Creation and the Cross—What’s the Connection?

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If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (John 3:12)

I have to be honest: even after close to 20 years of crisscrossing my home country of Canada (and sometimes internationally), speaking about the importance of Genesis 1–11 and biblical authority, it always amazes me when I meet a fellow believer that downplays the topic as irrelevant to the gospel. And after dialoguing with literally hundreds of people regarding these issues, if you were able to see the words in an imaginary word balloon next to my head when I hear these types of comments, you’d likely see, “Oh, this person probably doesn’t share the gospel very often” pop up.

Now why do I think that? I’ve found personally and discussed with many people that do outreach and evangelism that if you attempt to share the gospel with people in Western world countries, the creation/evolution issue almost always comes up! So how can it be irrelevant to the gospel?

A Typical Upbringing

You see, unlike many Christians I’ve met, I did not grow up going to church, reading the Bible, or going to a youth group. Like the majority in Canada, my parents weren’t Christians, so by the time I was 15, I had a very atheistic mindset as I’d bought into the whole evolutionary story I’d learned in all of the state-run schools I’d attended. I figured I already had an answer to life’s big questions as to where we came from (evolution over millions of years) and where we were going when we die (nowhere), so would brush off what I considered to be “religious” people’s attempts to engage me in conversation about God or the Bible very quickly.

I could easily see that if (what I considered at the time to be) science could explain our existence, then there was no need for belief in God. Or, if whatever God there might be used evolution to “create,” then you couldn’t trust the Bible because it talked about Adam and Eve as the first people, when I “knew” science had shown we evolved from ape-like ancestors. The Bible didn’t mention dinosaurs either, and I absolutely loved dinosaurs as a kid. I can remember saving up all of my money so I could go to the local Giant Tiger store and buy dinosaur model kits. I’d spend hours assembling T. rex and Triceratops models to re-enact the awesome battles that must have occurred all those many millions of years ago during the “land before time.”

Every comic book I read, every movie I saw, and all of my textbooks confirmed the story of evolution everywhere I looked. And by my early twenties, I honestly considered Christians to be pretty simple-minded people who didn’t really understand science at all. And even though I’d never read more than a few lines from the Bible, I frequently used issues regarding Genesis I’d picked up here and there to deny belief in God. When a Christian wanted to share Jesus with me, I would simply ask them a few questions, and when they couldn’t give reasonable answers, I simply wouldn’t listen any further.

Example:

Q: “You believe the Bible?”

A: “Yes!”

Q: “So you believe some guy put two of every animal on a big boat, and there are millions of animals in the world?”

A: “Uhhh . . .”

Or,

Q: “So you believe the Bible?”

A: “Yes!”

Q: “You believe some lady talked to a snake?”

A: “Uhhh . . .”

Most of the time the person had no reasonable answer. But occasionally they would try to tell me that I shouldn’t take the Bible as plainly written or tried convincing me what I was referring to didn’t necessarily mean what it plainly said.

Example:

Q: “So you believe some guy put two of every animal on a big boat, and there are millions of animals in the world?”

A: “Oh well see this story of a great flood is really just an illustration about God’s judgement, not a real event.”

Q: “So this story over here about the dead guy coming back to life is probably just an “illustration” too, right?”

A: “Uhhh . . .”

Either way, their answers seemed illogical to me, and it shut them down, which is all I really wanted anyway. Logically if there were no reasonable defense for the Bible or if it could be reinterpreted to mean whatever you wanted it to mean, why should any portion of it be considered authoritative? This helped justify my sin and disbelief. The reality of hell and the account of Jesus’ death and resurrection seemed implausible because of my view regarding the events in Genesis, which Jesus himself often quoted as authoritative.

The First to Present Their Case Seems Right . . .

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17)

I had always considered evolution to be a scientific truth, and it wasn’t until I heard someone challenge my beliefs about evolution and put me on defense that I was even willing to consider the truth claims of the Bible. When I had someone able to pick evolution apart in an intelligent manner and force me to consider what I had accepted uncritically, I found myself reconsidering what I had always taken for granted (evolution) and believed that God existed. I eventually came to realize that if evolution weren’t true, God must be real, the Bible is trustworthy, and what it says about heaven and hell are also true. I came to put my faith in Christ as my Savior. It was just as Hebrews 11:6 says;

[W]ithout faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

The Gospel Explained to Me

Of course, it is not through apologetics that people are saved, but by the preaching of the gospel. My conversion occurred when I was listening to a man that I knew casually from business speaking at a Sunday service I had been invited to. I respected him as he was quite intelligent: he had a background in medicine and had read On the Origin of Species, Darwin’s book on evolution. I had heard him a year previously where he had done a fine job of showing major flaws in the story of evolution, but I was quite skeptical and had a hard heart. But there is often a period of cultivating the stony ground of people’s hearts before the seed of the gospel takes root, and over the course of the next year, my mind was more open to the things of God.

