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The Wonderful Works God Did By Christ
One of the most effervescent verses in the matchless book of Psalms is found in the 40th division, the 5th verse: "Many, 0 Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to usward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." To attempt to speak of the wonderful works of God can quickly leave us speechless, groping for adjectives and descriptives that are unknown to the human tongue. Still the human spirit, inspired by these amazing deeds, wishes to "tell of all thy wondrous works" (Ps. 26:7). We look at ourselves and realize that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:14); when we "consider thy heavens, and the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou has ordained," we do indeed wonder "what is man, that thou art mindful of him?" (Ps. 8:3-4).
He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation ... Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Ps. 107:33-36, 31).
Again, we acquiesce with Solomon that "no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end" (Eccl. 3:11).
Thus, to absolutely delineate all the wonderful works God did by Christ is to frustrate the attemptor as surely as the finite cannot comprehend the infinite. But though our understanding will be limited, we can neatly sum up the greatest works God did by Christ in the terms "old creation," and "new creation." These two matters will constitute the bulk of our labors.
God created the worlds-the "old creation"-by Christ. What a sublime doctrine that is! Who can truly fathom it? Hebrews 1:1-2 affirms that God today speaks through His Son "by whom also he made the worlds." "By whom (Christ) are all things" (I Cor. 8:6). God "created all things by Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:9). Indeed, so intricate and united were Father and Son (and Spirit) in creation--in purpose, desire, love, design, and will--that twice in Colossians 1: 16 Paul affirms that "by him (Christ) were all things created," dropping the intermediating position he held in the previous verses we cited (cf. also John 1:3). Again, we are led to marvel in the inexplicable, inexpressible intricacies of the Godhead Three. The glory of God as seen in his creation (Ps. 19: 1) is declared at all times (,day and night-v. 2) and in all locations (v. 3). One of the wonderful words God did by Christ was the creation of the universe. An awesome work, indeed!
Let us look further into the biblical doctrine of creation. All of us are surely aware that biblical creationism has been under severe attack over the past 100 years in academic circles. The godless (and ridiculous) theory of organic evolution has become firmly entrenched in scientific thought. That Bible believers ever let this happen is a tragedy that reaches to the heavens. But also within our own brotherhood there has been some obeisance done to this theory; in effect, some have esteemed scientific philosophy more than revealed Bible truth. Jack Wood Sears, at the Denton lectureship in 1983, defended the position that the Bible account of creation allows for a very ancient earth-a bone thrown to the evolutionists. John Clayton, a popular lecturer in our brotherhood, spends several pages in his book The Source attempting to prove that the world is some 4.5 billion years old (he ignores the scientific evidences that point to a young earth). He has also written that the belief "that entire creation took place within six days" is "a very shallow conclusion." (For other Clayton errors one should obtain a copy of "Evolutionary Creationism" by Wayne Jackson and Bert Thompson). Neal Buffaloe, a former elder in the church, has co-authored a booklet with an Episcopal rector in which they claim "the evidence is overwhelming that present-day organisms are the product of long ages of descent with modification" ("Creationism and Evolution," p. 2). They also assert, clearly demonstrating their liberal, Neo-orthodox views, that "the method of Biblical interpretation represented by the Creationists (i.e., literally interpreting Genesis 1-11, MKL) is not accepted among reputable Biblical scholars" (ibid., p.6). I dare say that I would seriously disagree with whom they claimed to be a "Biblical scholar." In one of the most incredibly ignorant statements I have ever read, Murray and Buffaloe quote "an authority on Hebrew writing" who states: "These chapters (Genesis 1-1 1) are creation epics, or poems. They were written as, and intended to be interpreted as, poetry. They were imaginative creations, in poetic language, and no Oriental people would attempt to interpret them any other way" (ibid., p. 8, emphasis mine, MKL). The very idea of making such an inane claim! Have these people never read the New Testament? Jesus, Paul, and all the New Testament writers--and all the Jews of that day--knew nothing of this "poetic" interpretation of Genesis 1-11. Beloved, these errors are closer to home than we think, and we need to prepare to meet them.
Let's quickly examine the basic Bible teaching on creation:
1.) Who did the creating? Of course, as we have already pointed out, God was the Creator. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." He did this by Christ (Col. 1:16, see earlier discussion).
2.) How did he do it? There are those who suggest that the Bible does not tell us how--this very neatly opens the door for evolutionary processes. "Since the Bible does not specify how God did the creating, that means he could have done it by evolution." As brother Clayton has written, "There are those who have suggested that the first verse of Genesis 1 is without a time reference, and might be a process that required very long periods of time... (God) may have spoken it (the universe) into existence... or he might have used a very long period of time and a very long series of essentially natural events and laws to accomplish his purpose. The message of Genesis is not to tell us the minute details of how God accomplished the creation" (The Source, p. 117). Thus, brother Clayton denies that the Bible tells us how God created the worlds, thus allowing for his evolutionary compromises.
Does the Bible tell us how God created the worlds? Indeed it does, and could not be plainer on the subject. "God said ... and there was" (Gen. 1:3). He spoke it into existence! "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.. . For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Ps. 33:6, 9). By the word of the Lord the heavens were of old (2 Pet. 3:5). In fact, I strongly believe God had a very distinct purpose in forming the old creation the way he did, i.e., to demonstrate from the beginning the power of his word. As we shall see later in the study, the "new creation" is formed by the word of the Lord; and we insist the Bible teaches the "old creation" was made the same way. The wonderful works God did by Christ--the old and new creations; and both, in the matchless plans of God, were to be fashioned by his word.
