I am a fan of A.W. Tozer. I have several daily devotions written by him. Today’s devotion from “Almighty God” is his thoughts on Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Tozer believes this is the most important verse in the Bible because this is where everything must begin. God is the foundation upon which everything else builds.
As I thought about his challenge this morning, I remembered a study that I had written over fifteen years ago. I am so thankful for large hard drives and good search engines. I found it! It is rather long for a blog but I think the lesson posted below has some good content that will challenge your thoughts concerning this question: How big is your God?
(NOTE: please excuse the formatting. 2007 Microsoft Word didn’t convert from Word 1998 exactly as it was written years ago.)
“GOD: THE ANSWER TO EVERY QUESTION”
1. I read a fictitious story about a group of engineers, geologists, chemists, and scientists, who came together to try to answer the question, “Where did the universe come from?” They spent years compiling information, checking it and
re checking it. They fed all of their data into a gigantic super computer.
2. The magic moment came when they had fed all of their knowledge, theories, and hypothesis and research into that computer, and they asked it the question, “Where did the universe come from?” Everybody gathered around; there was a
holy hush in the laboratory. A button was punched, lights flashed, bells rang, relays opened and closed, and finally a typed message emerged: SEE GENESIS 1:1.
3. There are 66 books in the Bible. Genesis is the foundation upon which the rest of the Bible sits.
• There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible, and Genesis chapter one is the foundation for all of the other chapters.
• There are 23,214 verses in the Old Testament alone. Genesis 1:1 is the foundation of all of the other verses.
4. Genesis is the front door to the rest of the Bible. Genesis 1 is the knob that opens the door. But Genesis 1:1 is the key that unlocks the doorknob.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
5. This first verse, made up of ten words, is wondrously simple and simply wonderful. In ten short simple but glorious words, we are told the WHEN, WHO, HOW, and WHAT of all things.
6. “In the beginning” that’s the WHEN!
• “God” that’s the WHO!
• “Created” that’s the HOW!
• “The heavens and the earth” that’s the WHAT!
• The rest of the Bible is given to WHY!
7. The first verse gives us the theology of creation. The rest of the chapter provides us with the chronology of creation. We are told at the very beginning that God created all things, from electrons to electricity, * from gold to galaxies, * from dandelions to dinosaurs, * and from apples to Adam.
8. This is vitally important because if Genesis 1:1 is true, then God truly is the answer to every question of life that really matters. I can confidently say you will never have life’s greatest questions answered correctly until you grasp the truth of what may be the best known verse in all of the Bible.
Because if this universe is without a maker, and without a method, then it must be without a meaning. But you will see that it is God who is both the Maker of all that there is, and the meaning of all that there is. There is an ocean of truth about both the Creator and the creation in this verse that can overflow the little teacups of our minds.
There are four profound truths we can learn or glean from this one simple verse.
I. The Eternal Presence Of God
1. Just the first four words boggle the human mind, “in the beginning God.” Now immediately we are told two things about God:
A. God Transcends Time
1. The word Genesis literally means “beginning.” Genesis gives us the beginning of all things except God, because God had no beginning. There was never a time when God was not. There will never be a time when God will not be.
2. Before there was anything, there was God. God was in eternity past.
• In Isaiah 57:15 we are told that God is the One “Who lives forever.”
• Abraham called him “the everlasting God.” (Genesis 21:33)
• Moses said, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
• The psalmist said, “But You, O Lord, shall endure forever…and Your years will have no end.” (Psalm 102:12,27)
3. Quite honestly, this is impossible for the mind to understand. Because logic tells us that everything must at least have a beginning, if not an ending. Yet God is without either. Not only does God transcend time, …….
B. God Transcends Thought
1. Notice that God is not argued for, defended, or proved. He is simply asserted and assumed, “in the beginning God.” You may not know this, but there is not one proof text presented in the Bible for the existence of God. Why?
2. Well, first of all, it is impossible to prove the existence of God. How can a finite human mind prove the existence of an infinite God? It is impossible. But may I also say it is impossible to prove the non-existence of God.
3. I cannot prove there is a God. But you cannot prove there is no God.
• You do not come to God by reason. You come to God by faith.
• Likewise, you don’t reject God by reason. You reject God by faith.
There is a simple difference between a believer and an atheist. A believer chooses to believe in God. An atheist chooses not to believe in God. But something else must be added. The facts are on the side of the believer, not the unbeliever. When it comes to God, it takes more faith not to believe than it does to believe.
4. That is why only one half of one verse in the entire Bible is even given to the atheist. The Bible says in Psalm 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” Whether you believe in God or not, is absolutely irrelevant as to whether or not God exists.
I can say that it is not raining outside, but if it is actually raining and I walk outside, I am going to get wet. No matter what my belief! God is God no matter what we believe!
5. I heard about some parents who taught their child from the time he was born that there is no God. Finally, when this little fellow got old enough to do a little thinking on his own, he came in one day and said to his dad, “Dad, do you think God knows we don’t believe in Him?”
6. But I would add also that it is not essential to prove the existence of God. God doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody. Nor does He need anything to be proved by anybody. God has left his footprints all over this universe and only a fool would deny it.
7. I heard about a little boy that got on a bus one day and sat down next to an atheist. Well, this little boy loved God and was singing about God. “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” The atheist thought he would have some fun with the little boy and he said, “Son, I will give you an apple if you will tell me where God is?”
The little boy looked up sharply at the man and shot back, “Mister, I will give you a whole barrel of apples if you will tell me where God is not.”
The first of the Profound Truths is “The Eternal Presence of God.” The second is
II. The Exalted Person Of God
1. The first fact of faith presented in the Bible is God – “in the beginning God.” God is mentioned thirty two times in the first thirty one verses of the Bible. If you include pronouns, God is mentioned 43 times. The emphasis of the first chapter of Genesis is not on the creation created by God. It is on the God who created creation. The subject of this first chapter is not creation, that is the object. The subject is God.
2. The very name that is used here for God is most revealing. There are many names for God in the Bible. It is interesting that the first name used for God, the way that God introduces Himself, is with the name “Elohim.” This name is used over 2,500 times in the Old Testament. It is very important to understand the names of God because the names of God reveal the nature of God. This name is filled with meaning.
3. It is actually a compound of two names: El and Alah. The name El literally means “strong one” or “Almighty.” Now this tells us that our Creator is a God of unlimited ability. This is the God for whom nothing is impossible. The very fact that God created the heavens and the earth ought to tell us this. The prophet Jeremiah said,”Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jere. 32:17)
4. The other half of this name, the word Alah, literally means “to swear,” “to bind with an oath,” or “to make a covenant.” This tells us that our Creator is a God of uncompromising integrity. He is a God who always keeps His word. We are told in Hebrews 6:18, “…it is impossible for God to lie…” God cannot break a promise. He cannot tell a lie.
5. We learn also that this Creator is a God of undeniable personality. God has a mind, a will, and emotions. Over and over we are told that God “knows;” He “grieves;” He “loves;” God “chooses;” He “decides.”
6. These four words, in the beginning, God, are the key that hangs on the latch that opens the front door of the rest of the Bible. It destroys all kinds of philosophical error.
• Atheism is destroyed, because there is a God.
• Polytheism is destroyed, because there’s only one God.
• Pantheism is destroyed which says that God is simply in nature because we know that God created nature.
• Materialism is destroyed because we know that matter is not eternal; only God is eternal.
• Fatalism is destroyed because we know that neither fate nor chance dictates our lives, but a Sovereign God who is in control of this universe.
7. It is not an overstatement to say that these four words, ‘in the beginning God,’ are vitally important and virtually indispensable to understanding the meaning of life itself.
The third of our four profound truths is……..
III. The Exclusive Power Of God
1. “In the beginning God created.” We are told here that God is the originator and the initiator of everything and everyone. God did not create this universe because He had to, but because He wanted to.
2. Now one of two things have to be true: either a dead God is the creator of men, or a Living God is the Creator of men.
3. We are told that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word Bara literally means “to make something out of nothing.” There’s no need for the scientist to try to go back and verify this because by the very nature of the case it can’t be verified. It has to be accepted by faith, not by reason. Hebrews 11:3 makes it plain. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
Throughout the Scripture, only God is the subject of this verb. This verb never refers to what man can do, but only to what God can do. You see, man can build and mold and make, but He cannot create something out of nothing. First of all, where do we find nothing? I can’t even comprehend nothing!
4. There is a difference between a craftsman and a creator. A carpenter can make a chair out of wood, but he cannot create the wood out of nothing. There is a difference between making something out of something, and creating something out of nothing.
5. Several years ago some scientists announced that they had been able to create artificial protein in the laboratory. Since protein is the basic building block of life, this achievement took the scientific world by storm. The Saturday Evening Post interviewed a number of scientists to get their reactions.
6. Dr. Vincent Allfrey of the Rockefeller Institute, said, “This is the biggest story of the century.” A famous bio chemist said, “This century will go down in history as the century when life ceased to be a mystery. Life is only
chemistry.” One British scientist became so confident after this discovery that he said, “I now no longer find it necessary to believe in God.”
7. But then the Post interviewed a Roman Catholic by the name of George Kelly. George Kelly said, “When a bio chemist is able to create matter and energy out of nothing, then I would like to talk to him.
8. The Bible makes it plain that God created this world out of nothing. I do not think I can improve on the way an eloquent African-American preacher put it when he said, and I read this because I cannot quote it without reading it: “God stepped from behind the curtain of nowhere, onto the platform of nothing, and spoke a world into existence. The reason God came from nowhere is because there wasn’t anywhere for him to come from. And coming from nowhere he stood on nothing, and the reason he had to stand on nothing was because there was nowhere for him to stand.
9. “And standing on nothing, he reached out where there was nowhere, and caught something when there was nothing to catch, and hung something on nothing and told it to stay there.
10. “Then standing on nothing he took the hammer of his own will and he struck the anvil of his omnipotence and sparks flew everywhere. He caught these sparks from the tip of his fingers and flung them out into space and bedecked the heavens with stars.
11. “And nobody said a word. The reason nobody said anything was because there wasn’t anybody there to say anything. So God himself said, ‘THAT’S GOOD!'” I say AMEN! to that.
Four profound truths: 1. The Eternal Presence of God; 2. The Exalted Person of God; 3. The Exclusive Power of God; and 4………….
IV. The Elaborate Purpose Of God
1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Very plainly we are told that we are not here by chance. We are here by choice. Man is not an accident, nor is he an incident. Behind all of this creation lies the Sovereign hand of an Omnipotent God who has a plan for all of His creation. We are told why He created the heavens and the earth.
A. For His Enjoyment
1. All of this creation was made to please Him. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Rev. 4:11) This creation is here to give God pleasure.
2. But all of creation is also to praise Him. Romans 11:36 tells us, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
The psalmist said, “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.” (Psa. 150:6) Now think about that. The plants breathe, the animals breathe, people breathe, everything and everyone that God created is to bring honor and glory and praise to Him.
B. For Our Enjoyment
1. God created this world for us to dwell in. “For this is what the LORD says he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited he says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18) This world was built for us as a temporary dwelling place. God intended for us to live in it, explore it, learn about it, use it.
2. But God also created this world for us to delight in. Paul said in I Timothy 6:17 that “God…richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” This world was created for God’s glory, and for our good. So this verse brings us to a reality that every person must face.
3. The God who conceived this universe, and created this universe, also controls this universe. We should give God the same place in our hearts that He holds in this universe. God should be in control of our lives.
4. There are three questions that we need to ask ourselves.
1. Who am I?
2. Why am I here?
3. Where am I going?
5. In my opinion, those are the three greatest questions of life. The only possible and satisfactory answer to those questions is God.
6. I believe these to be true.
• Who am I? I am a creation of God, made in His image.
• Why am I here? To bring glory and honor to that God who made me.
• Where am I going? To heaven to spend eternity with that God who made me if I know His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, as we leave this place today, may we leave with answers to these questions. And may those answers find us in a true relationship with You. That we are your creation that brings You glory and that we will spend eternity in heaven with You.