Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
THE BIBLE reveals a great deal about the nature of man, yet few subjects seem to be more misunderstood. Science says that man is an animal of the highest order – homo sapiens. Science here agrees with the Scriptures which declare of our first parents, “The first man is of the earth, earthy” (1 Corinthians 15: 47). Psalm 8: 5 states that man was made a little lower than the angels – angels in the narrow sense of that word (Romans 8: 38) – being the lowest order of spirit beings. Man is not spiritual or heavenly. The earth, not heaven, was made to be his home (Psalm 115: 16).
Genesis 2: 7 declares that God formed man of the dust of the earth; and after man’s transgression had brought him under Divine condemnation of death, his Creator said to him, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3: 19). We note that his fall was from an earthy condition of perfection to a dying condition of imperfection. The Bible teaches that if man had not sinned, his life would have been everlasting, in earthly perfection, his home being an earthly Paradise in which he would have enjoyed the blessing and fellowship of his Maker. But how strange it seems that most of the civilized world declares to the contrary, that the real man is a spirit being, and that his death is merely an evolutionary step by which he passes on to live in his real nature as a spirit. However, according to the creeds, such an evolution from human nature to spirit nature at death is a decided disadvantage, because they teach that the vast majority will be tortured, either purgatorially or eternally.
But why have the majority in Christendom accepted this belief, contrary to the Scriptures? And why have many in the scientific community taken up this subject, using the term Psychic Phenomena, which is really Spiritism? The Bible answers that Satan has blinded the minds of practically the entire world (2 Corinthians 4: 4), causing them to believe his lies (Genesis 3: 4, 5). [For a complete and detailed examination of this subject, please see our section Hope Beyond the Grave, Study 9: Satan and His Empire, and Study 10: Fallen Angels and the Dangers of Spiritism.]
On the contrary, the Bible teaches the true nature of the death sentence and man’s hope of recovery out of death by a resurrection:
Psalm 90: 3: “Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men."
Isaiah 2: 22: “Cease ye from man, whose breath [of life] is in his nostrils.”
Job 14: 14, 15: “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of mine appointed time will I wait, till my [resurrection] change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee [awakening from the sleep of death]: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." Acts 24: 15: “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”
Undoubtedly much of the theological confusion surrounding this subject began in part through misunderstanding the Bible teachings respecting the Church – applying things said concerning the Church to the world, to whom they did not apply. The Bible reveals that in this Gospel Age, two classes gain salvation to the spirit plane – the Church, who gain life on the highest plane, the Divine nature; and the Great Company, who gain life on a spirit plane, similar to that of the angels. Both classes together are spoken of as the “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12: 23).
The Church was typified in the priesthood of natural Israel, and the Great Company was pictured in the Levites, who assisted the priests as servants. The remainder of the tribes of Israel represented the world of mankind who will ultimately be saved, not to a heavenly state or condition, but as men to a restored earthly condition.
The work accomplished by our Redeemer at Calvary was a preparatory one. His death provided the Ransom-price for Father Adam, and hence for all Adam’s race who share his condemnation. The work of selecting the various elect classes, the chief of them being the Church, has also been a preparatory one. They shall be God’s agents in the blessing of the world. When these elect classes have all been selected, the salvation of the world will begin – restitution from sin and death conditions (Acts 3: 19-21).
But the Bible does not teach the universal salvation of our race to eternal life. Man was created in God’s image and likeness, and an essential feature of His likeness in man is the freedom of his will. God intends to educate man’s will, allowing it to develop along the lines of experience, so that it may voluntarily submit to the Divine will because it appreciates the wisdom of all the Divine arrangements, regulations, laws, etc. All of Adam’s race who choose to do so, will be restored to all that was lost by Adam and redeemed at Calvary.
During the Millennial Age all will be on trial for eternal life or eternal death. Those who refuse the conditions of heart loyalty and obedience will bring upon themselves afresh the sentence of death. But this second sentence will differ from the first, not in the kind of punishment, but in its duration. God had foreordained that the first, or Adamic death, should be set aside through the sacrifice of The Lamb of God, making possible a full trial for everlasting life. But willful sinners, under the light and opportunity of that day, when condemned to death, will die without any hope for redemption or a resurrection. St. Peter declares, they shall perish like “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed” (2 Peter 2: 12).
Psalm 8: 5-8 describe the glorious condition of perfect manhood as represented in Father Adam before his fall into sin, of Jesus at His consecration and ultimately by the restored race at the close of Jesus’ Millennial reign. Not only will the restored race be perfect in all their faculties and possess perfect characters, but man will again become king of the earth, just as God is King of the universe. The lower animals – beasts, cattle, birds and fish – will all become man’s willing servants. Man will control the earth and all its processes by understanding and manipulating the laws of nature for his comfort and blessing.
Since Father Adam’s fall into sin, man has continued to deteriorate over the centuries, yet we stand in amazement at his accomplishments. The Great Pyramid in Egypt is an unparalleled monument that could perhaps not be surpassed today, even with all our modern machinery. Also impressive are some of the temples of India and China, the museums of Athens and the various treasures of art throughout the world. Looking over the past century, we marvel at some of the architectural and engineering feats – palatial homes, grand hotels, skyscrapers, stadiums, roadways, bridges, tunnels, vehicles of travel on land, water and in the air, space exploration, computers, etc. We might reflect, If man in his fallen condition has learned gradually to accomplish so much, what may we reasonably expect would have been the ultimate capacity of perfect man had sin not entered into the world, and had the experience of centuries been accumulating in many brains! By now how wonderful a being Father Adam might have been!
Yet this is the prospect for the faithful restitution class. Perhaps we can better visualize the image of God in Adam, if we imagine a man who united in his own person in a still higher measure the qualities of the most talented and best of mankind – one who would surpass in the perceptive powers Darwin, in reasoning powers Sir Isaac Newton, in powers of poetry Shakespeare, in vocal powers Caruso, in oratorical powers Demosthenes, in architectural powers Michael Angelo, in powers of musical composition Bach, in powers of instrumental music Rubenstein, in fatherliness David, in benevolence Lincoln, in faith Abraham, in hope Peter, in courage Samson, in love and tenderness John, in patience and zeal Paul, and in meekness and humility Moses, just to name a few. Add to these capacities more than the physical strength of Samson and more than the physical handsomeness of the most beauteous Greek, and we get a fair idea of the image of God in Adam. But this is only the beginning, for in the eternal Ages of glory, man will continue to develop and expand his already perfect human powers. We stand in awe of the goodness and mercy of our benevolent Creator! May we ever praise and thank Him!
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