Looking at the faith of the centurion as recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, this article demonstrates how this story can help one believe that God created through the Word, and that Christians have to demonstrate the same faith in the power of God's Word, and deny theistic evolution.

Source: Lux Mundi, 2014. 3 pages.

The Achilles Heel of Theistic Evolutionism

Roman Centurion

“But say the Word and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:9) Jesus is not given to exaggeration, yet what He said about the Roman centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 appears to be just that. Jesus said that his faith was greater than that of anyone in Israel – hence even greater than that of Peter, James, John and the believing members of the synagogue. Such faith would bring this man into the company of Old Testament heroes like Job and Abraham. Yet this man, who was not even an Israelite, did not know Jesus personally, and did not consider himself worthy even to ask Him to enter his house. So what made his faith so remarkable?

This man, a Gentile believer no less, had a faith so exceptional that both Matthew and Luke record that Jesus marveled at it. To the crowd He said: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” He met tens of thousands of people during His ministry, but seldom did He have occasion to admire anyone’s faith.

What was so exceptional about this man’s faith that it made Jesus marvel? A great deal! He uses this incident to teach His disciples, Israel and us an important lesson. Two thousand years after the event, He uses it to drive home what it means when Scripture emphasizes that He Himself is the Word. In an age where the knowledge derived from science has been elevated to idolatrous heights, we have become desensitized to the unique nature and power of the Word.

The centurion employs an analogy to make his point, drawing a comparison between himself and Jesus with respect to authority.

He says: “You and I are both men who have been given authority. I have soldiers under me. I say to the one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes. And to my servant I say, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. No one questions my authority.”

The centurion believes that Jesus is also a Man who exercises an awesome authority, infinitely greater than his own. He believes that Jesus is able to command all aspects of creation. All He needs to do to exercise it is to say the Word. Just say the Word, Jesus, and my servant will be healed. No questions, calculations, or doubts – just tremendous faith. As children place trust in their parents, so this Gentile believer places absolute trust in Jesus. Just say the Word, Lord, and disease and death will flee. He fervently believes that all Jesus has to do is speak the command. And he would have had no difficulty believing the biblical record that Jesus spoke the creation into being by the power of His Word.

Yes, the centurion believes that Jesus’ authority is that great. And his affirmation of it, says Jesus, is an expression of the faith that should fill the hearts of all. But He has not found such faith even in Israel among the myriads of the patriarchs’ descendants (Mark 6:6).

In the magnitude of his faith, the centurion acknowledges Jesus as Creator and Lord over all. God enabled him to understand the “servant character” of creation. He acknowledges that Jesus has the power to command it to do His will. Even as the centurion’s underlings obey his various orders, so also creation instantly obeys its Sovereign’s command. No questions, hesitations, or backtalk. Just say the Word, Lord, and Your will is accomplished.

That, says Jesus, is the faith upon which His kingdom is built. If Christian professors and students at universities and seminaries worldwide believed Scripture with this unquestioning faith, lived in uncompromising confidence and viewed the origin and unfolding of creation with the conviction that God in Jesus Christ is its absolute Sovereign, pulpits would reverberate with the Word of power and God’s people would rejoice mightily. Even unbelievers would marvel.

Roman Centurion

Servant character🔗

God indeed commands His creation! Its servant character is foundational if the Christian is to believe as the centurion did. Just think what that means for our understanding of the creation account. The same Jesus who commanded the centurion’s servant to be healed was present as God in the beginning and commanded the creation into existence exactly as described throughout the Bible, that is, by the power of His fiat: “Let there be.” This must be accepted in faith because the act of creation surpasses our understanding. No one can search out the mechanics of the nature and power of Christ’s spoken Word, because the mechanism of creation is the Word itself. The power which commanded the creation into being is the same power that flowed out of Jesus and restored health to the woman with the debilitating issue of blood (Matt. 9:18-22; Mark 5:21-34). The power that transformed nothing into a universe filled with objects constructed out of atoms and elements is the same power that commanded the stinking corpse of Lazarus to rise and walk out of the grave. This was a recreated Lazarus identical in appearance to his former self and with the complete memory of a lifetime restored.

This is the spoken Word in action, and no one can pin down the mechanics of its originating operation. Here reverse engineering is impossible. The finished creation, a tangible manifestation of the Word objectified, is the proper object of human inquiry; but the act of creation, the creative activity of the Word itself, is not. And once we try to understand the finished creation, i.e. the creation order, we should also acknowledge that this order came into being solely through the creation acts of God, Who sovereignly determines the order of these acts. And we must not subject these creation acts to human analysis, for that would be a blasphemous attempt to subject God to our finitude.

Genesis 1, with its ten repetitions of “Let there be,” is God’s revelation of His almighty creation acts. And as such, it is not ours to analyze any more than we can analyze the resurrection of Lazarus. What physician of sound mind would examine Lazarus to determine what revived him and how? So also with the ten fiats, of Genesis 1.