3.) How long did it take God to create the heavens and the earth? "In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is" (Ex. 20:1 1). Compare that forthright Bible statement with the meanderings of men that we have quoted above. Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 settle the question for those who honor the Bible above all else.
4.) How do we know this is the way God did it? By faith-that decisive element without which we cannot please God. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God" (Heb. 11:3). This is the way God said he created all things; and for many, the question may simply boil down to who are we going to believe, God or man? Tragically, apparently some--even in our own brotherhood--have more faith in man's word than God's.
The faith we describe here is not some kind of mystical "leap in the dark" that begins where evidence leaves off. Faith, simply defined, is the acceptance of testimony. It never extends beyond the evidence. In other words, I know things by one of two ways--by sensory evidence, or by faith. The books before me, the word processor I type upon, the car which just passed my house--I know these things exist because I can see, or touch, or hear (or, in the case of other matters, smell or taste) them. So I know some things by sensory evidence. But I know other things by faith. Upon my arm I have a multi-functional, not-so-cheap Seiko watch. It does many wonderful things that frequently help me in matters relating to time. I have never seen, or touched, or heard, or had any sensory evidence regarding the person who made this watch. But I know, just as surely as I know there is a typing apparatus before me at this instant, that this watch had a watchmaker. I know by faith; multi-functional, not-so-cheap Seiko watches do not make themselves, or result from such things as chance explosions in junkyards. And thus, though I have no sensory evidence of a watchmaker, I know one existed because the evidence is right before me. So it is with our faith in God as Creator! Faith has no doubt in it--we can know that God created all things, because "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork" (Ps. 19:2). Paul declared that the Gentiles before the time of Christ "knew God," because "the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Rom. 1:20-21). God "has not left himself without witness" (Acts 14:17). Faith is knowledge, knowledge based upon some kind of testimony, whether it be written, oral, or derived from logical reasoning. Thus, there is no doubt--we know by faith--that God is the Creator of all things, and he did this "by Christ."
God makes the "new creation"--his children--by Christ. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Gal. 6:15). "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace" (Eph. 2:15). Notice how "in Christ" this "new creature" is made. Let's look at the elements of this "new creation".
1.) The old man of sin. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). In the "new creation" God did by Christ, we start with an old man of sin (Rom. 6:6), one who is lost in sin, and unable to save himself (Rom. 5:6). We were "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2: 1). But God takes that old man of sin and makes a new creature out of him. How?
2.) By mercy. "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). Christ "by the grace of God (tasted) death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)" (Eph. 2:5). This process of making a new creature out of an old one began by the marvelous grace of God; remember, we could not save ourselves (Rom. 5:6). Now, what agency does he use to accomplish this creating anew?
3.) The word of God. This all-powerful word, which we saw was the agency by which God brought the old creation into existence, is also the means by which a new creature is formed. It is God's power unto salvation (Rom. 1: 16). "Thy word hath quickened me" (Ps. 119:50). We are begotten by the gospel (I Cor. 4:15); our begettal takes place through the incorruptible seed, the word of God (I Pet. 1:23). Indeed, what this powerful, living (Heb. 4:12) word can accomplish can hardly be listed. The mighty scriptures set us free from sin (Jno. 8:32), purify our souls (I Pet. 1:22), save us (Jas. 1:21), beget us (I Cor. 4:15), make us complete, ready for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17), fit us for glory (Acts 20:32), lead us through this life and guide us to heaven (Ps. 119:105; 73:24), comfort us (I Thes. 4:18), strengthen us (Ps. 119:28), keep us from sin (Ps. 119:11, 37:31; 17:4), cleanse the way of youth (Ps. 119:9), make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:14-15; Ps. 19:7), give us peace (Ps. 1 19:165), make us alive (Ps. 119:50), are spiritual and life-giving (Jno. 6:63), make us clean (Jno. 15:3), and on and on we could go. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" (Ps. 19:7). What else, then, do we need? Do we need miracles today, or the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, or some such, if the scriptures make us perfect, and furnish unto every good work? Oh, beloved, how we need to get back to teaching the all-sufficiency of the Word of God! Let those who believe in some direct action of the Holy Spirit on the heart or mind of man answer this one question: What can the direct action of the Spirit do that the word of God cannot? Yea, verily, when we meditate on the law of the Lord day and night (Ps. 1:2), we will have sufficient knowledge and guidance to be led to the streets of gold. The inward man (2 Cor. 4:16)--that new creature in Christ--is renewed day by day "in knowledge" (Col. 3:10).
4.) The blood of Christ. Let us never forget that without that fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins, there would be no new creation. The blood of Christ can "purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Heb. 9:14). That old man of sin is washed in the Lamb's blood (Rev. 1:5) and thus receives the remission of sins (Mt. 26:28).
Tell me the story of Jesus,If we could get more of the Lord's people to write the bloodstained story of Jesus on their hearts, we could take the gospel to the entire world in less than a generation and never again be bothered by false teaching in the body. Commitment to Christ is needed; not just to the church or to baptism, but to a Savior that made it all possible by his death and blood. May our hearts somehow be touched by the awesome sacrifice of our beloved Lord.
"And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints" (Rev. 15:3). We cannot look around us, we cannot open our Bibles, without being reminded of the wonderful works God did by Christ. We hope our study will help all who read it to have a greater appreciation for God's wonderful works. "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord" (Ps. 150:6).