Many people wonder about the origin of our world. They ask: “Where did everything come from? How did the universe get started? Was there someone who made this beautiful and complex world? Or did everything just happen by chance?” Today many people believe that everything in our world came about simply by chance. They teach that all that exists in the world came into being through a long, slow process of mindless evolution. There was no one to start the process and no one to guide it. Things just happened! Animals and people and flowers and trees and mountains and hills and everything that exists made their entrance into the world with no purpose and no future. But if that is true, then we human beings are also simply an accident with no real purpose in the present and no meaningful hope for the future. We live for a few years, we die, and we are forgotten. But that’s not what happened. Human beings didn’t gradually make their appearance in the world without any purpose or direction. They were created by a powerful, loving, and eternal God. They were created as intelligent beings who had the potential of enjoying a wonderful and joyful life with other human beings and also with their Creator. God even created them in his own image, so they could know him and love him and serve him. God also gave them the privilege and the task of ruling over the rest of his beautiful creation so that everything would serve the purpose for which God created it. And if they continued to love and serve him, they would live forever in peace and joy and harmony with the God who created them. However, the world today is obviously no longer a world of perfect harmony and unending delight. Beautiful flowers wilt and die. Streams and rivers overflow or dry up. Hurricanes, floods and storms bring terrible destruction. People get sick and die. Nation rises up against nation, and people hurt and kill one another. Tensions and strife abound. Misery is found everywhere. Many people wonder why there are so many good and beautiful things in our world while, at the same time, there are also many things that are neither good nor beautiful. Did the world start out good and then become bad? Or did it start out bad and then gradually get better? Or were there both good and bad things from the very beginning?
1. Where did our universe come from?
God created the entire universe out of nothing by his almighty power.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)
[God] created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it. (Revelation 10:6)
2. What was the earth like in the very beginning?
Before God formed the earth into a beautiful place for man to live, the earth was formless, dark and empty.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
3. Where did the sun and moon and stars and all the plants and animals come from?
Genesis 1 says repeatedly, “God said,” and when God spoke, things came into being. Other passages in the Bible indicate that the world was fashioned by the “hands” of the Lord. All of these passages teach us that God was the Creator who used his divine power to bring into being a beautiful, wonderful, and incredible universe.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)
Of old you [God] laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. (Psalm 102:25)
4. Was the original creation good or bad or mixed?
The world that God created in the beginning was good in every way. After each act of creation recorded in Genesis 1, we read the specific words: “God saw that it was good.” And, at the end of God’s initial creative work, we read that everything God had made was “very good.” Sin had not yet entered the world and the earth was free from corruption, disharmony and decay.
God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25)
And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)
5. Where did human beings come from?
After God had prepared the earth as a home for human beings, he made a man and a woman in his image and likeness to rule over his creation. Though the man was created before the woman, both man and woman were made in God’s image and both had equal standing in the sight of God.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
6. How did God create the first man and the first woman?
God first made a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Later, God took a rib from man’s side and made a woman from the rib.
Then the LORD God formed the man of dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7)
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” . . . So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the
LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman. (Genesis 2:18, 21, 22)
7. What were the names of the first man and the first woman?
The first man was called Adam (which may mean ground or human being). Adam named his wife Eve (which may mean life-giver).
The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. (Genesis 3:20)
8. Where did Adam and Eve live?
God placed them in a beautiful garden called the Garden of Eden. No one knows exactly where this was, but it likely was somewhere in the part of the world we know as the Middle East.
And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Genesis 2:8)
9. What responsibilities did God give to Adam and Eve?
God told them to be fruitful, to fill the earth, to rule over it, and to take care of it. God provided them with everything necessary—mentally and physically—to do what he had commanded them to do.
God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
10. What test did God give to Adam and Eve?
God told Adam and Eve that they might eat from every tree in the Garden of Eden where they were living except for one tree called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God very clearly and very strongly commanded them not to eat of this one tree. This was to be a test of their love for God, their trust in God, and their obedience to God.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
11. Did Adam and Eve obey God’s command?
They did obey at first, but when Satan, an evil spirit, came to them in the form of a serpent, he lied to them, tempted them to eat from the tree, and promised them that if they did eat of it, they would become like God himself. They listened to Satan, believed him, and ate from the tree instead of obeying and trusting God.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)
. . . that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. (Revelation 12:9)
12. What was the result of their disobedience?
First of all, Adam and Eve immediately died spiritually. That is, they died in their relationship with God. Things were no longer the same between them and God. They lost their fellowship with God, they lost the joy they previously had in walking and talking with God, and they became afraid of God rather than delighting in being with him. They also became aware of their nakedness for the first time and felt ashamed in God’s presence. Their disobedience also led eventually to their physical death. Further, the entire world was affected by their sin. There were still many good and beautiful things in the world after they sinned, but for the first time the world became subject to suffering, pain, decay, and death.
The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:16-19)
13. What does the sin of Adam have to do with us today?
Adam was the representative of the entire human race. When he sinned, everyone was affected by the consequences of his sin. All of us now come into this world with a sinful human nature which is inclined toward evil rather than toward good. The world in which we live is a world filled with suffering, sorrow, pain, decay and death. And no matter how strong and healthy we may be, we know that our lives, too, will end in death. The results of Adam’s disobedience and sin are far greater and more significant than Adam could ever have imagined when he gave in to temptation and listened to Satan rather than to God.
Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22)
In Adam all die. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
14. Does this mean that everyone in the whole world is guilty before God?
Yes. There are no exceptions except for Jesus Christ, who was perfectly sinless and was not born with a sinful human nature.
None is righteous, no, not one. (Romans 3:10)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
And in him [Jesus] is no sin. (1 John 3:5)
15. Won’t a loving God simply overlook the fact that we are all sinners?
No. Though God is gracious and merciful, he is also holy and just. He cannot and will not let sin go unpunished.
The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty. (Numbers 14:18)
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. (Nahum 1:3)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)
16. Since we are all sinners before God, is there no hope for any of us?
There certainly is hope! Even before God pronounced judgment on Adam and Eve for what they had done (Genesis 3:16-19), he said that he would eventually defeat the powers of evil and destroy them (Genesis 3:15). Thousands of years of human history passed, however, before Jesus came into our world to pay the penalty for Adam’s sin and also for our own sins.
The LORD God said to the serpent [Satan], “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)
1. What difference would it make in your life if you did not believe that God created the world?
If God didn’t create the world, then all of us are here simply by chance. We would have no real hope for the future and would definitely have no certainty of having eternal life with Christ. We would probably focus much more on meeting our own needs or desires and have less interest in helping to meet the needs of others. We might also throw off some restraints which presently keep us from doing things which we believe would bring dishonor to the name of God. We obviously would not gather with others for worship of the Creator and we would probably not spend much (or any) time reading and studying the Bible. Some of us might work hard to preserve the world and its resources, since that is all there is. However, others might have less concern for the natural world and would have little concern about trying to preserve it.
2. How important is it for us to know how old the earth is?
Some believers feel that it is very important to know (approximately) how old the world is because they believe that the Bible teaches that the earth is relatively young. Some of them are also convinced that science demonstrates that the world is not nearly as old as many people claim. Other believers, however, are not at all concerned about scientific teachings about the age of the earth. They strongly believe that the Bible does not intend to teach us anything about the age of the earth. Rather, they emphasize that the Bible clearly teaches that GOD has created the world but does not give us any definite indication of the time when he created it or the length of time it took him to create it. And they give some very thoughtful arguments to support their position. Does it make any difference which position is correct? For many people it makes a lot of difference. For others it makes no difference at all. Clearly, the most important thing is to remember that “in the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth”—no matter when that happened or how long it took. It may also be helpful to remember that for many years believers emphasized that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun rotated around the earth. Those who believed and taught this based their argument—at least partly—on their understanding of the Bible. Very few today, however, believe that or teach that any longer. And few people seem to be disturbed about the fact that the sun only appears to rise and set—even though the Bible uses language which might seem to indicate that it actually does rise and set. Even today, knowing that the earth moves around the sun, we still speak of sunrise and sunset. It’s important for us not to insist that the Bible teaches something which it does not intend to teach. On the other hand, it’s also important to recognize that the scientific community has also changed its position on a number of things over the years, so we should not accept everything taught by scientists as ultimate truth. The Bible is clearly our final authority on matters of faith and doctrine and Christian living, but we should not claim that the Bible teaches something it does not intend to teach.
3. How important is it to know exactly how God created the world and how long it took to create it?
Many Christians strongly believe that God created the world in six ordinary days of twenty-four hours each. They argue that the first chapter of Genesis and Exodus 20:11 allow no other interpretation. Any evolution that did take place (such as micro-evolution involved
in the formation of new species), took place after the original creation described in Genesis. Other Christians believe that God brought our world and various life forms into existence through a long, gradual process called macro-evolution. Though the process may have been very slow, they believe that God was in complete control of all that took place. It is very important to remember that this disagreement among Christians is not about the WHO of creation but the HOW of creation. Those who believe that God simply spoke the world into existence do not believe that the formation of the world took a long time. Those who believe that God brought the world into being over a long period of time do not believe that the work of creation was limited to just six days. Both groups, however, agree that this is our Father’s world and recognize that God was the One who brought our complex world into existence. He also is the One we must recognize and honor as the creator and sustainer of our world and the One who will determine the world’s future as well as its beginning. Without going into great detail, it is helpful to recognize some of the reasons why some Christians believe that Genesis 1 is not intended to present a literal description of the creation of the world. One may accept or reject these reasons, but it is at least helpful to be aware of them. Among the reasons are the following.
