MAN CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
In Chapter II we saw from conclusive evidence that the Bible--the Old and New Testaments--is the very word of the Living God. It is the revelation of God to man. It does not give, as some suppose, a record of man's quest for the Almighty; on the contrary, it is an historical account of God revealing Himself in His quest for man. With the firm conviction that the Bible is the infallibly inspired Word of the Almighty, in whom we live, move and have our being, and to whom we are responsible for our lives and actions, we turn to its pages to see what light it gives upon the various subjects which constitute the theme of this volume.
According to estimates (printed 1943), which are doubtless based upon reasonably reliable statistics, there are approximately five billion people in the world today. Whence came they? Did they evolve, as some tell us from the lower forms of life? or were they created by an immediate, direct act of the Almighty? What is the testimony of the Scriptures?
I. MAN A CHILD OF GOD BY DIRECT CREATION
"And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them ... And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 1:27; 2:7). In the first of these quotations we are told that God created man in His image, after His likeness. The word rendered create is בָּרָא barah. It occurs some fifty-odd times in the Hebrew Scriptures. Wherever it appears in the active voice, God is the subject. The reason for this literary phenomenon is that God alone can perform the act that is expressed by this term. This word occurs in Genesis 1:1 and refers to the creation of the universe. There was a time when God alone existed. He put forth the creative act, the result of which was the bringing into existence of the material universe. This earth, as we have already seen, suffered under a catastrophic disaster and was reduced to a state of desolation and waste. Following this wreckage, there were six days during which the Lord Almighty repaired to a certain extent the damage wrought, and remodeled the earth for the reception of man whom He purposed to create, and whom He did bring forth on the sixth day of this period of reconstruction. On the fifth day, however, according to Genesis 1:20, He created the fowls of the air and the sea monsters. This type of life was new, for the Lord stepped forward in His plan and brought forth that form of existence which had not been prior to that time. This fact is set forth by the word created. As a crowning work of His labors, on the sixth day, He created man in His image, after His likeness (Gen. 1:26). The personalities decreed that they would make man in their image after their likeness. In doing this, they brought forth a new type of life--something different from that which had been created. We cannot avoid this conclusion when we realize that the word create means to bring into existence that which had no prior form or substance. Man was thus patterned in the image of God. According to Genesis 2:7 the Lord formed man's body of the dust of the earth, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Since it is evident that God is represented in the Scriptures as being a Spirit, He does not have a physical or material body. For example, in Isaiah 31:3 the Lord declared that the Egyptians were men and not God and followed this statement by a parallel one which He said that their horses were flesh and not Spirit. In this couplet of Hebrew poetry men in the first line corresponds to flesh in the second; and God in the first, to spirit in the second. In perfect conformity to this representation is the statement in John 4:23,24, which declares that God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. When the Scriptures therefore declare that man was made in the image of God, after His likeness, it is evident that his spiritual nature is the thing under consideration. The Apostle Paul, in Hebrews 12:9, spoke of God as "the Father of spirits." In Numbers 16:22 Moses and Aaron, having fallen upon their faces, said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?" These and other passages lay emphasis upon the fact that God is a Spirit and that He is the Father of the spirits of men. From these facts we conclude that man is a child of God by a direct creative act of the Almighty.
This conclusion is confirmed by a further study of the word rendered create. God alone existed in that portion of eternity which in the Book of Genesis is called "In the beginning." He put forth an act which is expressed by the word create, the result of which was the coming into existence of the material universe. As we have already seen, on the fifth day mentioned in Genesis, chapter 1, He stepped forward in His activity and brought into existence animal life--both fowls and marine animals: He brought into being that which had no prior existence. By this statement I mean that there had not been any animal life upon the earth after the disaster mentioned in Genesis 1:2 until the fifth day when God created the fowls and fishes. As stated above, the Almighty, after a consultation in the Godhead, brought into existence man, who was created after His likeness and in His image. These are the facts as they are gleaned from the scriptural statements referred to and from others that might be mentioned.
Confirmation of the position that man did not evolve from some lower form of life, but was the product of God's creative activity, is found in the vast gulf separating man from animal life. We frequently hear people speak of the "missing link" between man and the animals. This statement assumes that there is a very narrow chasm between them; the facts show that there is a vast expanse separating them.
Dr. A. H. Strong in his Systematic Theology shows that in eight outstanding ways man is differentiated from the animals and is occupying a much higher position. To these let us give special attention.
