[B06] The Apostles' Creed: God The Creator of All Things

At the period which marks the beginning of time, God created, brought forth from the absolutely non-existent, the heavens and the earth. None of these things had any previous existence, save in the thought of God. He spoke, and the things spoken took on form and substance as facts of material existence. The fiat words were spoken, and there stretched out the wide spreading plains, and the great deeps, with their finny tribes, and grazing cattle; the mountains reared their heads heavenward, and the streams murmured their way down from the highlands; the superterrestrial beings winged their unfettered way amid the celestial glories, and man walked as the Divinely appointed sovereign of the earth.

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6. God The Creator Of All Things

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. — [Gen.] 1:1.

The subjects into which the Apostles’ Creed leads us are very great, so great that we can follow them only a short distance. Even man, the believer, is himself a creature full of mysteries. He is often given to boasting, as if he knew everything; but in reality there is very much even about himself which he does not know. And when it comes to the subject of God, and the intricacies of His universe, we dwell only on the borderland of the infinite subject. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Ps. 139:6). With respect to the whole round of God’s works, we may well apply the words of the prophet:

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).

The first great problem is that of the person and nature of God. That He is, we are absolutely certain. The existence of God is the only satisfactory explanation of the many other things which need explaining. Without God the universe is an insoluble mystery. When would-be wise men seek to explain the universe without God, the necessity is upon them to devise another god, or a number of gods, to take the place of the true God whom they have banished (in their own thoughts only) from His creation. Aside from the revelations, which God has made of Himself in nature and His Word, God has spoken to the hearts of his children. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children God” (Rom. 8:16). We know God as our Father, we know His love, His goodness; however much there may be about Him beyond the present reach of our faculties, this sufficeth.

Another great problem is that of the universe. Some speak of this all but infinite mass of intricately revolving worlds as if they knew all about it. They speak of the things which, as they say, took place millions of years ago as if it were as familiar as yesterday’s market report; oblivious of the fact that no two schools today agree as to many of the phenomena of which they treat. The truth of the matter is that the wisest of the wise know only the a, b, c of this wondrous mechanism, the physical universe, and the laws by which it is ruled.

What is the relation between God and the universe? Are we to say that they are one, that the universe is God, that God is the universe? There are those who hold this view, the pantheists; but it is not Biblical; neither is it rational or illuminative, indeed, it is scientifically untenable. Shall we say that there is no relationship between the universe and God, as not a few modern scientists do? This is not Biblical, and it leaves greater mysteries unsolved than does our Christian faith. We accept, unreservedly accept, the Biblical truth formulated in the first article of the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth.” Let us, then, dwell a little further on this article of our faith,

I Believe In God As the Creator of All Things

Only to those void of understanding is this universe lacking in that which awakens the most profound admiration. Everywhere we turn there are wonders piled upon wonders in ordered series like Ossa upon Pelion. Even where all detailed knowledge of the scientific facts of the universe are lacking, the active mind, the alert soul, finds world after world of beauty and mystery on which to feed the imagination, and bow it in admiration and adoration of the Infinite as it has found expression in the finite.

He who, with a good pair of eyes, and a thinking mind, goes out into the twilight of a spring evening, and contemplates the developing transformation of old mother earth, and dwells on the resurrection going on all around in nature, and hears the thousand voices speaking their silent language all about him, to such an one, if he have a sensitive soul, there is borne in an all but crushing sense of the greatness, and mysteriousness of nature, of this earth of ours. But if he lifts his eyes to the starlit heavens, and realizes that this earth, solid and big as it seems, is but a mote which floats through a space peopled with innumerable worlds; and if, from this teeming universe, he go back and look out into the void, which was the pregnant womb of time, and out of which vacuity there came these teeming systems which form the one complete system; oh, then, — language fails as an adequate vehicle for expressing the overwhelming sense of infinitude borne to the soul by the magnitude and variety and complexity of the universe.

