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James Boice Sermon: Genesis Part 13 – “The Seventh Day”

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 13

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. - Genesis 2:1-3

What does it mean, God rested on the seventh day? It does not mean that God closed his eyes and went to sleep. He did not take a nap. It does not mean that God rested in the sense that he became indifferent to what the man and woman were doing. We know God was not indifferent because when Adam and Eve sinned he was immediately there in the garden calling them to an accounting. He pronounced judgment and held out hope of a Redeemer to come. Rest is not to be understood in either of those ways.

What is involved here is what St. Augustine had in mind when, with his magnificent use of words, he contrasted the rest of God with our restlessness. He said, “Thou has made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Augustine was thinking of the turmoil of the human heart. He was saying that our true destiny is to find the rest that is found in God only.

Is it not the case that what is involved here is this kind of rest? God, having completed his work of creation, rests, as if to say, “This is the destiny of those who are my people; to rest as I rest, to rest in me.”

Rest and Restlessness

One thing that makes our lives restless is the pace of change. I wonder how many people have had the experience of watching a population clock. I did at the first of the world congresses on evangelism in Berlin in 1966 and can report that it is a very disturbing experience. In the Congress Halle in Berlin, where the meetings took place, there was a population clock display. It was a printout of numbers that kept increasing at the rate of the increase of the population of this planet. The numbers went by very rapidly. They were literally flipping by in front of our eyes—ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred, two hundred, three hundred, a thousand, two thousand, three thousand. … That is the way they went. As I stood watching this clock, I was overwhelmed by the rapid pace of change. On this occasion even the clock was overwhelmed, because the mechanism was unable to keep up with the increase of the population and the poor thing began to slow down. Toward the end of the assembly someone had to announce from the platform that the clock was not keeping up with the population and if you wanted to know what it was, you had to upgrade the numbers by a certain amount.

If we fail to recognize how disturbing this is, we need to think of this further fact: not only are the numbers increasing, indicating that time is quickly marching on, but even the rate of increase is increasing. The population increases are accelerating. Instead of slowing down, the clock should have been speeding up. The speed at which it was going back in 1966 for the World Congress on Evangelism was much slower than it would have to be if it were keeping pace with the increase of the world’s population today.

Moreover, the problem is not just the increase in population. That would not be such a bad thing in itself. It is that everything is changing. This is why Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock speaks of a pending monumental breakdown of people who live in industrialized lands. It is not a case, as some have said, of our choices being increasingly eliminated and industry forcing us into greater and greater uniformity. Rather, our options are increasing and at an ever faster rate of speed. People cannot keep up with the choices they are compelled to make. We look at such things and conclude, rightly and inescapably, that this is an age of great distress and restlessness.

However, we still have not come to the real cause of restlessness. If we were to go back in history before what we regard as the modern age and the quickly accelerating pace of modern life, we would still find people having the kind of restlessness about which St. Augustine wrote. He lived in an age of change. But if we could have asked him, “Augustine, how can it be that you, living back in what we regard as the early periods of western history, can speak of restlessness? We see our problem as having to do with the fast pace of modern life.” Augustine would have said, “It’s not the fast pace of modern life or the slow pace of life that is your problem; the basic problem is sin, which brings turmoil to the heart.” Perhaps he would have pointed us to those words of Scripture that speak of the wicked having lives that are like the churning sea that never rests. That is what sin causes.

The devil was the first one to sin, and he has as one of his names, Diabolos, which means “the disrupter.” The word diabolos is based on two Greek words: dia, which means “through” or “among,” and ballō, which means “to throw.” We get our word “bowling” from it. Together the words describe one who is always throwing something into the middle of things. He is the one who throws the monkey wrench into the machinery. He disrupts. And so does sin! If we were sinless, we would have the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ within. But because we do not, we are at odds with God (who has become our enemy), with others (with whom we are in constant conflict), and ourselves. Even when we sit by ourselves we are unable to be at peace. An author once said, “The greatest problem with men and women is that they do not know how to sit and be still.”

Sabbath Rest

What is the cure for restlessness? It is interesting that these verses in Genesis are picked up by the author of Hebrews in a chapter that is entirely given over to this subject. He begins in chapter 3, but it is really in chapter 4 that he talks about what he calls “Sabbath-rest” (v. 9). He calls attention to the fact that although God has created rest for his people, we are not at rest. He points out that when God led Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness in their days of wandering, he had as a goal to bring them into the Promised Land. It was to be a place where they would find rest from their wandering. It was a symbol of heaven. But the people rebelled, as we do, and God judged that generation. The author quotes Psalm 95:11 in which God says, “I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” The author asks how this can be. Here is God, who creates a day of rest and promises rest and yet swears that his people will never enter into that rest. He replies that we do not enter into rest because we will not come to God at that point at which rest may be found, namely, in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The author exhorts the people of his day. He says, in effect, “Don’t go on as those people did who perished in the wilderness, about whom these things were said. Rather strive to enter into God’s rest. Cast off sin. Cast off everything that keeps you from Christ. Come in the fullness of faith to rest in him.”

Jesus himself made that offer. Before his crucifixion when he was with his disciples in the upper room, he recognized that they were bothered by what was happening. They had heard his prophecies of his death, and although they did not understand them fully they knew that things were going to change. They were troubled, but he said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1). He went on to talk about heaven and the giving of the Holy Spirit and the privilege of prayer, and when he got to the end he gave them something that can rightly be regarded as his legacy: peace. He said, “My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (v. 27).

How does that come about? It is by finding Christ who has done what we need. Sin is the basic cause of restlessness, and sin is the problem with which we must deal. We cannot handle it. We are the sinners. But the Lord Jesus Christ not only can, he does. He comes; he dies; he pays the penalty for our sin. He opens the door into the presence of God for all who believe in him. Then God, on the basis of the death of Christ, pronounces the believing one justified. That one now stands before the presence of God clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

As long as we live we will be troubled by sin. But we can begin to enter into God’s rest now and can look forward to that day when we will be made like Jesus and stand before God in holiness.

Holiness and Sin

That leads to the second point. God not only promises rest in these verses, he promises holiness as well. Holiness means to be set apart. So God sets the Sabbath day apart to teach that we are to enter not only into rest but also into holiness.

The two go together, because holiness is the opposite of sin, and sin is what makes us restless. Why is it that when we go out into the world with the gospel the world is not willing to respond to Christ’s teaching? Why is it that when we talk about rest, the world, which is restless, does not rush with open arms to embrace the gospel? The answer is that rest is connected with holiness and the world does not want holiness.

The attributes of God are always an offense to men and women. God is sovereign. That is offensive because we want to be our own sovereign. We want to be lords of our lives. We want to say, as one of the poets did, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

God is also omniscient. He knows everything. This is troublesome, too, because it means that God knows us. We do not want to be known, certainly not well. We want to be noticed. We want to be praised, built up. But we do not want to be known as we are because we are ashamed of what we are. Yet God knows us as no other man or woman will ever know us, and to be exposed in the sight of a holy God is frightening.

The most troublesome of all the attributes of God is holiness. God is absolutely holy. He has no place for sin. There is not a sinful thought, not a sinful wish, not a sinful deed or emotion in God. Yet everything we do is marred by sin. It says a little later in the Book of Genesis that the thoughts of people had become “only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). We may resist the judgment of God and say that this is not true, but this is the way God sees it. We tend to minimize sin. We say, “Of course, there are times when I do not do everything I should, but generally I’m pretty good.” God says, “Even those good times are so infused with sin that, if you could see as I see, you would abhor yourself in ashes.”

Men and women do not like God for his holiness, and it is this that makes the gospel so hard to preach. People need rest, yes. But they need it in the way it is to be found: by having sin’s penalty removed through the work of Christ; sin’s power broken through the power of the Holy Spirit; sin’s presence eradicated by Christ’s return, when those who believe on him shall be made like him in all his perfections.

For believers there is a sense in which the seventh day is fulfilled in us now. We enter by degrees into the rest and holiness Christ provides. But the ultimate realization of the Sabbath is to be at Christ’s return when we go to be with him and rest with him in holiness forever.

To the Work

In spite of the promise of the seventh day, it is nevertheless the case that the seventh day is succeeded by the first day, which also has importance for us. Donald Grey Barnhouse in his devotional study of the Book of Genesis has an interesting word at this point. Each segment of Genesis is followed by a devotional comment, and at this point, after the words “on the seventh day God finished the work which he had done and rested,” Barnhouse remarks, “But not for long.” Sin entered, and God was soon at work again in Christ to bring redemption. Jesus said, “The Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” That work is still going on. So if God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are working, then we had better be working too, because there is much work to be done.

It is significant that the Christian day of worship is not the Sabbath day of rest (characteristic of the Old Testament period) but the first day of the week, Sunday, which is a day of joy, activity, and expectation. Why is it a day of joy? Because we see the culmination of the gospel in Jesus Christ. Before, God’s people lived in expectation. They looked for the coming of the Messiah. Now the Messiah has come, and we rejoice in him. Christ’s first word to the women after his resurrection was “Rejoice.” They were to rejoice because there was much to rejoice about.

Then let us be done with the long faces and solemn demeanors that so often characterize the people of God on the Lord’s Day. And let us be done with the type of worshiper who comes to church only to go home. If you do not enjoy the worship of God and the fellowship of God’s people, if you do not enjoy the preaching of the Word and the response of the congregation in word and song, stay home! In the early days of the church the apostles did not have to go around ringing doorbells to get people to come out to the service. They did not have to maintain every-member visitation plans to renew flagging interest. In fact, the opposite was true. We read in the second chapter in Acts that the Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. … Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (vv. 42, 46–47).

These were happy Christians. Other people liked to be with them, perhaps most of all because they were happy. Friendships developed. Then on the basis of these friendships the Lord moved and added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The second characteristic of the Lord’s Day is activity. The first Lord’s Day was a day of activity: the women on the way to the tomb, the appearances of Jesus, the return to Jerusalem of the Emmaus disciples, the sharing of experiences, communion, the Lord’s commission. It is possible that if you have been working hard for the other six days of the week, Sunday might have to be a “day of rest” for you. But this is not an integral part of the Lord’s Day. The Sabbath was the day of rest. If you need to rest, try resting on Saturday. The Lord’s Day should be a day of activity.

This does not mean that just any old activity will reflect the fullest significance of the day. You may mow your grass, if you wish. You are not under law. But this does not have much to do with Christ, nor does it help to express your joy in his resurrection.

Worship is significant. It may strike some persons as strange to speak of worship as an activity; for in many minds worship is conceived in a passive sense, that is, sitting in a pew and letting the words of the day run through one’s head like water. But this is a travesty of real worship. The Lord said that real worship is done “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Truth involves content. So worship is above all else an active, rational activity.

Why do we have Scripture readings in the speech of the people instead of in Hebrew, Greek, or Latin? Why are the words of music in common speech? Why does a sermon stand at the heart of each service? The answer is: to engage our minds.

“We must therefore beware of all forms of emotional, aesthetic or ecstatic worship in which the mind is not fully engaged, and especially of those which even claim that they are superior forms of worship,” writes John R. W. Stott, retired rector of All Souls Church in London. “The only worship pleasing to God is heart-worship, and heart-worship is rational worship. It is the worship of a rational God who has made us rational beings and given us a rational revelation so that we may worship Him rationally, even ‘with all our mind’ ” (John R.W. Stott. Christ the Controversialist. Downers Grove: IL.: IVP, 1978, 165).

Another activity that ought to characterize the Lord’s Day is witness. Jesus revealed this characteristic when he instructed the women, “Go tell my brethren,” and later informed the disciples that they were to carry the good news of his life, death, and resurrection into all the world. You can do that on any day, of course. It is of the essence of our day that anything done on Sunday can also be done (and perhaps should be done) on other days also. But do you at least bear witness on Sunday? This is a day on which to invite your friends to go with you to hear God’s Word. At the very least it is a day on which you should teach what you know about Christ to your children.

There is one thing more: the first day should be characterized by expectation. I love Sunday, and one of the reasons why I love Sunday is that I never know in advance what will happen. As I leave my house on the way to church I never know precisely whom I will meet. I never know who will be present in church or who will respond to the preaching. I never plan messages to preach at problems that I imagine to be present in the congregation, yet it is often the case that what I say is used of the Lord to speak precisely to some problem. Lives are changed. Not infrequently, the day is the turning point in someone’s entire spiritual experience.

We who know the reality of the rest and holiness of God should of all people be most joyful, active, and expectant as we take the gospel’s glorious message to a world that knows neither rest nor holiness, but needs them desperately.

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 13 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Source: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

James Montgomery Boice’s Books:

1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

SOURCE: from the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, website

 

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James Boice Sermon: “Man, God’s Regent” – Genesis 1:28-31

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 12

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. - Genesis 1:28-31

In looking at the account of the creation of man by God in Genesis 1, we have already seen two points that are emphasized. First, man is created. This is repeated three times in verse 27, obviously for emphasis. Second, man is created in God’s image. This is repeated four times in verses 26 and 27. Following this clue to what are the most important ideas, we come next to the teaching that man was to rule over creation as God’s regent. This is mentioned twice, in verses 26 and 28.

Who is this who is to rule God’s creation? What is he like? What are his gifts? To whom is he responsible?

For the purpose of this study I want to follow the substance of an address given by Dr. John H. Gerstner, a former professor of church history at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, to the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology in 1977. His address considered five things about man as God made him. First, man was created, and he still is. Second, man was created male and female, and he still is. Third, man was created body and soul, and he still is. Fourth, man was created dominant over the animals, and he still is. Fifth, man was created holy, and he still is—not.

Created by God

We have already seen that man’s being created in the image of God involves his having a personality, a sense of morality and spirituality. But in relation to his rule over the animals, to which we have now come, man’s creation involves responsibility as well. If man were his own creator, he would be responsible to no one. But he is not his own creator. He is created by God, and this means that he is responsible to God for what he does in every area of his life and particularly for how he carries out the mandate to rule over creation. These verses record God as saying, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (v. 26). To man he says, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (v. 28). Dominion of any kind, but particularly dominion of this scope, implies responsibility.

Today in the western world there is a tendency to deny man’s moral responsibility on the basis of some kind of determinism. It usually takes one of two forms. It may be a physical, mechanical determinism (“man is the product of his genes and body chemistry”), or it may be a psychological determinism (“man is the product of his environment and of the earlier things that have happened to him”). In either case the individual is excused from responsibility for what he or she does. Thus, we have gone through a period in which criminal behavior was termed a sickness and the criminal was regarded more as a victim of his environment than as the victimizer. (Recently there is a tendency at least to reconsider this matter.) Less blatant but nevertheless morally reprehensible acts are excused with, “I suppose he just couldn’t help it.”

The biblical view of man could hardly be more different. As Francis Schaeffer correctly notes, “Since God has made man in his own image, man is not caught in the wheels of determinism. Rather man is so great that he can influence history for himself and for others, for this life and the life to come.” Man is fallen. But even in his fallen state he is responsible. He can do great things, or he can do things that are terrible.

God created the man and woman and gave them dominion over the created order. Consequently, they were responsible to him for what they did. When man sins, as the Genesis account goes on to show that he does, it is God who requires a reckoning: “Where are you? … Who told you that you were naked? … What is this you have done?” (Gen. 3:9, 11, 13). In the thousands of years since Eden many have convinced themselves that they are not responsible. But the testimony of Scripture is that this area of responsibility still stands and that all will one day answer to God at the judgment. “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Rev. 20:12).

People are also responsible for their acts toward others. This is the reason for those biblical statements instituting capital punishment as a proper response to murder; for instance, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:6). These verses are not in the Bible as relics of a more barbarous age or because in the biblical outlook man is not valuable. They are there for precisely the opposite reason: Man is too valuable to be wantonly destroyed. Thus, the harshest penalties are reserved for such destruction. In a related way, James 3:9–10 forbid the use of the tongue to curse others because these others are also made in God’s image: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. … This should not be.” In these texts murder of another and cursing of another are forbidden on the grounds that the other person (even after the fall) retains something of God’s image and is therefore to be valued by us, as God also values him.

Male and Female

Second, man was created male and female, and it is still so. In our day many say that there are no essential differences between men and women, or that whatever differences there are, are accidental. This is understandable from those who think that mindless evolution is the means by which we have become what we are. But it is entirely incomprehensible from the standpoint of the Bible, which tells us that nothing is an accident and that sexuality in particular is the result of the creative act of God. Maleness and femaleness are therefore good and meaningful, just as other aspects of God’s creation are good and meaningful. Men are not women. Women are not men. One of the saddest things in the universe is a man who tries to be a woman or a woman who tries to be a man. “But who is superior?” someone asks. I answer: A man is absolutely superior to a woman—at being a man; a woman is absolutely superior to a man—at being a woman. But let a woman try to be a man or a man try to be a woman, and you have a monstrosity.

This is thought to deny equality before God, as if equality means indistinguishability. But this thought is neither biblical nor rational. The man and the woman are equal before God, but they are not indistinguishable. In the economy of the family (and the church), the man is to lead, protect, care for, cherish, act upon, and initiate. The woman is to respond, receive, be acted upon, bear, nurture, follow. In this the human family is a deliberate parallelism to the Trinity. We say in theology that within the Trinity the three persons are “one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” But there are also distinctions according to which the second person of the Godhead, the Son, voluntarily subordinates himself to carry out the wishes of the Father in redemption, and the third person, the Holy Spirit, voluntarily subordinates himself to the united wills of the Father and Son.

