Where you start will shape your world view.
I have been privileged, this week, to attend the Answers for Pastors conference in Petersburg, KY. The conference was held at the Creation Museum, a ministry of Answers in Genesis, whose primary goal is to evangelize and to educate people on the historical account of Creation and the early history of our world.
The emphasis of the week has been learning how to reach our culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the past it has been easier for people to understand concepts such as God, sin and the fall, because Christianity ,or an understanding of Christians concepts, was taught or at best tolerated in our culture. But today, we live in a culture where these concepts are not embraced, where in fact, they are banned and even mocked. We have a whole generation of people who have grown up outside of the church and inside an educational system that states that we are mere products of time, chance and death. Because our culture does not have a proper view of where we came from, it cannot have a proper view of concepts like, sin, death, redemption or even of God.
As a pastor, it is my responsibility to point people to Jesus and to make disciples. Sounds easy, but it is not. In order to do this, God needs to do a work in the heart, after all, only the Holy Spirit can draw a person to Jesus. But from a human standpoint, a person needs to understand that he is a sinner in need of a Savior. This is a tough task if mankind just evolved over millions of years. If man came to be as a result of evolutionary processes, then there was no literal Adam. If there was no Adam, then there was no Eve. If these two people did not live, then they could not have sinned and disobeyed God. If they did not sin, then there would be no need of a Savior.
Very quickly we see the problem that is facing the church today. It is a matter of starting points. This is why it it so important to teach the Bible and the redemption narrative starting in Genesis. This is the way that Paul taught the Greeks. In Act 17, we see that Paul declared to the Athenians the “unknown God”.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,
25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”
33 So Paul went out from their midst.
34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
Paul, in order to help the people understand, took them back to the Creator God. I suggest that that is where we need to start our Gospel presentations today. Why? Because today, when we say God, people wonder what god you are talking about. We need to bring people back to Genesis, to the very beginning of the redemption story, so that they understand why Jesus came to earth and why He died for humanity.
God created this world and all things. He created Adam so that He could have a relationship with him. He also created Eve out of Adam’s rib. He blessed the pair and told them to be fruitful and multiply. He also gave them one prohibition- don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil. When mankind listened to the serpent instead of God, they died spiritually and all of creation began to die too. But God in His mercy, promised a savior would come to redeem the creation and mankind.
Now, about 6000 years later, we have forgotten our Creator God. We have turned to the gods of chance, time and natural processes to explain our origins and our purpose. No wonder we are so messed up! We no longer have the same starting point and therefore will not be able to arrive at the same conclusions.