In Beginning 02: Sky, Water, and Earth

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

Sky, Water, and Earth
Genesis 1:7-13

The Book of Genesis begins, “In the beginning,” but as I mentioned last week, there is no direct article in the original Hebrew, so literally it could be translated, In beginning. That difference might be significant if we think of this not as creating a time line, but as meaning that God is currently at the core or at beginning of all the universe and that our world is still being held together by God. That is not the way we are taught to think in our modern educational system: we are taught to think of the universe as eternal and infinite and not being held together by anything outside itself. It changes our conception of our world, our default thought mode of thinking, if we start to think, as the Bible says in Colos-sians, that the molecules of our world are constantly being held together by God. The world doesn’t exist on its own and would cease to exist, would melt down, if God didn’t keep holding it together. That new default mode of thinking means that God is eternal and He is all that exists eternally. Genesis tells us that God took chaos and brought order to the universe. He is now still bringing order to the universe and keeping it together. Without God, the universe would go back to its natural state of chaos. Everything in the world goes to chaos unless someone, something, or some group holds it together.
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In Beginning 03: Light and Darkness

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

Light and Darkness
Genesis 1:14-25

Some think a biblical contradiction is found in these verses. They say that if God created light on the first day that could not be since He did not create the sun until the fourth day. They think there could not be light without the sun. That comes from what I have said we often run into in reading the Genesis account of creation. We have been taught to think that the universe is infinite and eternal; so, whenever we imagine God, our minds automatically put Him somewhere in that infinite universe. But the Bible says He transcends the universe. We also think light must have a source within the universe. We don’t think of light as existing apart from a source like the sun or stars, which are also suns, or the moon, which reflects light. It would not occur to us that light can be created apart from a source. However, since Einstein it is possible for scientists to think of light existing apart from a source. He put together the basic building blocks of the universe in his famous equation E = mc2 , those building blocks were mass, energy, and light. Einstein’s theory of relativity is that everything is relative to the speed of light; nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
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In Beginning 04: The Living Creatures

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

The Living Creatures
Genesis 1:20-25

God’s creation is becoming more complicated. In the beginning, God made light, sky, water, and earth. Those things are inert and unchanging. They are so static that we can mark property boundaries or navigate by them. When surveying property, large rocks or trees can be markers, but trees are alive and can grow enough to throw markers off, or they can die and decay. All living things have growth and some movement; the creatures God created later have greater and greater movement. A property boundary could never be marked by where a rabbit is located; God’s more complicated creatures have a great deal of freedom of movement. If God is to guide the movement of those creatures, it is done by less rigid rules than those that guide the stars. A more internal guidance system is needed for complex living creatures. Complex creatures also can participate in creation through growth and reproduction.
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In Beginning 05: God’s Image

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

God’s Image
Genesis 1:26-31

This passage teaches us several things. When the passage refers to God creating man, it says, “Let us make man in our image.” The main emphasis of the Jews is that God is one, but their word for God is plural. It may seem a contradiction, but it is quite true; God is both plural and singular. God being three persons in one person is taught in the Bible from the very beginning. That is not a logical understanding of God but is a mystery. It is not surprising that trying to understand the nature of God could result in a mystery. Later this month, I will teach a C. S. Lewis seminar. I like to include in that teaching the limits of logic in understanding life, let alone its limits in understanding God. Much of what we know is not reasonable and pure reason will not cause you to arrive at a true understanding of the universe. The basic nature of God is one of those things that can’t be understood by logical derivation from what we see; it comes mainly from revelation.
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In Beginning 06: Rest and Reflection

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

Rest and Reflection
Genesis 2:1-3

Sometimes I think I am like Merlin from the King Arthur tales. He lived his life backwards; he was born old and grew younger. I am definitely not growing younger, but sometimes I believe I think backwards. Some people have trouble believing what is in the first couple of chapters of Genesis because they don’t believe God could have made the universe in just six days. I also have trouble with the six days, I wonder why an infinite, eternal, all powerful God took so long to create the universe. I like the fact that God spoke the universe into being, but if I had been making up the Genesis story, I would have just had God speak, and, Bang!, the whole universe would have come into being. The light from stars millions of light years away would have suddenly been at the earth; everything would have come into being the moment He spoke.
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In Beginning 07: The Garden of Eden

