“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).We touched briefly on how God made the universe and everything in it, but that’s a topic that we need to dig down on a bit. There are a few things we need to make sure everyone is clear on.
One: God created everything out of nothing (Heb 11:3). God did not create out of some pre-existent material. Nor did he make the universe out of himself (as in pantheism). Why is this important? Wayne Grudem sums it up: “Creation is distinct from yet always dependent on God.”1 We cannot lose sight of either of those truths.
Two: God created everything that it might glorify him. Everything was made for him (Col 1:16), for his glory (Ps 19:1, Rev 4:11), and so that we may marvel at his grace (Eph 2:7). He loves us; he wants to know us and us to know him, but he created us primarily, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, that we might “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” We need to remember that we’re here for his benefit, not the other way around.
Three: God created everything “very good” (Gen 1:31). Matter is not dirty or unworthy or intrinsically evil. Pleasure is not wrong. “Believing that the physical nature is evil has led some, including Christians, to shun the human body and any type of physical satisfaction. Spirit [they believe], being more divine, is the proper realm of the good and the godly. ... But the doctrine of creation affirms that God has made all that is and has made it good. It is therefore redeemable.”2 Instead of asceticism, we should enjoy God’s good creation with thankfulness (Ecc 8:15).
Four: It excludes dualism. Since God made everything, there is nothing in all of creation that is God’s equal. While there is evil in the world, good and evil are not equally matched, in a struggle for control. God is God, and good will triumph over evil.
What does this mean for us? It has a major bearing on moral issues.
First, it means that God owns us. We are his personal property. He has the right to do with his property as he wishes. That includes the imposition of rules — ie, moral laws. He has the right to say “Thou shalt not.”
Second, it means God knows what’s best for us. God’s rules are not arbitrary.
They are based in his nature (love is preferred over hate, holiness over immorality) and in how he designed us. He knows how he intended everything to work and what happens when we don’t follow that design. When your car’s manufacturer tells you to use unleaded gas or diesel, they’re not trying to ruin the fun of experimentation. They’re telling you if you put the wrong fuel in your car it won’t run. The maker knows how the engine was designed, what it needs to run properly. In the same way, God knows how he designed sex to work. He knows that greed and covetousness are toxic. He knows he made us interdependent and wants us to take care of each other. And he knows how badly things can go when we don’t follow his rules. God’s holiness is repelled by our sin; God’s love wants better for us than the messes we make for ourselves. So he gave us rules.
Third, it means we must share what we have. “Because God made everything, God owns everything. If everything created owes its existence to God, then nothing created truly belongs to another created thing.”3 Everything we possess came from and ultimately belongs to God. Not only did he create us interdependent, not only is greed toxic, not only does he want us to mimic his love, but we have no right to be selfish with what he has given us. Refusing to share what you have been given is childish and ungrateful.
Fourth, it directs our focus to God rather than creation. “Worshiping the creation rather than the Creator does not cause us to protect life or steward creation. It causes us to devalue life and consume creation. This is because all worship of the creation is actually a veiled form of self-worship. Consider abortion, human trafficking, domestic violence, and child abuse as daily evidences of our disordered worship of people. Rather than treating people as image-bearers, we treat them as consumable and expendable, only holding value insofar as they feed our desires.”3 But when we enjoy God’s good creation with thankfulness to the Creator, everything is kept in its proper place.
So go live like people who know they belong to the all-wise Maker of heaven and earth. Follow God’s law, not out of fear of punishment, but because you know it comes from a loving God.
For more on this topic, I recommend “God’s Originating Work: Creation” in Introducing Christian Doctrine by Millard Erickson.
1 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology
2 Millard Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine
3 Jen Wilkin, None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing)
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Part of Christianity 101