God has created heaven, earth, angels, and all visible creatures out of nothing.
141. In the preceding inquiries we have endeavoured to delineate the nature of the God we are to think of, whenever, in the course of the following elucidation of the christian faith, mention is made of a God. We now proceed to consider His works, more especially those, which he has accomplished for the good of mankind. The first of these works is the creation, and we consider more especially:
I. The creation of every creature in general, and
II. the creation of man, especially.
I. Concerning the creation of every creature, we shall have to inquire:
1. who is the Maker of all creation
2. of what all that exists has been created,
3. at what time this creation has taken place, and what sort of works there have been created.
142. 1. Who is the maker of all creation? We acknowledge in our Creed God to be the creator of heaven and earth. We derive such a conviction:
a. from nature; for in viewing the heaven the earth, and other magnificent works, we are impressed with the conviction, that there must be an Almighty Lord, who has created all this, “for by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the maker of them is seen,” Wisd. 13, 5; “great is the Lord that made it; and at his commandment it (the Sun) runneth hastily,” Eccles. 43, 5; “for the invisible things of him (God) from the creation of the world ate clearly seen, being understood by the things, that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, Rom. 1, 20. We also derive this conviction:
b. From the Bible, which ascribes the creation of all things to the Lord God, as His own divine work. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” Genes. 1, 1. Besides this true living God, there is nothing to be found, either in heaven or upon earth, either visible or invisible, which has taken the least possible part in the work of creation. It is all the work of God only, and of no other Being; “I am the Lord that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.”
143. 2. Of what all that exists has been created.” The bible teaches us, that, although man was formed of the dust of the ground, (Genes. 2, 7.); the grass out of the earth, (Genes. 1, 11.); fishes from the water (v. 200 and birds and other animals from the earth (v.24. and Gen. 2, 19.); they have yet been created out, of nothing. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were formed by the word of God, so that the things, which are seen, were not made of things which do appear,” Heb. 11, 3.; (God) “calleth those things which be not, as though they were,” Rom. 4, 17. For previous to God’s creating heaven and earth, there has not existed any thing, that is, any substance, out of which God could have subsequently created the things which be.
144. 3. At what time this creation has taken place? We must not imagine the world (as some heathen philosophers have done) to be from eternity, besides God we know of nothing that is eternal. And we can deduce from scripture the fact, that the world has been created 6000 years ago; and we have therefore not to imagine the world to be from eternity, but on the contrary, that it is coexistent with time. —
145. 4. What sort of works there have been created? God Himself comprises the works of creation under the two terms, heaven and earth, whereby we should rest satisfied. But a few instances of His creation may be taken notice of more especially:
146. a. The heavens. The papists have fabled a great deal about a peculiar heaven which they called coelum empyraeum, “the fiery heaven,” and which, they said, did exist above that heaven which is open to our gaze; it is in this heaven, they say, that the Angels as well as the redeemed souls, are dwelling and where they see God face to face. — But of such a heaven there is nothing said either by Moses or by the Apostles or Prophets; nor does our own reason lead as to make such a conclusion. And as nothing has been revealed to us about this matter, it will, in this life at least, always remain incomprehensible to us. This whole doctrine therefore is, to be looked upon as an invention of the human mind, which is always striving to exceed the limits, which have been prescribed to it by divine revelation [cf. #. 384.].
147. b. The Angels, which also are to be reckoned as God’s creatures. But they seem to be free from everything earthly; and this is perhaps the reason why Moses did not make mention of them in his history of the creation.
The Scripture teaches us, with regard to these Angels:
A. Their name.
B. Their nature.
C. Their reasoning abilities.
D. Their power.
E. Their number.
F. Their different degrees, and
G. That their exists a distinction between good and bad Angels.
148. A. The term “Angel” is a signification of an office. It denotes in the greek Idiom, (from which it is derived) a Messenger, a Servant, because the Angels wait upon the service of the Lord, Pslm. 103, 20: “Bless the Lord ye angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.” v. 21: Bless the Lord, all ye hosts, that do his pleasure. [The Son of God is also frequently called in Scripture “Angel” Isa. 63, 9; Numb. 20, 16],
149. B. Their nature. Those creatures, which are called Angels, are of a spiritual nature, and have therefore nothing bodily. “Who maketh his angels spirits, Heb. 1, 7; [Hear. 1, 14:, “Are they not all ministering spirits.”] “A spirit has not flesh and bones,” Luk. 24, 39. They are the invisible part of the creation mentioned by Paul, Coloss. 1, 16. The fact that Angels have appeared in bodily shape (Genes. 18, 2; 19, 1; Tob. 5, 6; Mrk. 16, 5.) involves by no means a contradiction, in asmuch as this was only for a time, in order that men might not be frightened by the transparent appearance of the Angels, Luk. 2, 9. For they were freed again of this bodily shape as soon as their business with man had been accomplished, Judg. 13, 20.
150. C. Their reasoning abilities, we are able to deduce from their works and occupations. (Judg. 6, 12; Luk. 1, 13. 19. 28; 2, 10. 14; 22, 43; Mark. 16, 5 ff. etc.). Now, some men have imagined that the Angels are able to discern the secrets of the human heart. But we are certain that this is beyond the reach of an Angels capacity. For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him,” 1. Cor. 2, 11. Of God alone it is said, that to Him the secrets of man are known; Pslm. 139, 2; that he tries the hearts and the reins, Pslm. 7, 10; Jerem. 20, 12. Now if this was also in the power of Angels, how could the glory of this wonderful power belong to God alone?
151. D. Their power is intended, when they are spoken of as, “excelling in strength”, Ps. 103, 20; as being “greater in power and might”, 2 Pet. 2, 11; as “principalities and powers”. Col. 1, 16; Ephes. 3, 10. And,they have moreover manifested the same by their defeating great armies, 2 Kings 19, 35; 2 Sam. 24, 15. 16, in which occasions they exhibited powers, far beyond the reach of those of any man.
152. E. Their number. Concerning this point we have not any thing recorded with certainty. “ls there any number of his armies”, Job. 25, 3. But that there are a great number of Angels can be proved by the express words of the Son of God, Matth. 26, 53: “Thinkest not that I cannot now pray my father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” And of Daniel we know that he saw in a vision the angels which worshipped the Lord; and which he thus describes: “thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him”. Chap. 7, 10; and Rev., 5, 11: “And I saw and beheld and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the number of them was ten thousand times thousand.”
153. F. Their different degrees and divisions. The holy scriptures mention the following: “thrones”, “dominions”, “principalities”, powers”. Col. 1, 16; “archangel”, 1 These. 4, 16. — The nature of this distinction we are not able to explain, because it has not pleased God to reveal unto us any thing about it.
154. G. The difference which exists between good and bad Angels. God says of every thing which He had created that is “was very good”, Genes. 1, 31; and we must therefore conclude, that all Angels, with reference to their character and properties, have been created good. That there exists, nevertheless, this difference between good and bad Angels, this is to be attributed to the fact, that not all of them have remained in the state of holiness, in which they had originally been created. For which reason God has delivered up those among them that were disobedient to Him, to a righteous judgment and condemnation, and has cast them into eternal destruction, John. 8, 44: “He (the devil) is a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth”; 2 Petr. 2,4: “God spared not the Angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to, be reserved unto judgment”; Jude 6: the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day”.
155. These latter mentioned Angels we find also distinguished by peculiar names; as for instance: “Devil”, John. 8, 44; “the eternal Dragon”, Rev. 12, 9; “Abaddon”, Rev. 9, 11; “the prince of this world”, John. 12, 31; “the God of this world”, 2 Cor. 4, 4; “Satan”, Matth. 4, 10.
156. They are so called because of their being the most determined enemies of mankind; for they are most actively engaged in the pursuit of depriving man of their soul’s Salvation, striving to bring them to eternal destruction “through the envy of the devil came death into the world” (namely by means of Sin), Wisdom. 2, 24; ” Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”, 1 Pet. 5, 8. — Mankind is therefore obliged to maintain a continual struggle with this their adversary, Ephes. 6, 12 ff.
157. The good Angels (to which alone in fact the term “Angel” is applicable) are those, which have always remained in the state of holiness in which they have been created, and which have been retained in the same by God.