Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of God

Doctrine God 

What does the Bible teach about God?

Question How did God make all things?

Answer God created all things out of nothing by His word. He made the heavens and the earth, and everything in them in six literal days, and it was all very good.

Scripture Exodus 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Explanation| In our first question and answer, we learned thatGod is the creator of all things. Everything that is—everything that exists—has been made, and has been made by God. And, as we see in our answer above, ‘all things’ includes ‘the heavens and the earth, and everything in them.’ God is the only creator, and no one and nothing else can create like God has created. Between thisquestion and the next two, we’ll explore further what this means. How did God create? And what is His creation like?

God created all things by His word. In saying that God created, we are not saying that we don’t make things. In fact, we make all sorts of things, and sometimes, we just can’t help ourselves! Yet, we are not creators like God is. Not even close! When we make things, we make things out of stuff that already exists. Whether it’s baking or building (or anything else), we use stuff to make other stuff. But when God created, he made all things without using anything that already existed.1 Why? Well, for one, because nothing existed (except Him) before He made all things.2 And for another, God didn’t use anything not only because nothing existed before He created, but even more because He didn’t need anything in order to create. All God needs is Himself. And all God needed to do was speak. His word was enough. His word is powerful.3 His word makes things happen. That’s how God created all things. He spoke, and things that never existed before began to exist. And everything that God spoke into existence obeyed His voice right away and in exactly the way that God had commanded. For example, when God said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3), guess what happened? ‘There was light’—light (not darkness) ‘was’ (it began to exist), and it ‘was’ as soon as God spoke. Can you do that? I know can’t! But God can, and He did. He made all things simply by His word—by speaking.

God created all things in six literal days. This is how long God took to create all things—six days. And when we say ‘six literal days,’ we are saying both that it actually happened, and that it happened in six, sequential, actual days. While we might refer to a day as a twenty-four hour period, the Bible is no less clear in how it describes the actual days of creation—‘there was evening and there was morning, the first day’ (Genesis 1:5), and so on with the remaining days of creation. But, why did it take God six days? Was it because He couldn’t get it all done in one day (or even one second)? Not at all! That God took six days to create all things has nothing to do with His ability or power, and everything to do with His creativity and purpose. God could have made everything in a single moment in time. But instead, He made everything in six days because He is a God of order and design. He had a purpose for why He made all things, and He had a purpose for how He made all things. So for example, think about each of the six days of creation (Genesis 1:2-2:3). On days one through three, God created the appropriate environments (day and night, atmosphere, land, vegetation). Then, on days four through six, He created all of the appropriate things that would fill each of the respective environments (sun, moon, and stars, sea creatures and birds, land animals and humans). Do you see the order in God’s creation? And that’s just the beginning! Now, think about the entire six days together. Why six days? Well, together, the six days of creation formed an intentional pattern that God established to regulate our lives. This is what our verse above (Exodus 20:11) helps us understand. The six days of creation—along with the seventh day of ‘rest’—are the foundation for our weekly rhythm of life. We know it as our seven-day work week.4 He set the example of work and rest, which are both a part of His perfect design for our good.

God created all things and it was all very good. So God made everything, and He did so in six days. And, throughout the six-days of creation, we are told many times that ‘it was good’ (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25). Then, at the end of day six—after He had made humans—we are told that it was all ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). It was all good! That God made, what God made, how God made, and why God made all things was very good. This is God’s assessment of His work—‘God saw that it was good.’ This is how we should think about His work. But, what does it mean that all of creation was very good? We can think of the goodness of creation in a few different ways. It was good, not bad—meaning, nothing was (initially) evil. It was good, not broken—meaning, everything worked as it was supposed to. It was good, not so-so—meaning, all that God made was ideal or perfect. And so, it was good, not ugly—meaning, what God made was pleasing or beautiful. God knows what is best and does what is best. And all of creation bore—and, in many ways, continues to bear—the marks of a perfectly good and wise Creator.5 All of creation was ‘good,’ yet it wasn’t good on its own. It was good because God is good and God made it all. And with that, all of creation’s goodness was intended by God to reflect and point to His goodness. Yet, is this what we see today? Admittedly, now several thousand years removed from God’s creation week, things look a lot different! And in fact, all things (except God) are different. The goodness of creation has been marred and scarred. But it is still there. Though we’ll look at this more in later questions and answers, for now, remember that though creation has been greatly impacted by badness (sin), it is still God’s creation and in many ways it is still called good.6 So, we should receive His good creation with care and thankfulness. And, we should allow His creation to direct our attention to His power, faithfulness, and goodness.   

This is what the Bible teaches about God.

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1 Hebrews 11By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (See also, Isaiah 42:5)

2 John 1All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (See also, Isaiah 40:28)

3 Psalm 29The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. (See also, Psalm 148:5; Isaiah 55:10-11)

4 Exodus 2312 “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.” (See also, Exodus 31:15-17)

5 Proverbs 822 “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. 23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.” (See also, Isaiah 40:26)

6 1 Timothy 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.