By Pastor Stephen Hess –
If you could choose one word to describe the state of American culture as we enter 2018, what would it be? I would probably choose the word “confused.” The further we move into the 21st century, the more confused we seem to be as a culture about some of the most fundamental questions of life. We struggle to answer questions about God: Is there a God and if so, who is he? We struggle to answer questions about our identity: Who am I and what is my purpose in life? We struggle to answer questions about morality: Is there a right and wrong way to live and if so, how do we discover it?
I am convinced that the answers to some of life’s biggest questions can only be discovered in the Bible. In fact, the answers to many of these questions can be discovered in the first book of the Bible—the book of Genesis. That is why as we begin a new year at Highview, we are also going to begin a new journey together as we work through the book of Genesis on Sunday mornings. The book of Genesis is essential not only for a proper understanding of the Bible, but also for developing a Christian worldview. It is in this book that we find answers to some of our deepest questions. Below are five key questions that are answered in Genesis.
Does God exist? Genesis speaks not only of a God who exists, but a God who created the universe and everything in it. In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This verse alone has huge implications for our lives. It means that we are not alone and that there is a God who is eternal. It means that the universe was not some cosmic accident but was designed and created by someone bigger than us.
Who am I? Many people today view human beings as simply another animal species that emerged by chance and evolved over time. Genesis presents an entirely different picture. As Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Once again, this verse has massive implications. It means that we were created in God’s image and are distinct from all other creatures. It means that we were designed by God to live a certain way. It means that male and female are God-ordained categories and not arbitrary human constructs.
What is my purpose? The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks: “What is the chief end of man?” The answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Genesis reveals to us that we were created not for ourselves but for God. We find our true purpose in living for him and reflecting his glory.
What’s wrong with the world? There are many theories about what is wrong with our world. Some would say our problem is a lack of access to education. Others would say it is the need for better government. Still others would say religion is the source of the world’s problems. According to Genesis, the fundamental human problem is sin. In other words, the problem behind all other problems in this world is the human heart which has rebelled against God.
Is there hope? In some ways, Genesis paints a bleak picture of the state of humanity. Before the great flood, we read: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). However, Genesis is not without hope, because in the midst of the brokenness God is already unfolding a plan of redemption and a covenant of grace through which he would crush the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15) and bring salvation to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3).
So as we begin a new year I am giving you a new challenge: Instead of getting distracted with trivial New Year’s resolutions, spend some time digging into Genesis and reflecting on the biggest questions of life. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.