUS has come and I am going with Him.”

And again, the glory of another world lighted her face. I saw what they saw when Stephen died. And she fell asleep like a baby in a mother’s arms. Genuine salvation is something that will take you through every trial of life and make you happy every step of the way. You cannot drive the sunshine away, for the Sunshine in the soul will make a rainbow in the cloud and shed glory on every step of the way. And when you come to the end it will be a triumphant end, with glory and victory as you go out to meet your Lord and be forever with Him.

That is OLD-TIME RELIGION.