God as Creator-Redeemer in the Psalms

creation-psalm33

…No single Psalm …speaks only of creation. It is always the God who has already revealed himself to his people in his word who is said to be known as the Creator of the world. Because God has spoken to us, because God’s name has been revealed to us, we can believe in him as the Creator. Otherwise we could not know him.

The creation is a picture of the power and faithfulness of God, which he has demonstrated to us in his revelation in Jesus Christ. We worship the Creator who has revealed himself as the Redeemer.

..The creation Psalms are not lyrical poems, but instruction for the people of God in which, coming to know the grace of salvation, they are led to know and to honor the Creator of the world.

The creation serves the believer, and everything created by God is good if received with thanksgiving ( 1 Timothy 4:3f.). But we are able to give thanks only for that which stands in harmony with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The creation with all its gifts is there for the sake of Jesus Christ. So we thank God for the grandeur of his creation with, in, and through Jesus Christ, to whom we belong.

Psalms-prayer-book-BonhoefferQuoted from Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsburg, 1974), a translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel (the 8th ed. published in Germany in 1966). These thoughts are found in the seventh section, “The Creation” (pp.29-30), where the author begins to treat the Psalter according to classification by subject.

Reset: Reality Check and Review – D. Murray

Reset-DMurray-2017A few weeks ago I first pointed to a new book from local author David Murray (Puritan Reformed Seminary) published by Crossway – Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (2017).

I have been making my way through it, reading with profit and pain because Murray puts his finger on the problems we men get ourselves into before we “crash and burn” from overworking, stress, exhaustion, etc. In the first two chapters Murray calls us to pull the “car” of our lives into the “repair bay” for a careful checkup and diagnosis. Those chapters are titled “Repair Bay 1; Reality Check” and “Repair Bay 2: Review.”

That first chapter was especially revealing because Murray has you face several sets of soul-piercing questions about your life. Answering those questions is certainly a “reality check.” In the next chapter (“review”) he has us go deeper into the reasons why we so bury ourselves in our work, etc. Some of these reasons are theological, as the following quotes will show.

The first theological reason Murray has us face is the truth that we are God’s creatures, that is, finite, limited, dependent human beings. Here is what he says:

At the root of many of the issues we identified in chapter 1 is a wrong view of God. And it’s not just a slightly wrong view; it’s  a fundamental and foundational error, because it concerns the fundamental and foundational truth that God is our Creator. That’s the very first truth revealed to us in Scripture. And it’s first for a reason: if we go wrong there, we run the risk of going wrong everywhere else. Forgetting we are Christians has serious consequences, but so does forgetting we are human.

But then the author anticipates our objections, such that we say, “Of course I know that God is my Creator! Don’t insult my intelligence and my spiritual knowledge!” But as Murray points out, we are “creationists living like evolutionists.” Here’s how he explains that:

Lots of people call God Creator but live like evolutionists. It’s as if life is about the survival of the fittest rather than about living like a dependent creature – trusting our Creator rather than ourselves – and according to our Maker’s instructions.

To which he adds a great illustration and application:

How would you feel if you built a remote-control model car for your children, only to come home a few days later to hear that they had broken it trying to use it as a plane? You’d say, ‘I gave you a car, and I gave you car instructions; why did you ignore them and treat the car like a plane?’ Similarly, God has given us instructions about how to live as his creatures, as the finite body-and-soul beings he has made us to be. But some of us are trying to live as if we are infinite. It’s hardly surprising that we are breaking down [p39].

Good points to ponder as we start our work week.

The Sin of Certainty – creation.com

the-sin-of-certainty-pennsThis review of Peter Enns’ (former professor at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia) new book by Calvin Smith at Creation.com is worth noting here (posted June 14, 2016).

Enns has been and continues to be influential as a professing Christian scholar who uses a higher critical view of Scripture to promote popular teachings in Christian circles today, including such subjects as biblical authority, evolution, and now the nature of faith itself (not as certainty but as doubt, as the title to his book indicates).

I give you the introduction to Smith’s review and then a section from it on Enns’ evolutionary views, encouraging you to read the full review at the link below.

Peter Enns’ latest book reads like the average village atheist attempting to discredit the Bible, all the while assuring you that he’s a Christian trying to illuminate you on how to build your faith. It’s basically a re-hash of similar concepts we’ve seen before in his previous writings and reiterates that while the Bible doesn’t contain the truth, you can still believe and trust in God (whoever that might be).

And here is the section on Enns’ evolutionary perspective:

Creation

In his chapter on evolution Enns admits what Genesis plainly says.

“The problem for biblically centered Christians is that the Bible, right in the very beginning, tells us clearly that God created all life forms with a simple “Let there be … ” No common descent, natural selection, or billions of years required. So if Darwin was right, the Bible was wrong.”2

Now Enns is a committed theistic evolutionist and hence this isn’t a ‘problem’ for him. Which reveals he isn’t a ‘biblically centered Christian’. And he believes Darwin was right, which means he believes the Bible is wrong!

This would mean that God knowingly put contradictions in His word (or else the Bible isn’t actually inspired although Enns doesn’t comment on this directly). But proclaiming known contradictions amounts to lying (which is likely why Enns has a chapter blasphemously titled ‘God is a liar’9).

Perhaps Enns forgot Numbers 23:19 where Scripture makes something clear- “God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind.”

(But of course that could just be one of those parts of the Bible you don’t have to take as plainly written in Enns’ way of thinking.)

For Enns the truth of the Bible isn’t what’s important, it’s ‘trust’ in God. Of course the word ‘trust’ is defined as; ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something’. So Enns shoots himself in the foot in his basic premise. How are Christians supposed to trust in God if His revelation to His people is un-trustworthy?

Source: The Sin of Certainty – creation.com

New Edition of “In the Beginning God” – Homer C. Hoeksema

In the Beg God - HCH - 2015The Reformed Free Publishing Association has just released a fresh edition of Homer C. Hoeksema’s (1923-1989) In the Beginning God (c.1966; 2nd ed., 2015). The book was the fruit of three timely lectures Prof. H.C. Hoeksema delivered in the old First PRC (Grand Rapids, MI) in the winter and spring of 1966.

The timeliness and importance of this book is noted in the publisher’s description:

The 1960s were years of challenges to the infallibility and inspiration of scripture. These attacks were precipitated by the increasingly popular theory of evolution, which was making inroads into Reformed churches and schools. In contradiction to this creeping heresy and in unequivocal defense of the doctrine of scripture, the Reformed Free Publishing Association published In the Beginning God.

Since then the conflict between creation and evolution as the explanation of the origin of the world has intensified, and the doctrine of scripture is increasingly compromised, even in historically Reformed churches and schools.

God’s people must be knowledgeable regarding the doctrines of scripture and of creation so that they are able staunchly to defend these truths. To this end the Reformed Free Publishing Association is pleased to republish this explanation and defense of these timeless truths.

With the timely reissue of this work we heartily concur, recommending this book to our PRC members but also to the broader Christian and Reformed community. Given the bolder and wider attacks against Scripture, and particularly against the opening chapters of God’s Book, especially now in the most conservative Evangelical and Reformed churches and institutions of higher education, the message of this significant work is important to digest and heed.

And the starting point for any serious discussion of and defense of the origin of the world is indeed where “HCH” placed it – the infallibility of holy Scripture. Listen to these words in his opening chapter:

The scriptures as we have them are the written record of the word of God. This is a great wonder. From among all books and all writings you can single out the scriptures and say about them, ‘This book is the word of God himself.’

…This is important practically with respect to inspiration, infallibility, and the various problems and questions that arise in connection with these truths. I fear that we are sometimes inclined to forget this. When we do forget, we are inclined to take a rationalistic approach and attempt to meet the opponent of the scriptures and of infallibility on his rationalistic ground. When we cannot succeed in overcoming his apparently well-reasoned arguments, we weaken and begin to have doubts concerning inspiration and infallibility, and we become inclined to compromise.

Hence we must remember that the Bible and its inspiration and its infallibility are strictly matters of faith. This means that the truth of infallibility is a spiritual matter: not a matter of the head, but a matter of the heart. The unbeliever cannot recognize the Bible as the inspired and infallible word of God. That is a matter of the heart, a matter of faith. We stand on holy ground when we talk about scripture, and we ought to be deeply aware of this. Faith does not start with the question, is the Bible the word of God? Faith starts with the proposition that the Bible is the word of God.

…The Bible as the word of God in its divinely inspired and infallible character towers far above any human, sinful efforts to contradict the Bible, and it towers above any merely human efforts to defend it. The truth of the Bible depends on neither. It depends on God. God’s word and its truth are not dependent on our understanding, but our understanding is dependent on the word of God (9-11).