a. The account in Genesis 1 is significantly different in several ways from that in Genesis 2. Some argue, therefore, that it is quite possible that neither chapter intends to give us details of the time or method of the creation of the world.
b. Genesis 1 gives us the impression that God spoke and suddenly all kinds of creative activity took place. Other passages, however, refer to the hand or arm or fingers of God in creating the world. (See, for example, Psalm 8:3, 6; Psalm 19:1; Psalm 102:25; Isaiah 45:12; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 1:10.) Both the Genesis account and the other passages may be speaking poetically without intending to give us details of the method God used to bring the world into existence.
c. Genesis 1 indicates that the earth brought forth vegetation (Genesis 1:11-13) and also brought forth the animal world (Genesis 1:24-25). We all recognize that plants and trees grow out of the ground but we also know that animals are normally produced by a totally different process. Does Genesis 1:24-25 intend to teach us that the land produced both vegetation and animals? (Some believers did seem to teach that in the past and some may still do so today.)
d. Genesis 1:14-19 describes the creation of the sun and moon in some detail but provides only a very brief reference to the creation of the rest of the starry world. We realize today that the earth with its sun and moon form only a very tiny fraction of the entire universe, but Genesis 1 gives us little information concerning the creation of most of the universe.
e. Genesis 1:16-27 refers to the creation of Adam and Eve on the 6th day after the creation of the animal world on that day. However, Genesis 2:19-22 indicates that Eve was apparently created some time later after Adam became painfully aware that he did not have a “partner” as the animals did.
f. Genesis 1:1-2 seems to describe the “original” creation as a world that was dark and formless and empty. Many regard that as an unusual beginning for the creation of a perfect earth! Moreover, since there is no indication how much time existed between verse 2 and verse 3 in Genesis 1, some believe that verse 2 may possibly describe an earlier world which might have been destroyed and then re-created in some way. Some suggest that this earlier earth might have been inhabited by angels (or other beings) who were created by God but then later fell into disobedience and sin which led to the destruction of their world. There is obviously no definite proof of this, but we do know that the angelic world was created before the human world and Satan fell into sin before Adam and Eve were created. The first three verses of Genesis do therefore seem to provide room for various interpretations of the creation account.
g. Genesis 1 is written in a poetic form which has a unique structure not found in Genesis 2. Since most people recognize that poetry in the Bible (such as that found in the books of Psalms and Proverbs) is often not interpreted literally, some people argue that Genesis 1 should not be interpreted literally either. These are some of the reasons why some Christians teach that the account of Genesis 1:2-31
is not intended to represent a complete or literal account of God’s work of creation in the beginning. One may reject those arguments, but it is helpful to be aware of them when making judgments concerning the manner and length of the creation process.
4. Since God told Adam and Eve to rule over the earth and all he had made, what are some of the implications of that for our lives today?
It is important for Christians to promote those activities which make the best possible use of the earth’s resources. We should not disregard or take lightly any activities which unnecessarily spoil the earth or waste any of its resources. Neither should we carelessly pollute the atmosphere or our streams, lakes, and rivers. We should also protect the animal world from careless and thoughtless destruction. Though believers value the spiritual dimensions of life over the material ones, we recognize that we have to make the best possible use of all that the Lord has entrusted to us. Christians should not thoughtlessly use the earth’s resources in order to promote the economic well-being of a few while neglecting the fact that others may be hurt in some way by what they are doing. God is not glorified when we treat his world in a way which does not honor him as the Creator and sustainer of the universe he has made. Though the earth will someday be destroyed by fire according to God’s eternal plan (2 Peter 3:10-12), this does not give us the right to treat God’s creation without appropriate care and concern.
5. What are some of the practical implications of the fact that God created man and woman in his image?
In some parts of the world women are still regarded as “second class citizens.” They are considered to be less important, less valuable, and less worthy than men and are treated accordingly. They do not have the same rights or privileges that men have and often do not have equal standing with men in a court of law. In marriage they may be considered important only for giving birth to children—especially male children. Their husbands may have other wives or mistresses if they so choose and wives may be considered disposable when their husbands tire of them. Even some Christians (hopefully not many), may be so strongly influenced by their culture and upbringing that they may try to justify their belief and/or feeling that women truly are inferior to men. All of these things, however, are totally wrong and in conflict with the Bible’s teaching that men and women are both image bearers of God and should be treated accordingly. Women should be treated with respect and honor and should be given equal privileges in society and before the law. Though the Bible teaches that men should have a leadership position in marriage, this does not mean that women are less valuable or less important than men.
