February 18, 2022

Creation through Christ’s Powerful Word

The unparalleled and singularly remarkable accounts of creation given in Genesis 1 and 2 set out the power and wisdom of God in creating an awe-inspiring and intricately ordered cosmos. There we read of the triune God’s creation of all things from nothing, of clear distinctions placed by God within the created order, and of the unique creation of human beings different in kind from mineral, vegetable, and animal life. It is not only Genesis that speaks about creation through the powerful Word of God in Scripture. It is easy to see the Son of God personified as wisdom in the work of creation in Proverbs 8:22-31:

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
 the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
 at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
 when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
 before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields,
 or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
 when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
 when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
 so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
 rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
 and delighting in the children of man.

Notice here especially the delight of the personified word and wisdom of God in his creation, particularly in humanity.

In Colossians 1, Paul affirms that all things in the entire cosmos, visible and invisible, including all powers and authorities, both heavenly and earthly, were created through and for Christ. He reiterates the same thought in Ephesians 1:7-23. In Romans 11:36 he writes, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” It is worth teasing out the profundity of this biblical theme encapsulated in these verses. It gives us insight into the reality that Christ is the mediator of the totality of everything that exists – all things were created through him. Yet it is not simply that Christ is the one through whom all things were made; he is also the one to whom all things belong – all things were made for him. Consequently, among many other implications, it means all people, in everything they say and do, are responsible to Christ the creator. He is the reason and the end of all things, the epitome of their meaning-fullness. Further still, Paul tells us Christ is the one in whom all things hold together, by which they are sustained moment by moment. If we pull these threads together, the Bible teaches us that creation is an instantiation or a concretization of the powerful Word of God. Moment by moment, day by day and year after year, creation is upheld, sustained, directed by and subject to His Word.

The well-known opening to John’s gospel, so reminiscent of Genesis 1, tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”  Hebrews 1:1-3 brings out precisely the same thought as Colossians: Christ Jesus is the creator, heir and sustainer of all things:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the worldHe is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. 

All of this tells us that creation is quite literally unthinkable apart from the living Word of God, by whom all things are created, preserved, and directed. In short, Jesus Christ is the key to the meaning of creation, the transcendent root of all things.

There is therefore no room in Scripture for us to begin our thinking about creation by trying to synthesize the biblical picture with elements of pagan worldviews. Stated in modern scientific jargon, the pagan, humanistic perspective holds that at some infinite point of density (matter/energy being somehow eternal), via a quantum fluctuation of a vacuum, everything existing spontaneously evolved through innumerable stages of development over inconceivable aeons into their present form. A scenario in which, following abiogenesis [1] (theistically conceived or not), after countless millennia of death, disease, chance mutation and suffering, a group of higher hominids finally appeared, eventually developing self-consciousness, analytical thought, symbolic language, moral perception, and cultural awareness. In the theistic version they are subsequently ‘elected’ by God for the task of being humanity’s progenitors.

The thought immediately occurs to the biblically literate Christian, can we credibly believe that these ideas square with God’s wisdom and omnipotence, or that they can be reconciled with the special creation of man and woman as His image-bearers? Can such a story be synthesized with the scriptural worldview of creation, fall and redemption? How could such a chaotic, mistake-ridden, and diseased process have been declared ‘very good’ as a manifestation of God’s power, will, and goodness? And how might such ideas be spun into a revelation of Christ, the creating and sustaining Word and anti-type of Adam, son of God (Lk. 3:38)?

I suggest there is absolutely no submission to Scripture in this fanciful and idolatrous scenario. Such an impersonal process is not the work of the eternal Son who by his powerful Word calmed storms, healed lepers, turned water to wine, raised Jairus’ daughter, or healed the centurion’s servant with a simple word. This is not the Christ who commanded a decaying Lazarus to come out of his grave restored to life, and who will raise us from the dust of the earth at the last day in the twinkling of an eye.