Christians who stumble over the authoritative “Let there be!” of Genesis 1 will also stumble when they again meet Christ in the New Testament, where they constantly hear his repeated commands of “Let there be!” If they then persist in their unbelief, they will not rise again. The New Testament will become a snare to them, a how-to-book of morals, prosperity and personal conduct. The sovereignty of God and the creative, providential power of Jesus’ fiats will remain a mystery. The Bible will then be a closed book that cannot possibly end in a universal resurrection when all humanity responds to Christ’s command, first given to Lazarus: “Come forth!”

Autonomy of science🔗

Contemporary Christians blinded by the so-called autonomy of science have fallen into the destructive habit of reading Scripture as a mishmash of metaphors. We no longer know how to take God’s Word seriously and have lost sight of its power. We have in important instances needlessly metaphorized it, thereby losing sight of who Jesus is and who Adam could have been. When we read in Job 9:8b that God “treads on the waves of the sea,” we interpret this as a poetic portrayal of God’s power, which is not meant to be taken literally, for He would never deign to walk on water!

But Scripture tells another story. At the height of a storm, the disciples, seasoned fishermen, fear they will perish in the raging sea. Jesus, however, rebukes the elements and commands a great calm (Matt 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). The wind and sea heed and obey their Master as they would also have obeyed an un-fallen Adam. On another occasion (Matt.14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21), when the disciples are buffeted by a storm, Jesus, after going into the mountains to pray, approaches them walking on the sea. Had Peter’s faith matched the centurion’s, he also would have been able to walk on the sea. It is his unbelief that sinks him, not his lack of authority over the creation.

On the rare occasions when metaphors apply to God, they serve to make His acts comprehensible. Although metaphors often engage in overstatement, it is impossible to overstate God’s abilities or His power over creation. Job spoke prophetically when he declared: “God treads on the waves of the sea,” for when Christ became incarnate, He walked on the waves so that His disciples would see, remember and bear witness. Failure to comprehend the servant character of creation skews our understanding of the Bible and weakens our ability to glorify God. There are no metaphors in play on the boisterous sea. Like Abraham (Gen. 35:11), we witness the almighty power of God.

walking on water

Do not fall into Satan’s trap of reducing Jesus’ Word to a powerless literary device. Scripture may not actually be speaking metaphorically even if we think so. The Word of God is the Person of the Trinity through Whom the entire creation was spoken into being and by Whom it continues to be providentially upheld.

Christ can credibly declare, were it necessary, that the mechanism that brought the creation into being is His spoken Word. But there are no adequate terms, scientific or otherwise, to express how creation came into being. God’s creation act is beyond human analysis, and for that reason alone the source of life will never be discovered by science, because all life originates with God alone (John 5:24-29; Gen. 2:7).

And it makes no difference whether Christ creates out of nothing or out of preexisting material, for which some commentators find evidence in Genesis 1:2. In the re-creation of Lazarus, Christ works with maggot-ridden flesh, but the material used makes as little difference here as the material or lack thereof during creation. The mechanism or process that restores Lazarus to life is the power of the Word: “Lazarus, come forth!”

Intraspecific evolution🔗

Intraspecific evolution presents a wolf-like animal evolving into six hundred North American species of dog. But the creative Word of God continues to operate. Today the earth is inhabited by seven billion people of different nations and ethnicities. Few look alike, as they might if they were the product of some mindless cookie-cutter process of evolution. What we see is the actualization of the dynamic potential God originally placed in creation.

The spoken Word healed the centurion’s servant and raised Lazarus. And it repeatedly operates in power throughout Scripture, as it did in the beginning, and again when Christ became human and lived among us. It is His exercise of this power that reveals God’s character. And for those who can perceive it, this power is still manifest today, for instance, in one kernel of Iowa seed corn which, a few months after planting, produces a cob bearing 800 kernels. Where did the power to generate all those kernels come from?

God in Christ said “Let there be” in the beginning and again two thousand years ago. In no other way can Christians understand the continually unfolding creative power of God than by accepting, in faith like the centurion’s, that when He said, “Let there be,” behold, it was!

God does not owe theistic evolutionists an explanation. Their blasphemous contention makes Him the author of a messy evolution spawned by mysterious accidental physicochemical processes, resulting in the mutation of existing perfect genes and driven over eons by a natural selection of whatever is available. God thereby becomes the servant of so-called autonomous processes, and the subordinate author of “design by death and failure and chance and time.”

Lazarus and a few others who were resurrected on command testify against this monstrous falsehood. God is not party to a wretched neo­-Darwinian evolutionary process. His Word alone is the mechanism that brought forth the universe. Creation bears testimony against the parasite of theistic evolutionism. For God, even today, speaks to us through His Word and deeds, through the seasonal renewing of nature. God did a wonderful thing when he spoke into being a creation ready to bring forth living things after their kinds.

May He give us the eyes of the centurion.

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