Ex Nihilo - It's No Lie

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, December 5, 2013 3 comments

One of my all-time favorite movies is “Liar, Liar”, starring Jim Carrey. There are many quotable lines in the movie and it is considered a comedy for good reason. However, the film also exposes a major misperception that many of us have – that lying is often harmless. Think about it. When you tell a lie, don’t you often rationalize it by telling yourself that no one will know, so no one will be hurt? I can almost guarantee that you tell yourself that your lie sounds better than the truth, because otherwise you would just speak the truth. The movie depicts a little boy who is tired of the constant heartache caused by his father making him promises that he ultimately cannot or will not keep. The viewer sees that the father continues to enjoy his life despite his lies because he is seemingly unaware of the consequences. Meanwhile, his precious son hangs on every promise he makes and trusts each one, only to be let down every time. The boy makes a birthday wish that his dad, for just one day, can’t tell a lie. The wish is granted and, because the father is a lawyer, hilarity ensues just about everywhere he goes.

Like the little boy in the movie, we hang on the promises that our Father makes. If we truly trust in him, we live in such a way that his failure to follow through on his promises would destroy us. Our trust is based on faith, but our faith is partially based on what has taken place in the past and whether God has ever lied or let us down before. That is really the foundation for everything else you believe. You must determine whether you believe God is a liar or not. I say this because there is really no middle ground. God’s Word says that he created the universe “ex nihilo”, or out of nothing. It’s either true, or God is lying. It’s not like there was a possible misunderstanding that could make the two views mesh together. Because this is the very first claim that hits us square in the face when we come to the Bible, it determines everything else we believe.

If you’re looking for the direct claim that God created everything out of nothing, you won’t find it in Genesis 1:1. But if you look closely, its implication is obvious. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. I submit to you that the most important words in the sentence are not “God created”, but are actually “in the beginning God”. This means there was NOTHING before God. If there was nothing before him, what could he have used to create anything? While this defies human logic from the standpoint that we cannot create out of nothing, we must remember that God is not a man who would be subject to the laws of nature. Furthermore, the opposite view that everything must come from something else also defies human logic. A wise friend of mine from college who was very much into the science of the creation of all things would always say, “No matter how far back you go, you’ll never be able to get to the starting point of all things unless you’re willing to accept that something was here before nothing else was”. If you think about it logically, he’s right!

The direct claim that fits this post is found in Hebrews 11:3. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible”. Think about it, folks. When you walk outside and look around, do you see something that looks like order or chaos? I ask that question because a classmate of mine at seminary once said that “we have evidence of what happens in an explosion and the result is usually chaos, not perfect order”. All the scientific evidence regarding the order of the universe, our distance from the sun, etc. shows us that it had to be designed and not the result of things “just falling into place”. So the point of the author of Hebrews is that, while believing God could create out of nothing is a matter of faith, it DOES come with some logic, reason, and understanding that we get by simply looking at his creation. The writer uses that verse as the springboard for an entire chapter of stories about the faith of others because he knows it is the very foundation on which our faith in God for ANYTHING ELSE is built. Everything you see was not made with tangible materials, but “at God’s command”. You can cross-reference that with Genesis 1, where God speaks everything into existence right up until he decides to form the man out of the ground (his reasons for that are for another discussion).

The great thing about God is that he has a plan and he is sovereign over all things. While he allowed human beings to have the freedom to reject him and turn his creation upside down, he also had a plan for redemption all along. “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:9-10). When God created the universe just by speaking, he knew the world was going to be full of trouble eventually and that he would create a place where those who trust in his redemptive plan through Jesus Christ would be able to dwell with him forever. A later prophecy in Isaiah reveals this. “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).

The question is, as you go through your trials in this fallen world, do you believe God is telling the truth? Do you believe he can and will create a NEW earth where your sufferings will be long gone? Do you believe that resisting your temptations now, which is an act of faith, makes logical sense because of the reward that awaits you? If you don’t believe the four words “in the beginning God”, I’d venture to say it’s going to be tough to trust in anything else he says when you face trying circumstances. I encourage you to see for yourself that God does not and cannot lie, that he created the universe out of nothing, and that this act can be your basis for trusting him with anything else in your life.