The brute is conscious, but is not self-conscious. For instance, a dog cannot say, "I am a dog." He does not differentiate between himself and his sensations. He perceives things, but unlike man he does not have apperception; that is, "perception accompanied by reference of it to the self to which it belongs."
In the second place, the animal has percepts--he sees and in a limited way comprehends what comes before him, but he does not have concepts. Abstractions are foreign to his limited way of thinking. The brute remembers things and persons, but does not give any evidence of remembering certain thoughts or abstract ideas. Man alone possesses this power.
In the third place, beasts do not have language, in the strict sense of the term. Language is the vehicle of thought. Words are simply symbols of ideas or concepts. Where there are no concepts, there can be no language. The parrot's being able to learn a few words or short sentences can in no wise be considered as its possessing language. Since language consisting of words is the symbol of ideas, the brutes that are unable to interpret these signs are incapable of language.
In the fourth place, animals are incapable of expressing judgments. For instance, they cannot say in a categorical way, This is that, or this is the thing which I have mentioned. There is no evidence that the animals associate ideas of a similar nature. Man alone possesses this capacity.
In the fifth place, animals have little or no reasoning power. They know nothing about the law of causation--the relation between antecedents and consequences. It is true that there are associations of such ideas with others on the part of the brute creation, but never is there evidence of an intelligent judgment. Man alone possesses this capability.
In the sixth place, animals have no general ideas of space, time, substance, right, wrong. They cannot reason from the specific to the general; there can be therefore no progress or advancement. Observation of the various animals reveals that they do certain things simply by instinct. For instance, the bird's first nest is as perfect as the last one it builds. The same is true with reference to the beaver, the honey bee, or any other animal or insect. It is not thus with man. He is able to form judgments, to make generalizations, to recognize the law of causation, and to make certain combinations of abstract or general ideas. Thereupon he puts these into practice and makes advancement. The animal can see the printed page of the newspaper or a book, but he can never understand the significance of the words--symbols of ideas. Man sees these words and reads the message. He thus goes from one state to another and makes progress.
In the seventh place, let us note that animals have determination, but no self-determination. There is no evidence of a conscious planning or movement toward some desirable objective. Dr. Strong has called our attention to the fact that the donkey, for instance, has determination, but no self-determination. He is the victim of heredity and environment. "Man, though implicated in nature through his bodily organization, is in his personality supernatural; the brute is wholly submerged in nature ... Man is like a ship in the sea--in it, yet above it--guiding his course, by observing the heavens, even against wind and current. A brute has no such power; it is in nature like a balloon, wholly immersed in air, and driven about by its current, with no power of steering,"--Harris, in Philosophical Basis of Theism, as quoted by Strong.
In the eighth and last place, let me call attention to the fact that the beast does not have a conscious nor a religious nature. For instance, a dog might bite a person; he does not give any evidence of being sorry for his act. The cat, which jumps upon the table and takes some food, running away with it, does not give any evidence of compunctions of conscience. Someone has said, "The aspen trembles without fear, and dogs skulk without guilt." Animals tremble and manifest fear in the presence of danger, but never act in such a way as to show any reverence for the Almighty, the reason being that they do not have a religious nature.
From the above considerations it is quite evident to the candid truth seeker that there is a vast gulf which separates man from even the highest of the brute creation. John Burroughs in Ways of Nature has put the situation thus: "Animal life parallels human life at many points, but it is in another plane. Something guides the lower animals, but it is not thought; something restrains them, but it is not judgment; they are provident without prudence; they are wise without knowledge; they are rational without reason; they are deceptive without guile ... When they are joyful, they sing or play; when they are distressed, they mourn or they cry; ... and yet I do not suppose they experience the emotion of joy or sorrow, of anger or love, as we do, because these feelings in them do not involve reflection memory, and what we call the higher nature, as with us." The animal looks inward, whereas man looks outward and upward. Though it is true that man shares with the brute animal life, man possesses an intellectual and spiritual nature which is conspicuously absent from the animal creation. The animal has a capacity only for those things which pertain to the fleshly nature; man, on the contrary, has a capacity for spiritual things and a yearning for his Creator; therefore he is a special creation and a child of God in that sense. These facts differentiate men from the animals.
Man does occupy a place of dignity--even now--in the great economy of God. In our thinking of the great honor conferred upon us by our Creator, let none of us arrive at the false conclusion that there is a spark of divinity in the breast of each of us, and that we are by our own efforts and intelligence to develop into supermen or demigods; for such is contrary to the revealed revelation of God in the Scriptures.
