MAN - CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
The Bible also reveals to us much about ourselves. It is a unique book
in that it does not present its heroes as romantic figures. The men and
women depicted in the Bible are real, complete with their strengths and
weaknesses. It pulls no punches. It states things in stark truth. This
makes it all the more important to us. It shows us ourselves as we really
are, not as we would like to think of ourselves.
Man is the crowning glory of God's creative work. God made the earth
as a home for man.
In order to understand ourselves we need to know how we were made. Man
was created in the image of God:
God gave man intelligence and understanding as part of his preparation
God is a Spirit. Therefore man is spiritually sensitive. It is no mistake
that there are so many "religions" in the world. We were created with a
need to worship God. It is built into our very nature. When man rebelled
against God this need to worship had to be filled. Man began to worship
other spiritual creatures (both angelic and human), to fulfill this in-built
God is a moral being. Therefore man is a moral being, with a free will
and the power to choose between right and wrong. Animals are ruled by instinct,
but man has a choice. It also implies that we are responsible for the choices
God is a rational being. The Bible is the result of God's communication
with man. Therefore man is a rational creature, able to think, reason,
imagine and communicate. Man is the only creature which has any form of
written language, allowing one generation to communicate to many generations
God is a purposeful being. Therefore man is an active responsive creature,
capable of doing planned, purposeful work. In the beginning Man was given
authority, but with responsibility. When God gave mankind dominion over
the earth, it was to manage it not to exploit it. Man was meant to work.
To manage the earth implied that Adam did useful work.
God is a creative being. Therefore man is a creative being, able to appreciate
beauty, order and purpose, and having the urge to create them. This is
a reflection of God's creative ability.
God is a lordly being. Therefore man is a lordly creature to whom God gave
dominion over the earth.
We know this because:
Adam gave names to all the animals. If you doubt that this shows intelligence,
try to think of original names for all the creatures in the earth yourself
and then consider that half the world's creatures are extinct.
God gave Adam authority over the earth, indicating that God trusted Adam's
GOD'S PROVISION FOR MAN
In order to understand ourselves we also need to know what we have been
given. God's provision for mankind can be seen in His creative act and
early relationship with Adam and Eve:
God gave man an ideal environment. He is interested in our physical well
being. He provided a beautiful, fruitful, well watered garden for the first
family to live in. He is not a selfish miser when it comes to his creatures.
God gave man a pleasant occupation. He wanted man to grow and develop.
He gave Adam a pleasant task - to care for this garden. Adam would learn
responsibility and the joy of achievement.
God gave Adam a companion and helper, Eve. In this we see the true purpose
for marriage. It is to be both a physical and a spiritual union. (Remember
that God created man to live both a physical and a spiritual life). Marriage
is the physical and spiritual union of two people. Sex for men and women
is not simply for the procreation of the species. It is to express physically,
the union of the couple's souls. This is why broken relationships are so
devastating for the people involved. They don't realise that by indulging
in sex, they have actually joined their souls to one another. When the
relationship breaks up their souls are torn apart. The marriage relationship
is a part of God's wise plan for our maturing, and the raising of children.
Marriage is also for the raising of children in harmony with the will of
God. Children are a gift to us from God and are not to be destroyed either
before or after birth. Our children are placed into our care by God, but
they are not ours they are the Lord's.
God gave man freedom. God saw that man needed to grow from childlike innocence
to positive holiness by exercising his freedom of choice. Holiness is innocence
put to the test and proven. God gave man an opportunity to exercise his
freedom of choice by placing the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" in
the garden and telling man not to touch it. God even told man what would
happen to him if he did eat of the tree (Genesis 2:17). Man did not have
to choose disobedience.
God gave man the Sabbath. The Sabbath was given to man so that he could
rest and renew his relationship with his creator. It was meant to be a
"family day" in which all God's children came to pay him a visit and rest
from the work of the week.
DOES MAN HAVE AN IMMORTAL SOUL ?
Many religions today teach that man has an immortal soul that will keep
on living after we die. It is interesting to study carefully what the Bible
teaches us about this point.
When God made man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life "man became a living being" (Genesis 2:8).
Yet God informed the man He created that if he was disobedient he would
die. This shows that, so long as man was obedient, he would have access
to the "tree of life" (Genesis 2:9; Revelation 22:2), and may live for
ever. This does not mean that man has immortality, for the Bible teaches
us that "God alone has immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). There is a big difference
between living for ever under certain conditions and having immortality.
Immortality means that it is totally impossible for that being to die
under any circumstances. Man was made a mortal being. Unless we have food,
air, water, and a proper environment, we cease to live. When our first
parents sinned, they were bared from eating the life sustaining fruit of
the "tree of life". From that moment on their life began to end. As God
said to Adam, "Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not
eat, for in that day that you eat of it, dying you shall die" (Genesis
2:17 Including literal translation margin note).
When we die, "there is no work, or device or knowledge or wisdom in
the grave" (Eccleseastes 9:10).
So where could this idea of an immortal soul come from ?
When Satan tempted Eve he said "You shall
not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it you eyes
shall be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and
evil" (Genesis 3:4 - 5). Part of Satan's lie was to tell Eve that she would
become immortal. This lie has been perpetuated ever since.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE DIED ?
The human race has only one chance. Jesus came to "save that which was
lost" (Matthew 18:11). When Adam and Eve sinned there were a number of
things which were lost:
Jesus has paid the penalty for sin "once, for all"
(Romans 6:10). In doing this he has purchased for every man and woman a
resurrection, for "the hour is coming ... when
the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall
live" (John 5:25).
Life - Adam's sin condemned all his children to death with him (Romans
5:12). From the moment we are born, we begin the process of dying. With
each passing generation the time taken for this process to finish is becoming
Fellowship with God - Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden of Eden.
Freedom of choice - we were all born under sin, for "by the offense of
one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation" (Romans 5:18). We have
been made "subject to futility" (Romans 8:20; Eccleseastes). Every moment
of our lives we are experiencing the relentless ravages of sin. God has
permitted this so that we may all learn to hate