The Doctrine of Creation and True Religion (Bavinck)

The biblical doctrine of creation is a truth and reality that shows up all over Scripture – OT and NT. From the law to the prophets to the gospels and epistles, the Bible clearly teaches that the Triune God made all things out of nothing. This is a fundamental aspect of the Christian religion. The doctrine of creation is a doctrine that is relevant and meaningful for the Christian life. I appreciate how Herman Bavinck explained this. Note his extensive use of Scripture and also note his application of the doctrine of creation:

From the very first moment, true religion distinguishes itself from all other religions by the fact that it construes the relation between God and the world, including man, as that between the Creator and his creature. The idea of an existence apart from and independent of God occurs nowhere in Scripture. God is the sole, unique, and absolute cause of all that exists. He has created all things by his word and Spirit (Gen. 1:2–3; Ps. 33:6; 104:29–30; 148:5; Job 26:13; 33:4; Isa. 40:13; 48:13; Zech. 12:1; John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; etc.). There was no substance or principle of any kind to oppose him; no material to tie him down; no force to circumscribe his freedom. He speaks and things spring into being (Gen. 1:3; Ps. 33:9; Rom. 4:17). He is the unrestricted owner of heaven and earth (Gen. 14:19, 22; Ps. 24:1–2; 89:11; 95:4–5). There are no limits to his power; he does all he sees fit to do (Isa. 14:24, 27; 46:10; 55:10–11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6). “From him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 11:3). The world is the product of his will (Ps. 33:6; Rev. 4:11); it is the revelation of his perfections (Prov. 8:22f.; Job 28:23f.; Ps. 104:1; 136:5f.; Jer. 10:12) and finds its goal in his glory (Isa. 43:16ff.; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6).

This teaching of creation, which occupies a preeminent and pivotal place in Scripture, is not, however, presented as a philosophical explanation of the problem of existence. Most certainly it also offers an answer to the question of the origin of all things. Yet its significance is first and foremost religious and ethical. No right relation to God is conceivable apart from this basis; it positions us in the proper relation to God (Exod. 20:11; Deut. 10:12–14; 2 Kings 19:15; Neh. 9:6). It is therefore of eminent practical value, serving to bring out the greatness, the omnipotence, the majesty, and the goodness, wisdom, and love of God (Ps. 19; Job 37; Isa. 40). The teaching of creation therefore strengthens people’s faith, confirms their trust in God, and is a source of consolation in their suffering (Ps. 33:6f.; 65:5ff.; 89:11; 121:2; 134:3; Isa. 37:16; 40:28f.; 42:5; etc.); it inspires praise and thanksgiving (Ps. 136:3ff.; 148:5; Rev. 14:7); it induces humility and meekness and makes people sense their smallness and insignificance before God (Job 38:4f.; Isa. 29:16; 45:9; Jer. 18:6; Rom. 9:20).

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, volume 2, pages 407-8.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI