...and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ephesians 4:23).

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31 July 2011

God's Divinity in Creation

For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Paul's declaration that the Creation testifies to the Creator is very encouraging to our faith. Many times we will discuss how God's eternal power is evident in the creation. From the fixed properties of the universe that facilitate life down to the functioning of DNA, we can see the hand of God in how things exist.

But how does the creation testify to God's divinity--His "divine nature," as translated in the ESV?

What is God's divine nature, anyway? We know that God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4), and yet we see in Scripture that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God (John 1:1, 10:30, Colossians 2:9, 1 Peter 1:2, 2 Peter 1:21). The best understanding of this mystery is to declare that God is One Being in Three Persons, for all other alternatives run into Biblical challenges. If the Three are just different manifestations of one person, how can all three testify at the baptism of the Son, or how can both the Father and the Son witness to the Son (Matthew 3:16-17, John 8:17-18)? If God the Father is really God, and the Son and the Spirit are divine but not fully God, how could Paul say that in Jesus the Godhead dwelt fully in bodily form (Colossians 2:9)?

God as the Three in One does make some sense. John declares that God is love in 1 John 4:8; by definition, love is seeking the best interest of the object of the love (cf. John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 13:1-12, etc.). If God is but one person, that would make Him the ultimate narcissist; this cannot be. God is love because of the love that exists among the Three.

God's divine nature, then, features the Three in One: God as one, not in person, but in nature, being, character, will (John 1:1, Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 1:3). In short, God is one in relational unity. The relationship amongst the Three is so deep and intimate that we can speak of God as one Being, using the singular "He" or "Him."

So how is God's divine nature as the Three in One evident in the creation? Look no further than yourself!

And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:27).

This is not declaring that we are somehow divine or gods; far from it. Nor is it declaring that God is a man; He is spirit (John 4:24), and we are made in His image in our metaphysical properties-- we have consciousness and a soul.

Nevertheless, what do we humans seek after in life? Different answers might be given: money, stuff, fame, power, and so on and so forth. While people might be motivated by different desires, what is at the heart of many of them? People want a comfortable lifestyle and many of the things listed above, but who wants to have them alone? People might want to be as wealthy as Ebenezer Scrooge, but who wants to be Ebenezer Scrooge?

When it comes down to it, people want to be loved, known, and appreciated. In short, people are seeking relationships. Psychologists are discovering that we are wired for relationships-- it is one of our most fundamental needs in our existence!

When people think of relationship, the relationship between a husband and wife often comes to mind. What happens in that situation? A man and a woman, unrelated, somehow meet each other. They get to know each other and they fall in love with each other. They commit to one another. The two become one; they are still two different humans, but it's about "us" more than it is about "me". Such is a wonderful time, full of creativity; after all, how many songs, books, and plays have been written, or paintings or sculptures or other pieces of art made, on account of the desires of love? There is a natural desire to share in love, and often there are offspring that come on the basis of that love.

Is this not God's divine nature manifest in His creation?

As we have seen, He is the Triune God, the Three in One. A man and his wife becoming one is analogous to the unity within God (Genesis 2:24). And just as the love between the man and the woman leads to creativity and various creative acts, not the least of which being offspring, what else motivated God to create all things but love? He wanted to share the love within Himself with the beautiful creation which He made, particularly with His "offspring," man made in His image (Genesis 1:1-2:3, Acts 17:26-28).

There is a reason why the metaphors in the Bible all "work." The metaphors are effective because the God who created the universe intended for us to understand our need for relationship with Him and with one another within the way the creation functions. We can understand marriage between a man and a woman; we can therefore understand Israel's relationship with God, and our relationship with Christ, in a similar way (cf. Hosea 1-3, Ephesians 5:22-33). We can understand the bond between parent and child; we can therefore understand our relationship with our heavenly Father in a similar way (Luke 15:11-32, Romans 8:15-17). None of these are coincidental.

It is not good for man to be alone; how can it be when he is made in the image of the Three in One, the God who is one in relationship? We are made to seek a relationship with our Creator who loved us and, in so doing, to maintain relationships with one another as well. The Bible testifies to it. The creation testifies to it. Let us praise and thank God that His divine nature is evident in the creation. Let us seek to maintain a relationship with the Triune God, seeking to be conformed to the image of the Son. Let us seek to be one with one another as the Father and Son are one (John 17:20-23), and let us thus honor and glorify God!

Ethan R. Longhenry
August 2011