Condensed Theology

A Primer in Systematic Theology

Theology Proper: The Doctrine of God
What does the Bible teach about God?

Where We’re Going
• Twelve lectures covering four subjects:
– The existence of God – The attributes of God – God as Trinity – God’s works of creation & providence

The Doctrine of Creation

The Doctrine of Creation: Defined
• For his own glory, the Triune God created all things out of nothing. • For the purposes of this lecture, we will parse this definition in the following order:
– The Triune God created all things – For his own glory – Out of nothing

The Triune God Created All Things

The Triune God Created All Things: Summary Texts
• Gen 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. • Isa 45:18: For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), "I am the LORD, and there is none else. • John 1:3: All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

The Triune God Created All Things: The Activity of the Godhead
• To say that “the Triune God” created all things is a redundant way of referring to God, since he is, by his very nature, triune; • Nevertheless, the Bible is explicit that each member of the Trinity was involved in the creation.

The Triune God Created All Things: The Activity of the Godhead
• The Father creates through the Son
– 1 Cor 8:5-6: For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. – Heb 1:2: …in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

The Triune God Created All Things: The Activity of the Godhead
• The Spirit is involved in creation as well, though his specific role is unclear.
– Gen 1:2: The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. – Job 33:4: The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life. – Ps 104:30: You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the ground.

The Triune God Created All Things: “All Things” Defined
• The Triune God has created the physical universe, visible and invisible, including humanity
– Exod 20:11: For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. – 2 Kgs 19:15: Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.”

The Triune God Created All Things: “All Things” Defined
• The Triune God has created the physical universe, visible and invisible, including humanity
– Ps 146:6: Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever. – Jer 32:17: Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.

The Triune God Created All Things: “All Things” Defined
• The Triune God has created the physical universe, visible and invisible, including humanity
– Acts 4:24: And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.” – Acts 17:24: The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.

The Triune God Created All Things: “All Things” Defined
• The Triune God has created the physical universe, visible and invisible, including humanity
– Gen 1:27: God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Gen 2:7, 21-22: Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 21So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

The Triune God Created All Things: “All Things” Defined
• The Triune God has created the spiritual universe as well
– Neh 9:6: You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You. – Col 1:16: For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

The Triune God Created All Things: What God Made Is Good
• Gen 1:31: God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
– See also Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, & 25.

• 1 Tim 6:17: Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

The Triune God Created All Things: What God Made Is Good
• 1 Tim 4:1-5: But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

For His Own Glory

For His Own Glory: Summary Texts
• Ps 19:1-4a: The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. • Isa 6:3: And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory."

For His Own Glory: Summary Texts
• Rom 1:20: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. • Rev 4:11: Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.

For His Own Glory: Not of Necessity, but according to His Will
• Rev 4:11: Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. • Ps 33:6, 9: By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. 9For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

For His Own Glory: Not of Necessity, but according to His Will
• Acts 17:24-25, 28: The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things….28for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'

For His Own Glory: Not of Necessity, but according to His Will
• Creation exists by the mere pleasure of God
– Psalm 115:1-8: Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. Why should the nations say, "Where, now, is their God?“ But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, The work of man's hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell; They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat.

For His Own Glory: Not of Necessity, but according to His Will
• Augustine has noted that if someone should ask, Why did God will the creation? “he is asking for something that is greater than the will of God, but nothing greater can be found.”

For His Own Glory: Through the Church
• Creation and redemption are clearly related to one another in this regard; creation glorifies him in redemption. • Eph 3:9-10: …and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. • Creation is the theater for God’s glory in redemption.

Out of Nothing
Creatio ex nihilo

Out of Nothing
• The phrase “out of nothing” (Latin: ex nihilo) is not found in Scripture; • Yet it accurately and concisely communicates what the Bible teaches.
– Heb 11:3: By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Out of Nothing
• The phrase has been used in the history of Christian theology in order to distinguish the Christian doctrine of creation from its erroneous competitors.

