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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:The Triune God is the Glorious Creator of All Things
Text:LD 9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
 
Preached:2020
Added:2020-05-03
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 33:1,2                                                                                            

Ps 136:1,2,3,4  [after Nicene Creed]

Reading – Genesis 1:1 - 2:3; John 1:1-18

Ps 104:1,2,7,8

Sermon – Lord’s Day 9

Hy 5:1,2,3,4

Hy 13:1,2,3,4,5   

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Beloved in Christ, that’s the powerful way the Scriptures begin. And these opening words really say so much! In just ten words, we learn when everything began. We learn where everything came from. And we learn about the existence of the true God: “In the beginning, God created…”

Some people devote their lives trying to prove the existence of God. Others devote their lives trying to disprove the existence of God. On both sides of the argument, people call upon philosophy, or psychology, or biology, or astronomy, to make the case. “There must be a God!” “There can’t be a God.” Still others shrug and say, “We’ll probably never know.”

But the Bible comes at the question differently. It always assumes—and it never argues for—God’s existence. The Bible is a book of faith, first and foremost. This is why Hebrews says in chapter 11, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists” (v 6). So for the Bible to begin the way it does is appropriate. It puts it out there as a direct statement of fact: “In the beginning, God…” Before the creation of all things, this God was. And for eternity, God is.

When we think about that, we might be curious: What was God doing before He created, before there was a world and people and Satan? And why did He start when He did? Neither Genesis 1 nor the rest of Scripture provide an answer for these questions. We have to be content with what we know. That God is, and always has been. That the same God who created all things is our God—the Creator is our loving Father, our faithful Saviour, even the Holy Spirit who powerfully dwells within us.

That’s right: the God of Genesis 1:1 is the Triune God. It wasn’t just the Father around in those first days—as if the Son wasn’t on the scene yet, or as if the Spirit wasn’t necessary yet. This is what we confess in the Athanasian Creed: “The Father is eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal.” The persons of the Trinity have always existed, and together they were pleased to create all things. This is our theme from Lord’s Day 9,

Our Triune God is the glorious Creator of all things:

  1. the Father’s speaking
  2. the Son’s accomplishing
  3. the Spirit’s hovering

 

1) the Father’s speaking: One of the foundational truths of the Bible is that God is the Creator. Not just in Genesis 1 and 2 but throughout the Scriptures, God is praised for this awesome work. Even in the final book of the Bible, in Revelation 4, we hear the song of the twenty-four elders, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things” (v 11).

God the Father created. Now, some of us might think we’re creative—we can cultivate and arrange some plants nicely out in the garden, we can build something neat out of wood, we can piece together a fine quilt. Yet God’s activity was “creating” in the truest sense, for He made something from nothing. The Catechism puts this miracle in an emphatic place in Q&A 26, “I believe that the eternal Father… out of nothing created heaven and earth and all that is in them.” When the Father decided that it was time, He had to start his project “from scratch.”

Is that important? Does it really matter that God didn’t use any raw material when He first formed the world? It does matter. It confirms that only God is without a beginning, that only God is eternal. For if something did exist apart from God, would He still have the right to govern it? And if it wasn’t God’s possession, how could He use it for his glory?

But everything is in his hands, and it’s all under his control. For the Bible says that before God created, there was absolutely nothing. And even once He began to call it into being, “the earth was without form and void” (Gen 1:2). That is, it all needed God to shape it and to set it in its place. All that we’re able to observe—from the distant galaxies with a telescope, to the smiling person in the mirror this morning—all of this came into existence only when and because the Father created. Psalm 90:2 sings to the Creator, “Before the mountains were born, or before you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” 

We need regular reminders about the futility of making idols, so here’s another one. In Genesis 1:1, we see clearly the foolishness of putting any earthly thing before God, the One who made it all in the first place. Yet that’s our natural tendency. John Calvin once said every person is a “master craftsman” of idols—we all have a little idol-factory upstairs, churning out mini-gods and portable idols. We value so highly the stuff we can touch, we idolize the things we think we can control, we pursue the feelings that we feel we want to feel.

