Sermon preached by Mr. D. G. Crowter on Lord’s Day morning 6th January 1991 at Gower
Street Memorial Chapel, London.
‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ Genesis 1.1.
With these plain and majestic words God’s revelation to man begins. He does not stoop to give a proof of His existence, or even an indication of His purpose, but a distinct declaration of the way in which the heaven and the earth came into being. My dear friends, it is for us to receive this as the Word of God; for He alone was in a position to say how things really began, those things which are around us now, those things which we experience in our own lives. Here we are taken back to the beginning of time in these short yet stupendous words; ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ It is very foolish, and indeed very sinful, to doubt or to contradict such words as these, because they are the words of God Himself. So this is the subject before us – God’s creation of this universe where we live.
First we must notice the Creator Himself; because all things have come from Him, from
God. Now the noun ‘God’ is plural in the original language, and the verb ‘created’ is singular. So right from the beginning of Scripture we see that the Trinity acts in unity.
There are three Persons in the Godhead who are in perfect harmony in all that they do.
We may certainly say that the Father created this world, for so we read in the Revelation in that song of praise to that One who was seen sitting on the throne in all His majesty and glory. ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure (or by thy will) they are, and were created.’ So praise is given to the Father ‘who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.’ It was by His will that the heaven and the earth were created.
But then the Son of God was present there. We read that ‘all things were created by him, and for him;’ He was present, and active, in the creation; ‘and without him was not anything made that was made.’ We read in the Proverbs also how that when God created the universe the
Saviour says, ‘Then I was by him, as one brought up with him.’ He was there, and actively bringing forth this heaven and earth that we know in some tiny degree.
And then the Holy Spirit was also present. We read here these remarkable words: ‘The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved upon the face
of the waters.’ We read concerning the creatures that they lived so long and then they died, and that it is the Spirit that gives them life. They an created by the breath of the Spirit of God. Now the word that is used here when the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters is a word that is often used of birds hovering or fluttering over their young. It implies the power and the loving care of the Spirit of God with regard to this wonderful creation that was made. As a bird so flutters over her offspring and protects them from harm in that figure of love, so the Spirit watched over this creation.
And so Father, Son, and Spirit were united in the work of creating this universe, working together in perfect harmony. We might say that it was the will of the Father, and the action of the Son, and the life-giving power of the Spirit, uniting together, that produced God’s own creation in the beginning. And what a wonderful work it was! God Himself saw that it was very good; it was absolutely perfect in its initial creation before the fall of man.
Well my friends, God is my Creator, and He is your Creator. It is He who has formed every atom of our beings and every wonderful organ that is in our bodies, and the faculties of our souls after His own image and likeness. As the psalmist said, ‘Thy hands have made me and fashioned me.’ And because this is so it means that we owe to God everything that is good; everything that we have ever possessed which is good is from this Creator. It also means that we are all responsible and accountable to Him. He has an absolute, sovereign right over all the creation which He has sovereignly made of His own good pleasure Every one of us must give account unto God, because God who is our
Creator is also our Judge. All that we do upon His world we must give an account for at the end, because it is He who has created us as we are It is to Him we are all responsible at last. May we all give good heed to these things!
Then secondly we must notice the creation: what it was that God in His sovereign pleasure, and by His infinite wisdom and power, actually formed. He created the heaven and the earth; which means not only this
planet (relatively tiny in the universe, but so large to our view) but the whole of the universe – the skies and the sun and the stars and all thing1 there; the whole of the creation, visible and invisible things.
Now this is immense. If we really stop to think of this first verse of God’s revelation, it is a tremendous statement, awe-inspiring words, that God created all this vast universe.
As new telescopes are invented then astronomers have been able to look further and further into the skies. And they discover more and more worlds, stars and suns and so on in this universe. There are suns that are very much greater than our enormous sun, and stars that are immense, so that thousands of years are needed for the light to reach us from them.
Now the world and it; surroundings are so immensely vast that we can have very little
conception of them. Yet God, according to His own fiat and declaration, has made it all.
There is no other possible explanation of the existence of all these things, but that God the Creator, in His infinite wisdom, has formed them as they are. As the Psalmist said (and well might we follow him): ‘When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?’
But then we must think of the detail in the creation. There are things immensely great, like some of the stars and planets; and there are things immensely small, that we cannot even see with the naked eye; and yet every one is perfect in every detail. Every speck of dust contains trillions of tiny atoms (which is wonderful in itself); but in each of those atoms there are much smaller electrons; and each of those electrons has its own exactly-prescribed amount of energy which can be calculated to many decimal places. There is such a marvellous detail about all that God has created. Now we see some things which are very small. I remember just the other day seeing a tiny little spider and the legs that it has to move. And of course there is so much detail within the formation of such insects.
Every wing of every fly is so perfect, and they could only be useful because of the intricate inner construction of the insects, these ‘creeping things upon the earth.’ My dear friends, we are to consider the works of God, which show forth His infinite wisdom and knowledge and power.