All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee: God’s Gift of “Air” – J.Minderhoud

SB-March1-2015Another excellent article in the March 1, 2015 issue of the Standard Bearer is Joel Minderhoud’s most recent contribution under the rubric “All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee.” In his series of articles he is calling attention to the “main characters in the most elegant book” of creation (a phrase taken from the Belgic Confession, Art.2), and in this particular article he focuses on God’s gift of air.

At the outset he ties it to the annual Prayer Day service the Protestant Reformed congregations hold in this season of the year, by means of which we confess together our complete dependence on the God of creation:

…We do so for no small reason. Each of us in truly dependent upon God’s provisions for our daily existence. Though North American society has drastically changed in the past one hundred years, from the farmland to the office cubicle, we are no less dependent upon the physical creation for our daily existence.

…In this article we will examine air – and more particularly its fundamental element, oxygen – and note our absolute dependence in our every breath for this indispensable gift of God. As we observe the annual day of Prayer, calling on Almighty God to grant us what we need both physically and spiritually, may we give earnest attention to His good provisions in the creation for our physical needs.

To give you just a glimpse into this one amazing gift of God called “air”, Minderhoud writes the following about the process known as “respiration”:

God in His wisdom designed a pair of processes – respiration and photosynthesis – that by His providence give ample oxygen for us and the animals of creation to breathe. As fast as we remove oxygen from the atmosphere via respiration, photosynthetic organisms such as plants, algae, and cyanobacteria convert carbon dioxide ( a waste product of our respiration) into a fresh, new oxygen supply. Organisms that contain the green-colored, ‘solar-powered’ chloroplast organelles are the best-known ‘recycling facilities’ on the planet. All through the day, as humans (and animals) use oxygen for their daily existence, the chloroplasts, powered by sunlight, convert the waste carbon dioxide that we exhale back into oxygen gas (and simultaneously produce sugar products that are stored in the plant fibers, which we, incidentally, will use later on as our food supply). By this marvelous pair of processes, the oxygen supply in the atmosphere remains fairly stable so that we always have sufficient oxygen to breathe (257-58).

All that God does, just so we can breathe and live, and move about so as to carry out our callings in this world. One of which is certainly to praise Him for this work too. Do we? Have we thought today about His gift of air and oxygen? Have we asked Him to grant us this gift, without which we die and return to the dust?

Things to ponder as we learn about these characters of God’s most elegant book, creation.

Meditation: Our Father Created All Things in Six Days!

InbegGodThe following meditation is taken from the “daily meditations on the Heidelberg Catechism” feature found on the PRC website. The author is Rev.G.Van Baren (emeritus PRC pastor), who originally wrote this section of meditations for our sister church in Singapore, the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church.

This series of meditations covering the doctrine of creation begins the month of March and explains that part of the “HC” which treats the Apostles’ Creed, specifically its opening article on the sovereign Fatherhood of our God: “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”

Following my post from yesterday and in light of the current church (and world) attacks on God’s Fatherhood and His work of creating in the beginning, I believe this meditation and the rest in the series (which you may find at the link above) will guide you truthfully in your faith concerning the Almighty Maker. And may such truth lead us to fall down before Him in humble worship and adoration on this Lord’s Day (for this, you may also read Rev.4).

Read: Hebrews 11

Genesis 1 and 2 present the simple, clear, testimony of the great work of creation by our Almighty Father. In six literal days (each identified as beginning and ending with evening and morning) He fashioned all things within His great universe. It did not take our Father millions or billions of years to finish the work. It was finished in six days. The word “day” almost always refers to a literal day in Scripture. The few exceptions are clearly identified (as in Gen. 2:4). God speaks also of the days of creation in His great law: the Ten Commandments. God said that we are to rest on the seventh day, for “in six days God created the heavens and the earth and rested the seventh day.”

This is an essential truth which can be contradicted only with severe consequences for the interpretation of all of Holy Scripture. Scripture is completely infallible or it is fallible in some or many of its passages. Presbyterian and Reformed Churches which began with a denial of the literal creation days, soon were led into a pattern of denying or “reinterpreting” many other passages of Scripture. Many heresies have been introduced in this way.

The creation account has in it a simple beauty in describing the great work of creation. The beautiful statement is included with the days of creation: “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was (very) good.” There was no sin, no evidence of the curse or of death in all of that which God had made.

