The Westminster Confession Of Faith. Section IV.1-2

Creation, and providence to follow, are the outworking of God’s decrees, as noted in the previous sections. “It pleased God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; 33:4; Jn. 1:2-3; I Cor. 8:6), for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom and goodness (Ps. 104:24; 33:5-6; Is. 44:24; 45:12; Jer. 10:12; Rom. 1:20; Rom. 1:20), 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 (Gen. 1; Acts 17:24; Col. 1:16).” The creation of all things must be understood to have two aspects. On the one hand the triune God created something out of nothing. Everything in creation had a beginning. Only God is eternal. Secondly, God then created the world, beginning in the rest of the first 24 hr day, and then in the other five successive days (Ex. 20:11). The first days, not being declared as different from those described with ‘day’ and ‘night’, are in fact defined by those elements which were created to in effect be that which rules ‘day’ and ‘night’ – being sun and moon.

We also are told that God’s creative work involved all three persons of the trinity. We read that God said ‘let us’ create man after their image. This rules out the only other persons that may be referred to, namely the angels, for humans only are described as being created in his image. As it is the chief end of man to glory and enjoy God for ever, even so the whole of creation was a work of God for the manifestation of his glory. Creation also conveys that knowledge of God that all humanity has of God, namely “his eternal power, wisdom and goodness.” God created both the things visible and invisible, and because of this, we ought not to forget that there is an invisible realm every bit as much as there is a visible realm. Since God is goodness himself, all that he had made he described as being ‘good’, and ‘very good’. As we will also see when looking at God’s providence, God also created time and history (Heb. 1:2; 11:3). Since creation is regarded as the outworking of his sovereign will and purpose, we know that the whole of creation, and the study and care of it, are guided by his will and purpose.

“After God made all other creatures, he created man, male and female (Gen. 1:27), with reasonable and immortal souls (Gen. 2:7; Ec. 12:7; Lk. 23:43; Mt. 10:28), endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image (Gen. 1:26; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24-25).” Besides stating that humans are created immediately by God, the Confession affirms that God created them as male and female. This is the beginning of a person’s personal self-identity, and there are only two possibilities. Second, we learn that humans are both physical and spiritual in nature. Third, the human soul is reasonable, and thus that which pertains to the soul is not anything contrary to reason, that the rational ability of humanity is more than just biological activity of the brain. Fourth, although the soul, as well as the body, have a beginning, they will have no end. Fifth, each human being is programmed with certain software, so to speak, that is both epistemological (the study of knowledge), and moral (ethics) in nature. All of this and more is part of what it means to be created in the image of God.

It is no coincidence that the fathers began the definition of the image with knowledge, for this is the first axiom of our existence. We could not function as image bearers of God if we did not have that knowledge which is from God, in this case innate and ‘a prior’, that is, the reasoning ability to deduce propositions prior to observations or experience. We are also taught that humans are moral agents who, as part of being the image bearers of God, evidence such in “righteousness, and holiness.” “Having the law of God written in their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15), and power to fulfill it (Ec. 7:29); and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change (Gen. 3:6; Ec. 7:29).” Human beings, from the moment of creation, had a knowledge of God’s law which was compatible with the ability to reason truthfully, and to obey it fully. Sixth, human beings, from the beginning, had a freedom to obey or disobey the knowledge of God and his law, that was given in their very constitution as his image bearers, and a conscience to make this distinction.

“Besides this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17; 3:8-11, 23); which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures (Gen. 1:26, 28).” Seven, part of being created in God’s image is to live happily in harmony with God. Eight, all these character distinctives, which together set humanity apart from the rest of creation, equipped humanity to exercise dominion under God as his stewards. The fact that Christ appeals to the initial creation of humanity as male and female, in opposition to free divorce, supports the truth that this also was a part of humanity’s original state (Mal. 2:15; Mt. 19:4-5). This first human pair, in covenant representation in Adam, were placed in the position of having God’s law within and in a special revelatory word. By this we ought not to forget that God’s word was given for more than just redemption, occurring as it did before the fall, being the law disobeyed.

Scripture and the Confession are also emphatic that the creation of man did not come via an evolutionary process. It is also clear that the definition of the image, in which we were and are created, cannot be reduced to one aspect only. The image involves both body and soul, the visible and the invisible or physical and spiritual, the internal and external, the epistemological and moral, the inherent and the functional. We have the task of dominion stewardship, and the make-up in order to fulfill this role. Part of the image, stated here in our being created male and female, is that we have personal identity, and are designed to live in community. As was noted in the treatment of the doctrine of the trinity, only if Moses and the first recipients of the Genesis account understood the differing personalities in the Godhead, in the ‘let us’ and ‘our’, could they understand this personal and relational truth. Of course, in the creation of man by God, we also learn that there is a qualitative difference between God and humanity.

In naming the animals we also see that Adam was created from the beginning with the innate ability to speak intelligible words, which gave expression to his thinking and reasoning ability and process. Adam’s innate cognitive ability enabled him to engage in the discipline of science, examining the other creatures and giving them names that fit their distinctive characteristics. As will be stated more fully concerning the fall, though the image may be in a sense marred by the fall, it still remains, an idea which must guide our relations with all people (Js. 3:9). Furthermore, we also understand that this image is being renewed by the Spirit to be in conformity to the image of Christ, “in knowledge” (Col. 3:10), “true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). It should not be missed that there is an understanding that sin also affects our thinking, what is called the noetic effects of sin, and why we must be renewed in our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). We should also not miss the point that all races are included in our first parents, and therefore there can be no grounds for racism of any kind.

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