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New City Catechism 2.1

This week we begin with Question 2 of the New City Catechism, found in Part 1 (questions 1-20), which focuses on God, creation and the fall, and the law.

Question 2: What is God?

Answer: God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

By identifying God as “creator” and “sustainer” of all things, the catechism highlights the twin doctrines of creation and providence. God created the world out of nothing by his own power and will. The universe has not eternally existed alongside God, as though it were itself a god on par with him. Nor did creation flow out of God involuntarily, like rays of light naturally emanating from the sun. Were that the case, we would all be little bits of God, and he would not really be our creator or sovereign ruler, but more like a cosmic mother. It is only the doctrine of creation, as Scripture teaches it, that maintains a clear distinction between God and creation, with God firmly in place as Lord over all else: “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

Not only is God the creator of all, but he also sustains, upholds, and governs his creation. This is known as the doctrine of providence. Contrary to the old Deistic model, in which God wound up creation like a clock and then set it off to run on its own, Scripture teaches that God remains intimately and actively involved in every part of creation. Without his sustaining and directing power, springs would not gush from the valleys to give nourishment to the beasts of the field (Psalm 104:10-11), the grass would not grow for livestock (Psalm 104:14), the moon would not mark the seasons (Psalm 104:19), and the young lions would have no prey for food (Psalm 104:21). As the New Testament teaches, God the Son upholds all things by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3).

The doctrine of creation states that God brought all things into being from nothing and ordered them according to his good purpose. The doctrine of providence states that God constantly upholds, rules over, and directs his creation so that it fulfills the purpose for which he created it. In all things, God is supreme. From him, through him, and to him are all things (Rom. 11:36). May he be glorified forever!

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Genesis 1:1-2:3. What does this passage teach us about who God is and who we are? What should be our response to this teaching?

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