Ex Nihilo: Eleven Crucial Truths About Creation

The theological, philosophical, metaphysical, and scientific discussions over the origins of the universe are too numerous and too often mind numbing to even begin digging into all the details. Genesis 1-2 is a passage that has become a topic of intense debate not only between secular scientists and evangelicals, but within evangelicalism itself. But regardless of your conviction of the age of the earth, the meaning of the word translated “day,” there is no avoiding the fact that the assertion that God created the universe is a most basic theological and religious truth.

We cannot begin to formulate any serious theological doctrine apart from the biblical view of creation. Truly, the crux of all theology may just be the doctrine of creation. If God is not the sovereign creator of the universe, then what else can he be? On the other hand, if God is the sovereign creator of the universe, then what rights does he not have? Teaching that God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo) is a foundation for all subsequent doctrine relating to God’s work.

When thinking about the origins of the universe and God’s role in creation, we are broaching a topic that is beyond our comprehension. As much scientific data as we have, there is an innumerable amount of questions to be asked. And while the Bible doesn’t serve as a scientific textbook or research thesis, it does answer clearly the question we are all asking: Where did we all come from? The Bible clearly asserts, if nothing else, that God is the sovereign creator of everything (Gen. 1:1). The biblical doctrine of creation asserts eleven crucial truths:

  1. God existed eternally and self-sufficiently prior to creation.
  2. God planned to create all that he would create in the way he would create.
  3. God created everything.
  4. God created out of nothing (ex nihilo). When God created the universe he was not working with any materials. Calvin once said, “God, by the power of His Word and Spirit created out of nothing, the heavens and the earth.”
  5. God created by his powerful word.
  6. God created through the Son.
  7. Everything God created was good. There was no sin, suffering, or sadness in God’s original creation. Or, as Calvin puts it, “It is monstrous to ascribe to the good God the creation of any evil thing.”
  8. God created everything for his glory.
  9. Creation is a Trinitarian work. Calvin succinctly states, “The power to create and the authority to command were common to the Father, Son, and Spirit.”
  10. God’s creation is in natural and immediate relationship with the Creator.
  11. God’s creation is distinct from God, yet exists dependently on the Creator. As Calvin puts it, “Creation is not the transfusion, but the origination out of nothing, of essence.”

Every aspect of creation owes its existence and being to the Creator. J.I. Packer once said, “The stability of the universe depends on constant divine upholding; this is a specific ministry of the divine Son, and without it every creature of every kind, ourselves included, would cease to be.” What could better motivate godly living? What could produce more gratitude? The ultimate display of God’s grace is not just in his work in creation, but his work in redemption. The God who spoke galaxies into existence is the same God who speaks gospel truth into dead, empty, and dark hearts. In the hearts of men and women outside of Christ, God creates ex nihilo.

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.


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