Full Text for Dogmatics 1- Volume 45 - What can we say about how God created the world? (Video)

Dogmatics 45 Captioning provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 ******** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ******** >> What can we say about how God created the world? >> Here we can say quite a bit. And as you mentioned, there is a lot to say because we're believing, teaching, and confessing that God is the creator of the world, the creator of all things visible and invisible. I can sum up some basic points and some basic aspects about how God created the world under three points. First, that creation is the work of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Second, that creation happened through the Word of God. And, third, that creation is, as we say, ex neholo, *** or out of nothing. So about creation as the work of the triune God? Earlier I believe you've heard, you discussed what it means when it's said that the works of God directed outward towards the world are indivisible. This is the notion of the Opra a extra, *** the indivisible. That is to understand the work of God the Father toward the world is always a work with the Son and the Holy Spirit. To be sure, each person acts in His own way, in a certain distinguished way, but all three persons act in communion and it's the work of the triune God as a whole. Accordingly, we should always regard it as one work, even as we regard each person having a particular way of working in that work. Often it's -- we summarize these works of God under three familiar headings: The work of creating, the work of redeeming, and the work of sanctifying. Now, of course, chronologically but also in the sense logically, the first work is the work of creation. Chronologically, because creation is the beginning, but even logically because this is the starting point to see God's work in history, because history starts with God creating. Now, the truth that the God of Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, is the creator has great significance. The fact that God is creator is recent enough that He would be worshipped and praised. This comes out very vividly in the vision of heaven you find in the fourth chapter of Revelation: In the center, around the throne, John writes, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion. The second was like an ox. The third had a face like a man. The fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night, they never stopped saying: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, was and is and is to come. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever, the 24 elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They wave their crowns before the throne and say you are worthy our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being. Well, in a similar way, the fact that God is the creator, that He made all things, is reason enough that He should not be questioned or put to the test, put on trial, as Job in His suffering and mourning were. We talked about this earlier: Doesn't God ask Job? Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know. But also in the light of the New Testament, that is in the light of the work of God through His son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit, it becomes clear that the work of creation is the work of all three persons of the trinity. The work of God and also His son and also His spirit. The New Testament witness especially draws attention to the Son's participation in creation. The New Testament writers do this especially to underscore the truth that the man Jesus from Nazareth, the child of Mary, is none other than God's own eternal Son. In other words, the divine Sonness of Jesus Christ is brought out strongly by making Him responsible for the creation of all things, because it implies that He himself is no mere creature, but fully equal with God. And so in the first chapter of John we read: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him, all things were made. Without Him, nothing was made that has been made. And in a similar way, Paul writes of Jesus Christ in the first chapter of Colossians, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for by Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. And, likewise, one more passage here, in the first chapter of Hebrews, Christ's divinity, Christ's divine Sonship is brought up through His participation in creation. In the past God spoke to our forefathers, the author of the Hebrews writes, through the prophets at many times or in many ways or in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. And so in light of the New Testament witness, we Christians also read the Old Testament witness in a Trinitarian way. Or rather because of the New Testament, we can see clearly the Trinitarian activities of the old witness coming through. So, for instance, it becomes clear in the account in Genesis that the work of creation is a Trinitarian work. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, but He did so with His spirit hov'ring over the face of the waters, and He did so through His own Word, that is His son. In the same way, we see the testimony in psalm 33 as a Trinitarian testimony, where we read: By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made by their starry host, by the breath of His mouth He gathers the waters of the sea into jars, He puts the deep into storehouses. But all the earth fear the world, let all the people of the world revere Him, for He spoke and it came to be, He commanded and it tood firm. So these are some of the principal ways in which the scripture, the new and the old testaments, teach that creation is the work of the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now, second, I want to speak about creation through the Word. The Latin expression is per vericle. *** This comes really quite naturally out of what we have just been talking about; namely, that creation is a Trinitarian work. Now, first of all, to say that creation is through the Word means just simply that God created by and through his own speaking. God said let there be and there was. And it was good. Things, or we should say many things, because, for instance, human creatures were formed out of the dust of the earth, and we don't really know about how angels were created. But things came into being, took their shape, had their place, were given purpose, all at the Word of the