Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A #9

Q: What is the work of creation?
A: The work of creation is, God's making all things out of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good. 
Hebrews 11:3: By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

This is a wonderfully simple question and answer. The authors of the confession sidestep debates about whether the days of Creation are literally 6 days, or whether they described cycles and spans of time (and we know from the notes from the Westminster Assembly that the Divines were not uniform in their views on such things anymore than Bible believing Christians throughout the centuries have been concerning this issue), and instead fall back upon biblical language to create a beautifully concise answer concerning the works of creation. Here, the catechism, in summarizing the Westminster Confession of Faith, is stating that creation is not eternal in nature (God created it, and only in the true and living God does creation have its existence), God created it "ex-nihilo" (out of nothing, needing nothing more than the power of his word to bring all things into existence), and that he formed all of creation in a way that was "very good".

This is how we are to think about the works of creation. The scientific pondering and debates may be important on many levels, and I in no way want to discredit these discussions, but if we get caught up on whether the Hebrew word for "day" refers to a literal 24 hour solar day or whether it is being used to describe a span of time, etc., then we run the risk of missing the greater theological significance of the creation account. Here, in the work of creation, we see an amazing display of God's power, creativity, and goodness. We should marvel at how God, by the power of his word, could bring all things into existence out of nothing. Mankind is wonderfully creative (not only in creating beautiful things, but also in destroying them). But one thing man cannot do is create something from nothing. We can't even create nothing from something! Can we truly even get our minds around the idea of "nothing"? Every thought and idea in our head is influenced and shaped by the world around us. It goes back to the finite, doesn't it? Our finite minds simply cannot comprehend this idea. Yet God, who is infinite and eternal in power, simply spoke into nothing and brought forth all things. 

We know, of course, that the creation we see now is not as it was intended. Creation is no longer "good" in that it has been perverted and stained by the effects of sin. We can't comprehend what creation was like originally, before sin and fallen man brought its ruin upon it. Yet, we all have had moments where we have gotten a taste of the goodness of the original creation. People ask me, for example, "why do you love fly fishing so much?" There are many answers to that question, but part of the reason why is because in those moments where I'm surrounded by nothing but flowing streams, mountains, trees, and brook trout whose colors would rival even the most brilliant sunset, I feel as if I'm getting a small taste of an unspoiled creation, and it is good. May moments like these, whatever it is for you, turn our hearts towards the beauty, power, and wonder of our Creator who brought all things out of nothing!

Posted on March 3, 2015 and filed under Teaching.