Christ - The Creator
By Brian Anderson
This morning I am going to begin a series of messages on Christ in Genesis. You might wonder why in the world I would preach a whole series on Christ in an Old Testament book. To be sure, Christ is the focus of the gospels, epistles and Revelation, but surely not an Old Testament book like Genesis. Not so fast! Jesus Himself taught that He was the central sum and substance of the Old Testament scriptures. He stated emphatically, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of MeÖ For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me" (Jn.5:39,46). Furthermore, he told two disciples on the road to Emmaus on the heels of his resurrection, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" The narrative goes on to state, "And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures" (Lk.24:25-27). That very evening Jesus appeared to the eleven and said, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Lk.24:44). Clearly Jesus believed and taught that He was the focus of all Old Testament Scripture.
This was not the teaching of Christ alone. Paul wrote to Timothy, "You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2Tim.3:14-15). Paul believed that the Old Testament (the sacred writings) could lead a man to salvation by bringing him to faith in Christ Jesus. Paul practiced his beliefs in his apostolic ministry as well. When he came to Thessalonica, he went to the synagogue of the Jews and for three sabbaths reasoned with the Jews from the Scriptures, "explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ĎThis Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.í" Notice that Paul found the proof for his assertions that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead from the Old Testament Scriptures.
This was the same practice of Apollos, who "powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 18:28). Philip the Evangelist preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch from Isaiah 53 (Acts 8:35). The apostle Peter as well declared, "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1Pet.1:10-11). Peter declares that as the Old Testament prophets prophesied, they were speaking of the sufferings and glories of Jesus Christ. As you can see, Christ and His apostles all speak with one voice as to who they believe to be the central figurehead of all of Scripture -- the Lord Jesus Christ.
The function of the Old Testament for believers today is not primarily to reveal the law. Although the Old Testament Jews used it as a law code, the early Christians used it to show that Jesus was the Christ. Neither is the Old Testament Israel-centered. Yes, it reveals much about Israel, but is primarily Christ-centered. For believers on this side of the cross, the Old Testament Scriptures function primarily to reveal Christ in all of His glory.
How is Christ to be found in the Old Testament? He is seen in primarily three ways: theophanies, prophecies, and types. A theophany is an appearance of God in history. In various places in the Old Testament, Christ shows up on the stage of history in a pre-incarnate form. A type is a divinely-inspired event or person in the Old Testament which prefigures Christ and His kingdom in some way. In the New Testament, Adam, Melchizedek and Isaac are stated to be types of Christ, displaying some prominent feature of our Savior through their own lives. A prophecy is God-given revelation predicting truth concerning Jesus Christ. In Genesis we will find Christ in all three ways: theophanies, prophecies, and types.
A word of caution is in order at this point. We must be careful when interpreting types in the Old Testament. A type is not an allegory. A type is based on a real, historical event, whereas an allegory need not be rooted in real history. The early Catholic church fathers used the allegorical method of interpretation in large measure. They sought at least two meanings from every passage Ė the literal and the allegorical. They believed that one must dig deeper than the natural sense of the passage in order get the really important meaning. This, obviously, led to all kinds of fanciful interpretations of Scripture. The allegorical method of interpretation can make the Bible teach almost anything. In order to keep ourselves from finding a type in every event of the Old Testament, we must examine how Christ and His apostles saw and interpreted them, that we might learn to do the same. Furthermore, we must never base our authority for a doctrine on an obscure type in the Old Testament, but always on the clear teaching of New Testament truth. By keeping these principles in mind, we will go far in keeping ourselves from fanciful and strained interpretations of holy Scripture.
With that as a necessary background and introduction to our continuing studies of Christ in Genesis, letís dig into Genesis itself, and discover Christ as the creator.
Christ Ė The Author of the Physical Creation
In Genesis 1:1 the Bible declares, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The Hebrew word used for God there is elohim. This word is in the plural number, while the Hebrew word for "created" is in the singular. Now, which is it? Did God or gods create the heavens and the earth? Furthermore, in Genesis 1:26 God says, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." Again, the idea of a plurality within the Godhead is emphasized, even in this very first chapter of the Bible. All of this hints at the doctrine of the Trinity, only made clear later in the teachings of the New Testament. When the Scripture speaks of God creating, it includes the persons of God the Father and God the Son as creating the universe together.
Jesus Christ is affirmed as a co-creator with His Father in unmistakable language in the New Testament. John begins His gospel by writing, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (Jn.1:1-3). Not only does this text clearly present Jesus Christ as God, but it declares that nothing in Godís entire universe has come into being apart from Him! Furthermore, in verse 10 of the same chapter John states, "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." The apostle Paul, likewise, affirms Christ as creator in Colossians 1:16 where he writes, "For by Him (Christ) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities Ė all things have been created by Him and for Him." Again, the author of Hebrews asserts the same by quoting Psalm 102:25 and ascribing it to Jesus Christ Ė "Thou, Lord (Jesus Christ Ė see verse 8), in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands."
