So far in my answer to a reader’s question, "Why did God bring the universe into being?" I have affirmed the biblical doctrine of creation by the Word of God, out of nothing, in six days of twenty-four hours, and insisted that God’s purpose already in the original creation was to glorify Himself through Jesus Christ. God never intended nor planned to glorify Himself through the first Adam and through the first paradise. When God saw that all He had made was very good, He meant, not that the creation was morally perfect (though, of course, it was), but that it was perfectly suited to glorify Himself through Jesus Christ. The first creation was the stage, built by God, on which would be enacted the great drama of sin and grace, as God saves His church through Christ. The truth that God created all things to glorify Himself through Christ implies other truths, which we must briefly mention.
First, it implies that God is sovereign over all His creation. He is sovereign in creation itself; He is sovereign in providence; He is sovereign in all of history, including the fall of man in paradise. God ordained that the first Adam would be moved aside to make room for the second Adam, and that, therefore, the first Adam was a "figure of him that was to come" (Rom. 5:12-14).
Second, this also implies election and reprobation, for election is in Christ. The elect, gathered from every nation and tribe and tongue, are the true human race, the human race of God’s eternal decree, the human race chosen from before the foundation of the world in Christ. The reprobate are in relation to the elect what the scaffolding of a building is in relation to the building itself—necessary, but destroyed when the building is finished. The reprobate are to the elect what the chaff ( Ps. 1) or tares ( Matt. 13) are to the wheat or what a corn plant is to the kernels of corn—necessary while the wheat and corn are maturing, but burned when the harvest is gathered.
Third, the purpose of creation is also the glory of God’s great name in the salvation of the entire universe. This is a dimension to the whole question which we do not frequently consider. Yet it is crucially important and we must say a few things about it.
When the first Adam fell, he chose to form an alliance with Satan, in order to steal God’s creation from Him and put it to the service of Satan and sin. The creation itself came under the curse because of Adam’s fall, for Adam was the head of the creation and responsible for its well-being. Nevertheless, God saves His creation. He established His covenant with His creation after the flood (Gen. 9:8-17). There are many references in the Bible to the glory that awaits the creation (Ps. 72:19; Isa. 65:17, 25). The creation longs with groaning for the time of its deliverance from the bondage of the curse (Rom. 8:19-22). Thus the prophet John, in his visions recorded in Revelation, sees a "new earth" (Rev. 21:1).
The purpose of God in the original creation was to glorify it in the final new earth. But this great glory of the creation is also through Christ who is exalted as the head in the place of Adam, for the creation is redeemed by Christ’s cross (I Cor. 15:27-28; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:20).
But even this great miracle is not all. We must not forget that God not only created the universe, but also heaven. Heaven is a place where the angels dwell, with its own unique character and its own history. In heaven, just as on earth, sin entered through the fall of Satan. In heaven, just as one earth, a large part of the angelic world fell. In heaven, just as on earth, election and reprobation were realized, for the angels who remained standing did so because they were elect and the objects of God’s grace (I Tim. 5:21; Belgic Confession 12).
The result was a certain breach in heaven between God and the heavenly creation along with the angels. This breach according to Scripture was healed by Christ’s work of reconciliation of all things (Col. 1:20), for Christ died on the cross also for the heavenly creation and the elect angels.
Christ not only now takes the place of Adam in this creation in order to make all things new, but He takes the place of head in the heavenly creation so that there may be a "new heaven" as well as a new earth (Rev. 21:1).
The great wonder is that through the universal work of Christ in which He saves heaven and the elect angels and the earth and the elect human race, He brings both earth and heaven together under His headship into one great and glorious world that shall endure forever and ever.
We often forget that when the original heaven and earth were created, they were created by God as two separate creations, each with its own character, its own inhabitants, its own history. The barrier between them was impenetrable: no one from earth could go to heaven, for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 15:50). Nor could anyone from heaven come to earth.
You say, "What about Abel who went to heaven and angels who came to earth." Yes, but this only happened because of the promise of Christ in whom all these things were made possible.
Christ died for elect men and angels and for the earthly and the heavenly creation. His cross was truly far more than merely universal, for it embraced heaven as well as earth. His resurrection and ascension proved this truth, for His resurrection took place on earth and His resurrected body ascended into heaven. He died in a natural, corruptible, weakened, earthly body and He arose in a spiritual, incorruptible, powerful, heavenly body (cf. ICor. 15:42-44). Thus the crucified Christ unites heaven and earth.
In glory Christ is exalted over all the united and glorified creation, as the supreme head, to the glory of the Triune God! This is the purpose of the creation! Wonderful purpose of God! What a wonder, too, that we, through Christ’s cross, are included in God’s glorious purpose with His creation! Prof. Hanko
- Volume: 10
- Issue: 7
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
Address725 Baldwin Dr. B-25
State or ProvinceMI