“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
In his 1971 book The Church Before the Watching World, Francis Schaeffer emphasizes that Christianity begins not with the universe or life or mankind, but with God. The opening words of the Bible say, “In the beginning God created …”.
Everything follows from the fundamental reality that God exists is the Creator of all things. God is the author of the physical realm and the laws that govern it, and God is also the author of the spiritual realm and the laws that govern it. The universe operates according to the laws of physics because that is the way God designed it to operate.
Genesis tells us that God created biological life on planet earth. This makes perfect sense. It would be irrational (and quite unscientific) to suggest that the inorganic matter of the physical universe somehow produced organic matter. Nowhere in nature do we see non-life producing life. Science (and common sense) tell us that only life produces life. God is “the life” that produced biological life on planet earth.
“The life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.” (1 John 1.2)
But it goes beyond simply biological life. As we mentioned earlier, the Lord created a special kind of life on earth: mankind. Genesis tells us that the distinguishing characteristic of human life is that mankind is endowed with unique characteristics found in the nature of God himself, and that the life that God has given us is intentionally designed for God to fulfill his purpose in and through mankind.
The Lord created man with physical characteristics. We are designed to think and reason and communicate. The Lord also created man with spiritual characteristics. We are designed to have a sense of purpose and significance, as well as a conscience and awareness of moral standards. According to God’s design, therefore, the true nature of human life is an amazing combination of the spiritual and the physical.
To limit human life to only the physical is a distortion of man’s true nature. Likewise, to limit human life to primarily the subjective or the spiritual is also a distortion of man’s true nature.
With this in mind, read carefully the opening verses of the Gospel of John: “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 was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1.1-4)
Do you see what John is saying? The Word that he refers to is Jesus, and all things were created through him. He was with God in the very beginning, and in some incredible and inexplicable way, he actually was God. And then John says: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” This means that the Word shows us the true nature and purpose of life as God designed it to be. The Word illuminates and demonstrates what real life looks like.
A few verses later, of course, John says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” thereby demonstrating through the incarnation that human life according to God’s design is an amazing combination of the physical and the spiritual.
The message is that Jesus reveals the nature of true life. If you want fulfillment, if you want a life of purpose and significance, do not look to rationalism or subjectivism. Those are distortions of life. If you want true life — that is, the life for which you were created — look to Jesus.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1.1-3)