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The doctrine of creation is an essential Christian teaching that reveals much about the nature and purposes of God. Creation is not only addressed just in the Book of Genesis but throughout the various parts of Scripture. And the very first article of the Apostles’ Creed speaks of God’s act in creation:

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”1

But what exactly does historic Christianity affirm about creation? In this article I will set forth a fourfold view of creation that reflects the teaching of Scripture and comprises a doctrine that is affirmed by all historic branches of Christendom.

Let’s begin with a definition of creation provided by Christian theologian Bruce Milne: “Creation is that work of the triune God by which he called all things that exist, both material and spiritual, into existence out of non-existence.”2

The Christian doctrine of creation thus affirms that God as a necessary being (a being that cannot not exist or must exist) called all contingent realities (things that cannot create themselves) into existence. God is thus the infinite and eternal, self-existent creator of all things.

So let’s now turn to the four points of creation.

1. The triune God created all things.

Our first point is that the three members of the Godhead were all actively involved in creation. While God the Father is considered the primary agent in creation (1 Corinthians 8:6), the Son (Colossians 1:16) and the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1–2) served as his cooperative co-agents. In trinitarian theology, whenever one member of the Trinity is involved in a divine act then in some way all three participate. Thus a trinitarian way of discussing the topic is to say that creation is from the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. Another biblically based statement is to affirm that the Father gives creation, whereas the Son upholds it, and the Holy Spirit adorns it.

2. The triune God created all things out of or from nothing.

This point affirms the biblical doctrine of creation ex nihilo (Romans 4:17; Hebrews 11:3). This critical doctrine teaches that there was originally nothing but God (an infinite, eternal, and tri-personal spirit). By means of his incalculable wisdom and infinite power, God alone brought the universe into existence from nothing (not from any preexistent physical reality such as matter and its connected realities). Thus everything other than God was called into existence from nothing.

3. The triune God sustains all things in existence.

This statement affirms that upon creating the world, God continues to sustain and uphold his creation (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). God continuously upholds (Greek: pherō, “carry or bear”) all things in their existence and sustains the natural properties of those created things. Thus the fact that the created order remains in existence after creation is also a divine miracle. The apostle Paul even places our lives and being in God’s sustaining hands: “‘For in him we live and move and have our being'” (Acts 17:28).

4. The triune God directs all things toward their appointed end.

As the supreme authority of all things, God continually directs the course of all actions and events toward accomplishing his sovereign purposes. Paul describes God’s overruling plan thusly: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).

The three persons of the Godhead created all things from nothing and continue to sustain the creation and direct it according to his sovereign purposes.

So not only is the doctrine of creation an essential belief of the historic Christian faith, but it also reveals God’s deep investment in the created order and in our lives as his creatures and redeemed children.

The fourfold view of creation also reveals that the triune God alone is deserving of worship and devotion, not the contingent creation. The universe, because it was created by God, possesses objective meaning, purpose, and significance. And this world is the stage for God’s redemptive actions in Christ.

Endnotes

  1. Christian Reformed Church, “Apostles’ Creed” in Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions (Grand Rapids: CRC Publications, 1988), 7.
  2. Bruce Milne, Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1982), 72.

Subjects: Creation, Theology, Trinity

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About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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