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STUDY 10: SPIRITUAL AND HUMAN NATURES

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

MANY Christians fail to see that God’s plan for mankind in general is restitution to their former

estate – the human perfection lost in Eden – and that the Christian Church, which is an exception

to this general plan, is to have a change of nature from human to spiritual. The common

Christian belief has been, and continues to be, that none will be saved except those who reach

the spiritual nature. The Scriptures, however, hold out promises of life, blessing and restitution to

all the families of the earth, but only promise the spiritual nature to the Church. Mankind, when

saved from all the degradation, weakness, pain, misery and death which result from sin, and

restored to human perfection, will be as completely saved from the fall as the Church who

become “partakers of the divine nature.”

 

Failure to correctly understand what a perfect man is, misapprehension of the terms mortal and

immortal, and wrong ideas of justice, have led to error. A common, though wrong view, is that a

perfect man has never existed, that man is only partially developed and that to attain perfection,

he must become spiritual.

 

The Scriptures teach that there have been two perfect men – Adam and Jesus. Adam was created

an earthly image of God, possessing qualities of the same kind, though differing widely in

degree, range and scope. Also, as God is ruler over all things, so man was made a ruler over all

earthly things (Genesis 1: 26, 31).

 

Man Created to remain Human

 

In Psalm 8: 5-8, David refers to man in his original estate, and prophesies that God has not

abandoned His original plan to have man in His own image and the king of earth, and that He

will remember him, redeem him and restore him to the same again. Paul, in Hebrews 2: 7, calls

attention to the same fact, and then adds, We see not this restitution yet, but we do see the first

step God is taking toward its accomplishment. We see Jesus crowned with this glory and honor

of perfect manhood, that He, as a fitting ransom or substitute might by God’s favor taste death

for every man, and thus prepare the way for the restitution of man to all that was lost.

 

 When Hebrews 2: 7 says that man was made “a little lower than the angels,” it means that man

was made a little lower in degree, but not less perfect than the angels. For example, a perfect

horse would be lower than a perfect man, etc. There are various natures, both animate and

inanimate. To illustrate, we arrange the following table:

 

Spiritual Being:              Earthly Being:              Vegetable:              Mineral:

Divine                              Human                            Trees                       Gold

_____                               Brute                               Shrubs                     Silver

_____                               Fowl                               Grasses                    Copper

Angelic                             Fish                                Mosses                     Iron

 

Each of the minerals mentioned may be pure, yet gold ranks the highest. Though each of the

orders of plants should be brought to perfection, they would still differ in nature and rank.

Likewise with animals: if each species should be brought to perfection, there would still be

variety. The grades of spiritual being, also, though perfect, stand related to each other as higher

and lower in nature or kind, the divine nature being the highest and superior to all other spiritual

natures.

 

While the classes named in the above table are distinct and separate, yet we may compare them

thus: The highest grade of mineral is inferior to, or a little lower than the lowest grade of

vegetable, because there is life in vegetation. So the highest grade of vegetable is a little lower

than the lowest grade of animal life because even the lowest form of animal life is conscious of

its existence. Likewise, man, though the highest of animal or earthly beings, is “a little lower

than the angels,” because angels are spiritual or heavenly beings.

 

There is a great contrast between man at present, degraded by sin, and the perfect man that God

made in His image. But though thus degraded by sin and its penalty, death, working in him –

man is to be restored to his original perfection of mind and body, and to glory, honor and

dominion, during and by the Millennial reign of Christ. The things that he lost through Adam’s

transgression are to be restored by and through Christ (Romans 5: 18, 19). Man did not lose a

heavenly but an earthly paradise. He did not lose a spiritual but a human existence; and all that

was lost was purchased back by His Redeemer (Luke 19: 10).