The subordination of the woman to the man in marriage is a voluntary submission. As Gerstner writes, “No woman need accept the proposal of any man. But when she enters voluntarily into holy matrimony with that man, she becomes as 1 Peter 3 demands, ‘submissive’ and ‘obedient’ to her husband.” In the same way, children are under the divine command to “obey” and “honor” their fathers and mothers. “We know from sorry experience that many of them choose not to do so, but if they do (as they are under a divine mandate to do), they must do so voluntarily. So there is in the economy of the human family, which God made in his own image, a replica of the divine Trinity itself, in which there is a proper and voluntary subordination.”

Body and Soul

Third, God made man body and soul, and he still does. There is a debate at this point between those who believe in a three-part construction of man’s being and those who believe in a two-part construction (the position Gerstner takes in the address I am following). But the debate is not as significant as it sometimes seems. All parties recognize that the human being consists at least of the physical part that dies and needs to be resurrected and the immaterial part that lives beyond death. The only question is whether this immaterial part can be further distinguished as containing, on the one hand, a soul or personality and, on the other hand, a spirit that alone relates us to God.

Here the linguistic data should be determinative, but unfortunately it is not as clear as one could wish. Sometimes, particularly in the earlier parts of the Old Testament, soul (nephesh) and spirit (ruach) are used interchangeably. But in other places, particularly in the later parts of the Old Testament, ruach increasingly comes to designate that element by which men and women relate to God, in distinction from nephesh, which then meant merely the life principle. In conformity to this outlook, “soul” is used in reference to animals, while “spirit” is not. Conversely, the prophets, who heard the voice of God and communed with him in a special sense, are always said to be animated by the “spirit” (but not the “soul”) of God. In the New Testament the linguistic data is similar. While soul (psyche) and spirit (pneuma) are sometimes freely exchanged for one another, as in the Old Testament, pneuma nevertheless also expresses that particular capacity for relating to God that is the redeemed man’s glory as opposed to mere psyche, which even the unsaved man possesses (1 Cor. 2:9–16).

In this area the particular words are possibly less important than the truths they convey. Those who insist on the unity of man, nevertheless believe that he is more than mere matter. If they adhere to a two-part scheme, they recognize that there is that about him that sets him off from animals.

The body is the part we see, the part that possesses physical life. We have a body in common with every living thing.

The soul is the part of the person we call personality or self-identity. This is not a simple matter to talk about. The soul is related to the body through the brain, a part of the body. It is also related to the qualities we associate with spirit. Nevertheless, in general terms soul refers to what makes an individual unique. We might say that the soul centers in the mind and includes all likes and dislikes, special abilities or weaknesses, emotions, aspirations, and anything else that makes the individual different from all others of his species. It is because we have souls that we are able to have fellowship, love, and communication with one another.

But man does not only have fellowship, love, and communication with others of his species. He also has love and communion with God, and for this he needs a spirit. The spirit is that part of human nature that communes with God and partakes in some measure of God’s essence. God is nowhere said to be body or soul. But God is defined as spirit. “God is spirit,” said Jesus; therefore, “his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Because man is spirit (or comes to possess a spirit by means of the new birth) he can have fellowship with God and worship him.

In speaking of soul and body, Gerstner has a good insight. He notes that “the quirk of human nature in its present state, unlike its original condition, is that we have a tendency to recognize that the other person is a conscious, rational and moral soul, but that we treat ourselves as if we were merely a combination of chemicals and reactions. A boy once said to his mother, ‘Mother, why is it that whenever I do anything bad it’s because I am a bad boy, but whenever you do anything bad it’s because you are nervous?’ That is the principle. When the boy does something bad the mother recognizes that he is a spirit. He is a morally responsible individual who can be properly reprimanded for his misbehavior. But when she does the same thing … she reminds her son that she is a body of nerves and should somehow not be responsible.”

But we are responsible. The soul does have dominion over the body. Consequently, whatever our weaknesses may be, we are responsible to subordinate our fleshly desires and live for God.

Dominion Over the Animals

Fourth, man was created dominant over the animals—the point particularly stressed in these verses. Martin Luther wrote in his lectures on Genesis that in his opinion Adam in his original state was superior to the animals even in those points where they were strong. “I am fully convinced,” he said, “that before Adam’s sin his eyes were so sharp and clear that they surpassed those of the lynx and eagle. He was stronger than the lions and the bears, whose strength is very great; and he handled them the way we handle puppies.” Later on, as he begins to think of Adam’s intellectual powers, he says, “If … we are looking for an outstanding philosopher, let us not overlook our first parents while they were still free from sin.” It was with such capacities that man ruled creation.

At the present time we have this horrible situation. In his sin man either tends to dominate and thus violate the creation, subjecting it to his own selfish ends, or else he tends to fall down and worship the creation, not realizing that his debasement is brought about in the process. As the Bible describes them, the man and the woman were made “a little lower than the heavenly beings” (Ps. 8:5); that is, they were placed between the highest and lowest beings, between angels and beasts. But it is significant that man is described as being slightly lower than the angels rather than being slightly higher than the beasts. That is, man’s privilege is that he is to be a mediating figure, but he is also to be one who looks up rather than down. The unfortunate thing is that when man severs the tie that binds him to God and tries to cast off God’s rule, he does not rise up to take God’s place, as he desires to do, but rather sinks to a more bestial level. In fact, he comes to think of himself as a beast (“the naked ape”) or, even worse, a machine.

Holy and Still is—Not

This brings us to the last point: God created man holy, and now he is—not. The other items we have considered remain, though they are distorted by sin in each case. Man is still a created being, though weak and destined to die. He is still male and female. He is still body and soul. He is still dominant over the animals. But man was also created holy as God is holy, and of this original righteousness not a vestige remains. Rather, as the Scriptures say, “Every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5).

This is why man needs a Savior. God made man upright, but he sought out his own devices. In turning each to his or her own way man brought ruin on the race. Now, not only is no one holy, none is capable even of regaining that holiness. Before the fall, to use Augustine’s phrase, man was posse non peccare (“able not to sin”). But he was also, as Augustine also faithfully declared in accordance with the Bible’s teaching, posse peccare (“able to sin”), which choice he exploited. Now he is non posse non peccare (“not able not to sin”). It is as though he jumped into a pit where he is now trapped. He must remain in that pit until God by grace through the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit lifts him out.

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 12 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Source: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

James Montgomery Boice’s Books:

1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

SOURCE: from the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, website

 

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James Boice on God’s Glory Alone – Soli Deo Gloria

To him be the glory forever! Amen. - Romans 11:36

Romans 9-11 Boice 

The title of this study is not an exact translation of the second half of Romans 11:36, but I have selected it because it is the way the Protestant Reformers expressed what this verse is about and because the words, though in Latin, are well known. Soli Deo Gloria means “To God alone be the glory.” Soli Deo—“to God alone.” Gloria—“the glory.” These words stand virtually as a motto of the Reformation.

The Reformers loved the word solus (“alone”).

They wrote about sola Scriptura, which means “Scripture alone.” Their concern in using this phrase was with authority, and what they meant to say by it was that the Bible alone is our ultimate authority—not the pope, not the church, not the traditions of the church or church councils, still less personal intimations or subjective feelings, but Scripture only. These other sources of authority are sometimes useful and may at times have a place, but Scripture is ultimate. Therefore, if any of these other authorities differ from Scripture, they are to be judged by the Bible and rejected, rather than the other way around.

The Reformers also talked about sola fide, meaning “faith alone.” At this point they were concerned with the purity of the gospel, wanting to say that the believer is justified by God through faith entirely apart from any works he or she may have done or might do. Justification by faith alone became the chief doctrine of the Reformation.

The Reformers also spoke of sola gratia, which means “grace alone.” Here they wanted to insist on the truth that sinners have no claim upon God, that God owes them nothing but punishment for their sins, and that, if he saves them in spite of their sins, which he does in the case of the elect, it is only because it pleases him to do so. They taught that salvation is by grace only.

There is a sense in which each of these phrases is contained in the great Latin motto Soli Deo Gloria. In Romans 11:36, it follows the words “for from him and through him and to him are all things,” and it is because this is so, because all things really are “from him and through him and to him,” that we say, “To God alone be the glory.” Do we think about the Scripture? If it is from God, it has come to us through God’s agency and it will endure forever to God’s glory. Justification by faith? It is from God, through God, and to God’s glory. Grace? Grace, too, has its source in God, comes to us through the work of the Son of God, and is to God’s glory.

Many Christian organizations have taken these words as their motto or even as their name. I know of at least one publishing company today that is called Soli Deo Gloria. It is also an appropriate theme with which to end these studies of the third main (and last doctrinal) section of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Indeed, what greater theme could there be? For what is true of all things—that they are “from” God, “through” God, and “to” God—is true also of glory. Glory was God’s in the beginning, is God’s now, and shall be God’s forever. So we sing in what is called the Gloria Patri.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son

and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now

and ever shall be:

World without end. Amen.

Haldane’s Revival

At the beginning of this series—in volume 1, chapter 2—177 studies ago, I mentioned a revival that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, under the leadership of a remarkable Scotsman named Robert Haldane (1764–1842). He was one of two brothers who were members of the Scottish aristocracy in the late eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. His brother, James Haldane (1768–1851), was a captain with the British East India Company. Robert was the owner of Gleneerie and other estates in Perthshire. When he was converted in the decade before 1800, Robert sold a major part of his lands and applied the proceeds to advancing the cause of Jesus Christ in Europe. James became an evangelist and later an influential pastor in Edinburgh, where he served for fifty-two years.

In the year 1815, Robert Haldane visited Geneva. One day when he was in a park reading his Bible, he got into a discussion with some young men who turned out to be theology students. They had not the faintest understanding of the gospel, so Haldane invited them to come to his rooms twice a week for Bible study. They studied Romans, and the result of those studies was the great Exposition of Romans by Haldane from which I so often quote.

All those students were converted and in time became leaders in church circles throughout Europe. One was Merle d’Aubigné, who became famous for his classic History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century. We know the first part of it as The Life and Times of Martin Luther. Another of these men was Louis Gaussen, author of Theopneustia, a book on the inspiration of the Scriptures. Others were Frédéric Monod, the chief architect and founder of the Free Churches in France; Bonifas, who became an important theologian; and César Malan, another distinguished leader. These men were so influential that the work of which they became a part was known as Haldane’s Revival.

What was it that got through to these young men, lifting them out of the deadly liberalism of their day and transforming them into the powerful force they became? The answer is: the theme and wording of the very verses we have been studying, Romans 11:33–36. In other words, a proper understanding of God’s sovereignty.

We know this because of a letter from Haldane to Monsieur Cheneviere, a pastor of the Swiss Reformed Church and Professor of Divinity at the University of Geneva. Cheneviere was an Arminian, as were all the Geneva faculty, but Haldane wrote to him to explain how appreciation of the greatness of God alone produced the changes in these men. Here is his explanation:

There was nothing brought under the consideration of the students of divinity who attended me at Geneva which appeared to contribute so effectually to overthrow their false system of religion, founded on philosophy and vain deceit, as the sublime view of the majesty of God presented in the four concluding verses of this part of the epistle: Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. Here God is described as his own last end in everything that he does.

Judging of God as such an one as themselves, they were at first startled at the idea that he must love himself supremely, infinitely more than the whole universe, and consequently must prefer his own glory to everything besides. But when they were reminded that God in reality is infinitely more amiable and more valuable than the whole creation and that consequently, if he views things as they really are, he must regard himself as infinitely worthy of being more valued and loved, they saw that this truth was incontrovertible.

Their attention was at the same time directed to numerous passages of Scripture, which assert that the manifestation of the glory of God is the great end of creation, that he has himself chiefly in view in all his works and dispensations, and that it is a purpose in which he requires that all his intelligent creatures should acquiesce, and seek and promote it as their first and paramount duty.

A testimony like that leads me to suggest that the reason we do not see great periods of revival today is that the glory of God in all things has been largely forgotten by the contemporary church. It follows that we are not likely to see revival again until the truths that exalt and glorify God in salvation are recovered. Surely we cannot expect God to move among us greatly again until we can again truthfully say, “To him [alone] be the glory forever! Amen.”

To Him Be the Glory

Romans 11:36 is the first doxology in the letter. But it is followed by another at the end, which is like it, though more complete: “To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Rom. 16:27). It is significant that both doxologies speak of the glory of God, and that forever. Here are two questions to help us understand them.

1. Who is to be glorified?

The answer is: the sovereign God. For the most part, we start with man and man’s needs. But Paul always started with God, and he ended with him, too. In fact, the letter to the Romans is so clearly focused on God that it can be outlined accurately in these terms. Donald Grey Barnhouse published ten volumes on Romans, and he reflected Paul’s focus in the titles for these ten volumes, all but the first of which has God in the title. Volume one was Man’s Ruin. But then came God’s Wrath, God’s Remedy, God’s River, God’s Grace, God’s Freedom, God’s Heirs, God’s Covenants, God’s Discipline, and God’s Glory. We say with Paul, “To God be the glory forever! Amen.”

2. Why should God be glorified?

The answer is that “from him and through him and to him are all things,” particularly the work of salvation. Why is man saved? It is not because of anything in men and women themselves but because of God’s grace. It is because God has elected us to it. God has predestinated his elect people to salvation from before the foundation of the world. How is man saved? The answer is by the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus, the very Son of God. We could not save ourselves, but God saved us through the vicarious, atoning death of Jesus Christ. By what power are we brought to faith in Jesus? The answer is by the power of the Holy Spirit through what theologians call effectual calling. God’s call quickens us to new life. How can we become holy? Holiness is not something that originates in us, is achieved by us, or is sustained by us. It is due to God’s joining us to Jesus so that we have become different persons than we were before he did it. We have died to sin and been made alive to righteousness. Now there is no direction for us to go in the Christian life but forward. Where are we headed? Answer: to heaven, because Jesus is preparing a place in heaven for us. How can we be sure of arriving there? It is because God, who began the work of our salvation, will continue it until we do. God never begins a work that he does not eventually bring to a happy and complete conclusion.

“To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

The great Charles Hodge says of the verse we are studying;

Such is the appropriate conclusion of the doctrinal portion of this wonderful epistle, in which more fully and clearly than in any other portion of the Word of God, the plan of salvation is presented and defended. Here are the doctrines of grace, doctrines on which the pious in all ages and nations have rested their hopes of heaven, though they may have had comparatively obscure intimations of their nature. The leading principle of all is that God is the source of all good, that in fallen man there is neither merit nor ability, that salvation, consequently, is all of grace, as well satisfaction as pardon, as well election as eternal glory. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.

So let us give God the glory, remembering that God himself says:

I am the Lord; that is my name!

I will not give my glory to another

or my praise to idols.

Isaiah 42:8

and

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.

How can I let myself be defamed?

I will not yield my glory to another.

Isaiah 48:11

People Who Give God Glory

What of the objections? What of those who object to the many imagined bad results of such God-directed teaching? Won’t people become immoral, since salvation, by this theory, is by grace rather than by works? Won’t they lose the power of making choices and abandon all sense of responsibility before God and other people? Won’t people cease to work for worthwhile goals and quit all useful activity? Isn’t a philosophy that tries to glorify God in all things a catastrophe?

A number of years ago, Roger R. Nicole, professor of systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Divinity School in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and now at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, answered such objections in a classic address for the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology (1976), basing his words on an earlier remarkable address by Emile Doumergue, a pastor who for many years was dean of an evangelical seminary in southern France. Nicole’s address was likewise titled “Soli Deo Gloria.” The quotations below are from his answers to three important questions.

1. Doesn’t belief in the sovereignty of God encourage evil by setting people free from restraints? Doesn’t it make morality impossible?

“I suppose one could proceed to discuss this in a theological manner—to examine arguments, consider objections, and line up points in an orderly disposition. I would like, however, instead of going into a theological discussion, to challenge you in terms of an historical consideration. In the Reformation, there was a group of men who made precisely these assertions. Over against the prevailing current, they said that man is radically corrupt and is therefore totally unable by himself to please God. He is incapable of gathering any merits, let alone merit for others. But did these assertions damage morality? Were these people a group of scoundrels who satisfied their own sinful cravings under the pretense of giving glory to God? One does not need to be very versed in church history to know that this was not so. There were at that time thefts, murders, unjust wars. Even within the church there was a heinous and shameful trafficking of sacred positions.

“But what happened?

“These people, who believed that man is corrupt and that only God can help him, came forward like a breath of fresh air. They brought in a new recognition of the rights of God and of his claim upon the lives of men. They brought in new chastity, new honesty, new unselfishness, new humbleness, and a new concern for others. “Honest like the Huguenots,” they used to say. … Immorality was not promoted; it was checked by the recognition of the sovereignty of God.

“ ‘That is impossible,’ some say. Yet it happened.”

2. Doesn’t belief in the sovereignty of God eliminate man’s sense of responsibility and destroy human freedom? Doesn’t it destroy potential?