Yet how futile! For it means we’ve forgotten our basic theology. We’ve forgotten that without God’s will and speaking, all these things simply would not be. God is the source of everything we know or have or experience. It is in God alone that “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17). This truth places God so far above all earthly things, of which the Psalms say, “They will perish, but you will endure” (102:26). And this truth means that the living God alone is to be trusted and worshiped. All of this world can fade away, and someday it will fade away and be renewed—but God remains forever.

For just consider his power! The Father merely spoke, and it came into existence. That’s the refrain of Genesis 1: “God said, ‘Let there be…’ and there was…’” Or as Psalm 33:6 sings, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Here we admit that the great extent and complexity of God’s creation is beyond understanding.

I once heard someone trying to describe the extent of the universe. He said it’s like taking a soccer ball and putting it on your front lawn. That’s the sun. Then, walk down your street ten big paces and drop a grain of salt on your neighbor’s lawn. That’s the planet Mercury. Nine more big paces, and drop a peppercorn for Venus. And another seven paces, so that you’re now two or three houses down the block, and toss down another little peppercorn. That’s earth: our immense planet, which is really just a tiny speck of water and dirt in the middle of nowhere—a lifetime away from “the soccer ball” that is so essential for life.

Yet it gets bigger. If you keep walking, Mars is a dusty ball only couple more houses away, but Jupiter ends up ninety-five big paces down the street. And to finish our solar system, you have to go another two and three hundred paces for each of the remaining ones, eventually dropping half a grain of salt for Pluto (if it is a planet), almost a kilometer away from the soccer ball. That’s a sense of the scale! And that’s just our solar system, which is just a tiny corner of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is in turn just one of the countless galaxies that God created—when He created “all things visible and invisible.” It’s a vast, almost limitless creation. Yet through that simple method of speaking the Father made it all.

So why do it? Why did God decide “one day” that it was time to make a universe? We’re mindful here of what Paul asks in Romans 11, “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (v 34). We don’t know what God was thinking. And God certainly didn’t have to create, for He needs nothing and nobody. Jesus says that “the Father has life in himself” (John 5:26). Yet the Father was pleased to make this world, and pleased to make us.

And He even speaks about why He did. He reveals the grand purpose: it’s all for the higher glory of his Name! The Psalms make it clear: “Sing to the LORD, all the earth” (Ps 96:1) And again, “Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD!” (Ps 150:6). The Father has placed you and me on earth for a very important reason. We’re not accidents or orphans or worthless blobs of tissue, but God has given us this earth, and put us on earth, so we can live for his praise.

As we said, we sometimes use God’s world in self-absorbed ways. His created gifts are corrupted in our hands, like when we live for our food or our drink, or we let physical fitness become our all-consuming purpose. We could place our children on a pedestal, or let our job become our identity, or allow cars or friends or productivity be our reason for living. We love to make idols, and we make them so easily!

But despite sin, God hasn’t cancelled our calling to serve him with his good gifts. As Paul writes, “Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim 4:5). Receive his gifts with thanksgiving. Receive each new day with the firm resolve to praise God. Employ all the good things in your life for the great purpose which God intended. And ask yourself: Whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do, am I doing it for the glory of God? It’s why God made us. It’s why God put us here.

 

2) the Son’s accomplishing: When we look at Genesis 1, it’s hard to see God the Son. But that doesn’t mean He’s not there. In Scripture, the Triune God reveals himself in a gradual way. It’s kind of like adjusting the dimmer switch on a light in your home, so that you can see more and more of things around you. By the time we get to the New Testament, the shadows are gone!

Looking back with the full light of Scripture, we see that God the Son was on the scene in Genesis 1, even closely involved in the work of creation. We know this from John 1. There it’s obvious that John is echoing the words of Genesis 1. But he puts a New Testament spin on the old, old story: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (v 1).

