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Jun 11, 2017

Passage: Genesis 1:1-3

Preacher: Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa

Category: Sunday, Pentecost


Text: “1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the book of Genesis. The importance especially applies to Genesis chapter 1, and even more so in the opening words that we have before us in verses 1-3. Not only are we given an account of our origins, but God introduces Himself.

He is God. “In the beginning, God created…” (emphasis mine).  Who created? God did. And “God” in the English here is from the original Elohim. It is a fascinating word for “God,” because among other things such as signifying that God is strong and mighty (indeed omnipotent), it is a plural noun. Let me be as clear as I can be: God’s Word teaches that God is one; there is only One True God, and at the same time the one true God possesses a kind of plurality within Himself.

The Word of God starts off with God introducing Himself: I am the ONE TRUE GOD who creates; who was here before anything else existed AND I have PLURALITY within myself.

Don’t let what I’m saying here become a matter of trivia, because this oneness and plurality thing is a matter of being able to know God.

By way of analogy – and certainly in a different sense – you are one and plural too. But if you were not, then I could not know you and you could not know me. It would be impossible for us to have a relationship.

There is only one you, and yet at the same time, you are body and spirit, or we might go a little further and somewhat legitimately say that you are also body, mind and spirit. We can speak intelligibly about the one you in the sense of two or in the sense of three (your being dichotomous or trichotomous doesn’t mean that there are two you’s or three you’s). There is still only one you, but if there was no plurality in you, then how could we relate?

I need to see you. But I can only see your body. I am unable to see your mind. And yet I also need to communicate intelligibly. I need to relate to your mind – which is unseen, but quite real – and especially in this holy place, if I am to worship with you as my brother and sister in Christ, then I need to know something about your spirit. And I do because I see your conduct and hear your confession. You express faith. Your spirit is made evident in many ways. So you see, you are most certainly one and within yourself, you are more than one. At the same time! And if this were not true, then I could not know you. It would be impossible for me to know you. You might exist, but if you did without being one and plural at the same time, you might only exist for yourself and no one else would be aware of you.

So Genesis 1:1-3 is not about trivia. It is not doctrine for the sake doctrine. It is not for us to sound religious. It has stupendous importance! God makes Himself KNOWN! By revealing Himself in the way that He reveals Himself, you can know Him. And He is making it clear: He wants to be known. He is introducing Himself to you, so that you can know the Creator of the heavens and the earth! Talk about an amazing gift! Talk about a superabundant blessing!

But this is where we get hung up, because in our sin, we don’t want to know Him! If you know someone, really know someone, then you are brought into relationship with that person. You can’t know someone, and not care about them. Or if you get to know someone and don’t like them, you will instinctively back away from that relationship. But if you stay in that relationship, then you’re saying, “I care!” You’re saying, “You are important to me!”

And if you invest in that relationship, and therefore care, then you don’t ignore that person. If you are in relationship, then that person becomes important: you open-up; you serve; you love; you share life. But if you’re trying to avoid these things, then you avoid getting to know the person; you avoid relationship.

And in sin, that’s what we do with God. O don’t get me wrong, we try to console ourselves and rationalize: “I can still believe in God!” But can you? Can you really know Him when you ignore what and who God really is? At the end of the day, we either know God in His Oneness and in His Plurality, or we don’t know Him at all!

So how does He make Himself known in Genesis 1:1-3? Well, I’ve already mentioned the name-title Elohim. And we believe, teach, and confess that the Father is Almighty. There are different words translated into English as “create,” or “form,” or “fashion,” but here in the opening of Genesis is the special word ‘bara. When this particular word is used, God is always the subject. God is the only One who can create this way. He can create (and does create) out of nothing. Talk about Almighty!

And this messes with us. If God is this almighty (absolutely almighty), then we are accountable to Him. We can try to ignore Him all we want, but if we do, we are only hurting ourselves. If we ignore or live against the very source of our life -- the One who in almighty power keeps us alive -- then we are living in an insane way. Instead, God invites us to know this about Him – that He is Almighty – so that we would have great solace and relief. This One who is THE God is also MY God! I can delight in Him, because He loves me (He has revealed Himself to me) and when I am in need, nothing is too hard for Him to handle. I can run to Him and He has power to save me. I can bring my burdens to Him, and it is not too hard for Him to grant relief. He is Almighty and because He is also loving and merciful (as the Scriptures in their totality reveal), then His Almighty power translates into help for me in time of need (which is every, single day)!

But all of this would only be theoretical if God didn’t come to His creation. So here He is in Genesis 1 conducting His amazing out of nothing creation, and it is a personal creating. He’s there! Note what the word says: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” He is not the God from afar. He refuses to be the detached God. He hates the idea of deism: the idea that He just created and then stepped away; the concept that He got the ball rolling and then excused Himself. No, He is not the God who is from afar! He is closer to you than you are to yourself. He is for you, above you, around you, by your side; He is in you. He “hovers” – He is intimately around His creation – and He interacts with it. The Holy Spirit does not comfort from an executive office. He comes into your life and makes your very body His temple. He is so close to you that He prays through you (Ro 8). This hovering is a hovering that means you are His invaluable creation; a work of art; and you receive personal attending to!

But how can this be? How can He do this? Or perhaps better asked, “Why would He do this?” “Look at me! I’m a sinner! I don’t deserve such love, counsel and comfort! Do I really want God to be so close? My instinct is to run away and hide from Him just like my first parents did in the Garden of Eden!”

The Lord knows how weak and how avoidant we are, so He reveals what is most comforting: He still speaks to us. Think about how significant this is. When there is a rift in a relationship, you might hear someone report the situation by using the words, “They are not speaking to each other.” Not to speak to another is a banner that indicates that the relationship is in trouble. But if God chooses to speak to you, it must be that He loves you. It must be that He is not holding anything against you! And even though your sin caused a rift, God chooses to speak to you anyway and among other things says that He forgives you! His Word makes His disposition and attitude towards you KNOWN! And it’s all good!

In Genesis 1:3, the Word of God says, “And God SAID…(emphasis mine).” God gives His Word. He speaks. And His Word is not recorded for His sake, but for ours. The true God, the Almighty God, the God who gets close to us, speaks to us; He gives His Word to us! 

I was talking to someone recently I had never met who was attending a special service for one of our member families. We were chatting after the service was over. We got on the topic of the importance of having faith, but his idea of faith was without the Word. Faith was blind faith, a leap of faith, the subjective hope that as we step out that we might be right after all (underline the word “might”). We take the step of “faith” (again, what he called faith) and hope that just maybe heaven is real. My witness to him was to get back to Jesus. Why go to Jesus in such a conversation? Well, for one, there is nowhere else to go! Jesus makes faith solid. Jesus guarantees the promises of faith! He went through death for us and in Him, we see what happens next! Heaven! And then resurrection! This is not speculative! This is not a mere subjective “hope,” it is what God has prepared for us in Christ, the Resurrection and the Life! And this same Jesus speaks to us!

It is one thing to have the Spirit intimately close, but it is another thing for God to get as real as we are. There is no relationship without communication. And quality relationship, the best relationships, practice great communication. We tend to (take care of) how we speak and we tend to (take care of) how we listen. These are important! Traci knows how to encourage me. She speaks and I find strength, encouragement, and comfort in her words, but she also listens and she hears my soul’s complaint, but also the things in my life that represent my joy. The speaking and listening of words establishes relationship!

But God IS communication. God IS speech. God IS Word. He speaks. He says. And with real words He reaches our ears, our hearts and our minds. His Word enters us. His Word becomes a part of us. His Word is in us! But is His Word really relatable? Is it a Word for us?

The answer is, “Beyond a shadow of a doubt, YES!” Because this Word took our flesh and became God with us. Jesus totally and utterly relates to you and to me! He knows. He gets it! Because God the Word became one of us! Our Almighty Creator – who creates out of nothing – also became our brother! So God’s Word in Hebrews 4 says, “15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (vv 15-16).”

This great Word of comfort from Hebrews can be and is stated because God connects to us through His Word, through Jesus Christ. And the Word of Christ gives us faith; and the real body and blood of Christ keeps us strong; and the constant return to our baptism by confessing our sin and confessing our forgiveness keeps us washed and keeps us clean.

Because of how God has revealed Himself, we can really know: our Father who is Almighty gives us all we need for this body and life; our Savior Jesus makes God real – in the flesh; and in His Word -- and the Holy Spirit means that God is with us wherever we go, keeping us in Christ, and keeping our faith alive! We know Elohim! We know Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to know God this way (in the way He has revealed Himself to be truly known) means that you are known, you are loved, and you are forgiven, filled with life eternal and kept in His grace! Think of it, God knows you and you know Him! This is why we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday!