We continue our study of Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) by examining chapter 12 entitled, “The Creation of the World.”
Definition of Creation
MLJ begins by providing a definition of creation (borrowed from Berkhof). Creation is “that free act of God whereby He…in the beginning brought forth the whole visible and invisible universe without the use of pre-existing materials, and thus gave it an existence distinct from His own and yet always dependent on Him” (127). Understanding this definition helps guard against false ideas like Pantheism that teaches matter itself is God, or dualism which says that God and matter are both eternal. Instead, matter is created by God; it is distinct from God and dependent on him.
Important Points to Consider
MLJ provides several observations regarding creation. We will not cover them all, but here are a few highlights:
- God did not create because he had a need– Some would argue that God was lonely so he created man for fellowship. This would imply that God is not self-sufficient and that he is dependent on man to meet his need…neither are true. God has no needs and was completely satisfied with himself in the Trinitarian fellowship. Instead, creation “was a free act according to His will and glory…” (128).
- Creation was a work of the Trinity– generally, creation is attributed to the Father, but John 1:3, 1 Cor. 8:6, and Col. 1:16 argue creation was also a work of the Son. Genesis 1:2 and Psalm 104:30 point to the Spirit’s life-giving work as well. MLJ concludes: “So it is the perfect work of the Three-in-One– out of the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit” (128).
- What is the meaning of the term ‘day’?– We are told that God created in six days, and there are different opinions on the use of the term ‘day.’ One side argues it’s a twenty-four hour period, the other side argues it means an extended period of time. Scripture at times uses ‘day’ in this way when it speaks about ‘the day of trouble’ (Jer. 51:2) or ‘the day of the Lord’ (Isa. 13:6; Joel 3:14). These don’t necessarily mean a twenty-four hour period, but a season of time. However, MLJ concludes that the best interpretation is to see the term ‘day’ to refer to a twenty-four hour period. The phrase “there was evening and there was morning” describes each ‘day’ which indicates a twenty-four hour period. Also, Genesis teaches that God rested on the seventh day. This doesn’t mean he rested for an extended period of time; it is used throughout Scripture to be the basis on which man is to rest on the Sabbath day…an actual twenty-four hour period of time.
Does Scripture and Science Disagree?
MLJ encourages believers not to be concerned about a contradiction between Scripture and science. He states:
The dispute between science and the Bible is one which is greatly exaggerated. The trouble, generally, is due to the fact that, on the one hand, what poses as science is not science but merely opinion and supposition and, on the other hand, what is regarded as biblical is very often not the biblical teaching. So if you have a false conception of the Bible and science, then obviously you will very easily manufacture a great dispute between the two…But I would always assert that I am not aware of any real contradiction between the teaching of the Bible and true, established scientific facts (133).
We see the same thing happening in our day. People use ‘science’ as support for their beliefs, but what they argue has not been proven by scientific method. You might hear someone say, “I believe in science and evidence, therefore I hold to evolution.” They assume that holding to evolution is more “scientific” or “rational” than creationism. However, evolution has not been proven by science any more than creationism has. Views such as “the theory of evolution” or the “big bang theory” have not been proven…which is why they are called theories. Just because a scientist says it doesn’t make it science. MLJ concludes:
Let us never compromise the truth of God to fit any scientific theory. The time will soon come when that scientific theory, if it contradicts the Bible, will be replaced by another. So we must never allow our position to be determined for us by the passing theories or current of so-called scientific opinion. Let us hold to the truth as it is revealed and ever, I repeat, with an open mind listen to facts that are placed before us. But let us shake ourselves entirely free from this pseudo-scientific dogmatism that so often masquerades in the guise of a truly scientific spirit.
Next time we’ll cover chapter 13, “Providence.”
Other posts in the “Great Doctrines of the Bible” series:
- Mind, Heart, and Will: Examining the Great Doctrines of the Bible
- How Can We Know Anything About God?
- Does the Bible Claim to be Authoritative?
- The Existence and Being of God
- The Warnings and Comforts of God’s Attributes
- A God We Can Trust
- Lloyd-Jones On The Mystery Of The Trinity
- The God Who Knows: The Eternal Decrees of God
- What Does the Bible Say About Angels?
- Who is Satan?