How did God create the things that we now observe? This is one of those challenging biblical questions we will never be able to fully answer. We will not, simply because we are not God. Neither were we there when all things came into existence. Believing in the origin of all things is a matter of faith. No man was there. Therefore, we depend on existing evidence to make our conclusions concerning the beginning of all things. Since Christians have concluded that it is more reasonable to believe in God, they conclude that in order for God to exist, He must have the power to create. They reason, what good would God be if He could not create. Though We may not understand the nature of creation, we simply conclude that God could do the job because of the overwhelming evidence and testimony of those who experience the creative hand of God through Jesus. There are many clear statements made in the Bible concerning the creation of all things. In order not to be confused by some who do not believe in the creative power of God, there are some special statements in the Bible about creation. Anyone who would believe in the Bible, therefore, must conclude that God created all things.
A. The Bible says that what God did was create out of nothing. Psalm 33:6,9 declares that heaven and earth were created at the command of God. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (See Nehemiah 9:6). The Hebrew writer stated that God created the heavens and earth from nothing. “By faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Creation took place at the command of the word of God. That which is seen was created out of that which we do not see. The Bible’s statements concerning the creation of the worlds clearly picture the power and authority of the Creator (Isaiah 44:24; 40:28; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16,17; Revelation 4:11).
B. The Bible defines that through an act of creation God brought the worlds into existence. As mentioned earlier, the Bible clearly states that the present observable things were created out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3). There is sometimes confusion concerning the meaning of the Hebrew words bara (create), asah (made) and yatsar (form) in their reference to the work of God in creation. We must first understand that it is difficult to make a distinction in definition between these three ancient Hebrew words. It is often difficult because in different contexts all three words are used to define the creation of the things that presently exist. In Genesis 1:27 the Bible says that “God created (bara) man.” But in Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make (asah) man in our image.” And in Genesis 2:7 God formed (yatsar) man from the dust of the ground. In Genesis 1:21 God created (bara) sea-creatures and in verse 25 it says that He made (asah) the beast of the earth. Genesis 1:1 says that God bara heaven and earth, and yet Psalm 33:6 and Exodus 20:11 state that He asah the heavens. Regardless of our lack of full understanding concerning the use of Hebrew words in reference to creation, the fact remains that the Bible in clearly understood texts affirms that God is the creator of all things. The inspired writers of the New Testament also used different Greek works to refer to the creative work of God. In the Greek New Testament, Hebrews 11:3 says that things were made (gegonenai). However, Colossians 1:16 says that things were created (ektistha) (See Revelation 10:6). Here again two different words are used to describe the creation of things from that which did not exist. There is no clear definition in Hebrew dictionaries for any distinction between the words bara, asah and yatsar. What we can understand from the use of man’s words to explain the creation work of God is that the inspired writers wanted us to know that creation took place, regardless of the inadequacies of our words to explain it. We know that God did create out of nothing the things that now exist. The statement in Hebrews 11:3 clearly states this fact, and thus, settles the matter from a biblical perspective. The Hebrew writer stated, “... so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible .... (Author Unknown)
Tonk Talk by Mark T. Tonkery
It was a dark day in the history of Israel. Upon their first entrance into the promised land as a nation, God told Israel to conquer Jericho by marching around the city. On the seventh day of marching around the city as God instructed, the walls of Jericho came down (Josh. 6:15-21). God also commanded that Israel not take anything from the city, only Rahab and her family were to be rescued, everything else, the silver, gold, bronze, and iron was considered sacred to the Lord and must go into the Lord’s treasury (Josh. 6:19). Later in Joshua chapter seven, we find out that Achan disobeyed the Lord and stole several of the items from Jericho. Joshua found out about the stolen items when his army was defeated by the city of Ai, and it was later determined that Achan had stolen from the remains of Jericho. Joshua and all of Israel took Achan, the items he stole, his family, and all his possessions to the Valley of Achor (Josh. 7:24). There all of Israel stoned Achan, and his family and then burned them and heaped up a large pile of rocks where their remains lay (Josh. 7:25-26).
The place where Achan and his family were stoned and burned was called “the Valley of Achor” which means the “valley of trouble or disaster.” This area would be known for generations of Israelites as a place of disgrace, dishonor, and punishment. The pile of rocks would have been a perpetual reminder to all future generations that one must obey the Lord or there would be consequences for disobedience.
One can only imagine what it must have been like to pass by the Valley of Achor. Maybe it was like the time I went along with the church group from South Point, Ohio and we visited the old prison in Moundsville, West Virginia. As we went on the tour and saw the prison cells and then passed by the electric chair, there was a sickening feeling that came over me, even a type of fear. I was horror-struck at what I saw and heard as the tour guide shared stories about the people who were imprisoned and even died there. If you have ever visited that place, you know what I am talking about. The Valley of Achor was such a place.
Scripture does not say much about the Valley of Achor until we come to Hosea 2:15. In Hosea chapter two God declares that he is going to bring punishment upon Israel for her wickedness and unfaithfulness but after His punishment, He is going to restore Israel. Notice, Hos. 2:15, “And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt” (ESV).
This place of disaster is now going to be a “door of hope.” It is a reminder that we each have our own “Valley of Achor.” We each have had those times in our life where we have had terrible and disastrous things happen because of our poor choices and sin. The good news is that we do not have to live there, through Jesus Christ we can have a new beginning and a new start. Jesus is our “door of hope.”
