An Invitation to Pastors

WHY THE CHURCH MUST EMPHASIZE CREATION, continued
If you are just joining us, start here.

Conclusion: HOW TO EMPHASIZE CREATION in the Church.

First, be sure you are prepared to deal with the creation-evolution issue, to have an answer to everyone who asks of you a reason for the hope that is within you (I Peter 3:15).  You do not need a PhD in science to do this; a simple three-point outline (below) is a good start.  But it is deadly to give an irrational answer like “Just have faith!” to an honest seeker.  That puts Christianity in fantasyland, no different from false religions.

  • Our Bible-Science Association has a PhD biochemist who lost 20 years of his Christian joy when his pastor could only answer his honest questions with “Just have faith!”  He was being taught that evolution was a fact, and when he saw that his pastor had no answers to rebut the claims, he figured he had to compromise and became a theistic evolutionist.  Years later, when he started reading creation books and finding out how unsubstantiated evolution was, and how overwhelming the evidence for creation, he got his Christian joy back, and is now a fervent believer.

  • As another example, the last episode of the PBS TV Series Evolution showed several pathetic examples of students at Wheaton College that were also torn between the apparent “fact” of evolution and their Biblical upbringing.  PBS, as expected, pictured bumbling parents and Sunday School teachers without reasonable answers, and spun the story to root for the brave students willing to be skeptical of the Bible and embrace evolution.  It was pathetic because this is so unnecessary.  The evidence for creation and evolution is overwhelming!  Don’t let your parishioners fall for the Darwinist propaganda machine.

A THREE POINT OUTLINE TO REBUT SKEPTICISM
Be armed with these three major points.  There are good books you can refer a seeker to for the details.
(Note: this outline is similar to the approach Paul used with the Athenians in Acts 16.)

  1. The Origin of Life: THERE IS A GOD.
    • Even the simplest life is incredibly complex.  It is impossible that nonliving chemicals could ever assemble into a replicating system, yet that is the giant leap required for their theory. 
    • Evolutionists are on the defensive here: they have NO ANSWERS.  The situation is worse for evolutionists than it was 40 years ago, and getting worse all the time as more near-miraculous processes are uncovered in the living cell month after month.  Evolutionists are so desperate, some are claiming alien intelligences brought life here, or there are physical laws of self-organization we haven’t discovered yet (don’t hold your breath; self-organization into informational structures violates the laws of thermodynamics, the best-attested laws in all of science).  Most of them simply dodge the issue and try to make it irrelevant, BUT...
    • This one point makes their entire story break down.  Don’t let evolutionists jump into the middle of the story and start talking about peppered moths and finch beaks if they cannot explain how life began without a Designer.  When an evolutionist tries to evade this home-base issue and starts talking about ape-men or missing links, stop him: tell him you can’t run the bases if you have struck out!
    • If a supernatural, personal, all-wise Creator is required to explain the beginning of life, all the questions and answers change.  Why invoke chance and purposelessness later?  None of the downstream evidences matter if evolutionists fail to explain the origin of life.  (It can be shown that all the other assumed evidences of evolution fail, too, but this issue is the single point of failure for evolution that demolishes the entire story.)
    Get the skeptic or seeker to acknowledge that there must be an intelligent Designer.  That leads to the next point, who is He?

  2. The Resurrection: JESUS CHRIST IS GOD.
    The first point does not support Christianity in distinction to other religions, but this one does.
    (Most pastors are already prepared to defend this point, so we will be brief.)  See also The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.
    • Not cunningly devised fables, but eyewitness accounts (II Peter 1:16).
    • No credible denial in 2000 years.
    • How do you explain the empty tomb?  The skeptic Saul turned missionary Paul?  The apostles turned from cowards to bold martyrs?  The rise of the church during an age of intense persecution?
    • If Jesus Christ really rose from the dead, He alone is the true God.  No mortal man could resurrect himself.  Jesus Christ alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), and the unique image of the invisible God (Col 1:15); there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
    • You can therefore trust Jesus’ words – and He was a creationist!  He was there (Prov. 8:22-31, John 1:1-3), and He referred to Genesis as historical fact.

