“The heavens declare the glory of God,” sings David in Psalm 19, “and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” In other words, there is nothing in all of creation that does not continually cry out in worship to God. Have you ever stopped to closely examine the natural world? It’s filled with wonder. Did you know there are more trees on earth than there are stars in the galaxy? Or that sea otters hold hands so they don’t drift apart while they nap in the water? That tigers have striped skin as well as fur, and that each pattern is as unique as a fingerprint? Or that ants never sleep and don’t have lungs? Speaking of which, for every human on earth there are an estimated one million ants. From the infinite to the infinitely small, nature contains marvels and mysteries designed by our infinitely creative God.
As Annie Dillard writes in her extraordinary book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, “Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.” When we consider the wonders of creation, praise is the only proper response.
But then in Psalm 19:7, David suddenly shifts from waxing eloquent about the majesty of nature to the beauty of God’s law. This is because creation can tell us much about God, but it can’t tell us the whole story; his word tells us more. Kant said, “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe … the starry heavens above and the moral law within.” We would perhaps replace moral law with divine law, because as David tells us, God’s law is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, and righteous altogether. There is nothing in the created world that is more perfectly awe inspiring than the word of God.
Furthermore, the word of God specifically reveals to us the story of God’s redemptive plan for creation through the work of his son Jesus. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). God has fully revealed himself to us in Jesus, who is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15).
Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:3, “His [Jesus’] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” That means that through the Holy Spirit, we can understand everything we need to know about living the Christian life by reading God’s word. As Sam Storms puts it, “It’s the Holy Spirit who awakens in us an understanding of God’s beauty and splendor and power. It’s the Holy Spirit who stirs us to celebrate and rejoice and give thanks. It’s the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to see and savor all that God is for us in Jesus.”
The fact of the matter is that we cannot worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) without that truth bit — the knowledge that Peter refers to — which is found only in God’s word. This is why the church of nature, as incredible as it is, will never quite cut it. How can we expect to hear from God if we’re not willing to read the very words he wrote to us? How can we rightly worship the God of the universe if we’re ignoring his book? Our worship must be shaped by the revelation of God in scripture, informed by the character and nature of God. How do we worship in truth? By worshipping he who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Truth is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we must never forget it’s not a one-and-done; it’s a daily, hourly, even continual process of learning how to posture ourselves in light of what Christ has done for us. And how do we worship in spirit? When the Spirit of God enlightens our eyes through his word, that is when we are truly able to worship rightly. John Piper wrote, “True worship comes only from spirits made alive and sensitive by the quickening of the Spirit of God.”
Look around you at all that our very good God has created, and let it draw you to his perfect law, revealed in scripture and fulfilled in Christ. He is supremely worthy of our worship, and all in his temple cry, “Glory!”
Written By: Jess Glass