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The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) was produced in the 1640s to summarize the teachings of the Bible. While it is held subordinate to the Scriptures, which alone are inspired and infallible, it does give an accurate presentation of Biblical doctrine on numerous topics. The WCF is divided into chapters and then paragraphs. Each paragraph has several Scriptural footnotes that supports the statements that it makes. The WCF is a great tool that can and should be used to help us understand the Bible better, and therefore honor the Lord better. B.B. Warfield wrote,

"The Westminster Standards… are the richest and most precise and best guarded statement ever penned of all that enters into evangelical religion." [1]

In a recent podcast, we looked at Chapter 4 of the WCF which deals with Creation. It states,

I. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,[1] for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness,[2] in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.[3]

II. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female,[4] with reasonable and immortal souls,[5] endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image;[6]having the law of God written in their hearts,[7] and power to fulfil it;[8]and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change.[9] Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;[10] which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.[11]

Please note that clicking on the bracketed numbers will take you to a website with the Scriptural footnotes at the bottom of the page. The confession gives us a wonderful statement of the Bible’s teaching on creation. Each person in the Trinity was active in creation. The main reason for creation is clearly spelled out – God’s glory. “Creatio ex nihilo,” that is, creation out of nothing is affirmed. God spoke the heavens and earth into existence. There was no preexisting matter. God’s work of creation was accomplished in six literal days. The confession (like the Scriptures) knows nothing of millions of years.

The second paragraph deals with the creation of “man, male and female.” It is clear that the WCF affirms the historicity of Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden. After describing the circumstances of man’s creation, the confession describes the situation in the garden. They were given a law to keep. If they obeyed, they would enjoy happy communion with God.

These truths are vital to the Christian faith. We must understand why God created the heavens and the earth. We must view Him as the all powerful Creator who sets the standards by which are to live and the standards by which we are to be judged. We must not capitulate to unbelieving thought and compromise the integrity of God’s Word with naturalistic scientific views.

In order to understand redemption in Christ, we must understand the conditions of Adam’s creation and his subsequent fall (Rom 5:12ff). God made man upright (Eccl 7:29) but man could only stay that way if he obeyed. He did not obey and therefore all mankind is now born dead in sin. Thus, we need the God-Man, the Lord Christ, to perfectly keep the law of God on our behalf and pay the penalty for our sins.

I have only begun to scratch the surface of the many applications of the Biblical doctrine of creation. Suffice to say, what you believe about creation will affect how you view the rest of God’s Word, even redemption itself. May God grant all His people a clear and proper understanding of Genesis and the rest of the Scriptures.

"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding." Isaiah 40:28.

[1] Benjamin B. Warfield, “The Significance of the Westminster Standards as a Creed,” Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, vol. 2 (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1973) 660.

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