Tag Archive: creation


The Nicene Creed – Part II

old iron background

Last week, we began a 3-week series exploring the Nicene Creed. Click here for last week’s blog post: The Nicene Creed: Part I.

This week, Vicar Dan Petrak explores the second article of the Nicene Creed…

 

The second article of the Nicene Creed is about Jesus Christ. Using Scripture, the Creed was written to disprove false teachings about Jesus.

(I believe…)

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the only-begotten Son of God,

begotten of His Father before all worlds,

God of God, Light of Light,

very God of very God,

begotten, not made,

being of one substance with the Father,

by whom all things were made;

who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven

and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary

and was made man;

and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.

He suffered and was buried.

And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of the Father.

And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead,

whose kingdom will have no end.

Some theologians in the early church, in their human thinking, thought Jesus was a god but not part of the Trinity. Logically, it did not make sense to them that God was all man and all God at the same time. It didn’t seem dignified that God would humble Himself and come to this world as a human to die. So, in trying to protect God’s image, these theologians separated the second person from the Trinity, minimizing Jesus as Savior.

Taking Jesus out of the Triune God erases our salvation. So, the second article was written to directly correct this false teaching, stating that God did come down from heaven and live among God’s creation as a human—fully man and fully God. Jesus was crucified and died in our place. He was buried and conquered death when, on the third day, He rose from the grave. With Scripture fulfilled, He ascended into heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father.

During Jesus’ life on Earth, His followers saw glimpses of His divine nature through His miracles and authoritative teachings, but it is through Jesus’ resurrection and glorious place at the right hand of God where we see Jesus’ full power and majesty. Now, we anxiously await His triumphant return on the Last Day when He will judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.

 

Dan Petrak, Vicar
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

The Nicene Creed – Part I

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Last weekend, we began a 3-week sermon series on the Nicene Creed. To go with the sermon series, we asked Vicar Dan Petrak to help us better understand each of the three articles of the Creed. Below you’ll find Dan’s thoughts and teaching on the first article…

 

Why do we have creeds or confessions? Why did these words get written down by the church, and are they regarded at the same level as Scripture?

As I have been finding out through my seminary training, many of the writings and teachings of the church from the three Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian) to the Augsburg Confession were written out of a response to false teachings.  In this 3-week blog series, I will take a look specifically at the Nicene Creed.

The Nicene Creed was written to help Christians better understand and confess the second person of the Trinity—Jesus Christ. There were controversies about the Person and two natures of Christ (divine and human).  As a result, the divinity of Christ was in question, and so also, the work of Christ on the cross. The first version of the Nicene Creed was written at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD and then revised at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 AD.

Let’s take a look at the first article of the Nicene Creed…

“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”

The first article is short, but is says a lot in one sentence. It points toward the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods.” and is further explained in Luther’s Small Catechism as “We should fear and love and trust in God above all things.” On this one article and command is where everything else resides, but just like the 10 commandments, we know we can’t humanly follow them completely. If we could, we wouldn’t need a Savior.

This first article also reminds us that God is the God of everything. There is nothing hidden or beyond Him. God spoke everything into existence and God’s Word is active. This first article only names the first Person of the Trinity, but this follows the same order in which God revealed himself to his creation.  We will never know everything about God, but He has revealed himself enough in His Word to know Him and to receive salvation. Honestly, even this is more than we can grasp.

The creeds are not equal to Scripture, but they serve a great purpose in teaching us who God is. And as we read Scripture and study God’s Word, we also learn who we are. God defines us—His children who were set apart from the rest of creation to be in a relationship with Him, now and for eternity. This love for his children is why He went to reckless lengths to regain this lost relationship, and we will look at how God did this through his Son in the next post.

 

Dan Petrak, Vicar
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

Creation,Fall,Flood- Bible Study

This begins week 1 in our journey through the story of God. Genesis is a book that has so much packed in that it could take months and years to uncover it all. Scholars have written volumes of commentaries that have endless amounts of useful material. The reason I say all of this is to let you know up front that we will not even scratch the surface of creation, fall or the flood in this study. But, I hope to give you some things to think about and discuss, making it worth your time.

Read Genesis 1

Creation’s mystery and its Maker call us to know the One in whom “we live and move and have our being,” as the Apostle Paul says in the New Testament. The opening section of Genesis introduces us to the Creator. He is the main character of this book, and all of Scripture is His story. The creation account is God centered, not creature centered. Its purpose is to glorify the Creator by magnifying him through the majesty of the created order. “God” is the subject of the first sentence (1:1) and continues as the thematic subject throughout the account. “And God said” is the recurring element that gives 1:1–2:3 cohesion as he is the primary actor. For this reason, one could use as the title of this first section the affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed, “God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”

What do we learn about God in the first few verses of Genesis?

