We come now to the execution part of God’s Decrees. In here we will hear again about God’s power and wisdom in Creation and Providence. The Short Catechism asks this question (#8): “How doth God execute his decrees?”. It answers: “God executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence.”
What is Creation and Providence and how does the two differ from one another? Simply put, creation means to make something out of nothing. The Shorter Catechism answers it move fully by defining creation as “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. (#9)” Now comparing this to Providence, we define Providence as God’s sustaining, governing, and concurring work after Creation. Framed this way, we can say the Creation precedes Providence and everything we commonly experience comes from God’s providential hand. This sets Creation apart so we come to focus our attention on this matter.
There were several thing we need to learn from this doctrine of Creation set forth by the Shorter Catechism answer on the matter. We go through its meaning and Scripture support. Next, we will lay down the things created on each of the day. Then we will affirm the goodness of God’s creation. Next week, we will go through next on the creation of man, and deal extensively about the doctrine of providence. We have two sermon points for this sermon: 1) The Decree of Creation; 2) The Decree of Providence. Again, we will focus on the first point and continue with the second point next week.
Before we begin, let us pray:
“Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You have given us grace to offer our common prayers with one heart.
You have promised to grant our requests when we ask You in Jesus’ name. Fulfill now the desires of our hearts and the petitions of our mouths, as is most beneficial for us, Your servants, and grant us in this world knowledge of Your truth, and in the world to come life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is eternally praised. Amen.”
Decree of Creation
Creation had a beginning. Genesis 1: 1 plainly teaches this truth when it says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The first Hebrew term “be-re-sit” is a prepositional phrase which means “in the beginning”. It is also the equivalent of the Greek term “εν αρχή” which was used in John 1:1. So the phrase “in the beginning” simply points to the starting point of all creation and logically, it affirms the beginning of the universe. This runs contrary to ancient belief that the universe is self-existing. The first verse of Scripture opposes this notion of a self-perpetuating universe. Instead, God affirms in his Word that we belong to a universe that had a beginning. Everything derives its being and existence to someone other that itself.
Scripture makes it plain for us that the source of all being is God himself. He alone is self-existent and therefore an independent and necessary being who made the heavens and earth (Genesis 1:1). This means nothing comes out from nothing. Something exists and its existence comes from God who is by himself had no beginning. God alone is eternal and not bound by any limitation of space and time.
To make something out of nothing is essentially what it means when we assign the term “create” to God. The verb “bara” in Hebrew simply means “to create” but we need to differentiate its meaning from the ordinary understanding of creation from existing substances and forms. An artist creates a work of art using material he himself did not create or even give existence to. This is the main and essential difference between God and man when it comes to creating. God creates out of nothing while man creates from something.
Hebrews 11:3 plainly teaching this truth. It reads, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” This means we demonstrate our faith by trusting and understanding that God created everything out of nothing. Everything comes from God and nothing that exists which does not come from him. The preacher of Hebrews makes it plain for us that the source of all creation is not by any pre-existing matter or existing substance. Everything comes from God’s Word. Everything in creation, things visible and invisible comes from an eternal being who is God himself.
So God made everything out from nothing. How did he do it? The Shorter Catechism explains “in the space of six days”. And the Scripture lays down each part of creation comes in being on each particular day.
The days of creation is six days and we can logically sub-divide it further as a pair of three. The first three deals with the area of creation upon which God prepares the space where its occupants will rule or reign. The second three deals with its God-appointed rulers. This ground pattern is set to fit also with the larger pattern of six days work and one day rest God performs and commands Adam and Eve to follow. As beings made in the image of God, man is called to rule and reign over God’s agents of his creation, and then enter his God’s rest after. We will go back to this and continue next week when we continue our study of the creation man.
Going back, God created on the first day light and separates it from darkness (Genesis 1:3-5). Then on the second day, God separates the atmosphere (first heaven) from the waters (Genesis 1:6-8). Then on the third day, he separates the land from water making space of the ground to bring forth plants (Genesis 1:9-13). This completest the first pair of threes. Next, on the fourth day, God fills the light with its rulers which are the Sun, Moon, and star (Genesis 1:14-19). Then on the fifth day, God fills the air and waters with living creatures (Genesis 1:20-23). Then finally on the six day, God fills the ground with living creatures and as its capstone, he created man out from the ground, commanded them to rule over all creation (Genesis 1:24-31). This completes the second pair of threes and ending the six days of creation.
Now, God made everything out from nothing in the space of six days. The term days from the Hebrew term “Yom” and plain points out a literal 24 hour day. Some may proposed that this term “Yom” also means an span of time equivalent to days (plural), interpreting it as a day to God means a thousand years to us (2 Peter 3:8) but I think exegetically the literal interpretation makes more sense. But while the Catechism teaches the six days of Creation, I think it also makes sense to lay down the logical pairing of the days in terms of a non-chronological timelines. But rest assured that what we teach and hold on together with Confessional standard is the literal interpretation that God created everything in the space of six days.
In conclusion, God affirms the goodness of his creation and this brings encouragement to us his people. Let me end our preaching with the instruction we derive from John Flavel’s commentary and here I listed six:
What may we learn from the Creation?
Answer: That God perfectly know all tat is in the Creature, be it never so secret. Psalm 94:8-9. Understand, O ye brutish among the people; and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?
What’s the second Instruction from Creation?
Answer: That God is the rightful owner of us all, and may do what he will with us. Romans 9:20. Nay, but O man, who art thou that repliest against God! Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?
What is the third Instruction from the Creation?
Answer That God only is the proper Object of Worship. Jeremiah 10:11. Thus shall he say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens, and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
What is the fourth Instruction from hence?
Answer: That Christians should not fear the power of Creatures, since they derive their being and Power from God. Isaiah 54:16-17. Behold I have created the Smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy, no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.
What is the fifth Instruction from hence?
Answer: That Atheism is a sin against natural Light and Reason. Romans 1:20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
What is the sixth Instruction hence?
Answer: That God’s glory is the end of all Being. Colossians 1:16. 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.
ZCRC(Imus), God created everything out from nothing. He made all things in six days and they were all for our good. Let us give thanks to him for everything he has done. Amen.