Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 21)

John 4:46-54; Ephesians 6:10-17; Genesis 1:1 – 2:3

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
There is a great temptation and pressure upon Christians today to think of the creation account of Genesis as figurative, metaphorical, or mythological, containing, perhaps, an overarching theme or lesson, but certainly not to be understood as literal, factual, and historical truth. And, sadly, too often, Christians today, influenced by the Enlightenment, Rationalism, and Post-Modern thinking, capitulate and agree and are quick to jettison the traditional understanding of Creation for renderings more compatible with the theory of Darwinistic Evolution and “billions of years” dating for the earth and the universe. Of course, that is for adults over the age of thirty or so. For their children in the public school systems, however, and, sadly, in even many parochial schools, they will simply have never have learned any differently unless you have taught them the truth yourselves.
Too many Christians believe that they are not losing anything essential by jettisoning a literal interpretation of the creation account and imbibing of the waters of the well of Darwinistic Evolution. After all, they will argue, a day to the LORD is as a thousand years, and a thousand year a day, right? Well, yes, that is true. The Holy Scriptures do indeed teach this. But, this passage does not say that a day IS a thousand years, but that to the LORD a day and a thousand years are no different. Thus, what this passage serves to teach is that the LORD sees all time at the same time, that He is outside of time, which He created, and that He is all knowing, unchanging, and ever-present – that is to say, the Lord is God.
You see, the creation account of Genesis communicates much, much more to us than merely the particulars of how all things came to be. The creation account of Genesis is God’s first Word of revelation about who He is, what He is like, and what we can expect from Him going forth. The first thing He reveals to us is that He is, quite simply and plainly, the beginning, the source, the origin, and the sustenance of everything. “In the beginning, God…,” period! What was before the beginning? What was before God? The claim of Genesis is, nothing. Is that preposterous? Well, it is no more preposterous than the Big Bang. Be you Christian, agnostic, atheist, or other, we all observe the same evidence. What colors our interpretation of the evidence are the presuppositions and worldviews we hold. The problem with those who insist that the Big Bang and Darwinistic Evolution are the only possible interpretation is that they hold to a presupposition and a worldview that will not allow for anything to exist in the universe that is not comprised of matter, atoms and their constituent particles. That means – no spirit, no supernatural, no soul, no God. Can that be proven? No, of course not. There were no eyewitness testimonies of the Big Bang. There is no way to reproduce and test the Big Bang or the formation of the first cell. And, so, those committed to Darwinistic Evolution and those holding to a strictly materialistic and naturalistic presupposition and worldview have no more certain ground upon which to stand than do Biblical Creationists. In truth, they have less, because Biblical Creationists do have an eyewitness testimony of creation – the LORD God, the Creator Himself.
So, let us consider just a few of the crucial and essential things our LORD God reveals about Himself in the creation account of Genesis. First, as I have already spoken of, the LORD God is the beginning, the source, the origin, and the sustenance of everything that is. Second, He created and He sustains all things by His spoken Word. These two things the Evangelist John writes of in His Gospel saying: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” This is Scripture interpreting Scripture. Over four thousand or more years later, how did John understand the creation account? John understood the creation account literally, just as it plainly and naturally reads. Further, John makes it clear that the Word of God, by which He created all things, is Himself God; and a few verses later John states that “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling amongst us.” Here, John is referring to the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, becoming the man Jesus. And so, third of all, we see the fullness of our Holy Triune God revealed in the first three verses of Holy Scripture: In the beginning, God created, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters, and God spoke His eternal Word saying, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Fourth, let us consider the question, “Why?” Why did God create anything at all? Surely, God has revealed the answer to this question as well in the account of creation: “In the beginning God created….” God created because He is a Creator. God’s creative work, and His creation, is a revelation of who He is and what He does. Thus, everything that is is a revelation of our Creator God, just as a son is a revelation of there being a father. There could be no son without a father; likewise, being a father necessitates there being a son. God’s being a Creator necessitates there being a creation. “In the beginning,” God did what God does…, He created.
As with being a father, being a Creator implies certain necessary truths: love, care, sustenance, protection, and preservation. Surely, sinful human fathers at times fail in these capacities, but not our holy, good, and righteous God. And so, in the LORD’s revelation of Himself as a Creator from the beginning we have a revelation of His Fatherhood, and of His love, care, sustenance, protection, and preservation. He will never leave you or forsake you.
Truly, there is much at stake in jettisoning a literal understanding of the account of creation. Not only is the LORD’s unique creation of individual species and His endowing them with the ability to reproduce their own kind at stake, along with the LORD’s establishment of humankind having dominion over all that He has made, but our faith and trust in the LORD God Himself and His creative Word is at stake. This is to say that the creation account of Genesis is the foundation upon which the Holy Scriptures are built and stand. The rest of the Scriptures flow out from and hearken back to creation. The rest of the Scriptures affirm and confirm creation. Scripture interprets Scripture. The truth is confirmed by truth. 
So, what has this to do with today’s Gospel account of an official’s faith? Indeed, everything! For, the official’s faith is in the creative power of the Word of God which is itself established in the opening verses of Genesis. The official confesses Jesus to be the Word of God incarnate by whom the heavens and the earth and everything that exists were made and are still sustained. The official came to Cana, the town where Jesus performed His first miracle, changing water into wine, because He believed that Jesus could heal his son who was near death. The official wanted Jesus to come to his home and heal his son. But, Jesus took this opportunity to direct the man’s faith to God’s creative Word as opposed to signs and miracles. Truly, the signs and miracles of creation are all that anyone should ever need! Thus, Jesus simply told the man to “Go,” with the promise, “your son will live.” The man went in faith at Jesus’ Word and, before he returned home, was met with the news that his son had recovered at the precise moment Jesus said “Your son will live.”
Christ’s Church is suffering from a crisis of faith – faith in the creative Word of God. But, apart from the Word of the LORD, we have no defense from the Enemy’s attacks. All that armor St. Paul describes in the Epistle lesson is defensive armor, designed to protect you against the devil’s assaults. The only offensive weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of the Lord. This is why Satan attacks your faith in the Word of the Lord. He knows all too well that if he can shake your faith in the Word, then he can get you to believe all his lies and deceptions.
“Did God really say?” is still his question to you. Did God really say He is the beginning, the source, the origin, and the sustenance of everything? Yes, He really did! Did God really say He created everything that is in six days? Yes, He really did! Did God really say He created each species of plant and animal unique and distinct, having the capacity to reproduce its own kind? Yes, He really did! Did God really say that He would send the Seed of the woman to crush the seed of the serpent’s head? Yes, He really did! And God has kept His Word. God always keeps His Word.
God’s Word became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and made His dwelling amongst us as a man. God’s Word was conceived, born, suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose again from the dead and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. God’s Word is present with you and for you now, Word and Water, Body and Blood, to forgive your sins, strengthen your faith, clothe you and equip you with the defensive armor of God that you may withstand the flaming darts of the evil one. The Lord bless you and keep you steadfast in His Word.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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