Wednesday, July 20, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 40

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

The Hall of Faith: The Object is the Creator

The Writer of Hebrews, after spending so much time establishing the greatness and glory of the Son, writes a section on the glories and wonders of faith. Each example a proof text for his opening thesis:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. (Hebrews 11:1-2, NASB95)

The first example shows faith's role in apprehending God as the creator of the universe:

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)

Before God's creation, there was no universe and no time. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." The Bible is clear that the universe had a beginning--and that it was God who created everything. The sun, moon, and planets are not gods--they are created objects. Not yet 50 years ago, materialistic scientists were secure in their belief that the universe had always been. Julian Huxley in his address to the 1959 Darwin Centennial Conference said that man no longer needed "to take refuge from his loneliness in the arms of a divinized father-figure." No long afterwards, the discovery of the back-ground radiation propelled the big-bang theory of cosmology into the forefront. According to that theory, the universe had a beginning and time had a beginning. It was a conclusion that materialists had been pushing away for 50 years, since Einstein fudged one of his formulas that predicted it.

The opening of Genesis and this statement in Hebrews are such simple statements that we do not appreciate how fundamentally profound and radical they are when compared to other religions and other ideas through the centuries. When the world was awash with myths of slain gods and great struggles among deities as the source of the world; when Egyptians were carving images showing that the stars were ornaments on the body of a goddess; when primitive cultures were imagining spirits animating rocks; the ancient people of God affirmed that all of creation was there by the voice of one almighty God.

I am currently reading "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith" by Stephen M. Barr. He is a physicist and writes of the implications of modern scientific theories and their power and strength to challenge the materialists views. It is written to scientists and the scientifically literate reader. But, as he implies over and over, the evidence will never be enough to actually convince the materialist that God created all this. The creation and the God behind it have always and will always be discerned by faith. Modern scientific evidence is evidence of the truth of the scriptures--and a back-bone for the implications of this passage:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

But it is not sufficient for faith, which apprehends the unseen world and commits the believer to choose and act on the basis of these unseen realities.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.

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