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WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT
According to the Bible, man is the highest form of earthly life and is a product of the Creator, Jehovah God. The first man, Adam, was formed out of dust from the ground, and God breathed into him the breath of life, and he became a living soul (Genesis 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:45). After naming the animals, God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and took one of his ribs to make the woman, Eve (Genesis 2:21-23).
In the Bible, there are a number of Hebrew and Greek terms that refer to man, including “man,” “human,” “earthling man,” “mankind,” “individual,” “husband,” “mortal man,” “able-bodied man,” and “male.” These terms emphasize the various aspects of man’s nature and identity.
The apostle Paul testified to man’s creation by Jehovah God when he told the Athenians that God made out of one man every nation of men to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth (Acts 17:26). This means that all nations and races have a common origin in Adam and Eve, who were created by God.
Overall, the Bible teaches that man is a unique and special creation of God, made in His image and with a purpose to glorify Him. Man’s identity and value come from his relationship with God and his role as a steward over the earth.
According to the Bible, Adam and Eve were created toward the end of the sixth creative day, which means that there are no actual records of ancient man, his writing, agriculture, and other pursuits extending into the past before 4000 B.C.E., the date of Adam’s creation. This means that there can be no such thing as “prehistoric man” since the Scriptures outline man’s history from the very creation of the first human pair.
Furthermore, there is no fossil record that provides a link between man and animals. Additionally, there is a total absence of reference to any subhumans in man’s earliest records, whether these be written documents, cave drawings, sculptures, or the like. Instead, the Scriptures make it clear that man was originally a son of God and that he has degenerated over time.
Archaeologist O. D. Miller observed that the tradition of the “golden age” was not a myth, and that the old doctrine of a subsequent decadence of the human race from an original state of happiness and purity undoubtedly embodied a great but lamentable truth. He also noted that modern philosophies of history, which begin with the primeval man as a savage, evidently need a new introduction since the primeval man was not a savage.
According to the Bible, man’s original home was a garden in Eden, which was located in a relatively near place to the site of mankind’s early post-Flood civilization. The Bible does not provide specific geographical coordinates for the location of the Garden of Eden, but scholars generally accept that it was located in the Mesopotamian plain, which is considered the oldest home of man.
Archaeological evidence and traditions of men also point to the Mesopotamian plain as the cradle of civilization. As P. J. Wiseman observed, “All the real evidence we have, that of Genesis, archaeology, and the traditions of men, points to the Mesopotamian plain as the oldest home of man.” The Far Eastern civilizations, such as Chinese or Indian, cannot compete with this land in the antiquity of its peoples, as the Mesopotamian plain can easily sustain its claim to be the cradle of civilization.
Made In the Image of God
The Bible teaches that human beings are the highest form of earthly life and a product of the Creator, Jehovah God. According to Genesis 2:7 and 1 Corinthians 15:45, Jehovah formed the first man, Adam, out of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. After Adam named the animals, God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him and used one of his ribs to create the first woman, Eve. Therefore, when Adam saw Eve, he said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-23)
There are several Hebrew and Greek terms used to refer to humans, including ʼA·dhamʹ, which means “man; human; earthling man; mankind” (generic), ʼish, which means “man; an individual; a husband”, and anʹthro·pos in Greek, which means “man; mankind” (generic). The Scriptures testify to man’s creation by Jehovah God, and the apostle Paul even told the Athenians that God “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” (Acts 17:26)
The Bible also teaches that man was created in God’s image, according to Genesis 1:26-27. This means that man was created with moral qualities like those of God, such as love and justice, and has powers and wisdom above those of animals, such as the ability to appreciate beauty and the arts, speak and reason. Furthermore, man is capable of spirituality, of knowing and having communication with God, as 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 and Hebrews 12:9 show.
However, man’s original perfection was marred by sin, which entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s command in the garden of Eden. This is reflected in 1 Kings 8:46, Ecclesiastes 7:20, and 1 John 1:8-10. While humans still bear God’s image, they are also subject to sin and its consequences.
In terms of gender, the Bible teaches that man and woman were created with different roles and responsibilities in God’s arrangement. According to 1 Corinthians 11:3-7, the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. This is not meant to diminish the value or worth of women, as they, too, bear God’s image and are called to serve him. However, it does establish a hierarchy of authority in the family and in the church.
