Genesis 1: Major on the Majors

Raise your hand if the following scenario sounds vaguely familiar:

Your ninth grade biology teacher expounds eloquently on evolution as you sit back racking your brain for all the reasons she is wrong. “Didn’t pastor preach a sermon on Genesis 1 last summer?...Can’t remember what he said.” So you fall back on an automatic word association formula: “Evolution is bad. Creationism is good.” However, if you had to articulate exactly why you could not give a coherent answer beyond a simple syllogism.

As with most things in life, the issue is slightly more complicated than it might appear at face value. Would it surprise you to believe that many God-fearing, evangelical Christians see the issue of Origins differently? How do we as a church provide biblical teaching which majors on the clear distinctives of the historic Christian faith while recognizing we might end up disagreeing on extraneous issues?

To be sure, there are many interpretations of Genesis 1 and 2. As we begin The Gospel Project Chronological Study as a church this fall, let’s take a moment and establish a few guidelines in the sea of interpretation.

This conversation starts in a very likely place: Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Allow us to focus first on major points of agreement, then move into a brief overview of interpretations on Genesis 1 and 2 in a separate post.

-          God is Creator

Genesis chapter one teaches that God created the universe and everything contained in it “ex niliho” meaning “out of nothing.” A quick cursory view of the verbiage to illustrate: “God said, God called, God made, God set, God saw, God created, God blessed.” We worship God because he is Creator and we are creatures, subservient to God in all things.

-          Historical Adam and Eve

At Heritage, we believe the scriptures teach that Adam and Eve were real people created by God in his image. Adam is the head of sinful humanity. In Adam all sinned. Why is the historicity of Adam and Eve critical to orthodox Christian teaching? For one, Jesus Christ himself affirmed that “God made them male and female” in Mark 10:6. Genesis 5:2 states “Male and female he created them, and blessed them, and named them Man (Hebrew “Adam”). If there was no historical Adam, then Christ’s work on the cross was for the redemption of a theoretical figure’s sin? This is not the doctrine Paul sets forth in Romans 5.

- The Second Adam

The culmination of God creating a historical Adam and Eve lies in the direct tie to the atoning work of Jesus Christ in Romans 5. Paul affirms Adam’s sin as penetrating and corrupting the entire human race, bringing condemnation to all (5:16). The joyful news of the gospel is in verse 17: “Much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” Adam’s sin really affected all. Christ’s sacrifice worked all things backwards for those who come to salvation in Him.

As we begin The Gospel Project this fall studying Genesis, will you take a moment to marvel at God’s goodness in creation and redemption? Just as there was a real Adam, there is a real Christ whose once-for-all work proves totally sufficient for our sin.