STUDY SEVEN: THE DEEP GRACE THAT PRECEDED OUR CREATION
© Rosemary Bardsley 2013
In Genesis 1:26 we read four simple words ‘Let us make man …’
In these four simple words the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – express a decision, a commitment, of incredible and incomprehensible grace. [See Study Four]
We must not overlook the fact that God is omniscient: he knows everything. God made this decision, this commitment to create us knowing all that would happen thereafter: he created us knowing all about Genesis 3. He created us knowing we would turn our backs on him. He created us knowing how our choice in Genesis 3 would result in his ‘very good’ earth being cursed and corrupted and subject to millennia of suffering. He created us knowing that in the fullness of time the eternal Son would become flesh to live among us and to die for our redemption [Galatians 4:4,5]. He knew all of this.
And yet he went ahead and created us ‘in him image’.
He could have made us machines – like the inanimate world – and we would have automatically fulfilled his creative purpose for us with robotic precision.
He could have made us puppets, whose strings he held in constant and intricate control, and we would have inevitably always danced to the tune he piped for us.
He could have made us animals, programmed to live by instinct, able to ‘choose’ only within the boundaries set by those instincts.
But he created us ‘in his image’ – not robotic, not mechanistic, not controlled, not programmed, not predetermined. Able to choose. Free. Able to say ‘no’.
He created us with what scholars call ‘free will’. And therein lay the risk. Therein lurked the possibility of Genesis 3. This ‘free will’ is assumed in the Genesis 2:17 prohibition: don’t do this, because when you do … Here in this ‘when you do …’, this ‘on the day you eat of it …’, we perceive God’s omniscience: he knew that we would. He did not plan that we would, but he did know. And knowing that he embedded into the universe he created all that would be necessary to procure our ultimate redemption and restoration.
God knew what we would do with this freedom. But still he created us in his image. And the question screams at us ‘Why … Why … Why?’ Why on earth would he bother? What on earth is the point? Would it not have been better to have created nothing at all? … not to have created us at all?
Two answers to this infinite ‘Why?’ present themselves from our knowledge of God in the Bible, one at each end of God’s purpose: grace and glory.
A. THE CROSS OF CHRIST PLANNED BEFORE CREATION
Task #1: What do these verses teach us about creation as an act of amazing grace?
Our redemption through his Son was planned before creation, before time, when only the eternal triune God existed. Creation is an act of sheer grace: totally undeserved by us, totally undetermined by something that we might contribute to God, some lack in God that we might fill up. It would seem, speaking with limited human knowledge and perspective, that God would have been far better off if he had not done it. Not only did God not need us, but we were going to cause him a whole lot of bother, and he knew it. Yet he still created us.
Our life, our existence, our creation in his image as free creatures, is grace. Grace beyond our deepest understanding. That God created us, knowing what he knew, multiplies the preciousness and the awe in which we should hold human life, including our own. Our life is not a burden, not an accident. It is a gift. A gift of incomprehensible grace.
B. BRINGING MANY SONS TO GLORY
As we will see in Study Eight, creation in the image of God involves ‘glory’, a glory that is largely forfeited in Genesis 3. Yet this glory is part of God’s creative purpose for us. Thus the New Testament makes reference to ‘glory’ as a result of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
Task #2: What do these verses teach about our ‘glory’ as the result of the work of Christ?
Beyond the fall, beyond the redemption is glory, the glory for which we were created, the glory for which we have now been redeemed. For this reason it pleased God to create us, despite Genesis 3, despite the cost to redeem and restore us. How great this reinstatement of the glory must be! Of what great value it is to God! Worth the incarnation and death of Christ! Worth the perennial accusations of impotence and sadism hurled at God by and because of the suffering world! Worth all the blasphemy that has occurred between Genesis 3 and our final redemption! Glory beyond our imaginings.