Then also there is such a variety in His created work. There are these things which we read of in this chapter; the grass and the trees, the flowers and the fruit. And how much we are dependent on God’s creation, entirely dependent on it for His supplies in that creation for our continuing life. We live upon what God has provided in this earth, so suitable for our needs. And then there are those living creatures, insects and birds, animals and fish, all so marvellously constructed according to God’s own will and purpose in the creation. In the 104th Psalm we have such an account of the way in which all God’s creatures are really so interdependent, and how all the whole creation works so wonderfully together. There is such variety in God’s work. It is said that no two snowflakes are ever exactly the same, of all the vast number of flakes that come; all are different. And think of all the different people that have ever lived upon this earth; every one has been different. We know that this is true of ourselves. God has made us to be distinct personalities, quite different from every other person that we can ever meet. It is because of God’s amazing understanding and
His infinite power. Well might we say with the Psalmist, ‘O Lord, I will praise thee, for
I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.’ But he also says concerning this omniscient God, ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.’ For though we should think of these things and
consider them, yet there is so little that we can really know, only just a tiny part of it.
It is so vast.
And then we must notice the formation of these things. In this first verse we read of how the heaven and the earth were created. The earth was then ‘without form, and void.’ Now God created the heaven and the earth, evidently instantaneously. We read in the psalm, ‘He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.’ None of these things had any prior existence. In a moment, in all their beauty and perfection and wonder, they appeared. God created because it was His own sovereign pleasure to do so. And He created by His infinite wisdom and power exactly as it was His purpose so to do. How this word, my dear friends, brings before us the infinite greatness of God! The complexity and the immensity of His creation is altogether beyond our human minds to comprehend. It is so vast, and yet so perfect in every tiny detail of it. It calls for adoration, for worship, for the acknowledgement that this is truly so.
And, my dear friends, if we see these things in a spiritual way, how much it elevates and enhances them in our view. Now God’s creation is
before the eyes and the minds of all His creatures. None of us could possibly say that we have not seen the evidence of His wonderful and mighty work. But if you have a spiritual view of this, and spiritual understanding through a new birth, then how much difference this makes! In the earlier part of last year we had a series of very beautiful mornings. Like this morning, the clouds were gone and the skies in all their glorious blue could be seen.
And I do believe that God really spoke to me out of those skies of His most glorious love; of its endlessness, its boundlessness; and that wherever I was, and wherever I should be, how ever many clouds might come, His love would always be overshadowing me. And so the creation does speak. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.’ And how much richer this is to a spiritual view; as the hymn-writer puts it:
Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth below is sweeter green,
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen:
Birds, with gladder songs rejoice,
Flowers with deeper beauty shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.
Oh what a difference it makes to the creation if you know and realise that the Redeemer, the Saviour who came and suffered so much at Calvary, has formed all things, has formed us; that He is our Creator and Judge.
But then I want to speak concerning the purpose of God’s creation. ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ We may reverently ask, ‘Why?’ We cannot always ask that question about what God does. Sometimes it is quite improper to do so. But God surely has revealed in His Word the purpose that He had in doing this, in forming the immense and wonderful and intricate creation. We may say, in a word, that it is for His glory. It is all for the very highest purpose that has been, the highest end that could ever be in view. God has formed the earth and the skies for His own glory, for His everlasting praise. Everything that He has made is for this end – that He should be glorified there, as He so deserves to be.
And first we may notice this with regard to the creation itself, to the display that He has made, in His creation, of His glory. We read in the first chapter of the Romans that ‘the invisible things of him are clearly seen by the things which he has made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,’ for ‘when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.’ That is, the Gentiles, in particular, in their fallen condition did not glorify God. But they are without excuse; and so is everyone, for not glorifying
God; because His eternal power and His deity are plainly seen by all His creation. None of us have the slightest excuse for not believing that God created the heaven and the earth; for not seeking Him as our Creator, not worshipping Him, not praying to Him, as far as we are able to do these things – and for not rendering praise to Him and thanksgiving as our
Creator. There is no excuse for anyone for not honouring God, and rendering glory to Him on account of what He has so marvellously created out of nothing.
But then also this world was created to be the locality for the Son of God to display the brightest glory of the Deity in His sufferings. The heaven and the earth were created from the beginning so that Christ should die at Calvary. And how amazing that is! When God created these things, and when the Son of God Himself took such an active part in this creation, He created the hill at Calvary, and the place at Jerusalem where that city was to be built, and where the Son of God should lay down His life. Before the creation, from eternity. God knew that man, created perfect and upright, would fall; that he would need that great redemption, this marvellous display of redeeming love. And so it was appointed.