Christ is not merely a good moral teacher, a great religious leader, or even a prophet of God. He is God in human flesh, and the creator of the universe! All things were created by Him and for Him. If this is true, then Jesus created heaven for Himself. Christ created heaven for His own everlasting praise. As the exalted God-Man dwelling in a glorified body, He needs a place to dwell forever. His redeemed children also need a place to dwell where they can worship and enjoy Him forever. Heaven is that place Christ has created where His glorious praises will resound world without end!
Since all things were created by Christ and for Christ, that means that He created the angels. All the angels, whether fallen or unfallen are the product of His creative genius. There is not a single angel that flies from Jehovahís throne which was not created by Him. Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer, the seraphim and cherubim are all the fruit of His creative genius.
Furthermore, if all things were created by Christ then He created hell, and He did so for His own glory. How could Jesus create hell for Himself? Hell is that place God has chosen to punish sin. In hell, Christ will manifest His righteousness, wrath and justice, attributes which reveal His glory just as much as His love, mercy and grace. In order for Christís glory to be put on display the evil of sin must be punished, and hell is the place chosen for that purpose.
Again, if all things were created by Christ, then He created the vast starry universe. The closest star next to our sun is four light years away, (which amounts to 23.5 trillion miles!). In order to travel there, you would need to get in a spaceship that could travel 186,000 miles per second or 669 million miles an hour, and travel for four years! If you were to travel in one of our jumbo jets which fly at about 600 miles per hour it would take you four and a half million years to arrive there. And that is the nearest star next to the sun! Our own Milky Way galaxy has about 100 billion stars, and there are about 100 billion other galaxies! The observable limit of the universe is fifteen billion light years away, and according to astronomers, the other galaxies seem to be moving away as though the universe were expanding! "Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing" (Is.40:26). Oh, how the vastness of Godís universe displays the glory of Christís power!
If all things were created by Christ, then he created the earth. Every hill, valley, plain, ocean, tree, blade of grass and grain of sand was made by Him. Further, this world was made for Him. It is the theater upon which the great drama of redemption was acted out. It is the place His people lived, fell through sin, and were redeemed by His sacrifice at Calvary. Further, it was created as the place where Christ would be born, live, suffer and die. The whole world was created for Jesus Christ as the stage upon which He would take the primary role in the greatest drama this universe has ever witnessed.
Brothers and sisters, our thoughts of Christ are far too small! We need to recover a sense of the majesty of Christ, and the fear of Christ. We need to cultivate a heart of worship for Christ, trust in Christ, and obedience to Christ. He is a great God and greatly to be praised. He is awesome in power, sovereignty and majesty, and is worthy of all our worship!
Christ Ė The Author of the Spiritual Creation
Not only is Jesus Christ the author of the physical creation, but He is also the author of the spiritual creation. In fact, the old creation is simply a type of the new creation. When Christ created light out of darkness it was typical of Him creating the light of the knowledge of the glory of God out of the darkness of sin in the unregenerate manís soul.
Genesis 1:2 says, "And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." Formless! Void! Darkness! This is the state of every human heart until the Holy Spirit visits it in regenerating grace. The lost manís heart is in a state of chaos and disorder. There is no faith in Christ, no love for God, no obedience to His Word to be found there. It is a confused mass of dead sinfulness. Just as the first action in the creation of the world was the Spirit moving on the face of the waters, the first action in the recreation of the soul is the secret work of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that as soon as the Holy Spirit began moving upon the surface of the waters that God said, "Let there be light;" and there was light (Genesis 1:3). How did the light appear in the midst of the darkness? God commanded it to be, and it was. How does salvation appear in the human heart? God commands it to be so, and it is. Lazarus provides us with an excellent case in point. When he had been dead and buried for four days, so that his body was even beginning to stink, Christ stood outside his sepulchre and gave the omnipotent command, "Lazarus, come forth!" And lo and behold, Lazarus came forth wrapped in his grave clothes. Likewise, the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins, though powerless to repent and believe in Christ, will come forth from spiritual death to spiritual life when the All-Powerful Christ gives the command. When the Word of Christís omnipotence goes forth, a saving light will appear in the soul of the sinner.
You might be thinking that such is a fanciful way of viewing Genesis 1:1-2. However, before you dismiss the typical teaching in the creation of the universe, consider how the apostle Paul uses the events of creation as an illustration of how God brings salvation to sinners in 2 Corinthians 4:3-6. "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesusí sake. For God, who said, ĎLight shall shine out of darkness,í is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
Notice what the text says about the unregenerate manís condition. He is perishing (vs. 3), the gospel is veiled to him (vs. 3), his mind is blinded (vs. 4), and he does not believe (vs. 4). In point of fact, he can not believe, because his mind is blinded to the gospel. If you were to take a blind man out to the rim of the Grand Canyon and point out to him the glories of that natural wonder, he would come away from the sight just as ignorant of the Canyonís awesome sights as when he arrived. In the same way, an unregenerate man canít see or perceive the glory of Jesus Christ. "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1Cor.2:14). A lost man sees more glory in a one dollar bill than he does in the person of Jesus Christ. He doesnít see His excellency and loveliness, and never will until the Spirit of God changes his heart.
