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Creation [4]

Category Articles
Date November 10, 2009

4. ‘God Has Given Me All Things’1

We have been considering some of the many passages throughout the Bible where, although the doctrine of creation may not be developed to any great extent, it is clearly assumed to be true and is made the foundation of some further thoughts. It should thus be clear that Scripture as a whole, not merely the opening chapters of Genesis, bears authoritative testimony to God as Creator. However, many feel that they can embrace evolutionary philosophy and yet hang on to belief in the Bible. Accordingly they all too lightly assume that they may interpret these opening chapters of Genesis in some non-literal fashion and regard them as consistent with some form of theistic evolution – the idea that God used evolution as his means of creation.

But Edward J Young points out that, for instance,

you cannot hold to the evolution of the body of woman and hold to the Bible at the same time, for the simple reason that the Bible shows us how Eve was created. God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept, and God took one of his ribs, and from that rib He built the woman. He brought her to the man to see what he would call her, and the man immediately recognised that she stood in a unique relationship to himself, as was not true of any of the animals.2

In any case, the fact of God creating Adam and Eve directly and separately is clear in several later scriptures, including 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9: ‘The man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.’ Theistic evolution is a serious concession to secular thinking. As we have seen repeatedly in God’s revelation in Scripture, he uses the fact of creation – his direct activity in making all things out of nothing – to demonstrate his power. And, as R L Dabney states, if we ‘admit in good faith the facts of an actual creation, anywhere in the past . . . it will appear just as reasonable that God should have created the whole finished result as a part’ of it.3

Although the Sabbath has been changed in New Testament times to the first day of the week to commemorate Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the pattern of six days of work and one of rest makes every week a perpetual reminder of the creation week. The Fourth Commandment states: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work . . . for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.’ We surely cannot read this without being impressed by the fact that these days of the creation week were ordinary days; they were no different from those of any subsequent week.

Dabney goes to the core of the matter when he writes:

When Moses seems to say that God brought our world out of nothing into an organised state, about 6000 years ago and in the space of six days, are his words to be classed along with those passages which denote physical occurrences according to the popular appearances and which are to be interpreted, as we do the popular language about them, in obedience to the discoveries of natural science?4 Or does this class of passages belong to a different category? We are compelled to take the latter answer . . . In the first place, the reference to physical facts in the record of creation is not merely subsidiary to the narrative or [the] statement of some theological truth, but it is introduced for its own sake. For creation is not only a visible fact; it is a theological doctrine. The statement of it is fundamental to the unfolding of the whole doctrine of the creature’s relation to his Creator.5

We have a responsibility to hold fast to every doctrine God has seen fit to reveal to us in Scripture; in particular, we are under obligation to receive by faith the doctrine of Creation. And, as we have noticed in considering various Scripture references to the doctrine, we should apply this teaching in a number of directions. Indeed Thomas Manton counsels us not to leave off any meditation until we are conscious of having obtained some profit.

He made this remark in a sermon on Hebrews 11:3, and the following are some of his points as he encouraged his hearers to meditate on the doctrine of Creation:

(1) There will be a greater disposition and aptness to praise the Lord. If you have meditated aright, the heart will be more affected with the lustre of His glory shining forth in the creature6 . . . (2) The soul will be raised into some wonder and admiration of the goodness and wisdom of God . . . (3) If you meditate aright, the heart will be more drawn off the creature to God . . . We are apt to stay in the creature, and forget the Creator; this is quite contrary to the end of God; they are to show us how good and how sweet the Lord is. This was the reason why God made the world and filled it with inhabitants . . . (4) If you have rightly meditated upon the works of creation . . . more fear . . . of God . . . will arise from the consideration of His majesty and power impressed upon the creature . . . (5) There will be more love to God for all His kindness and for all those effusions and communications of His goodness to the creature . . . (6) Another fruit of meditating upon the works of God will be obedience . . . (7) The chief thing in meditation on the creation is that you should come away with a greater trust . . .7

Martin Luther was totally practical in his approach to the doctrine of Creation: ‘I believe that God has made me and all creatures. He has given me my body and soul.’8 Manton too was practical; he tells each of us to reason thus:

I have a bounteous Creator; God has given me all things, for my use and comfort, and . . . only that I should serve His glory. O let me not rob Him of that; let me enjoy the creature, but give God the glory; let me not pervert the end of my creation; all should be to His praise.9

For, as Manton also writes, ‘the ends of the creation were many, chiefly these three: man’s good, the Creator’s praise, the glory of Jesus Christ’.10

These men were not only, in a theoretical way, recognising the existence of the Creator; they were identifying the implications of that doctrine for themselves. Admittedly, the idea of a divine Creator was part of the cultures in which Luther and Manton were brought up, but they did not rest in a formal acknowledgement of God as Creator; they became willingly obedient to the demands of his law. Luther, in particular, was made willing to cast away all his attempts at self-righteousness and to become totally dependent on the righteousness of Christ, the Son of God, of whom it is said, ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1:3). Unless we possess true, experimental religion, any outward knowledge of a particular doctrine, however vital it may be, will not avail us when we meet our Creator.

Notes

  1. This is the final part of a paper delivered at the Theological Conference in 2008. Part 1 showed, on the basis of Scripture, how creation points to the power and wisdom of God. Part 2 dealt with contemporary opposition to creation in the scientific community, and Part 3 detailed some of the testimony to Creation to be found throughout Scripture.
  2. In the Beginning, Banner of Truth, 1976, pp 53,54 [out of print].
  3. Robert L Dabney, Discussions, vol 3, Banner of Truth reprint, 1982, p 148.
  4. Dabney is no doubt referring to such matters as the sun ‘rising’.
  5. Discussions, vol 3, p 133.
  6. That is, any part of the creation.
  7. Thomas Manton, By Faith, Banner of Truth, 2000, pp 84-87.
  8. Quoted by Cameron A MacKenzie, ‘The Evangelical Character of Martin Luther’s Faith’ in Michael A G Haykin and Kenneth J Stewart, The Emergence of Evangelicalism, Apollos, 2008, p 194.
  9. By Faith, p 83.
  10. By Faith, p 82.
    1. Rev Kenneth D. Macleod is editor of The Free Presbyterian Magazine, from the November 2009 edition of which this article is reproduced with kind permission.

      www.fpchurch.org.uk

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