I want to tell you a story over the next couple of days.
It is actually my favorite story. It’s my favorite for a whole lot of different reasons.
For one thing, it is fascinating.
There are some stories that you only need to read once. If you read them any more than that, they are boring. This is not a story like that. It is a story that becomes more interesting the more you read it.
This story is not only interesting. It is a story that transforming.
It is a story that has changed my life. It is a story that is changing my life. And it’s not just me. This is a story that has literally changed hundreds of thousands of other people’s lives as well.
What’s probably even more important than the fact that it is interesting and transforming however, is that it is true.
The story I am about to tell is not a made up story. Actually, if it were fictional it wouldn’t be a very good story at all. This story is important and transforming because it is true.
Now I know it’s true because it’s not my story.
It is not any man’s story, though men helped write it. Ultimately, it is God’s story. It is the true story God tells us in His book the Bible. He tells us this story in the Bible to help us understand life in this world and to help us answer the most pressing questions we can ever ask, like where all this stuff that we are seeing around us came from, like who we are, why we are here, what our purpose is, like, what’s wrong with the world, and what is the solution to the mess we see all around us.
Now to understand most stories you have to begin at the beginning. With this story however, you have to go even further back than that. To understand this story you have to go back before the beginning.
So if you don’t mind, I want you to try to imagine something. To be more specific, I want you to try to imagine nothing. Imagine if you can, nothing, no people, no houses, no cars, no trees, no rivers, no planets, no stars, nothing.
Nothing, but God that is.
Because that is what it was like, before there ever was an earth, before there ever were people, before there ever was a universe, there was God.
It is hard for us to understand this because we all came from somewhere and everything we see came from something. God is unique in that He did not. He has always existed. There never was a time when God was not. We know this because the Bible describes Him as the everlasting God.
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
And this uncreated God, this eternal God, who existed before anything else existed, was absolutely, completely happy. There was nothing that He lacked. There was nothing that He needed. The Bible never pictures Him that way. God does not need anything outside of God to be happy.
There are many passages in the Bible that indicate this.
If you want to look them on your own, you can note Acts 17:24-29; John 5:26; Psalm 50:12-15 and Isaiah 40:12-31.
The reason the Bible emphasizes God’s self-sufficiency and why it’s important for you to understand is because people sometimes think that God created things because He was lonely and needed fellowship with other persons.
I don’t know if you have ever read an ad in the newspaper where a single man was seeking a relationship, “single white male seeks single white female between the ages of 20 and 35,” and that is a little how people sometimes imagine what God was like before the creation, as someone once humorously put it, “single God seeks creation with a sense of humor for a long term friendship,” but while that’s funny to say, it’s blasphemy to believe, because God was most definitely not lonely.
He was not lonely because this eternal God eternally exists as one God in three persons, which is somewhat difficult to comprehend but true because it is the way God reveals Himself to us, the God of the Bible has eternally existed as one God in three persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and these three persons have always had perfect delight and communion with one another.
We know this is true because Jesus tells us so. We obviously could not come up with what God was doing before the beginning of the world ourselves because we weren’t there, but Jesus was and Jesus tells us in John 17:24 exactly what was happening before this world was created. He says, “Father…you have loved me before the foundation of the world.”
If we could somehow time travel back to before there was anything anywhere but God, what we would see is God the Father happily loving God the Son through and with God the Spirit. Which is deep and I am sure there’s so much more we could say and probably should say about what God is like and what He was doing before creation, but if we spend too much time before the beginning, we might not get to the actual story itself, and what we have said at least, gives us a way to begin to understand the first chapter of the story the Bible tells.
If we pick up the story the Bible tells the author’s name on the cover of the story is ultimately God and what I want you to understand is that God did not write this story because He was needy. Instead, the story the Bible tells begins with an eternally happy and loving God who decides to make Himself look great by putting His love and also other characteristics on display by creating everything we see. God is like a fountain of goodness and greatness and what do fountains do, they overflow and God the fountain of goodness overflowed into the creation of a universe and a people for Himself.
This is where the Bible begins.
With a happy, self-sufficient God deciding to create a universe for His glory.