Notice also what the text describes God as doing for the Corinthians. The text tells us that the same God who command light to be in the beginning, is the same God who shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. In saving us, Christ shone His saving, spiritual light into our hearts, healing our spiritual blindness, and overcoming the power of Satan who had held us in darkness and ignorance. He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col.1:13).
The text states very clearly that God shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ. Notice that this heavenly light comes from God as a gift. We donít attain it by our striving or earn it by our efforts. It comes freely from Godís gracious hand to His elect as the operation of His almighty grace.
As we draw to a close, I will bring out four points of application. From our study on Christ the Creator, I believe the Spirit of God would have us learn several things.
Regeneration Is The Work of God Alone: As we have seen in our study, the lost man is spiritually blind. Thus, he cannot see divine truth apart from divine grace. He is not even able to cooperate with God in obtaining salvation. Could blind Bartimaeus assist our Lord in regaining his sight? Could Lazarus assist Christ in rising from the dead? Could the darkness assist God in making itself light? No, a thousand times no! Likewise, our fallen nature is unable to cooperate with God in this great work of salvation. The reason is simple Ė man is totally depraved. By that I mean that every part of man has been affected by the Fall Ė his intellect, affections, and will. All of the unregenerate manís thoughts, feelings, and decisions flow out of his sinful nature. Thus, he thinks wrong thoughts about God, he feels wrong affections for God, and he makes wrong decisions in relation to God. His decisions flow out of his sinful nature. Therefore, though he makes all of his decisions because they are his greatest preference at the moment, those decisions are always consistent with his nature as a sinner. He will never choose Christ over sin, until God in His matchless grace changes His nature. He needs a force stronger than himself to turn him back to God. That is precisely what God does in regeneration. Jesus taught this great truth when He said, "No man can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (Jn.6:44).
The power that saves a sinner is not the power of man. Manís power only seeks to resist God. You can wash a corpse as long as you like, deck it in flowers, pour a bottle of perfume on it, and robe it in fine linen, but you canít give it life. In the same way, you can get a man to turn over a new life, give up bad habits, and start attending church, but you canít give him spiritual life. Only God can do that. The vital spark must come from above. Regeneration is not of blood, the will of the flesh or the will of man, but of God (John 1:13).
Regeneration Is A Miracle of Creation: The very same God is the author of the physical creation and the spiritual creation, because Omnipotence is required in both. Only God could create light when there was only darkness, and only God can could create His life into a sinnerís soul when there was only sin. A Christian is a new creation (2Cor.5:17). God has created within him a brand new heart with new affections, desires, and longings.
Regeneration Precedes and Causes Faith: Scripture expressly states that unbelieversí minds have been blinded by Satan. Unbelief is the natural result of a blinded mind. How can someone believe in something he canít even conceive of? Thus, God must take the initiative, shine into a sinnerís heart and give him spiritual sight before he can believe. Actually, that is an excellent definition of regeneration - the shining of God into a manís heart to give him spiritual sight. Can you see that a sinner canít believe in Christ before he is born again? Faith is a spiritual exercise, and as such, must come forth from a man who is spiritually alive. God must sovereignly regenerate him, and then he will respond in faith. If you watched a man shoot a bullet through a hole, you would never say, "Look, that hole caused a bullet to come out of that gun!" Rather, you would realize that the hole is the effect of the bullet shot from the gun. Likewise, we understand that light in a room does not cause the light switch to flip on. Rather, when we turn on the switch, the effect is a room flooded with light. Though to us it appears that the bullet leaving the gun, and the hole happen instantaneously, we understand that one is the cause, and the other the effect. Regeneration is the cause Ė faith is the effect. Regeneration is turning on the switch; faith is the light coming on. My friend, if you possess saving faith, you have a sovereign regenerating Spirit to thank for it!
Regeneration Gives A Sense of the Glory of Christ: Notice the two expressions from 2Cor.4:4,6: "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of GodÖthe light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." The unregenerate man doesnít see that glory of the gospel of Christ. He doesnít perceive the excellence of Christ. He canít taste His sweetness. When God regenerates us He plants new spiritual taste buds in us. These taste buds find Christ delicious. My friend, do you see Christís glory? Have you tasted the kindness of the Lord? Is he precious to you? If so, you have a solid basis for assurance of salvation. Everyone whom God regenerates sees a new luster and glory in Jesus Christ. He finds Christ irresistible. He values Him as the most precious Person in the universe. If you find Him so, it is only because He has shone into your heart to enable you to do so. Let this comfort you as to your standing before God. It is a mark of true conversion.
Finally, Christ as the author of the spiritual creation should humble us and cause to exalt Him. It should lead us to ascribe all the glory to Christ in our salvation, and refuse to accept any of the credit. We understand that if a sinner ends up in hell, he is responsible, but if he ends up in heaven, Christ is responsible! "By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, "Let Him who boasts, boast in the Lord" (1Cor.1:30-31).