  3. Unjust Suffering: THE WORLD IS TEMPORARILY CURSED.
    The problem of unjust suffering (theodicy) is really one of the main reasons skeptics and atheists reject Christianity.  If God is good, He would not allow suffering, and if God is all-powerful, He could stop it.  Be sure you are prepared to answer this objection.  There are very many good books on this topic; a recent one is The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel, and then there is the classic by C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain.  Don’t be sidetracked into this discussion without first getting agreement on points 1 and 2 above.  If there is a God, and Jesus revealed Him, it becomes a matter of trying to understand the Biblical world view, not dismiss it.  Here are some partial answers:
    • If God stopped all suffering, we would be robots, not persons who could love God freely.
    • The original creation was good, but was cursed because of sin.
    • God is sovereign and free to do what He wishes with His creation; who are we to judge Him by our standards?  If we do not deserve the next breath we take, how are we to criticize God who demonstrates His goodness in countless ways every day?
    • God is infinite, we are finite; how are we to comprehend His ultimate purposes, except what He has chosen to reveal? (Deut. 29:29)
    • The curse is only temporary; there will be a redemption of all creation. (Rom 8:18-25)
    • God is allowing evil to “do its worst” as a demonstration for all time of the dead end of sin.
    • Suffering gives the righteous an opportunity to learn compassion and self sacrifice, following the example of Jesus.
    • Satan and humans commit most of the evil within God’s permissive will, but...
    • God knows how to rescue the righteous from judgment (II Peter 2:4-10).
    • God never dodges responsibility for the suffering of innocents (Matt. 5:45, Luke 13:3-5), and it is not our prerogative to question His sovereign actions (Romans 9:19-24).  Perhaps this involves keeping His promises to Satan before he fell, allowing Satan to be the “god of this world” for the present age, yet working out His all-wise purposes even through His enemies.
    • But if God foreknew Satan and man would fall, why did He create them?  It was a risk God was willing to take for the eternal joy of fellowship with multitudes of believers who would not rebel.
    • But if God were all-powerful, why doesn’t He do something?  What more could He do than to offer His only begotten Son as a substitute for the judgment we deserve?
    • The cross is the perfect resolution of the tension between God’s justice and God’s love.
    • This earth and its pains are just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity.
    • Spiritual health is infinitely more important than temporary physical comfort.
    • We are going to die.  Man knows not his time.  Death is God’s decree upon all, redeemed or not, and He keeps the time unknown to us lest we procrastinate our obligation to love and obey Him.
    • In our fallen state, we would not seek God without Him shouting to us through the megaphone of suffering.
    • In spite of sin and suffering, most of the world is still a beautiful place and a testimony of God’s goodness (Acts 14:15-17).
    • Paul, the apostles, and many stalwart Christians through history have known suffering far worse than we do (Heb. 11), and it didn’t turn them into skeptics.  Think of all the martyrs who suffered and died boldly with full confidence in God.  Count your blessings.
    • Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53).  Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Heb 5:7-9) to become our High Priest, able to sympathize with our weaknesses, having been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).  Our savior God is not a distant, uncaring, unfeeling deity; He knows what every soul is going through, and intercedes on our behalf. 
    • It is fair to doubt, but presumptuous to second-guess the mind of God.  Doubt is a gift of God to thinking beings.  If you can resolve your doubt with enough satisfaction to trust God, based on what you know rather than what you cannot know, your faith will be stronger.  (cf. Job, or Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac, Gen. 22).  Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6, John 20:24-28–doubting Thomas).
    • It is appointed unto man once to die [righteous or unrighteous], and after that the judgment (Heb. 9:27).  Evil will not triumph forever; God the righteous Judge is still on the throne; there will be a full accounting.
    • Christianity alone provides a satisfactory answer to the problem of suffering; creation + curse + redemption.  Otherwise, suffering is part of the eternal fabric of the universe, so fighting it is pointless.  It leaves our innate sense of justice unsatisfied.
    • Do you really want to know why innocents suffer, or are you using the suffering of others to dodge your own responsibility to God, based on the implications of Points 1 and 2?  Unless you repent, you shall likewise perish (Luke 13:5).
Be sure you are grounded in these defenses of Christian faith.  Next, we will consider several positive, practical ideas for utilizing the joy of creation in the church. 

WHAT THE CHURCH CAN DO

  • Preach the Word . . . where the Word begins!
    • In the beginning, God created (Gen. 1:1).
    • In the beginning was the Word...all things made by Him (John 1:1).
    • Creation is not the only topic in the Bible, for sure, but when it comes up, be bold!  Elaborate on references to creation during your teaching; show their relevance to our culture, and to all of Christian doctrine.
  • Teach the Word!  Tremendous resources are now available that were lacking 50 years ago (see below).
  • A good defense – and a good offense.
    • The art of critical thinking. (See our Baloney Detector.)
    • Answers to skeptics. (Defense)
    • Flaws in the theory of evolution and non-Christian world views. (Offense).  Don’t let phony claims go unchallenged.
    • Contrast the joy of salvation in Christ with the meaninglessness of evolution.  Show the difference!