Who is this Word that was on the scene, even in the very beginning? Read a bit further in John’s Gospel, and you find it’s Jesus Christ, God the Son. This Word became flesh and dwelled among us! So why does John refer to Christ by this strange name, “the Word?” A word is something that’s written or spoken; it’s an expression of thought. We use words to convey our mind to someone else in an email or a text message or a conversation. And our words are human words: subject to error, and often powerless. But what if words come directly from God? Such words are living and active.

God’s Word gets things done. We saw that in Psalm 33, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made.” The Father simply had to open his mouth, and the whole world came into being. So this is why John tells us that Jesus is “the Word.” For as the Word, He comes from the Father. As the Word, Jesus brings about the Father’s will and wisdom. As the Word from God, He puts the Father’s perfect plan into effect—including creation. That’s what we see in John 1:3, “All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made…”

In the beginning, it was Father and Son together who made all things come into being. So this is why the Father says in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, our likeness.” As He reaches the pinnacle of his project, the creation of mankind, suddenly we see that the Father’s not working solo. And the full light of the New Testament reveals who is with the Father at this moment—it is God the Son. “Through the Son all things were made.”

We struggle to understand what this means. What does it mean that God the Son carried out the Father’s orders for creation, put them into effect? Is Jesus merely the Father’s employee? Within the Trinity, the three divine persons take on different roles, have different functions. Not to make it sound too mechanical, but that’s how the Trinity works, how He operates. Within the Trinity, the Father is the person who makes decrees, who sets out his will, who gives commands. He initiates. And within the Trinity, the Son is so often the person who accomplishes those things, He carries them out, brings them to fruition.

So the Son is like the Father’s agent on earth, his direct representative. Like when the prime minister sends an ambassador to a foreign land; he sends him to make known his will, to get things done. So the Son goes between the Father up in heaven, and the world down below. Here and throughout the universe, He puts the Father’s plan into action. Colossians 1 says of Christ, “He is before all things, and in him all things consist” (1:17). As the doer of the Father’s will, everything holds together in him.

Of course, we know that God’s creation wasn’t “very good” for very long. Those who bore God’s image decided we wanted more. Yet at once the Father promised salvation, committed himself to sending someone to crush Satan’s head once and for all. And again, see how the Father promised it, and the Son carried it out! The Father sent the Son to restore his creation to how it was meant to be.

We marvel at this miracle of God’s grace. God the Son came down to save sinners. God the Creator came down to mediate for his creatures. Of all the wonderful things God had created, He chose to think to us! Even so, Christ was killed by those He created, those He came to save. “Though the world was made through him, the world did not receive him.”

Ponder for a moment how amazing all this is! What do we do when a project doesn’t turn out? Sometimes we try to salvage it, sure. But if it’s so bad, if it ends up completely opposite of our plans, we put it in the garbage can and leave it at the curb. With his creation ruined, God could’ve done that, started completely afresh. But that’s not his way. He’s not a quitter, and He doesn’t change like shadows. For the higher glory of his holy Name, the Triune God keeps the world He made. Rebuild. Renew. Restore. The Creator wants to bring this creation back to himself.

We sometimes think that God’s redemption plan is all about saving sinners, cleansing individual souls and getting us safely into heaven. It includes that, to be sure. But God’s plan is actually to renew the entire world that He made: to save those who believe in him, but also to restore all creation, from east to west, north to south, heaven to earth. As the Spirit says, “Through Christ [God reconciles] to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col 1:20). God wants all things to be put right, things on earth and things in heaven, reconciling all things through his blood.

And already today, Jesus is the reason for God’s renewing. Take him away, and the whole plan falls apart. The Father has no reason to accept us, no reason to love us, no reason to rebuild his creation. But through his Son, the Father gives restoration!