 

Our Lord became a Perfect Man

 

A strong proof that perfect man is not a spiritual being is the fact that our Lord, before becoming

a man, was “in a form of God’ – a spirit being; but in order to become a ransom for mankind, he

had to be a man, of the same nature as the sinner whose substitute in death he was to become. It

was therefore necessary that His nature be changed, and Paul tells us that He did not take the

nature of angels, one step lower than His own, but came down two steps and took the nature of

men – He became a man; He was “made flesh” (Hebrews 2: 16) (Philippians 2: 7, 8)

(John 1: 14).

 

This teaches that the angelic nature is not the only order of spirit being, that it is lower than that

of our Lord before He became a man; and He was not then so high as He is now, for “God . . .

hath highly exalted him” because of His obedience in becoming man’s willing ransom

(Philippians 2: 8, 9). He is now of the highest order of spirit being, a partaker of the divine

(God’s) nature. We also note that our Lord did not take the imperfect human nature as we now

possess it, but the perfect human nature, a man in the full vigor of perfection.

 

Jesus must have been a perfect man otherwise He could not have kept God’s perfect law, and

could not have therefore given a ransom for the forfeited life of the perfect man Adam. A perfect

man was tried, failed and condemned; and only a perfect man could give the corresponding price

[Greek: anti-lutron] as the Redeemer.

 

Neither was Jesus a combination of the two natures – human and spiritual. When Jesus was in

the flesh He was a perfect human being. At thirty years of age He consecrated His life unto

death, and then received the earnest of His inheritance of the divine nature (Matthew 3: 16, 17).

And not until He had completed His sacrifice, even unto death, did our Lord Jesus become a

partaker of the divine nature.

 

Jesus experienced two changes of nature: First, from spiritual to human, and afterward, from

human to the divine nature. In each case the one was given up for the other.

 

The Potential of Human Perfection

 

When man is restored to perfection, his perfect faculties and powers may be exercised

indefinitely, and upon new and varied objects of interest; and knowledge and skill may be vastly

increased, but his nature will not change, nor will he become more than perfect. It will be only

the expanding and developing of his perfect human powers. Increase of knowledge and skill will

be man’s blessed privilege to all eternity as he learns to use more fully the powers of human

nature he already possesses. He will have no hope or desire for a higher nature, for he will be

perfectly happy with his condition.

 

Rightly dividing the Word of truth, we observe two separate things: The perfection of the divine

nature in the “little flock,” and the perfection of the human nature in the restored world.

 

We might ask, What are spirit beings? What are their powers? And by what laws are they

governed? Paul states that there is a spiritual body, as well as a natural (human) body; a celestial

as well as a terrestrial; and a glory of the earthly as well as of the heavenly, separate and distinct

from each other (1 Corinthians 15: 38-49). We know something about the natural body, which

we now possess, but we can only more or less estimate the glory of its perfection. It is flesh,

blood and bones, and since the spiritual body is different, it must be composed of other

substances (John 3: 6) (1 John 3: 2).

 

The only record of a being changing natures is that of the Son of God, and that was for an

exceptional purpose. God evidently created angels to remain angels forever, and so with men,

each being perfect on his own plane. There is a pleasing and almost endless variety in the

inanimate creation, so in the living and intelligent creation the same variety in perfection is

possible.

 

Characteristics of the Spiritual Nature

 

By examining the Scriptural account of our Lord after His resurrection, and of angels, we learn

first, that angels can be and frequently are present, yet invisible (Psalm 34: 7) (Hebrews 1: 14).

 

Secondly, angels can assume human bodies and appear as men. Abraham entertained the Lord

and two angels who appeared to him as men, and only when they were about to depart did he

discover who they were (Genesis 18: 1, 2). An angel appeared to Gideon as a man

(Judges 6: 11-22), and an angel appeared to the father and mother of Samson (Judges 13: 20).