STIMULATE WORSHIP WITH CREATION

  1. Creation Hymns: sing - arrange - rearrange - memorize - teach the hymn stories!
    • This Is My Father’s World
    • How Great Thou Art
    • For the Beauty of the Earth
    • All Creatures of Our God and King
    • Fairest Lord Jesus
    • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation
    • I Sing the Mighty Power of God
    • O Worship the King
    • Great Is Thy Faithfulness
    • Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
    • God of Our Fathers
    • ...and more
  2. Visuals: project creation visuals on the screen as backgrounds to text, lyrics.  Post beautiful nature art and photography in the sanctuary lobby, with Scripture references.  Use creation visuals on bulletin covers, and creation facts inserts.
  3. Wonders of Creation: use true stories about life, the world and the universe as illustrations in your sermons.  For a good source of recent material, visit Creation-Evolution Headlines and click on the chain links “Amazing”.  Everybody has a body; teach them about wonders of the human body, and you immediately have a group of eager listeners.
  4. Break out of the box! (i.e., the building).  This may be a radical concept, but the church is not the building.  There is nothing wrong about having a worship service outdoors (we do at Easter, right?).  God may actually be pleased with our focus on His architecture instead of our own.  Of course, it makes sense to gather in the city and in the building most of the time, for convenience and logistics, and because that is where most of the people are.  But once in awhile, why not show the flock some green pastures and still waters, instead of just talking about them?  Get creative –
    • Creation Camps: at your next retreat, hire a Christian naturalist to teach them about the flora and fauna, or the atmosphere or the stars.  (Of all people in the world who might take an interest in nature, should it not be those who believe an all-wise God created it, and that it expresses His wisdom?)  Alpha Omega Institute and other organizations provide fun and educational creation camps for the whole family.
    • Creation Amphitheaters: build an outdoor worship setting.  Grace Baptist Church of Santa Clarita, CA, has a lovely hillside amphitheater with trees and a great view.  What a neat idea for worship! (when it isn’t raining).
    • Creation Safaris - this article explains the concept.
    • More ... Church under the stars – baptism in the river – a church Holy Land trip – break tradition, get a breath of fresh air, and enlarge your spirit.  Think of creation as ...
      a 360o, surround-sound, unlimited audio-visual resource!

      Jesus used nature to teach; let’s follow the example of the Master Teacher.
  5. Creation Seminars: these are usually very popular and well attended.  There are many organizations like Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International that can provide speakers and seminars with books, videos and other materials.  Leverage their expertise.  They exist to provide the technical scientific answers to questions that pastors may not feel comfortable answering.
  6. Creation Films: there are quite a few excellent videos that can be shown to teach creation evidences and answer the claims of evolution.  Illustra Media is one example.  College students and educated adults love these films.  For the whole family, try the series Incredible Creatures That Defy Evolution.  AIG, ICR, CMI and other creation organizations also have a plethora of lecture films and productions of all types.
  7. Local creation groups: Several parts of the country have creation organizations that hold seminars and invite special speakers, and also sell books and materials.  They try to avoid conflicting times with church activities, so encourage church people to attend.  Treat these as allies of the church, not competitors.  Utilize their special gifts and talents.  Southern California has six such creation groups, including the Bible-Science Association, the South Bay Creation Science Association, the Orange County Creation Science Association, and groups in Riverside, Ventura, and Antelope Valley.
  8. Creation websites: The number of creation websites has exploded.  Here are two lists of mega-links to hundreds of websites, articles, and materials: Creationism Connection and Christian Connection.  Almost any subject, no matter how technical, has been addressed somewhere.  Provide links on your church web page to these resources.  Don’t forget our own Creation-Evolution Headlines page, a unique news service on origins news that is like a tutor in how to answer claims of evolutionists.
  9. Get in the battle!  Get your church involved in local issues, like public school boards that are trying to indoctrinate evolution, or waffling on whether to allow criticism of evolution in science classes.  Write letters, speak out, vote for those who will turn the tide.  Train an army in sound doctrine, able to refute false teachings like evolution.  Like we discussed in Reason #5, this is time to charge, not retreat; the scientific evidence supports creation and refutes evolution!  But the evolutionists still control the propaganda machine.  Ignoring the issue is a loss by default; it leaves the flock unguarded against ravenous wolves.  Don’t forget the lessons of history, what happens when the church neglects creation.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO PERSONALLY

    • Get excited about creation yourself! 
      Read • Study • Listen • Learn • Observe • Worship
        Creation will revitalize your ministry and your personal walk with God.
      I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:14.
    • Support creation ministriesReinforce the soldiers where the battle is hottest.
    • Use Creation Evangelism.  Be sure you give the whole message of the gospel, which is founded on the doctrine of creation.  Increasing numbers of people in our culture do not assume that foundation, and will consider the teaching of the cross foolishness unless you break down the false god of evolution in which they trust.  When speaking to Gentiles, Paul appealed to creation as a wedge issue, at Lystra (Acts 14) and on Mars Hill (Acts 17) in Athens.  Creation is the plow that opens the hardened soil, so the seed of the gospel of Christ can enter and grow.  See Ken Ham’s book, Creation Evangelism for the New Millennium, and our short outline on Natural Revelation.
    Remember...

    Nothing in the Bible or the Christian life makes sense apart from creation.

    Creation is the Everlasting Good News! (Revelation 14:7)


    Thank you for taking the time to read this series of essays.  If this has been a blessing to you, or if you have any questions or comments, we would like to hear from you.  Please email us and share your thoughts.

    God bless you, man of God, as you serve the Lord of the Galaxies!

    Thus says the LORDHeaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool.  Where is the house you will build Me?  And where is the place of My rest?  For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist, says the LORDBut on this one I will look, on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My wordIsaiah 66:1-2

    c. 2002 David F. Coppedge, Master Plan Productions.