1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
(Genesis 1:1-2:3, KJV)
The Bible’s opening with the above majestic account of God’s creating the world and everything in it and putting man in charge of it and its closing with an equally majestic description of the new Jerusalem where He will live with man throughout eternity indicate their (and our) importance to Him. However there are many questions about each which Christians don’t agree on. A couple days ago my family and I began a study of the former, creation, in our after-breakfast Bible reading time guided by Chapter 15, “Creation,” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994). During our study I’ll share here some of what we read and discuss, supplemented by some of my personal reading and thoughts on the topic.
Reasons for Studying the Doctrine of Creation
In his highly regarded Christian Theology, Millard J. Erickson gives six reasons for studying the doctrine of creation:
1. It plays a prominent role in the Bible, as I indicated above.
2. It has been an important aspect of the church’s teaching and preaching.
3. It affects our understanding of other doctrines.
4. It helps differentiate Christianity from other religions.
5. It is an ongoing point of dialogue between Christianity and natural science. My family will be reading and I plan to share here from Grudem’s lengthy (pages 273-308) consideration of the relationship between the Bible and modern science.
6. It is an ongoing source of disagreement among Christians. I plan to consider some of their disagreements in future posts here.
For fuller explanations, see Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 2013 [3rd ed.], pages 338-40.
Creation Out of Nothing
Genesis 1:1 (quoted above) implies that God created the universe out of nothing. Sometimes this is described as creation ex nihilo, ex nihilo being the Latin for “out of nothing.” This means that before God began to create, nothing existed except God. Some other Bible passages which indicate that God created everything and did it out of nothing are:
– “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host….He spoke and it [the earth] came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:6,9).
– “All things were made through him [the Word or Jesus Christ], and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3, ESV; all Bible passages are quoted from the ESV unless otherwise indicated).
– “God…calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17).
– “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that was is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).
– “For by him [God’s beloved Son or Jesus Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
– “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11).
That God created everything out of nothing means that nothing is eternal except Him and thus that worship is due to only Him. It also means that He created things for a purpose and that we should try to understand that purpose and use creation in ways that fit that purpose. (This idea is from Grudem, page 264.)
Adam and Eve a Special Creation
The Bible describes God’s creating Adam and Eve each in a special, personal way:
– “The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7).
– “The LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his robs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to man” (Genesis 2:21-22).
The special creation of Adam and Eve suggests that, although we may be physically like animals in many ways, we are not just a product of evolution from them but are different from them. How we are different is brought out in the account of creation with which I opened this post–we are made in God’s image and were appointed by Him to rule over the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26-27). (This idea is from Grudem, page 266.)
Creation the Work of the Triune God
God the Father may have initiated creation, but God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were also involved in it.
Two of the Bible passages that I quoted in “Creation Out of Nothing” above, John 1:1 and Colossians 1:16, refer to the Son’s involvement in creation. Other Bible passages in which his involvement is referred to are:
– “For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
– “In these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:2).
Bible passages indicating the Holy Spirit’s involvement in creation are:
– “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2).
– “The Spirit of God has made me [Elihu], and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
– “When you send forth your Spirit, they [creatures] are created, and you renew the face of the ground” (Psalm 104:30)
For a fuller consideration of the Triune God as the source of creation, see J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1996), pages 101-05. He summarizes it by saying, “Creation is from the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. Thus does the one God in three persons perform the mighty work of creation.”