Russell Grigg – Unfolding the Plan

Skeptics, liberals, and others sometimes claim that man’s concept of God is something which evolved, and that the Bible is merely man’s efforts to provide himself with a religious prop to explain the otherwise unexplainable or to ease the burden of life.1 However, nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible is a book from God about God, His glory, and His plan of salvation for sinful humanity.

When we read the Bible, we find that God does not tell us everything about these things all at once. He gives us successive revelations. A name for this is ‘progress of doctrine’, which simply means that we learn more about God and His dealings with us from each book, as we read through the Bible.

This concept can be likened to the raising of a blind in a dark room. Outside the sun is shining. As the blind goes up, it does not increase the amount of light emanating from the sun, but it does let more and more light into the room. Let us see how this works out with regard to four things that God tells us about Himself in Genesis, thus affirming the crucial nature of this foundational book.

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Russell Grigg – Does God have Body Parts?

Recently I was talking to a Bible Society translator and happened to mention the concept of a literal Genesis. He immediately challenged me with, ‘What about the anthropomorphisms?’

So what are anthropomorphisms? And what do they have to do with a literal Genesis?

God and human characteristics

Anthropomorphisms (from Greek ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) = man/human + μορφή (morphē) = form) are figures of speech which represent God as having human characteristics, form or personality. They are symbolic descriptions, which help to make God’s attributes, powers and activities real to us.

For example, Genesis talks about:

God speaking (e.g. Genesis 1:3). But does this mean that God has vocal cords?
God seeing (Genesis 1:4). Does God have eyes with pupils and retinas?
God walking (Genesis 3:8). Does God have legs?
God making clothes for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). Does God have hands?
God smelling a sweet savour from Noah’s sacrifice (Genesis 8:21). Does God have a nose and olfactory receptors?

If we say we take Genesis ‘literally’, doesn’t that mean insisting that these descriptions are literal, too? And if not, doesn’t this undermine our claim that Genesis is meant to be taken literally?

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Russell Grigg – What’s in a Name?: The Terms for God in Genesis 1 and 2: No Contradiction!

names-of-god-old-testament1

In Biblical times a person’s name had deep significance and was often an expression of his or her origin, character or destiny.1 There are many terms for God in the Bible, all having special meaning or significance. Even the first book, Genesis, uses different terms, for very good reasons, as we shall see.

Elohim

In Genesis chapter 1, Moses2 uses Elohim for God. This is the plural of El, which corresponds to God in English, theos in Greek and deus in Latin. Elohim means ‘the strong one’, and stresses the awesome omnipotence and power of the God who is Creator and Ruler over all of nature and the universe.

This Hebrew plural, Elohim, actually means ‘two or more’; however it does not mean ‘In the beginning gods created … ’, because it is used here (and over 2,000 times in the rest of the Old Testament) in the singular, i.e. with a singular verb (or adjective). Nor is it simply a plural of majesty, like the ‘royal we’, even though the meaning includes that God is the Supreme Ruler over all.3 Rather the use of Elohim tells us that there is something plural about God Himself. (See Does the Trinity feature in Genesis 1?)

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Russell Grigg – Pre-Adamic Man: Were there Human Beings on Earth before Adam?

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Could there have been human creatures, commonly called ‘pre-Adamites’, living on Earth before God created Adam? Many readers, no doubt, will think this a foolish question, but it is, in fact, the belief of many evangelicals. And leading ‘progressive creationist’ Hugh Ross teaches something similar when he says that “bipedal, tool-using, large-brained primates roamed Earth for hundreds of thousands (perhaps a million) years”.

Ross does not believe in biological evolution, although he accepts cosmic and geologic evolution and the evolutionary timescale. He also believes in the same general sequence of events and the same order of appearance as evolutionists. Although he believes that God made Adam from the dust, he also accepts the evolutionists’ long-age interpretation of the fossil record. But human fossils are found ‘dated’ earlier than Adam’s genealogies could possibly allow. This requires Ross to postulate the existence of creatures with human-like characteristics, but ‘spiritless’ (see Skull Wars).2,3 Ross says, “… these creatures went extinct before Adam and Eve came on the scene.”

Why did they ‘become extinct’? According to Ross, because the world was a place of death, violence and decay for hundreds of thousands/millions of years before the Curse recorded in Genesis 3:14–19. He makes the extraordinary statement: “The step-by-step approach to bipedal primate creation that we can see in the recent fossil record may reasonably reflect God’s understanding of the difficulty other life-forms would encounter in adapting to sinful humans.”

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Russell Grigg – Creation: How did God do it?

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The first chapters of Genesis leave us in no doubt whatsoever about how God created the universe. On the six successive days of creation, God spoke and what He said happened. That is to say, the means that God used to create the universe and all things in it was His Word.

The occasions of his speaking, from Genesis chapter 1:3–26 (NIV), are as follows:

Day 1. And God said, ‘Let there be light’ (verse 3).

Day 2. And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water’ (verse 6).

Day 3. And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear’ (verse 9). Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seedbearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds’ (verse 11).

Day 4. And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth’ (verses 14–15).

Day 5. And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky’ (verse 20).

Day 6. And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, wild animals, each according to its kind’ (verse 24). Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the creatures that move along the ground’ (verse 26).

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Russell Grigg – Morning has Broken … but When?

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The Creation movement has increasingly caused many to face up to the powerful, Biblical arguments for such things as:

All living things were created (about 6,000 years ago) in six literal Earth-rotation days.
There was no death, bloodshed or suffering before Adam’s Fall.
Noah’s Flood covered the whole globe, and would have laid down a vast number of fossils.

However, many of the Christians who now accept the above points are still overawed by certain arguments from astronomy for billions of years. This seems to have compelled a number of writers to come up with novel ‘interpretations’ of the Bible to try to harmonize it with the idea that there were ‘billions of years’ before the creation of living things during the six days of Creation Week.

We are not talking here about the classical ‘gap’ (or ruin-reconstruction) theory, which has long been ‘on the ropes’.1 Rather, we are addressing recent books by Christian writers trying to find room in the Bible for vast ages, who say that the sun, moon and stars were all made long before Day 1.

But what does the Bible actually say? God’s historical record in Genesis 1:1–5 reads:

‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The 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. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.’

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Russell Grigg – Should Genesis Be Taken Literally?

943Babylonian-tablet

Creationists are often accused of believing that the whole Bible should be taken literally. This is not so! Rather, the key to a correct understanding of any part of the Bible is to ascertain the intention of the author of the portion or book under discussion. This is not as difficult as it may seem, as the Bible obviously contains:

– Poetry — as in the Psalms, where the repetition or parallelism of ideas is in accordance with Hebrew ideas of poetry, without the rhyme (parallelism of sound) and metre (parallelism of time) that are important parts of traditional English poetry. This, by the way, is the reason why the Psalms can be translated into other languages and still retain most of their literary appeal and poetic piquancy, while the elements of rhyme and metre are usually lost when traditional Western poetry is translated into other languages.

– Parables — as in many of the sayings of Jesus, such as the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3–23), which Jesus Himself clearly states to be a parable and about which He gives meanings for the various items, such as the seed and the soil.

– Prophecy — as in the books of the last section of the Old Testament (Isaiah to Malachi).

– Letters — as in the New Testament epistles written by Paul, Peter, John, and others.

– Biography — as in the Gospels.

– Autobiography/testimony — as in the book of Acts where the author, Luke, after narrating the Apostle Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus as a historical fact (Acts 9:1–19), then describes two further occasions when Paul included this conversion experience as part of his own personal testimony (Acts 22:1–21; 26:1–22).

– Authentic historical facts — as in the books of 1 and 2 Kings, etc.

So the author’s intention with respect to any book of the Bible is usually quite clear from the style and the content. Who then was the author of Genesis, and what intention is revealed by his style and the content of what he wrote?

The Lord Jesus Himself and the Gospel writers said that the Law was given by Moses (Mark 10:3; Luke 24:27; John 1:17), and the uniform tradition of the Jewish scribes and early Christian fathers, and the conclusion of conservative scholars to the present day, is that Genesis was written by Moses. This does not preclude the possibility that Moses had access to patriarchal records, preserved by being written on clay tablets and handed down from father to son via the line of Adam–Seth–Noah–Shem–Abraham–Isaac–Jacob, etc., as there are 11 verses in Genesis which read, ‘These are the generations [Hebrew: toledoth = ‘origins’ or by extension ‘record of the origins’] of … .’1 As these statements all come after the events they describe, and the events recorded in each division all took place before rather than after the death of the individuals so named, they may very well be subscripts or closing signatures, i.e. colophons, rather than superscripts or headings. If this is so, the most likely explanation of them is that Adam, Noah, Shem, and the others each wrote down an account of the events which occurred in his lifetime, and Moses, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, selected and compiled these, along with his own comments, into the book we now know as Genesis2 (see also Did Moses really write Genesis?).

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Russell Grigg – The Importance of the Resurrection of Christ to our Salvation

The central teaching of Christianity is that our sins are forgiven by the death of Christ—indeed, we can only be saved by trusting in His sacrifice. This is taught all over the New Testament. For example, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law be becoming a curse for us … ” (Galatians 3:13); cf. Romans 5:6; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 2:24. But someone might ask why the Resurrection was necessary; didn’t Christ actually pay for our sins by dying? Was some part of our forgiveness left undone while He was still in the tomb, but then completed when He was resurrected?1

Scripture should be interpreted by Scripture

A first principle in understanding the Bible is that Scripture should be interpreted by Scripture. This means that any verse on the death of Christ should be interpreted in the light of all the other verses on the subject, including those that connect His death and Resurrection.

Paul gives us a definition of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, with two main points:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures and was buried (thereby confirming that He was undeniably dead).
He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Our salvation therefore depends on both of these facts, which we can call the anthropocentric or ‘man-ward’ aspect and the theocentric or ‘God-ward’ aspect of the Gospel. All the verses about salvation in the New Testament fit one or other of these aspects, or both. Those verses that cover only one aspect are complementary rather than contradictory to the others.

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Russell Grigg – Dawkins’ Dilemma: How God Forgives Sin

In The God Delusion, author Richard Dawkins asks: “If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment … ?”

The answer depends on three things: What is sin? Why does God oppose it? How can God justly forgive it?

Note: Dawkins begins with the axiom2 that God does not exist. We shall begin with the axiom that God does exist and the Bible is His written Word.

1. What is sin?

When God created Adam and Eve, He made human beings who were not only dependent on Him for existence and life, but who He intended to enjoy a relationship with Him of sharing in His life and love. Sin, in essence, is the desire of mankind to be free from this dependence on God, and indeed from any relationship with God at all.

When Satan tempted Eve to disobey God, the ‘bait’ he used was the assertion “you will be like God”. Thus, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had forbidden them, they were defying God, repudiating His authority over them, and elevating their own wills above God’s will.

Sin does not primarily refer to isolated acts (sins), for they are only the outworking of human self-will. It refers primarily to the rebellion of men and women against God, which may range all the way from careless indifference to the hell-bent hostility of which Dawkins’ posturing is an extreme example. Since sin is defined by this opposition to God and his standards, if God doesn’t exist, then the concept of sin becomes meaningless.

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