Lord. He spoke and it was. And that's one sense in which we mean that creation happens through the Word. But in another sense, the teaching that creation happens through the Word includes that God's personal word, that is His son Jesus Christ, everything is carried out by way of His son. And so the first chapter of John begins with an echo, really, of the first chapter of Genesis: In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God. Through Him all things were made. And then, third, the Christian teaching on creation teaches that God created as we say ex neholo, *** or out of nothing. God did not take pre-existing material. He did not take stuff that was already there. God did not take a universe that was eternal and give it shape. But, He made everything and He made it out of nothing at all. So we say in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and we usually take that to mean that God made out of nothing, although we have to acknowledge that the word to create in this place is used in different ways in the scriptures. And it is probably fair to say that the Old Testament does not have a really large concern to teach specifically that God created out of nothing, but it's much more concerned to say that everything, especially every, every person, owes its very existence in all respects to God. But, nevertheless, the Bible does teach that God created out of nothing. In Romans 4:17 Paul teaches: And God called into existence things that do not exist. And in Hebrews 11:3 we are told 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. But this part of the doctrine of creation has some important practical implications. And let me go over a couple of them. First, the teaching that God created out of nothing shows or is consistent with the teaching that God is the sole cause, the sole origin of the universe. Everything that exists has its origin in God. On this basis, then, we can distinguish the Christian teaching of creation from some important alternatives or competitors. For instance, the position that God created out of nothing stands in sharp contrast to positions of those like Aristotle, who held that the material world was eternal. And this position also stands in sharp contrast to pantheists, those who hold that God and creation are identical. In other words, that the Word itself is divine. So-called new age thinking reflects that kind of belief. Second in relation to this, this aspect of our teaching about creation helps to assure Christians that God is fully able to keep His promises concerning life and salvation. Nothing in the universe, after all, is outside of God's control, for he was able to create it all out of nothing. And, third, the fact that God created the universe out of nothing, but reflects or implies God's close involvement with the universe. He did not take -- begin a process and then, for instance, let it take its course or fail to take any course. No. He gave it shape, He gave it diversity, He gave it beauty and harmony. The God who took such care in making all things again is a God who can be relied on to keep His promise and shows His concern and His dedication to creation. Finally, let me say a bit about the stories of creation in the first chapters of Genesis. In Genesis 1, we have an account of creation, the six days of creation and God's rest on the seventh day. I'm not going to go over all this in any detail, but let me point out to you that some Christians through the centuries have looked at the account of creation here in Genesis 1 and classified the different things that God has done, saying that we can see in this account of creation that God has created, brought all things into being, and He has ordered or distinguished His creation, and then that He has adorned it or beautified it. And so in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And then in the days of creation, He first begins by distinguishing light and darkness, when He calls light out of darkness, let there be light. On the second day then where He separates the waters and provides the sky, God is making another distinction. And then on the third day, when He gathers the waters on the earth and brings out the lands, there is also distinguishing land and sea and then which plants live and that which does not live. And then within this world then which there is land and sea and sky, God begins to adorn it. In the heavens He puts the sun and the moon and the stars on the fourth day. And on the fifth day, He puts the birds into the air and sea creatures into the waters. And then on the sixth day, He makes the animals on the land and He makes man. Male and female. He created them. And then on the seventh day He rests. This account of creation, you might say, establishes the relationship between God and all things, God and the universe. It sets up that all the universe is the work of the triune God. It shows then that God is the source of all things. This account of the universe, because creation was made good, it was very good in God's sight, shows that creation was not in any way defective and that evil is not something that God brought about from the beginning. And this view of things excludes some of the errors we have already talked about. It excludes what might be called materialism or the idea that the universe is eternal. It excludes a dualism, that there is both good and evil in the universe from the beginning, and that there are good and evil principles that rule all things. And it also excludes the view of pantheism. Then a few verses into the second chapter we pick up a second account of creation, and this starts with God making man. God makes man out of the dust of the earth and He sets them in the garden and provides the garden for him. And the man names the animals and God gives him his mate. This account of creation is -- establishes, like I say, highlights the relationship between God and humankind. The Genesis narrative here then shifts its focus, you might say, and brings it closely on the human creature. And it brings out especially the human creature's responsibility towards God and for God towards creation to have dominion over it. And it sets the stage for the entrance of sin and the beginning of the story of salvation. So, in answer to your question how did God create, these are some basic points that can be brought up. Not only the accounts of creation, but seeing that creation is the work of the triune God, that --