“Again, rather than going into the arguments of the matter, let us merely examine what happened in the sixteenth century when the sovereignty of God was asserted. Did the people involved allow themselves to be robbed of all initiative? Were they reduced to slavery under the power of God? Not at all! On the contrary, they were keenly aware of their responsibility. They had the sense that for everything they were doing, saying and thinking they were accountable to God. They lived their lives in the presence of God, and in the process they were pioneers in establishing and safe-guarding precious liberties—liberty of speech, religion and expression—all of which are at the foundation of the liberties we cherish in the democratic world.

“Far from eclipsing their sense of freedom, the true proclamation of the sovereignty of God moved them toward the recognition and expression of all kinds of human freedoms which God has himself provided for those whom he has created and redeemed.

“ ‘It is impossible that this should happen,’ we are told. Perhaps! But it happened.”

3. Doesn’t commitment to God’s sovereignty undercut strenuous human activity? Doesn’t it make people passive?

“We may make an appeal to history. What did these people—Calvin, Farel, Knox, Luther—what did they do? Were they people who reclined on a soft couch, saying, ‘If God is pleased to do something in Geneva, let him do it. I will not get in his way’? Or, ‘If God wants to have some theses nailed to the door of the chapel of Wittenberg Castle, let him take the hammer. I will not interfere’? You know very well that this is not so. These were not people lax in activity. They were not lazy. Calvin may be accused of many things, but one thing he has seldom been accused of is laziness. No, when the sovereignty of God is recognized, meaningfulness comes to human activity. Then, instead of seeing our efforts as the puny movements of insignificant people unable to resist the enormous momentum of a universe so much larger than ourselves, we see our activity in the perspective of a sovereign plan in which even small and insignificant details may be very important. Far from undermining activity, the doctrine of the sovereignty of God has been a strong incentive for labor, devotion, evangelism and missions.

“ ‘Impossible!’ Yet it happened.”

God’s Blessings for Our World

Nicole continues: “In the first century the world was in a frightful condition. One does not need to be a great authority on Roman history to know that. There were signs of the breakdown of the Roman Empire—rampant hedonism and a dissolution of morals. But at that point God was pleased to send into the world that great preacher of the sovereignty of God, the apostle Paul, and this introduced a brand new principle into the total structure. The preaching of Paul did not avert the collapse of the Roman Empire, but it postponed it. Moreover, it permitted the creation of a body of believers that persisted through the terrible invasions of the barbarian hordes, and even through the Dark Ages. …

“In the sixteenth century … the church had succumbed to deep corruption. It was corrupt ‘in its head and members.’ In many ways it was a cesspool of iniquity. People did not know how to remedy the situation. They tried councils, internal purges, monastic orders. None of these things seemed to work. But God again raised up to his glory men who proclaimed the truth of his sovereignty, the truth of God’s grace. In proclaiming this truth they brought a multitude of the children of God into a new sense of their dependence upon and relationship to Christ. In proclaiming this truth they benefited even the very people who opposed them in the tradition of the church. They are small, these men of the Reformation. They had little money, little power and little influence. One was a portly little monk in Germany. Another was a frail little professor in Geneva. A third was a ruddy but lowly little man in Scotland. What could they do? In themselves, nothing. But by the power of God they shook the world.

Radically corrupted, but sovereignly purified!

Radically enslaved, but sovereignly emancipated!

Radically unable, but sovereignly empowered!

“These men were the blessing of God for our world.”

“To God alone be glory!” To those who do not know God that is perhaps the most foolish of all statements. But to those who do know God, to those who are being saved, it is not only a right statement, it is a happy, wise, true, inescapable, and highly desirable confession. It is our glory to make it. “To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

 SOURCE: James Montgomery Boice. Expositions on Romans. Volume 3. God and History (Romans 9-11). Chapter 179, “Soli Deo Gloria” based on Romans 11:36.

 

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James Boice Sermon: “The Sixth Day” – Genesis 1:24-27

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 11

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:24-27

In our study of the days of creation I have set the sixth day off from the other five, because man is created on the sixth day and there is something special about his creation. He is the peak of creation. Moreover, from this point on the story of Genesis is the story of man—in rebellion against God but also as the object of his special love and redemption.

To say that man is the most important part of creation might be thought a chauvinistic statement, as though we might as easily say, if we were fish, that fish are most important. But this is not true. Men and women actually are higher than the forms of creation around them. They rule over creation, for one thing—not by mere force of strength, for many animals are stronger, but by the power of their minds and personalities. Men and women also have “God-consciousness,” which the animals do not have. No animal is guilty of moral or spiritual sin. Nor do animals consciously “glorify God, and enjoy him forever.” The Bible stresses man’s high position when it says toward the end of the creation account: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (vv. 26–27).

In these verses the uniqueness of man and his superiority to the rest of creation are expressed in three ways. First, he is said to have been made “in God’s image.” This is not said of either objects or animals. Second, he is given dominion over the fish, birds, animals, and even the earth itself. Third, there is a repetition of the word “created.” This word is used at only three points in the creation narrative: first, when God created matter from nothing (v. 1); second, when God created conscious life (v. 21); and third, when God created man (v. 27). This is a progression, from the body (matter) to soul (personality) to spirit (life with God-consciousness). Lest we should miss this, the word “create” is repeated three times over in reference to the man and woman. As Francis Schaeffer writes, “It is as though God put exclamation points here to indicate that there is something special about the creation of man” (Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, 33).

How Old is Man?

How old is man? This is a troublesome question, because there seems to be a conflict between the account in Genesis and the apparent evidence of science on this point. The various biblical genealogies (Genesis 5 is the earliest example) suggest that man is on the order of thousands—perhaps ten or twenty thousands—of years old. But anthropologists speak of man or manlike creatures being on the order of 3.5 to 4 million years old. The work of the Leakey family in Kenya and Tanzania provides the best-known examples.

What are we to say of this conflict? It may be impossible to resolve it finally at this stage of our knowledge, but the issues can be put in proportion. First, we must say that this seems to be a real conflict and not merely a case in which we are dealing with two different ways of looking at the same evidence. It has been pointed out by biblical scholars, among them no less a scholar than Princeton’s B. B. Warfield, that the biblical genealogies are not necessarily all-inclusive when they list a series of descendants. That is to say, they may (and in fact do) leave gaps, so that a person identified as a “son” of the person coming before him in the list need not necessarily be a literal son but may be a grandson or great-grandson. Moreover, the gaps may sometimes be quite large, as for example, the summation of the genealogy of Jesus Christ occurring in Matthew 1:1 (“the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham”). Because of this, it is possible, even probable, that the genealogies of Genesis, which suggest a creation of Adam in a time scale of approximately four thousand years before Christ (Bishop Ussher’s date was 4004 b.c.), are actually summations of much longer periods. Still, even if we multiply the figure of four thousand years three, four, or even five times, we are far from what most anthropologists are claiming. An origin of the race on the order of twelve thousand to twenty thousand years ago is very different from an origin of 3.5 to 4 million years ago.

It helps to put the fossil evidence in perspective, however, for not all fossils claimed to be human are necessarily so. Skeletal materials found at sites from historical times are essentially the same as those of modern man, called Homo sapiens (“thinking” or “discerning man”). But as one goes back beyond historical times there are increasing differences. Cro-Magnon man, who is prehistoric and whose remains have been found scattered widely throughout western Europe, was similar to people who exist today. He used bone and stone tools and made cave paintings of animals and other features of his world. Slightly farther back (on the order of one hundred thousand years) is the so-called Neanderthal man. He also used tools and buried his dead. But he was less human in appearance, having a receding forehead and a pronounced jaw. He seems to have been more apelike. Remains of this “man” were found in Europe, Israel, Zambia, and Rhodesia. Still farther back are a number of other essentially “modern” types found in France, Germany, and England, dating from perhaps 250,000 years ago, according to the most accepted calculations.

The so-called Peking man and Java man date from between five hundred thousand to 1 million years ago. Sometimes crude tools have been found with these skeletons, but the chief reason for their being regarded as humans is that they apparently walked upright, hence are designated Homo erectus. Most anthropologists would call Homo erectus the first truly modern man. The discoveries of Richard and Mary Leakey in Africa, while frequently referred to as evidences of ancient men in the secular press, are at best prehuman creatures, even by the Leakeys’ own judgments. They apparently walked upright, but they were quite small—about four feet in height—and had a brain capacity of about one-third that of modern man. The general impression one has of the skulls is that they represent extinct apelike rather than manlike forms.

One other perspective needs to be thrown on this problem: the uncertainty in dating these apparently ancient human ancestors. One case is particularly worth noting. In the Paluxy River basin in central Texas, near the town of Glen Rose, fossilized tracks of men and dinosaurs apparently appear together. This does not mean that either men or dinosaurs are of relatively recent history. Both may be quite ancient. But it does mean that something is wrong with the currently accepted time framework proposed by evolutionists, for according to that framework there should be a 60-million-year gap between the last of the dinosaurs and man. Clearly, there may yet be great revisions in what anthropologists and other scientists are proposing.

In the interim what may Christians, who hold to the truthfulness of Genesis and who still want to be honest where scientific data is concerned, conclude? One scientist, Robert A. Erb of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, concludes that fossil “man” is not necessarily man and that Christians do themselves a disservice when they regard all such as Adam’s descendants. He writes, “I believe in a historical Adam and would tend to date him near the beginning of the Neolithic (new stone) age in the Near East (about 8,000 b.c.). Indeed, this step in the creative work of God may be the cause of what is known as the Neolithic Revolution, with the domestication of plants and animals, the building of cities, the invention of pottery, the beginnings of writing and such things. That Adam does not belong to the Upper Paleolithic age of 30,000 years ago is suggested by: the domestication of plants and animals in the account of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:2) and Cain building a city (Gen. 4:17). In about six generations (neglecting the probable gaps in genealogy), Tubal-cain was working with metals (Gen. 4:22) and Jubal was making music (Gen. 4:21).”

The conclusion is that, while the earth and universe may indeed be quite old (on the order of billions of years), there is no need to insist that man is millions of years old. His creation by God may be as recent as the genealogies of Genesis seem to indicate.

In God’s Image

When Genesis 1 speaks of the creation of man, as it does several times over, it is not concerned with the time at which he was created. What concerns the author of Genesis is man’s being created “in God’s image.” This is repeated several times: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. …’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.” What does this mean? What does it mean to be made in God’s image?

One thing it means is that men and women possess the attributes of personality, as God himself does, but as the animals, plants, and matter do not. To have personality one must possess knowledge, feelings (including religious feelings), and a will. This God has, and so do we. We can say that animals possess a certain kind of personality. But an animal does not reason as men do; it only reacts to certain problems or stimuli. It does not create; it only conforms to certain behavior patterns, even in as elaborate a pattern as constructing a nest, hive, or dam. It does not love; it only reproduces. It does not worship. Personality, in the sense we are speaking of it here, is something that links man to God but does not link either man or God to the rest of creation.

A second element that is involved in man’s being created in the image of God is morality. This includes the two further elements of freedom and responsibility. To be sure, the freedom men and women possess is not absolute. Even in the beginning the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, were not autonomous. They were creatures and were responsible for acknowledging this by their obedience in the matter of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Since the fall that freedom has been further restricted so that, as Augustine said, the original posse non peccare (“able not to sin”) has become a non posse non peccare (“not able not to sin”). Still there is a limited freedom for men and women even in their fallen state, and with that there is also moral responsibility. In brief, we do not need to sin as we do or as often as we do. And even when we sin under compulsion (as may sometimes be the case), we still know it is wrong and, thus, inadvertently confess our likeness to God in this as in other areas.

It is relevant to the matter of morality that, when the sanctification of the believer is spoken of as being “renewed in knowledge in the image of [his] Creator” (Col. 3:10) or “conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Rom. 8:29), it is the moral righteousness of the individual that is most in view, though of course this may also refer to the perfection of personality in ways we do not as yet understand fully.

The third element involved in man’s being made in God’s image is spirituality, meaning that man is made for communion with God, who is Spirit (John 4:24), and that this communion is intended to be eternal as God is eternal. Although man shares a body with such forms of life as plants or flowers and a soul with animals, only he possesses a spirit. It is on the level of the spirit that he is aware of God and communes with him.

Here lies our true worth. We are made in God’s image and are therefore valuable to God and others. God loves men and women, as he does not and cannot love the animals, plants, or inanimate matter. Moreover, he feels for them, identifies with them in Christ, grieves for them, and even intervenes in history to make individual men and women into all that he has determined they should be. We get some idea of the special nature of this relationship when we remember that in a similar way the woman, Eve, was made in the image of man. Therefore, though different, Adam saw himself in her and loved her as his companion and corresponding member in the universe. It is not wrong to say that men and women are to God somewhat as the woman is to the man. They are God’s unique and valued companions. In support of this we need only think of the Bible’s teaching concerning Christ as the bridegroom and the church as his bride.

A Shattered Image

In this chapter we have been looking at man as God made him and intends him to be, that is, before the fall or as he will eventually become again in Christ. Although man was made in the image of God, this image has been greatly marred by sin. There are vestiges of the image remaining, but man today is not what God intended. He is a fallen being, and the effects of the fall are seen on each level of his being: in his body, soul, and spirit.

When God gave man the test of the forbidden tree, which was to be a measure of his obedience and responsibility toward the One who had created him, God said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16–17). The woman was beguiled by the serpent and ate. She came to Adam; and Adam, who was not beguiled, nevertheless ate of it too, thereby saying to God, “I do not care for all the trees that you have given me; so long as this tree stands here in the midst of the garden it reminds me of my dependence on you, and therefore I hate it; I will eat of it, regardless of the consequences, and die.”

Man’s spirit, that part of him that had communion with God, died instantly. This is clear from the fact that he ran from God when God came to him in the garden. Men and women have been running and hiding ever since. His soul, the seat of his intellect, feelings, and identity, began to die. So people began to lose a sense of who they are, gave vent to bad feelings, and suffered the decay of their intellect. This is the type of decay described by Paul in Romans 1 where we are told that, having rejected God, men inevitably “became futile [in their thinking] and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (vv. 21–23). Eventually even the body died. So it is said of us, “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19).

Donald Grey Barnhouse has pictured what happened as a three-story house that was bombed in wartime. The bomb had destroyed the top floor entirely, the debris of which had fallen down into the second floor, severely damaging it. The weight of the two ruined floors produced cracks in the walls of the first floor so that it was doomed to collapse eventually. Thus it was with Adam. His body was the dwelling of the soul, and his spirit was above that. When he fell the spirit was entirely destroyed, the soul ruined, and the body destined to a final collapse.

However, the glory of the gospel is seen at precisely this point, for when God saves a person he saves the whole person, beginning with the spirit, continuing with the soul, and finishing with the body. The salvation of the spirit comes first; for God first establishes contact with the one who has rebelled against him. This is regeneration, the new birth. Second, God works with the soul, renewing it after the image of the perfect man, the Lord Jesus Christ. This work is sanctification. Finally, there is the resurrection in which even the body is redeemed from destruction.

Moreover, God makes a new creation, for he does not merely patch up the old spirit, soul, and body, as if the collapsing house were just being buttressed and given a new coat of paint. God creates a new spirit that is his own Spirit within the individual. He creates a new soul, known as the new man. At last, he creates a new body. This body is like the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus Christ through whom alone we have this salvation.

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 11 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Source: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

James Montgomery Boice’s Books:

1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

SOURCE: from the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, website

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in James Montgomery Boice, Sermons

 

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SUNDAY OT SERMON: James Boice “The First Five Days of Creation” – Genesis 1:3-23

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 10

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. - Genesis 1:3-23

Creation is one form of God’s self-revelation and therefore a means by which we may come to know him. But, as Calvin points out in the introduction to his commentary on Genesis, our eyes are not “sufficiently clear-sighted to discern what the fabric of heaven and earth represents,” and therefore we need the Scriptures to view creation rightly. “If the mute instruction of the heaven and the earth were sufficient, the teaching of Moses would have been superfluous” John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, trans. John King. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,, 1948, 62).

Having looked at the creation account through the various modern systems of interpretation, we therefore now turn to the account for the emphasis God himself puts on his creative activity.

There are three main teachings. First, God himself—the true, sovereign, wise, and personal God—stands behind creation. Second, the work of this true, sovereign, wise, and personal God was an orderly work. Third, the creation was and is good, because it is the work of the God who is not only true, sovereign, wise, and personal but also morally perfect. Each of these points has implications for the way we are to relate both to God and his creation.

In the Beginning

The most obvious point is that God stands at the beginning of all things and is the One through whom all came into existence. We have noticed this in studying the first sentence of the chapter. When the Bible begins by stating “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” it is evident that we are directed first and primarily to the God who stands behind everything.

We also have this emphasis in the account of the first five days. Grammatically speaking, there is only one subject in all these verses: God himself. Everything else is object. Objects are acted upon. Light, air, water, dry land, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, land animals—all are objects in a creative process where God alone is subject. In these verses we are told that God “saw” (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), “separated” (vv. 4, 7), “called” (vv. 5, 8, 10), “made” (vv. 7, 16, 25), “set” (v. 17), “created” (vv. 21, 27), and explained to the man and woman what he had done (vv. 28–30). Moreover, before that, God spoke (vv. 3, 6, 9, 14, 20), as a result of which everything else unfolded.