Man Has Free Will
According to Genesis 1:26-27, God created man in His own image and likeness, granting him a free will to choose between good and evil. This is further supported by Luke 3:38, which calls Adam a “son of God,” indicating a relationship of son to father. However, Adam’s freedom was not absolute, as it was contingent on his acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty, which was demonstrated by his obedience to God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17).
Despite being created with the innate desire to render worship to God, Adam and Eve’s rebellion against Jehovah resulted in their loss of sonship and perfection, and they introduced sin, imperfection, and death to their offspring, the entire human race (Genesis 3:1-6, 17-19; Romans 5:12). Paul later described in Romans 1:20-23 how humans have become like those who exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped created things rather than the Creator, resulting in their degradation.
Therefore, while man was originally created in God’s image with the freedom of choice to do good or bad, sin and rebellion against God have resulted in the imperfection and death of humanity. It should be noted that free will has always been relative, not absolute. Again, man’s freedom is under the umbrella of the sovereignty of God. Even perfect Adam and Eve could not use their freedom for badness, anything contrary to God’s will and purposes.
The Man We Are Within
The Bible uses the expression “the man I am within,” “the man we are inside,” and similar phrases to speak of the conflict of the Christian, including that with the fallen, sinful flesh. (Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16) This is because Christians have been “made new in the force actuating [their] mind,” and their driving force or inclination of the mind is in a spiritual direction. (Ephesians 4:23) They strive to “strip off the old self [old man]” and put on the “new self [new one].” (Colossians 3:9, 10; Romans 12:2)
Born-again Christians are baptized into Christ and have been “baptized into his death.” The old self has been crucified so that the “sinful body might be made inactive.” However, until their death in the flesh and their resurrection, the fleshly body still fights against the ‘spiritual man.’ It is a difficult contest, and Paul acknowledges that “In this dwelling house we do indeed groan.” But the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ covers the sins of the old personality with fleshly desires working in its members unless these Christians give in and deliberately go the way of the flesh. (Romans 6:3-7; 7:21-25; 8:23; 2 Corinthians 5:1-3)
The Spiritual Man
The concept of the spiritual man is a central teaching of the Bible. The spiritual man is one who has been born again, regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, and who lives by faith in Christ. He is no longer controlled by his sinful nature but is led by the Holy Spirit. (Ro 8:5-9) The spiritual man is not soulical but has a new nature, a new life in Christ. (2Co 5:17) He has been set free from the law of sin and death and has been made alive in Christ. (Ro 8:2) The spiritual man is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23) He is a new creation in Christ, and his old self has passed away. (2Co 5:17)
The spiritual man is able to understand the things of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit reveals them to him. (1Co 2:14-16) He is able to discern spiritual truths and distinguish between good and evil. (Heb 5:14) He can also pray in the Spirit, worship God in spirit and truth, and serve God with spiritual gifts. (John 4:23-24; Ro 12:6-8; 1Co 12:4-11)
The spiritual man is imperfect and still struggles with sin and temptation. (Rom. 7:14-25) But he is able to overcome sin through the power of the Holy Spirit, and he is able to walk in obedience to God’s will. (Rom. 8:12-14) He can also bear witness to the truth and share the gospel with others, for the Holy Spirit empowers him to do so. (Ac 1:8)
In summary, the spiritual man is one who has been born again, regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, and who lives by faith in Christ. The fruit of the Spirit characterizes him and is able to understand the things of the Spirit. He is not perfect, but he is able to overcome sin and bear witness to the truth.
From Creation to the Fall to the Hope
The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God. This means that we reflect God’s character, attributes, and nature. In Genesis 1:26-27, it says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,’ … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This means that all human beings have inherent value and dignity because we are created in God’s image.
However, after the Fall in the Garden of Eden, humans became separated from God and sin entered the world. This resulted in a spiritual and moral condition of brokenness and separation from God. As Genesis 6:5 says, “Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Jeremiah 17:9 also says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Despite this, humans still have the ability to make moral choices and are responsible for our actions. We are free moral agents, capable of making decisions for ourselves. This is seen in Deuteronomy 30:19, where God says, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”
Furthermore, the Bible teaches that there is a spiritual dimension to our existence. In Romans 8:5-8, it says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires… The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” As spiritual beings, we have the capacity for a relationship with God and the ability to experience spiritual transformation through the Holy Spirit.
Finally, the Bible teaches that there is hope for humanity. In John 3:16, it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be reconciled to God and experience new life. Revelation 21:4 also promises, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” This hope gives us a reason to live and to strive towards becoming the best version of ourselves.
