It all begins with creation. Once again, we are simply following the logic of Scripture as it tells God’s story: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). This is how the cosmos came into being. By his powerful word, God created the entire universe out of nothing (ex nihilo), “so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Heb. 11:3). He spoke the world into existence. The reason there is something rather than nothing—and the reason things are the way they are instead of the way they are not—is that God created them that way.
So there is a creator and there is a creation, and they are distinct. The creator is not to be confused with his creation, as if the universe itself were divine. This is the fundamental error of paganism and pantheism, which try to find deity somewhere within the material world. According to those worldviews, God is matter or is in matter—in human beings, perhaps, or in “Gaia,” the goddess of the earth. But if the world itself has been created by a superior being, then our worship should not stop with the world or anything in it (which would be idolatry), but go beyond.
Nor is the material universe all there is, as if nature were the ultimate reality and matter the only thing that mattered. Rather than recognizing that the universe is governed by the providence of God—and understanding that whatever changes happen within the created order are part of his plan—materialism leaves everything to chance. Natural causes alone are sufficient to explain everything that exists. This naturalistic philosophy is summarized by Richard Dawkins, the well-known atheist and Oxford biologist who champions evolution as a godless worldview. Dawkins writes, “There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” This is the logical result of denying the existence of the creator. If the universe is what it is, without anyone behind it, then there is no ultimate purpose for anything, or any transcendent basis for making moral distinctions. Yet the truth is that the universe was designed by God for purposes that he intends. This creator/creature relationship is basic to Christianity as a worldview.
When we speak of God as the creator, we are once again speaking specifically of the triune God. Creation is not merely the work of the Father, but also of the Son and the Spirit. Right at the beginning of the Bible we read that as God fashioned the universe, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). The Bible also calls particular attention to the work of Christ as creator. “There is . . . one Lord, Jesus Christ,” the Scripture says, “through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6). All things come from the Father, through the Son. “For by him”—that is, by Jesus Christ—“all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16–17; cf. John 1:1–3). Because all things were created at his command, they are subject to his authority. Everything in creation relates to Jesus Christ, and nothing in the entire universe can be properly or completely understood apart from him. John Piper celebrates this truth when he writes:
All that came into being exists for Christ—that is, everything exists to display the greatness of Christ. Nothing—nothing!—in the universe exists for its own sake. Everything—from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains, from the smallest particle to the biggest star, from the most boring school subject to the most fascinating science, from the ugliest cockroach to the most beautiful human—everything that exists, exists to make the greatness of Christ more fully known.
If it is true that everything is from Christ and for Christ—and if it is true, further, that he holds everything together—then he is directly relevant to everything there is. This great truth makes Christianity a Christ-centered worldview from beginning to end. Jesus is not merely the agent of redemption, but also of creation. Jesus Christ is the Creator God. The universe was made by him, through him, and for him. Furthermore, at this very moment he is sustaining the whole creation by his providential care (Heb. 1:3). Whatever is happening in the world—down to the exact places where people live—is under his sovereign direction (Acts 17:24–27). Here is how Charles Colson summarizes the implications of creation and providence for human knowledge:
In every topic we investigate, from ethics to economics to ecology, the truth is found only in relationship to God and his revelation. God created the natural world and natural laws. God created our bodies and the moral laws that keep us healthy. God created our minds and the laws of logic and imagination. God created us as social beings and gave us the principles for social and political institutions. God created a world of beauty and the principles of aesthetics and artistic creation. In every area of life, genuine knowledge means discerning the laws and ordinances by which God has structured creation, and then allowing those laws to shape the way we should live.
Creation and providence also have personal implications for our life in this world. Simply put, we owe our ongoing existence to Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The Protestant Reformer John Calvin found this great truth to be an occasion for worship and a basis for prayer. He wrote: “There cannot be found the least particle of wisdom, light, righteousness, power, rectitude or sincere truth which does not proceed from Him and claim Him for its author. . . . We should therefore learn to expect and supplicate all these things from Him, and thankfully acknowledge what He gives us.” Where the universe came from, where it is right now, and where it is going are all vitally connected to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Even the lilies of the field and the birds of the air are under his loving care (Matt. 6:26–30). “Wherever you cast your eyes,” Calvin went on to say, “there is no spot in the universe wherein you cannot discern at least some sparks of his glory.”