Out of Nothing: Anti-Materialism
• To say that the Triune God created all things out of nothing stands in sharp contrast with materialism, • Which suggests that matter and God are eternal; that matter, like God, has always existed. • Such a teaching threatens God’s independence and sovereignty because it posits a co-eternal entity (“matter”) that does not have God as its origin.

Out of Nothing: Anti-Pantheism
• To say that the Triune God created all things out of nothing stands in sharp contrast with pantheism, • Which suggests that the creation is a divine emanation, another god; that, in fact, God is the creation. • Such a teaching threatens Christian monotheism and leads toward worship of the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever (Rom 1:25).

Science and the Doctrine of Creation

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
• No discussion of the doctrine of creation would be complete without a word about its relationship with science. • When we speak about science and the doctrine of creation, we are addressing what are theologically referred to as general and special revelation.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
• General revelation is that unveiling of God’s identity and God’s truth through what has been made and the products of his creation • Special revelation is that unveiling of God’s identity and God’s truth through his word (written and oral) and ultimately through Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
• Science and the discoveries of science are part of God’s general revelation • What the Bible teaches about creation is part of God’s special (written) revelation. • This being the case, we may draw the following conclusions about science and the doctrine of creation:

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
1. Science and the discoveries of science with respect to the natural world will not ultimately contradict the teaching of Scripture. 2. General and special revelation have limited revelatory capabilities. General revelation will never lead you to special revelation. And special revelation will not teach you optics. 3. General and special revelation are mutually informative. This point needs further development…

Science and the Doctrine of Creation: Mutually Informative
• In order to understand properly the special revelation we need to understand properly general revelation. • A simple example would be that we need to know the languages in which the Bible has been written (general revelation) in order to understand the Bible (special revelation).

Science and the Doctrine of Creation: Mutually Informative
• In order to understand properly the special revelation we need to understand properly general revelation. • A more complex way of putting this is that we need the Bible to help us understand the creation and we need the creation to help us understand the Bible. • Take, for example, the idea of a solar system, the notion that the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation: Heliocentricity
• Until the discoveries of Copernicus (14731543) in the 16th century, the church believed that the sun revolved around the earth and used the Bible to prove its point. • And when I say “the church,” I mean Protestants as well.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation: Heliocentricity
• “Luther…referred to Copernicus as an ‘upstart astrologer’ and as a ‘fool [who] wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.’”

Science and the Doctrine of Creation: Heliocentricity
• Luther’s associate Melanchthon added,
– The eyes are witnesses that the heavens revolve in the space of twenty-four hours. But certain men, either from the love of novelty, or to make a display of ingenuity, have concluded that the earth moves….Now, it is a want of honesty and decency to assert such notions publicly, and the example is pernicious. It is the part of a good mind to accept the truth as revealed by God and to acquiesce in it.

• Melanchthon also believed that “wise governments ought to ‘repress’ the views of Copernicus because ‘public proclamation of absurd opinions is indecent and sets a harmful example.’”