 

Thirdly, spirit beings are glorious in their normal condition, frequently being referred to as glorious and bright. The angel who rolled away the stone from Jesus’ sepulcher was “as the

lightning.” Daniel caught a glimpse of a spiritual body, and fell before him as a dead man

(Daniel 10: 6, 10, 15, 17). Saul of Tarsus caught a similar glimpse of Christ’s glorious body

shining above the brightness of the sun at noonday, whereby He lost his sight and fell to the

ground.

 

Let us examine the terms:

 

Mortality and Immortality

 

Mortality is defined as a state or condition of liability to death; not a condition of death, but a

condition in which death is a possibility.

 

Immortality is defined as a state or condition not liable to death; not merely a condition of

freedom from death, but a condition in which death is an impossibility.

 

Mortality is commonly, but erroneously thought of as a state or condition in which death is

unavoidable, whereas the common idea of immortality is more nearly correct.

 

The word immortal signifies not mortal, indicating their true definitions. Because of wrong ideas

on the word mortal, there is confusion as to whether Adam was mortal or immortal before his

transgression. Had he been immortal, God would not have said, “In the day that thou eatest

thereof thou shalt surely die”; because it is impossible for an immortal being to die. On the other

hand, they say, Had he been mortal, why the threat, “Thou shalt surely die”; since if mortal

(according to their wrong definition) he could not have avoided death anyhow?

 

Adam Created Mortal

 

The problem is in the false meaning given to the word mortality. Adam was mortal – in a

condition in which death was a possibility, yet not inherent life. He possessed perfect life,

sustained by “every tree of the garden” except for the forbidden one. As long as he continued

obedient to his Maker, his life would be continued.

 

We ask, If Adam was mortal, was he on trial for immortality? We answer, No. He was promised

a continuance of the blessings then enjoyed so long as obedient, and threatened with death if

disobedient. Angels are never spoken of as immortal, nor will restored mankind be immortal.

One proof that angels are not immortal is the fact that Satan, who was once a chief angel, is to be

destroyed (Hebrews 2: 14). Only those of the divine nature will ever be immortal – God, the

original possessor of immortality; our Lord Jesus; and the Church (1 Timothy 6: 16) (John 5: 26)

(2 Peter 1: 4) (1 Corinthians 15: 53, 54).

 

A proper understanding of the words mortal and immortal destroys the doctrine of eternal

torment, which is based upon the theory that God created man immortal, and therefore cannot

destroy him. The argument is that the incorrigible must live on somewhere and somehow, and

since they are out of harmony with God, their eternity must be one of misery. But God’s Word

assures us that man is mortal, and that the penalty of fully willful sin is the second death – “The

soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18: 20).

 

“Who Art Thou that Repliest Against God?” Romans 9: 20

 

Some have the mistaken idea that justice requires that God should make no difference in

granting His favors to His creatures, so long as they do not forfeit their rights. If this principle is

correct, it means that God had no right to grant Jesus and the Church the divine nature, unless He

intends to do the same for all angels and for all men. But where then would we see the pleasing

variety in His creation? But such is not His plan. God apparently loves variety, for all nature,

both animate and inanimate, expresses the glory and diversity of His power and wisdom.

 

A favor is not a justly merited reward, yet God is continually blessing His creatures with

unmerited favors, which should call forth their love and praise in return. God had a right, if He

chose, to have made us creatures for a brief space of time, even if we had never sinned, and then

have blotted us out of existence, as with some of His lower creatures. Even that would have been

a favor, in fact, it is a favor to have an existence at all. How much greater favor is the redemption

of our existence, which was forfeited by sin!

 

By God’s favor we are human beings and not beasts; by God’s favor angels are a little higher

than men; and by God’s favor our Lord Jesus and His Bride become partakers of the divine

nature. All of His intelligent creatures should be grateful for whatever God bestows. A man has

no right to aspire to be an angel, nor does an angel have any right to aspire to the divine nature.

Satan’s pride aspired to a higher position, which will end in his destruction (Isaiah 14: 14)

(Luke 14: 11).