God is the self-existing one, the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient one. He is the one in whom we live and move and have our continual being. By His grace, mercy, and love we are permitted to live upon this earth and to enjoy the good things which He confers upon us--even though we may not recognize the fact nor acknowledge it. I wish it were in my power to deliver the speech to all men which was given by the Apostle Paul at Lystra: "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things unto a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways. And yet he left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the multitudes from doing sacrifice unto them" (Acts 14:15-18).
II. THE UNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE
The Scriptures teach that God created Adam in His own image after His likeness and that out of a rib removed from man's side He built woman. According to the Scriptures Adam and Eve were the first couple upon the earth--after the catastrophe of Genesis 1:2. According to the Apostle Paul God "made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring" (Acts 17:26-28).
In keeping with the Genesis account that the human family sprang from the first couple, Adam and Eve, is the statement concerning the sinfulness of the race which is traced back by the Apostle Paul to one transgression of our foreparents in Eden. (See Romans 5:12-21.)
The Scriptural account of the beginning of the human race in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley (Gen., chap. 2) is confirmed by leading ethnologists and archaeologists who concede that the oldest civilizations have been found in both the Tigris-Euphrates and the Nile Valleys. The most recent excavations, however, point to that of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley as being the older. From this center the early tribes and groups of men migrated to various parts of the face of the globe. In this connection it is well for us to note certain scriptural statements relative to the one original continent.
In Genesis 1:9, we are told, "And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so." According to this verse there was but one original continent and one sea. This position is confirmed by II Peter 3:5-7. But we have five major continents. What is the explanation? It is found in Genesis 10:25. Here we are told that the earth was divided in the days of Peleg--the original continent was split up into the present land distribution. Of course, there have been various disturbances on the face of the globe from time to time, which have changed the boundaries of certain lands; but before this major disaster, both animals and men scattered out over this one original continent.
According to the biblical account, before the disruption of the earth, God at Babel confounded the language of the people. At that time He likewise could have given them their several racial characteristics, which are in evidence at the present day. This position, however, cannot be proved. I am simply throwing out the suggestion as a possibility to account for these racial peculiarities. As is well known, climate, environment, and personal habits do to a certain extent, affect the general appearance of certain peoples. Thus archaeology and history confirm the biblical account in pointing to one origin for all races.
When the languages of the various nations are studied and compared carefully, one discovers evidence pointing backward to earlier groups of tongues. By comparative philology these family groups are traced back into the distant past. The farther back the investigator goes the fewer the languages and basic root forms. The evidence therefore points back to a few original languages--small in number in comparison with those which now exist. This evidence is corroborative of the biblical account which traces the various languages to the judgment which fell upon the human family at Babel. Moreover, it points to the unity of the race.
A study of the human family from the psychological point of view brings one to the conclusion that there is a kinship of races and peoples. The mental habits and moral characteristics, together with tendencies and capacities, all indicate a kinship of the peoples of the earth. When their traditions are examined and their philosophies studied, additional proof is afforded for the unity of the human race.
Moreover, the evidence thus far adduced is strengthened from the physiological standpoint. Comparative physiology proves beyond peradventure that all tribes and races are from the one species--man. The cranial and osteological and dental characteristics of all races argue for kinship. Moreover, the fertility of union of any and all races prove the oneness of the species. Thus the evidence brought to us by science proves conclusively the unity of the human race as it is presented to us in the Scriptures.
III. THE NATURE OF MAN'S BEING
We are told that God made man of the dust of the earth and that He "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7). The word rendered soul is also often used with respect to the animals. God created them and gave them life or a soul. When, however, He created man, He did something which was not performed at the creation of the animals; namely, he breathed into man's nostrils the breath of lives (literally rendered) and man became a living soul. As we have already seen, the animals have a soul or life. But man has something more, according to the biblical account, than they have. The animals have a limited intellect. On the contrary, man has an intellectual and spiritual nature that is capable of great development and advancement. This fact man has demonstrated to his satisfaction.