Many professing Christians have nonetheless convinced themselves that some form of reconciliation of these antithetical religious motives must be accomplished, but such an impulse is doomed from the start. When we observe creation as human beings, we are not looking at a revelation of chance and chaos or some mysterious entelechy [2]. Instead, when we reflect on any part of creation, including ourselves, we are contemplating an aspect of God’s Word-revelation through the Son.  All creation, at every moment is responding in terms of its created nature, to God. As God’s image-bearers, we are actually able to discern His laws for creation and the norms of God’s creational Word for life as we are illuminated and directed by Scripture. This law-word for creation through Christ is inaudible and invisible, yet clearly discernable (cf. Ps. 19:1-4).

It is possible, of course, for this clear revelation to be supressed, perverted, or ignored. Expressing a distortion of God’s Word-revelation in creation because of man’s fallen condition, some Greco-Roman philosophers taught that all things were held together by Zeus or by the logos, an abstract and impersonal concept of divine reason, in order to try and find an adequate ground that might account for unity in diversity, constancy and change, (i.e., meaning) in the cosmos. Ever since, unbelievers have sought an immanent rather than a transcendent solution to the origin and meaning of all things.

The scriptural view makes plain, however, that no philosophy, theology, or form of science can establish the meaning of things. This is because the meaning of all things is already given with creation; ours is a foreordained, designed and predefined world so there are no brute, uninterpreted, or neutral facts. All true meaning is grounded in God’s order for creation. As Gordon Spykman has explained:

All scientific endeavor…is therefore a discovery process. In acquiring knowledge, whether theoretical or practical, we are always and only responding creatures, set within ordered surroundings of a stable (but not static) and unfolding (but not evolving) cosmos. Scientific inquiry is therefore a limited, humble, subservient, and tentative undertaking. It can only describe by empirical analysis the data and phenomena at hand. Its tools cannot penetrate to an original and fundamental explanation of the meaning of things. For this we are dependent on revelation, reflexively present in creation and noetically disclosed in Scripture…; creation does not merely have such meaning, which we are at liberty to reckon with or not. Nor does it await our attempts to lend it meaning. Creation is meaning. It is therefore meaningful or full of meaning [3].

This is a critical insight for Christians to grasp. Creation is meaning, and our lives are full of meaning because of Christ’s creating and redeeming Word. As Christians we need to become more deliberate about reflecting on the meaning-fullness of creation and the laws and norms which can be discerned there in light of Scripture. In each aspect of life God has established his law-order, placing all things in relationship to everything else – from plant and insect life to higher animals, human life, marriage and family, human society and culture. The reality of this intricate interdependence means that neither the cosmos as a whole, nor any particular part of it, is self-sufficient. Nothing exists by itself or for itself – including man – but consists in an unbreakable coherence with all other things by virtue of creation in Jesus Christ.

Because our Lord has placed everything in all creation in relationship to all other things, most especially man in relation to others and with God Himself, creation is meaning. But fallen man is a great idol-maker so that true meaning can be radically distorted when some aspect of creation is thought of as self-sufficient. The triune God alone is self-sufficient existing from and for himself in eternal relational community. This meaning character of reality indicates that all creation is relative, whilst God alone is absolute.

All created things are relative to each other and creation as a whole is relative to and dependent upon Christ the origin of all things, existing for his glory. This includes human beings. As such, all attempts to absolutize any aspect of creation as though a resting point, a point of final explanation, a totality of meaning, can be found within it, is idolatry.

No well-created aspect of reality can be abstracted from creation and placed in isolation as self-sufficient without destroying the beautiful coherence and meaning character of all things. The fullness or totality of meaning is found in Christ alone, to whom all things in heaven and earth are oriented and belong.

[1] The unguided origin of life from non-life.

[2] That is, an impersonal vital agent or force directing growth and life.

[3] Gordon Spykman, Reformational Theology: A New Paradigm for doing Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995).

Resource Type:


Media Format: