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In six days (1)

July 2016 | by Andy Banton

Are you concerned that the ‘c’ word is creeping into the church? Not the awful ‘c’ word (cancer) that we’re increasingly familiar with these days.

This other ‘c’ word is one we should not want anywhere near our churches, publishing houses, theological seminaries or mission agencies. I am referring to the compromise of the truth.

Compromise is totally dishonouring to the Lord and does a disservice to the cause of the gospel. The issue which Christians are increasingly guilty of compromising is that of origins.

Some Christians are keen to marry up evolution with the teaching of the Bible. But this marriage should be annulled immediately. Darwinian evolution is not in the Bible, because this scientific theory of origins is just not true.

Origins

Genesis is the foundational book of the Bible. Genesis means ‘origins’. All the major teachings of God’s Word are found there first. If the foundations are undermined, then everything is undermined (Psalm 11:3).

Well known apologist Ken Ham warns, ‘Once the door of compromise is open, even if ajar just a little, subsequent generations push the door open wider. Ultimately, this compromise has been a major contributing factor in the loss of biblical authority in our Western world’.

Genesis 1 tells us what God did at the beginning. God tells us there that he used ‘supernatural means’ to create the universe and it took just six days.

Most evangelical churches, mission agencies and theological seminaries have statements or affirmations of faith. These are written documents setting out what they believe. Virtually without exception, each of these bodies say they regard the Bible as their only and final authority.

But does that hold true when it comes to the matter of creation? Are we really willing to say, that when it comes to the creation of the world, we are governed by what the Bible says? Or, are we guilty of bowing to the authority of others, who seem to have ‘powerful’ evidence that the Bible can’t be teaching what it seems to be teaching? Do we feel forced to reinterpret the Bible, to fit with the so-called sages of science.

Loud assertions are made that the earth is ‘obviously’ billions of years old and therefore Genesis 1 just can’t be understood in a literal way, and the dating methods for rocks and fossils are the first port of call to try to prove this.

But, when examining those dating methods carefully, we discover they are based on huge assumptions that cannot be verified. There is really no certain way to date anything, unless you have eyewitness testimony, or a written record from an eyewitness. This is exactly what the Bible claims to be.

Every Christian needs to be aware that there are huge amounts of evidence available now, that changes which have taken place on this planet did not need vast ages. One example is an island off the coast of Iceland called Surtsey. It has features suggesting it has taken millions of years to evolve, but it has only been there since 1963.

Let’s remember too, that these other ‘authorities’ are fallible, fallen men and women, who don’t know everything and keep changing their minds anyway. So let us stick by the Word of the One who is infallible, infinite, all knowing, and who never changes. Here are six simple arguments to encourage us to do just that.

Mathematical argument

You may have noticed that the calculation of age of the earth regularly changes. As scientists discover that things they previously thought were simple, are actually very complex, so the amount of time needed for them to change into something even more complex, requires even more time. The latest age is around 4.6 billion years old.

So for those who want to interpret the days of creation in Genesis 1 as six gigantic periods of time that took place before man arrived on the scene, we should divide 4.6 billion into six. That gives us 766 million years to represent each day. This is known as ‘the day age theory’.

The biblical text says that on day 3 God created plants and trees (Genesis 1:11-13), so does it mean that God took 766 million years to make them? The New Testament writers tell us that the Lord Jesus turned a few loaves and fish into enough to feed over 5,000 people in an instant. Just by speaking he changed water into wine, cured people of leprosy, made the paralysed walk and raised dead people to life again.

We might rightly ask, ‘If God didn’t speak grass or trees into existence, then perhaps Christ couldn’t really do those other things either?’ If the supernatural aspects of the first book in the Bible prove to be false, perhaps all the other miracles are false too. If one isn’t true, how can anyone be certain the others are true?

A helpful little book written by Dr Robbie Gurney, is called Six day creation: does it really matter? The answer to that question is an emphatic ‘yes’, as the book clearly demonstrates.

In Genesis 1:14 it speaks of days and then years. But if days don’t mean days, and each day supposedly means 766 million years, how long is a year? Genesis 1 says that Adam was created on day 6 and Genesis 5:5 says that Adam died aged 930 years.

My wife and I have read ‘The mister men’ series of books to our four children over the years. They still sell very well today. There are characters such as Mr Strong, Mr Tickle and Mr Bump, to name just a few. There is also one called Mr Nonsense. He lives in a boat in a tree, in a place called ‘nonsense-land’, where the snow is yellow!

When days don’t mean days, and therefore years can’t mean years, we’ve joined Mr Nonsense in nonsense-land. As Joel Beeke has written, ‘If plain words can take on allegorical or alternative meanings so easily, so that they do not mean what they plainly state, how do we know what anything means?’

Some like to go to 2 Peter 3:8 and say, ‘But hang on a moment, it says there, with the Lord one day is as a thousand years’. Yes, it does say that. But you need one day to be 766 million years, not just 1,000 years — and it doesn’t say that!

Historical argument

If Genesis 1 is not history, it must lead us to ask a very serious question about what follows in the pages of Holy Scripture. Where does the biblical narrative start to be history? And who is qualified to decide? With Adam and Eve? Maybe Abraham and Isaac? Or perhaps not until Elijah and Elisha? Or as late as Ezra and Nehemiah?

Or it could be that history doesn’t start until we reach the New Testament? With Mary and Joseph then? Or even Paul and Barnabas?

Richard Dawkins said a few years ago on a Channel 4 programme called The root of all evil, ‘The moderates’ position seems to me to be fence-sitting. They half-believe in the Bible, but how do they decide which parts to believe literally and which parts are just allegorical?

To be sure, we must go back to the Bible, our ultimate authority. If we are going to receive that man’s disdain, let’s receive it for holding consistently to Scripture, not for denying parts of it.

The Bible claims to be nothing less than the infallible Word of the living God. In it we find Psalm 119. That longest of psalms extols the wonder of God’s Word. In verse 160 the psalmist says, ‘The entirety of your Word is truth’. How glad we should be about that! We can trust what it says from page one, chapter one and verse one.

But some might argue, ‘But can’t it be true and yet not be historical?’ Well, listen to the words of Zacharias who said of God, in Luke 1:70, ‘As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been since the world began’. Genesis is history from the beginning.

God never lies. It is impossible for him to do so. Neither does he ever mislead. He presents us with the facts. And the big facts of history are that God made a perfect world, just as he said. We have messed up, just as he said. He sent a Saviour, just as he said. That Saviour died in the place of others and rose again, just as he said. We must believe in him if we are to know salvation, just as he said.

To be continued

Andy Banton is general secretary of the Open-Air Mission.