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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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Raise your hand if any of the following have crossed your mind: “How should we take Genesis? Hasn’t our modern thinking proven that it’s more myth than reality? Are we really supposed to believe the bits about the garden, the serpent, the animals, and the flood? It makes for great bedtime stories, but can’t we move past these things?”
The rest of this article isn’t devoted to tracking down the perfect answer to each of these questions. Rather, its purpose is to show that a literal understanding of the first few chapters in Genesis is absolutely foundational to the Christian faith.
In fact, as we will see, a belief in Christ and Christianity requires our complete trust in Genesis being an actual account, because every significant figure of the Christian faith referred to and taught Genesis as being literal in nature . . . beginning with Jesus.
The life of Christ is recorded for us in the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Collectively, Jesus made ten separate references to the first few chapters in Genesis, but let’s just take one from each of the Gospel accounts.
In Matthew, Jesus is being questioned by the religious leaders of His day about the nature of divorce. In response, He points them back to the nature of marriage in Genesis 1:27, saying, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’” (Matthew 19:4 NKJV).
When Jesus shares with His disciples about the end of the age, He makes a direct reference to God’s act of creation in Genesis 1:1, stating, “In those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time” (Mark 13:19 NKJV).
Luke’s Gospel records Christ’s prophetic pronouncement of what things will be like when He returns. He compares it to Noah’s flood as a historical point of reference in Genesis 7:10-23 when He says, “They were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27 NKJV).
In John, Jesus compares the religious rulers bent on slandering Him to the devil. As He does so, He points to the devil’s agenda from the very beginning, a call back to his attack on Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:4, saying to them, “You are of your father the devil . . . He was a murderer from the beginning . . .” (John 8:44 NKJV).
Jesus trusted the earliest chapters of Genesis as factual. And as the Son of God, if His testimony were all we had, it would be enough. But it doesn’t end with Him . . .
When Luke wrote his record of Christ’s life, he knew he needed to document who Jesus was, and where He came from was a big part of that. So, Luke composes a genealogy establishing Christ’s physical connection to humanity using the genealogy in Genesis 5: “The son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:36–38 NKJV).
Luke, a doctor by trade, viewed Genesis as true, using it to validate his thesis on Jesus. But he didn’t stop there . . .
When Luke authored the sequel to his Gospel, the Book of Acts, he included two declarations affirming the creation account in Genesis 1:1, writing, “You should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them” (Acts 14:15 NKJV), and then again, saying, “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24 NKJV).
While Luke was the one who recorded these declarations, the apostle Paul was the one who uttered them; who made several more direct references to Genesis in his own writings.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul establishes that the created order has been and remains corrupted as a direct result of Genesis 3:17: “The creation was subjected to futility . . . For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:20–22 NKJV).
Elsewhere, Paul identifies the harsh reality that death entered into our human existence as the result of sin, which entered through Adam’s disobedience in Genesis 3:19, writing, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NKJV).
Paul’s Magna Carta on man’s sin and God’s salvation is based on the events of Genesis being every bit as real as the sin and death we constantly experience.
Next is the Book of Hebrews, which is unique because we can’t verify who wrote it. Many theories exist on this, but we just don’t know who the author is. We do know; however, that the author understood Genesis to be factual by quoting Genesis 2:2 regarding rest, telling us, “God rested on the seventh day from all His works” (Hebrews 4:4 NKJV).
And when he lists the amazing feats of faith from the past, he pulls from Genesis 4:3–5, 5:21–24, and 7:1 to highlight the faith of Abel, Enoch, and Noah, writing, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice . . . By faith Enoch was taken away . . . By faith Noah . . . prepared an ark . . .” (Hebrews 11:4–7 NKJV).
Between Hebrews and Revelation, we have a collection of letters known as the General Epistles. Four different authors wrote them—James, Peter, John, and Jude—and each of them connects their teachings with Genesis.
James cites Genesis 1:27 in reminding us that mankind is made in God’s likeness: “Men, who have been made in the similitude of God” (James 3:9 NKJV).
Peter references Genesis 1:6 when he remarks that the earth was formed out of water by God’s Word: “By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water” (2 Peter 3:5 NKJV).
John joins Jesus in recalling that the devil was sinning as far back as Genesis 3:4: “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning” (1 John 3:8 NKJV).
And Jude, in describing the ungodly, compares them to Cain in Genesis 4:8: “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 1:11 NKJV).
This brings us to the final book in the Bible . . . Revelation. It’s fitting since Revelation reveals the final act in God’s drama of redemption. And, although the focus is future, Revelation calls back to Genesis at least eleven times! Among them, there is a beautiful bookend where we see the Tree of Life, first mentioned in Genesis 2:9, reintroduced for all to enjoy in eternity: “That they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14 NKJV).
How should we take Genesis? Just as Jesus, Luke, Paul, and all the other fathers of our faith took it . . . as a real and reliable foundation for all that we, as Christians, believe and hope in.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.