Did Jesus Treat Creation As Fact In The Modern Sense?
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Many modern church leaders claim that our ideas about fact, history, and science are modern. They say that before a few hundred years ago, the modern idea of what a fact is did not exist. From here, they go on to say that when the Bible talks about something, it is spiritually true, but not true fact or history in the modern sense. So, they say, in a sense God did create the world, but He did so by evolution. They maintain that all Genesis is trying to tell us is that “God did it”; Genesis doesn’t intend to offer factual details as to how it was done.
1. While this is a very clever use of language, many believers sense that this is not an honest position. In this study we will look at how Jesus and the Apostles treated the Genesis creation account. Did they treat it as “spiritually” true, but not true in our modern sense of the word “fact” or “history”?
Consider, first of all, Jesus’ method of argument in Matthew 19:1-9. Is marriage a “factual” situation of life, or something less than an actual event in history? If marriage is an actual event with which people must live, would Jesus’ argument from a “mythical” event depicting the origin of marriage hold any water?
How many references out of Genesis does Jesus cite here? Which are they? How can you tell by the reaction of the Pharisees that they considered Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as actual, factual, historical event?
2. Verses 7 & 8 add weight to our argument that Jesus considered Genesis more than myth with spiritual application. How so? Do the Pharisees contest the historicity of this example? How does this whole incident relate to Jesus’ understanding of the historicity of Adam and Eve and their life as described in Genesis?
Could you use this incident to counter the claim that Genesis is not factual in the modern sense? How does Jesus’ response to the Pharisees give you a clue as to how you could use this?
3. Take a look at Matthew 24:36-44. After reading these verses as context, focus your attention on verses 38 and 39. What event is Jesus here recalling? Where is it found in Scripture? What point is Jesus teaching here?
Now, if Jesus’ physical return is to be a historical event, would it make any sense for Him to refer to what was considered a myth with religious meaning? How does Jesus’ example here support the historicity of Noah’s Flood as a judgment upon sinful man?
In verse 37 Jesus says, “As it was...so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” If the Flood at the time of Noah was not an actual, factual event in history (in our modern sense), what can we conclude that Jesus is saying about His Return?
Likewise, those who would say that Genesis is not historical fact in the modern sense of the term, also make the same claim about Christ’s Resurrection. And they defend themselves by saying that the Apostles did not understand factuality and proof the way we do today.
4. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-58. This is a long section but it has a lot in it. Let's focus first on verses 1-8. What is the subject?
Starting in verse 5, Paul begins to offer proof for the claims he made in verses 1-4. What kind of proof does he offer the Corinthians? How many witnesses to the raised Savior does he number? Is Paul the only witness? Look at verse 7. What could a doubter in the Corinthian congregation do if he doubted Paul?
In what settings is this same kind of proof used today? Is it used to establish that something did, in fact, actually happen? Does Paul mean to suggest that if you had a video camera at the tomb when Jesus rose from the dead, you could have actually recorded the Resurrection (provided God allowed the camera to operate)? Does Paul mean to say that Jesus rose from the dead, hair, teeth, bones and all?
5. As you read through 1 Corinthians 15 you will find other statements by Paul which indicate that he understands fact and history in the same way we do today. In verses 12 to 15 Paul argues from yet another tack. What elements of his argument here support the factuality, in the modern sense, of Jesus’ Resurrection? Find other examples in this chapter.
How many times does Paul's argumentation also bring Genesis in as factual history? List the verses and describe what happens to Paul’s argument for Christ's resurrection if Adam was not a historical person.
Close this Bible study by making 1 Corinthians 15:53-57 your own prayer of request, praise and thanksgiving to God.
Photo: Courtesy of George Bannister. (CC BY 2.0)
Copyright © 1987 Bible Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz. Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 839 Foley, MN 56329 800-422-4253 www.creationmoments.com