Genesis recap ~ 20080824 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

8/24 Genesis Recap

Encouraged and Equipped for every good work by:

  1. An Enlarged View of God

  2. An Accurate View of Self

  3. A Proper Understanding of Salvation

    1. By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone in Jesus Christ Alone

We've spent more than a year studying the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis. This morning will be sermon # 57 from this amazing book. If we drop this conclusion and the introduction, that's 55 sermons on 50 chapters, or an average of 0.909 chapters per week. Now that we've taken the time to look carefully at each chapter, I want to take one final week to look back over the entire book and what we have learned together.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

In verse 15 it says that the sacred writings 'are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ'

If it's true that 'all scripture is profitable...', and I believe it is, then we should be more '...competent, equipped for every good work' after studying such a book. We should be able to ask the question 'in what ways have we as a church been equipped for every good work through the teaching of the scripture?' and 'have we become more firmly convinced that faith in Jesus Christ is our only hope for salvation?

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

We should be able to ask 'how have we been encouraged to endure as Christians?' and 'has my hope in God increased and deepened as a result of the instruction of the scriptures?' I want to look at three of the foundational ways we should be equipped and encouraged.

The first way we are equipped for every good work is that our view of God is enlarged. When we began the book, I said that the main purpose of Genesis is to reveal God's nature and character to us. Genesis is primarily a book about God. God steps on to the pages of the bible with the affirmation that God IS. He is the uncreated creator of all that exists. He is the self-existent one who had no beginning.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God...

And he is the omnipotent one. Nothing is beyond his capabilities. He spoke all things into existence by the word of his power

Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities––all things were created through him and for him.

Psalm 33:6-9 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host...8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

His very word carries its own authority. He speaks and it happens. (quote from The Magician's Nephew???) By his very word, stars, planets, the universe leapt into existence. Throughout the story, we see a God who is ultimately and absolutely in control of all things. He is a God who can be prayed to, believed, trusted in, because he can do things. He can change things. He can make things happen.

And we even get a hint of the answer to the 'why' question. All things were created through him, and all things were created for him. His pleasure is the ultimate end and goal of all things. At the very beginning we find a God who takes pleasure in his creation. 'God saw that it was good, good, good, good, good, good, very good'. God even took a day off to enjoy what He had made.

Throughout the narrative of Genesis, we see God involved in his creation, first as a potter forming the clay and breathing life, and throughout coming down to speak and act. When his people falter in their faith, God remains faithful and intervenes to keep his promises. Even in the evil purposes of evil men, God is in control and he has a good purpose to bring about good:

Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

The second way we are equipped for every good work is that we are given a proper understanding of who we are. We are not uncreated self existent beings. We are created and dependent. We are not omnipotent or autonomous. We are part of God's creation, ruled by him for his pleasure. It is not all about us. The universe does not revolve around us and our needs and our desires. We are not on center stage.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

We were formed from dirt and we were created to bear God's image, to put Him on display. From Genesis we learn our purpose. We were created to display the excellency of God's infinite perfections.

How does an understanding of this equip us for every good work? It protects us doing good works that aren't really good at all. If we do good works in order to demonstrate what wonderful specimens of humanity we are and to get glory and attention for ourselves, then our good works are not 'good' as God defines them. That is how he can call our righteous deeds 'filthy rags' that are offensive to him,

Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

and 'dead works' that need to be repented of.

Hebrews 6:1 ... a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

. If you understand who God is and who you are and why you are here, then you can:

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

And we are also protected from thinking that we can do it. All our power, all our strength, all our talent, all our ability is derivative and not original. Any strength, any ability we posses comes from God and it is not our own. We need to understand this, or we will think that we can do it. When we attempt to do things that please God by drawing on our own resources, those resources will fail us and we will feel burnt out. This is not a result of the fall. This is based on the created order. This is by design to remind us of who we are and to point us back to the one who is the ultimate source of everything. Then we can '

1 Peter 4:11 ... whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies––in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Jacob is a great picture of the one who is operating in his own strength and natural abilities trying to make things happen. Jacob had to be broken - broken so that he would learn to place his trust not in himself, but in God who is able to do what he promises.

Genesis also points us to the deepest need of humanity. We might think that feeding the hungry and healing the sick and providing for the destitute are the most important things. And they are very important things. But they are not the ultimate thing. You can heal a sick person, and without Jesus they will still die and go to hell. You can feed and care for widows and orphans and shelter the homeless, and without Jesus they will still die and go to hell. The ultimate need of humanity is that we are sinners and we need to be rescued. We are rebels against God and our rebellion needs to be broken by the Spirit of God. We have offended a holy God and our offense needs to be justly dealt with. We are enemies of God; lovers of self and haters of God, and our self-centered hearts need to be conquered by the love of the one who is willing to die for his enemies.

Romans 5:8, 10 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.... while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son...

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death...

We need to understand that death and sickness and depression and hunger and pain are all symptoms - symptoms of a deeper problem.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned––

and Genesis points us back to the root of our problems and to Jesus as the solution to our deepest need. Jesus, who by his triumphant death on the cross crushed the head of the serpent and conquered sin and death.

I Corinthians 15:56-57 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We need to think carefully and think clearly and creatively about these things. It would be wrong to conclude that we should neglect any humanitarian work and simply focus all our efforts on evangelism. The New Testament is clear that we are to fight for justice and protect the helpless and feed the hungry and care for the needy. We need to have a kind of faith that works itself out in love toward our fellow human beings. But we need to be sure that love is not superficial, only easing the symptoms while allowing the disease to rage on. We need to keep in front of us in all our ministry of love toward others that the deepest problem of mankind is our rebellion against God, and the only cure is what God did through Jesus on the cross. When a paralyzed man was lowered in front of Jesus looking for physical healing, Jesus passed by his physical condition and focused on the deeper problem and said to him 'your sins are forgiven'

Matthew 9:2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”––he then said to the paralytic––“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

It was only afterward, and in order to demonstrate who he was that he healed the man of his physical condition. Leaving a gospel tract on someone's windshield may seem to be more focused on the root of the sin problem, but may prove less effective in reaching someone for Christ than a meal provided for a person in need. We must be sensitive to the Spirit of God in our evangelist and humanitarian efforts for the progress of the gospel and the glory of God.

The third way we are encouraged and equipped is with a proper understanding of salvation. It is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that we are set free from sin and death. Genesis tells us this.

It is by grace alone. When man sinned, we tried to cover it up. God took the initiative in salvation. God himself came down and stripped the man and the woman of their inadequate covering that they had made, and provided a blood sacrifice to cover their shame.

Genesis 3:7 ...And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

...21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

On the mount Moriah God provided for himself a substitute to die in place of another.

Genesis 22:8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

In sheer sovereign grace, God reached down and chose to save Noah and Abraham and Jacob and Judah out of the mass of sinful humanity and rescue them from their own wicked hearts and to make them trophies of his great grace.

It is through faith alone. The author of Hebrews (11) points us back to the narratives in Genesis and says 'by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith...' The triumph of the patriarchs was the triumph of faith. Faith is believing that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith is a response to revelation. God revealed something of his nature and character, and made promises. The men of faith responded by believing what God said about himself and trusting that he would do what he said he would do. The encouraging thing as we look at the narrative in Genesis is that the faith of these great men of faith was imperfect. Adam and Eve took the serpent's word over God's word. They were created good and innocent and they walked with God in the garden, and they still disbelieved God's words and blew it. Noah, the great man of faith who believed God's warning about a global flood, we saw drunk, naked and passed out in his tent. Abraham the man of faith, in fear of famine left the promised land for Egypt and in fear of the Egyptians passed his wife off as his sister. When God delayed in keeping his promise, Abraham slept with his servant girl and fathered the Ishmaelites. And Sarah, the great woman of faith, laughed in the face of divine revelation. Jacob, Jacob ripped off his brother and was on the run for 20 years. He bartered for the birthright and deceived his own blind dad into blessing him. He did a miserable job of raising a family, and he spent years mourning the loss of his favorite son, who wasn't dead after all. And his twelve sons who became the nation of Israel, they were a bunch of trouble making rednecks who lied, cheated, stole, killed, fornicated, and chased sheep around the hillsides. And these are our heroes of faith. That's encouraging to me. Their faith faltered. It was not a perfect faith. But praise God salvation does not rest on the flawlessness of our faith! Faith is only as useful as the object in which it is placed. You can have perfect faith that the parachute in your backpack will keep you safe as you jump out of the airplane, but if you mistakenly put on your kid's book bag full of library books before you jump out of the plane, the intensity of your trust in that backpack will have no effect on the speed at which you impact the earth. Misplaced faith can be even more dangerous than no faith at all, because it gives a false sense of security as you plummet toward your death. But even an imperfect faith in our perfect God is sufficient to save us. It says:

Genesis 15:6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Romans 4:17, 20-24 ––in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist... No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,

Because of Abraham's trust in God, God counted Abraham, an unrighteous sinner, as if he were righteous. Jesus took our sin in his body on the tree, and he gives us his righteousness

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Amazingly, even Lot, Abraham's nephew who got himself into so much trouble is viewed in the New Testament as a righteous man, righteous not because he lived a sinless life, but because he had placed his flawed faith in a big sin-forgiving faith-sustaining God. 'even if we are faithless he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself

2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful––

for he cannot deny himself.

Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. We've looked at the promise of God that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. We've seen on Mount Moriah that God would provide himself a lamb for the burnt offering. We've seen the promise of the Lion of the tribe of Judah who would rule and reign.

I pray that as a result of our time in God's word together that our view of God has been enlarged, that our view of ourselves is more accurate, and our grasp of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is strengthened. And I pray that as a result of our experience of these great foundational doctrines, we would be strengthened in hope and abound in every good work to the glory of God.