Beholding these very things, Napoleon cried out to his unbelieving generals: “Sirs, who made all that?” This has ever been a question which perturbed men’s minds, and hung heavy upon their hearts. Is all this the result of chance? Is there no designer, no builder, no master mind back of it all? The soul of man has ever revolted at the suggestion. In every age, and every clime, men have walked softly, haunted at least by the suspicion that there was a God hidden in stream and leafy wold. We look at the crumbling temples of ancient Egypt, and they abound with inscriptions which tell of man’s search after God. We visit ancient Athens, and the altar dedicated to the unknown God is a type of what, in some form, may be found in every land, since time began; all of them eloquent in their expression of man’s belief that back of all phenomena is God. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

At the period which marks the beginning of time, God created, brought forth from the absolutely non-existent, the heavens and the earth. None of these things had any previous existence, save in the thought of God. He spoke, and the things spoken took on form and substance as facts of material existence. The fiat words were spoken, and there stretched out the wide spreading plains, and the great deeps, with their finny tribes, and grazing cattle; the mountains reared their heads heavenward, and the streams murmured their way down from the highlands; the superterrestrial beings winged their unfettered way amid the celestial glories, and man walked as the Divinely appointed sovereign of the earth.

This is what we mean by the comprehensive words of the Church’s most ancient creed, “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” This is the work of the Triune God. There is but one creator, as there is but one God; the work of creation being ascribed to the Father because of the order of the persons in the family of the Godhead.

This is the Biblical account of creation. It is God’s own revelation to us. And it is the only account which satisfies the human mind and the human heart. It is a Divine certainty which has become a Christian certitude. It is not only the first word in a long series of progressive revelations, it is affirmed by the Christ-and Spirit-taught teachers of the New Testament. And next to the doctrine of the person and nature of God Himself this is one of the most fundamental tenets of our Christian faith.

Belief In God As the Maker of All Things Is Not Only Biblical But Rational

We do not mean to say that the Biblical account of creation is rational in the sense of being fully fathomable. It is not. It leaves a number of problems to which no detailed solution is furnished. We mean that the Biblical account of the origin of things is more in harmony with the processes of right thinking than any of the proposed theories which men would substitute for it.

Something must be eternal and self-existent. The Biblical doctrine is that the original, self-existent, eternal reality is spiritual and personal; in other words, God. That God, infinite in all His attributes, should have planned and executed the design of bringing forth such a universe as this, is beyond the reach of our complete comprehension, but it is not contrary to our processes of thinking. But to start out with the postulate that the primal, self-existent, eternal reality was impersonal and material; and then teach that from this impersonal, material something there has evolved this wonderful complexity of worlds, with their never changing laws, but ever changing modes; with all the evidences of design, of adaptation; this is unthinkable, this is absurd.

If there is no creating God, then we have to predicate eternity of mere matter, or say that something came out of nothing without any adequate cause. This would be the greatest of miracles without a miracle worker. If there is no creating God, then impersonal, unthinking matter has evolved a universe so immense, so magnificent, so intricate, so full of blessings that the very highest intellects and most vaulting imaginations of every age have bared and bowed their heads in admiration. This is miracle number two. Some of those who advocate this kind of a theory as to origins try to belittle the Christian’s faith. The Christian’s faith in God and His creative acts is based primarily on Revelation, but this faith is purest reason in comparison with which the theories of those who would rule God out of His place as the great creative agent is pure credulity.

Suppose a rational being of another order came, from another sphere where they knew of no such things, to one of our modern cities. He would examine the skyscrapers, fitted out with all modern conveniences; he would visit the great manufacturing plants with their shafts and pullies, their ponderous lifts, and belching fires. He would take in, with keen delight, the arteries of traffic of various kinds. He would visit the churches, the schools, the libraries, the art galleries, and the like. And then some one would tell this strange visitant that all these things just happened; that by some strange, unforeseen, inexplicable movement of senseless atoms of dust these things grew. If such things were told a rational creature, he would at once conclude that he was listening to the ravings of a bedlamite.

