Tag Archives: God and Creation

“A doxological tone that glorifies Him” by Herman Bavinck

“The essence of the Christian religion consists in the reality that the creation of the Father, ruined by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God, and re-created by the grace of the Holy Spirit into a kingdom of God.

Theology is about God and should reflect a doxological tone that glorifies Him.”

–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 61.

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“The world finds its goal in His glory” by Herman Bavinck

“God is the sole, unique, and absolute cause of all that exists. He has created all things by His word and Spirit (Gen. 1:2–3; Ps. 33:6; 104:29–30; 148:5; Job 26:13; 33:4; Isa. 40:13; 48:13; Zech. 12:1; John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; etc.).

There was no substance or principle of any kind to oppose Him; no material to tie Him down; no force to circumscribe His freedom. He speaks and things spring into being (Gen. 1:3; Ps. 33:9; Rom. 4:17). He is the unrestricted owner of heaven and earth (Gen. 14:19, 22; Ps. 24:1–2; 89:11; 95:4–5).

There are no limits to His power; He does all He sees fit to do (Isa. 14:24, 27; 46:10; 55:10–11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6). “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 11:3).

The world is the product of His will (Ps. 33:6; Rev. 4:11); it is the revelation of His perfections (Prov. 8:22f.; Job 28:23f.; Ps. 104:1; 136:5f.; Jer. 10:12) and finds its goal in His glory (Isa. 43:16ff.; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6).

This teaching of creation, which occupies a preeminent and pivotal place in Scripture, is not, however, presented as a philosophical explanation of the problem of existence. Most certainly it also offers an answer to the question of the origin of all things.

Yet its significance is first and foremost religious and ethical. No right relation to God is conceivable apart from this basis; it positions us in the proper relation to God (Exod. 20:11; Deut. 10:12–14; 2 Kings 19:15; Neh. 9:6).

It is therefore of eminent practical value, serving to bring out the greatness, the omnipotence, the majesty, and the goodness, wisdom, and love of God (Ps. 19; Job 37; Isa. 40).

The teaching of creation therefore strengthens people’s faith, confirms their trust in God, and is a source of consolation in their suffering (Ps. 33:6f.; 65:5ff.; 89:11; 121:2; 134:3; Isa. 37:16; 40:28f.; 42:5; etc.).

It inspires praise and thanksgiving (Ps. 136:3ff.; 148:5; Rev. 14:7).

It induces humility and meekness and makes people sense their smallness and insignificance before God (Job 38:4f.; Isa. 29:16; 45:9; Jer. 18:6; Rom. 9:20).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 407–408.

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“Life itself” by Herman Bavinck

“Mystery is the lifeblood of dogmatics. To be sure, the term ‘mystery’ (μυστηριον) in Scripture does not mean an abstract supernatural truth in the Roman Catholic sense. Yet Scripture is equally far removed from the idea that believers can grasp the revealed mysteries in a scientific sense.

In truth, the knowledge that God has revealed of Himself in nature and Scripture far surpasses human imagination and understanding. In that sense it is all mystery with which the science of dogmatics is concerned, for it does not deal with finite creatures, but from beginning to end looks past all creatures and focuses on the eternal and infinite One Himself.

From the very start of its labors, it faces the incomprehensible One. From Him it derives its inception, for from Him are all things. But also in the remaining loci, when it turns its attention to creatures, it views them only in relation to God as they exist from Him and through Him and for Him [Rom. 11:36].

So then, the knowledge of God is the only dogma, the exclusive content, of the entire field of dogmatics. All the doctrines treated in dogmatics—whether they concern the universe, humanity, Christ, and so forth—are but the explication of the one central dogma of the knowledge of God.

All things are considered in light of God, subsumed under Him, traced back to Him as the starting point. Dogmatics is always called upon to ponder and describe God and God alone, whose glory is in creation and re-creation, in nature and grace, in the world and in the church. It is the knowledge of Him alone that dogmatics must put on display.

By pursuing this aim, dogmatics does not become a dry and academic exercise, without practical usefulness for life. The more it reflects on God, the knowledge of whom is its only content, the more it will be moved to adoration and worship.

