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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Title:Our God is the good Creator of all
Text:BC 12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
 
Preached:2022
Added:2022-12-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 90:1,2,7,8

Hymn 80

Hymn 77

Hymn 1

Psalm 81:1-3

Scripture readings: Genesis 2, Romans 5

Catechism lesson: Belgic Confession article 12

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

There are certain types of birds we have here in Australia that you’d never see in the wild in North America.  For example, there are no parrots, no cockatoos, no rosellas or corellas.  But North America also has birds that you’ll never see here.  One of those is the hummingbird. 

Most hummingbirds are tiny.  They could easily fit in the palm of your hand.  One of the cool things that hummingbirds do is hover in one place like a helicopter.  They do this so they can sip nectar out of flowers with their long beaks.  In Canada some people have hummingbird feeders outside their house.  These feeders have sugar water coloured red.  It’s always neat to watch the hummingbirds come and feed.

Hummingbirds are an amazing part of God’s creation.  I recently read something about how hummingbirds get the nectar from a flower or feeder into their beaks.  They have long tongues with two grooves on them.  These grooves give the hummingbird a pump; they expand and contract to deliver the nectar into the mouth of the bird.  God designed the hummingbird with a nectar pump.  It’s an incredible piece of machinery.  This kind of amazing design is found everywhere in creation – it’s in each of us as God’s creatures.  Indeed, we have been fearfully and wonderfully made. 

From hummingbirds to humans and everything else, all the design we see in creation isn’t an end in itself.  It testifies to God, to his goodness and wisdom.  The Bible teaches us that God created the world and everything in it for his glory.  It shines a light on his magnificence.  This afternoon we’re looking at what the Bible teaches us about our Creator and his creation.  We’ll see how our God is the good Creator of all.  We’ll learn about:

  1. How it all got started
  2. How it all keeps going
  3. How it all went wrong

There are conflicting stories about origins.  The most popular story in our day says there was a Big Bang which brought the universe into existence some 14 billion years ago.  Following that, once the earth appeared and conditions were right, somehow life developed from non-life.  Simple one-celled organisms evolved into more complicated organisms.  Over billions of years, these organisms continued to evolve and more species appeared.  This is the Darwinian evolutionary story many people today accept as a fact.  Most people accept it on faith -- they simply believe what the scientists tell them.  They trust the word of scientists. 

However, Christians ought to trust God and his Word.  After all, he was the only one who was there when the universe began.  He’s given us a true, eye-witness account.  The Bible’s story about origins is the true story.

The Darwinian evolutionary story says animals (and they include humans) evolved from lower life forms.  All animals have a common ancestry.  This evolution took place over long periods of time through processes like natural selection.  The Bible says that God created the animals according to their different kinds.  All the work of creation took place within the span of six ordinary days.  That’s the picture we get from Genesis 1.

We read from Genesis 2.  There the creation story is retold with special attention on the creation of Adam and Eve.  God created them on the sixth day.  He created them separate from the animals.  God created them in his image, to reflect him.  Adam and Eve were created as the pinnacle of God’s good creation.  But the Darwinian story says homo sapiens evolved over millions of years.  They appeared fairly late in the history of the universe.  Human beings share a common ancestry with primates.  There’s nothing inherently special about these human animals.  Most scientists will tell you that human beings were definitely not designed – we’re products of random chance processes, accidents of the universe. 

What did our Lord Jesus think about this?  As the Son of God, as the second person of the Trinity, he was present at creation.  According to John 1, Christ was involved with creation.  So, if he speaks anywhere about creation, his word has the greatest authority.  He does directly speak about creation in Matthew 19.  The Pharisees asked Jesus about whether it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason.  Jesus began his answer in Matthew 19:4 by saying, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female…?”  It’s important to notice that Jesus says Adam and Eve were created at the beginning.  God created them at the beginning of the universe.  On the sixth day.  They didn’t appear through a process of evolution over millions or billions of years.  