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

The Garden of Eden
Genesis 2:4-14

Some people think the purpose of life is to find ways to fulfill their desires. Most would say there is more to life than that and seek to find real meaning in their lives. To find that meaning they are even willing to push back their desires. The two creation accounts are especially interesting in that each emphasizes a different part of who we are. The first account is centered in the creation of the cosmos and is told as though the reader were an observer of what God was doing. Some people try to find meaning for their lives within that framework. They seek to understand how the world is put together; they classify the plants, animals, and everything they find in the world. Meaning for their life comes from learning all they can about the world in which they live. The more mature ones following this pursuit limit themselves to seeking to understand a small aspect of this world. The scientist, George Washington Carver, said that when he was young he asked the Lord to reveal to him the secrets of the universe. The Lord told him that those secrets were reserved for Him alone. Then Carver asked the Lord to reveal to him the secrets of the peanut. The Lord agreed that was more George’s size and during his lifetime Carver made remarkable discoveries about the peanut. Studying the world in which we live is one way some people find meaning for their lives.
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In Beginning 08: Naming

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

Naming
Genesis 2:15-20

The goal of life today is so oriented toward gaining everything our hearts desire that any limits are considered bad. Even the word limit is one of the few considered a modern day bad word; yet, while Adam was still in the ideal state of the Garden of Eden, God put a limit on him. God provided great abundance for Adam. God gave him more food than he needed and all the beauty of the world to enjoy. God Himself walked with Adam in the Garden. The only limit God put on Adam was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. In the perfect environment of Eden, God still gave a limit. That limit gave form and meaning to his life and helped him enjoy all he had. Life without limits can become formless and meaningless and that takes away joy rather than adding to it. When we live our lives inside good limits we can create joy and understanding. Setting out to understand all the truth of the universe would be a hopeless and meaningless journey, but trying to write a few good poems could enrich one’s life and the lives of others. Even in the perfect environment of the Garden of Eden, God put limits. Even when we haven’t sinned, limits are still needed.
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In Beginning 09: Flesh of My Flesh

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

Flesh of My Flesh
Genesis 2:21-25

The events of this morning’s passage came from the first time God said something was not good. After each thing God created, He pronounced it good. The Hebrew word for good has the idea that something works, that it fits together well, that it is finished. God finally proclaimed something not good when He said that it was “not good for the man to be alone.” I don’t think Adam merely had that sense of loneliness we all feel at one time or another; it went deeper than that. It was more like God sought to fulfill and finish Adam. It was not good that Adam just stayed inside himself and was a self-contained creature. It is very easy for us to just stay inside ourselves and become completely selfish. Selfishness can even make us happy. C. S. Lewis was once asked if the Christian faith would make someone happy. He said that happiness was not the goal for the Christian faith and went on to say that one of the most selfish men he knew also seemed to be quite happy. However, it is not good for man to be alone. It is not good for us to live completely in ourselves; something is needed to bring us out into the world. God implied that Adam needed motivation to do that.
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In Beginning 10: The Fall

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

The Fall
Genesis 3:1-9

This spring Sandy and I turned off the satellite feed to our television. Since then we haven’t seen any regular TV programing. We still have the TV set, but only use it to watch videos. During that time, I have only seen three regular TV shows. Once while I was working out at the Rec. Center, CNN news was on and I watched their report on the Katrina hurricane disaster. They were telling about the difficulty of the rescue work and how snipers were shooting at the rescue helicopters. Later, I found out they were reporting rumors and that rumor turned out to be false. It was interesting that the only TV news report that I have seen in the last six months turned out to be false. That hasn’t encouraged me to stop reading the news and go back to TV. Another time, I watched a Braves game with a friend of mine and that was fun, but it was the playoffs so they lost. Last night I watched an hour or so of the North Carolina State/Florida State football game. That is the extent of my TV watching for the last six months.
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In Beginning 11: The Curse

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

lamb
the Lamb wins!

The Curse
Genesis 3:11-19

When people have their own idea of right and wrong, they may do terrible things but think they are doing what is right. They work to find ways to hide what they have done from God and maybe even from themselves. When God asked Adam, “Where are you?” Adam said that he hid from God because he was naked and afraid. Last week we discussed how today we have become more adept at hiding and using more sophisticated images as our covering. We will do almost anything to keep hiding behind our image and so will people who are doing horrible things. Gangsters try to maintain a family image; many even go to church and have their children baptized. They hide behind an image as all of us are inclined to do. We deal with sin by trying to hide it. No one does that more often than church people. We do what we need to do to maintain our image so others will think we are the good people of the world.
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