For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q9

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q9-11) is Creation and Providence. (see Harmony Index)
Many people like to talk about human creativity and the things human beings create. Yet we ought to ask, do we? Do we create? Or is “create” a term that ought to be reserved for God alone?
A Christian school teacher once told me that many years ago, educators referred to writing assignments as “compositions.” The teacher continued, “We don’t create anything. We only compose or recompose what is already there. Whether in music, art, or words, we arrange or compose things that already exist. Even the art and skill we use in doing this is a gift from God; we apply our God-given talents in the composition of what God has already created for us to discover and enjoy.” Nevertheless, more recently, “creative writing” has become the standard term in educational circles. This change in terminology seems to reflect a shift from a God-centered to an increasingly man-centered perception of reality.
As people of the Word, we must be aware of the implications of the words we choose to use. The widespread use of the word “create” as a human activity is not necessarily wrong. However, God’s creative acts should be clearly differentiated from the activity of human beings. May the Lord grant us a proper understanding of his creative acts and purposes.
WSC Q9. What is the work of creation?
Answer: The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good[a].
[a] Gen. 1:1-31; Ps. 33:6, 9; Heb. 11:3
Question #9 asks what is creation, and answers that it is God’s making everything out of nothing by his powerful word in six days—and all very good.
Comments and considerations:
This answer is a precise, concise statement of Scripture’s teaching: By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Ps. 33:6, 9). By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible (Heb. 11:3).
The Biblical account of creation has been often attacked by so-called scientific studies. Yet recently, as the result of extensive research, some scholars have concluded that the handiwork of a Designer is very evident in the created order. But even as the physical evidence for the Intelligent Design position increases, and the tide of understanding turns, we must base our faith ultimately upon God’s Word. That Word is steadfast and unchangeable; Scripture has taught throughout the ages that God made “all things of nothing, by the word of his power, …and all very good.”
There is, of course, room for discussion. We might debate how our fathers understood “the space of six days,” and much has been written on that topic. Yet whether the days are to be understood literally, or as ages, or within some other framework, we should certainly note that God could have created everything in a single instant, without pause or deliberation. But he didn’t. His work of creation took place one day at a time, in a deliberate progression from the incomplete to the complete; from good to very good. Have you ever noticed that God, after having completed the work of creation, went back and planted a garden? In so doing, he gave further dignity to work and to its fruits.
So today, we consider the word “work.” We all know what work is, but dictionaries still give plenty of space to its definition: “To exert one’s self for a purpose; to put forth effort for the attainment of an object; to labor; to be engaged in the performance of a task, a duty, or the like; the exertion of strength or faculties; physical or intellectual effort directed to an end; industrial activity; toil; employment; sometimes, specifically, physically labor; to set in motion or action; to direct the action of; to keep at effort; to govern; to manage.” These are just some of the 23 points that can be found in Webster’s 1913 Revised Unabridged Dictionary. In our appreciation of work, human ingenuity and industry, we even celebrate labor and its contribution to society with a national holiday.
Modern Marvels, a popular TV program started on the Discovery Channel, has produced over 650 episodes that document human inventiveness in science, technology, electronics, mechanics, engineering, architecture, industry, mass production, manufacturing and agriculture. (Whew!) As we saw in our introductory comments, human beings have plenty to work with. God created a universe for us to discover, shape, and put to use; he created “all things of nothing” as the only Creator who is “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth” (WSC Q4).
So think about that the next time your little one runs up to you and says, “Look mommy, look daddy, look what I have made!” You can respond, “Yes, look what you have made; look how you have used crayons and colors to fashion a wonderful composition of art! What God-given talents you display; how he has blessed your work!” Think about that when an engineer walks into your office and says, “Look what I’ve discovered about this new process or new material!” You can reply, “Yes, isn’t it amazing what God has hidden away in his creative order to be discovered, applied, and ‘enjoyed forever’!” (WSC Q1).
O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth, who have set your glory above the heavens!
Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have ordained strength, because of your enemies, that you may silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained,
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him?
For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen— even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8)
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    Read Heb. 11:3 and Rev. 4:11. How do these verses describe the manner and purpose of God’s creation?
2.    The answer to WSC Q9 uses the expression “powerful word.” How is God’s power observed in the acts of creation? Read Ps. 33:6-9.
3.    Can you list in order what God made on each of the six days of creation? Now read Gen. 1:1-27. How close did you come to getting it right?
4.    Read Ps. 147. What does God call by name (v4)? What does God give (v8)? What does he provide for the birds and animals (v9)? Verses 16 and 17 talks about snow, ice, and hail. What causes those things (v15)? What melts them (v18)? How do all these things described in Psalm 147 relate to God’s decrees?
Harmony of the Standards:WSC Q# 8; WLC Q#’s 15&16, and WCF IV.I 
WSC Q9. What is the work of creation?
A.  The work of creation is, God's making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good[a].
 [a] Gen. 1:1-31; Ps. 33:6, 9; Heb. 11:3
WLC Q15. What is the work of creation?
A.  The work of creation is that wherein God did in the beginning, by the word of his power, make of nothing the world, and all things therein for himself, within the space of six days, and all very good[a].
 [a] Gen. 1; Heb. 11:3; Prov. 16:4; Rev. 4:11
WLC Q.16. How did God create angels?
A.  God created all the angels, spirits[a], immortal[b], holy[c], excelling in knowledge[d], mighty in power[e], to execute his commandments, and to praise his name[f], yet subject to change[g].
[a] Col. 1:16; Ps. 104:4
[b] Luke 20:36
[c] Gen. 1:31
[d] Matt. 24:36
[e] II Thes. 1:7
[f] Ps. 103:20-21
[g] II Pet. 2:4
Of Creation
I.    It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, 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[a].
 [a] Gen. 1:1-3; Ex. 20:11; Jer. 10:12; Col. 1:16; John 1:2-3; Heb. 1:2; Heb. 11:3; Ps. 104:24; Gen., chapter 1.
Questions for further study:
What aspect or element of creation is brought to our attention in the Larger Catechism and Confession of Faith, not mentioned except by implication in the Shorter?  How does the Confession describe these two dimensions?  (1)

1 - Ans: all things therein whether visible or invisible,

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