By Faith We Understand
September 21, 2014 PM
In Hebrews 11:3, the ingredients of faith are explained. Firstly, faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Whatever one hopes for is supported why what he believes in (Heb 11:10, 16). The stronger one’s faith is, the greater his hope will be. Secondly, faith is the conviction (not doubt) of things unseen (Heb 11:3). That conviction makes one persuaded of things we do not see; including the day of judgment (Phil 3:8-11) and the week of creation (Job 38:1-11).
My faith (conviction) regarding the creation comes from God’s record (Heb 11:3). Creation is a matter of faith as is every explanation of origins. No one was present in the beginning, so creation is an unseen thing which is understood by faith (Heb 11:3).
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
Hebrews 11:3 is about the “creation.” It speaks of things which are seen... because they were created in the form in which they are seen. It is about the material universe, both inanimate and animate.
So, does our understanding of creation come through “divine revelation” or through “the revelation of nature (science)?” The atheist believes the latter and the compromiser believes it is from both (the double revelation theory). But we who claim to be Bible believers are a people who walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). What we believe, and what we teach, is by faith because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17).
True science and truth revealed do not conflict. We who walk by faith have nothing to fear from those who do not. We do not get our faith from any other sources: (1) not “a computation of denominational commenta-tors,” (2) not from “the geological column, (3) not from the distances from the earth to some star, or (4) any other empirical scientific measurement. Scientific data cannot turn Holy Spirit inspired truth into a lie. The consensus of scientific thought does not establish truth. If what the Bible says differs from all men, then men become the liars (Rom 3:3). We must not change what God’s word says to make it somehow agree with what men (Rom 3:4). (5) We also do not get our faith from the collective doubts of our brethren. The brethren’s doubts establish no truth on any subject. To illustrate how our faith comes from the divine record, we examine the record of the fall of ancient Jericho (Josh 6:3-5). Archeology can study the ruins at Jericho, but still the only way you know that it happened when the trumpets sounded and Israel shouted is that the Bible tells you so. In Genesis 18, the angel of God appeared to Abram and Sarai to tell them to the birth of Isaac (Gen 18:11-14). Was such an event, considering Sarai’s age, scientifically possible? It was so unlikely that even Sarai laughed. But the divine answer to her skepticism was “is anything too hard from Jehovah?” This is our answer to skeptics who teach that it would be “impossible” for all the events in Genesis two to have occurred in one twenty-four hour day.
Again, the understanding of truth does not come from the arbitrary use of “literal” and “figurative.” It is wrong to make a literal word figurative just as it is wrong to take a figurative word and make it literal. If, for example, Jonah was “in the belly of the sea monster” for three literal days and nights, then the event is miraculous (Matt 12:40); otherwise it was not. Likewise, if Mary was literally a virgin, then the conception of Jesus was miraculous; otherwise, it was just a natural event. Religious modernists pick whether events were literal or figurative according to their own imaginations. Likewise, our understanding of origin must come from a literal understanding the miraculous events of creation (Gen 1). According to the use of proper hermeneutics, every passage will remain literal and every word will be literal until you find a valid reason to treat it otherwise.
Whatever is understood by faith does not need “revelation” from any source outside the word of God. For the purposes of our faith, we need nothing else (2 Pet 1:3). True believers of what is revealed do not need their faith propped up by the discoveries of men.
What then can we get from “nature?” (1) A keen sense of the glory of God, the Creator (Ps 19:1-2). So nature points men to God, while the will of God reveals God’s message to men. (2) Nature specifically makes visible God’s eternal power and divine nature (Rom 1:20). And yes, science (i.e., investigating the natural) can help us (1) appreciate from archeology the historical accuracy of the Bible, (2) appreciate order, design, and the intelligence of the creature and the Creator, (3) understand natural and material in order to better appreciate the spiritual and the miraculous. The critical point is that nature and revelation do not serve the same purposes. When they do overlap, they supplement each other. But God’s Revelation, the Bible, does not rely upon and is not subject to experimentation and empirical verification. If that were so, to that extent we cease to have faith in what is the revealed. Even the veracity of God’s word is definitely not dependent upon the verification of man! Remember that those who believed the message during the First Century did so without the aid of “modern science.” The law of the Lord is perfect, sure and right (Psa 19:7-8) in contrast to the flawed and imperfect nature of scientific investigation.
What is the “causative agent of the preparation of the worlds? ” Answer: “by faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God.” Eight times in Genesis one, a part of the creation account begins with “then God said” (Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). “Then God said it...and it was so!” And yet, skeptics among men say that “it cannot be the way God said it was. The doctrine of creation by the word of God is confirmed when the “Word” is identified as the Christ (Jn 1:1-3, 14). “All things came into being by Him”, and “nothing came into being without Him. It is blasphemy to say that the Bible does not tell us how God did it. Those who say that the Bible “does not tell us how God did it” insult Him who did it by the spoken word (Col 1:15-16; Heb 1:2). To make the cause of the origin of the creation anything other than the person of our Lord and means and methods involving things other than the word of God strikes at the very heart of the gospel itself and is a direct attack upon the Deity of Christ! Any doctrine which limits the ability of God to perform any creative deed by speaking it so is also blasphemous. Consider the miracles Jesus performed by speaking: (1) He calmed the sea. (2) He healed the lame man. (3) He raised Lazarus from the dead. Any idea that questions what God can do or how quickly it can be accomplished by His word casts doubt upon the faith. Deny one miracle, and you could deny all. God’s written word is as powerful as His spoken one (Rom 1:16; Ps 119:105). Even today all things are being upheld by the word of His power (Heb 1:2-3); either by natural law (Gen 8:22; Matt 5:45), or by His Providence, and in response to prayers (Jam 5:16-18).
How did the Word of God prepare the worlds? The scriptural answer is “so that which is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” This is called creation ex nihilo (creation from nothing). Each living thing made was commanded to produce after its kind; not to evolve into another kind. The idea of creation from nothing also eliminates all speculations of life originating in outer space or on Mars, etc.
The question is often asked: “what difference does it make?” Many do not think it matters how God created it. But the New Testament tells us how and why God made it as He did. He did it to demonstrate the great power of His spoken word. In a text about gospel preaching, the gospel is the word-message with power to save. Then the parallel is drawn between God causing the light shining out of darkness (creation) to God causing the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:1-6; Gen 1:3). The points made are (1) God’s word had power then, so (2) His word has power now. And (3) God’s word caused the creation then, so His word causes the new creation now. If you take the power from the word of creation, you take the power from the word of the gospel of Christ! If you take away the power of his word to cause creation, you take away the power of the gospel to cause the new creation. This is why the record of the creation matters.
On the question of origins, what shall we say? (1) Since the Bible says it, I will believe it (1 Thess 2:13). (2) Since the Bible says it, I will teach it (1 Pet 4:11) If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; (3) I must be careful not to add to or subtract from what is revealed (Rev 22:18-19). Rather, (4) I must earnestly contend for the faith revealed (Jud 3).