Humanity as an Apologetic Argument
While it is true that the Bible presents humanity as a powerful apologetic argument for the Christian faith, it is important to note that this perspective is not the only one that the Bible presents. There are many other aspects of human beings that are discussed in the Scriptures, including our fallibility, our sinfulness, and our need for redemption.
That being said, the Bible does indeed present humanity as a remarkable and awe-inspiring creation of God. Psalm 139:14 proclaims, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” This verse highlights the intricate and complex nature of the human body, which points to the creativity and genius of the Creator God.
Furthermore, the Bible teaches that humans were created to exercise dominion over the created order (Genesis 1:26). This means that we were created to have a special role in stewarding and caring for God’s creation, reflecting God’s kingship over the universe. This role is fully realized in the mediation of Christ Jesus, who is the perfect example of what it means to exercise godly dominion (Ephesians 1:10).
Additionally, the Bible teaches that humans were created male and female for a one-flesh union resulting in offspring (Genesis 1:27-28). This union foreshadows the reality of the Christ/church relationship, which is described in Ephesians 5:22-33. This passage presents marriage as a picture of the self-giving love and sacrifice that characterize the relationship between Christ and the church.
Overall, while the Bible certainly presents humanity as a powerful apologetic argument for the Christian faith, it is important to remember that this is just one aspect of the Bible’s teachings on human beings. The Scriptures also present a nuanced and multifaceted view of humanity that acknowledges our flaws and our need for redemption.
The Human Conscience Bears Witness
The Bible indeed teaches that the human conscience bears witness to the content and rightness of the law of the Creator. This is seen in Romans 2:14-15, which says, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”
This passage highlights the fact that all human beings, regardless of whether they have received the written law of God, have a moral compass within them that points towards the existence of a transcendent code of law. Even those who have not received the written law of God are still accountable for their actions because their conscience bears witness to the requirements of the law.
Additionally, as the Apostle Paul points out in Romans 2:16, the human conscience points beyond itself to a day of reckoning. This means that when humans make moral choices, they are acknowledging that they know of a day in which God will judge all the secrets of the heart. This understanding of a future day of judgment underscores the reality of accountability before God for our actions and decisions.
It is important to note, however, that while the human conscience can serve as a guide to right and wrong, it is not infallible. As James 4:17 reminds us, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” This means that even if we have a sense of what is right and wrong, we are still capable of making choices that go against God’s standards. Therefore, we must always seek to align our consciences with the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Something Distinct about Humanness
The Bible indeed teaches that fallen human beings have a sense that there is something distinctive about us that sets us apart from the rest of the created order. This is reflected in the fact that even though Darwinians may speak of humans as just another kind of animal, and some psychologists may try to explain our behavior on the basis of evolutionary mechanisms, people still have a sense that we are more than just biological beings.
This is seen in the fact that humans have a common rationality, morality, and search for meaning that sets us apart from the rest of the created order. These qualities point towards the fact that we have been created in the image of God and have a special place in the universe. This is why the Bible calls on us to appeal to the minds and consciences of unbelievers, even though their minds may be blinded and their consciences calloused.
In 2 Corinthians 4:4, the Apostle Paul says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” This passage acknowledges the fact that unbelievers may be blinded to the truth of the gospel, but it also points towards the fact that the gospel has the power to open their eyes to the truth.
Similarly, in 1 Timothy 4:2, Paul warns against those who “have been seared as with a hot iron” in their consciences. This means that their consciences have become calloused to the point where they are no longer sensitive to the truth of God’s word. However, this does not mean that we should give up on appealing to their consciences, as the Holy Spirit has the power to soften even the hardest hearts and to bring about repentance and faith.
In summary, the Bible teaches that fallen humans have a sense that there is something distinctive about us that sets us apart from the rest of the created order, even though our minds may be blinded and our consciences calloused. It is our job as believers to appeal to the minds and consciences of unbelievers and to share with them the truth of the gospel, trusting that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes to the truth.
Biblical Witness over Secular Witnesses
The biblical witness about human beings does indeed stand in stark contrast with other belief systems. The Bible presents a unique view of humanity that sets us apart from other religions and worldviews. Here are some of the key differences:
- Unlike some Eastern religions, the Bible does not present the life of a human being as a cycle of incarnations or affirm the preexistence of disembodied human spirits. Instead, the Bible presents a linear view of history that culminates in the redemption of humanity through Jesus Christ.
- Unlike many nature religions, the Bible does not present humanity as part of the larger “life force” of nature. Instead, humans are seen as distinct from the rest of creation and called to govern it as stewards under God.
- Unlike Islam, which emphasizes the sovereignty of God over all human actions, the Bible affirms the freedom and responsibility of human beings as moral creatures before a God whose image they reflect.
- Unlike many psychological theories, which reduce human motivations and actions to unconscious desires or habitual patterns, the Bible presents humans as rational and moral agents with the capacity for meaningful choices.
- Unlike Marxism and libertarian capitalism, which reduce human longings to material needs or desires, the Bible presents the human heart as desiring far more than material possessions.
- Unlike Gnosticism or feminism, which reject the goodness and permanence of sexual differentiation, the Bible affirms the equal worth of the sexes as image bearers of God and presents men as sacrificial heads of families and leaders of tribes.
- In contrast to rival belief systems, the Bible presents human beings as distinct from a nature they are called to govern, free to act according to their natures, responsible for actions before the tribunal of Christ, and created for conformity to the image of Jesus as joint heirs of a glorious new creation.
- The doctrine of the image of God grants value to every human life, regardless of its vulnerability or stage of development, and stands in eternal hostility to any form of racial bigotry or nation-state idolatry.
Overall, the biblical view of human beings affirms the inherent dignity and worth of every person as created in the image of God while also recognizing our fallenness and need for redemption through Christ. This view stands in contrast to other belief systems that either diminish or distort the significance of human life.
Even Human Depravity Serves as a Witness
The Bible’s teaching on human depravity stands in contrast to belief systems that are more optimistic about human nature, such as Mormonism, Scientology, or secularism. These belief systems tend to view humans as fundamentally good and capable of achieving perfection through self-improvement or other means. However, the Bible presents a more realistic view of human nature, which acknowledges the reality of sin and our need for redemption through Christ.
The biblical teaching on sin helps to explain how educated, rational, and loving persons can still engage in cruelty, violence, and hatred. This is because sin has affected every aspect of human nature, including our thoughts, desires, and actions. As Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This means that even the best of us are still affected by sin and need the forgiveness and transformation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the biblical teaching on sin also answers one of the most persistent charges against the truthfulness of Christianity: Christian hypocrisy. The fact that Christians, who claim to follow Christ, still struggle with sin and make mistakes is often used as evidence against the truthfulness of Christianity. However, the Bible teaches that all humans are sinners, and Christians are not exempt from this reality. In fact, Christians are often more acutely aware of their sinfulness and need for grace than non-believers. Therefore, Christian hypocrisy is not evidence against the truthfulness of Christianity but rather an acknowledgement of the ongoing struggle with sin that all believers face.
In summary, the Bible’s teaching on human depravity provides a realistic view of human nature that acknowledges the reality of sin and our need for redemption through Christ. This view contrasts with more optimistic views of human nature found in other belief systems. The biblical teaching on sin also helps to explain how even the best of us can still struggle with sin, and it answers charges of Christian hypocrisy by acknowledging the ongoing struggle with sin that all believers face.
World Religion Ideologies Are a Witness for God and the Bible
The prevalence of world religions and ideologies actually serves as an apologetic argument for Christian claims. The Bible teaches that the universal instinct to worship and interpret reality is grounded in the revelation of God and that the suppression of this truth leads to diverse idolatries (Romans 1:18-32). Therefore, it is not surprising that literally every human civilization in history has had some practice of worship.
However, it is also important to note that cults, world religions, and even secular ideologies often ape some aspects of Christian truth. This is because the truth of God is imprinted on every human heart, even if it is often suppressed or distorted. This is seen in the fact that many world religions and ideologies share common themes such as the existence of a higher power, the need for redemption or salvation, and the importance of morality and ethics.
Moreover, the ancient book of Ecclesiastes illustrates how the human quest for sensual gratification, material abundance, or the wielding of power apart from the Creator’s purposes leads to despair. This is because human beings were created to find their ultimate fulfillment and purpose in relationship with God. When we seek to satisfy our deepest longings apart from God, we inevitably fall short and experience a sense of emptiness and despair.
In light of these truths, we can see that the prevalence of world religions and ideologies actually supports the Christian claim that there is a universal search for meaning and purpose that is ultimately grounded in the revelation of God. It also highlights the need for the redemption and transformation that is made possible through faith in Jesus Christ.