Thursday, October 19, 2017

WCF LC Commentary

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Westminster Larger Catechism # 17

Q17. How did God create man?

Answer: After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls, made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, having the law of God written in their hearts, and the power to fulfill it, and dominion over the creatures, yet subject to fall.

References: Gen. 1:27; Gen. 2:7; Gen. 2:22; Gen. 2:7; Job 35:11; Eccl. 12:7; Mt. 10:28; Lk.23:43; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24; Rom. 2:14-15; Eccl. 7:29; Gen. 1:28; Gen. 3:6

The Divines lay before us the whole of the doctrine of man. There may be a pet point some would want included, but here is the divine truth. We may be given to wonder where all this came from were we to think of the creation account alone when considering this answer. Here the Divines have laid before us that which is clear from the whole of the Holy Writ, and leaves no room for the folly of speculating about what remains with God .

I think the first thing that caught my attention was that humankind was the last thing God created. Most view man as the capstone of God’s creation, being in His own image. I choose to think that God began the revelation of Himself to man in this positioning his place in creation at the close of the sixth day. We see here two truths emerge about God: (1) God shows His nature of Love, making sure all man needs for life, and that eternal have been furnished, before breathing into him life temporal and eternal. (2) This truth is like unto the first in that God provided for man all that he needed to live and prosper, and that God would ever require of Him from the beginning. I am reminded of the New Testament passage where in we read “. . . be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:16) God commands man to procreate and have dominion over the earth, to tend the garden; and provided the means to accomplish this, before giving the command. Whereby, with the exception of woman, all provided for man before God required it of Him, in the perfect revelation of God’s love. Woman I believe God created after man had looked at the world without this “help meet,” so he would appreciate her place in his dominion when God did create her, just for this special relationship with man.

Some have made much of the fact woman was created from man’s rib, and many a flowery sermon I have heard about why this was so. Such may tickle the ears, and I condemn not such prose; yet divine truth is here revealed and God’s perfect wisdom and foreknowledge are first revealed to us. For none debate God knew the trials that lay ahead, and there in the garden sin would give birth to his first offspring (The devil being the originator in heavenly courts). Because of the sin to come and the curse to be placed on the relationship God had so perfectly created for man and woman. Feminism was also birthed that day. God created the relationship between the sexes in His choice of how each was created differently, yet equal. Whereby, the first words we hear man utter are “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” (Gen 2:23). We see these very words repeated in the New Testament and man told to love his wife as himself, for none ever hated himself. The bias between the sexes was thus here in the creation, foreseen by God, and the means to continue despite the handicap provided in this close relationship that was created at the same time man and woman came to be. Some would argue that woman was never created to be equal with man; I believe this is an error, and indeed both were created equal, even as the Holy Trinity being equals, show subordination in the economy of their operation. The inequality came with the curse, wherein God told women they would desire to dominate man, but man would rule over them. Many equate the desire in this verse (Gen. 3:16) with sexuality, I think this is error and the two are not related. The pain of childbirth being part one and the desire to be the head part two, of the curse, as this is an unnatural desire that will never be fulfilled. We see Christ refer to the removal of this curse in the New Testament wherein He says “there are neither male nor female” referring to that glorified life to come for both men and women. Egalitarianism existed before the fall and shall after the coming of Christ in Glory. I forget not that Scripture in another place refers to the order of creation, but the subordination of this temporal world cannot arise from the order of creation for Adam was neither first nor last in creation. Though of different means were they created, it was essentially of the same material in that woman was of man who was formed of the dust. Of all creation, only humankind was so molded, the rest being spoken into existence from nothing.

Why so form man of the dust of the earth? Would any other substance served as well? To set man apart from the rest of creation, and to differentiate from the immediate creation of angels, God chose to form man. God chose dust, the most abundant and least useful substance in His creation. The most common of the created universe, dust, God used for the highest purpose, in the creation of mankind for His own glory. We see this divine principle taught by David and then again by Paul, that from the weak and foolish God ordains strength. In the revelation of His history of redemption, over and over in the trials of the nation of Israel, we see God take the weakest to show forth His power, and declare His sovereignty over all.

Being in the image of God is an interesting and awesome mirror into which to look. Pages could be spent here, but let it suffice to say that the Divines here listed several attributes of God, which God chose to mirror, therefore finite as compared to His infinite Self, in His image bearer. Each of these attributes being needed for man to fulfill the creation mandate given by God. God never requires, what He has not first given.

What of our precious TULIP in this question? By being created subject to fall, we see the first petal begin to push forth from the stem of God’s sovereignty. The fall makes the third petal an absolute necessity, for in the creation of man, God set forth the penalty of sin. With the fall likewise we see the truth of the second open into the light of God’s garden, for man was found destitute and wanting except for the unconditional choice (election) of God to extend grace. The fall having completely shattered the orderly and wise image of God within man, petal four springs forth of a necessity, as a means of God’s purpose to glorify Himself in the salvation of His creation. For in the blind stupor of sin, man would never of himself have the ability to turn toward God and see the light. I find it no stretch then, to see the truth of the last petal as our TULIP comes to full bloom here in the first garden, for the other four make a poor display indeed, if God could not hold them in place by His sovereign power over all. Were anything able to subvert the will of God in His chosen method of bringing glory to Himself, He would be no god.

We then are given the full story of man’s need and provision for a savior in the beginning of his march through history, and the tool we need to share this glorious gospel story, the TULIP bursts forth from the pages of Scripture as the only tool of evangelism needed to fulfill the last commandment given, that we today might fare better than our first parents in being obedient to God’s command. Let us then plant fields of TULIPs in every nation as indeed we go to all nations, teaching them to observe whatsoever God has commanded.

Dr. Chuck Baynard

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