It’s all through Christ, says the Scripture, and that also means that it’s all for him! Beloved, Christ has claimed it all. He isn’t interested in going half-way with us, settling for one piece of the pie (maybe a couple hours on Sunday) and letting us have the rest. Having given his blood for us, Christ wants it all: He wants every bit of your life, every gift, every thought, every moment—presented to him in worship and thanksgiving!

 

3) the Spirit’s hovering: The Son isn’t mentioned in Genesis 1, but the Spirit is. Right in those first verses: “The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen 1:2). Here too, there’s a mystery. What exactly was the Holy Spirit doing at the dawn of creation?

There’s an important clue in the word “hovering.” In the original Hebrew, that word is vivid, for it’s often used to describe the flight of a large bird, especially as it floats in the sky on the currents of air. Maybe you’ve seen that before: an eagle or vulture or hawk far above, turning gracefully in the air, going up and down over the same spot.

The same word is found in Deuteronomy 32:11. There Moses sings of God’s protecting care on the exodus through the wilderness. “As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the LORD alone led him.” Like an eagle, God hovers.

For the time comes when a young eagle will leave the nest. Precariously it perches on the edge, then plunges off into the air to test out its new wings. Meanwhile the mother eagle circles nearby, patiently hovering. For its young one might do fine for a while, but then get tired. As it suddenly begins to plunge to the earth and a certain death, the eagle’s mother will stop hovering, and swoop down to catch the young eagle on its mighty wings.

So this “hovering” in Genesis 1 is a word of intense caring, a word of powerful watching. As the Father spoke his commands, and as the Son accomplished his purpose, the Spirit was there, hovering. The Spirit was hovering over those vast and lifeless waters. He was keeping a watchful eye on all things—just like a mother eagle, full of love and concern.

The Spirit wasn’t on the sidelines in Genesis 1, but was deeply involved in the work of creation. Hovering, He saw to it that everything went according to plan. He saw to it that the earth became a dwelling-place for God’s children. The Spirit watched as the world came into being, and the Spirit gave the blessing of life.

And the Spirit’s work in creation continues today. Particularly in springtime, we can see his constant care. Listen to how the Psalmist sings about this in Psalm 104, “When you send your Spirit, [all things] are created, and you renew the face of the earth” (v 30). The fresh green grass, the new flowers, the crops emerging from the soil—all this is the work of the Spirit, renewing the face of the earth! No wonder the Nicene Creed says the Holy Spirit is “the Lord and Giver of life.” Year after year, the Spirit renews the world that He created in the beginning.

And now think about the other renewing work of the Spirit. For more than renewing creation, He renews us. After the Fall into sin, we became vile and ugly and hardened in sin. Yet seeing our needy condition, God the Spirit swoops into action. He hovers over us, and He softens our hardened hearts. He makes new life spring up, and He shapes us again according to the image of the Father, He conforms us again to the likeness of the Son.

Continually the Spirit hovers over God’s people in Christ: watching us, caring for us, helping us. Consider what David writes in Psalm 139, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (v 7). We can go nowhere without him, because the Spirit is always there, searching us out, making us new, restoring our souls.

I think there are times when we’re frustrated with our lack of progress as God’s children. Our faith never seems to get any stronger, our love no warmer, our hope no firmer. We feel no further along in the faith than we did five years ago—maybe we’ve gone backwards.

But we don’t despair, for the Holy Spirit is near. Like David sings, the Holy Spirit is always with us: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (v 8). The Spirit is beside you; He is all around you; He’s even within you. The Spirit is hovering over you in love and power, so that the Father’s good purpose through his Son gets accomplished in your life. Keep looking to him. Keep praying for his presence with you every day.

For God still wants you for himself. In the beginning, the Triune God created us to be holy, to be perfect and to dwell with him forever. And amazingly, that’s where we’re still headed today. The road is long from Genesis 1:1 to the end of time and eternal glory. The road is long, but not endless. For you and I are the glorious handiwork of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. To our Triune God be all the praise!  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2020, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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