************ Sermon on Belgic Confession Article 12 ************
By: Rev. Robert Godfrey
This sermon was preached on September 20, 2009
Belgic Confession Article 12
"The Great Creator"
Genesis Chapter 1. We've all heard this story in some way shape or form. As children from our parents and in Sunday School. As young people we've studied it more in depth in classes and whenever the issue of creation has come up. Many of us have read this account multiple times when we decide to read through the whole Bible (even if we don't get too much further.)
But what do we believe about this all too familiar story?
What have we been told?
In article twelve of the Belgic Confession we have a wonderful summary given to us of what we are to believe about God as our creator. We are told:
I. How He Created
II. Why He Created
III. and What He Created
I. How He Created
When we look at how God created we must be convinced of three things. God created out of nothing, by his word, and with his care.
A. Out of Nothing
This is such a small and simple statement to take in, yet it is loaded with so much meaning. Here in Genesis chapter one we are given the words, "In the beginning God created." We must take this to mean that there was absolutely nothing. God did not begin with a lump of clay. He did not begin with two atoms. He did not begin with any preexistent material.
He simply spoke and it was so. We call this the Speech-Act theory. The belief that by God's words creation came to be. This isn't just some amazing event 1000's of years removed. It is still amazing for us today. Consider as you behold creation that it came out of nothing. As you look at all the various animals in our world. As you look at the many species of plants. As you see the forests and jungles; the oceans rivers and lakes; great canyons and highest mountains. And as you fathom, beyond all this, the majesty of the universe. God created it out of nothing!
Even look at each and everyone of us, his image bearers. Once scientist states that if you took all of the DNA in all of your cells and laid it out end to end, it would stretch to the moon and back about 130,000 times. Statements like this alone have been enough to convince men of God.
There was a man named Antony Flew. He was a great intellect who championed
the atheist cause. He even debated C.S. Lewis. Yet the more he learned about science, the more discoveries that were made about cells and atoms, the more he became convinced that there must be a god. He could not imagine that this amazing thing called creation could happen by mere chance.
It is truly amazing that God created out of Nothing!
B. By His Word
As we said God speaks and it is so. It is by his word that creation has come into being. The Belgic Confession states, "By His Word…that is Through His Son." So when we look at Genesis 1:1 and read, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," we must do so in the context of Revelation 4 and John 1. In Revelation 4:11 we are told "For you created all things," and in John 1:3 "Through Him all things were made."
So when we look at creation, we not only see the work of the Father, but we also see the work of the Son. To say God created through his word is to say that God created through the Son.
C, With His Care
Finally, we see that God created with his care. We are told that in creation God is "giving all" and "sustaining all." In God's creation he has given his creation all that it needs. It is not left wanting anything. It was not created flawed, lacking, or incomplete.
Furthermore, we have nothing to fear for God is also the great sustainer. We do not view God as some cosmic "clockmaker" who, after creating the clock, has wound it up and walked away. He sustains us giving us what we need. He provides his creation with what it needs to thrive; nourishment, air, companionship, offspring, shelter, protection and the list could go on and on.
He also governs his creation. He keeps order. While there is total depravity due to the fall of Adam, God has not allowed for absolute depravity, that is to see complete and utter evil to seize his creation entirely. God has not allowed evil to take control over his creation. He governs and guards it from total anarchy and chaos. He protects us from ourselves.
We call all this providence. We'll see more of this in article 13 of the Belgic Confession. For now we can just understand that this is how God; Out of Nothing, Through His Word, and With His Care. But naturally our next question would be Why?
II. Why He Created
When we look at creation many common questions come to our minds. How long ago did it exactly happen? How long did it really take? Were more people than Adam and Eve created? But these aren't the questions to ask. And these aren't the questions the Belgic answers. It gives an answer to the most important question; why did God create? And when we explore that answer we find it is two-fold. God created for his good pleasure, and for his glory.