We should note a number of things. First, in the Hebrew of this chapter the name for God is Elohim. This is a plural word. It is used as if it were singular—that is, with singular verbs and (usually) with singular pronouns referring back to it—to indicate that there is but one God only. But the fact that it is plural also suggests that there are plural dimensions to God’s being. We must acknowledge that this in itself does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity. There is such a thing as a plural of greatness in the Hebrew language. Nevertheless, on the basis of the later revelation, particularly in the New Testament, we are right in seeing a preparation for that fuller revelation here. In John 1 we have a reference to the start of Genesis that goes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (vv. 1–2). The Word is Jesus, as verse 14 shows. So John is saying that Jesus was with the Father and was acting with him in the original work of creation. In verse 3 John says specifically, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).

In Genesis 1:26 we find God saying, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness”—one of the places where a singular pronoun does not occur. In Genesis 3:22 we find, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

This is all very significant, because, when we recognize that the members of the Trinity are here at the beginning of creation, having existed before anything else, then the elements that we associate with the Trinity—love, personality, and communication—are seen to be eternal and to have eternal value. This is the biblical answer to man’s fear of being lost in an impersonal and loveless universe.

The second thing we note about these first biblical statements concerning God is that God brought the universe into existence by speaking (“And God said”). This shows the importance of verbal or propositional revelation. There has been a tendency in some contemporary theological circles to deny the importance of words on the basis that what is really important are acts, particularly the acts of God in history. This has implications for one’s assessment of the Bible, for in such a scheme the very words of the Bible lose importance and the Bible becomes only a more or less accurate pointer to what God has done historically. It has implications for the Christian life, because the emphasis falls on what God is doing rather than on what God has commanded. It even has implications for an understanding of history, for God is seen to be present wherever things are happening regardless of whether this accords with his written record of his nature and ways.

The creation account is a warning against this unbiblical and ultimately destructive approach. It is true that there can be a type of preoccupation with words that keeps one from actually coming to grips with the God who spoke them. But this is a far less common error in our day than cutting one’s self free from the written revelation. Which came first, the word or the deed? Many today say, “Deed.” But this is a distortion, as Genesis shows. God’s acts are of great importance. The creation account is full of them. But it is wrong to say that the deed comes first. Rather, the word comes first, followed by the deed, followed by a further revelation in words to interpret the deed spiritually. This means that a hearty emphasis on the Word of God is both biblical and mandatory, if one is to appreciate the acts of God prophesied, recorded, and interpreted in the Scriptures.

The third thing about this emphasis on God’s being behind creation is that when we are pleased with creation, as we should be, our praise should be directed to God, who made all things, and not to creation itself. This is the first great dividing point between the religion of the Bible and most pagan religions. Pagans worship the object, sometimes the “spirit” or “god” perceived to be in or identical with the object. But the Christian looks beyond the object to the God who made it and praises him. This gives him an understanding of the object that the pagan, for all his devotion to things, does not have. The Christian understands why the object is there, why it has the form it has, and (to some extent) what his responsibility toward it is. He is delivered from fear or excessive veneration of the object, on the one hand, and an unmerited scorn or disregard of it, on the other.

Can we not say also that God is to be praised as Creator even before he is praised as Redeemer? We see this in an interesting sequence of those hymns of praise recorded in the fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation. The fifth chapter contains three hymns of praise to Christ for his work of redemption. But there is also the great hymn of chapter 4:

You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they were created

and have their being.

verse 11

In this hymn God is praised as Creator. It is significant that even before that, in verse 8, he is praised simply for being:

Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,

who was, and is, and is to come.

As Francis Schaeffer says, “Our praise to God is not first of all in the area of soteriology. If we are being fully scriptural, we do not praise him first because he saved us, but because he is there and has always been there. And we praise him because he willed all other things, including man, into existence” Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, 27).

When Schaeffer says that “God willed all things, including man, into existence,” he introduces the fourth thing that should be especially noted about God’s being behind all creation: We are part of that creation, have been made by God, and therefore owe him our total and unfeigned obedience and devotion. As Calvin says, “After the world had been created, man was placed in it as in a theatre, that he, beholding above him and beneath the wonderful works of God, might reverently adore their Author.” Moreover, “all things were ordained for the use of man, that he, being under deeper obligation, might devote and dedicate himself entirely to obedience towards God” (Calvin, Genesis, 64-65) We have not done this, of course. We have rebelled against God and are therefore in need of a redeemer. But having been redeemed and having been given a new nature according to which we have now become “new creatures” in Christ, we are enabled to worship and serve God properly.

An Orderly Unfolding

God’s standing behind all things is not the only point of the creation account. These verses also teach that creation was according to an orderly unfolding of the mind and purposes of God. That is, it was a step-by-step progression marked by a sequence of six significant days.

We have already seen that the length of time covered by these days may be an open question. Creationists insist that the days cover a literal twenty-four hours, but this is not necessarily the case. Sometimes the word “day” is used with broader meaning, even by Moses. It can mean a period of indefinite duration. The evidence of geology suggests to most people that the periods corresponding to the days of Genesis were long. However, questions like these, while interesting and necessary, obscure the equally valid and even more valuable point that creation, however long it took, was a deliberate and orderly unfolding of God’s purposes. God is a God of order, not chaos. He is a God of purpose, not chance. It follows that we should also be creatures of order and purpose. Instead of attempting to tear down, as Satan does, we should attempt to build up according to the pattern God gives in Scripture.

A Moral Pronouncement

There is a third point to the Genesis account of creation: God’s moral pronouncement on what he has done. It appears in the repeated phrase “and God saw that it was good” (vv. 10, 12, 18, 21, 25; cf. vv. 3, 31). This pronouncement is not made because we can point to an object and say pragmatically, “That thing is useful to me and is therefore good to me.” God’s pronouncement on the goodness of creation came even before we were made. The pronouncement is made because the object is good in itself. As Schaeffer says, this means that a tree is not good only because we can cut it down and make a house of it or because we can burn it in order to get heat. It is good because God made it and has pronounced it good. It is good because, like everything else in creation, it conforms to God’s nature.

Schaeffer writes of this divine benediction: “This is not a relative judgment, but a judgment of the holy God who has a character and whose character is the law of the universe. His conclusion: Every step and every sphere of creation, and the whole thing put together—man himself and his total environment, the heavens and the earth—conforms to myself” (Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, 55).

It is not only in its pristine state, that is, before the fall of man, that the earth and its contents are pronounced good. The initial blessing of God recorded in Genesis 1 is repeated later even after the fall. For example, it is repeated in God’s covenant with the human race given at the time of Noah. In that unilateral covenant God says, “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. … I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 9:9–10, 13). Here God’s concern is expressed, not just for Noah and those of his family who were delivered with him, but for the birds and the cattle and even the earth itself. Similarly, in Romans 8 there is an expression of the value of creation in that God included it in his promise of that future deliverance for which it as well as the race of men and women wait: “The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (v. 21).

The value of creation, declared good by God, brings us to a natural conclusion: If God finds the universe good in its parts and as a whole, then we must find it good also. This does not mean that we will refuse to see that nature has been marred by sin. Indeed, the verses from Genesis 9 and Romans 8 are inexplicable apart from the realization that nature has suffered in some way as a result of man’s fall. It is marred by thorns, weeds, disease. But even in its marred state it has value, just as fallen man also has value.

First, we should be thankful for the world God has made and praise him for it. In some expressions of Christian thought only the soul has value. But this is not right, nor is it truly Christian. Actually, the elevation of the value of the soul and the debasement of the body and other material things is a Greek and therefore pagan idea based on a false understanding of creation. If God had made the soul (or spirit) alone and if the material world had come from some lesser or even evil source, this would be right. But the Christian view is that God has made all that is and that it therefore has value and should be valued by us because of this origin.

Second, we should delight in creation. This is closely related to being thankful but is a step beyond it. It is a step that many Christians have never taken. Frequently Christians look on nature only as one of the classic proofs of God’s existence. But instead of this, the Christian should really enjoy what he sees. He should appreciate its beauty. He should exult in creation even more than the non-Christian, because in the Christian’s case there is a corresponding knowledge of the God who stands behind it.

Third, we should demonstrate a responsibility toward nature, meaning that we should not destroy it simply for the sake of destroying it but rather should seek to elevate it to its fullest potential. There is a parallel here between the responsibility of men and women toward the creation and the responsibility of a husband toward his wife in marriage. In each case the responsibility is based on a God-given dominion (though the two are not identical). Of marriage it is said, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25–27). In the same way, men and women together should seek to sanctify and cleanse the earth in order that it might be more as God created it, in anticipation of its ultimate redemption. This does not mean that the universe cannot be used by man in a proper way. A tree can still be cut down to make wood for a home. But it will not be cut down simply for the pleasure of cutting it down or because it is the easiest way to increase the value of the ground. In such areas there must be a careful thinking through of the value and purpose of the object, and there must be a Christian rather than a purely utilitarian approach to it.

Finally, after he has contemplated nature and has come to value it, the Christian should turn once again to the God who made it and sustains it moment by moment and should learn to trust him. God cares for nature, in spite of its abuse through man’s sin. But if he cares for nature, then he also obviously cares for us and may be trusted to do so. This argument occurs in the midst of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in which he draws our attention to God’s care of the birds (animal life) and lilies (plant life) and then asks, “Are you not much more valuable than they? … If … God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 6:26, 30) (Parts of this sermon are drawn from Boice, The Soveriegn God, 205-15).

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 10 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Source: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

James Montgomery Boice’s Books:

1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

SOURCE: from the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, website

 
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SUNDAY OT SERMON: James Boice – “Views if Creation: Progressive Creationism” – Genesis 1:1-2

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 9

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. - Genesis 1:1-2

In the past four messages (the past four weeks) we looked at four competing views of creation: atheistic evolution, tehistic evolution, the gap theory, and six-day creationism. Each has been well presented and well defended by able advocates; but each has problems, as we have seen. As a result, in recent years a fifth approach to the creation process has appeared: progressive creationism. Briefly stated, it says that God created the world directly and deliberately, that is, without leaving anything to “chance,” but that he did it over long periods of time that correspond roughly to the geological ages. Moreover, this creation is still going on. Progressive creationism attempts to show how current scientific theories of the origins of the universe and the formation of the earth match the revelation in Genesis.

This approach is not entirely new. For example, some elements of the progressive creationists’ description of the early formation of the earth sound much like things the gap theorists were saying earlier in this century. Parts of the theory would be affirmed by evolutionists.

One book that takes this position is Genesis One & the Origin of the Earth by Robert C. Newman and Herman J. Eckelmann. Newman, who holds a doctorate in astrophysics from Cornell University, is professor of New Testament at the Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield, Pennsylvania. Eckelmann has been an associate with the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell University but is now pastor of a church in Ithaca, New York. A second book that espouses progressive creationism is Creation and the Flood: An Alternative to Flood Geology and Theistic Evolution by Davis A. Young, son of the well-known Westminster Theological Seminary professor of Old Testament, Edward J. Young. Important to each of their views is the idea that the creative days of Genesis launch creative periods in the sense that the work begun on the earlier days continues to unfold in some form during the later days. The progressive creationists want to make possible the appearance of some new forms of vegetation in late geological periods even though the Genesis account places the creation of plants and trees on day three—to give just one example.

This view is held by many Christians who are in scientific fields, even though they have not published books on their position. It is held by quite a few biblical scholars and theologians.

A Possible Interpretation

Since even scientists are unsure precisely how the earth may have formed, it is an exercise in speculation to suggest an early history of the earth and universe. Nevertheless, since an outline of that history is given in the first chapter of Genesis, it is not out of place to look at it in terms of current geological theory, which is essentially what the progressive creationists have done. The result is something like the following (composite) picture of development.

Initial creation. The first verse of Genesis tells us that “God created the heavens and the earth.” It does not tell us how God created the heavens or the earth, nor when. So it is permissible to view this statement in terms of the prevailing “big bang” theory. That is, the universe had a definite beginning on the order of 15 to 20 billion years ago. At that point all the matter in the universe was together, but it began moving outward by sudden rapid expansion. Scientists estimate that nearly all elements would have been formed by the end of the first half hour. As matter expanded, galaxies, solar systems, and satellite bodies were formed. In this early period the earth would have been quite hot. Most of the water would have been in the atmosphere. Consequently, there would have been a heavy cloud layer that would have shrouded the earth in impenetrable darkness. As the earth cooled some of the cloud cover would have condensed and would have fallen as rain, thus forming oceans. Progressive creationists feel that this state of things is well reflected in Genesis 1:2, which says, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

The first day. After the first verse of Genesis the focal point of the creation narrative is the earth. Therefore, the statement of God in verse 3 (“let there be light”) refers to the appearance of light on earth. This would mean that the clouds covering the earth had now thinned enough for the light of the sun, which had been shining all along, to penetrate to the earth’s surface. As the earth rotated there would be periods of night and day, although the sun and other heavenly bodies would not themselves be visible. This is called the first day of creation because it was the first significant event in the preparation of the earth for habitation.

The second day. On this day the cooling process continued with a further thinning of the clouds and a separation between them and the waters that now lay on the earth. These verses (vv. 6–8) speak of the firmament (correctly translated “an expanse” in the New International Version), the waters under the firmament, and the waters above the firmament. What is distinct about this day is neither the existence of the cloud cover nor the existence of the waters that covered the earth; these existed before. The new element is the appearance of the firmament or atmosphere, what we call the sky. This separated the two waters that before were close together. Interestingly, current scientific thought also views the development of the atmosphere and oceans as a fairly recent event in earth’s history (See P. Brancazio and A.G.W. Cameron, The Origin and Evolution of Atmospheres and Ocenas. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1964. Cited by D.A. Young, Creation and the Flood, 124.

The third day. This day marks the separation of the great land masses from the oceans and the appearance of vegetation on the land. Presumably the land appeared as the result of volcanic eruptions and the buckling of the earth’s crust. Psalm 104:6–9 describes this appearance: “You covered it [the earth] with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth.” These verses suggest that the land appeared gradually as it was drained of its covering.

Mention of the plants, particularly “seed-bearing plants and trees,” creates some problems with the science of paleobotany. So far as we know, only very simple plants existed early—namely, seaweed, algae, and bacteria—and these are associated with the oceans rather than the land. More complex plants appeared later. The seed-bearing plants mentioned in Genesis are found first in the Devonian period (about 400 million years ago). The first trees appear in the Pennsylvania period (i.e., about 320 million years ago). Again, the Genesis account seems to say that plants appeared before animals, but the fossil record shows that these appeared simultaneously. What can be done with these difficulties? It may be impossible at this stage to give a definitive answer, but two things may be noted. First, the creative acts compressed into Genesis 1:11 did not necessarily take place all at one time. They could have taken place over a fairly long period in which grasses could have come first, followed by herbs, followed by fruit trees. Second, most of the geological record is derived from marine rocks. Therefore, it does not necessarily give an accurate picture of what may or may not have existed on land. One does not really expect to find fossils of large land plants in such beds. As time goes on there may well be additional light on this particular period of the earth’s development.

The fourth day. Light had been reaching earth since the first day of creation; it was through this influence that the vegetation created on day three was enabled to appear and prosper. But now the skies cleared sufficiently for the heavenly bodies to become visible. It is not said that these were created on the fourth day; they were created in the initial creative work of God referred to in Genesis 1:1. But now they begin to function as regulators of the day and night, “as signs to mark seasons and day and years” (Gen. 1:14).

The fifth day. On the fifth day God began to create living creatures. The word “create” (baraʾ) is used here for the first time since verse 1, probably indicating a de novo act of God, unrelated to what had been done previously. Earlier God is said to have “separated,” “made,” and “formed” various things. The land itself is said to have “produced” vegetation. Not so with the birds and sea creatures! These were created by God and now began to fill the earth that had been prepared to receive them.

On this day too we have problems with the fossil record, as Young and others recognize. But these are not overwhelming. Young writes, “The fact that many marine invertebrate animals such as corals and trilobites appear in the fossil record prior to land plants implies a contradiction between Genesis and geology. We must, however, keep in mind the incompleteness of the plant record and our lack of knowledge as to the exact limits of the categories described in verses 20–22. It is important to point out that the major groups in view here, that is, birds, most fish, swimming reptiles such as crocodiles or the extinct mosasaurs, flying reptiles like pterodactyls, seals and whales, do appear later in the fossil record than most land plants. As a generality such is the case. Birds first appear in the Jurassic period, fish are well-developed from Ordovician onwards but proliferate in the Tertiary, complex marine and aerial reptiles are Mesozoic, and large swimming mammals are Tertiary” (D.A. Young, Creation and the Flood, 130).

Young, as most other progressive creationists, allows for some overlap of the creative days.

The sixth day. One of the best arguments for the days of Genesis 1 being periods of long duration is the amount of creative activity recorded as having taken place on day six. God created land animals, divided into three general categories: livestock (that is, animals capable of being domesticated), creatures that move along the ground (the reference is to animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, and woodchucks, and may include reptiles), and wild animals (that is, those that could not be domesticated). Many categories of each are involved because each is said to reproduce according to “their kinds” (plural). On this day God also created man, last but at the peak of the created order. Since God is said to have created each of these three categories of animals and man independently and after certain specific kinds, the possibility of general evolution seems to be discounted. Still there is no reason to rule out some kinds of development within species (microevolution), such as the alleged development of the horse. The language of the verses suggests a pause between the making of animals and the creation of man, and there may have been other pauses also.