As I sat listening, he touched on apologetic arguments once again, but also spoke about God’s law, and how we are all guilty of breaking it. I truly felt condemnation come over me as he talked about lying, stealing, adultery in your heart, etc. I sat there admitting to myself that even though I didn’t want others to lie to me, and thought lying was wrong, I had lied countless times. Even though I professed stealing was wrong and got angry if others stole from me, I had stolen things as well. He explained that just like if you are caught breaking the law in society, you will receive a just punishment, so will God justly punish everyone that has freely broken his laws as well. And the righteous punishment against the law of an eternal God is eternal punishment, separated from him, in hell.

The Hidden Camera

I was scared, my palms were sweaty, and I felt awful because I knew he was describing my condition before God: guilty! But then he explained the gospel with a simple but profound analogy that went something like the following:

Pretend that on the day you were born, an invisible camera came into being that started recording everything you do, say, think about, etc. You know, all of those things you’ve done when no-one was around, or that you didn’t think anyone would find out about. Now suppose on the day you die, you stand in front of God in his courtroom and he says, “Hey friend, before I pass judgement on you, I want to give you a fair chance here. Why don’t we take the tape1 out of this camera that’s recorded everything you’ve done in your life, sit down on this couch here, and watch it together?”

I sat there terrified to even imagine that. Can you picture what it would be like to watch every second of your life, all of the intimate details of all of the sinful things you’ve freely chosen to do, while you were sitting down with the most holy Being imaginable? I couldn’t imagine doing that with my mom, let alone the holy God of the Bible! He continued,

Have you lied? Stolen? Cursed the name of God? Watched pornography for your lust? You know exactly what a holy and righteous Judge would have to declare for those who’ve sinned: you are worthy of hell for sinning against holy God. But if you are a Christian, at that point Jesus would walk up and say “Father, play the tape of my life instead, as a substitute, and base your judgement of this person on my life.”

And that was the first time I ever understood who Jesus was and why he had come to earth. He was the perfect, sinless Son of God who’d lived a sinless life. The scales came off of my eyes, and I understood that if God were to base his judgement of me based on Jesus’ life, he would declare me sinless!

Now this of course is an analogy about theology, not proper theology. And I’m sure many pastors and Bible teachers could surely poke holes and find fault with this example, but it was what God used to help me understand who Jesus is, why he came, died on a cross, and caused me to repent of my sin and turn and follow Jesus as my Savior.

That’s why Jesus came, was born of a virgin, died on a cross, and rose again for those who put their faith and trust in him: so that they will have eternal life. Those who don’t will pay the penalty for their sin in hell for eternity. And by the way, if you have never made the commitment to follow Jesus Christ, you need to consider this carefully. What could matter more than your eternal destiny?

As Relevant as Can Be

Think about this. In an attempt to find the best possible method of communicating the gospel to the people they will be trying to reach, missionaries will often spend several months preparing, by studying the culture they will be evangelizing. Understanding the people’s cultural background, their belief system about who they are and where they believe they come from is vital so that the missionaries can find ways of showing them how their culture fits into the biblical narrative. That way the people can understand that they are descendants of Adam, sinners that need salvation through Christ Jesus.

Now think about what the vast majority of people in the West have been taught about who and what they are, where they come from ultimately, and where they are going. The story of humanistic, evolutionary naturalism teaches people that they are evolved animals that came from some primordial ooze billions of years ago, that all life can be explained through natural causes without God, and that when they die there is nothing!

The gospel message based on the biblical narrative simply does not fit with that understanding of life. Often times people need to have the evolutionary baggage cleared away, the stony ground of naturalism broken up, and the weeds of humanism removed before they will even listen to a Christian share the message of salvation. Far from being a side issue, the message of biblical authority based on the true history in Genesis 1–11 is the foundational structure upon which the gospel message is based. Connecting the message of the cross to the truth of biblical creation is vital in today’s culture. And those who are not equipped to do so will likely continue to be mostly ineffective in gospel outreach.

Footnotes

  1. This was many years ago when VHS tapes were common. When I use the analogy today, I usually say DVD or video.

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