Insuppressible Truth: All Creatures of Our God and King
From the opening verse of Genesis 1, God is declared to be the Creator; and as the creation account is described throughout chapters 1 and 2, the Bible simply states that God was there before anything else, and this fundamental fact is to be received by faith (Heb. 11:3). Another point that we learn from Genesis is that the ability to create belongs to God. This truth is further explained in Psalm 96:5, which contrasts false gods and the true God by this very ability to create: "For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens."
One of the unique characteristics of the biblical view of creation is that it is going somewhere; that is, creation has a goal. History is not cyclical, going round and round endlessly with no real meaning or end. For now, as Paul says in Romans 8:21, there is a frustration within creation itself as it waits to be delivered from the bondage of decay and death to which it was subjected in Adam's disobedience. And how this occurs is through God's redemptive work of a new creation.
The freedom from corruption that creation is longing for and anticipating is linked to the freedom from corruption (both physical and spiritual) that God's people are longing for and anticipating. Consequently, Paul can say that whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come (II Cor. 5:17). And as a result of this re-created life, Christians are those who have been created in Christ to do good works that reflect our new nature and proclaim the glory of God (Eph. 2:10). Paul is not saying that this new creation has happened completely and finally. But because the redeeming and reclaiming work of Christ for sinners has been accomplished, the new life that has already been generated by the Holy Spirit is a guarantee and anticipation of the final new creation that will exist at both the individual and cosmic levels. At the individual level, every single one of God's people will be set free from the effects of sin; temptation, guilt, damaged relationships, and death will in the end be no more. And at the cosmic level, the new heavens and earth will descend, resembling a kind of new Eden, only this time without the possibility of a second fall into sin. Creation will serve its Creator with perfect consistency, and the people of God will flawlessly reflect the image of Christ, reigning with him in righteousness forever (Rev. 21-22:5).
One of the God-given roles of creation is to testify to the fact that there is only one true God who has spoken and made known his will which everyone is responsible to obey. In a general sense of this divine communication, Psalm 19:1-4 informs us:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their measuring line goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
God as eternal and transcendent (that is, utterly distinct and separate from creation) is independent of all created reality. God does not receive his existence or importance from creation; rather, creation receives its existence and significance from him. There is a fundamental difference between God and the world. Thus, any religious system that tries to equate the two by either maintaining that everything in the world is god or that god is somehow in everything is to be rejected as contrary to Scripture.
There is an observed consistency in how creation functions that testifies to God's faithfulness (Gen. 8:22). There is a basic confidence and predictability in creation that makes it knowable by us. Scientific study can therefore be done, further showing the truth of God's existence and character for those who are willing to receive the revelation that he gives. However, this does not mean that unexpected, and even miraculous, events cannot occur. God reveals his wisdom and power in the orderly way by which creation has been established; but he also displays his wisdom and power by reserving the right to perform things that baffle our expectations.
Even in a fallen world, ruined by sin and subject to death, the goodness and value of creation stands (I Tim. 4:4). God is the owner of everything because he made it, whether by simply speaking things into existence, or by creating the processes by which things grow. Consequently, because the world belongs to God and not to us, we are responsible to him for how we carry out our role as stewards and caretakers of it. We are to use creation for the betterment of ourselves and our fellow image bearers, but we are not to waste its resources, nor abuse any part of it for selfish or greedy purposes. In the end, we will answer to the owner for what we have done with what he has entrusted to us. Christians, of all people, should be most concerned with our world because of what the Bible says about it, and because we are awaiting that great day when it will be redeemed to the glory of the God who has also redeemed us.
Michael D. Roberts is the Alliance editor of ThinkandActBiblically.org. He holds a DTh in New Testament from the University of South Africa.