In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
As I’ve mentioned, a couple weeks ago I preached on this verse, and called it ‘the verse that divides.’ First, I wrote about who is supreme — is it God, or is it death? Next, I wrote about the source of morality, or moral standards. Today, I’d like to write about the way of salvation.
How Many Ways to God?
How often have you heard someone say, ‘I have my own beliefs,’ or, ‘There are many ways to God,’ or, ‘We all basically believe the same thing,’ or, ‘If I do the best I can, God will accept me’?
Is there more than one way to God? Can you decide what to believe and have it all come out in the end? Does it really not matter, as long as you do the best you can? Genesis 1:1, and your response to it, will answer these questions.
If God Created….
If you believe that God has created, then you believe He is the One who has set the moral standards (as noted in the second article in this series). You also (if you have a smidgeon of honesty in your being), know you’ve not matched up to His standard. (The WordPress spell-checker says ‘smidgeon’ isn’t a word but they are wrong!)
If that is the case, then it is ultimately God who has been wronged by the things we do wrong, by our sin. (Thus David, despite having wronged many people in the sin he was confessing, wrote in Psalm 51, ‘Against thee, thee only, have I sinned….’) If God is the Creator, then it is His moral standard we have broken, and He is the One to Whom we are accountable. He is the One, and the only One, who has the right to determine how that sin is to be dealt with, how we can be reconciled to Him.
Furthermore, if God is the Creator, if He has made us, then we belong to Him. No one else could possibly have the right to set up a plan of rescue for His people, who belong to Him, to be brought back into fellowship with Him. Both through His ownership of us and His role as the Creator of the moral standard, the right to save belongs to Him alone.
Therefore, if you believe in Genesis 1:1, that ‘In the beginning, God created…’ you will necessarily believe that there is only one way of salvation, the one that God Himself has established.
Of course, it is possible for people who believe in a Creator God to be sadly in error about the way of salvation which God has provided. Belief in Genesis 1:1 is not sufficient to save a person. But anyone who truly believes Genesis 1:1, with all it means, will not accept the idea that there are multiple ways to God, that you can pick and choose which religion you want and it doesn’t matter.
If God Didn’t Create….
If you don’t believe that God has created, then you may not even accept that you need to be saved. You may not believe there is a Heaven or a Hell (at least until someone you care about dies, and then most people seem to want to believe that the dead person has gone to Heaven, however pagan he may have been in life).
But many people who deny that God has created do, somehow, believe in Heaven — and their ways to get there are ‘all over the place.’ As a general rule, if you boil it down, it is based on ‘I think.’ There is no certainty, no clarity, no reason that anyone else should necessarily ‘think’ the same as them, because their method of reaching Heaven is based on their own ideas.
Ultimately, that is at the core of the different ideas with which I began this article. If a person has decided that ‘all roads lead to God,’ they have a belief which God certainly hasn’t given them, and thus they ultimately are rejecting Genesis 1:1. They’ve decided that they don’t have to learn what God says about the way to salvation, to forgiveness, to peace with God, and ultimately to Heaven.
If you hear someone talking about Heaven or a right relationship with God, and their answer starts with, ‘I think…’, they don’t really believe in Genesis 1:1. If their answer begins with, ‘God says…’, they are implicitly affirming Genesis 1:1, whether they are consistent enough to affirm explicitly or not. For if God didn’t create, then what He ‘says’ is not determinative, and if He did create, what I ‘think’ is not going to help me or anyone else. If He created, there is only one Way, the Way that He Himself has given us.
Jesus, of course, believed in Genesis 1:1 and affirmed that God created. He also believed there was only one, God-given Way. Just a few words after saying, ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions…’, He said this:
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
It’s been popular in certain circles to talk about being Gospel-focused, to say that as long as we agree on the Gospel everything is ok.
It is true that all who believe in the Gospel will meet one day in Glory, and that those who do not will be excluded. But it is foolish to ignore the fact that the Gospel itself rises or falls on Genesis 1:1, on its claims of Who God is, what He has done, and His rights as God and Saviour. Take away Genesis 1:1 and you take away the basis for believing in sin, for believing in the One who has the right and the power to save, and for believing in His one and only way to salvation.
Discard Genesis 1:1, or water it down, and you undermine the Gospel itself. You join with those who know it is foundational, and thus have attacked it incessantly. There is and always will be a division over this verse and the explanation that follows in the rest of the chapter, and those who claim to be Christians but try to bridge the gap are undercutting their own faith. On the very Gospel itself, the very means by which we come to God, Genesis 1:1 is ‘the verse that divides.’