All things, human and otherwise, have their origins in what God reveals in Genesis 1 and 2.  As we confess in article 12 of our Belgic Confession, God “created out of nothing heaven and earth and all creatures..”  Angels are creatures too, so God also created them at the beginning.  The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly when they were created, but as creatures they must have a beginning.  Angels can’t be infinite or eternal the way the Creator is.  By definition a creature is finite and has a start point.  

Human beings have their start point with the actions of God described in Genesis 2.  Article 14 sums it up:  “We believe God created man of dust from the ground and he made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous and holy.”  Adam didn’t have a biological mother and neither did Eve.  God created them directly.  Adam from dust and Eve from Adam’s rib.  They were created as fully formed adult human beings.  Adam and Eve were created ready to have dominion over the earth and to be fruitful and multiply.

God created a good and beautiful world with amazing creatures.  Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  It was very good because it all came from his very good hands.

His very good hands, God’s powerful hands, also continue to uphold his creation.  This is how it all keeps going.  It all keeps going because God maintains it.  He powerfully upholds what he has created.  We have a special name for this Bible teaching.  We call it ‘providence.’  This doctrine says that God is in control of all things.  This doctrine is found in Lord’s Day 10 of our Catechism, but also article 13 of our Belgic Confession.      

I don’t think there’s any doctrine in the Bible easier to understand but tougher to accept.  We can easily accept that God is in control when good things come our way.  When we receive blessings, we might not always remember to give thanks, but those blessings are certainly not going to make us question God or his wisdom.  It’s almost as if we think this is the way it’s supposed to be.  If God is good, if he’s in control, then the way it should be is that I get good things from him.  But what happens if you’re suffering?  What happens if you experience setback after setback, trial after trial? 

Some time ago, I posted a quote from one of the Puritans about providence on my Facebook author page.  I don’t remember the exact quote, but it had something to do with God sending both prosperity and adversity into the lives of believers.  Someone commented on that and objected to that, thought it was unbiblical.  However, it’s clearly taught in many passages of Scripture.  For example, in Isaiah 45:7 God says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.”  Or Lamentations 3:38, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?”  The Bible teaches that God sends things we experience as good, and he sends things that we experience as not so good. 

But for believers, both of these come from the good God who loves us.  The good things we experience we can easily relate to God’s love.  The bad things we experience is where we struggle.  If someone loves you, shouldn’t they give you only good things?  This is where we forget the great distance between God and us, the great distance between our wisdom and understanding and his.  We have an overly high estimation of our wisdom and a failure to properly esteem the infinite nature of God’s wisdom and his goodness and his love.  We have a hard time accepting that God is infinitely wiser and better than we are and he loves us far more infinitely than we could ever understand. 

When I teach this doctrine of providence in catechism classes, I’ll sometimes tell this story from my childhood.  I was about three years old.  I had a baby sister and my mom was doing something with her and left me in the kitchen alone.  On the counter was an attractive looking bottle of red liquid.  I took it, opened it, and drank down the whole thing.  When my mom returned to the kitchen, she saw that I’d just drank a whole bottle of cough syrup.  In short order she had me at the hospital where nurses were holding me down so I could get my stomach pumped out.  I thought I was dying.  I thought my mom had taken me there to kill me.  It wasn’t something I experienced as good.  But it was for my good and my mom knew that.  Three year old me couldn’t have known that at the time.  Similarly, in his wisdom and goodness God sends us hard things and we don’t understand.  But he assures that he’s our heavenly Father who loves us.  He calls us to trust his goodness, his wisdom, and his love.  Brothers and sisters, humble yourself and believe that your God knows better than you do.   

This is why article 13 of our Belgic Confession says that God’s “power and goodness are so great and beyond understanding that he ordains and executes his work in the most excellent and just manner…”  There are things he does that surpass our human understanding.  But with those, “we will not curiously inquire farther than our capacity allows us.”  We’ll be content to be students of Christ who just stick with the Word of God and what it teaches us about who God is and how he rules this world. 