The progressive creationists’ view of God’s creation is tentative, for not all scientific evidence is in and even the narrative of Genesis may not be understood as well as we shall understand it some day. But in general terms this is what the progressive viewpoint holds. Its adherents regard it as a reasonable harmony between the Genesis record and the facts of geology and other scientific disciplines.

What are the Problems?

Some of the problems with this view have already been suggested. The most obvious are the apparent discrepancies between the fossil record and the order in which plants, fish, and land animals are said to have been created in Genesis. This is serious. On the other hand, it is not of such weight as to immediately disqualify the theory. Science assumes that life first appeared in the oceans or other watery places, but it does not know this and it is possible that life may have appeared on land before it appeared in the water. Moreover, if one discounts the earliest forms of life, such as algae, bacteria, and seaweed, which mean a great deal to botanists but are probably not in view in Genesis at all, the order of the appearance of life in Genesis and in the fossil record is quite similar.

Second, there is the linguistic problem of taking the days of Genesis as long periods, which the six-day creationists regard as impossible. This has already been discussed in presenting the creationists’ view. Here we may simply note that there are at least two sides to the argument. On the surface it would be natural to take the word “day” in Genesis 1 as referring to a literal twenty-four-hour day. But even this is not without question, for the account clearly indicates that God did not establish the sun and other heavenly bodies for the regulating of “seasons and days and years” until day four. Augustine noted this fifteen hundred years ago, and so have others. James Orr wrote, “It is at least as difficult to suppose that only ordinary days of twenty-four hours are intended, in view of the writer’s express statement that such days did not commence till the fourth stage of creation, as to believe that they are symbols” (Orr, Christian View, 421). There are other places even in Moses’ writings where “day” clearly means “period” (cf. Gen. 2:4; Ps. 90:4).

The third and, in my judgment, most serious objection to the progressive creation theory is that it introduces death into the world before the fall (or even the creation) of Adam. If death was the punishment for sin, as the Bible seems to indicate, and if this punishment was imposed upon the whole world (including the animals) as the result of Adam’s sin, then there could not have been death in the world before Adam, and the fossil record must be post-Adamic, as the flood geologists state. Morris puts it tersely: “The day-age theory … accepts as real the existence of death before sin, in direct contradiction to the biblical teaching that death is a divine judgment on man’s dominion because of man’s sin (Rom. 5:12). Thus it assumes that suffering and death comprise an integral part of God’s work of creating and preparing the world for man; and this in effect pictures God as a sadistic ogre, not as the biblical God of grace and love” (Morris, The Genesis Record, 54).

The objection is serious, but these points must be considered:

1. The actual curse of God as the result of man’s sin, recorded in Genesis 3, says nothing about the animals. It is a curse on four things only: the man, the woman, the serpent, and the ground for the man’s sake. Nowhere is it said that the earth or universe underwent a drastic transformation, nor even that the serpent, though an animal, was to die in punishment for its part in the temptation. Its curse was only to crawl on its belly and thus be cursed “above all the livestock and all the wild animals” (Gen. 3:14).

2. The curse on Adam and Eve did not involve physical death only, though that was horrible enough in that they were created for communion with God who is eternal; it involved spiritual death. But this does not really pertain to the animal realm in that animals do not have God-consciousness in the first place. It is conceivable that animals could be created to enjoy a normal life span and then to die without this having any of the judgmental qualities death has for man.

3. The texts often cited from the New Testament in support of the view that death came to the animal world as a result of man’s sin do not prove the point. Romans 8:19–21 does not contrast the present imperfection of the world with a more glorious past state but with the future state when it shall be delivered from its “bondage to decay” along with the final redemption of God’s children. Similarly, Romans 5:12, though it speaks of the introduction of death into the world through Adam’s sin, does not necessarily speak of the infliction of this penalty on any creature other than man.

4. It is hard to imagine a world of living things in which death does not occur in some form, if only because living things live by eating other living things. Even assuming that the carnivores were herbivores before Adam’s fall, these still had to eat plants that thereby died. Did birds not eat insects? Did fish not eat other fish? We can imagine that the birds all ate berries; but even if the fish ate plankton, the plankton died.

In view of these points, progressive creationists would argue that death did indeed exist in the world before Adam—otherwise, how would he know what the threat of death meant (“You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die”)? But it did not have the horror for animals that it had for Adam and has for us today. Young writes, “The most that can be said with certainty about the effect of the fall on geological phenomena is that it introduced death and suffering into the human race for the first time. … It cannot be proved from the Scripture that the curse resulted in anything other than pain, sorrow, agonizing labor, and death for man and degradation for the serpent. Ideas about structural changes in the animals, death among animals, and drastic transformations in the laws of nature such as the laws of thermodynamics must from a Scriptural perspective forever remain pure speculations” (D.A. Young, Creation and the Flood, 168).

A Framework

We have come to an end of our examination of the various main views of creation, and it may seem that nearly everything is undecided. For many it may be; nearly anyone—anyone who can see the difficulties, whatever view he or she holds—will face problems. Still it is not true that everything is undecided. We have not settled everything, but we have established a framework in which our thinking about creation may go forward.

First, we have dismissed atheistic evolution and have come close to dismissing theistic evolution as well. This means that the world of man and things did not come about by chance happenings over long periods of evolutionary history but as a result of God’s direct creative activity.

Second, we have suggested that any view that makes the earth a relatively new thing (on the order of twelve thousand to twenty thousand years old) flies in the face of too much varied and independent evidence to be tenable. Some would dispute this, of course. But in my judgment the earth and universe are indeed billions of years old.

Third, we have shown the possibility of God’s having formed the earth and its life in a series of creative days representing long periods. In view of the apparent age of the earth, this is not only possible—it is probable. Nothing is to be gained by insisting that God had to create all things in six literal twenty-four-hour days.

This does not mean, however, that everything said by evolutionists about the many millions of years in which the earth and its life are supposed to have formed is factual. The periods involved may be considerably shorter than current evolution and geologic theory suggest, since the main reason for insisting on such interminable ages is to give the amount of time supposed to be necessary for life to emerge through chance occurrences. In particular, there is no need to argue for the great antiquity of man. Man may be relatively recent, though how recent is unclear. (The fossil evidence for man’s antiquity will be considered when the creation of man himself is discussed in Part 11 in this Series on Genesis.)

Finally, we can make these “spiritual” applications. We have discussed the theory of evolution in which everything we know is supposed to have evolved by mere chance. We have rejected evolution. But there is a sense in which those who know God are enabled to evolve increasingly into that image of what he would have us to be, and we rejoice in that. Again, we have discussed the gap theory. We have seen that there may be gaps in what is told us in the historical sections of Genesis; there may be gaps in our knowledge. But there are no gaps in the wisdom, knowledge, or love of God, and in this we rejoice. We have discussed the twenty-four-hour-day theory. We have seen evidence for and against that option. But whether the days of Genesis are twenty-four hours long or much longer, all time is God’s time and is used by him. Our days are also God’s days. Last, we considered progressive creationism. It may be close to the true picture. But we need to remember that there is never any true or lasting progress that is not God’s doing and that where God works there is always progress. Let us ask him to make progress with us as we strive to grow in the knowledge of his will and ways.

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 9 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Source: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

James Montgomery Boice’s Books:

1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

SOURCE: from the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, website

 
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SUNDAY OT SERMON: James Montgomery Boice on Genesis 1:1-2 “VIEWS OF CREATIONISM: SIX-DAY CREATIONISM”

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 8

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. - Genesis 1:1-2

In recent years the gap theory of creation, so popuplar with the early fundamentalists, has been replaced by a school of thought known as six-day creationism or flood geology. This theory views the Genesis account as involving six literal days, posits a relatively young earth (maximum age twelve thousand years), and explains the fossil record as having been formed by the great flood in Genesis 6 conceived as having been universal and of immensely destructive proportions. This theory is biblical, but it does not base its interpretation of Genesis on unusual schemes of thought, as the gap theorists do. True, its geology may be unusual (perhaps even forced, as some would claim). But because it is biblical, as well as scientific, creationism deserves the most serious consideration by Christian people.

Two organizations have been effective in advancing the creationists’ viewpoint: the Creation Research Society of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Institute for Creation Research of San Diego, California. The first of these was founded in 1963 with Dr. Walter E. Lammerts as its first president. It has a current membership of five hundred scientists, who have the right to vote, and sixteen hundred nonscientists, who do not have the right to vote. The society issues a quarterly journal and in 1970 published a school textbook entitled Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity. It has produced several other volumes. As indicated by the name, the members of the Creation Research Society engage largely in research relating to creation matters.

The second organization has been more active and is therefore better known. It is a division of Christian Heritage College, also of San Diego, and has as its leaders Dr. Duane T. Gish, who serves on the board of directors of the Christian Research Society, and Dr. Henry M. Morris, the institute’s director. This organization sponsors frequent debates on evolution. The results of these debates, sometimes attended by many thousands of people, are printed, along with other items and articles in support of scientific creationism, in a monthly newsletter known as Acts & Facts. In the last ten years the institute has published more than thirty books on creationism, most of them written by Gish and Morris, though the best-known work, The Genesis Flood, was coauthored by Morris and Dr. John C. Whitcomb, former professor of Old Testament at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana.

These organizations have offered a powerful challenge to prevailing evolutionary theory and have carried their challenge into the public sphere as evidenced by the California biology textbook controversy, which began in November 1969, and other recent court cases.

The Creationists’ Message

The message of the creationists, whether in debate or in their publications, is that evolution is impossible and that the facts (as we know them) best fit the creationist model.

Here is a lengthy but valuable summation of the creationists’ position from the Whitcomb and Morris volume: “Although there may be considerable latitude of opinion about details, the Biblical record does provide a basic outline of earth history, within which all the scientific data ought to be interpreted. It describes an initial Creation, accomplished by processes which no longer are in operation and which, therefore, cannot possibly be understood in terms of present physical or biological mechanisms. It describes the entrance into this initial Creation of the supervening principle of decay and deterioration: the ‘curse’ pronounced by God on the ‘whole creation,’ resulting from the sin and rebellion of man, the intended master of the terrestrial economy, against his Creator.

“The record of the great Flood plainly asserts that it was so universal and cataclysmic in its cause, scope, and results that it also marked a profound hiatus in terrestrial history. Thus the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood constitute the truly basic facts, to which all the other details of early historical data must be referred…It seems most reasonable to attribute the formations of the crystalline basement rocks, and perhaps some of the Pre-Cambrian non-fossiliferous sedimentaries, to the Creation period, enough later substantially modified by the tectonic upheavals of the Deluge period. The fossil-bearing strata were apparently laid down in large measure during the Flood, with the apparent sequences attributed not to evolution but rather to hydrodynamic selectivity, ecologic habitats, and differential mobility and strength of the various creatures.”

So far as evolution is concerned, Whitcomb and Morris write that “evolution is the great ‘escape mechanism’ of modern man. This is the pervasive philosophic principle by which man either consciously or sub-consciously seeks intellectual justification for escape from personal responsibility to his Creator and escape from the ‘way of the Cross’ as the necessary and sufficient means of his personal redemption. … The decision between alternative theories does not therefore depend only on the scientific data but is ultimately a moral and emotional decision. … We therefore urge the reader to face up to the fact that the actual data of geology can be interpreted in such a way as to harmonize quite effectively with a literal interpretation of the Biblical records and then also to recognize the spiritual implications and consequences of this fact” (John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris, The Geneisis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Applications. Philadelphia: P&R, 1961, 327-30).

A Detailed Message

There are several points in this summary that ought to guide us in an evaluation of the theory. First, there is a concern for biblical teaching. More than this, creationists want to make biblical teaching determinative. This is the point at which the summary begins, for it seeks to make an initial creation, the fall, and the flood the three great points around which everything else is to be interpreted.

We have to admit here that the exegetical basis of the creationists is strong. They take the creation account of Genesis as literally as possible, arguing that the Hebrew word for “day” (yom) must refer to an actual twenty-four-hour day unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. They do not deny that yom can refer to an indefinite period, in which case it might be more properly translated “age,” but they consider this usage to be relatively rare. Moreover, even where it does mean an indefinite period, this can hardly be stretched to include the billions of years that uniformitarian geology would assign to periods represented by the “days” of Genesis. Besides, in Genesis 1 the days are each said to have an evening and a morning. Whitcomb and Morris say, “Since God’s revealed Word describes this Creation as taking place in six ‘days’ and since there apparently is no contextual basis for understanding these days in any sort of symbolic sense, it is an act of both faith and reason to accept them, literally, as real days (Ibid, 228).”

The perspicuity of Scripture has bearing here. True, not all Scripture is equally clear, but the creationist would argue that it is very clear at this point. “Suppose the creation did take place in six twenty-four-hour days,” he might say. “How could God possibly tell us that more clearly or directly than by the language we have in Genesis?”

Second, the summary shows the weaknesses and perhaps even the ultimate failure of evolution, the “great escape mechanism” of modern man. Where does evolution fail? In addition to its failure to provide adequate supporting data from the fossil record, which I have already alluded to, Whitcomb and Morris lay particular stress on the problem evolution has with the first and second laws of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics is energy conservation. It says that energy is neither created nor lost. It is simply changed from one form to another. The second law states that in spite of this conservation the energy available for useful work does decrease so that the universe can properly be said to be “running down.” To give just one illustration, the energy of the sun is not being destroyed by the combustion going on on its surface—the energy latent in the sun’s matter is being converted to heat—but the heat largely dissipates into space and becomes useless.

A consequence of this second law is that in any closed system order tends to move in the direction of disorder or disarrangement. Take the example that Robert Kofahl and Kelly Segraves give in their book, The Creation Explanation. They ask us to imagine an orderly pile of ping-pong balls resting at the head of a flight of stairs. For the sake of the illustration they also ask us to imagine that the balls are perfectly resilient so that they are capable of bouncing forever without losing their original energy. Imagine that someone jars the balls so that the pile collapses and the balls begin to roll down over the first step and then bounce on down to the bottom of the stairs and so on around the room. What will happen? The balls will continue bouncing but in increasing disorder. They will not bounce back up into their original position and assemble themselves on the upper step, even though they continue bouncing for billions of years. There is a mathematical possibility of that happening, but it is a practical impossibility, which is to say: It does not happen. Yet evolution would have us believe that the complex order of the universe has come about from just such random happenings (Robert E. Kofahl and Kelly L. Segraves, The Creation Explanation: A Scientific Alternative to Evolution. Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1975, 33-35).

Whitcomb and Morris conclude, “The plain facts of the situation, therefore, are that evolution has been simply assumed as the universal principle of change in nature, despite the fact that there is no experimental evidence supporting it and despite the still more amazing fact that universal experience and experimentation have demonstrated this universal principle of change to be its very opposite: namely, that of deterioration” (Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood, 227).

But if the earth is young (only twelve thousand years or so) and if it is the result of God’s special acts of creation taking place within the short period of only six literal twenty-four-hour days, where did the various strata of the earth’s crust come from? Even more important, where did the various fossil-bearing strata come from? Didn’t these require long periods of time, hundreds of thousands if not billions of years in time, for their formation? The creationists’ answer is that although the strata may have been laid down in various epochs—at the time of the initial creation (by fiat), during the work of the six literal days, or in our own relatively modern period—the significant, fossil-bearing strata are largely the result of the flood.

The idea here is that a flood of worldwide proportions would be immensely destructive. It would require huge amounts of water pushed up from beneath and precipitated from above, presumably by the condensation of a vapor or cloud cover, with cataclysmic effects on the earth’s crust. The amount of water necessary to cover the earth would carry virtually all soil with it into the oceans by erosion, where it would pile up in strata. Various creatures would be buried in those strata, the simpler and smaller on the bottom, the larger and more vigorous on top—hence, the appearance of various ages in which life developed from simpler to more complex forms. After the flood new land masses would have emerged, and some of these newly formed strata would have been exposed.

Creationists believe that their views are reinforced by additional considerations:

1. Present-day conditions are forming very few potential fossil deposits, and most of these are unusual. Nothing comparable to the known fossil beds of ancient times is being formed today, which makes us think that some past catastrophe was necessary to produce them.

2. The facts of geology do not support the view of essentially harmonious strata with the older levels on the bottom and the most recent on the top. There is a tendency in this direction, but the facts reflect a far more unruly situation. A universal flood accounts for these facts more adequately than the theory of lengthy geological ages and slow evolutionary development.

3. The existence of huge fossil deposits containing thousands of large, complex species, such as the mammoth deposits in Siberia, is best explained either by the flood or by the abnormal weather conditions that must have followed it.

After presenting this and other evidence, Kofahl and Segraves conclude, “The foregoing features of the fossil and geological records all seem to be in agreement more with the catastrophic than with the uniformitatrion concept of geological processes of the past. Thus, in this respect, fossils corroborate the structural data given previously and lend themselves readily to the framework of biblical catastrophism.”

How Old is the Earth?

