February 5, 2013
i. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.
When we turn to the Westminster Confession's treatment of Creation, in chapter four, the first and most important is Why? This spurs some of the most important questions in all of Holy Scripture: Why is there a creation? What is the purpose to all that is? What is the meaning of the universe and all that takes place in it?
The first answer given is, "It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." The purpose of Creation, like its very existence, is determined by the will and pleasure of the Triune God. This reminds us that mankind does not determine the meaning of existence by his own will or choosing. We do not even choose the proper purpose for our own lives. God, who made all things and who thus possesses them by right as Lord, has determined the purpose of all creation.
This purpose is given by the Confession: "for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, [and] goodness." Think about the implications of this statement and its militant theism. Most of us have lived our lives as humanists. Therefore we have thought that the world was made for the highest utility of human beings (and especially of ourselves!). This is why we can be frustrated by the idea that God might will something that would not choose. Why would God will something that frustrates our will - perhaps a deadly disease or a friend who dies in unbelief?
The answer is for the manifestation of the glory of who God is. Why is there disease? At least in part, the answer is for the manifestation of the holiness and justice of God against sin. Why is there a hell? For the manifestation of God's wrath. More positively, why did God create marriage? To display the glory of his love. The Confession is right in saying that God created everything according to his own pleasure, to manifest his glory through the display of the perfections of all his attributes. When we realize that God is not a humanist, but he made and willed all things for his glory, we are better able to handle what the Bible teaches not only about Creation but also about the Fall and about Redemption.
The Confession highlights three of God's attributes that are supremely glorified in the Creation: his "eternal power, wisdom, and goodness." We look at the stars and marvel at the power of the God who created crashing galaxies and nebuli! We peer into the structure of a cell or contemplate the mystery of love between a man and woman and the wisdom of God is overwhelming. We watch the grass growing, rejoice at the dazzling colors of a field of corn or wheat, and we delight at the hummingbird's song and are persuaded of the goodness of the God who made it all. How should we respond to the purpose of Creation, given for the pleasure of the Triune God? Surely the answer is by giving him the glory of all that he is, in response to the witness of the world he has made! The hymnodist Folliott S. Pierpont, writing in 1864, summarized this well:
For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,For the love which from our birth over and around us lies,Lords of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.