What is meant by the soul* of man? An examination of a few passages of Scripture will give us a very definite idea. According to Numbers 16:22 God is "the God of the spirits of all flesh." According to Zechariah 12:1 Jehovah God formed "the spirit of man within him." In keeping with this statement is one by the Apostle Paul which speaks of "the spirit of the man, which is in him" (I Cor. 2:11). From these passages it is clear that man has a spirit and that it is differentiated from the Spirit of God. But in such passages as Genesis 35:18, we read of the death of Rachel, concerning whom it is said, "And it came to pass, as her soul was departing (for she died) ..." Here we are told that Rachel's soul departed from her body. In I Kings 17:21 we find Elijah praying to God that the soul of the widow's son might return into his body: "O Jehovah my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again." James, in speaking of a person, says "... the body apart from the spirit is dead" (James 2:26). The first of the passages cited above differentiates the spirit of man from the Spirit of God. The other quotations emphasize the spiritual nature of the soul and distinguish it from the material body.
The terms, soul and spirit, are used interchangeably in the Scriptures. For instance, in Genesis 41:8 we are told that Pharaoh's "spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof" in order that they might interpret his dream. But in Psalm 42:6 the writer declared, "My soul is cast down within me." In the first passage Moses spoke of the spirit of Pharaoh and its being troubled, but the psalmist mentioned his soul and its being cast down. To what did he refer? It is quite evident that he was speaking of his spirit. Nevertheless he called it his soul. The Lord Jesus likewise spoke of His disquietude by saying, "Now is my soul troubled." Of course He was using the Greek language. The word is properly rendered soul. Nevertheless, we know that He was speaking of His spirit. On the other hand in John 13:21, we are told, "when Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in the spirit ..." In the first instance John says that Jesus was troubled in His soul, but in the second one He was troubled in His spirit. The trouble was the same in each case. It is clear from these quotations that Christ's spiritual nature was in one instance called His soul and in the other His spirit. According to Matthew 20:28 the Lord Jesus came to "give his life a ransom for many." The term rendered life is the word soul. The emphasis is laid upon the spiritual sacrifice which the Lord Jesus made in His redemption of the human family. Regarding our Lord's death, Matthew declared that He "yielded up his spirit" (Matt. 27:50). From these and many other passages it is quite evident that soul and spirit are used synonymously in the Scriptures in referring to the spiritual nature of man. Additional proof of this proposition may be seen from the phrase, "spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:23). From the context it is quite clear that the author was speaking of saved people who will have received their spiritual bodies at the time foreseen in the vision. In speaking of these, he called them spirits of just men. John, in Revelation, declared that he "saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God" (Rev. 6:9). Soul, here, means the spirit. Many are the additional instances which might be cited and which show that the two terms are used interchangeably.
Additional light on man's constitution may be seen from such statements as Matthew 10:28. There the Lord Jesus warned His disciples, "And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both the soul and body in hell" (Cf. Luke 12:4,5). In these passages the Lord Jesus spoke of man as consisting of body and spirit. The Apostle Paul spoke of himself as having a body and a spirit: "For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing ..." (I Cor. 5:3).
Further confirmation that the soul and the spirit are the same is seen by reference to such a passage as Amos 6:8 in which the prophet declared, "The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by himself, saith Jehovah, the God of hosts." In the original the word rendered himself is soul. Isaiah, in impersonating the Lord Jehovah declared: "Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles" (Isa. 42:1). Here God speaks of His soul's delighting in His Servant, the Messiah. Speaking through Jeremiah, God said, "Shall I not visit them for these things? saith Jehovah; shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?" (Jer. 9:9). Concerning one who shrinks back and is not willing to go forward, the Lord declared in Hebrews 10:38: "But my righteous one shall live by faith: And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him." From these and other scriptures it is clear that God speaks of His spirit as His soul.
It is clear that Jesus, in referring to man's spiritual nature, called it his soul, in Mark 12:29,30: "The first [commandment] is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Here the highest functions of the human spirit are spoken of as being performed by the soul. The Virgin Mary in her jubilation praised God and said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." According to Hebrew parallelism, soul in the first line corresponds to spirit in the second and identifies them as one and the same thing. The conclusion is strengthened by the fact that this is a reference to worship, which is rendered by the soul. As a final citation, I wish to call attention to Mark 8:36,37: "For what doth it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? For what should a man give in exchange for his life [Greek word is soul]?" From this passage it is abundantly evident that soul here refers to man's spiritual nature which, if he loses, he loses everything.