In verse 2 we find the condition of the earth is “a wasteland and empty” (the literal meaning) which provides a blank slate by which God directs his creation story. Since the earth is lifeless, God sets about creating it inhabitable and inhabited  in six creation days, or two parallel sets of three days each. Days three and six, which conclude each pair, are highlighted by the repetition of the phrase “And God said” (vv. 9, 11, 24, 26) and the God’s assessment “and it was good” (vv. 10, 12, 25, 31). There are eight acts of creation, one on each day except days three and six, when there are two. Day three commences a productive earth that provides vegetation for both animals and humans: “Let the land produce vegetation” (v. 11); day six describes its first habitation: “Let the land produce living creatures” (v. 24). Unlike vegetation and the animals, where the “land” is God’s intermediary, the second act of creation on day six (mankind) is achieved by God directly (vv. 26–27).

UNPRODUCTIVE BECOMES                                     UNINHABITED BECOMES
PRODUCTIVE                                                                  INHABITED

Day 1 Light and Darkness                                             Day 4 Luminaries
Day 2 Sky and Waters                                                    Day 5 Fish and Fowl
Day 3 a. Land and Seas                                                  Day 6 a. Beasts
b. Vegetation                                                                     b. Human: male and female

Why do you think God chose to deal with mankind directly instead of just calling it into existence like the rest of creation? What does this say about God? What does that say about you?

The Jewish and Christian creation story differs from all others in a multitude of ways. Creation for the Hindu, Native American, Chinese religions, the pagan religions described in the Bible, the Greeks and Romans, and many others, always has an evil and a good from the very beginning among the gods or the gods children or siblings. The gods of other religions are more like the humans of the Bible, reflecting human goodness and human evil. Only the Genesis account exalts God above his creation. Only Genesis gives humankind a central place in creation, as person’s made in God’s image who are deeply loved by him. Because of this the Bibles view of creation has always been viewed as radical and stands in conflict with the modern notion of random chance and order.

Have you ever heard of or read these other creation accounts? If so, what are the greatest differences you have identified?

Read Genesis 2

About the time you think that the story of creation is over, it seems to begin again. This is not another author, but a style that was common in early Semitic writing. The writer would tell the whole story as a summary, and then go back and tell it again, but this time with more detail. The closing verses has an important exchange. Adam takes a look at Eve and names her and is joined together with her. This sets us up for what we will find in the next chapter, because Adam was supposed to take care of Eve and protect her.

Why do you think God wanted us to have this second detailed account in chapter 2?

Read Genesis 3

This chapter is one of the most important chapters of the Bible as we seek to understand humankind. This is the section called “The Fall of man.”

As the section opens, there is no sin, death or imperfection in the world. God has given only one small commandment. Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree is not a magical tree that would somehow bestow great powers on the one who ate of it. It served as a tangible test of obedience.

Let’s first look at the serpent. The serpent tempts Eve in the following ways:

  • He convinced her to doubt God- “Did God really say?”
  • You can be just like God with one little bite.
  • The fruit looked good for food, but like the apple in “Snow White” her disobedience in eating it revealed an invisible poison.
  • With the tempting by the serpent, Eve decided to reject God’s direction. It made no sense to her. It was God’s way of trying to rule over her life. She was smart enough to make her own decisions.

Should Eve be blamed for the sin of mankind? She was the one the serpent was talking too. How does Adam get roped into this?

Eve has been blamed for all the sin of the world by many. Even Paul said that it was Eve who ate the fruit. However, God laid the blame on Adam. Remember when I said the closing lines of chapter 2 would be important? This is why…Adam was standing next to wife and said and did nothing. It was his job to take care of her and protect her from harm, but instead he stood by and did nothing.

How could one small mistake be the ruin of all mankind?

In what ways have you seen the curse carried out in your own life?

When Adam and Eve sinned they made a pathetic attempt to cover their shame. They discover that their own shame can only be covered by God at a high price.

Read Genesis 3:21-24 again

God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. This is the first time death had come into the world when God killed the animals that would be used to cover Adam and Eve. That covering could only come with the shedding of innocent blood. This was the basis for the sacrificial system that was used all throughout the Old Testament.

What put an end to the sacrificial system in the New Testament?

As you all know it is the Sunday school answer…Jesus. His death meant that his shed blood was necessary for the covering of your sin and mine and it all started back in Genesis.

Verse 24- God drove out the man and woman from the garden. This is both an act of judgement and of mercy. The judgement came because God cannot tolerate sin in his presence, so man had to leave. The mercy came in when God said they will most surely die…that man will not live forever under the horrible curse of sin and decay. It was both good and bad.

