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*Title: “In the Beginning God” *
*Text: Genesis 1:1*
*/Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on May 20, 2007/*
* *
* *
I was watching the TV show Jeopardy a few years ago, and I think one of the categories had to do with famous first lines from books, where it would quote part of the line and the contestants would have to finish the line.
And the clue was about the first line of the Bible “In the Beginning …”
-          not one of the 3 contestants knew what came after that, or could even guess right that the next word might be God
-          even though they were well versed in other famous literature and subjects, apparently none of them had ever bothered to read or pay much attention to how the bestselling book of all time opens
-          what also struck me is that not only are so many ignorant of how the Bible starts, but even within Christianity at large, the first verse and first chapter of Genesis is not considered very important or that we should pay much attention to it; many /know/ what it says but don’t believe it means what it says
READ VERSE 1 “*/In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth/*/”/
This one verse is concise and precise and one of the most profound statements ever penned.
It is utterly foundational.
If you have ever lived in or visited a large city, you probably have had the chance to watch a skyscraper under construction.
For the first six months or so of the project, all the workmen do is make a great hole in the ground.
To build a tall building by starting far below the surface level seems absurd, even crazy.
But, as you would suspect, there is a good reason for the large hole.
To build a mammoth building, it is first necessary to dig down until a strong foundation can be built, one that is capable of supporting the skyscraper.
A doghouse needs no foundation, and an ordinary house can be built on little more than a concrete slab.
But a skyscraper, that’s different.
It requires a deep and solid foundation.
So it is in our Christian life.
Our upward potential is totally dependent on the foundation underneath it.[1]
The only foundation massive enough to support the entire Bible and the entire life of all God’s people of all time is Genesis.
There’s a lot of people who don’t think the first chapter of the Bible is very important, but God put it here on purpose to be the first thing His people read, and we would be foolish to think a foundation of a building is unimportant and can be skipped.
The book of Genesis answers the most foundational questions of mankind:
-          Who are we?
-          Why are we here?
-          How did we get here?
-          Is there any meaning in life?
-          Is there a God?
What is He like?
-          Can we know Him?
If so, how can man be right with God?
-          Why is the world the way it is, so much pain, suffering and death?
I heard this week of a secular science magazine that featured a story about “150 unanswerable questions” that they cannot answer and the first several are answered in the first several verses and pages of Genesis.
The first 3 chapters in Genesis alone not only answer those above questions, they also  provoke more detailed and difficult questions, many of which have controversial and differing answers among good Christians:
-          What was it like before God created the universe?
What moved Him to create?
-          Doesn’t science contradict a plain reading of the Genesis account of creation?
-          How could Moses have written those things down if he wasn’t there?
-          Could God have used a big bang and evolution and naturalistic processes and Genesis 1 still be true?
-          Is Genesis 1 poetical in the Hebrew and therefore non-historical?
-          Can we interpret “day” to refer to millions or billions of years without doing violence to the text?
-          Does the old “gap theory” between verses 1 and 2 help reconcile Genesis and science?
-          What about the framework hypothesis that says Genesis 1 is all a literary device that simply wants us to know the big idea that God created, and the actual history begins after the earliest chapter(s)?
-          What about the alleged discrepancies in chapter 1 vs. 2?
-          Does it really matter whether we believe what Genesis 1 says to be true, or can we just skip over it to chapter 2? How do we know chapter 2 is historically true, or 3?
-          Isn’t the beginning of the Bible kind of like the end of the Bible in Revelation where since so many people have different views, we should just throw up our hands and say the only thing that’s important is that God started this whole thing and He’s gonna end it?
In other words, that God was the creator and that Jesus is coming back is really the only thing that matters
-          How could God have created light in day 1 when the Sun wasn’t created until day 4?
-          Where do the dinosaurs fit in?
Does the Bible give any clues as to how and when did they die out?
-          Could God have created the heavens and the earth and creatures with the appearance of age, and if so, does this make Him somehow deceptive?
-          What does it mean for man to be created in the image of God?
-          Is male headship a result of the fall, or part of God’s original design?
-          Does the Old Testament and Bible present a demeaning view of women?
-          Does the command “be fruitful and multiply” prohibit any form of family planning?
-          How does the command “fill the earth and subdue it” relate to stewardship of the planet, environmentalism, global warming, etc.?
-          How would you answer a vegetarian who is convinced that Genesis 1:29 is teaching that God’s way is to only eat plants and no meat?
-          Did Adam have a belly button?
-          In chapter 2 it says God rested on the seventh day and blessed and sanctified it.
Does this mean the Sabbath is a creation ordinance and therefore binding on all humanity in all times?
-          If so, why do we as a church meet on the first day of the week, rather than the seventh?
Is there any support in the NT or early church for changing the Sabbath to Sunday, instead of the Sabbath in Bible times which started late Friday afternoon and ended late Saturday afternoon?
What NT verse supports this change?
-          Was man called to keep the Sabbath before the time of Moses?
If it is part of the Mosaic law, is it part of the ceremonial law fulfilled in Christ, or is it moral law required for Christians today?
If the latter, what can we do and not do, and which day (Saturday or Sunday)?
Are the Seventh Day Adventists more consistent than other Christians on this?
-          Why did the Puritans and Christians in England have a different view of the Sabbath than the continental Reformers, who were essentially not Sabbatarians?
-          Why does the N.T. repeat the other 9 commandments, excluding only the Sabbath command?
-          In Genesis 2:4, what does the phrase mean “These are the generations” and does it refer to what comes before or what follows?
-          Where was the garden of Eden? 
-          What does the OT teach about marriage and divorce?
-          Where did evil come from?
Did God create evil?
-          Why did the serpent fall?
-          Did humanity’s fall into sin only cause death to the human race, or did it affect the entire universe?
Did animals die before sin entered Eden?
-          Why does the N.T. hold Adam responsible for the fall if Eve sinned first?
-          How is it fair that we inherit guilt and fallen sin nature from our first parents, when we weren’t even there?
-          What does Genesis 3:16 mean, in the curse on the woman?
How does it relate to marriage and childbearing?
-          Is the gospel contained in Genesis?
The Trinity?
Is Jesus in the book of Genesis?
-          Why was Cain’s offering rejected and Abel’s accepted?
-          Where did Cain get his wife?
-          Why did men in Genesis start having multiple wives, and why didn’t God speak out against it then?
-          Who were these “sons of God” in Genesis 6 who cohabitated with the daughters of men and produced children?
-          Did people really live hundreds of years back then?
-          Was the flood local or global?
What are the implications of how you answer that question?
-          How did the animals get on the ark, and after the flood, how did they get to Australia?
-          Is capital punishment ok biblically?
Why is murder wrong?
-          What was Ham’s sin?  How would you respond to those who use this story as justification for slavery in early America?
-          Where did all the races and languages come from?
Anyone want to say the Old Testament isn’t practical, that it’s not relevant or doesn’t speak to issues of today?
The first few pages alone in your Bible have enough questions to keep you busy for a long time.
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