“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” by Louis A. Dole

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“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

Readings

Genesis 1:1-13 · John 1:1-14 · Psalm 84

Sermon

No one who has observed the tendency of the popular literature of today and its influence on the public mind can have failed to note the widespread doubt that everywhere prevails as to the inspiration of the Scriptures.

Particularly the opening chapters of Genesis have been the cause of many controversies in the church and in the world. As soon as the natural sciences began to be developed, the opening chapters of the Bible came into question, as the rational man cannot reject the demonstrated facts of science. To meet this new advance in human development the Lord made His Second Coming in revealing the inner meaning of the Word. This was a final Divine revelation of spiritual truth essential to this new age.

The first eleven chapters of Genesis are a Divine allegory, and only as such can they be understood. In fact all of the inspired books of the Bible have a spiritual meaning within the letter. Heaven and earth are used in the Bible as symbols – heaven as the symbol of the spiritual mind and earth as the symbol of the natural mind. Regeneration, which is the subject treated of in the story of creation, is the orderly formation and development of the distinct planes of life that are involved in the structure of the two minds. The spiritual mind is formed of three distinct degrees, the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural. The natural mind is also constituted of three degrees, the rational, the scientific, and the sensual. These two minds, with their degrees of life, constitute the difference between man and the mere animal, for the mere animal possesses only the sensual degree, with something that makes an approach to the scientific, and is wholly without the rational and the three degrees constituent of the spiritual mind.

That is why it is said, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Regeneration is the opening of the spiritual mind, by which the natural mind is reformed and brought into order.

“And the earth was without form, and void.” In the beginning the mind is empty of all truth and good. We are not born with knowledge, or with love to the Lord and the neighbor. The love of self reigns.

The mind is also in darkness. “Darkness was upon the face of the deep.” What a darkness it is! God, the Divine Word, the life after death, in fact all the great truths concerning spiritual things, are in total darkness to the natural mind. It knows only the natural world.

If in the beginning a spiritual mind had not been formed in man above his natural mind, he never could have been raised above the animal plane of life. But “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This means that we have an inheritance from our Heavenly Father. This is true of all children whether born of pious or of impious parents. The inheritance is the states of good, of innocence, of trust formed in all during child life while the mind is open, tender, and plastic. This is a truth which the Lord expressed in these words in Matthew: “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

Here lies the ground of hope for the human race. It is by means of these states planted in childhood that regeneration is possible. So it is said, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” These states implanted and stored up in childhood are called “remains,” and it is by means of them that the Lord operates in us as we develop.

The child first acquires knowledges of himself and of the world in which he lives, and along with this he should be taught about God and heaven. So it is written, “Let there be light: and there was light… And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” It is said evening and morning because progress is from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge. We are in the darkness of ignorance if we know nothing of God and of the Divine purposes for us.

There is then the gathering of knowledge, distinguishing between natural and spiritual truths – the waters under the firmament and those above the firmament – and the bringing forth of outward good works – the tender grass and the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind.

Next comes the creation of the sun, moon, and stars. Throughout the Scriptures the sun stands for love to the Lord, the moon for faith in Him, and the stars for knowledges of spiritual things. We do not begin our regeneration with a deep love for the Lord, nor do we have a clear and living faith. The sun was to rule over the day. We have our spiritual daytimes, when we are in love to the Lord and seek to do His will. We also have our spiritual nights. In the world it is night when the earth turns away from the sun. It is night in the soul when one turns away from the Lord. But with the regenerating man it is not a night of thick black darkness. At such times he sees and walks by faith, the lesser luminary which shines by reflected light. He is guided by his beliefs although he does not feel the warmth of love.

But this is not all. “He made the stars also.” The stars are distant suns, and the light from them travels over immense fields of ether in reaching our planet. They are symbols of spiritual knowledges which have come down from the past. We may lose our love; we may lose our faith; but no sane man loses his knowledge of spiritual things, especially his knowledge of what is taught in the ten commandments – his knowledge of what is right and wrong. “He made the stars also.” The stars guide the sailor in the night. If when we come into this nighttime of the soul we keep the commandments, it will not be long before the moon will rise again, giving us the light of faith; and if we are faithful, the sun will rise again, and the Divine love will fill and warm the heart.

It requires a long time for one to realize that the good he does and the truth he believes are from the Lord alone. But not until this is acknowledged can there be any living things produced. It is only on the fifth and sixth days, after the appearance of the sun, moon, and stars, that the living animals are produced, first the external good affections and later the higher affections of the soul. And it is not until these higher affections are developed that man becomes really a man, formed in the image and likeness of God.

This first chapter of Genesis is God’s symbol way of telling us of the creation of the spiritual man, how stage after stage He carries forward the work of regeneration in every individual willing to be regenerated. The great field of creation for which all else was made is the creation of the human soul. The chapter tells of that great process, by which from being merely natural we become spiritual.

And when this stage is reached, the sabbath comes. And God “rested on the seventh day.” Of the seventh day it is not said, “And the evening and the morning were the seventh day.” For then the six days are over and peace and joy reign in the soul. This is why Isaiah tells us to “call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable.” The attainment of this sabbath state is the goal of life, the achievement for which the Lord created each one of us, the highest gift of His love, as He Himself tells us: “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”

Amen

Read the original sermon in PDF format

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