Loved ones, in times of doubt and questions about God and his providence, remember the cross of our Lord Jesus.  There you see it all come together.  There’s horrible suffering, the worst the world has ever seen.  There’s horrible suffering being experienced by a perfectly innocent man.  But it’s all according to God’s infinite wisdom, goodness, and love.  It’s all happening for our good, because God loves us.  God can and he does take horrible suffering, even suffering after suffering, trial after trial, and turn it to good.  Romans 8:28 is a familiar Scripture passage, but it’s worth hearing again and again:  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

One of God’s designs in suffering is holiness.  Paul Tripp’s book Do You Believe? explains why we have suffering and messiness in our lives:

…the mess is meant to call you out of your self-reliance, your self-focus, and your love for the world to a greater dependency on him.  But it is meant to do more.  God intends the messiness of this time and place to be transformative.  Each area is meant to prepare you for what is to come; that is, to be a tool of an increasing spiritual hunger and growth.  God uses all of the difficulties of life in this fallen world to accomplish the most important thing that could ever be accomplished for you and in you; that is, that you would progressively become holy as he is holy.  As this happens, you become more and more ready for your final address, where holiness is the norm.  Here is where ultimate meaning and purpose are found.  God uses even the hardest things to produce the most wonderful things.  I don’t live in an impersonal, irrational world where bad things happen for no reason and with little good resulting.

Paul Tripp is right.  As 2 Corinthians 4 says our trials here are preparing us for the eternal weight of glory to come.  In comparison with that eternal weight of glory, what we have here are “light momentary” afflictions.  But they’re never purposeless.  God has a reason behind it.     

We confess this doctrine of providence in the Belgic Confession and you might think to yourself that these are just the words of theologians who live in their ivory towers and never experience the real world.  But Guido de Bres, the author of the Confession, he knew suffering.  He was chased and persecuted by the authorities.  De Bres was a wanted man – they even had a “wanted” poster describing him.  Eventually after someone betrayed him, he was caught and put in prison.  He’d later be hanged.  But while he was waiting in prison for his execution, he wrote one last letter to his wife.  It’s a touching letter.  In this letter he writes about God’s providence.  He points his wife to the cross as the sign of God’s love.  He also writes honestly about his own struggles.  Let me share just a little bit of what Guido de Bres wrote to his wife Catherine:

It is very true that human reason rebels against this doctrine and resists it as much as possible and I have very strongly experienced this myself.  When I was arrested, I would say to myself, “So many of us should not have traveled together.  We were betrayed by this one or that one.  We ought not to have been arrested.”  With such thoughts I became overwhelmed, until my spirits were raised by meditation on the providence of God.  Then my heart began to feel a great repose.  I began then to say, “My God, you have caused me to be born in the time you have ordained.  During all the time of my life you have kept me and preserved me from great dangers and you have delivered me from them all – and if at present my hour has come in which I will pass from this life to you, may your will be done.  I cannot escape from your hands.  And if I could, I would not, since it is happiness for me to conform to your will.”  These thoughts made my heart cheerful again.    

That was written by the author of our Belgic Confession, Guido de Bres.  He learned to trust God through his tears and suffering.  Loved ones, we can too.           

We’ve come to our third point.  God created a very good world.  Part of that was a good human couple, Adam and Eve.  They were created in God’s image, upright and able to choose what is right.  But we know from Scripture and experience that this isn’t the world we live in today.  Something went drastically wrong. 

That something was the fall into sin.  It’s described in the Bible in Genesis 3.  It’s summarized in our Confession in article 14.  Most of us know the story.  Satan approached Eve and deceived her into thinking it would be a good idea to disobey God and eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  She then induced Adam to do the same.  They both rebelled against God.  And the world has never been the same since. 

With the fall into sin, humanity became naturally and pervasively depraved.  What do I mean by that?  By nature, all human beings are fallen.  And this fallenness or depravity is something that has gotten into our whole being.  Our minds, our hearts, and our wills are all corrupted because of sin.  As it says in article 14, “…man became wicked and perverse, corrupt in all his ways.”  Or to put it in the words of Ephesians 2:1, fallen unregenerated human beings are dead in trespasses and sins – thoroughly and completely spiritually dead.

