“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
Here are some important observations on this verse.
1. Understanding comes after faith. Did you notice that? Believing that God created the universe is something that can only be fully understood post-faith. People who are not Christians yet may believe God made the world, but that understanding is not complete until God has saved them.
2. That which exists (all seen and yet-undiscovered matter) was made ex nihilo, that is, not out of things that are visible. When I create anything, all I can do is manipulate matter into something else. God is the author of all matter.
3. The word used for “created” is perhaps translated a little more accurately by the phrase “put into order.” God made all matter out of nothing (Genesis 1:1) and over the next six days He “put it into order.” What Hebrews is suggesting is that “understanding” this, coming to a mental agreement with these facts as presented in Genesis 1, is a result of faith.
4. The efficient cause (to steal a phrase from John Owen) of this creative act was the word of God. Reading the Genesis account makes clear that all God did to make light, when light had never before existed, was say, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.”
5. This all relates to having a faith that perseveres through opposition. If you take God at His Word, and come to understand that in six literal days He put in order all creation, then you will be sure of these things when opposition comes:
- God is powerful.
- God’s Word is powerful.
- God is faithful to His creation.
Someone will likely ask, “Are you saying that people who do not believe in a literal six day creation are not Christians or that they will apostasize?” No. But I am saying that there is a reason the world so often works harder at disproving a six day creation than at insisting on another origin theory. Disproving God’s revealed Truth about how He made everything (an event to which there were no human witnesses), will work against our confidence in the all the hard truths God tells us in the Bible.
For me, this was never much of a debate. Likely because I am not very smart nor do I have a particularly scientific mind. But I have friends who have agonized over it. So I offer these observations to encourage you to wrestle with this text. Your decisions about the origin of life have a lot more effect on you than just your own mental consolation.