 

Election as taught in the Scriptures has been the subject of much misunderstanding. God has

elected or chosen that some of His creatures should be angels, some should be men, some should

be beasts, birds, insects, etc., and that some should be of His own divine nature. Though God

selects those that will be admitted to the divine nature according to certain conditions, we cannot

say that these merit it more than others. He passed by angels who had not sinned, and instead

called some of the redeemed sinners to divine honors – God has the right to do as He pleases

with His own (Romans 9: 20, 21) (Isaiah 45: 11, 12, 18).

 

A Beautiful Picture

 

God’s Word declares that the human race is to be restored to that glorious perfection and

dominion over earth that its representative, Adam, had (Acts 3: 19-21). And what a glorious

portion! Close your eyes for a moment to the scenes of misery and woe, degradation and sorrow

that yet prevail on account of sin, and picture before your mental vision the glory of the perfect

earth. Not a stain of sin mars the harmony and peace of a perfect society; not a bitter thought, not

an unkind look or word; love, welling up from every heart, meets a kindred response in every

other heart, and benevolence marks every act. There sickness shall be no more; not an ache nor a

pain, nor any evidence of decay – not even the fear of such things. Think of all the pictures of

comparative health and beauty of human form and feature that you have ever seen, and know

that perfect humanity will be of still surpassing loveliness. The inward purity and mental and

moral perfection will stamp and glorify every radiant countenance. Such will earth’s society be;

and weeping bereaved ones will have their tears all wiped away, when thus they realize the

resurrection work complete (Revelation 21: 4).

 

And this is the change in human society only. The entire earth will be a paradise, as represented

in Eden; the lower animal creation will be perfect, willing and obedient servants; and nature with

all its pleasing variety, will call to man from every direction to seek and know the glory and

power and love of God; and mind and heart will rejoice in Him.

 

The Christian Church is an exception to God’s general plan for mankind (Romans 8: 28-31).

These verses show that God elected that a class should be selected for a purpose, within a

specific time – the Gospel age, but He did not elect the individual members of the Church. The

selection of each member would be based upon conditions of severe trials of faith, obedience

and the sacrifice of earthly privileges, etc., even unto death. God first made a general call –

“many are called.” The call was first confined to Israel after the flesh, and eventually was

opened to the Gentiles. But all are not worthy – it is only for the called, chosen and faithful

(Revelation 14: 1) (Revelation 17: 14).

 

The Church’s Change from Human to Divine

 

We might ask, What is the process by which the members of the Church were changed from the

human to the divine nature? We could liken it to the beginning and development of human life.

As with humans there is a begetting and then a birth, so also in the other. The saints were first

begotten of God through the Word of Truth (1 Peter 1: 3) (1 John 5: 18) (James 1: 18); that took

place immediately after they consecrated their lives to God (Romans 12: 1).

 

These embryo “new creatures” continued to grow and develop, as the old human nature, with its

hopes, aims, desires, etc., was crucified. After a period of development, God’s Spirit quickened

their mortal bodies, enabling them to render service to God (Romans 8: 11). Eventually, the

death of the human and the birth of the spiritual resulted, in their gaining new spiritual bodies in

the first resurrection (Colossians 1: 18) (Revelation 20: 6).

 

The Apostle terms the process of bringing every thought into harmony with the mind of God, a

transforming work (Romans 12: 2). There is a difference between justified believers and “new

creatures.” The former class are of the earth, and aside from sinful desires, their hopes, ambitions

and aims will be fully gratified in the promised restitution of all things. The latter class is not of

this world, and their hopes are in heavenly things. While this transforming of the mind from

human to spiritual is a gradual work, the change from a human to a spiritual body is

instantaneous (1 Corinthians 15: 52).

 

Both the human and spiritual natures will be glorious in their perfection, yet distinct and

separate. A significant feature of God’s finished work will be the beautiful variety, yet wonderful

harmony, of all things, animate and inanimate – harmony with each other and harmony with

God.

 

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