Because of that spiritual death, there’s no possible way for any human being to make any moves towards God.  Because of that spiritual death, we can’t do anything good in the eyes of God, we can’t do anything to merit rewards from him or earn his favour.  Because of this spiritual death, we can’t hear the gospel and then respond with faith on our own.  It’s impossible for a dead person to do anything.  Dead is dead. 

The only way that changes is through regeneration.  If the Holy Spirit causes us to be born again, we receive spiritual life.  We’re then able to believe in Christ as our Saviour.  We’re then able to begin making choices in life which are according to God’s Word and pleasing to him.  But it’s only because of what God the Holy Spirit has worked in us.  Without him, we’re dead and able to do nothing spiritually speaking.

The problem is this thing called original sin.  According to what we read in Romans 5, the sin of Adam didn’t only affect him.  Because he was the covenant head of the whole human race, the sin he committed is transmitted to the rest of us.  As it says in Romans 5:12, “death spread to all men because all sinned.”  We all sinned in Adam, the head of the covenant that was established with humanity in him.  Sometimes that’s called the covenant of creation or the covenant of works.  There was a covenant made with Adam and with all humanity in him.  If Adam didn’t obey God in this covenant, there would be death, not only for him, but for all in him, for all his descendants too.  Romans 5:18 says further that Adam’s trespass led to condemnation for all people.  And verse 19 adds that Adam’s disobedience leads to us being made sinners.  This is original sin.  Adam’s corruption and guilt are passed down to us.  We come into this world already as sinners.

As our Belgic Confession says in article 15, original sin is “a corruption of the entire nature of man and a hereditary evil which infects even infants in their mother’s womb.”  We’re not born innocent.  We’re born as sinners, as rebels against God.  We don’t have to be taught how to sin, it comes naturally to us.  We commit actual sins because we inherited original sin.  We sin because we’re sinners.

One of the reasons it’s important to understand this has to do with evangelism.  Listen carefully: God does not send people to hell for rejecting the gospel.  All people come into this world already as sinners and under God’s judgment.  No one is ever in a neutral place with respect to God.  All people are born sinners, they are dead spiritually speaking and in rebellion against the Creator.  They have actual sins and original sin inherited from Adam through the covenant of works.  This is why John says in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”  Notice that it says, “the wrath of God remains on him.”  The wrath doesn’t come on the person who rejects the gospel, it’s already there and it stays there. 

Loved ones, let’s be thankful that God sent our Saviour to not only bear our actual sins, but our original sin too.  He carried all our corruption and evil to the cross.  With his suffering and death on that cross, he extinguished the fires of hell that we deserve.  God wasn’t responsible for the fall into sin.  God isn’t responsible for original sin and certainly not for our actual sins.  Human beings are responsible for sin.  Yet God in his goodness takes it on himself to save us from all our sin through Christ.  That should impress us again.  That should lead us to worship in awe and amazement.

Indeed, everything we’ve learned about this afternoon again leads us in that direction of praise for God.  He is our glorious Creator.  God is the almighty and wise Sustainer of us and everything else.  He’s the good God of providence.  Even though we fell and rebelled against him, in his goodness he pursued his beloved creatures and addressed their sin through Jesus Christ.  So we sing, “We praise you O God, our Redeemer, Creator; in grateful devotion our tribute we bring.”  AMEN. 

PRAYER

O God our Father,

We worship you as our Creator.  With your almighty power, you created out of nothing heaven and earth and all creatures.  You created us human beings as the pinnacle of your Creation.  We stand in awe of you and your work.  You’re worthy of our praise, also for upholding all of this by your mighty hand.  We confess that you’re in control of all things.  You do that perfectly, wisely, and well.  Please help us with your Holy Spirit to be confident of your goodness and wisdom in how you ordain things.  Be with those among us who seem to experience one trial after another.  Help them with your Holy Spirit to trust your Word, to trust that you are truly good and loving and wise.  Help those who suffer to keep looking to the cross as the great sign of your love and wisdom.  We thank you for what our Saviour did on that cross to address our actual sins and our original sin.  Without him we would still be under your wrath, lost and without hope.  O God, thank you that we have hope and life in our Saviour Jesus.  Please help us all to continue living as his disciples each day.     




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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