Ted said...

If the Bible is not actually the words of God but the words, selected and canonized by man, then does this make Christian beliefs and doctrine a lie?

Logan said...


I'm not really sure what your question has to do with the original post here, other than the connection to lying. I didn't write about Christian doctrine or beliefs. Yes, we BELIEVE that God created the world "ex nihilo", but it's not because that's what we blindly want to believe. It's because that's what God says in his Word. The question you, me, and everyone else has to wrestle with is NOT whether Christian doctrine, as taught from generation to generation, is a lie, but whether GOD HIMSELF is lying. Ultimately, we have to check and see if what we are being taught regarding doctrine matches up with what God says in his Word. But regarding what God says, you have to decide if you think he is lying or not. Too often we focus on what men have to say rather than what God says. That's where so many get hung up on "doctrine" as if it's somehow more important than what God says!

Now, to your question of "if" the Bible is not actually the words of God. What you bring up is something many people question about the Bible. I can simply tell you that there was at least one place in the Bible where God DIRECTLY wrote the Word himself. You can read Exodus 31:18 for yourself, and if you ever saw the movie the Ten Commandments you saw it depicted where God literally engraves the words onto the stone tablets himself. The Apostle Paul also cross-references this event in 2 Corinthians 3:3. I encourage you to read those passages on your own. But even the words not written "directly" by God are from him, according to the Bible. "All Scripture is God-breathed..." (2 Timothy 3:16). Another translation could say "God-inspired". So, while most of the words may have been written by the hands of men, the Bible says they were all inspired by him! Whether you believe he is lying or not is a matter of faith that can only be determined by your own relationship with him or lack thereof.

As far as what is selected and canonized, there's nothing that says God can't speak outside of the canonical books. God's Word is a revelation, and he may reveal things to you or me through other sources, through dreams, etc. But be careful how far you decide to go with that because many fall into believing that "all roads lead to the same God". If an "outside" revelation contradicts what God himself has already said, then it's NOT God's Word! He does not contradict himself!

Thanks for continuing to read our posts, Ted, and for commenting and questioning when appropriate. I know you struggle with what we believe, but we always appreciate an open discussion. May God bless you as you seek truth!

Debbie said...


I'd like to weigh in on your comment as to whether the words of the Bible are or are not God's words. I am not a scholar as Logan and Katie who regularly write this blog are. I am a mom with no formal education. Nevertheless, I hope you will indulge me since I once struggled with these same thoughts.
I'll assume you are familiar with the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They were penned by four different men and yet much of what is recorded by each man nearly uses the same words to describe events and give quotes from Jesus while he was among them in the flesh. At first glance, you might think these four men got together and compared notes and then made sure their writings would match. Historians (both secular and Christian) agree that these four gospels were written not only by four different men but from different towns and more than a decade after the events actually occurred. They had no access to each others writings (to help one another remember)and there was no printing press to multiply manuscripts at the time of their writing.
So how can it be that their wording is nearly identical? I was perplexed. Until I came across one verse that changed everything for me. Here it is from the NIV Bible: John 14:26 is a quote of words Jesus is alleged to have spoken, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
In my small understanding, this explains how four men could write four nearly identical, yet separate collections of events and quotes of Jesus, during separate decades, several years after they occurred, all while being in four separate locations and having no access to a printing press. This strengthened my faith that what Jesus said actually happened. The Father (God) sent His Holy Spirit to be a counselor to teach and remind them of everything Jesus not only said but did while he was with them. And if God sent His Holy Spirit to inspire, teach and remind these men, it's certainly possible that God did this throughout biblical history as events, prophecies and quotes were recorded by different men, over thousands of years. We would be giving way too much credit to mere men to say that over all that time, clever men were able to keep the continuity of biblical text, both old and new testament,so that what was presented in one portion would have relevance in another portion and continually point to God's sovereign plan for humanity.