Creation and the Second Coming

 

 

 

Creation and the Second Coming

Who are we? Are we the result of a rich prebiotic soup that formed from the concentration of chemicals in tidal pools struck by lightning billions of years ago? Did we evolve from there to self-replicating nucleic acids and then to a primitive cell? Was our ancestry by natural selection through primitive life forms leading to primates and hominids?

If this is the case, how should we then live? Is the principle of the survival of the fittest the foundation of morality? If we are the culmination of long evolutionary development, does this mean that we rely solely on ourselves for our achievements, and that our mind provides the foundation of our knowledge? Are we therefore autonomous, independent of any force outside of ourselves, and thus the masters of our own personal universe? What does the future hold for the human race?

 

Evolution and God

And if we are here because of evolutionary process, what does that say about God? Does He exist at all? What kind of influence, if any, does He have on the universe? Does He know that we exist? Does He even care? Is He a person? If so, how does He relate to us?

Should He exist, did He initiate the first spark of life and then somehow guide the process of development (a hypothesis called theistic evolution)? If so, why did it take Him billions of years to guide evolution to the stage of human development? Why did He use the cruel process of the survival of the fittest to create humanity? If He is a personal God of love, why did it take Him millions and billions of years to get around to telling us about His love?

What implication does theistic evolution have for the way God acts in the world? If He either cannot or does not behave in the way that the Genesis creation account describes, then what of His activities in the rest of the Bible? Did God bring about a worldwide flood? Did He lead the children of Israel through the Red Sea? Did He really through Jesus Christ become one among us, die for our sins, resurrect on our behalf, and ascend to heaven? Will He literally and visibly return to take us home with Him to a new heaven and a new earth?

Suppose God did bring about life on our planet by the process of theistic evolution, developing it through the survival of the fittest from simple life forms to the complexity of a moral and intelligent creature called Homo sapiens. What would then be the meaning of sin and salvation? If humanity is in the process of evolutionary development, is sin simply a lack of progress? At what point did we become children of God? What role does Christ play? If we are only in some process of development we would have no need of a substitute to die for us, since we did not fall from the image of God in the first place. One could hardly call our slow progress sin. Therefore, we would not need a Savior. Is Christ then the peak of evolutionary development? Did He somehow become an example for us in order to speed up our development?

 

Evolution and the Bible

What would the theory of theistic evolution say for the nature of the Bible? In what sense, if any, would the Bible then be the Word of God? If the Bible is God’s Word, the foundation of our life, on what basis would we reject the Creation account? Is the Bible only the history of the evolution of human spirituality, a collection of shared religious concepts passed down from generation to generation? Was Jesus Christ Himself merely apex of evolutionary spirituality?

If we do not accept the biblical account of Creation, we are left with many questions, a few guesses, and no answers.

“Those who question the reliability of the Scripture records have let go their anchor and are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity. When they find themselves incapable of measuring the Creator and His works by their own imperfect knowledge of science, they question the existence of God and attribute infinite power to nature.”1

“God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in discoveries in science and art; but when professedly scientific men lecture and write upon these subjects from a merely human standpoint, they will assuredly come to wrong conclusions. The greatest minds, if not guided by the Word of God in their research, become bewildered in their attempts to investigate the relations of science and revelation. The Creator and His works are beyond their comprehension; and because they cannot explain these by natural laws, Bible history is considered unreliable. Those who doubt the reliability of the records of the Old and New Testaments will be led to go a step farther, and doubt the existence of God; and then, having let go their anchor, they are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity. Moses wrote under the guidance of the Spirit of God, and a correct theory of geology will never claim discoveries that cannot be reconciled with his statements.”2

The biblical concept of the origin of life and history of humanity is completely opposite from the evolutionary concept. The Bible declares that God created life and its habitable environment in six literal consecutive 24-hour days (Genesis 1). Exodus 10:11 and 31:17 confirm creation in six days. God gives the six-day creation as the reason for the fourth commandment. Instead of creating us during a period of billions of years, He “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7).3

While the theory of evolution envisions the formation of life over billions of years, the Bible declares that Creation took place by the Word of God. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. . . . For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:6–9).

Some try to discount the historicity of Genesis 1 to 11 by saying that the chapters are not literal—they are poetry, not history. Their purpose consists only to convey the message that in the beginning God created. Thus, the Bible does describe the how of creation, but merely the fact of creation.