In what ways have you seen the grace of God in your life? 

Read Genesis 4

It would have been nice if The Fall was the end of the bad stuff…but really it was just the beginning. We turn to the next chapter and we see brother hating brother even to the point of murder. Cain and Abel are the central focus of chapter 4 as we see the sacrificial system put to use.

Why did God not “respect Cain and his offering”? Why did he respect Abel and his offering?

What sort of person was Cain? What kind of neighbor would he be?

Turn to Genesis 7,8

Time has passed and we are now roughly 1,500 years after Creation. The people are not acting any better. Sin and immorality have had their way with the people. God has had enough. God determined in his heart to destroy the entire human race…but that is not the end of the story (if it was you would not be reading this right now).

God found one man named Noah who feared him and followed all that God commanded. God told him to build an ark that would accommodate two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal. But God also said make room for anyone who wanted to escape judgement, but no one listened. Take a look at an artists rendition of the ark.

What brought God’s wrath upon the earth?

What does this event teach you about God’s character? About man’s character?

Why did God select Noah? How was he different from the people around him?

After the flood subsided, God set a rainbow in the clouds to be a sign of the covenant between God and the earth, that he would never send a flood again to destroy the earth. God’s promise will prove to be faithful. God shows himself to both merciful and just.

If you had been on board the ark, how would you have felt about the friends and family that you knew were outside drowning? How might this influence your view of God’s coming judgment?

After learning all of this today, in what ways has God called you to believe his word, despite the beliefs of the world around you?

Please give me some feedback on this study. Was it helpful or informative? What would you like to see that you didn’t see here. I will continue to make adjustments as we continue in this series.

The Beginning of Life

For thousands of years, people have asked in astonishment, “How could a good God allow evil to take place?” The consequences of sin can come in the form of “natural evil” including natural disasters, disease, and death. The consequences of sin can also come from intentional evil painfully perpetrated one against another. We should recognize today that nothing we see, is as it should be. As much as the creation reveals our Creator, it also reveals our depravity. Even the earth itself is cursed because of man’s sin.

Just imagine for a moment a time with no evil, no death, no pain and no tears. Is it even possible to imagine? We are surrounded with extreme evil and the thought of perfection is hard to imagine. But, the Garden of Eden was that place; a perfect place with no evil, pain, tears or death. It is only in light of the sinless garden that we can get a taste of the eternal goodness promised to us by God when Jesus returns.

The promise of God is that He will recreate the earth in the future and once again there will be a time when there is no more evil, no death, no pain and no tears.  Yet the world to come will be infinitely better than even the garden!  In it, we will no longer have an opportunity to sin, Satan will be vanquished and we will have an understanding of the graceful redemption wrought on our behalf.  In that day, God will once again dwell among us as He did with Adam and Eve.  In the meantime, believers learn to “reverse the curse” by resisting the temptations of the evil one, by representing God in the fallen world, and by striving to restore broken relationships.

From the very first story of the very first family, sin wreaks havoc on humanity.  They lived in a perfect environment and sinned anyway.  Perhaps “the fall” sounds almost accidental, as though we trip and fall head over heels into sin.  As the story makes clear, Adam and Eve deliberately chose their path and the rest of us have followed in their footsteps.  But with the first sin came God’s first act of redemption.  With each successive story—Cain and Abel, and Noah’s family—we see God’s repeated faithfulness to redeem helpless and hopeless humanity.  God is always the pursuer.  Man’s default position is always to choose sin.  As the cycle continues we are reminded that God alone is our only hope.

As we get ready to start talking about creation this week, think about the plan that God set in motion to get us back. Can you see how this is the greatest love story ever told?

Even though we don’t live in a perfect place, what is the place you like to go that reveals God’s glory to you and helps you feel close to him?

As we journey through the story together, we have asked four people to read the chapter of “The Story” ahead of time and give their perspective. Before or after you read the chapter, you can listen to and read the perspectives of the chapter. You can then add your own perspective or interact with theirs. Some perspectives will be in video format and others in written word. Please interact with these guys across at any of our multiple social sites. Enjoy!

If you have any questions about this process please comment and I will respond quickly.

Perspective 1 by Dan Petrak

Dan is a husband, father and a Math professor at DMACC and currently working on his doctorate.

Perspective 2 by Jade Miller

Jade is a 13-year-old student and recent published author.

In the first chapter of “The Story”, God creates the world and Noah builds the ark. The plot of “The Story” skips from Adam and Eve to the story of the Ark, and as we know, Noah’s Ark doesn’t occur until Chapter 6 of Genesis.

“The Story” is a streamlined version of God’s master plan for all of us here on earth. I love the new format, since I can focus on the plot of the Bible instead of the genealogies, minute details, and hard-to-understand references.

In Chapter 1, I saw that God created everything in the world to be perfect, but when things got out of hand during Noah’s time, God decided to flood the earth. Noah was spared because he was righteous and “he walked with God”.  If we walk with God by trusting him, asking for forgiveness, and having faith in His son, Jesus Christ, we too will be saved.

Perspective 3 by Barb Miles

Barb is a wife, grandmother, and a passionate volunteer. She works as an overseer of the farms her late father loved and enjoyed working with.

God gave mankind a second chance to start over, when he told Noah to gather his family and two of every living creatures in the ark.  As I was reading this chapter I thought of how many second chances I have had.  Yes, God is a God of love and forgiveness.  How many times do we need to be reminded of it?

Finally, I have always been in awe of rainbows.  I now understand that God’s rainbow is a sign from Him of His promise to me.  He is always there for me, He is always giving me second chances.

Perspective 4 by Pastor Ron

Ron is the Sr. Pastor at Gloria Dei for over 20 years. He is a Husband, father and passionate about motorcycles and antique radios.

I am not sure how many times I have read the account of creation and the fall of mankind into sin. Each time there are two details that strike me, but both of them reveal the same thing about God.

The first detail is the description of each day of creation. After each day it ends with “…and God saw that it was good.” Each day ends the same, that is, except the sixth day which ends with “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” A subtle difference? Not really. What little bit of the Hebrew language I remember comes into play in this verse. Where it is translated “very good” is actually the same word “good” repeated three times. In ancient Hebrew, you added emphasis by repeating a word. Here it is repeated three times! At the end of the sixth day it was “good, good, good!” Or it was perfect! So what happened on the sixth day? God created human beings! The world was not complete; it was not perfect until He created his crowning achievement—man.

The second detail happens after Adam and Eve sin. God calls them on the carpet and banishes them from the Garden. An easy sentence in my book. After all, God said they could do anything they wanted and eat anything they wanted, except from one tree. So, what tree do they eat from? You guessed it—the one he said not to. In my book, I would have squished the plan and tried again on mars! Anyway, after God explains the consequence of their sin, it says that “He made clothes for them.” They just ruined everything and God makes them clothes.

What do the two details reveal about God? How much he loves and cares for mankind. He didn’t just call us into existence; he formed us out of the ground and gave us the breath of life. The world was not complete without mankind and then, even though we messed everything up…he takes care of us. For me those two details reveal God’s love for us humans.

Genesis Dangerous to Children

Bill Nye–that sweet science guy–recently said the following:

“If you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can… we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.”

Don’t be too upset by Nye because thousands of teachers are indoctrinating our children with the evolution of Man from a lower being. It is no longer ever taught as a “theory.”  Youngsters who dare question this are ridiculed not only by their peers, but by their teachers. This is what your children face five days a week in our public schools. Students, and parents, are ignorant and incapable if they accept Genesis’ explanation of God’s creation.

On the other hand, a number of highly respected scientists have already rejected the probability of evolution. There are just too many “accidental” changes for which to account. Unfortunately some of these scientists, who cannot bring themselves to accept the possibility of God, have turned to the theory that we were planted on Earth by superior beings from other planet systems. Oh, that makes a lot more sense than believing that there is a God who rules our lives.

Bill Nye’s thoughts are cemented in the educational system. It is up to us, the parents, to give our children the tools of battle, knowledge and confidence.  Too often our kids hear from their parents concerning the faith, “You just have to believe” or “We just have faith that it is true.”  I am not maligning that answer, for ultimately the evolutionist, the atheist, the Christian, or the follower of any religion or idea has to say, “Because I believe it.”

However, there is also a logic and reasonableness to Christianity that cannot be denied. There is much about evolution that is not taught to our children. The inevitable answer to sin is a deliverer; the inevitable answer to the complexity of even a blade of grass is a creator.

May I encourage you to study the reasonableness of your faith; the creation of God’s word, as well as His world. Get to know the New Testament that we know was written by first hand witnesses. Study the complexity of nature. Educate yourself and pass your knowledge on to your children. Ask them what they were taught in school today, and help them when the teaching leads them to question their faith. Talk to your youth leader and pastors about how to help your kids face the world with confidence.

Yes, we believe because the Holy Spirit has given us the gift of faith, but there is also the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge concerning our Christianity. Jesus said to His disciples (that includes us) “Behold I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:14).  Paul said in Ephesians 6, “…put on the full armor of God, so that … you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, …and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of PEACE [emphasis mine]….”

Sue Wilson

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