Jesus states in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” Only Jesus Christ can offer the troubled in our world the “door of hope.”
Through Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection our troubled past can be forgiven, and we can have a new beginning through Him. When we confess Christ as the Son of God (Mt. 10:32), repent of our sins, and put Christ on in baptism (Acts 2:38), we enter the door of hope in Christ. Christ waits for the lost to enter the “door of hope.” Are you willing to enter through it? Think about it!
I have heard many people say how costly and expensive Christmas is. Many people get themselves in such a financial condition, buying gifts, hosting parties, and such that they will be paying on their credit cards bills for the next five months. So I guess Christmas is costly.
But in our rush to buy presents and spend money, think about how costly it was for Jesus to come to this earth:
- It cost Joseph the embarrassment and rumors that his soon-to-be wife was pregnant with a child that was not his.
- It cost Mary her comfort to have her Son born in a stable and to lay him in a manger.
- It cost Mary and Joseph the benefits of home during a long period of exile in Egypt to protect the babe Jesus.
- It cost mothers in and around Bethlehem the massacre of their babies by the cruel order of Herod.
- It cost the shepherds the complacency of their shepherds' life, with the call to go to the manger and to tell the good news.
- It cost the wise men a long journey and expensive gifts and changed lives.
- It cost the early apostles and the early church persecution and sometimes death.
- It cost Paul, John, and Peter as well as other missionaries of Christ untold suffering and hardship to spread the good news.
- It cost Stephen and James and other Christian martyrs of all ages their lives for Christ's sake.
- More than all this, it cost God the Father His own Son-He sent Him to the earth to save men.
- It cost Jesus a life of sacrifice and service, a death cruel and unmatched in history. (Author Unknown)
So before we complain about how much Christmas cost us or any other thing cost us for that matter; think about how much it cost Christ Jesus to come to this world to die for our sins and redeem all people.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…”
By Mark T. Tonkery
A week ago, Kentucky and several states around were hit with a deadly tornado. Many people lost their lives, and many more lost their homes and businesses from the tornado. As soon as the disaster was reported I had several contact me to see how they could help. After talking to our
elders and other congregations a plan was put together to collect and take items needed to May field, KY; one of the areas hit the hardest by the tornado.
It was short notice but as soon as the message was sent out on the “call tree” and placed on social media the donations started to come in. There were many congregations contacting us wanting to help, individuals brought donations in and helped load and pack things to be sent to Kentucky.
It was amazing to see the members of the Camden Ave. congregation and the area congregations working together. It was the Body of Christ functioning, each doing their part as Rom. 12:4-6, teaches, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” Wow, did our congregation and others use their gifts!
As I think about the past week’s events, I came across the following story: When Anwar Sadat of Egypt was assassinated, they provided a temporary burial place beside Egypt’s Unknown Soldier. How interesting that Egypt’s best-known soldier should be buried beside Egypt’s Unknown Soldier! In the kingdom of God, there are many unknown soldiers. They march right beside the well-known soldiers. They each do their part. What each soldier in Christ does is important! Without their work, the well-known (the preachers, elders, and deacons) would not be as known. Without the widows, widowers, the retired couples, the college students, the middle-aged, the singles, the mothers, fathers, etc. nothing would be accomplished!
Thank you to all the soldiers of Christ, who helped, donated, packed, folded, loaded, gave, hauled, and volunteered. Thank you for being the active, and faithful Body of Christ. Without you, we could not do what we have done!
Gal. 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
P.S. We are still learning what the needs of the people are in Mayfield, KY, and will do our best to inform the congregation of their needs. Thank you again for
your concern, help, and ongoing help. The donations were
taken to the Seven Oaks Church of Christ, in Mayfield,
KY. May God bless you! Mark T.
In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric hordes to the north, so they built the great Chinese wall. It was so high they knew no one could climb over it and so thick that nothing could break it down. They settled back to enjoy their security. During the first 100 years of the wall's existence, China was invaded three times. Not once did the barbaric hordes break down the wall or climb over the top. Each time they bribed a gatekeeper and then marched right through the gates. The Chinese were so busy relying upon the walls of stone that they forgot to teach integrity to their children.
Even today we can have the best home security systems, the finest health care money can buy, the safest car, or live in the securest neighborhoods and still lose our children to drugs, alcohol, immorality, or other harmful influences. The key is what are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them right from wrong? Are we actively involved in their lives? Do we know their friends? Do we know what is going on at school? Are we being a family to our children? And most important are we teaching our children to put the Lord God first in their lives?
Isaiah 54:13, states, “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
The success of our children and our families depends on many things but the main thing the Bible teaches us is to center our lives on the Lord.
One of the saddest passages of the Bible is Hosea 4:6 which reads, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”
Notice this verse’s warning; if we do not teach, model, and set godly examples for our children, they will fall away from God. Hosea 4:6 goes on to teach that God will even ignore our children because we chose not to follow Him.
Why would God ignore our children? Because we have not taught our children to know and follow the Lord. They cannot know and follow the Lord if we have not made God a priority in our life.
The wisdom of the Wall of China still rings true today. Don’t be so busy relying on physical things to bring us security, but spend time with your children teaching them things of God that will give them security for eternity.
By Mark T. Tonkery