Biblical Definition Of
A basic Christian belief is that God created all things, and that all three persons of the godhead were involved in the acts of creation. God spoke and, by the power of his creative word, it happened (Gen 1:1- 3; Job 33:4; Ps 33:6,9; 102:25; John 1:1-3; Heb 1:1-2).
The Creator and the universe
God alone is eternal; therefore, before his initial act of creation, nothing existed apart from him. He created all things, visible and invisible. Even spirit beings, though they may have existed before the physical universe, are creatures whom God has made (Gen 1:1-2; Job 38:4-11; Ps 33:6-9; 90:2; Isa 40:26- 28; 42:5; John 1:1-3; Rom 11:36; Col 1:16; Heb 11:3; Rev 4:11). Once God had created matter, he used the materials of the universe to make and develop the features of the universe. He made animals and humans, for example, out of materials he had made earlier (Gen 2:7,19).
Having created the universe, God did not then leave it to itself, as if it were like a huge clock that he wound up and left to run automatically. God is still active in the physical universe. He maintains what he creates. Though he is Lord of creation and distinct from it, he works through it. He is over all things and in all things (Ps 147:8-9; Acts 17:24,28; Eph 4:6; Col 1:17; Heb 1:3).
The universe exists, above all, for the praise and glory of God. He created it, not as an act of necessity, but as an act of free grace; not because he had to, but because he chose to (Isa 43:7; Acts 17:25; Rom 11:36; Eph 1:11; Col 1:16; Rev 4:11). It shows something of God’s love, power and wisdom (Ps 19:1-4; Jer 10:12; Rom 1:20).
God’s ‘rest’ after creation indicated that he was completely satisfied with all his created works. In his grace he gave the physical world to the people he had created and made them caretakers over it. God wanted them to enjoy his creation in fellowship with himself, and in so doing to share in his ‘rest’ (Gen 1:27-28; 2:1-3; Heb 4:3-10).
But the human creatures refused to submit to their divine Creator, and as a result they ruined the relationship both with the Creator and with the physical creation. They brought disaster upon the human race as a whole and this had damaging consequences in the natural world (Gen 3:17-19; Rom 1:20-23; 8:20). Only when the redeemed enters their full salvation at the end of the age will the created world enter its full glory (Rom 8:21-23; Phil 3:21).
Story of creation
The chief purpose of the account of creation in Genesis is to provide an introduction to the story of God’s dealings with the human race. It shows that God created everything out of nothing, and that he brought the universe through various stages of development till it was a fitting dwelling place for human beings (Gen 1:1,5,8,13,19,23,31; 2:4-7). Modern science may at times cause people to think they are almost insignificant in relation to the size and complexity of the universe, but the Bible takes a different view. It is concerned above all with people, and says little about how the physical universe operates (Ps 8:3-9).
God is pleased when men and women want to learn more about the wonders of his creation, but he has appointed that they do so by the hard work of study and investigation (Gen 3:19; Ps 111:2). God does not usually give such information by direct revelation. The Bible is not a textbook on science, nor is it concerned with the sort of information that scientists are concerned with. Its purpose is not to teach scientific theories, but to give a short simple account of the beginning of things, and in language that people of any era or any background can understand.
The language of the creation story, like that of the rest of the Bible, is not the technical language of the scientist, but the everyday language of the common people (cf. Gen 1:16; 7:11-12; 40:22). The scientist may speak of the sun as the centre of the solar system, with the earth a minor satellite of the sun, and the moon a minor satellite of the earth. The Bible, by contrast, speaks of the heavens and the earth from the viewpoint of ordinary observers. To them the earth appears stationary, and the sun ‘rises’ and ‘sets’ as it moves around the earth (1 Chron 16:30; Eccles 1:5; Mal 1:11; Matt 5:45). The sun is the ‘greater light’ and the moon the ‘lesser light’ (Gen 1:16). The pictorial language of the Bible is different from the technical language of science, but the two are not necessarily in conflict.
Science may tell us much about God’s creation, though it does so from a viewpoint that is different from the Bible’s. Science can help us understand how nature works, whereas the Bible is concerned with showing that God is the one who makes nature work.
From science we may learn how the stars move, how the weather changes, or how plants grow, but from the Bible we learn that God is the one who makes these things happen (Ps 65:9-10; 78:20,26; 104:1- 30; 147:8; Matt 5:45; 6:30). Although science may investigate how the creation developed, the Bible reveals that the development came about through the creative activity of the sovereign God. The ‘laws of nature’ are God’s laws (Gen 1:1,7,11; 1:20,24; Heb 11:3).