ASSEMBLIES OF GOD LESSON 4 ADULT TEACHER UNIT 1
CREATION IN THE WHOLE BIBLE
TOPIC: SIN MARS CREATION
*MEMORY VERSE: Colossians 1:20 Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (KJV).*
Human sinfulness defiles God’s creation, but He will make it new again
THE LESSON OUTLINE
*1. Creation Defiled by Our Sin* Hosea 4:1-3; Genesis 3:17-19; Isaiah 24:5 A. Sin Impacts All Humanity
B. Sin’s Impact Includes Physical Creation
*2. Creation Suffers and Travails* Romans 8:18-21; Romans 8:22-25
A. Creation’s Painful Present
B. Creation Waits in Hope
*3. A New World Is Coming* Colossians 1:15-18: Colossians 1:19-20; 2 Peter 3:10-13
A. Creator, Sustainer, and Lord of All Things
B. Reconciler of All Things
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
1. Recognise that we live in a creation that has come under bondage from the consequences of the Fall.
2. Develop an appreciation of God’s mercy for His creation, which is subject to decay yet is given hope for redemption from sin.
3. Live as people of hope who conduct themselves as those who have been redeemed.
*INTRODUCING THE LESSON*
The creation completed by God was found to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The first humans, Adam and Eve, were given responsibility to care for that “very good” creation.
At the same time, humans were given free will to make a choice of obeying God or not obeying Him.
Adam and Eve made a wrong choice, choosing rebellion over obedience, and that choice affected all of God’s creation.
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
*Genesis 3:17.* And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.
*Isaiah 24:5.* The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have trans- gressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
*Romans 8:19.* For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
*Colossians 1:16.* For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.
18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
20. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
*2 Peter 3:11.* Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
*COMMENTARY AND APPLICATION*
*1. Creation Defiled by Our Sin*
*A. Sin Impacts All Humanity Hosea 4:1-3*
Human sinfulness defiles God’s creation.
The concept of “defilement is defined through the teachings of the Old Testament, specifically its instructions regarding temple worship.
Something or someone who was “defiled” was not fit or qualified to serve or worship in the temple because the temple was holy.
Thus, those who were defiled had to cleanse themselves according to the instructions written in the Law if they were to be allowed again to serve or worship in the temple. (See Leviticus 11-15.)
The apostle Paul made it clear that God’s judgement falls upon sinful humanity because “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT).
In the Old Testament the prophet Hosea was sent to pronounce judgement against the people of Israel (Hosea 1:4-5) because of their sin and rebellion against God. It is noteworthy that Hosea moved from denouncing the inhabitants of the land, i.e., the Israelites (4:1), for their numerous sins to a focus on the land itself, which was in mourning and languishing (4:3).
It is something of a mystery as to what is fully meant by saying that the land had to suffer for the sins of people. It may be that God’s people and their inheritance were inseparable from the covenant He made with them-a covenant that involved not only the people and nation, but also the land.
When Israel saw devastation upon the land of Promise, they would know they were out of favour with God, because it is He who established the covenant. (See Genesis 12:1-3; 15:4-6,18.)
*QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION*
How widespread is sin in this world? Can anyone be regarded as righteous in the sight of God on the basis of their own goodness?
When did Paul say sin entered the world? What also entered God’s creation at the same time? Read Romans 5:12.
*B. Sin’s Impact Includes Physical Creation Genesis 3:17-19; Isaiah 24:5* God’s judgement of sin is not restricted to the moral or spiritual effects upon humanity.
Rather the physical creation itself shares in the devastation. Isaiah again spoke to this in his denouncing of Israel:
“The earth mourns and dries up, and the land wastes away and withers. Even the greatest people on earth waste away.
The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 24:4-5, NLT).
While we some- times are rightly concerned about the physical pollution of the earth, Isaiah here was concerned about something far more enduring: its moral pollution, which has come about through the grave sinfulness of the people. Scholars note that Isaiah may well have been referring to the covenant with Noah here, which of course involved the earth itself. (See Genesis 9:16 and note the similar wording). The very face of the land is defiled, which speaks to a lack of regard for the value God has placed on the land, evidenced through this covenant.
We might better understand this as we look at Genesis, noting the curse that was brought through the sin of Adam (Genesis 3:17-19).
The ground itself would bear the effects of the fall of humanity: “The ground is cursed because of you” (verse 17, NLT).
This statement stands in sad contrast to God’s earlier declaration that the physical world He created was good. In that good creation, God had described for them a life where provision was easily obtained.
But as a result of sin, cultivation of the ground for food would require toil; humanity could no longer be sustained easily from the produce of the ground (Genesis 3:17).
Indeed, the ground would bring forth thistles to choke the crops growing from that toil.
And instead of provision coming with ease, now the ground would absorb the sweat of humanity’s brow as people strive to receive the basics for life.
Commentators note that verses 18-19 provide an important parallel. Verse 18 describes the reversal of the state of the land because of the Fall-the land would no longer be as it was intended to be.
Then, verse 19 describes a reversal in the human condition:
While we were originally created from the dust and given the breath of life, now we would die and return to that dust. Truly, the Fall was catastrophic, as it impacted all of creation in a profound way.
*QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION*
In what ways might you observe that the Fall has impacted all creation?
How can Genesis 3 help you have a better perspective on life in this world, as well as the hope we have for everlasting life in the new creation?
*2. Creation Suffers and Travails*
*A. Creation’s Painful Present Romans 8:18-21* Romans 8:18 begins a favourite passage for many believers, as it looks forward to a time when God’s people will no longer have to endure the consequences that sin wrought upon the physical world. Indeed, when sin entered the world, it resulted not only in death but suffering, not merely for humans but for all creation.
Paul used the literary technique of “personification” to make a very important point: Even creation “longs for” deliverance from this corruption of sin.
Note the verbs Paul used. Creation “is waiting eagerly” (verse 19, NLT), Creation has been “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (verse 22, NLT; note that the reference to childbirth speaks to an anticipation of renewal and transformation). Furthermore, creation was “subjected to God’s curse” and will have “glorious freedom from death and decay,” (verses 20-21, NLT).
Paul was describing a creation that was languishing under the painful conditions of sin’s consequences. Thus, creation is on a path of decay and eventual destruction, as will be studied in Lesson 6.
Note how easily Paul moved from sin’s impact on physical creation to the conditions that exist for humanity. because of the Fall: suffering under God’s judgement of sin.
Paul noted that “believers groan (verse 23). despite the fact that we have the Holy Spirit active in our lives.
Adding to our pain is the fact that these conditions seem permanent to us in our present state.
They are ongoing, “right up to the present time” (verse 22, NLT).
We must keep in mind that these conditions have appeared as a result of the bondage from which we, along with all creation, long to be delivered (verses 21-23), but from which we cannot escape.
*QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION*
If someone only has this world in its present condition as a source of hope and promise, how might that impact their lives? Read Ecclesiastes 1:2-9, noting how this passage can help answer the question.
Why do you think that the writer of Ecclesiastes, in 1:2, described the condition of this present world as “vanity” (KJV) or “completely meaningless” (NLT)?
*B. Creation Waits in Hope Romans 8:22-25*
Christians have good news: God’s redemption in and through Christ will involve the whole of His creation. In Romans 8:22-25,
Paul informed believers that incomparable glory awaits all of God’s people who find themselves in the midst of painful suffering.
God’s people are destined to reveal that glory (see verses 18-19), when they experience “glorious freedom from death and decay” (see verse 21, NLT).
Paul was undoubtedly referring to the resurrection of believers at Christ’s second coming, a promise repeated throughout his Epistles and also affirmed in places like 1 John 3:1-2.
Even now the believer has a “foretaste of future glory” through the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit (verse 23, NLT).
While we groan under painful sufferings, we do so amid great hope (verses 24-25), knowing that an appointed day of deliverance is coming which will result in the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8 also relates that creation itself anxiously awaits this transformation because it too will experience a redemption or release from the bondage brought about by sin.
At present, creation exists within a realm of futility as it continues on its irreversible course of decay.
But Paul has reminded us that this condition was brought about by God himself, who subjected it “with eager hope” (verse 20, NLT).