 

Scripture Confirms the Historicity of Genesis

In addition, Scripture must interpret itself. In its entirety, the Bible—and Christ Himself—took these chapters in Genesis seriously as history. Paul confirms that “Adam [not some bit of slime in the water] was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13). Christ referred to the creation of the first couple: “‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female?”’” (Matt. 19:4). The Savior used this fact as a ground for morality based upon the design of God: “‘As in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be’” (24:38, 29).

The agent in creation, according to the Bible, was not evolution driven by the survival of the fittest, but rather God’s Son, Jesus Christ Himself. “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 nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1–3). “By Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible. . . . And in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16, 17).

Our concept of creation also affects our understanding of God and how we relate to Him. The fact that God is Creator provides the foundation of our reverence for (Isa. 17:7, 8) and worship of Him: “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other’” (Isa. 45:18). “‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created’” (Rev. 4:11). Creation distinguishes God from other deities (1 Chron. 16:26).

In addition, it forms the basis of our relationship with Him, for in the beginning He made us for fellowship (Eph. 3:9). He who first commanded light to beam out of darkness also shines into our hearts the light of the knowledge of God’s glory revealed through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). By virtue of His creative power, He is the basis of our own strength (Ps. 121:2; 124:8). Our acceptance of the account of Creation rests upon faith. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3).

The biblical account of humanity differs greatly from that of evolution. We are not sons and daughters of primates, but sons and daughters of God! Adam’s genealogy does not trace back to a primitive cell. He was the son of God (Luke 3:38). We are not created in the image of some beast, but the image and likeness of God Himself (Gen. 1:26–28; 5:1, 2).

“The conclusions which learned men have reached as the result of their scientific investigations are carefully taught and fully explained; while the impression is distinctly given that if these learned men are correct, the Bible cannot be. These philosophers would make us believe that man, the crowning work of creation, came by slow degrees from the savage state, and that farther back, he was evolved from the race of brutes. They are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the universe, that they demean man, and defraud him of the dignity of his origin. Nature is exalted above the God of nature; she is idolized, while her Creator is buried up and concealed from sight by science falsely so-called.”4

 

Creation and the Second Coming

The Bible links the historical accounts of Creation and the Flood and the Second Coming. “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:3–7). Christ made that same connection: “‘As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be’” (Matt. 24:37–39). Thus, Scripture uses the historical conditions of humanity at the time of Noah as an analogy to the times just before the coming of Christ. Furthermore, the same word that brought about Creation and the Flood will bring about the destruction at the Second Coming.

Theistic evolution finds it necessary to reinterpret the biblical concept of the Second Coming and the new earth. If God did not break into history in Creation, then He will not do so in a literal, visible Second Coming. Nor, if He does not create by the word of His mouth, will He re-create in the resurrection. And if He did not originally create the Garden of Eden, will He re-create the new earth? For the theistic evolutionist, eschatology is not a decisive entrance of God into history at the Second Coming. It is the continuing evolution of a better life, a process that humanity accelerates by bringing about a just and moral society. Thank God, though, we can have hope in the future Second Coming because God is our Creator and Redeemer!

The active God created by the word of His mouth, communicated through the prophets, lived among us, died in our place, was resurrected, and ascended to minister for us. He will just as actively return the second time to take us home with Himself, bring about the resurrection of the dead and the re-creation of the new earth, and finally destroy sin. He is a personal God who desires to fellowship with us and to dwell among us. We worship Him because He created us. It is the act of creation that distinguishes Him from would-be gods.

Relationship with God and Jesus Crist is not imaginary, not contentless. It is based upon knowledge of the “only true God” (John 17:3). A relationship with any other deity is idolatry. Whether in its Darwinian form that rejects the existence of God or the theistic interpretation that claims God as the controller of the evolutionary process, the theory of evolution denies the biblical doctrine of God. It builds another concept of divinity based upon science, history, and philosophy that denies God who has revealed Himself. Relying upon human ability to discover truth, such approaches follow the same path as Satan’s. They set us up as independent of God, capable ourselves of defining or creating a god out of our own imagination.

Evolutionary theory requires that we rewrite the history of God—and therefore redefine His nature. In so doing, it leads us to a relationship with a false god, an idol. When Christ appears the second time, He desires to return to a people who are waiting for Him, not for some other false god. Christ wants a people who are not in the dark about who He is. He is calling forth a people who will accept and proclaim the fulness of the biblical message—the everlasting gospel—to “‘worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’” (Rev. 14:7).

 

NOTES AND REFERENCES

1. Testimonies for the Church, 8:258.
2. Lift Him Up, 60.
3. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references in this column are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.
4. Ellen G. White, “Science and the Bible in Education,” Signs of the Times 10:12 (March 20, 1884): 177.