God created the world so as to be the place where the Son of God should become incarnate; where He should take upon Himself humanity, yet without sin, and should live a spotless life of obedience to God’s Law, and should die an ignominious, substitutionary death for His dear people, and so make the most marvellous display of God’s glorious attributes that has ever been or (as far as we understand) ever could be. There God displayed the immeasurable glory of His love and mercy and grace, and wisdom and holiness and justice. All the attributes of
Deity were wonderfully displayed in that glorious transaction in
which the ‘Almighty God sighed human breath, the Lord of Life experienced death.’ There is a much greater glory in the death of Christ than in the creation that God has made, although that so declares the glory of His wisdom and goodness and power. Do you see the glory of the
Son of God suffering at Calvary? Oh if you do see Him, by precious
faith, suffering for you, for the vast number of your sins, then what a
glorious sight that will be! What a sight of such wonder and such boundless love!
Also the earth was created to be the scene of a new creation, of a creation of renewed men, of fallen men and women and children renewed again after the holy likeness of the
Creator and of His beloved Son. And this again is a far more wonderful creation than the earth and the trees and the mountains and the lakes. God has a new creation. He. is calling by His grace, out of the ruined mass of fallen humanity, A people to serve Him for ever, so that He should be glorified in them. As He says of them. This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.’ Oh that we might see the wonder of this – God’s new creation! those whom He transforms by His grace, cleanses in the Saviour’s redeeming blood, clothes in His righteousness, and conforms
to His holy likeness to be a people to show forth His endless praise. How wonderful it is!
And this earth is the scene in which these changes
are continually taking place, as long as life continues upon it. So the apostle says to the people of God, ‘All things are yours.’ Yes, the work is theirs. Not only the apostles, preachers of the gospel, Paul and Cephas and Apollos, but ‘the world, things present and things to come’ – they
are yours; they are for your good. God is working out His own wonderful purposes of grace toward His dear people. He is creating them anew and fashioning them after the Saviour’s image, that they might glorify Him through all the ages of eternity. It is to this end, as the apostle says in the Ephesians, ‘that he might show (show to all eternity) the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.’ God is calling out of this world, out of sinful mankind, a people who shall be a glorious new creation, to serve
Him for ever and ever in perfect holiness and love. Dear friend, are you a member of that new creation? Are you born again? As Jesus says, to serve Him there in heaven and glory, this is absolutely necessary; it is vitally needed. Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’
There is one more purpose for which God formed this earth. And that was so that it should be replaced. It is a precursor to a new and perfect creation. In this verse at the beginning of the Scriptures, we read; ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ And in the first verse of the last chapter but one in the Scriptures, John says, ‘And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.’ God has said again and again that this present creation is
doomed. Because of man’s sin it must be changed – that is, it must be reborn, so to speak, it must be transformed. All the sin must be burned out of it; all the corruption of man must be taken out of His creation. And so we have the promise in Isaiah, repeated in Peter’s 2nd
Epistle. He says, ‘Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.’ Are you looking for that new creation? It will surely be most beautiful and glorious. It will display the glory of God, His wisdom and power and goodness, in a greater way even than the original creation did, and in a far greater way than this fallen creation now does. There we read ‘wherein dwelleth righteousness.’ That is, everything that is right and perfect and holy in the eyes of God will be there for ever. Righteousness will characterise the new heavens and the new earth for evermore.
These are surely very wonderful considerations. ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ We have thought upon the Creator, the glorious majesty of God, His infinite wisdom and power. We have considered just a little of His creation, which is always there for our meditation; as the Psalmist says concerning it, ‘My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD,’ as he considered the wonder of that creation in the
And we have thought a little of God’s purposes for this creation; do you begin to see the glory of God’s work? There is such a glory in it. We again and again read in the Scripture how that these things were fashioned so that God should be glorified, so that His glory should be seen. Do you see any of it? Do you see a glory in the old creation, though it is marred and defiled by sinful man? Do you see a glory in the Saviour’s work at Calvary? Do you see a glory in the new creation? In these God is already glorified to some extent on the earth. Do you see a future glory which is yet to be manifested in its perfection? This should surely be our prayer, constantly, with regard to these wonderful works of God; ‘I beseech thee, show me thy glory.’ Because it is there. It is everywhere in the creation of the heaven and earth, and all that it leads to in the purposes of God. O may we see in this
New Year more and more of the transcendent glory of God in His works!
This is the beginning here. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ As I have mentioned, it has an ending as well. The present heaven and the earth are to be brought to an end one day. John in one of his visions saw the heaven rolled up like a scroll. The heavens were all rolled up and departed. Heaven and earth fled away from the face of Him that sat upon the throne. And sooner or later (we cannot tell how soon) there will be an end to all this world. The earth and all the works that are therein – all the works of men shall be burned up. And what will happen to you then, to you and to me when we stand before that great white throne where the Redeemer will sit? Are you being prepared for the endless glory of God, for the glories of heaven, for the holy
perfections of it? Because unless you are prepared, by the gracious purpose and the power of
God, you will never reach that place. We read concerning that great Judgment scene that the Saviour says to the wicked, (those who had not honoured Him at all in their lives, although some of them thought they had), ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels’. But to those that were on His right hand, who had served His people and shown their love to the Saviour here on earth, He says, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world’. O may God prepare us for His glorious kingdom of everlasting peace, holiness and love!