'New from Nothing': Is God Still Creating Today?
by James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. *
God has accomplished certain works of creation for every Christian who is alive today. What are they? Part of answering that question involves answering this question: Is God still creating? Although it may surprise many Christians, the answer is “yes.”
Notwithstanding the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, God is still creating— as a biblical word study of “create” will demonstrate.1
But didn’t God rest from His creation work on Day Seven?2 The correct answer would be “yes,” but only regarding three of God’s creation works, two of which directly impact our lives as human beings. Which works are these that, in combination, define each one of us who is a Christian?
To appreciate the specific ex nihilo creation works3 God has done for every believer in Jesus Christ, it is necessary to review the usage of the verb “create” in both the Old and New Testaments. (This review only concerns humans, so God’s creation of nephesh-life for animals in Genesis 1:21 will not be analyzed in this article.) An exhaustive review of the relevant verses reveals four specific creation works that together define the created life of each Christian living today:
- Physical stuff, the material from which our physical bodies are ultimately derived;
- Biogenetic humanity from Adam, who was uniquely created in God’s image;
- The individual soul-and-spirit personality that God created, one at a time, for each of the descendants of Adam and Eve; and
- The regenerated life that God has created in each person who believes in Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior.
Only the first three of these apply to all humans now living; all four apply to all Christians alive today.
Before reviewing those four categories of God’s creation work, however, one clarification needs to be made: Despite what some influential academics (beginning with the theistic evolutionists of the 1800s) have been teaching since Darwin’s generation, the Bible does not teach that humans descended from subhuman primates that were magically transformed into people with “amnesia of their former animal life.”4
God’s creation works that contribute to the definition of who we are as Christians
Genesis 1:1 reports God’s first act of creation (and the first usage of the Hebrew verb for “created,” bara’), commanding physical stuff to come into existence out of nothing. Because God did not recycle or repackage pre-existing stuff, the matter-energy He “created” (bara’) really was ex nihilo, something new commanded to come into being.
Genesis 1:20-21 reports how God created the first animal life on earth, specifically “great whales,” as well as other sea creatures and flying animals. A form of the Hebrew word bara’ is used in this verse, indicating that something “new from nothing” was commanded by God to exist—in this case, conscious animal life.
It is significant that the word “create” (Hebrew bara) is applied to the introduction of animal life, but not to plant life. Plants are highly complex replicating chemical systems, as are animals, with reproductive programs based in the remarkable DNA molecule in both cases. However, animals possess another entity—that of consciousness—which plants do not possess, and this required a second act of true creation (the first was in Genesis 1:1, the creation of the basic space/mass/time universe). Such “consciousness” is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word nephesh, commonly translated “soul,” but in Genesis 1:20 (its first occurrence) translated “life,” and then in Genesis 1:21 “living creature.” In Genesis 2:7, referring to man, it is rendered “living soul.” Thus, both men and animals possess the specially-created nephesh.5
Thus, some of what God created on Day One is what we are now made of—physical matter-energy, amazingly arranged in atoms and molecules that ultimately comprise our material bodies. But the next part of our human lives was not created until Day Six, when God commanded into existence something absolutely new from nothing, a kind of life that carried God’s own image—a spiritual life that no animal has ever been given.
Man was not only to have a body (of the created “earth”) and a consciousness (of the created “soul”), but man was also to possess a third created entity, the image of God, an eternal spirit capable of communion and fellowship with his Creator.6
Those two works of God’s creating, directly necessary for human life, occurred and were finished during the creation week. God is no longer doing the kind of creating that He did on Days One, Five, and Six.
Thus, God is sustaining the physical cosmos, including earth and all of its physical inhabitants, according to the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics (Colossians 1:16-17). God is not creating any new physical stuff, though He is providentially using innumerable physical processes, some rich in intricate biochemical details, to recycle and retask pre-existing matter-energy according to His will.7, 8, 9
However, Psalm 102:18 informs us—surprisingly, to some—that there is still something being created.
This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.
This verse indicates that God has been “creating” humans for millennia since Eden, and there are many more humans who “shall be created” for God’s glory!
Although our procreated physical bodies are meticulously and carefully “woven”8 from pre-existing genetic information, biochemically written on and “housed”9 within biochemical materials, the non-material part of each one of us—soul, spirit, personality (or whatever terms are proper for describing the non-physical part of every person)—was specially “created” by God.
Accordingly, God commanded each of us, one at a time, to come into personal existence as a new individual human, brought forth out of nothing pre-existing, when God chose to do so.10 This is a “new from nothing” creation work that is still being done by God, daily, all around the world. But another kind of creation work is also ongoing every day around the world.
God provides—“creates” —regenerated spiritual lives in all who accept redemption as believers in His Son:
When a person receives the Lord Jesus Christ by faith as his Creator and Savior, he does indeed become “a new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17), and the miracle of regeneration is always recognized in Scripture as an instantaneous event accomplished by the Creator in the mind and heart of the believer at the time of conversion.11
What a wonderful Creator we have! He is “worthy to receive glory and honor and power” (Revelation 4:11), for He is the transcendent yet providentially caring Creator of all—past, present, and future. What a privilege it is to belong to Him!
- The English Bible’s verb “create” translates both the Old Testament Hebrew verb bara’ and the New Testament Greek verb ktizô. This article is the result of a biblical concordance word study using Young, R. 1984. Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 210.
- Genesis 2:2 qualifies which specific “work” God rested from doing.
- For centuries, theologians have used the Latin phrase ex nihilo (“out of nothing”) to refer to the fact that God created everything out of nothing. Try to appreciate the power of God, who commands that which is not to exist, and it does! The word “create” should be recognized as properly referring only to what is completely “new from nothing,” in contrast to pre-existing material things that God recycles, repairs or repackages, such as making Adam’s physical body from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7).
- Dr. William Dembski has proposed that hominid animals were morphed into Adam and Eve and then specially blessed by a miraculous amnesia of their evolutionary ancestry. See his quoted statements in Johnson, J. J. S. 2011. Culpable Passivity: The Failure of Going with the Flow. Acts & Facts. 40 (7): 8-10.
- See Morris, H. M. 2006. New Defender’s Study Bible. Nashville, TN: World Publishing, 12, Genesis 1:21 editorial footnote.
- Ibid, Genesis 1:26 editorial footnote.
- See Job 38–39. For example, Job 38:35 indicates that God uses lightning for specific tasks.
- See Psalm 139:15, analyzed in Johnson, J. J. S. 2012. Biblical Truth in High Definition. Acts & Facts. 41 (8): 8-10.
- As the pre-Viking Era classic Beowulf illustrates when it uses the colorful Anglo-Saxon term banhus (“bonehouse”) for denoting a human’s physical frame, earthbound humans are “housed” in flesh, bone, and blood. See Cooper, W. R. 1995. After the Flood. Chichester, UK: New Wine Press, 150. Regarding how God biochemically “writes” the programs for our bodies’ growth and development, see Johnson, J. J. S. 2011. DNA and RNA: Providential Coding to “Revere” God. Acts & Facts. 40 (3): 8-9.
- This was completely God’s choice—we could have been made grackles. See Johnson, J. J. S. 2012. Of Grackles and Gratitude. Acts & Facts. 41 (7): 8-10.
- Morris, H. M. A Created People. Days of Praise, September 18, 2009.
* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Johnson, J. J. S. 2013. “New from Nothing”: Is God Still Creating Today? Acts & Facts. 42 (5): 10-11.