[Editor's note: This article highlights the 1888 principle of the gospel explained through the creation week. The formless void of the earth is compared to the sinner before Christ comes into his heart. The earth was created in the beginning but without the light of the gospel it is fruitless and empty. In this context the darkness represents the old life and even the old covenant and the light represents the new life or new covenant. This sequence is important to remember when we reflect on the process of salvation.
God has given man a complete rule of life in his law. Obeyed, he shall live by it, through the merits of Christ. Transgressed, it has power to condemn. The law sends men to Christ, and Christ points them back to the law. RH Sep 27, 1881
The night and day sequences of six days reflect this process of the law bringing men to the light of the law in Christ and then Christ pointing them back to the law to reveal more of the darkness in them which in turn brings them back to Christ. This process ends in the rest of the seventh day when all is completed.
This then reveals the parallel process of the old and new covenant towards the completed rest of the seventh day. darkness and light side by side until the work is completed.]
"IN the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
"We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
These two passages of Scripture were written a long time apart, and in the Bible they stand a long way apart,—Gen. 1:1, 2, and Eph. 2:10; yet the first one was written with particular reference to the second; and the second, to be well understood, must be considered in view of the first.
By the word of God, through Jesus Christ, the heaven and the earth were created. By the word of God, also, it is, that we are created in Christ Jesus; for we are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."
When the heaven and the earth had been created by the Lord, the earth was yet an empty, formless, fruitless mass; it was without form, and void. And it was necessary that the Spirit of God should come upon it and brood over it, to bring it into form according to the purpose of God, and to fill it with fruitfulness and beauty to the glory of God.
So likewise we, when first created in Christ Jesus, are, so far as "good works which God hath before ordained" are concerned without form, and void. The life is entirely empty; the habits, as for good, are absolutely unformed. And upon this new creation it is essential that the Spirit of God shall come, that over it the Spirit of God shall brood, in order that it may be perfected according to the purpose of God, and be filled with the fruits of righteousness and the beauty of holiness, to the glory of God.
If upon the first creation, the Spirit of God had not come and brooded, fulfilling all the further word and purpose of God, it would have forever remained an empty, shapeless mass, without light, or life, or fruitfulness.
So with us who are new created in Christ: if upon this new creation the Spirit of God does not come and brood, fulfilling all the further word and purpose of God, we, too, shall remain as empty and formless, as certainly without light or life or fruitfulness, as would have been that first creation if the Spirit of God had not come upon it.
For that first creation to have remained without form, and void of all light and life and fruitfulness, could never have been to the glory of God. It would have been a blotch in space and a reproach to the Creator, worse than not to have been created at all.
And for us who have been new created in Christ, to remain empty of the good works which God ordained, and void of light and life and fruitfulness unto God, can likewise never be to the glory of God. This, too, is to be a blotch in spiritual space, a reproach to the Creator, and worse than not to have been created at all.
Even so it is said by the Lord: "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
Here was the man new created in Christ. The evil spirit had been expelled by the power of God. The place had been cleansed and garnished. It was empty. It was right that it should be emptied of all the old things: they were only evil. But it was emptied of these only in order that it might be filled with light, and life, and the good works which God had ordained. It could be filled with these only by the brooding presence of the Spirit of God. Yet this was not done. The Spirit of God was not received and retained and courted. Therefore the place remained empty; and when the original spirit returned, he found it empty. In addition to this he found it swept and garnished—a much nicer place to live in than it was before. He proposed, therefore, to have a nicer time than he had before, and he gathered to himself his seven companions worse than himself, and they filled the place.
The place was created to be filled with light and life, fruit and beauty, to the glory of God. This could be only by the Spirit of God. That Spirit was not received and given the opportunity to fill it. It therefore remained empty. But it was not created to remain empty. Therefore when it could not be filled to the glory of God by the Spirit of God, it was filled to the reproach of God by the evil spirits.
Now we know that there are many who have given themselves to God. They have received his word. They have been new created in Christ. But their lives have not been filled with the fruits of righteousness to the glory of God. They themselves bemoan the emptiness and unfruitfulness of their lives, as to the good works which God ordained. They themselves deplore the dark confusion of the old habits striving for the mastery against the longing desires for the symmetrical formation and firm establishment of the new. Dear, discouraged souls, receive the Spirit of God. Let him move upon that void and formless creation. Let him brood over that waste and confused life. Then that creation will not be in vain. It will be filled, formed, and made fruitful with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, with the good works which God before ordained that we should walk in them.
It is only by the brooding, fruit-giving presence of the Spirit of God that this can ever be accomplished upon any creation of God. Therefore do not think of going one moment without this Spirit, by which alone can be accomplished the purpose of God in any of his creations. Thank him that he has new created you in Christ. Thank him that though this new creation be at first, or even now, after so long a time, without form, and void, yet the Spirit of God, moving, hovering thereon, can fulfil all the great purpose of God, to the glory of God forevermore.
Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Be filled with the Spirit. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be, shall be called the Son of God.