Only if it never forgets to think and speak about matters rather than about mere words, only if it remains a theology of facts and does not degenerate into a theology of rhetoric, only then is dogmatics as the scientific description of the knowledge of God also superlatively fruitful for life.

The knowledge of God-in-Christ, after all, is life itself (Ps. 89:16; Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34; John 17:3).”

–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 29.

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“The link between God and His name” by Herman Bavinck

“All we can learn about God from His revelation is designated His Name in Scripture… There is an intimate link between God and His name. According to Scripture, this link too is not accidental or arbitrary but forged by God Himself.

We do not name God; He names Himself. In the foreground here is the name as a revelation on the part of God, in an active and objective sense, as revealed name.

In this case God’s name is identical with the attributes or perfections that He exhibits in and to the world: His glory (Ps. 8:1; 72:19), honor (Lev. 18:21; Ps. 86:10–11; 102:16), His redeeming power (Exod. 15:3; Isa. 47:4); His service (Isa. 56:6; Jer. 23:27); His holiness (1 Chron. 16:10; Ps. 105:3).

The name is God Himself as He reveals Himself in one relationship or another (Lev. 24:11, 16; Deut. 28:58). That name, being a revelation of God, is great (Ezek. 36:23), holy (Ezek. 36:20), awesome (Ps. 111:9), a high refuge (Ps. 20:1), a strong tower (Prov. 18:10).

By proper names, particularly by the name YHWH, God made Himself known to Israel. He revealed Himself to Israel by the angel in whom the Lord’s name was present (Exod. 23:20).

And He put His name on the children of Israel (Num. 6:27), caused His name to be remembered (Exod. 20:24), put His name among them and made it to dwell there (Deut. 12:5; 14:23), especially in the temple that was built for His name (2 Sam. 7:13). Now His name lives in that temple (2 Chron. 20:9; 33:4).

By that name He saves (Ps. 54:1), and on account of that name He cannot abandon Israel (1 Sam. 12:22; Isa. 48:9, 11; Ps. 23:3; 31:3; 143:11–12). Israel, accordingly, may not blaspheme and desecrate that name, or use it in vain (Exod. 20:7; Lev. 18:21; 19:12; 24:11).

On the contrary: that name must be invoked, passed on in story, magnified, known, feared, exalted, expected, sought out, sanctified (Gen. 4:26; 12:8; Exod. 9:16; Deut. 28:58; 1 Kings 8:33; Ps. 5:12; 34:3; 52:9; 83:17; 122:4; Isa. 26:8; Matt. 6:9; John 12:28; etc.).

In the New Testament God’s name acquires an even richer and deeper meaning. For the Logos, who was in the beginning with God and is in the bosom of the Father, has made Him known (John 1:18) and revealed His name (John 17:6, 26).

Since no one knows the Father except the Son, only those to whom the Son reveals the Father gain knowledge of God (Matt. 11:27). Those who confess the Son have the Father also (1 John 2:23). Those who have seen Him have seen the Father (John 14:9).

The name of Jesus Christ, accordingly, guarantees the truth of our knowledge of God and all the associated benefits. He is called Jesus because He saves His people (Matt. 1:21) and is the only name given under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

By His name miracles are performed (Acts 4:7); by it we receive forgiveness (Acts 2:38), the right to become God’s children (John 1:12), and eternal life (1 John 5:13). Where two or three people are gathered in His name, He is in their midst (Matt. 18:20).

Those who pray in His name are heard (John 14:13), and those who call on the name of the Lord are saved (Acts 2:21). All salvation for humanity is comprehended within the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Being baptized in that name is a sign and seal of fellowship with God. And an even richer revelation awaits believers in the new Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12), when His name will be inscribed upon everyone’s forehead (Rev. 22:4).

The name of God in Scripture does not describe God as He exists within Himself but God in His revelation and multiple relations to His creatures. This name, however, is not arbitrary: God reveals Himself in the way He does because He is who He is.

Summed up in His name, therefore, is His honor, His fame, His excellencies, His entire revelation, His very being.”

–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 97, 98-99.

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