In spite of the careful biblical and scientific research that has accumulated in support of the creationists’ view, there are problems that make the theory wrong to most (including many evangelical) scientists. We conclude by listing the most important.

Data from various disciplines point to a very old earth and an even older universe. Some of the conclusions from this data, as well as some of the data itself, were presented in earlier chapters. There is astronomical data. One line of astronomical data concerns the speed of light. Light travels in a vacuum at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. Therefore, 1) if the speed of light is constant, and 2) the light we observe coming from the stars actually comes from those stars, and 3) if our distance measurements for these stars are substantially accurate, then the universe is at least as old as the light-travel-time coming to us from the most distant objects. The most distant objects we are able to observe are quasars. The travel time for light coming from these objects is more than 10 billion years. Therefore, the age of the universe by this mode of reckoning is at least more than that. A second line of data is based on the apparent expansion of the universe. All parts of the universe are retreating from us and from one another at enormous speeds, the most distant observable galaxies at speeds in excess of 100 million miles per hour. by working backward from their present position and speed to the initial “big bang,” the origin of the universe can be set at between 15 and 20 billion years ago. A third line of astronomical data concerns the nature and normal life of stars. Stars are of various ages, having been formed over the whole history of the universe from 15 to 20 billion years ago until today. Our own Milky Way galaxy is about as old as the universe. Our sun is considerably younger, about 5 to 10 billion years old.

The point of combining this data is that, although it is related in some ways, it is based on different approaches to the problem of age and on different assumptions. Yet it gives a roughly consistent picture. According to these methods, the universe would be about 15 to 20 billion years old, the sun about 5 to 10 billion years old, and our solar system about 5 billion years old.

Second, there is the evidence of radioactive methods of dating earth (or moon) rocks. This method is based on the observation that certain kinds of unstable or radioactive elements decay from an unstable to a stable form at measurable rates. By measuring the amount of the original element and the amount of the derivative or “daughter” element in any given sample, an approximate age of the sample may be given. This is an admittedly uncertain method. Many criticisms have been given. But valid or not, the data it gives points to an earth that is about 4.55 billion years old, which is in line with the astrological evidence. Even allowing for large percentages of error, this is still a long way from an earth that is only a few thousand years old.

Third, there is the evidence of nonradiometric dating. Types of data available in this category are: carbonate deposits, sediments, deposits of evaporites, the development of coral reefs, seafloor spreading, and other matters. These all suggest an earth older than that allowed by the creationist model.

We must say, as we summarize this first problem with the creationist view, that the creationists have given answers to each of these lines of evidence for an old earth and an even older universe. They have spoken of a lack of uniformity of scientific laws in past ages; of a universe created “in motion,” as it were, with light already in progress from a distant point; of radioactive dating methods as unreliable, sometimes giving wildly conflicting data, and so on. But when everything is considered, it seems to many persons (myself included) that the creationists are running against too many lines of more or less independent evidence against their case on behalf of a young earth. Therefore, whatever else may be true about their viewpoint, it is hard to believe that the creation of the earth and universe was recent.

Remaining Problems

A second problem, which bothers most geologists and some other people as well, is the use of the flood to explain the various strata of the earth’s outer crust, particularly those that contain fossils. Let us assume that the flood was universal and immensely destructive. Let us also assume that the flood carried most of the earth’s soil and millions of dead or soon-to-be drowned organisms before it. Let us even assume that the simpler and less mobile organisms were buried first (and are therefore found in the lower layers of sedimentary rocks) and that the larger and more mobile creatures survived longer but were eventually overcome and buried in higher layers of rock. Assuming all of that—and some of it is questionable—how is it that plants, which are not mobile, show the same general distribution from the less complex to the more complex forms, or that fish (which the Bible does not say were killed and need not have been) are nevertheless included in the same general fossil distribution?

L. Duane Thuman raises these questions and asks, “How did the plants survive such a destructive flood and become re-established so quickly that the dove could bring back an olive leaf? A worldwide flood which buried both plants and animals under sediment sometimes thousands of feet deep makes this highly improbable.”

A third and final problem, which we have not discussed up to now but that is very important to the creationists’ view of Genesis 1, is the appearance of age. Since the universe is extremely complex, it gives the impression of having gotten to its present form through changes taking place over a long period of time. For example, a tree possessing hundreds of rings in its trunk gives the impression of its having reached that form by growing taller and thicker bit by bit over a period of many years. But according to the creationists, everything we see (including the original tree) was brought into being within six literal days. Therefore, it was either brought to a mature state extremely quickly, within minutes or hours, or else was created to look as if it had gone through a long and complex history. To Adam, newly created, the Garden of Eden may have seemed to have been around for years, but in reality it had been created for him in a mature form or was quickly brought to a mature form only three days previously. In the same way, say the creationists, the universe does indeed appear to have had a beginning 15 to 20 billion years ago, but it was created in motion and is actually only 10 or 15 thousand years old. The same approach can be applied to the age of rocks, coral reefs, and other apparent evidence for an older earth or universe.

At this point it is possible to ridicule the six-day creationism theory. Some have! But this should not be done too quickly, particularly not by those who believe in the createdness of Adam. How old was Adam when he was created? There is no need to think of him as a baby. From whom would he have come? Presumably he was created fully grown. But if that is so, then it is not impossible to think that God might have created the rest of the universe “fully grown” also, according to the same pattern.

“But that would mean that God is deceiving us,” object some, “and God cannot do that and be good.” Whitcomb and Morris hit this objection head-on, claiming that God cannot be accused of deceit inasmuch as he has given a revelation in the Bible of how things have actually been created. “If God reveals how and when he created the universe and its inhabitants, then to charge God with falsehood in creating ‘apparent age’ is preposterous in the extreme—even blasphemous. It is not God who has lied, but rather man who has called him a liar, through rejection of his revelation of Creation as given in Genesis and verified by the Lord Jesus Christ!”

It is a shrewd point—yet not entirely convincing. Although God may have had to create Adam as a mature individual, and presumably did so, there is no reason to think on that basis that he therefore also needed to do so in other areas. Why would God make the tree look old rather than merely giving it time to grow old? What was the hurry? Or again, even if God did create the magnificent universe we know just thousands of years ago, why make it look as if it is much older? Why make the quasars look 10 billion years old? We cannot even see them. What possible point would such a creation have?

None of this is to suggest that God could not have done things in this fashion if he chose to do so. Nor is it to say that the creationists have not made a very good case for their position. But there are problems and questions, and it is because of these that the quest for an explanation by believing scientists goes on.

What About Science?

There is one last point. The possibility of doing science in our day or any other day is undergirded by the assumption of certain laws of nature, operating in the past and continuing to operate on into the future. But according to the creationists, those laws were not operating or else were entirely different during the period of creation itself, and therefore any scientific investigation of creation is both impossible and illegitimate. Is that what our knowledge of God’s ways leads us to expect? Are we given minds that can reason, only to be told that at the point of creation the data they perceive and the basis on which they would reason are an illusion? If so, it is the end of science, at least in this area, and it may be the end of other thinking also.

If the earth and the universe look old when they actually are not, why should any of our observations be trusted? True, the Bible tells us much, and it can be trusted. But the Bible does not tell us everything. It does not even tell me that I exist. Perhaps I do not. Perhaps appearances in this area too are deceiving. Taken to its extreme, the idea of “apparent age” (or “apparent” anything) leads to skepticism, and we are not to be skeptics. We are to know and know we know—by the Word of God and by that limited but nevertheless extensive and extremely wonderful revelation of God in nature, perceived and understood by reason.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE AGE OF THE EARTH CLICK ON THIS LINK:  http://creation.com/how-old-is-the-earth

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 8 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Sources: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

Boice’s Books:

from the Tenth Presbyterian Church website
Books
1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

 

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SUNDAY OT SERMON: James M. Boice – Genesis 1:1-2 “VIEWS OF CREATION: THE GAP THEORY”

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 7

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. - Genesis 1:1-2

In The Invisible War Donald Grey Barnhouse gives an illustration of what has come to be know widely as the gap theory of evolution. A motorist was driving through America’s great southwest and had planned to arrive at the Grand Canyon of Colorado from the South and then proceed on across it northward into Utah.

He shared his plans with a friend who knew the area, but his friend immediately pointed out that what he wanted to do was impossible. On the map it looked as if he could drive north across the canyon, but that tiny fifteen-mile gap, which barely shows on the map, is actually a gigantic and impassable chasm. One can get north only by taking a detour over hundreds of miles of hot desert roads.

According to the gap theory, the first two verses of Genesis are like that. They appear to be continuous, but in between there is actually a long but indeterminate period in which the destruction of an original world and the unfolding of the geological ages can be located.

A Popular Viewpoint

This theory is also called the restitution or recreation theory. Arthur C. Custance, who has written an excellent book in the theory’s defense, traces it to certain early Jewish writers, some of the church fathers, and even to some ancient Sumerian and Babylonian documents. It crops up in the Middle Ages as well. It was in Scotland at the beginning of the last century, through the work of the capable pastor and writer Thomas Chalmers, that the idea gained real coherence and visibility.

Chalmers was anxious to show that the emerging data concerning the geological ages was not incompatible with sound biblical exposition. So according to him, Genesis 1:1 tells of God’s creation of an original world in which all things were good, for God cannot create that which is bad. Lucifer ruled this world for God. Lucifer sinned. God judged the world along with Lucifer, as a result of which the earth became the formless, desolate mass we discover it to be in Genesis 1:2 (“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep”). The earth continued like this for indeterminate ages in which the various rock strata developed. It was only at the end of this period that God intervened to bring new order out of the prevailing chaos, which is what Genesis 1:3–31 describes. These verses actually describe a recreation.

Chalmers wrote in the early 1800s, but his views thrived around the turn of the century as they were picked up by the various writers of early fundamentalism. The best known was G. H. Pember, whose book on the theory, Earth’s Earliest Ages (1876), went through many editions. My own copy is the fourteenth.

Pember wrote, “It is thus clear that the second verse of Genesis describes the earth as a ruin; but there is no hint of the time which elapsed between creation and this ruin. Age after age may have rolled away, and it was probably during their course that the strata of the earth’s crust were gradually developed. Hence we see that geological attacks upon the Scriptures are altogether wide of the mark, are a mere beating of the air. There is room for any length of time between the first and second verses of the Bible. And again, since we have no inspired account of the geological formations, we are at liberty to believe that they were developed just in the order in which we find them. The whole process took place in preadamite times, in connection, perhaps, with another race of beings, and, consequently, does not at present concern us” (G. H. Pember, Earth’s Earliest Ages and Their Connection with Modern Spiritualism and Theosophy. London and Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis, n.d., 28).

In subsequent pages Pember developed his theory of the fall of Satan, the influence of demons in the world prior to Noah, and the relevance of this for the resurgence of spiritism that he observed in his day.

Arthur W. Pink held Chalmers’s view and doubtless also learned from Pember. He wrote, “The unknown interval between the first two verses of Genesis 1, is wide enough to embrace all the prehistoric ages which may have elapsed; but all that took place from Genesis 1:3 onwards transpired less than six thousand years ago” (Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in Genesis. Chicago: Moody Press, 1950, 11. Original edition 1922).

Harry Rimmer was another influential writer. In 1941 he authored a book entitled Modern Science and the Genesis Record. In it he said, “The original creation of the heaven and the earth, then, is covered in the first verse of Genesis. Only God knows how many ages rolled by before the ruin wrought by Lucifer fell upon the earth, but it may have been an incalculable span of time. Nor can any students say how long the period of chaos lasted; there is not even a hint given. But let us clearly recognize in these studies that Moses, in the record of the first week of creation, is telling the story of God’s reconstruction; rather than the story of an original creation” (Harry Rimmer, Modern Science and the Genesis Record (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941, 28).

The single most effective teacher of this view was C. I. Scofield, who included it in his notes on Genesis in the astonishingly popular Scofield Reference Bible. From there it became the almost unquestioned view of fundamentalism, though, as I have already pointed out, The Fundamentals themselves contain an article by James Orr that almost embraces evolution. In more recent times various forms of this theory have been held by C. S. Lewis, M. R. DeHaan, Donald Grey Barnhouse, and others. Francis Schaeffer acknowledged parts of it as a possibility (Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, 62).

Exegetical Strength

There is widespread opposition to the gap theory today, even on the part of very conservative writers. But these often dismiss it too easily, without adequate attention to the biblical data on which the gap theorists built. This theory may be wrong, but it is not possible to dismiss it cavalierly.

What are the lines of evidence for this theory? The first and by far the most important is its exegetical or biblical base. Indeed, without this, Chalmers, Pember, and the others would have had no case at all. The exegetical argument has a number of parts.

First, in the Masoretic text of Genesis, in which ancient Jewish scholars attempted to incorporate a sufficient number of “indicators” to guide the reader in proper pronunciation and interpretation of the text, there is a small mark known as a rebia following verse 1. The rebia is a disjunctive accent. That is, it serves to inform the reader that there is a break in the narrative at this point and that he should pause before going on to the next verse. The rebia might also indicate that the conjunction that begins verse 2, a waw, should be translated “but” rather than the more common “and.” (This has bearing on how the second verse should be translated because, as we will see, it could be rendered “But the earth became a ruin.”) To be sure, the rebia was not in the original text of Genesis and therefore represents only the considered judgment of the Masoretes, but their opinion may guide us to a correct interpretation.

Second, there is the structure of the creation account itself. Each of the accounts of the activity of God on one of the creative days ends with the words, “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first [second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth] day.” In other words, there is a very marked parallelism. Moreover, on the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days, those same sections begin, “And God said. …” It is only natural, therefore, to assume that the account of the first day of creation begins, not with verse 1 but with verse 3 where the parallel phrase occurs (“And God said, ‘Let there be light’ ”). If this is so, then the first two verses stand apart from the rest of the account and describe a creation prior to the work of God on the first day.

Third, there is the possibility (some would say necessity) of translating the Hebrew verb “to be” (hayah), which occurs in verse 2, not “was” but “became.” So the verse would read, “But the earth became formless [that is, a ruinous mass] and empty [that is, devoid of life].” It is also possible that the verb is to be taken as pluperfect with the meaning, “But the earth had become… .”

The arguments concerning the meaning of this basic Hebrew verb are long and tortuous, not ones that most people would readily or cheerfully follow. But they boil down to the point that this is at least a possibility and perhaps even a strong possibility. Those who oppose this view—Bernard Ramm, in The Christian View of Science and Scripture, is one—argue that those adopting it make a novel and very questionable interpretation that rests on an infrequent and secondary meaning of the verb. But it is not at all evident that it is that infrequent or secondary. Let us take the matter of whether “became” is a secondary meaning first. In Arthur Custance’s defense of the gap theory’s exegetical base, the point is made that the Hebrew verb hayah, while frequently translated “was” rather than “became,” nevertheless primarily means “became” for the simple reason that the Hebrew language does not really need a verb for “be.” That is, if a Hebrew-speaking person wanted to say “The man is good,” he would not use a verb at all but would simply say, “The man good.” The verb would be implied. This sentence differs from the descriptive phrase “The good man,” because the Hebrew way of saying that is “The man the good.”

In his critique Ramm declares that “the Hebrews did not have a word for became, but the verb to be did service for to be and become” (Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954, 202).

But as Custance points out, the reverse would be more nearly correct, namely, that “they did not need a word for ‘to be’ in the simple sense, so made their word for become serve for to be and become” (Arthur C. Custance, Without Form and Void: A Study of the Meaning of Genesis 1:2. Brockville, Ont.: Doorway Papers, 1970, 104). In Custance’s judgment the word should be translated “became” unless there are reasons to the contrary.

The other matter is frequency. John Whitcomb has written that there are only six examples in the entire Pentateuch of the verb hayah being rendered “became.” This seems to be an error. Custance claims that there are at least seventeen cases in Genesis alone, but that is in the King James Version. Other versions give the translation in other instances. The Latin Vulgate has the equivalent thirteen times in just the first chapter. Some sample verses:

Genesis 3:1—“Now the serpent had become more subtle than any beast of the field.” Most versions say “was,” but this verse probably indicates that the serpent became subtle or crafty as the result of Satan’s use of him for the purpose of tempting Eve.

Genesis 3:20—“Eve became the mother of all living.” The King James Version says “was,” but this is strange since no children had been born to her at this time. The New International Version recognizes the problem and translates the verse accordingly: “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.”

Genesis 21:20—“And God was with the lad [Ishmael]; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.”

Genesis 37:20—“We shall see what will become of his [Joseph’s] dream.”

These translations are not beyond challenge, of course. But they do show the frequency of this possible translation of this verb. Custance’s own conclusion is, “By and large, therefore, I suggest that the rendering, ‘But the earth had become a ruin and a desolation,’ is a rendering which does more justice to the original and deserves more serious consideration as an alternative than it has been customary to afford it in recent years” (Ibid, 116).

Fourth, the words “formless and empty” (tohu wa bohu) may be verbal clues to a preadamic judgment of God on our planet. True, the words have various shades of meaning and do not necessarily indicate the destruction of something that had formerly been beautiful. But they sometimes do. Besides, there is the important text in Isaiah 45:18 that says, using the words of Genesis 1:2, that God did not create the world a ruin. If this is a direct reference to Genesis, as it may be, it says that God did not create the world in the state portrayed in Genesis 1:2. (On the other hand, it may simply mean that God did not create the world to be desolate but rather created it to be inhabited, as in the New International Version translation.)

When Did Satan Fall?

This message has dealt largely with the exegetical support for the gap theory, because it is the point from which its adherents argue. These arguments have not been taken seriously enough by those who oppose the theory. But this is not to suggest that there are no other lines of support for the reconstructionists’ view. A second line of support is theological.

This has to do with the fall of Satan. From Genesis 3 we learn that evil was already in existence at the time of Adam and Eve’s creation, for Satan was there to tempt Eve. Besides, there are texts that suggest, not always clearly, that there was an earlier fall of Satan, followed by a judgment on Satan and those angels (now demons) who sinned with him. Of course, the fall of Satan may have occurred without any relationship to earth. But he is called “the prince of this world” and seems to have a special relationship to it. Is it not possible, even reasonable, that he may have ruled the world for God in an earlier period of earth’s history—if there was such a period? And if this is so, couldn’t a fall and judgment fit between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2? If not there, where does the fall come in? The only other option would be before creation itself, which would put the creation of Satan before anything else we know.

There is also the problem of the first appearances of death. If the fossils indicate anything, they indicate a period of struggle, disease, and death prior to man’s appearance. But if death came through the sin of Adam, how can death be evidenced in the fossil record unless the death witnessed is the product of God’s judgment on the sin of an earlier world and race? There is another explanation of this that the creationist school supplies, namely, that the fossils were created by the flood and so came after Adam. But the argument at this point—while it will not speak to creationists—should speak to most other schools of thought.

Some Lingering Difficulties

What should we think of this theory? It has commended itself to many in recent generations. It is a serious attempt to be biblical. It seems to solve the problem of the long geological ages. Should we adopt it? We should consider it seriously for each of the reasons just given, but before we adopt it we should also consider the difficulties.

One serious criticism of the gap theory is that it gives one of the grandest and most important passages in the Bible an unnatural and perhaps even a peculiar interpretation. This is hardly a conclusive argument, but it is probably the point at which most other Bible students and scholars begin to hesitate. Ramm puts it like this: “From the earliest of Bible interpretation this passage has been interpreted by Jews, Catholics and Protestants as the original creation of the universe. In seven majestic days the universe and all of life is brought into being. But according to Rimmer’s view the great first chapter of Genesis, save for the first verse, is not about original creation at all, but about reconstruction. The primary origin of the universe is stated in but one verse. This is not the most telling blow against the theory, but it certainly indicates that something has been lost to make the six days of creation anticlimactic” (Ramm, Christian View, 201).

This same argument may also be stated biblically, which Ramm does not do but which would presumably have more weight with the gap theory advocates. To give just one example, we read in Exodus 20:11, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” A person might point out that the verb used here is “made,” not the powerful Hebrew verb “created” (baraʾ), and that this allows for a recreation or reforming. But that aside, the verse does sound like a description of an original creation. “It neither states nor implies recreation to most people” (L. Duane Thuman, How to Think about Evolution & Other Bible-Science Controversies . Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1978, 121).

Second, the exegetical data, while impressive, is nevertheless far from certain. And it must be certain if we are to be expected to embrace such an unusual theory. I have argued above that critics of the gap theory have been far too cavalier in dismissing its supporters’ exegetical arguments, but those arguments are still not clearly right. The Hebrew verb hayah may mean “became,” but there is no doubt that it is also correctly translated “was” and that far more frequently. Again, waw may even mean “but,” although it more commonly means “and.” And as for tohu wa bohu, this may simply mean that the land in question was uninhabitable. Whether that condition was the result of God’s judgment on the earth or was due to some other factor is to be determined from the context and not from the words themselves (cf. Isa. 24:1 and 45:18; Jer. 4:23–26). It is significant in this regard that, although the New International Version supports the possibility of translating the Hebrew hayah as “become” in a footnote to Genesis 1:2, it does not render Isaiah 45:18 in a way that would support the gap theory.

Third, the gap theory does not really settle the problem posed by geology. Geology shows us successive strata of the earth’s crust containing fossils of earlier life-forms. Advocates of the gap theory wish to account for these in the supposed break between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. But at which point in this break did the judgment of God enter in? If it came after the laying down of the fossil evidence, then death was in the world before judgment. If the judgment came first, then the conditions arising from that judgment could not be as the second verse of Genesis describes them (a chaotic world submerged in darkness), for in such a world no plant or animal life could survive. The only escape from this dilemma is to imagine a gradually descending or advancing judgment in which the various forms of life are progressively snuffed out, but this is the precise opposite of what the geological strata seem to indicate. They show a progressive development of life from simpler to more complex forms.

Some gap theorists have seen this problem and have appealed to the flood for producing the geological evidence. Rimmer appeals to both the earlier ages and the flood. But if this is the case, we do not need the gap. The impression left is that the theory has not been carried through sufficiently to provide us with a clearly workable model. It may be possible. But we will want to consider the other views of creation before we settle on this as the only true Christian possibility.

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 7 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Sources: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

Boice’s Books:

from the Tenth Presbyterian Church website
Books
1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 15, 2013 in James Montgomery Boice, Sermons

 

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SUNDAY OT SERMON: “Views of Creation: Theistic Evolution” by Dr. James Montgomery Boice

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 6

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. – Genesis 1:1-2

Atheistic evolution is no possible view of creation for Christians. It is ruled out simply because it is atheistic. But this does not mean that an evolutionary model must in itself be ruled out. Some who would retain belief in evolution while nevertheless identifying themselves as Christians are the theistic evolutionists.

Theistic evolution is the view of those who are committed to the theory of evolution and who retain it in full except at those few points where, as it seems to them, it is not entirely compatible with Christianity. They are theists because they believe in the Christian God. They believe that he has revealed himself in Scripture. But they are also evolutionists because they think that evolution is right. That is, they believe that everything has evolved through long periods of time from primitive to more complex forms. They believe that life has evolved from nonlife. They believe that man has evolved from the lower animals. Generally they accept the scientific data urged in support of evolution. The main difference between the theistic evolutionists and the atheistic evolutionists is that the former believe that God, specifically the God of the Bible, is providentially guiding the evolutionary process, while the latter attribute the identical developments to chance.

Another way of putting it would be to say that the God of theistic evolution is the God of the gaps. In the last message we pointed out four major problems with atheistic evolution: it cannot explain the origin of matter, the form of matter, the emergence of life, or the appearance of personality or God-consciousness in man. The theistic evolutionist would bring in God at these points. God creates matter and life. But aside from that the theistic evolutionist would view things as having happened precisely as his nonbelieving counterpart views them.

A Possibility

What are we to say to this view? The first thing we must say is that it is at least a possibility. We may put it like this. There is no reason for the Christian to deny that one form of fish may have evolved from another form or even that one form of land animal may have evolved from a sea creature. We may not believe that this has actually happened, for the reasons set forth in our last message. But in itself this view of creation is not biblically impossible.

The Hebrew word translated by our word “let,” which occurs throughout the creation account, allows for this. It does not specify a method by which God caused most things to come into being. However, there are three points at which even the Genesis narrative seems to require something different. These are the points at which the powerful Hebrew word baraʾ, rendered “created,” rather than the word “let” occurs. Baraʾ means to create out of nothing. It is used in verse 1, which speaks of the creation of the original substance of the universe out of nothing; verse 21, which speaks of the creation of conscious life (that is, of animals as opposed to plants); and verse 27, which speaks of the creation of man in God’s image. At these points there is an obvious introduction into creation of something strikingly new, something that did not and could not have evolved from things in existence previously. So long as the evolutionist speaks of the Christian God as the one who has introduced these new elements and has guided the evolutionary development at other points also (so that the result is not the mere product of chance but rather the unfolding of God’s own wise and perfect will), most Christians would say that, thus far at least, the approach of the theistic evolutionist is possible.

Some important Christian thinkers have said exactly this. No less weighty a scholar than B. B. Warfield, in an essay, “On the Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race,” said that although evolution “cannot act as a substitute for creation,” it can supply “a theory of the method of the divine providence” (B.B. Warfield, Biblical and Theological Studies, P&R, 1968, 238).

Another example is the great Scottish divine of the last century, James Orr. In the years 1890–91, Orr gave the well-known Kerr lectures on the subject “The Christian View of God and the World,” in the course of which he defended evolution. “In reality, the facts of evolution do not weaken the proof from design, but rather immensely enlarge it by showing all things to be bound together in a vaster, grander plan than had been formerly conceived. … On the general hypothesis of evolution, as applied to the organic world, I have nothing to say, except that, within certain limits, it seems to me extremely probable, and supported by a large body of evidence” (James Orr, The Christian View of God and the World as Centering in the Incarnation. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960, 90).

 Even more significant is the essay published by Orr in that collection of conservative writings that appeared at the beginning of this century, The Fundamentals, from which the term “fundamentalist” came. In it Orr defends theistic evolution as propounded by R. Otto in Naturalism and Religion. He says at one point, “ ‘Evolution,’ in short, is coming to be recognized as but a new name for ‘creation,’ only that the creative power now works within, instead of, as in the old conception, in an external, plastic fashion” (Orr, “Science and Christian Faith,” The Fundamentals, vol. 1, ed. R.A. Torrey, A.C. Dixon, and others. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972, 346. Original edition 1917).

Neither of these men was himself a theistic evolutionist, though Orr comes very close to endorsing the position. The point is simply that in the judgment of these cautious and eminently biblical spokesmen, theistic evolution is a possible theory and therefore should not be rejected out of hand by Christian people.

Points in Favor

Possibility is not certainty, however, and it is only fair to say that for what they consider to be very good reasons other Christians reject this approach entirely. One of them is Davis A. Young, whose own position is progressive creationism. (To be discussed in a future sermon – Genesis – Part 9) He writes against theistic evolution saying that it “leads logically and ultimately to the death of genuinely biblical religion.” In the heading of the chapter in which theistic evolution is specifically studied he calls this view “a house built upon sand” (Davis A. Young, Creation and the Flood: An Alternative to Flood Geology and Theistic Evolution. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977, 18, 23ff.).

What are we to think of theistic evolution? Positively, we may say that it has two important points in its favor. First, truth is truth wherever it is found. So if evolution is true, as evolutionists certainly believe, and if the Bible is also true, then something like the view of the theistic evolutionists must be reality. Again, this does not mean that evolution is true. But it does mean that we must at least ask whether it is true or not, and if it is true, we must learn from it. We must remember at this point that many theories of science were once declared to be anti-Christian but are now held by Christians and non-Christians alike with no apparent ill effects to Christianity.

One example is Copernican astronomy. Copernicus discovered that the earth was not the physical center of the universe. This was immediately assailed by those who felt that the Bible taught differently. Today we recognize that biblical language that was thought to imply a central earth is merely phenomenal. That is, it describes things as they appear to an earthbound observer (for whom indeed the Bible is written) and not as things actually are from a scientific standpoint. But in Copernicus’s day this was not seen, and Galileo, who held to the Copernican astronomy, was eventually compelled by irate churchmen to recant. Similarly, in the past there have been Christians who have opposed most advances in medicine—pain killers, anesthetics, operations—feeling that these wrongly oppose God’s decrees. Others have opposed such scientific devices as lightning rods, arguing that lightning was from God and that if God chose to strike a building it was sinful on our part to oppose it. In all these cases the terrible warnings made in support of the “Christian” position did not materialize and truth prevailed.

The second argument in favor of theistic evolution is that God seems to work according to this pattern in other areas. Theistic evolution posits a universe that operates according to fixed, universal laws into which, however, God sometimes intrudes, as in the creation of life from nonlife or the implanting of God-consciousness in man. “Isn’t this exactly what we see in life generally or, for that matter, in the history recorded for us in the Bible?” the theistic evolutionist might say. “For the most part the history of Israel and the church flows along naturally. Leaders arise, do their thing, and then die giving place to other rulers. It is only occasionally that God intervenes miraculously. To see this pattern at work in evolution is biblical. It is what we should expect on the basis of what we know of Christian history.”

A House on Sand

Then Christians should all be theistic evolutionists? Not necessarily! There are also important weaknesses in this view to which none should be blind.

First, there is a problem with the supposed truthfulness of evolution itself. The theistic evolutionist believes in evolution, as we have seen. But evolution is not necessarily true, as we have also seen. Indeed, there are important reasons for discounting it. One main reason for rejecting evolution is the lack of fossil evidence. To be sure, the evolutionist reads the fossil record differently, seeing in it a sketchy but adequate history of the development of higher forms of life from lower forms. But the record is at best incomplete and may, as creationists hold, actually provide better evidence for the creationist’s view than for the evolutionist’s. As we said in the last message, it is not merely a question of a few missing links. There are hundreds of missing links. It is questionable whether there is any evidence for the development of one species from a lower species. What the fossil evidence actually shows—even granting the alleged antiquity of the earth and the accepted sequence of fossils and rock strata—is the sudden appearance of major groups of species. If evolution is true, we should expect to find a finely graded and continuous development. Since we do not, we can honestly object to the theistic evolutionist’s first argument in support of his theory, namely, that evolution is true and that the Christian should not be afraid to acknowledge it.

Again, we must emphasize the fact that certain forms of evolutionary development may be true. But the creationist may well ask the theistic evolutionist whether he does not hold his position, not so much because of the scientific evidence for it, but only because it is the accepted (and only acceptable) theory in his field of work.

The second objection corresponds to the theist’s second argument, just as the creationist’s first objection corresponds to his first. The theistic evolutionist might appeal to the Bible as suggesting a pattern of God’s dealings with the human race, which he also sees in evolution—general development according to fixed laws with only an occasional supernatural intervention. But we must ask whether this is really the biblical picture. According to evolution, the development of life on earth has proceeded over a period of several billion years with at best two or three divine interventions. Is this the pattern we find in Scripture? It is true that in biblical history miracles are not everyday occurrences, but they are not all that infrequent either. Hundreds of supernatural interventions by God are recorded. And as for the development of the rest of history along the lines of natural law, would it not be more accurate to say that all history is in God’s hand and that it is being directed by him in intricate detail according to his own perfect plans?

The theistic evolutionist would say that in his view God has directed evolution just as he has directed the history of Israel. But if God has directed evolution according to that pattern, it is not quite the kind of evolution real evolutionists talk about. According to them, evolution is a long, slow, wasteful, crude, inefficient, and mistake-ridden process. The God of the Bible hardly fits those categories. If evolution is made to conform to his nature—efficient, wise, good, and error-free—it is hardly evolution, and the theistic evolutionist who is really a biblical theist has become a creationist though he does not actually describe himself by that word.

Third, we may ask whether the method of creation viewed by the theistic evolutionist does justice to the biblical record. Since the method of God’s creating the animals, birds, and fish is not given in Genesis 1, it may be that God effected this segment of his creation according to an evolutionary model. But in the case of man there does seem to be something of a method, at least in Genesis 2: “And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (v. 7). This suggests that in the creation of man God began, as it were, de novo. That is, he started with inorganic matter into which he then breathed life. It does not suggest that man developed from the lesser animals.

We could always say that man is made of dust even though the actual steps of his creation involved a lengthy development through lesser species. But we run into further difficulties when we get to the case of Eve, for Eve is said to have been created from Adam. This does not correspond to any evolutionary theory.

Again, there is the problem of the singularity of Adam. In Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22–23 and 45, comparisons are made between Adam and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is basic to this comparison that Adam was an individual whose act affected his progeny. Does this fit in with evolutionary theory? In evolution the basic unit is population, not an individual. At what point did Adam appear? Or did he appear? If God chose one individual from a population of prehuman but manlike beings and made him man, what happened to the rest? Questions like these make questionable whether the theistic evolutionist can defend his position on biblical grounds.

Death of Biblical Religion

This leads us to our last criticism, the one Davis Young alludes to when he says that theistic evolution leads “logically and ultimately to the death of biblical religion.” There is an unbiblical view of the Bible that Young feels to be characteristic of these men.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is perhaps the best known and best read of the theistic evolutionists. He is French and is a Roman Catholic priest, which should speak well for his Christian commitment. He has a concern for the immaterial or spiritual as well as the material. He can even chide science: “Has science ever troubled to look at the world other than from without?” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man. New York: Harper & Row, 1959, 52). But he is also an evolutionist of the most convinced stripe, and this determines his theology in the final analysis.

For de Chardin there is no question that evolution on the grandest scale has taken place. Therefore, if our understanding of Scripture seems to be in conflict with evolutionary views, it is our views of Scripture or even Scripture itself that must give way before science. He writes: “It may be said that the problem of transformism no longer exists. The question is settled once and for all. To shake our belief now in the reality of biogenesis, it would be necessary to uproot the tree of life and undermine the entire structure of the world. … One might well become impatient or lose heart at the sight of so many minds (and not mediocre ones either) remaining today still closed to the idea of evolution, if the whole of history were not there to pledge to us that a truth once seen, even by a single mind, always ends up by imposing itself on the totality of human consciousness. … Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow.”

