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Sermon13 Gen1 Guide

Gen 1:1-4,24-2:1, recitation verse Gen 1:1

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

In Timaeus, Plato institutes a dualistic world view; the eternal, perfect, and transcendent world of Forms and the sensible and perceptible world. In his world, there exists the maker, who is called as the father of this universe and he who is called as the Form of goodness[1] had begotten the universe.[2] And also in the Republic, Plato says that he stands over all beings as the ultimate and surpassing one. And also Acts 17:24-28 says that “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 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, 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, for “In him we live and move and have our being”. As such, every religions and philosophies have their own creation story for the universe and humanity, forming their own world view. So today we would like to learn what God intended in His creation through Today’s Bible verses together.

1) The Genesis chapter one we read today is a well-known account of God's creation. It begins with the proclamation, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." This opening statement not only introduces the book of Genesis but also serves as the foundation for the entire Bible as it declares God as the creator, the sovereign ruler over the created world, and the ultimate judge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).

2) Furthermore, as we examine the six-day process of creation, we see that God's creation came into existence as He spoke, and everything created was deemed good in His sight. This not only indicates that it was pleasing to God's eyes but also signifies the inherent goodness of all things determined by God, as well as their alignment with God's purpose of fulfilling their intended existence as 1 Timothy 4:4 says that everything created by God, who is the source of all goodness (Luke 18:19), is good.

3) Among all the creatures created by God, human beings are uniquely made in the image of God, as living souls. They are created to be representatives of God, not only to fill the earth but also to have dominion over the land, the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that crawl on the earth. Here, the Hebrew root word for "dominion" (רדה, "radah") implies not a ruling with power for one's own benefit, but rather taking care of and assisting each created being according to God's intended purpose for them. In this sense, in the second chapter of Genesis, the meaning of this "dominion" (רדה, "radah") is juxtaposed with "to work" (עָבַד, "avad") and "to keep(שׁמר,“šmr”), suggesting nurturing and protective role. Therefore, if we apply this concept to human beings, serving others would mean assisting and nurturing others in a way that fully manifests the image of God within themselves and enables that image to be fully realized and completed in their own lives.

4) Lastly, I hope we may understand the significance of the seventh day, which was established as the Sabbath, a day of rest. While the seventh day is significant in God's creative work, as it marks the completion of His work, for human beings who were created on the sixth day, the first day after their creation becomes the Sabbath. This holds great meaning. I mean, Having the Sabbath before humans embark on their work can be seen as the day they gain strength from God for the six days ahead of them and going to work with the strength acquired from Him. In other words, the establishment of the Sabbath is not about resting and recovering from labor but, on the contrary, about receiving the ability and grace to bear the upcoming labor before starting work and commencing with that grace and strength. Just as God's provision and blessing through His creation became our ability and calling to ministry, similarly, having the Sabbath and receiving grace and strength from God before engaging in the six days of work transforms the labor into an act of gratitude rather than mere toil. Therefore, we hope to understand and live according to the principles of God's establishment of the Sabbath.

5) Through today’s Bible passage, we would like to learn few things as follows: Firstly, we would like to understand God's providential care in His creation story. As we can see in today’s Bible verses, we can understand God's creative process, which can be understood in two stages. As John Calvin interpreted Genesis 1:2, God created something out of nothing first, i.e., God created basic materials out of nothing, and then He used that basic materials to create all things (Genesis 1:4-2:1), as the Holy Spirit brings order to the world of chaos, elevating new life from disorder to an ordered world and bestowing life and all necessary grace to every creature and then at the appointed time, taking their breath away to return them to the world of chaos again (Psalm 104:9, 27-30). God's providence governs the process of creation, preservation of life, and even death. Ultimately, this providence is intended for all creation to serve humanity, enabling humanity to serve (worship) God (Belgic Confession, Article 12). And also as representatives of God, we are also called to participate in God's governance and providence so that we hope to glorify God through this participation. Secondly, we would like to establish our own views regarding the origin and creation of the universe, the earth and humanity, since it has been leading to a conflict between creationism and evolution, especially among young students. Even within the Christian community, there seem three views on this: a) the opinion that God created each species in approximately 10,000 years through His spoken word, b) the opinion that God created over a billion years through His spoken word, and c) the opinion that God created over 15 billion years through evolution. And also within the second opinion, there are further debates, such as the idea that each day in Genesis 1 represents a geological era or the claim that the days of 1-3 and 4-6 are different periods of time. Some also suggest that the early stages of creation occurred within a different 24-hour period based on Einstein's theory of relativity. From a theological perspective, although God is omnipotent and could create the entire universe in six days or even through evolution, based on Hebrews 11:3, which says, "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible," it seems to me reasonable to consider the creation timeline to be around 15 billion years rather than approximately 10,000 years, yet God created whole the universe and everything in it through His word, since I believe that as science advances, these facts will become more evident. And finally, what we have to see in these accounts of creation is that we should be able to see God's grace manifested in creation, providence, and judgment. I mean, as Louis Berkhof said in his book “Systematic Theology”, the ultimate purpose of creation is the external manifestation of God's intrinsic excellence, namely the proclamation of His glory. It includes the sub end to receive praise and glory from His moral creatures by enhancing their complete happiness so that as recipients of God's providence and saving grace, they should offer sincere gratitude and worship to God from their deep hearts. Westminster Shorter Catechism says that this is the primary purpose of humanity. I hope we may live for the glory of God and enjoy Him forever, while participating in His invitation.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 God has created all of us in His image and has given each of us talents to excel in various areas. Despite the contamination of our nature due to original sin, God created us miraculously and astonishingly from our mothers' wombs. Then if God were to be present with us now, what words do you think He would say to each of us? I hope that through sharing our thoughts, we can also share grace with one another.

(Through this question, I hope we may acknowledge that God has created all of us in His image and has bestowed upon us many good talents and also that God wanted to restore and transform the distorted image of God within us that has been affected by original sin. As Christians, especially who were regenerated, I hope we can help in the discovery and development of the image of God within others to be used as instruments of God in this process.)

Q2 If there are people around us who are unaware of the image of God in them, how can we assist them? I hope that we can learn from each other by sharing our thoughts.

(Through this question, I hope we as Christians may consider and contemplate how we can assist the individuals we encounter in our school or community life in recognizing and realizing the image of God within them. I hope we may learn from each other by sharing our thoughts each other.)

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon )

Please help me to live in that ( learned way of life )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] The Republic of Plato, translated with introduction and notes by Francis Macdonald Cornford, Oxford University Press, New York & London, p.237 [2] Plato’s Timaeus, The Library of Liberal Arts, Oskar Piest, p.29

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