6. In what way did Adam and Eve “die” when they disobeyed God?
When Adam and Eve sinned, their bodies became subject to physical death and they lost the relationship of love, trust, and obedience between themselves and God which they had once enjoyed. Unless something miraculous would happen in their lives, their bodies would eventually die and they would live apart from God forever. Their hearts were no longer in tune with God, and their goals and desires were no longer God-centered. They were destined to live in a world that was cursed by God—a life of pain, suffering, and toilsome labor where physical death became the destiny of all living creatures. That does not mean that there would never be any joy or pleasure for them on earth, but they were separated from the beautiful, holy, and pure life which they had enjoyed before they sinned. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes their situation (and the situation of all people who are apart from Christ) in the following words: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Romans 5:10 describes unbelievers as “enemies of God” and Colossians 1:21 refers to them as people who are “alienated” from God. It’s important to remember, however, that God in his mercy continues to shower many blessings upon both believers and unbelievers, on those who are just and those who are not (Matthew 5:45, Acts 14:15-17). Many people are still able to enjoy times of pleasure and plenty, even though they are not worthy of these blessings and do not thank God for them. However, earthly life is often filled with sorrow and sickness, frustration and disappointment, and eventually everyone will stand before God in judgment. And then, for those who are not
in Christ, the time of joy and gladness will be completely gone forever.
7. Since God is gracious and forgiving, why should we be concerned about obeying him?
God is truly loving and gracious and is willing to forgive us when we sincerely repent of doing wrong. However, he is also a holy God who commands us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. If we live carelessly or seek first of all to fulfill our own desires rather than loving and serving God, we obviously do not love God the way we should. All sin grieves God and dishonors him. If we don’t remember that or fail to live in the light of that truth, we are putting ourselves ahead of God. If we sin carelessly and thoughtlessly, we also lose the effectiveness of any witness we may try to give to others concerning God and his salvation. As has often been stated, “Actions speak louder than words.” If we talk to others about the power and majesty and greatness of God but do not love and serve him with all our heart, our words will have very little effect and the Lord will certainly not be honored or praised.
Also, we should never forget that we must someday give an account to God of all that we think, say, or do. Those who seek to live holy and honorable lives will graciously be rewarded by a loving and merciful God. Those who profess Christ but do not live holy and honorable lives will lose the rewards they might have received.
8. In what way did Adam’s sin affect us?
According to Romans 5:12-18, Adam was our representative and the head of the entire human race. So, when Adam sinned, everyone sinned in him. All people who ever lived (except Jesus) were “in” Adam and all are affected by what he did. Romans 5:12 says: Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. And in Romans 5:19 we read: By the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners. Because Adam was the father of us all, we are all born with a sinful human nature (Psalm 51:5) and are therefore considered dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:5). Because of Adam’s sin, the entire world of nature was also negatively affected (Genesis 3:17-19), so we all now live in a world that is under the curse of God. There are still many good and beautiful and pleasant things in our world, but it is far from what it was in the beginning.
9. In what way was Adam like Jesus?
Adam was the representative of every one of his descendants. Because of his sin, we are all considered guilty before God and are born with a sinful human nature. Jesus became the new representative of all who trust him and believe in him. Jesus did what none of us could ever do for ourselves. He paid the penalty for our sins and promised that all who trust and believe in him will have the gift of eternal life! Romans 5:15-18 teaches us: For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. . . . For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
10. What does the Bible means when it says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan is the “god of this world”?
God continues to rule over the entire world and has given all power and authority in heaven and on earth to his eternal Son, Jesus Christ. According to Ephesians 1:18-22, Jesus reigns far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church. See also Matthew 28:18 where Jesus is quoted as saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” However, when Satan tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God, Satan gained a position of great authority and power in this world. Sin put humans in league with Satan and trapped them in the grip of his authority. Satan is a powerful opponent of both God and man and continues to tempt people to follow himself rather than Jesus. See, for example, 1 Peter 5:8: Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Because Satan has this power, he is called “the god of this world.” It is very important to remember, however, that Satan is not the “god” over those who belong to Jesus. Besides, even though his power is great, it is also very limited. Any authority he claims is usurped and not rightfully his. Satan can do nothing to God’s people without the permission of the real ruler of the universe, our Lord Jesus Christ. See, for example, Luke 22:31 where Satan had to ask Jesus for permission to tempt and ruin Simon Peter. Also see the story of Job where Satan could do nothing against Job or his family without God’s permission. (Job 1:6 through Job 2:10). See also the comforting and encouraging words of 1 John 4:4,15-16: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. . . . Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” We should never underestimate the power of Satan, but we should not overestimate it either. Satan is powerful compared to humans but not compared to God.