Science and the Doctrine of Creation: Heliocentricity
• In this case, the church’s interpretation of Scripture needed to be adjusted in order to account for the revolutionary discovery of Copernicus; • We read special revelation wrongly and needed general revelation to correct our course. • Of course, the opposite is true as well.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
• We will not understand general revelation aright without being grounded in special revelation. • For example, on the basis of what Scripture teaches we can say that naturalism is an erroneous worldview; for it begins with the notion that there is no God and from there explains the existence of creation.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
• Now then, since general and special revelation are mutually informative, we need to be cautious not only about scientific discoveries, but also about our interpretation of Scripture as it relates to the physical world. • One such caution relates to the age of the earth.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation: The Age of the Earth
• There are interpretive options that can account for the scientific consensus that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. • In principle, this is not a bad procedure (to allow scientific discoveries to inform our interpretation of Scripture), as we have seen with heliocentricity. • Nevertheless, caution must be exercised on both sides of the argument.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
• The Reformation Study Bible’s note on Genesis 1 reflects this kind of caution: • “Reformed scholars have proposed several interpretations of the creative ‘day.’ Some view these as literal, sequential, 24-hour days. This interpretation usually entails the view that the earth is relatively ‘young’ (c. 10,000 years old or less). Other scholars, noting that the Hebrew word for ‘day’ (yom) can refer to periods of time (e.g., 2:4), have proposed the ‘day-age theory,’ that the creative ‘days’ refer to extended ages or epochs of time. Still others suggest that literal, 24-hour days are intended, but that these days were separated by extended periods of time.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
• “Finally, some scholars argue that the ‘days’ of creation constitute a literary framework…designed to teach that God alone is the creator of an orderly universe, and to call upon human beings made in the image of the creator God to reflect God’s creative activity in their own pattern of labor….This ‘framework hypothesis’ views the days of creation as God’s gracious accommodation to the limitations of human knowledge—an expression of the infinite Creator’s work in terms understandable to finite and frail human beings.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation
• “This last group of scholars observes that the universe gives the appearance of great antiquity, that the phrase ‘morning and evening’ seems inconsistent with the ‘dayage’ theory, and that the notion of intervening ages between isolated 24-hour days is not apparent from the text.”

Practical Implications of the Doctrine of Creation

Practical Implications: The Creator/Creature Distinction
• Because God is the maker of heaven and earth, and we are not, the doctrine of creation places us in our proper relation to God
– Gen 14:19: He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.” – 1 Chron 29:11: Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.

Practical Implications: The Value of Creation
• Because everything he has made belongs to him; he has authority over all he has made; the world is God’s and not the devil’s. Satan only rules with God’s permission.
– This does not mean that the world is not fallen. – But there is a vast difference between a fallen, corrupted creation and an intrinsically evil creation.

Practical Implications: The Value of Creation
• This means that the creation (including man) has intrinsic value and goodness, which, though radically corrupted by our fall into sin; nevertheless, persists in the universe. • Since “everything created by God is good,” (1 Tim 4:4), it is to be honored, respected, affirmed, and even enjoyed. Such enjoyment is, in fact, part of God’s purpose for creation.
– Ps 104:14-15: He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man's heart.”

Practical Value of the Doctrine of Creation: The Majesty of God
• It highlights the greatness, majesty, wisdom, goodness, and love of God
– See Job 37

Practical Value of the Doctrine of Creation: The Faithfulness of God
• It strengthens our faith, confirms trust in God, and brings comfort in suffering
– Ps 65:5-6: By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea; Who establishes the mountains by His strength, Being girded with might. – Ps 121:2: My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

Practical Value of the Doctrine of Creation: The Faithfulness of God
• It strengthens our faith, confirms trust in God, and brings comfort in suffering
– Isa 40:28-31: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Practical Value of the Doctrine of Creation: Humility
• It engenders humility and meekness and makes us sense our smallness and insignificance before God
– Job 38:4-5: Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? – Isa 45:9: Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands '?

Practical Value of the Doctrine of Creation: Praise
• It inspires praise and thanksgiving
– Ps 136:3-8: Give thanks to the Lord of lords, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. To Him who alone does great wonders, For His lovingkindness is everlasting; To Him who made the heavens with skill, For His lovingkindness is everlasting; To Him who spread out the earth above the waters, For His lovingkindness is everlasting; To Him who made the great lights, For His lovingkindness is everlasting; The sun to rule by day, For His lovingkindness is everlasting, The moon and stars to rule by night, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Practical Value of the Doctrine of Creation: Praise
• It inspires praise and thanksgiving
– Ps 148:5: Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. – Rev 14:7: …and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”

Practical Value of the Doctrine of Creation: Praise
• It inspires praise and thanksgiving
– Hymn 111: This Is My Father’s World

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.