God’s Order for Living Beings, Human Beings and His Grand Design

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind….'”

I am starting a new Bible reading plan for the year, and so I am back to Genesis. Reading through the rich text of Genesis 1 again I am seeing some things I hadn’t really noticed before. Consider the following (with my emphasis added):

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them‘; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:11-12

“God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’

Genesis 1:21-22

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind‘; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:24-25

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it….'”

I color-coded the various provisions that form the pattern that informs my thinking today. The provisions in each color correspond with the other provisions of the same color.

Now, let me see if I can put all my thoughts together in a coherent whole.

First of all, God ordered (in the sense of designed) all living beings to multiply after they own kind. We see this everywhere in nature: apple trees bear seeds that grow into new apple trees; asparagus plants bear seeds that grow into new asparagus plants; lions beget lions; polar bears beget polar bears; yellow polka dotted salamanders beget yellow polka dotted salamanders; bluefin tuna beget bluefin tuna; and purple finches beget purple finches.

This is the order of living things. Not only that, but we now know that something (call it evolution or something else) works powerfully within living beings to reproduce and even to adapt with changes over time.

Every living thing bears seed or otherwise reproduces more of its kind. Human beings included, but only humans are made in the image of God. (Hold that thought.)

God “blessed” the living things He created, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply” and fill the earth. (Gen. 1:22) He also blessed man who He made in His own image, and gave similar orders: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it….” (Gen. 1:28)

Note that God “ordered” (as in designed) the living things He created to reproduce after their kinds and to be fruitful and multiply, but God ordered (as in not only designed, but commanded) man to do the same. The difference is an important key to understanding what God is doing.

Unlike the other living creatures which are designed to reproduce and multiply after their kinds, humans have some agency in the matter. God designed them for the same purpose, but He also commanded them to do it because humans are created in the image of God who has agency – the ability to exercise will and to do (or not do) things.

Humans, of course, had no choice in their creation, but they do have choice in whether to “participate in God’s design” and how they would participate in God’s design. This choice was demonstrated in the one tree in the garden that was forbidden to them.

It was a real choice, and it had real consequences. It had to have real consequences or it wouldn’t have been a real choice. That choice was part of what it meant to be made in the image of God. Without the ability to choose, humans would have been just like the other living things God created. The ability to choose set humans apart.

As the story goes, humans ate the fruit of the one tree that was forbidden.

They exercised the choice God gave them. In eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, humans opened up their world to all the ways they might choose to go against the order of creation.


Throughout Genesis 1, we read over and over again that what God did “was good” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). If what God designed was good, choosing to operate counter to that design would be evil (the opposite of good).

None of this is very revelatory so far, but I am getting there.

Genesis 1 reminds me of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul says:

God gives [all living things] a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

1 Corinthians 15:38-39

The order/design of life – of reality – is immutable. Life is ordered the way God created it, though humans have some choice (within limits) of whether to align with God’s design or to buck against it. Indeed, the story of the fall is the story of humans exercising that choice and of an adaptation that God built into His design to accomplish His ultimate plan.

Continue reading “God’s Order for Living Beings, Human Beings and His Grand Design”

Not by the Will of Man

Becoming a child of God has more do to with God than us.

Sun Thru the Woods


But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

Although we have the choice to receive God, those who receive God do not grasp on to something that they have uniquely divined. We cannot boast in receiving God. Gaining knowledge of God and becoming a child of God has more do to with God than us.

When people claim that Christians are exclusive and boast of a righteousness and holiness that is exclusive, bigoted and intolerant (to put it in modern terms), they do not understand what they are saying. God presents Himself to us, and we either receive Him or not. It is not our choice (not by the will of the flesh or of the will of man).

The righteousness does not come from us. God extends the right to us to become His children.

If by “child of God” we mean Christian, there is no such thing as a Christian who was born into it. Being a child of God is not something that passed on to us by natural birth; it is not passed down in our genes. People do not become children of God because of birth, but because of second birth[1].

Nor do people choose to become children of God. No one chooses to become a child of God any more than we chose to become children of our natural parents. The event of natural birth is entirely initiated by forces outside our control, and the second birth, without which no one may become a child of God, is also initiated by forces outside or our control – by God Himself.

God does the initiating, and we do the receiving. When we are born physically, we are born through the agents of our parents. When we are born again (born from above), we are born directly through the agency of the Holy Spirit, who is offered to us and who we must receive.

In this process, we are not unwilling vessels. We must receive the offer of new life, but we are not the author of it. We are not the initiators of this new life. We are entirely dependent on God who extends Himself to us.

Children of God are born not by the will of man but by God’s will. God gave His son to the world[2] and desires that no one would be perish, but that all would have everlasting life. Everlasting life comes from God, by being born from above, and becoming children of God. This is what God offers; we only need to receive it.

When we receive what God has offered, we are changed (born again). The proof is in the change.[3] We do not make the change; God makes the change occur within us by His spirit that we receive when we are born from above. All true children of God know this change comes from God, not from within us. The change takes place within us, but it does not originate from ourselves. The Father of this change is God, and we simply receive it and yield to it.

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[1] “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:3-6)

[2] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

[3] Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may [d]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [e]acceptable and perfect.

As the Ground Receives the Rain

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“For it is God who works in you….” (Phil. 2:13)

When we think in terms of being obedient to God and living for God, we tend to think about results. Results are achievement oriented. Our whole world in Western society is ordered that way. It’s no wonder that we think in those terms about our spiritual lives.

The results we recall tend to be the accomplishments we have achieved.

God’s perspective is wholly different than ours. He doesn’t consider what we have accomplished, but what HE has been allowed to accomplish in us. We are participants in that accomplishment, but only as the ground receives the rain that falls upon it. Continue reading “As the Ground Receives the Rain”