We have all seen the splendid engine pulling its mile of cars; we have felt its throb and purr as we held the wheel of a car; we have seen it in action as some pilot of the sky performed his gyrations. Suppose these things had come upon us like meteors out of the sky, and some wiseacre had replied, in answer to our excited queries, that these grow of themselves out in the desert where the dust flies thick. We would at once put that man down as an escaped lunatic. We know that things like these do not happen. It takes mind, mind keenly, continuously applied to produce worthy results. It is not otherwise, the history of the ages convinces us, in world-affairs. The Bible teaches us that God created all things. Nature teaches us that if there were no God there ought to be one.

But we have not yet reached quite the pinnacle of self-wrought miracles, the uncaused phenomena, with which we are confronted when God is ruled out of His part in the production of things. Wonders pile upon wonders all around us in the world. Without an adequate primal personal cause of all this everything is thrown into confusion. But the limit is not yet reached. Great as is the credulity required to accept the theory of a self-evolved material universe as wonderful as this in which we live, the complexity is increased a thousand fold when life has to be accounted for. We know that we live, that we have a self-conscious personal existence; we think, we feel, there is a spiritual man that inhabits this physical frame. Whence did life come? Whence came this higher life we find in man? That it came from an original nowhere, from an original nothing, is an absurdity. The only explanation in conformity with right processes of reasoning, which does not stultify, is that of Revelation, — that God created all things.

Our people, especially those who get a smattering of knowledge, and listen to the boastful speech of the neophytes of science, get scared too easily. Let us not forget that there is much disagreement among the advocates of advanced science. And let us not forget that many of the wisest of the scientists have held, and do still hold, that, as to fundamentals, the Biblical account of creation is the most satisfactory, not only to the human heart, but to the human mind as well.

There are some things connected with creation with respect to which we should not presume to be too dogmatic. Such, for instance, is the question as to whether the creative days were solar days, or periods of unknown, but great, length. There are also other related subjects with respect to which the Bible speaks in popular language. We should bear in mind that it is not at all the purpose of the Bible to teach science. But that, on the other hand, there can be no contradiction between the facts, the real facts, of science and the truths of Revelation. And the best of authorities have asserted that disbelief of Old Testament statements is not so much the result of superior knowledge as it is of ignorance.

Indeed, it may be set down as a principle of quite general application that the opposition to the statements of God’s Word proceeds from deep-seated unbelief. Those who lead in this propaganda want to get rid of the God of the Bible. Their eyes have been blinded by the god of this world. Others, having been deceived into believing that unproved, and unprovable, hypotheses are indisputable facts, think that fealty to the higher learning demands that they give up the God of creation, forgetful of the fact that the relinquishment of the creative God soon necessitates the surrender of the redeeming God.

Let us hold fast to the old faith that God is the maker of all things. This faith rests on Revelation, but it is supported by the best to which reason can attain. The peers of the brightest intellects this world has produced have been able to rest only in this faith. It is here alone that we can find a firm foundation on which to stand.

The Biblical Conception of the Origin of Things Gives To God True Honor, To Man Proper Dignity and Real Consolation

To what incomprehensible heights, to what unfathomable depths, to what immeasurable distances the inspired record of creation leads us. Each system, which in itself overcomes us with its magnitude, becomes the center of another system, the revolutions of which become to us practical eternities, and the measurements of which run into infinity.

All this only helps to bring into bolder relief the greatness of the almighty Maker of it all. The universe is unspeakably great, but God is immeasurably greater. Does the universe, in the complexity of its harmonies, display evidences of supreme wisdom on the part of its architect and builder? By so much does it honor God, the maker of it all. Does nature exhibit power, wonderful, sometimes appalling power? How strikingly does this tell us of the still greater power of Him who fashioned it! Are we charmed, awed into that which is next to adoration, when we look up into the faces of the countless orbs which scintillate in the autumnal sky? How much more wonderful, and worthy of actual adoration, is the hand which fashioned these countless orbs, lighted them and hung them in the sky to illuminate the night! Is the sun, the mistress of the day, wonderful as she, with unfailing fidelity, keeps her appointed seasons, and sheds forth her warmth and glory on the receptive earth? How much more resplendent must He be who gave existence to the sun, and who is Himself robed in a garment of light by the side of which the brightness of the mid-day sun fades to twilight!