This indicates that the fulfilment of salvation for humanity at the end of time is linked to the destiny of creation.
Both humanity and physical creation will share in the glorious liberty and release from the conditions brought about by the curse of sin upon what God has created.
*QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION*
Give an example of a time when your hope for the future has helped with pain or loss.
*3. A New World Is Coming*
*A. Creator, Sustainer, and Lord of All Things Colossians 1:15-18*
Beyond the glorious prospect of freedom from sin’s bondage, creation shares the hope of a new creation.
Every Christian is a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV), leaving behind the old things belonging to what Paul elsewhere called “this evil world in which we live” (Galatians 1:4, NLT).
This new beginning for creation is brought about by Christ, “the firstborn of every creature (Colossians 1:15, KJV).
The Greek term translated “firstborn” likely has a twofold meaning: Jesus existed before time began, and Jesus has exalted status over His creation.
This, in turn, emphasises the point that Jesus is not among His creation. He is, in fact, the Creator of everything (verse 16); therefore, He “is supreme over all creation” (NLT).
The exaltation of Christ is very much the focus of this passage. Jesus is, after all, the “visible image of the invisible God” (verse 15, NLT).
In other words, when a person sees Christ, he or she sees God. Moreover, everything in creation owes its existence to Him.
All things in heaven and earth were created through Him and for Him (verse 16). The terms Paul chose in verse 16 make clear that the extent of Christ’s creation is universal nothing exists that does not exist by Him.
He is also the One who sustains all that He creates (verse 17). He holds it all together. Christ does not create His creation only to abandon it, but sustains and maintains what He creates.
Lastly, verses 17-18 establish Christ’s sovereignty and lordship over all creation.
His existence before all creation reaffirms that He is not dependent on any part of creation. Quite the opposite,
Christ is Lord over all creation, which is dependent on Him for its continued existence. Christ’s lordship extends over His body, the Church, which acknowledges Him as the resurrected Christ and “first in everything,” the preeminent Lord (verse 18, NLT).
As such His Sovereignty is unparalleled. He has supremacy over everything. There is perhaps no clearer affirmation of Jesus’ deity-and therefore no stronger reminder of the confidence we can have in Him.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
What does it mean to have full confidence in Jesus, and why can that confidence exist without reservation?
How does Christ’s supremacy over “all things,” including evil spiritual powers and demons give us hope for the future?
*B. Reconciler of All Things Colossians 1:19-20; 2 Peter 3:10-13*
Colossians 1:19-20 instructs us that Jesus is the reconciler of creation to its Creator.
Note that there is a close link between verses 19 and 20.
Just as God is pleased that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ, God is pleased that Christ reconciles creation unto himself. That term “reconcile” refers to something turning from an enemy to a friend.
Of course, we normally think of God reconciling lost sinners unto himself, but Paul expands upon this definition to include all of creation, things both in heaven and on earth, whether they are visible or invisible. In essence, this refers to how the disorder that has gripped creation since the Fall will be restored to a state of perfect harmony, as God desires.
The apostle Peter also described this culmination of restoration. In 2 Peter 3:10-13, the apostle described “the Day of the Lord.” In Scripture, the phrase “Day of the Lord” is often associated with judgement and calamity.
We ought not be surprised, then, by Peter’s description of a cosmic upheaval and destruction of creation (2 Peter 3:10-11a) followed by the making of “a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (verse 13, KJV). For us today, this is an important truth-but it is also a very important practical reality, as found in Peter’s question: “Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live?” (Verse 11, NLT).
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
How would you answer Peter’s question in verse 11?
Why do you think God will destroy this present world “with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up”?
*MINISTRY IN ACTION*
As you meet people who live under circumstances that reflect a fallen, sin cursed world, take time to offer them hope through word and deed.
Treat God’s creation in a way that reflects the trust we were given as stewards of creation.
Look for God’s handiwork in the world around you, including scientific discoveries.
CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP
The life we live here on earth is marked by death and destruction, a fact that might make us despair if not for Scripture’s clear testimony of hope (Romans 8:20).
As believers, our lives should be marked by hope.
No matter how bleak things look today, we know that God has a glorious plan for us, both today and in eternity.