His thought is his own, of course. We do not suggest that all theistic evolutionists share it. Yet it is evident from these quotations why Young calls this view ultimately destructive. Biblical religion must by its very definition start with the Bible and make all other theories subordinate to that. In de Chardin’s case, everything has become subject to evolution, and an ability to hear the reforming, correcting Word of God in Scripture has been lost. We must ask whether such a tendency is not present in all theistic evolution.

What should the Christian’s proper position be? An openness to all truth certainly, but not the kind of openness that allows scientific theory or any other theory to sit in judgment on the truthfulness of God’s written Word. Actually, the Christian’s task is the opposite: to bring every thought into subjection to the written Word. Paul knew this. He wrote to those of his day, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4–5). We may not know the truth in any given area. But we must know that our ultimate standard for truth—whatever it is—is the written Word of God.

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 6 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Sources: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

Boice’s Books:

from the Tenth Presbyterian Church website
Books
1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2013 in James Montgomery Boice, Sermons

 

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SUNDAY OT SERMON: Views of Creation – Evolution – Genesis 1:1-2 by Dr. James M. Boice

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 5

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. – Genesis 1:1-2

When Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, he received more abuse than perhaps any modern scientist. To be sure, even Einstein originally objected to Slipher’s discovery of an expanding universe. He wrote, “This circumstance irritates me” (Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 28). Others also objected. But none of these heaped personal abuse on Slipher. Darwin, by contrast, was greeted with: “Rotten fabric of speculation. … Utterly false. … Deep in the mire of folly [and] … I laughed till my sides were sore” (Jastrow, Until the Sun Dies, 19). The remarkable thing, however, is that the theory that became the laughing stock and then eventually the battleground of the second half of the nineteenth century has now become widely accepted, not only by scientists but also by a wide variety of people from most walks of life.

This is not to say that evolution is the only theory going. It is merely the dominant view today and is therefore the one with which any discussion of the theory of origins should start. Actually, our discussion in this and the following sermons is going to take us over five competing theories: 1) atheistic evolution, 2) theistic evolution, 3) the so-called “gap theory” popularized by C. I. Scofield, 4) six-day creationism, and finally 5) progressive creationism. We are going to see what each of these theories has to commend it and then also explore its weaknesses.

Let us say at the beginning that a final answer as to how the universe came into being may not be attainable now. We may exclude some possibilities, both as Christians and as scientists. As Christians we may exclude even more. But this still falls short of a full answer to the “how.” Indeed, even taking the explanations of origins in the order proposed above does not necessarily imply that the latter positions are better than the earlier ones. They are taken in this order simply because they have appeared in this order historically.

The Evolutionary Theory

We begin by noting that in spite of the association of evolution with the name of Charles Darwin, evolution itself is nothing new. It existed among the ancient Greeks, for example. Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Epicurus, and Lucretius were all evolutionists. So also was Aristotle (384–322 b.c.), who believed in a complete gradation in nature accompanied by a perfecting principle. This was imagined to have caused gradation from the imperfect to the perfect. Man, of course, stood at the highest point of the ascent.

Again, there were evolutionists in more modern times before Darwin. Some early precursors were Francis Bacon (1561–1626), René Descartes (1596–1650), and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). The first biologist to make a contribution to evolutionary thought was George Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1707–1788), the French naturalist. Another was Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802), the grandfather of Charles Darwin. The first fairly complete theory of evolution was by Chevalier de Lamarck (1744–1829), who became a professor in zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Paris and later popularized his views in Philosophie Zoologique.

It was Charles Darwin, however, who rightly captured the world’s attention. His theory was developed to a degree that none of the others were and, perhaps even more importantly, it was supported by an impressive array of observations collected initially on the world-encircling tour of the HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836. Darwin’s theory may be arranged in these postulates and conclusions.

Postulate number one: variation. There are variations within individuals of the same species.

Postulate number two: overproduction. In most cases, more individuals are born to a species than can possibly survive to maturity.

Conclusion number one: struggle for existence. In order to survive individuals must compete with other members of the same species.

Postulate number three: survival of the fittest. In a competitive environment only those individuals best fitted to survive will survive.

Postulate number four: inheritance of favorable characteristics. Fit individuals pass their “good” characteristics to their descendants.

Final conclusion: New species arise by the continued survival and reproduction of the individuals best suited to their particular environment (This summary of Darwin’s theory is taken from John W. Klotz, Genes, Genesis, and Evolution. St. Louis, Concordia, 1970, 34-35).

What has happened to this theory in the one hundred or so years since the publication of Darwin’s Origin? For the most part it is still held, though much work has been done in the one area that presents a flaw in the argument. As anyone can see, the chief mechanism of evolution according to Darwin’s theory is “natural selection,” the impersonal preference given to a certain variation in a species permitting one individual rather than another to survive. This is supposed to explain how the variety of forms we know came about. But this is precisely what it does not do. Natural selection may explain how certain individuals have more offspring than others and therefore survive, or survive and have offspring while other less favored individuals do not. But it does not tell us how there came to be the various organisms or “good” characteristics of organisms in the first place.

Thomas Bethell, editor of the Washington Monthly, has written of this problem in an article for Harper’s Magazine. He observes, “There is, then, no ‘selection’ by nature at all. Nor does nature ‘act’ as it so often is said to do in biology books. One organism may indeed be ‘fitter’ than another from an evolutionary point of view, but the only event that determines this fitness is death (or infertility). This, of course, is not something which helps create the organism, but is something that terminates it” (Harper’s Magazine, February 1976, 70-75).

To deal with this problem evolutionists have come to speak of mutations as the primary source of variations. This was proposed first by a Dutch botanist, Hugo de Vries, in a work entitled Species and Varieties: Their Origin by Mutation (1905). It has since been suggested that mutations are caused by cosmic radiations, the latter being perhaps far more intense than in modern times.

The Fossil Record

What are we to say of Darwin’s theory? We must begin by noting that there is no question on the part of any informed thinker or writer that there are varieties within a given species. This is simply to say that all individuals are not alike. Some are tall, some short. Some are strong, others weak, and so on. The question is whether these acknowledged variations are sufficient to account for the development of entirely different species and, second, whether such development has in fact occurred. (The possibility of the development of species in this manner does not prove that this is the way it happened.)

At this point we have to turn to the evidence for evolution, and when we do we must acknowledge that the only true historical evidence is the evidence of fossils. There are other things that might be seen as supporting evolution: the possibility of classifying organisms from the simple to the more complex, similarities of structure in “related” species, the existence of vestigial organs (that is, organs like the human appendix for which no present function is known), similar blood types between some species. But these are all circumstantial arguments, and in some cases they are also ambiguous (See Klotz, Genes, Genesis, and Evolution, 120-73). The only truly historical evidence—evidence that evolution has actually occurred—is fossils.

The fossil remains may be evidence of evolution, but what is not adequately said today is that they do not prove evolution and are in fact highly questionable when applied to evolutionary theory. Let us begin with positive statements. First, although very fragmentary, the fossils do lend themselves to a historical sequence in which the more simple forms of life may be dated earlier (because found in older rock) and more complex forms of life may be dated later. Thus, although the very ancient dates given may be wrong, it does seem that algae, protozoa, and sponges came first. After that are fish, reptiles, and amphibians, then the land animals, including the dinosaurs. Finally, there are the animals we know today, and then man. Another positive statement is that some species have become extinct, the dinosaurs being the most notable example. The combination of these two sets of observations suggests that new forms of life develop and that others become extinct—according to Darwin.

But it is not that simple. There are problems in fitting the fossil record into an evolutionary system. Moreover, these are so great as to bring the entire theory into question.

For example, if evolution is true, what we should expect to find in the fossil record is finely graded and generally continuous development from the simplest forms to the higher forms. Although this is often claimed for the fossil record, it is not what is in fact found when we study it closely. Certainly there are simpler forms in (presumably) earlier rocks. Higher forms (like man) come relatively late. But there are no gradual developments. On the contrary, the major groups appear suddenly, and there is little or no evidence of transition. Everett C. Olson, a well-known evolutionist, mentions this difficulty: “More important, however, are the data revealed by the fossil record. There are great spatial and temporal gaps, sudden appearances of new major groups, equally sudden appearances of old, including very rapid extinctions of groups that had flourished for long periods of time. There were mass extinctions marked by equally simultaneous death of several apparently little associated groups of organisms. At the time the record first is seen with any real clarity [in Cambrian rock strata], the differentiation of phyla is virtually complete. As far as major groups are concerned, we see little clear evidence of time succession in differentiation with the simpler first and the more complex later” (Everett C. Olson, “The Role of Paleontology in the Formation of Evolutionary Thought,” Bioscience 16, 1966: 39. Quoted by L. Duane Thuman, How to Think about Evolution & Other Bible-Science Controversies (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1978, 103. Thuman discusses the problems raised by the fossil record at some length, as do also J. Kerby Anderson and Harold G. Coffin, Fossils in Focus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977).

It may be argued at this point—indeed, it is argued by evolutionists—that the fossil record is simply incomplete, that if fossils for every prior form of life existed, such gaps would be filled. But in a hundred years of study the tendency has not been this way, and it is hard to convince oneself today that this will yet happen. It is not just a question of several missing links. There are hundreds of missing links. Moreover, the grouping of major species in certain past periods of earth’s history works strongly against this argument. Christians can argue, even if they cannot fully prove, that special creation is a far better explanation.

A second major problem with the use of fossils to support evolution is the subjective nature of arranging fossil histories. It might be argued by one who has seen the difficulty just mentioned that there is nevertheless evidence for development within one of the ancient time periods, even if not from one to the other. The supposed development of the horse from the Eocene period to modern times is an oft-cited example. During 60 million or so years the horse is supposed to have increased in size, lengthened its limbs, reduced and then eventually discarded toes, and become a grazer. Many museums have skeletons or pictures that are supposed to represent this development. But the fossils do not prove this development. They may suggest it, and the development they suggest may in fact be right. But there is still no evidence that one supposed form of the horse gave place to another. In actuality the skeletons may have come from similar but otherwise unrelated animals. Moreover, even if the fossils of these horselike animals prove a development, it is still not an example of the development of new species but only of a change within a species.

Mutations

Another area of difficulty for evolution is the mechanism used to explain the emergence of significant variations in the species, chiefly mutations (sudden unexpected changes brought about by otherwise unexplained alterations in the organism’s genes). This was the solution to the problem of “newness” proposed by Hugo de Vries. De Vries did his work with the evening primrose, a weed that he found in a potato field. He bred this plant over a period of several generations in the course of which he noticed a number of abrupt changes that he called mutations. He concluded that these were developments of such magnitude that the process itself could explain the emergence of new species.

Unfortunately, the new “species” of de Vries were not new species but simply varieties within the same species. Moreover, they were not produced by mutations in the sense of that word today but rather by breeding out recessive characteristics. In other words, de Vries produced nothing that was not in the plant originally.

De Vries’s failure does not entirely discredit the theory, however, for mutations do occur and can be passed down from generation to generation. The question is whether these mutations are sufficient to account for new species. Are they? Many evolutionists would say yes at this point. But it is important to note that no one has as yet demonstrated this to be so. In fact, there is important evidence to the contrary. Walter Lammerts is a rose breeder from southern California and the author of the books Why Not Creation? and Scientific Studies in Creation. He tells of attempts to breed roses with more petals or less petals, using every imaginable technique including radiation. He acknowledges that it is possible to use radiation to create roses with a significant increase in petals. But here is the point: there is a limit beyond which the increase in petals apparently will not go. If a rose has forty-four petals, for example, it may be reduced to thirty-two or increased to fifty-six. But that is all. Moreover, if the hybrid rose is left to mix with others from that point on, it does not retain its new characteristics but soon loses them. In fact, all the hybrid roses we have would soon turn to wild roses if left to them-selves—because they are bred from the wild roses originally. And if that in itself is not enough to cast doubt on the theory, there is the fact that the “improved” roses did not attain their improved form naturally but rather through the concentrated and prolonged efforts of Lammerts and other breeders. In other words, even in so limited a matter as this there is need for a design and a designer, a planner and a plan (For a fuller discussion of mutations as a possible mechanism for evolution see Klotz, Genes, Genesis, and Evolution, 256–91).

The Crucial Areas

An essay such as this can only begin to suggest a few of the problems the theory of evolution poses. But even in such a short study, concentrating on the basic scientific evidence for and against evolution, we can hardly pass over the far greater and (from the point of view of the Christian) unsolvable problems that exist where the crucial points of evolution are concerned. There are four of them.

First, even were we to grant the truthfulness of the evolutionary system as currently put forth, we still have the problem of the origin of the matter from which the later forms sprang. Evolution implies matter by the very meaning of the word, for in order for something to evolve there must be something there in the first place to evolve, and that first something cannot evolve but rather must be either eternally present or created. Since the eternity of matter is today increasingly untenable, as we saw in a previous study, we must have God as Creator. And this obviously nudges us toward the Christian position, whatever our opinions of a greater or lesser degree of evolutionary development may be.

Second, there is the form of matter. We may speak of “mere” matter as if it were a simple irreducible entity, but we do not actually know of any such “simple” matter and cannot in fact even conceive of it. Everything we know, however simple, already has a form—generally a highly complex form. Even hydrogen, the basic building block of everything according to astrophysics, is not simple. It has a proton, neutron, and electron, all operating according to fixed laws. Where did this fixed form and laws come from? They did not evolve. They are in matter to start with.

Third, there is the emergence of life. This is a complex problem, and much has been done to develop laboratory models according to which life could have arisen on earth during the early ages of the planet. The most acceptable model is a three-stage process involving: 1) the origin of bio-organics (amino acids, sugars) from inorganic compounds (hydrogen, water, ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane); 2) the origin of biopolymers (large molecules such as proteins) from the bio-organics; and finally 3) the origin of primordial life (simple plant or algaelike cells) from the biopolymers. But this is an extremely complex process, even assuming that this is how life came about, and therefore has an extremely low level of probability. True, scientists have achieved the first two of these stages in carefully controlled laboratory experiments. But the crucial third stage is elusive. And even in the second stage, the polymers seem to deteriorate faster than they would normally be created in anything approaching a natural environment. Again, it is not a matter of a single event of low probability. It is a matter of a long series of events, each with a very small probability, so that, as one writer says, “for all practical purposes the probability of this series of events may safely be regarded as zero” (Donald England, A Christian View of Origins. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972, 97).

Two scientists, who nevertheless believe in the spontaneous generation of life, write, “The macromolecule-to-cell transition is a jump of fantastic dimensions, which lies beyond the range of testable hypothesis. In this area, all is conjecture. The available facts do not provide a basis for postulating that cells arose on this planet” (D. E. Green and R. F. Goldberg, Molecular Insights into the Living Process. New York: Academic Press, 1967, 407. Quoted by England, Christian View, 94. England discusses the problems with a theory of the spontaneous generation of life on pp. 33–100).

The fourth of the truly great problems for an atheistic theory of evolution is the emergence of personality in man, or to be more specific, the emergence of the soul, spirit, or God-consciousness. What caused non-man to become man? One writer asks, “Where did the soul of man come from? Why is it that the highest and best animals are unable to pray? They are unable to communicate in a rational way. They are unable to do the things that man is able to do. The lowest type of man upon the face of the earth is far higher than the highest of the animals, because he has the capacity to worship God and can be brought to be a child of God, able to live in the glory of God through Jesus Christ, and that is true of none of the animals.” This writer concludes, “I am not ashamed to say that I believe in the first chapter of Genesis, but I should be ashamed to say that I held to any form of evolution” (E. J. Young, In the Beginning, 56–57).

Why Evolution?

I conclude with this question. Why is it, if the theory of evolution is as weak as it seems to be, that it has the popular appeal acknowledged at the beginning of this sermon? Why is it that evolution is today’s dominant view and not one of the other views mentioned? I think there are four answers, three of which I want to put in the form of statements and one of which I want to put in the form of a question.

The statements are these.

First, according to evolution, everything—absolutely everything—is knowable, and this has obvious appeal. Everything comes from something else, and we can trace the developments back. It is a closed system. There is no need for anything outside. Above all, there is no need for God who by the very definition of that word is One who is unknowable and who does not need to give an account of himself.

Second, according to evolution, there is one explanation for everything. Everything evolves: matter, life, ideas, even religion. We can project this framework from our own small world throughout the universe.

Third, and this is perhaps the chief reason, if creation of the world by God is eliminated (as many clearly wish to do), evolution is the only other option.

On the basis of those three statements I now ask my question: Is it not possible, then, that in the last analysis the appeal of evolution is in its elimination of God and its exaltation of man? In this system man does not merely become the highest point of creation, which Christians would themselves willingly affirm. He becomes the god of creation. Consequently, to challenge evolution is to blaspheme against man, and blasphemy against man is the sin for which there is now no pardon. Algernon Charles Swinburne gives expression to this spirit in his Hymn of Man.

But God, if a God there be, is the

Substance of men which is Man.

Thou art smitten, thou God, thou art smitten;

Thy death is upon thee, O Lord.

And the love-song of earth as thou diest

Resounds through the wind of her wings—

Glory to Man in the highest!

For Man is the master of things.

Is man the master? If he is, then he can go his way and devise any theory of origins he chooses. But if he is not—if there is a God—then he is the creation of this God and owes this God allegiance.

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 5 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Sources: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

Boice’s Books:

from the Tenth Presbyterian Church website
Books
1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

 

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