Indeed, all nature is but the vestment in and through which God is expressing Himself; His greatness, wisdom, power and goodness. God Himself should ever be the central fact in all our contemplation of nature. In the calm regularity of the movements of the universe we should ever hear the sounds of God’s footsteps. From the glory of the creature we should ever go to the higher glory of the Creator, for whose pleasure they are and were created. From the evidence of the goodness of God as displayed in nature we should go to the goodness of God as revealed in His Word, and certified in the redemption provided for the world.

The Bible record gives to God His place in creation. The tiniest leaf, the great complex whole of the universe, the part and the whole, all reflects the glory of the maker, and bears the unmistakable marks of His handiwork. And each additional step in our knowledge of nature should add just that much more to the reverence with which we contemplate the Maker of it all. How much truer is all this of man, the crown of God’s terrestrial workmanship. If the flower, with its petals, stamen, and incomparable coloring, glorifies the mind and heart of the infinite artist, how much more does man with his mind and heart and soul capacity? Man is the crown of God’s workmanship.

And this Biblical conception of creation is the only one which gives real dignity, or true consolation to the children of men. If man is but an evolved atom, if there was no superior mind controlling the power, and the processes, by which man came to be, if there was no image from without stamped upon him, if there was no original, self-existent, personal being who gave somewhat of His own nature to man, then he is still but a thing of dust. Then the masterly achievements of the human mind, the tender emotions of the human heart, the vaulting aspirations of the human soul, the longing for immortality, these are all but the unexplainable fatuous dreams of a bundle of atoms in fortuitous concourse. Then this vitalized mechanism of human life, the world’s greatest unsolved puzzle, when it has run down, and worn out, and the magic bond of unity is severed, returns to the sphere of non-vitalized dust. Then there is no future for man. All our hopes are vain. Then what is left of worth? What to comfort?

The Biblical record of the beginning of things gives us another picture. Man did not come to be without a maker. God is his maker. God breathed into man, out of the fullness of His own abundant life, the breath of life. He made him in His own image. He gave him of His own deathless nature. God gave to man, so far as his own nature is concerned, a perfect measure of wisdom and power; the wisdom to think God’s thoughts after Him, the power to be a worker together with Him, a creature fit to be forever a sharer of the Creator’s destiny.

Man occupies the central place in God’s creation. According to Revelation, the purpose of creation is, first of all, to manifest the perfections of God, and thus to glorify Him; in the second place, it is for man’s use, the sphere in which he is to work out his destiny. “The earth hath He given to the children of men” (Ps. 115:7).

Even the celestial spirits themselves have, as at least part of their mission, a ministry to man. “Are they not ministering spirits sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). The better the understanding we get, therefore, of the universe the clearer should become our conception of the worth God has given to us, and of the exalted position He intended us to occupy in creation.

Look up, ye faltering children of men, take heart, “For all things are yours; whether… life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours” (1 Cor. 3:21—22). But this glorious heritage can be ours in reality only when we hold fast to God’s own revealed truth, as we have been taught to confess it from our earliest years, — “I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”

By God's grace, each week LutheranLibrary.org will present a new message on the basics of the Evangelical Christian Faith. Our guide is the Small Catechism, as expounded by Traditional Pastor Robert Golladay. May this series bless and inspire you.

To request a printable copy [PDF] send an email to: editor@lutheranlibrary.org with the title of this post.

Luther's Small Catechism: Series B – The Apostles' Creed

Publication Information

  • Author: “Golladay, Robert Emory”
  • Title: “The Apostles’ Creed”
  • Originally Published: 1917 by Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, Ohio.
  • Lutheran Library Edition: 2020
  • Copyright: CC BY 4.0

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