Our attention sometimes is called to such passages as I Thessalonians 5:23: "And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." From this passage it is assumed that man is a threefold being, consisting of body, soul, and spirit. This passage must be interpreted in the light of other facts that have already been brought out regarding man's spiritual and corporeal nature. We have seen that man consists of soul and body or spirit and body. Moreover, we see that spirit and soul are used synonymously in the passages already cited and in many others that might be brought forth. According to the Lord Jesus, Israel was commanded : "... thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind, and with all thy strength." Our Lord here uses four nouns: heart, soul, mind, and strength. Are we to infer from this statement that man is a fivefold being, the argument being based upon these four nouns plus his fleshly nature? No one ever comes to this conclusion. An examination of all the passages in which these various words occur shows that the first three of them are used synonymously. In this citation, however, the fourth one, strength, is used as a synonym of the first three. In the same way we are not to conclude that man has a threefold nature from Paul's use of spirit, body, and soul in I Thessalonians 5:23.
Another passage that is sometimes interpreted as proof of this position is Hebrews 4:12: "For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart." From the context we see that the writer of this passage was referring to Christ, the living Word, who as he asserted, is "sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow." On this passage Dr. A. H. Strong makes the following comment " 'Piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints andmarrow,' equal not the dividing of soul from spirit or of joints from marrow, but rather the piercing of the soul and the spirit, even to their very joints and marrow: i.e., to the very depths of the spiritual nature." On this passage Bishop Moule makes the following comment: "Soul equals spirit organized, inseparably linked with the body; spirit equals man's inner being considered as Gods gift. Soul equals man's inner being viewed as his own; spirit equals man's inner being viewed as from God. They are not separate elements. "Since soul and spirit are used synonymously in the Scriptures, and since the word rendered soul in various connections shows a most intimate connection with the body taking everything into consideration a logical thinker reaches the conclusion that the word soul is applied to the spirit when it is thought of in connection with the body, but that spirit is used to refer to the same identical nature of man viewed in relation to God, who is pure Spirit.
The understanding of this most important subject enables one to avoid many serious and grave errors and heresies which grow out of a forced interpretation of I Thessalonians 5:23,25 and Hebrews 4:12.
IV. WHENCE THE SOUL OR SPIRIT OF MAN
There are three leading theories regarding this question.
A. The Hypothesis Of Pre-existence
This theory was held by some of the outstanding Greek philosophers, such as Plato. Philo the Jew, and Origen--one of the great Church Fathers in the early Christian centuries-likewise espoused this view. Kant, Julius Mueller, and Edward Beecher in modern times accepted this position. B. The Creation Hypothesis
Plato and those of his school of thought believed in the great archetype of all things. To them there was the great world of ideas that was the pattern after which material things were shaped. This philosophical contention lay at the base of the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul or its pre-existence. Some modern philosophers think that our intuitions are due to experiences in a former state. Some modern poets have expressed the same views. There is nothing in the Scriptures to support such fantastic ideas. In fact, the Bible is positively against this position. As we have already seen, it affirms that God created man in His image. Paul traced man's present condition back to Adam's sin. To assert the pre-existence of the soul is simply to throw back the question of transgression into a former state and to charge God with allowing the soul to be placed in the flesh under different circumstances which are most unfavorable to his development and advancement. The theory explains nothing; it simply befogs the entire issue. We shall therefore dismiss it as unscientific.
Aristotle, among Greek philosophers, and such men as Jerome of the early Latin Church Fathers, together with some Roman Catholic and Reformed theologians, held to this view, which asserts that there is a pure soul created directly by the Almighty and is placed in the body of the child either at conception, at birth, or between those two events. Those seeking support of this contention from the Scriptures call attention to certain passages which speak of God and of His being the Father of Spirits, of the one who formed the spirit of man within him. Such expressions do not prove that which is claimed. God is said to form the body of man. For instance, in Psalm 139:13,14 this fact is asserted. The Almighty spoke to Jeremiah and said that he formed his body in the womb (Jer. 1:5). Does He create by such an act the body of each individual? The facts prove exactly the opposite. Animals propagate their kind both as to body and the limited intellect that they have. To assert that man propagates the fleshly part of his being, but that God created a spirit for each person thus begotten is to place the brute creation on a higher plane than man. Such a thought as this is inconceivable. Other and more serious objections can be brought against this hypothesis, but this discussion must suffice.
* I am perfectly aware of various theories concerning the soul, which are built upon a materialistic conception of man. The facts of everyday experience disprove them. Hence I pass them by without further consideration.
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