Friday, January 06, 2012
What is the work of creation?
Note: I've been enjoying preaching on Sunday afternoons at CRBC through Spurgeon's Catechism. Here are my notes from last Sunday's message:
What is the work of creation?
Spurgeon Catechism Series: Question 9
CRBC January 1, 2012
We return to our catechism series where the initial focus is on the being and work of God. The catechism stresses the unity of God. There is one God but also this one God is three persons. The Biblical God is a Trinity. It then proceeds to tell us what this God does. He is a decreeing God. He ordains “whatsoever comes to pass.” Then, as we saw last week, he is an executing God. He is the great Executive. And he executes his decrees in two spheres: creation and providence.
Today we move to consider the first of those two spheres, creation.
Question 9: What is the work of creation?
Answer: The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.
There are five parts in this response that we can explore by five corresponding questions:
First, we might ask: What is meant by “the work of creation.” This simply means everything that is in existence. It means the vast physical universe and every element within it, from the largest planet to the smallest microscopic organism.
I did a “Grace Points” radio devotional last year titled “Bigger than we knew” in which I made reference to an article in the the journal Nature which reported the recent scientific conclusion that there are a mind-blowing 300 sextillion stars in the universe, or three times as many as scientists previously calculated. That is a 3 followed by 23 zeros. Or 3 trillion times 100 billion.
They now estimate that there are 100 billion to a trillion galaxies in the universe each holding from 100 billion to a trillion stars.
I concluded in that article: “The world is bigger than we knew. We are even more in awe of our Creator.”
The vastness of creation is truly mind-boggling. In Psalm 8 David marveled:
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
In addition to the physical, visible world, God also created the spiritual, invisible world. He created heaven as his dwelling. He created the angelic creatures, the hosts of heaven, the principalities and powers, many of which, like man, would rebel against him.
So, when we look at the creation, man should know there is a Creator. He gives us two books of revelation: the book of creation and the book of Scripture.
Thomas Watson in A Body of Divinity observes:
“The creation is the heathen man’s Bible, the ploughman’s primer, and the traveler’s perspective glass” through which he sees the “the excellencies which are in God” (p. 113).
“The world must have a maker, and could not make itself. If one should go into a far country, and see stately edifices, he would never imagine that they had built themselves….so this great fabric of the world could not create itself, it must have some builder or maker, and that is God” (pp. 113-114).
Second, we might ask, “From what did God make the world?” The catechism affirms that God’s creation was “of nothing.” Scripture affirms creatio ex nihilo. Thomas Watson: “God brought all this glorious fabric of the world out of the womb of nothing” (p. 114). This is contra the ancient notion that the world was made from some eternal building blocks. Scripture affirms, however, that there is only one who is “from everlasting to everlasting”:
KJV Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
He made even the formless void (Hebrew: tohu wabohu; Gen 1:2) over which his Spirit hovered at creation.
Third, we ask, “How did God make creation?” And the response: He made creation “by the word of his power.” That is by the fiat power of his word. Compare:
KJV Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Creation is an act of the triune God.
God the Father creates: See Psalm 90:2 above.
God the Son creates: See: John 1:3: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
God the Spirit creates: See Genesis 1:2.
Fourth, we ask, “In what time frame did God make the world?” The catechism simply accepts the historicity of the Biblical narrative in faith, affirming that God completed his work of creation “in the space of six days.” So, it affirms a six day creation. The third Scripture proof:
KJV Exodus 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
This has been the component most under attack in the modern era. This is not a problem for the believer, howeer, if we consider that God might have created the world with the appearance of age. Adam was not made an infant but a full grown man. There is, as Francis Schaeffer said, in the end “no final conflict” between Scripture and science.
It is interesting to see that the old Puritan fathers did not see the point of this clause as simply verifying the historicity of the Bible’s account of creation, a fact which they took for granted. But in their exposition, the real gold here was found in the way that the six day pattern of creation established the Sabbath as a perpetual ordinance. So Thomas Vincent exposits:
In what time did God create all things?
God created all things in the space of six days. He could have created all things together in a moment; but he took six days’ time to work in, and rested on the seventh day, that we might the better apprehend the order of the creation, and that we might imitate him in working but six days of the week, and in resting on the seventh.
Finally, “How does God now view his creation?” And the answer is that it was “all very good.” This is the Lord’s own pronouncement concerning the creation that is repeated on each day of creation that it is “all very good” (see Genesis 1). This goodness has been marred by the fall but not obliterated.
Again, contra so many world religions, Biblical faith sees the world as good. It is not God, but it is good. It is to be mastered but not to be worshipped. Thus, Biblical faith gives us science and technology and blessing.