“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
The Created World Shows Us God
True happiness comes through knowing God. Since happiness in found in Him, God is pleased to make Himself known to us. He does this through the knowledge which He plants in our minds and also through the creation. He puts Himself on display every day through what He has made. We cannot go a day without “seeing” Him there!
Although God’s essence (His “substance”) is totally beyond what our minds can grasp, He engraves His glory on all of His creation. His glory in creation is so bright, so distinct, and so illuminating that no person can plead ignorance and say, “Where’s the evidence for You, God?” The Psalmist declares about God, “You are dressed in a robe of light” (Psalm 104:2). The image the Psalmist is giving here is one where God is dressed in light and then imprints this light in the created world. Later in the Psalm, the author writes: “You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind.” (104:2-3). He is comparing the expanded skies to God’s royal palace. Because His glory is often seen brightest in the created world, it is frequently designated as His palace.
Furthermore, there is no place in the world—however minute—that does not have some spark of beauty. You can’t look around at the world, and all of its beauty, and not be completely overwhelmed by the weight of glory. This is why the author of Hebrews describes the visible world as an image of the invisible (Hebrews 11:3). The elegant structure of the world serves as a mirror by which we can “see” God, even though He is invisible. For example, the Psalmist says that the sun, moon and stars are all speaking a language, declaring God’s glory. All nations understand this language (Psalm 19:1-2). The knowledge of God is made too clear in creation for anyone to miss it, as Paul says, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (Romans 1:20).