Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION FOUR:MANKIND OR HUMANITY
The fourth Christian foundation I examine with you is the Bible teaching of mankind – or humanity. We all ask ourselves the questions: where did we come from? Why do we exist? What are we like? Where are we going after this life? I will answer these questions under three headings: the origin of man, the fall of man and the future of man. Exciting and personal stuff! Let’s go study.
I. THE ORIGIN OF MANKIND
The Bible says that God created mankind, the first two people being Adam and his wife, Eve (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7, 18, 20-23; 3:2). According to most evangelical Bible scholars, the biblical data indicates that the time of their creation is fairly recent, not more than probably 20,000 years ago. The Lord Jesus also confirms the Genesis account of creation (Matthew 19:3-6). I realize that the Bible account of man’s origin conflicts with the theories of evolution.
Without going into details, I believe the evidence fits the creation account better than an evolutionary model, it is better to believe God than the ever changing opinions of man, and the theory of evolution is just that - an unprovable and unproven theory. Finally, for the Christian the choice becomes one of whether or not to believe Jesus. It is unthinkable to call Him a liar.
Humanity’s creation was preceded by divine counsel within the Godhead (Genesis 1:26). Man was made distinct from lower creation, which includes the animal and plant world (Genesis 2:7), and was placed over God’s creation. Mankind was the climax of God’s creation, and from these original two came all the races and peoples of human history (Genesis 3:20).
What was the condition of man? He was in a state of untested holiness and probation. That is, he had a theoretical holy nature that over time and with right choices would have been confirmed or established in holiness. Man had, however, the freedom to choose evil, which unfortunately he did. Man originally was free from sin, thus, sin is foreign to the human constitution. It is something that does not belong there, like germs and disease.
What is mankind like? We are created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26; Colossians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9; Ephesians 4:24). We actually correspond to the divine original.
To illustrate, the government in each country has “official” rubber stamps with which clerks stamp approved documents. They put ink on the stamp and press it on the paper, leaving an imprint or image of the stamp on the paper. In the same way, mankind is the imprint or image of god, we are made in His likeness - we are the image of God.
Like God we have the dimension of the soul: emotion, intellect, will, personality, and conscience. We have a moral dimension: true knowledge and righteousness (Colossians 3:9, 10). Like God we have a spiritual dimension (John 4:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). We have an immortal dimension: our existence extends to eternity (Revelation 20:10; 21:8; 2:5). Finally, we have a body that will someday be glorified after the manner of Christ (Colossians 1:15; Philippians 2:6; Genesis 1:26).
Our value, worth and dignity are grounded in God. This world tries to force us to believe that we get our worth as humans from what we contribute to family or society. But what about those who have less abilities or intellect than others, or are too old or crippled to work? What about those with handicaps? Should we call them “worthless?” The Bible says no.
Just down the street from where I live there is a young girl who is confined to a wheelchair. She can barely talk and someone else even has to push her wheelchair along the bumpy road. Some people think she is worthless, and even ridicule her. The fact is she is not worthless, because she is created in the image of God and draws her value and self-worth from God Himself. God is the One who decides what is truly valuable or not valuable.
Another application: many times people become critical of others. Some think that because they are rich, have power or are educated that they are better than others - often ridiculing those less fortunate. Some think that people of other countries or races are inferior to those of “our” country or race. When we talk bad about other people it is good to keep in mind that we are talking about creatures that are created in the image of God, and who derive their value and worth from the same place we do: from God.
Why did God create us? God made us that we could have rational understanding (Genesis 1:28); that we would obey in morals (Genesis 2:16); that we could have religious communion or fellowship with Him (Genesis 3:8, 9; 4:3); to perpetuate the human race (Genesis 1:28); and to manage His world (Genesis 1:28, 29).
It is wonderful that we are created in the image of God. No other creature has this breathtaking privilege! Think of it. Do you realize that the angels are not created in the image of God? Look about you. Look at the fish in the ocean, the rat that scampers up the coconut free, the bird that flits from tree to tree, the whale that blows water into the air, or the pigs that waddle across the road. Look at the turtle, sheep, cow, or snake. Nothing in this universe is patterned after God: except you, me, and the rest of humanity. My friend, that is who you are.
II. THE FALL OF MANKIND
Tragically, something very bad happened to mankind in the Garden of Eden. God permitted sin to enter the world through humanity, initiated by the temptation of Satan (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12; 2 Corinthians 11:3, 14). Note well: God did not “cause” sin and evil to enter the world. The key word is “permit.” He permitted it, because He had given free will to humanity, and even to Satan with his followers.
Adam and Eve lived in a perfect environment and were without a sin nature that would incline them to sin. They were creative and brilliant and had unhindered fellowship with God. God had forbidden Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Satan tempted (through his mouthpiece the serpent) Eve by causing her to doubt and question the good character, words, and work of God.
Satan still works the same today: he causes us to doubt the Person and Word of God. Satan challenged God’s authority - the same as he does today. Sadly, Eve gave way to the temptation and disobeyed God. Later she persuaded Adam to disobey God as well. The eating of the fruit was not the sin. Disobedience to the expressed word and will of God was the original sin. And, their disobedience caused devastation to the world and its inhabitants.
God cursed the serpent, Satan and nature. Sin separated God and man, resulting in man’s condemnation: spiritual and physical death. Evil and wickedness entered into the world. Man was placed under the temporary domination of Satan. Mankind had shame and self-righteousness. The relationship between men and women changed. Work became a burdensome labor. Life became sorrowful and brief (Genesis 3:14-19).
Even the nature of mankind changed. Oh yes, we are still created in the image of God, but that image became scarred and corrupted. We became sinners with a sin nature (Psalm 51:5). Our intellect, emotions and will were corrupted. We lost the capacity and desire to please God (1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 3:10-18). Our hearts became springs from which ooze evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, envy, wickedness, deceit, slander, pride, and lies, according to Jesus (Mark 7:20-23).
These things defile us. Since we are the offspring of Adam and Eve we inherited their sin nature. Even their sin became ours, along with the guilt that goes with it. I can vividly recall the days before I became a Christian. I did not want to do what was pleasing to God. I even wanted to sin. Maybe sometimes, when I thought about what would happen to me when I died, then I would give a feeble attempt to do right before God.
At those times, however, I discovered that I was helpless and powerless to please God. Some people do religious things such as go to church and even hold positions in the church, but it is only a feeble attempt to become acceptable before God. Our sin nature has rendered us with no capacity or desire to please God or to do spiritual good. You might be asking about our future since we are so guilty and helpless. I don’t blame you. It is a stark future. Consequently, I turn to the next question: what about the future of mankind?
III. THE FUTURE OF MANKIND
For the unbeliever the future is dismal. Upon their death in this life their body goes back to dust and their soul goes to a place the Bible calls “Hades,” or hell (Luke 16:19-31). They are confined to this temporary prison until after the Millennium and to the time of their final judgment and sentence before God’s great white throne (Revelation 20:11-15). Let us look first at this intermediate state.
Intermediate condition for the unsaved
In Hades the unsaved are very much aware of their environment. They are in severe torment and agony. They are aware of those in heaven and the family and friends left behind on earth, though they cannot communicate with either. They cannot leave Hades, and there is no second chance to be saved. Our eternal fate is sealed forever in this life. Once we die there is nothing we or anyone else can do to rescue us from hell and get us to heaven. Nothing! The Bible says that, “it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). We can only choose in this life.
The souls and spirits of those who have died never stay behind and linger by their bodies and/or graves. It is impossible to communicate with departed loved ones. It may be of some comfort to realize that they still think about you and love you, and even desire that someone would bring you the gospel of Christ so you won’t go to Hades.
Final destination of unsaved
The unsaved have a final destination called the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 19:20; 20:14, 15). On that frightful time of judgment they will all be brought before the throne of God. Only the unsaved will be before God at that time, and the judgment is not on their salvation, but the severity of their sentence. Their sentence will be based upon their deeds in this life.
After they receive their sentence they will be cast forever into the lake of fire and brimstone where Satan, his demons and all the rest of the unsaved will reside forever. Jesus likens the place as one of eternal fire and punishment, one where their worm does not die, the fire is not quenched, and where everyone is “salted” with fire (Matthew 25:41, 46; Mark 9:48). For the unsaved this ending is a very solemn, sad, tragic destination. Heartbreaking. Actually, it is horrible, awful, and terrible. Don’t go there. You don’t have to.
Future of believers (Christians)
For the believer, the future prospects are much brighter – in fact, very bright. We first need to talk about what is happening to the believer in this life.
Our present life
Do you recall that at the fall of man in the Garden of Eden the image of man was scarred by sin? Well, God is restoring that image, conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). When we become a Christian the Holy Spirit comes to indwell, change, and empower us (Romans 8:9). By using primarily the Bible and our obedience He conducts the transformation process. We also grow when we partake of the ordinances (Sacraments) of Christ, have Christian fellowship, pray, surrender to the Lordship of Christ in our lives, and become involved in Christian service to God and others.
There is, however, a savage war that rages: three things hinder the work of God in our lives - the world, our flesh and Satan (1 John 2:15-17; Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 6: 10-20). The “world” refers to that organized system of this world that opposes God and His people.
The “flesh” is that old sin nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve. When we become a Christian we get a new nature, but the old nature remains with us until the next life. The power of the old nature is broken, but it still vigorously opposes the Spirit as it is not yet destroyed (Romans 6:6-14; Galatians 5:17).
Satan with his fallen angels is the third force in this world that desperately wages war against the work, Word, and people of God – and even spreads evil, mayhem, and wickedness upon all humanity. He hates people.
Someday the warfare and struggles of this life will end. We will die. Upon departure from this life the believer’s body goes to the grave, but his soul and spirit go immediately and directly to be with Christ in heaven (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Luke 23:43). We remain there until the resurrection of our body. Death, then, does not mean that we cease to exist, or even become unaware of our environment. We are just separated from our body, and our souls and spirits go to heaven.
After our resurrection we will receive our rewards for service here on earth (1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 4:5; Romans 14:10-12). Understand that His judgment on Christians does not concern their salvation, but rather, the amount of reward for their faithful service on earth. There is a future “payday” for Christians – not for our salvation, but for our faithful life and service on earth.
The Christian resurrection
For the believer another dramatic, major event will occur: our bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15; 1 John 3:2; Acts 1:10, 11; John 20, 21; Luke 24:39, 43; Mark 14:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Romans 8:11). There is a great deal of mystery surrounding this event, but still we can know many things. 1 Corinthians chapter 15 gives the greatest detail. The biblical evidence claims that the same body we now have will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:42, 53). Just exactly how God will accomplish this feat remains a secret with Him. But since God is God He can do whatever He wants, however He wants.
There will be a radical transformation to our present bodies. We will be patterned after Christ’s body: it will be flesh and bone, yet spiritual and glorified. Our life-sustaining force will be the Holy Spirit, not blood (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 8:11). We will be free from decay, disease, death, and dishonor. Our bodies will be dignified and permanent. We will have great physical and adaptive powers.
In fact, the best way to find out what our resurrected body will be like is to look at the passages of Scripture that tell of Christ after His resurrection, because our body will be like His body (Philippians 3:20, 21).
The time of resurrection
When is our resurrection? We do not know the exact time. It will occur at the same time as the future rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We know one thing: it will happen. The resurrection will be instant, like the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52). Great fanfare will occur. Death will finally be overcome (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). The final phase of our salvation will be complete. All that we lost in the Garden of Eden will be reclaimed. Sin, death, corruption, curse, sin nature, sickness - they will terminate in our existence.
Our future will not be over, because we have a special niche in God’s program. But, we who have been born into this life with the ugly, powerful impact of sin upon us, we have our final and complete victory over all the bad things that we live through in this life.
What should be our response? Paul tells us that we are to be steady, solid, always abounding in the Lord’s work. We are assured that our hard work for Christ is not pointless and futile. Our reward is sure. Our victory is certain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
My friend, this is real. Your short life in this world will soon end. So will mine. It is awesome and exciting to know where our future destination will be. That is, for those who know Christ as their personal Savior.
With this I conclude our insightful study on the doctrine of mankind, and turn next to the Bible’s teaching about the Holy Spirit.
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