The Gospel of Genesis" -- Study 1 JESUS, CREATOR

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1 The Gospel of Genesis" -- Study 1 JESUS, CREATOR In the year 30 AD, Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant Jewish rabbi, stood before the high priest of His religion in an obscure outpost of the Roman Empire. He was accused of blaspheming God. The high priest was jealous of the man's immense popularity and fearful that he would upset the established religious order. He bribed one of the man's followers to betray him so he could secretly arrest him at night and bring him to trial. However, he could find no grounds to do what he wanted to do: have the man executed. The stories of witnesses who testified against Jesus did not agree. The high priest faced the possibility that he might actually have to let him go free for lack of evidence against him. Finally, in exasperation, he demanded of him. "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" Jesus did not hesitate. His answer assured he would be die a torturous death. He declared, "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."

2 The high priest cried out: "What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?" All the other priests and religious leaders joined the chorus in condemning the man to death. Was the high priest right? Was Jesus guilty of blasphemy? There is no middle ground in answering this question. He intentionally used the words "I am," or "Yahweh." This was the name of God. He stood in front of the highest religious authority of his time and claimed equality with God. This is the question for us today. The high priest, Caiaphas, turned Jesus over to the Romans to be tortured and executed. Jesus' followers claimed that on the third day after His execution, He was resurrected from the dead. They spread their Gospel throughout the Roman Empire that Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all people. At the heart of this Gospel is a central belief: Jesus is God, that every time the Bible mentions God, it is talking not only about God as a mysterious Being beyond our world but also God who became man and walked on earth, of whom the apostle John wrote: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled." (1 John 1:1) The Bible is the revelation of this God-man. The name Jesus does not appear in the Old Testament, but the Old Testament is nevertheless about Jesus. When the Scripture proclaims, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," it is saying that Jesus created the heavens and the earth. The Apostle John wrote "All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made." (John 1:3) Jesus Himself said: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) Does that sound preposterous? Impossible to believe? It is the Gospel. We, like Caiaphas, must decide if it is truth or if it is blasphemy.

3 JESUS, CREATOR QUESTIONS 1. Read Genesis 1:1 Does this verse refer to the beginning of the created universe or the beginning of God? Did God exist before Genesis 1:1? 2. John's Gospel also starts with the words "In the beginning..." Read John 1:1-3. Is John talking about the same beginning as Genesis? How is the focus of these two creation accounts different? 3. Read Colossians 1: Through whom was the world created? Does this contradict Genesis? 4. Read Genesis 1:2. Were all three Persons of God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- involved in the creative process? 5. In creation, God sent His Spirit to hover over the deep. Read Joel 2: Where does God send His Spirit now? 6. Read Exodus 3:13-14 What name did God give for Himself in response to Moses' question? Why did God refer to Himself in the present tense? Is time itself a creation? Does God exist inside the confines of time as we do? 7. Read John 8: Jesus is contending with the Pharisees about His identity. In Verse 58, what words did Jesus use to describe Himself? Why does Jesus refer to Himself using these

4 words? Does the High Priest s reaction leave any doubt to what Jesus meant to convey by using these words? 8. Read Revelation 13:8. How can we reconcile this verse, which identifies Jesus as the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth," with the historical fact that Jesus was a man who walked the earth and was slain in Jerusalem in about AD 30? 9. Read Job 38:1-18. What do these verses this say about our understanding of God's creative process? 10. Read John 3:1-8 and 2 Corinthians 5: Is God still involved in a creative process? How are all three Persons of God involved in this new creation? Do God's ways continue to confound human understanding?

5 JESUS, CREATOR LEADER S GUIDE 1. Genesis deals with the beginning of the material universe. God is not a creation. He has always existed. He is the "Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 1:8) 2. Yes, both deal with the creation of the material universe. The focus of Genesis is on the creation itself while the focus of John's Gospel is on Jesus, who is God, was with the Father at the time of creation, and through whom all things were made. 3. Colossians affirms what John wrote in his gospel: the world was created by and through Jesus. It does not contradict the Genesis account since Jesus, the Father and Holy Spirit are one (John 10:30). 4. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of God involved in the creative process. The first two verses of Genesis, therefore, include all three Persons of the triune God. The world was created according to expressed will of the Father, by and through the Son, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. 5. God sends His Spirit to abide in those who are His own children. Joel's prophesy ultimately was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when tongues of fire appeared over the disciples' head and they "were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4). Peter subsequently urged the onlookers in Jerusalem to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus, and "receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Paul likens the Spirit to a

6 priceless treasure placed in an earthen vessel. (2 Corinthians 4:7). 6. God tells Moses to call him "I AM." God is not subject to the framework of time as human beings are, since time itself is His creation. God exists not in time but in a continual present tense that is impossible for the human mind to comprehend, since our understanding is boxed into the framework of past, present, and future. When Jesus left heaven and became human, one of the ways He humbled Himself was to become subject to physical laws, including time. 7. Jesus purposely uses the expression "I AM" to indicate that He is equal to and one in the same as the God who told Moses to call Him "I AM." The Jews reaction was to seek to stone Him for blasphemy. Later, Jesus was handed over to be crucified after the High Priest, Caiaphas, and the Jewish council declared him guilty of the same blasphemy. (Mark 14:62-64). 8. This is a mystery beyond human comprehension. Since God does is not confined within the boundaries of time as we are, it is possible for the crucifixion of Jesus to exist both in God's eternal present tense and in the historical framework of created time. The Bible describes Jesus as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. This leaves no doubt that the sacrifice of the cross was not just something Jesus decided to do, it was His very nature to offer Himself completely as a sacrifice for mankind. Indeed, God is Love and this is the very nature of Love. (1 John 4:10). 9. These beautiful passages leave no doubt that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways and thoughts beyond man's comprehension (Isaiah 55:9). Job

7 challenged God's justice because of the trials that came upon him. God's response was to point back at the mystery of creation. The Bible tells us what God did in creation; it does not tell us how He did it. Likewise, the new birth in Christ Jesus is a mystery. As Jesus said, "the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) 10. The good news of the Bible is that sin and evil did not cause God to give up on His creation. Rather, through the redemptive power of cross of Jesus Christ, God opened a way for people to be "born again" and become "new creations" in Jesus. As in Genesis, all three Persons of God are involved. God offered His Son up as a perfect sacrifice for our sins that through Him we might be saved from death and created anew through the power of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:16, Romans 8:11).

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