We confess the absolute authority of God, and there are layered reasons for doing this. He has authority over us in the first instance because He created us, and in the second because He redeemed us from our sins. We will come to the issue of redemption shortly, but we must begin where the Bible does, with the doctrine of creation.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Summary of the Text:
“Know ye that the Lord he is God: It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Ps. 100:3). When we confess that God is the Maker of heaven and earth, there are three basic things entailed by this. First, God is the absolute Creator. And second, He created all things, heaven and earth both, and we are part of that. We are a subset of the created order, making us creatures. And third, if follows that we are not the Creator. He made us, and not we ourselves. God created us. We did not create us. However hard he strains, a creature cannot stand in a bucket and then pick it up.
We see the created order described in a particular way—described as heaven and earth. The union of the two was disrupted by our sin, but in the redemption of Christ, a reunion of the two is coming. “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph. 1:10). It is no sin to say that God created the universe, or that He fashioned the space/time continuum, but take care not to lose the Bible’s way of speaking of it. Our terminology is fine, but God’s is better.
Ground of Worship:
The doctrine of creation is a strong incentive to worship. “O come, let us worship and bow down: Let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; And we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6–7).
The created order evokes both praise and worship—but they are not the same thing. “Praise ye him, sun and moon: Praise him, all ye stars of light.” (Ps. 148:3). To praise God is to exalt Him, to lift Him up, to honor Him. To worship is to prostrate yourself in humility before Him, having been poleaxed by the grandeur. Having done so, you make yourself available for service. Here am I, Lord. Send me. Present your bodies, which is your spiritual worship (Rom. 12:1-2).
Ground of Mercy Work:
The doctrine of creation is a strong incentive to mercy work. “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: But he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Prov. 14:31). It is a disincentive to oppression, and the sin of rejoicing in iniquity. “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: And he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished” (Prov. 17:5). And the doctrine of creation provides social perspective on the right kind of equity. “The rich and poor meet together: The Lord is the maker of them all” (Prov. 22:2).
Ground of True Sovereignty:
A robust doctrine of creation helps us to not trip over our Calvinism, which is easy to do. A Creator God is a transcendent God, while a sovereign god “within the system” would be a muscle-bound Zeus, and a bully to boot. But if God is the absolute Creator, every difficulty vanishes. When Hamlet spoke of doing away with himself, how much of that soliloquy was Shakespeare, and how much Hamlet? 50/50? 90/10? Or 100/100? “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? Or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Is. 45:9).
Ground of Covenant Redemption:
“For thy Maker is thine husband; The Lord of hosts is his name; And thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Is. 54:5). He is the God of the whole earth. He is the transcendent God. And, by the grace of God, we have been made the bride of Christ. Our Maker is our husband, and this is all gospel.
Something Is Eternal:
“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” (Heb. 11:3).
So we must make an important distinction. God creates from nothing, ex nihilo. We are created in His image, and so it is that we are makers also. We are lower case makers, lower case creators, because we must always and necessarily work with preexistent materials. But God is the Creator Absolute.
Christ the Creator:
God created all things, but He did so through His agent, our Lord Jesus. Scripture tells us this repeatedly. Speaking of the Logos, John says, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). The apostle Paul teaches us the same thing. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:16–17).
“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:2–3).
If once you grant the existence of a transcendent, living God—which is awfully big of you—everything else follows. He spoke, and it was. There is no need for some tortuously slow Rube Goldberg theistic evolution machine, one that takes millions of years to grind out miserable creatures like it was some kind of cosmic meat grinder. It is not we ourselves. All our intellectual devices for making the Word of God respectable are beyond lame.
The Son of God created all things. The Son of God sustains all things—if He were to cease speaking it, the world would vanish again into the nothingness from which it came. It wouldn’t even make a noise. Not only is it all from Jesus, it is for Jesus.
And so this means—and we must never forget it—the one who fashioned you, made you, shaped you, and created you is the same one who died on a gibbet for you outside Jerusalem. The one who created the sky had that same sky turn black over Him. And He did it so that you might sing the next song with a full heart.
“A robust doctrine of creation helps us to not trip over our Calvinism, which is easy to do.”
If anyone doubts that, the internet has created a caricature of Calvanists that is absolutely appalling. A bully creator God indeed, a muscle bound Zeus, fashioned exclusively in their own image. Some of us are not impressed, we whack those guys with a few tulips and tell them to go do some Calvinist crunches or something.
Reality has a fantastic Rube Goldberg quality to it. Our salvation depends among other unlikely things on a man in a ditch being sold into slavery. Still, good stuff. Summary: reality has its being in God, not vice versa.
Because God is a God of story, among other things.
But not by necessity.
I think I understand what you mean–God needn’t create at all or create the way he did. That he needn’t create is the essence of divine aseity, if I understand correctly, and of course I agree. The second part seems a little speculative but I don’t know.
How should I pronounce your name? Beth-yada? Bethy-ada? Be-thy-ada? Not that I have occasion to speak it aloud but I am curious.
I admit I had to google Rube Goldberg machine. I was familiar with the concept though not the name, having frustratingly played Mousetrap as a kid. I never did like that game. “He spoke, and it was. There is no need for some tortuously slow Rube Goldberg theistic evolution machine, one that takes millions of years to grind out miserable creatures like it was some kind of cosmic meat grinder.” There is certainly no need for such a machine, but how can we be convinced no such machine exists? God has no need for me. He is not deficient without… Read more »
What a gle. reat God we serve. And he has given you a talent in writing :). Thanks for this article