The First Work of God: Creation
Written by G.M. Bilkes
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Reformed Worldviews - Evolution/Creation

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Scripture could not have begun any better way than it does: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The biblical doctrine of creation is foundational to the whole message of the Scripture. Without it, the message of Scripture would have hung in mid-air and have no footing.

Genesis 1 faces us with the first work of God, namely, creation.1 We could define creation as that work of God, whereby He called into being out of nothing heaven, and earth, and everything in them. Whatever He purposed to create, He brought into being powerfully, perfectly, and gloriously, to magnify His great honour. And, as Scripture reveals, He created everything by the Word of His mouth in six days.

No other religion gives us the perspective that the Bible does about God, the world, man, and the purpose of everyone and everything. The doctrine of evolution is particularly devastating. Is it any wonder that people today and our society as a whole lack significance and perspective? The doctrine of evolution has removed the linchpin of our worldview, and chaos is inevitable. The great thing about the biblical doctrine of creation is that it puts everything in its proper place. It’s the first work of God.

The Author of Creation

Genesis 1 tells us many glorious things about God. First of all, it tells us that He existed before creation, perfectly glorious in Himself (Gen 1:1; John 1:12). God is Himself uncreated, in each of the blessed persons of His glorious Being. Secondly, He is the glorious Author of all creation. Everything owes its existence to Him. Thirdly, all His creative acts show His divine wisdom and power, as well as His matchless glory. Fourthly, God created all things by the Word of His mouth. In the case of man, He formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life. Fifthly, the Spirit of God also was active in creation, as is clear from His motion over the waters (Gen. 1:2). Sixthly, the creation of man is the most special of all. It was decreed and wrought by God in the Triunity of His persons (Gen. 1:26). Finally, God made all things for His glory, as is clear from the sublime though terse record of the 7th day (Gen. 2:1-4). Where would we start, if we did not have this view of God’s first work?

The Scope of Creation

Genesis 1 also tells us many wonderful things about the whole universe. First of all, it tells us that the scope of Genesis 1 is cosmic. God did not only create the earth on which we live, but the heavens as well: the sun, moon and stars, the numerous galaxies beyond our own. He also filled heaven and earth with their hosts, the angelic host in the heavens as well as everything in this world. From the blazing sun that gives light and life to our earth, to the smallest blade of grass that receives its light, to the tiniest form of animate or inanimate creation found at the bottom of the deepest ocean--God has authored it all. Secondly, however, the biblical account of creation centres on the earth, where God has given a place to man, the apex of His creation. In creation, God furnished man with an arena in which to exercise his capacities for dominion under God (Gen. 1:28).

Certain modern ideologues have accused the Bible of being responsible for a lot of the destruction on the globe. This is nothing but the vanity of man’s fallen and rebellious mind that faults the Creator, rather than admitting the fault to lie in his fall and sin. God made everything good, and gave it to man to rule and fill. This glorious task still rests on man, though left to himself, he is unable to do so righteously and holily as he did at the first.

The Apex of Creation

There is no finer or more accurate view of man anywhere than what is found in Genesis 1 to 2. Man is the apex of creation, formed by the Triune God to glorify Him on the earth. He was created perfectly, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (see Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). He was given the institution of work in order to display the innate gifts with which God had endowed him, and to serve God in creation.

Man was created male and female, both image-bearers of God, though with distinct roles. Man was also given the glorious and eminently useful institution of marriage. His wife was “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” She was not some lesser being taken from another and inferior realm of creation, as many other religions teach. In their relationship, Adam and his wife would illustrate and typify aspects of the union between Christ, the Second Adam, and His bride (Eph. 5:25-27). This high view of man also reveals the deep contrast between the height at which Adam was created and the depths to which he fell.

The Order of Creation

Each action, word, and motion in Genesis 1 is that of order. When God set the planets in their orbits, He ordered them. When God placed the beasts in the field and the plants in the soil, the luminaries in the heavens, the dry land and the sea, He ordered them. He divided and spoke; He called and separated--everything in Genesis 1 breathes God’s authority to arrange and order. Without this view of creation, we lose all view of order in our world, order in our thinking, and order in our life.

Is it any wonder that (post)modern man has lost a sense of order and significance, since he believes he has evolved by random principles? God, however, is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).

The Purpose of Creation

The days of creation are followed by a day of rest--the seventh day (Gen. 2:1-4). This rest is marked by completion, cessation, consecration, and commendation. Both the hosts of heaven and the hosts upon earth rest with God. As the mighty and glorious Sovereign rests from His creative work, His created hosts on heaven and earth enter into His rest and attribute glory and honour and blessing to God (see Rev. 4:10-11). Though God ceased from His creative work after the sixth day, yet His providential and redemptive works have continued.

One day, according to His own promise, He will make new heavens and a new earth (Isa. 65:8). All those ingrafted into the New Adam will enter into that everlasting rest ... where no fall will ever be possible, and the eternal Sabbath will begin, and God shall be all and in all.

Conclusion

What should the doctrine of creation, the first work of God, make us do?

1.We should uphold the biblical record of creation. We cannot afford to abandon it unless we can afford to abandon our God, our worldview, and our purpose.

2.We should study the biblical record of creation. To do so, is to trace the work of God. Men like to study the works of sculptors, painters, and others skilled in the arts. Who can trace the handiwork of God without being rendered speechless in wonder?

3.We should cherish the biblical record of creation. It gives our daily work significance. It shows us the biblical pattern and privilege of marriage. It shows the deep implications of creation restored. It gives us the Sabbath pattern.

4.We should praise the great Author of creation. In so doing, we will join the redeemed church, which sings: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

Dr. Jerry Bilkes is a pastor in the FRCNA and a professor at Purtian Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  This article was printed in the FRC Messenger and is republished here with permission. 

Endnotes

 1. Theologians  have sometimes called creation the first “extrinsic” work of God, because it is the first work He does outside of Himself.