Chapter 14 – In the Creation of the World, and All Things In It, the True God Distinguished by Certain Marks from Fictitious Gods
The creation of the world considered generally
God gives us a history of creation to keep His people from falling away to vain imaginations.
Why six days? God is all-powerful and could have created everything in a moment.
The subject of angels
Although Moses does not discuss angels in the creation account, Scripture tells us that angels minister-to/serve God as their Creator.
Angels are not eternal or self-existent. Only God is. So we need to be careful how we think about angels.
Some bad theology has taught that (1) angels possess some sort of divinity or (2) the devil, as a fallen angel, is the creator of all things bad/evil.
We should only go as far as Scripture goes when it comes to discussing angels.
Definition of “Angels”: Angels are heavenly spirits, whose obedience and ministry God employs to execute all the purposes which He has decreed.
When it comes to angels, Scripture particularly focuses on one thing: “angels are the ministers and dispensers of the divine bounty [beneficence/goodness/blessing] towards us.”
What about “guardian angels”?
Rather than worship angels, their ministry to us should testify to the nearness of God to us. Angels are not mediators through which we can commune with God.
“We should remember that they are spirit-beings, having real existence. They are not mere phantoms or products of our minds.” –J. Mark Beach (summarizing Calvin)
The subject of bad angels (devils)
The purpose of Scripture in teaching us about demons is “to put us on our guard against their wiles and machinations, that we may provide ourselves with weapons strong enough to drive away the most formidable foes.”
“Above all, fully conscious of our weakness and want [lack] of skill, let us invoke the help of God, and attempt nothing without trusting in Him, since it is His alone to supply counsel, and strength, and courage, and arms.”
1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him…”
“We are taught that the number of enemies with whom we have to war is almost infinite, that we may not, from a contemptuous idea of the fewness of their numbers, be more remiss in the contest, or from imagining that an occasional truce is given us, indulge in sloth.”
Satan is God’s adversary as much as ours and He attacks us to try to get at God.
Calvin’s summary of demons: “They were when first created angels of God, but by degeneration they ruined themselves, and became the instruments of ruin for others.” (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6, 1 Timothy 5:21)
Lest we tremble, Calvin assures that Satan is impotent apart from God.
The practical use of the history of the creation
Creation calls us to faith in God.
Creation is God’s “most beautiful theater” and we should “piously delight” in it
Creation was created “out of nothing” and is upheld by God’s word.
God displays His glorious perfections in Creation.
God created all things for our good and salvation.
Our reaction should be greater trust, praise, and love for God.
“Let us study to love and serve Him with all our heart.”
Chapter 15 – Discussion of Human Nature as Created, of the Image of God, of Free Will, and of the Original Integrity of Man’s Nature
Man considered before the Fall
“A curb was laid on our pride from the outset” because God formed man from dust of the ground (Gen 2.7).
God created man with a soul and a body, the immortal soul being the “nobler part.”
Man’s soul is created immortal
Scripture confirms the immortality of the soul: Job 4:19; 2 Cor. 5:4; 2 Pet. 1:13, 14; 2 Cor. 5:10; 7:1; 1 Pet. 2:25; 1:9; 2:11; Heb. 13:17; 2 Cor. 1:23; Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5; Heb. 12:9; Luke 16:22; 2 Cor. 5:6, 8; Acts 23:8.
The soul is a “thing”, that is, it has essence. It is not an energy or breath.
The image of God (imago dei) is in man’s soul
What consists of the “image of God”?
WCF 4.2: “After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image;”
Colossians 3:10 – “and [we] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
Ephesians 4:24 – “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
In the Fall, “the image of God was not utterly effaced [wiped out] and destroyed in him, it was, however, so corrupted, that anything which remains is fearful deformity.”
In Christ, the image of God is being restored/renewed within us.
“God’s image is the perfect excellence of human nature which shone in Adam before his defection, but was subsequently so vitiated [spoiled] and almost blotted out that nothing remains after the ruin except what is confused, mutilated, and disease-ridden. Therefore in some part it now is manifest in the elect, in so far as they have been reborn in the Spirit; but it will attain its full splendor in heaven.”
Refutations of errors concerning the nature of man’s soul
Manicheans/Servetus: The soul is a transmission of part of God’s substance/nature
Osiander [Lutheran theologian]: The divine image consists of a transfusion of divine righteousness into man.
“The renewal of the image in man is not a matter of participating in the divine substance, but in being transformed by the Holy Spirit.” (see 2 Corinthians 3:18)
The faculties of the soul
2 things: Understanding and Will
Understanding helps us to distinguish good from evil, what we should do and not do.
Will chooses and follows what the understanding pronounces as good.
We must distinguish between 2 states of man
Unfallen (man was able to sin or able not to sin)
Fallen (man is unable not to sin)
Before the Fall, man was excellently guided by the faculties of his soul and the image of God within him was perfect.
Before the Fall, Adam possessed “free will” and if he had exercised his freedom rightly, he had the power to attain eternal life.
These faculties have been marred by the Fall.
Summation: “Man at his first creation, was very different from all his posterity; who, deriving their origin from him after he was corrupted, received a hereditary taint.”