There is clearly presented also an order in that creation: God creates a “stage” for his work—especially on the earth. He forms the plants needed to sustain life. Then He created animal life from lower to higher forms. Within each “kind” there could be and would be changes seen over a period of time. But one “kind” did not evolve into other “kinds”.

The climax of this creation was the formation of Adam (means “dust”) from the dust of the earth—and Eve (the first woman) from Adam’s rib. Adam was made the head of creation and all mankind. Gen. 2 points out also that the creation was at the same time the establishment of the marriage relationship. From the beginning, God made one man for one woman as long as they both would live. When questioned about divorce, Jesus insisted, “From the beginning it was not so.”

It is humbling to realize that the Almighty God who did all this, is my Father for Jesus’ sake.

*Note: It may be added here that the PRC website has plenty of other reading material on the creation-evolution debate taking place in the church. Consult, for example, our pamphlet section, or specifically, this pamphlet.

Genesis 2-3, Adam and Eve, and John H. Walton: An Explosive New Book

So they are back in the news (yet again): Adam and Eve and all that — GetReligion.

One of the most heated and significant debates taking place in the church at present is that centering on the historicity and authority of Genesis 1-3 in the light of the ever-dogmatic claims of evolutionary science and the unceasing pressures of its professing Christian adherents. That debate includes, of course, the reality and accuracy of the account of the creation and of our first parents, Adam and Eve.

One professing Christian professor/teacher after another continues to fall for these evolutionary claims and to cave in to these pressures, which means that they tinker and tamper with the sacred Scriptures in its early chapters. And this is happening at even the most historically conservative Evangelical colleges, universities, and seminaries.

Lost World of Genesis 1 - JWaltonMore recently John H. Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL (and formerly of Moody Bible Institute), has “progressed” from a traditional Christian understanding of Gen.1-3 to a view that makes room for an evolutionary understanding of the origins of the world and man.

Richard Ostling carried this report of a new book by Walton set to be released by InterVarsity Press this month which, in his words, has the nature of “an incendiary device about to explode.” This will be a book to watch, as well as to read and critique carefully, from the Bible and the historic creeds of the church. I plan to ask for a review copy, so if any of you are interested, let me know.

Here is the opening paragraph’s of Ostling’s story; to read the rest, visit the link above.

On the religion beat, the news often consists of new books about old texts with old stories, and the oldest old story of them all is the Genesis portrayal of Adam and Eve. Their status as the first humans and parents of the entire human race is a big biblical deal, especially for evangelical Protestants.

Since no evangelical school outranks Wheaton College (Illinois) in prestige and influence, journalists should get ready for an incendiary device about to explode in March.

A book by Wheaton Old Testament Professor John H. Walton will upend many traditional – or certainly “evangelical” – ideas about Adam and Eve. Moreover, “The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate” comes from the certifiably evangelical InterVarsity Press. Click here for the online press kit (.pdf).

The author’s views have been evolving (so to speak) since 1998, when he decided Genesis, like other ancient writings, offers a “functional” rather than biological depiction of God’s creation process. He explained this in “The Lost World of Genesis One” (2009, also from InterVarsity), and a more scholarly version, “Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology” (2011, Eisenbrauns). He then depicted an historical but “archetypal” Adam in “Four Views on the Historical Adam” (2013, Zondervan).

The Bible’s First Word – D.Thomas

Our “Word Wednesday” feature today is a bit different, in part because I was struggling for time to post something before it got too late, and then a bit of post-dinner reading led me to this article by Derek Thomas, the title of which appears above. I saw it while browsing Monergism’s latest free e-books. Off to the right side of their latest email newsletter is a list of free articles (pdfs usually) and, as you can imagine, “The Bible’s First Word” caught my eye.

God Adam and You-Phillips-2015Turns out this is a chapter in a new book published by P&R Publishing (copyrighted by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, 2015 and containing the speeches given at the 2013 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology) under the title God, Adam, and You: Biblical Creation Defended and Applied, edited by Richard D. Phillips. Contributors include Joel R. Beeke, Kevin DeYoung, Derek Thomas, Liam Goligher, Richard D.Phillips, and Carl Trueman.