A. For His own Pleasure
We find in the confession the statement "When it seemed good to him" describing God's timing for creation. We must take note first and foremost that creation is God's. As Romans 11 states, "For from him, and through him, and to him are all things." Often we become selfish in regards to creation, but fundamentally creation was made for God's good pleasure. As Revelation 4:11 puts it, "by your will they[all things] existed and were created." It is by the will of God that brought creation into being.
B. For His own Glory
Furthermore, it was done for his glory. The confession goes on to speak of man being created "in order that man may serve God." Creation is ultimately made to serve and glorify God. And we find that specifically in the role that man plays in creation. Both mankind in general, and man in the sense of the Christian.
When we speak of man generally we forget this at times. Often times when we speak of glorifying God, we think of it solely as a Christian endeavor. It is something we can do when we pray, when we read the Bible, when we come to church. But remember all creation glorifies God and so too there is a sense in which all mankind glorifies God.
To go about one's daily work with diligence; to have and care for a family; to uphold justice; to care for the needs of the needy; all of these are aspects of creation that all mankind can do that please and glorify God.
But how much more do we glorify God beloved? For we are a new creation. We have been given eternal life. We've thought about that earlier this morning. As creation goes on we see the fall of man. The sin of Adam, the fall of all creation into sin and despair. But God, for his good pleasure, and that his name might be glorified did not leave us in that state. Remember that God already in the garden promised salvation to Adam and his offspring.
Already on the heels of creation, this promise of new creation came. This new creation we have in Jesus Christ, in his life, death, and resurrection. So beloved we glorify God all the more in the lives we now lead.
This is why we have been created!
So we have the "How" and the "Why" all that remains is that "What"
In Genesis 1 and Article 12 we are also told What God has created.
III. What He Created
The Belgic deals with this question to make it crystal clear: God created everything…plain and simple. All things visible & all things invisible.
A. All Things Visible
This point is clear to we who are believers, but it is still important to pause a moment and think about. Remember earlier I mentioned the former atheist Antony Flew, how significant it was that he came to a conviction of God because of the beauty and intricacy of creation? Well this viewpoint is becoming more and more popular…more and more accepted in academic circles. It is called the intelligent design movement and it takes that understanding that there must be a Creator.
And we who sit here this evening know that this creator is not just some god. It cannot be any simple god of our invention. It must be the God of Scripture. Only the true God of scripture the Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is capable to create as we can see in creation. Only the narrative we find in Genesis can truly account for the power and beauty behind creation. And only the God of scripture is mighty enough to be the creator of all things visible and invisible.
B. All Things Invisible
When we consider the invisible tonight we are primarily concerned with angels. It is interesting to note what a fascination there is with angels in our culture and indeed throughout history. The ideas of spiritual warfare, good vs. evil, guardian angels; all these concepts cause so much intrigue, study, and speculation. We want to ask so many questions; When did God create the angels? How many are there? Are there different kinds or types, different powers?
All these things we want to know, but we are told very little about any of this. The confession spends SO much time on angels. It talks about angels more than anything else in the rest of the article, and it answers the fundamental questions of what we are to know about angels. We're told three basic things:
1. God created angels – again it would seem a no-brainer, yet this is very important because there were, and in deed are, a number of different heresies surrounding the issue of angels. There was the ancient heresy of the Manicheans who stated that the powers of good and evil were co-eternal. This would mean angels would have no beginning. Similarly the Anabaptists in the time of the Reformation adopted this view. We still find this theory today. Angels are often deified. They are not treated as creatures, but given the status of lesser divinities that have no beginning. We must understand that this is not the case.
2. Angels were created good – the second point that is clear is that angels were created good. They were created to serve God. They were created to serve as messengers to God's people. These are the clear straightforward purposes that angels were given in their creation.
3. Angels Fell – it is also clear that angels fell. Exactly when and how is unclear, but it is clear that some angels were deceived and fell. It is also clear that in turn their desire is now to be deceivers. Therefore beloved, we must be prepared. In Ephesians 6:11-12 we're told:
"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
This knowledge ultimately lets us know what a great God we serve. It lets us know that nothing is greater than he is…nothing is even equal to him. It lets us know that he cares for us, and he will continue to uphold us. For we know that we are his most beloved creation.
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