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God, the Universe, and Everything

God, the Universe, and Everything

January 17, 2023 | Andy Davis
Romans 11:36
The Doctrine of Providence
God is the Creator and Sustainer 
"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." - Romans 11:36 

 

These are the closing words of the greatest doxology in the Bible, Romans 11:33-36. I could easily write many articles based on these verses alone. They are the culmination of Paul’s careful work in explaining the gospel over eleven chapters, including the complexities of his plan for unbelieving Israel. When he is finished, he can’t help but erupt in soaring praise to God over all that he has written.

The doxology (“word of praise”) concludes with Paul’s declaration of God’s relationship to everything in the universe. All things came from God, continue in God, and go back to God. Let me add some words that help me understand the significance of these ideas:

“All things came from God originally;

All things exist in God continually;

All things return to God ultimately.”

Let’s unfold each of these concepts:

1) All things came from God originally: There is nothing in the universe that was not created originally by God. Every atom in the material universe, and every being in the spiritual realms owe their existence to the creative power of God. Though intelligent beings like humans and angels rearrange the basic materials God made and fashion them into more complex forms, yet the fact that these materials exist at all derives from God’s original activity. And other than the miracles of Jesus in which the matter of bread and fish were created by his power, it seems everything that presently exists was created “in the beginning” (Gen 1:1)… God is not continually creating new matter. And the Bible makes it clear that God owns everything that he made: “The sea is his, for he made it” (Ps. 95:5). It is vital for us to look around at the earth and everything in it, the sea and everything in it, the sky and everything in it, and outer space and everything in it, and say “God made it… it is his!”

2) All things exist in God continually: Not only do all things owe their original existence to God’s creation, so they owe their continued existence to his ongoing will and power. In Christ all things hold together (Col. 1:17); he sustains all things by his powerful word (Heb. 1:3). Jonathan Edwards argued that this amounts to an ongoing creative act by God at every moment of history because if God ceased to put forward this energy, the universe would cease to exist. God created a needy universe, one totally dependent on him. Jesus said concerning the Sabbath rest, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” If the Father and Jesus ceased working, the universe would cease existing.


"Not only do all things owe their original existence to God’s creation, so they owe their continued existence to his ongoing will and power."

3) All things return to God ultimately: History is moving toward a climax; God wrote a purposeful story in which evil has been allowed to explode the God-centered universe away from him for a time, like a fragmentation grenade. From wise and beautiful order to foolish and ugly disarray. But in Christ, God works to bring all things back under his control, so that God will be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). I also think this verse means that all people have a date with destiny on Judgment Day in which they will have to return back to God their Creator and give him a full account of their choices.

And when all is finished, God will be fully glorified by his creation… “To him be the glory forever!”