Thomas’ contribution is the opening one, based on Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God” – and is a powerful introduction to this book. So, for our word feature today, we think about the revelation of God to us in these first words of the Bible, as elucidated by Thomas. May we pause to weigh them carefully – along with the “weight” of our Almighty Creator (You will see that there is a special word to learn in this post!).

Here is just one brief section from the chapter; find the entire article at the link above (where the title is given). And, of course, it wouldn’t hurt to get the entire book; it looks to be a fine work dealing with the contemporary attacks on creation and the historicity of Genesis and our first parents.

It is no accident, of course, that the Bible begins with God. God is what the Bible is all about. One of the first lessons that we learn when reading the Bible is the importance of asking the right questions. Today people are prone to ask, “What is this passage saying to me?” We put ourselves in the center hermeneutically. Instead, the first question that we should always ask about any passage of the Bible is, “What is this passage teaching me about God?” For God is first, and he is the center, and he is last.

[In contrast to evolutionism’s “Big Bang” theory] …The Scriptures start, “In the beginning, God . . .” In the beginning was the Lord. In the beginning were the Father and the Son and the Spirit, three persons, one God. There is no express mention here that in the beginning, apart from God, there was nothing. Genesis 1:1 doesn’t actually say that God created out of nothing. But, of course, the very absence of any expression, the very absence of any reference to any material, is in itself suggestive of what Moses wants to tell you. The cause of everything that is, he says, is the creative, powerful, and sovereign hand of almighty God.

…As we think about the doctrine of creation and the importance of it, I want us to see a number of truths that emerge from this opening prologue, this opening statement of Moses.

First, we should notice a very simple thing: that the biblical doctrine of creation exalts God. We live in a culture, and even in a church culture, where God seems to be without weight. The “weightlessness of God” is what David Wells calls it.1 One of the great words in the Old Testament for the glory of God is actually a word that is suggestive of weight, much in the sense that some people use the word heavy today. If something is significant, they say, “Heavy, heavy.” That is, it has weight and depth. God is weighty. God is significant. He is the almighty and sovereign Creator. He is the glorious God who is. Everything that is, the totality of existence—space and time, the vastness of the cosmos, everything from the microcosm to the macrocosm—was made to exalt God.

NASA | Solar Dynamics Observatory: Year 5

▶ NASA | SDO: Year 5 – YouTube.

This is an amazing video of images (200 million!) capturing the constant activity of our sun, taken from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which was launched five years ago. Below is part of NASA’s introduction and then the video itself.

“…In them hath he [God] set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalm 19:4b-6)

February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

In honor of SDO’s fifth anniversary, NASA has released a video showcasing highlights from the last five years of sun watching. Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun’s surface.

The Right Balance (in Work and Rest) – Scott Redd

The Right Balance by Scott Redd | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT - Feb 2015The third feature article on this month’s “TT” theme (“Labor and Rest: Finding the Right Balance”) is the one linked above.

Penned by Dr. Scott Redd, president and associate professor of OT at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., the article points us to the way to find the “right balance” in our labor and rest by helping us see the two extremes to be avoided – what he calls “work idolatry” (workaholism) and “rest idolatry” (sloth or laziness).

I found much profit in Redd’s thoughts and share a portion of them here. The quotation below is from the part of his article where he is describing the extreme of work idolatry, and showing us the importance of the rest God built into our lives by His own work and rest in the beginning.

The life that is marked by extended restlessness does not merely indicate a lack of wisdom; it indicates rebellion. We can see the weight of Sabbath-keeping in the way that humanity is called to care for the land throughout the Old Testament. In the Genesis account, God forms the man adam from the ground adamah (Gen. 2:7), closely connecting the two. He charges man to care for and rule over the ground, a charge that is often referred to as the “cultural mandate” (Gen. 1:28). Moses taught that such a charge over the land in Israel included the responsibility to set aside certain seasons of rest when the land ceased from the difficult work of producing food for God’s people (Lev. 25:1-7). Rest for the land was so significant that the failure of the Israelites in this regard is the trigger that Moses (Lev. 26:34) and the Chronicler (2 Chron. 36:20-21) give for the exile—the land had not been allowed its proper Sabbaths. Such passages should sober us since they indicate that a personal rejection of rest may result in a divine imposition of it.

We resist rest to our own detriment because it is through rest that we find rejuvenation and renewal for the work to come. More primarily, it is through rest that we acknowledge the Lord who calls us to this life of work and rest. Therefore, we ought to work and rest to His glory (1 Cor. 10:31).