Okay, time to get back to the Bible Basics series. Hope you find these useful, print it out if necessary, but commit this stuff to memory. This is the most basic view to understanding man and his condition. As always, God’s Word explains things very well…
In all the discussion about the condition of the world and what needs to be done about it, one issue is not being discussed at all, one that will change the nature of all the other issues. And without getting much notice this issue has been so undermined that the whole world is adrift because it has not dealt with this first. That is “Man”. What is man? What is his nature? There are many today, if not most, who would claim that man is no different than an animal, and in many ways is inferior to animals. If this is so than man has no more right to do anything here than any animal has a right to do to you anything it wants. Man has no more or less right to exist than any animal. That assumed man has no more or less value than an animal. Humans are simply not worth much, certainly no more than an animal. With that viewpoint it is no wonder that we see some of the things we do, the things we do to each other, to the world, and to the animals.
Once we begin to address the question of “value”, then we come to this argument; what gives anything or anyone “value”? If there is nothing that gives us value then none of has any. Then we might as well do anything we want because there is no reason to live. If we evolved from a pool of slime then we do not have any value. However, if we are “created”, then all of a sudden we have value. Someone made us, and if we are “made”, then we have purpose, and if we have purpose, we have value. How does this work, and does this explain anything about our condition and relationship to the world around us?
Let’s go back to the start…
Man (Genesis 1:26-31)
Man as he was created
God says here that He created man “…in Our image…” Besides the obvious reference to the Trinity, He uses the word “image”. God never said that He created anything in all of His creation that was “in Our (His) image”, only man. So in this sense man is very unique. “…in Our image…” or “likeness” means a shadow or figure and in the Hebrew it denotes the resemblance of that shadow to the figure. Though man is made from dirt, we resemble God in that He made us to correspond to Him in an intimate relationship. We have abilities that animals do not, like reason, love, creativity, will, etc. John 4:24 says that “God is Spirit”. So we are made, He is not. But we have a spirit that is within us, and though dead in sin that spirit can be made to be alive. (More later) Man was made to be in perfect harmony and fellowship with God, he had all he needed in a perfectly created world.
Go back to Gen.1:28-29 and see the position God put man in. He said that man was to populate the earth and “subdue” (make it subservient) it or have “dominion” over it (dominate it). That we have done. In this sense man was never meant to “co-exist” with the Earth, he was to use it. Seems pretty clear to me that we have done that and more! Man can’t put his hands on anything without wrecking it. So God gave man dominion and he took it. But he took much more, God created man with a free will, man could choose. In order for God’s relationship with man to be based on love there had to be free will, otherwise it’s not love. So man had everything, including choice.
Gen.3:1-13, well, we all know the story. Woman and man chose based on what seemed right to them, and they chose wrongly. They chose their own way rather than God’s Word and all of humanity inherited that gene. That gene is sin, rebellion against God. From verse 7 to this present day mankind has been trying to cover its sin. But all we can do is to mask it, or try to hide it; we can’t take it away, so we have guilt. This is the fall of man, and ever since man has been trying to work his way back into God’s graces.
Adam and Eve let lose on the world the most infectious disease known to man. It is so virulent that very human born is infected with it. It has a cure, but many are reluctant to take it for fear of the unknown, yet for 2,000 years the cure has been free to all who ask for it, and it is 100% effective and the only cure. The disease is sin, but it would be thousands of years from Adam to Christ for the cure to be made known. You see, sin kills the spirit within you. And we are all born in sin. (Psalm 51:5) Eph.2:1 and 5 says that we are “…dead in trespasses and sins…” apart from Christ. That is mans predicament, we are dead spiritually because of the sin we inherited from Adam. And when you are dead, what can you do for yourself? And all sin, no exceptions! (Rom.3:23)
Our need then is to get cured of the disease of sin and get back to being what God created us to be. Well that’s a nice idea, but in the mean time, right around Ex.19, God sets down His Law. God says in His Law that any violation of His Law requires punishment prescribed by that Law. We can understand that, but when we read that Law we find, right away, our complete inability to actually do it! I see what the Law says, I agree that it is good and holy, but I can’t keep it, I am unable to fully perform all that His Law requires. Now I have a problem, it seems that God has stacked the deck against me and I can’t win. If you think this you would be correct. But if you think this we must go to the next step or die in despair. We need a Savior!
Go to Gal.3:19-25 and see God’s unfolding purpose. Is our situation hopeless? Yes, apart from Christ. What the Law does is reveal to us our own condition (like an x-ray or cat scan), it cannot heal us. So God in all His infinite wisdom and mercy, knowing the condition that we would be in, promises, from the very beginning, a Savior. Now this is a very unique situation. God has sent His Son to live a sinless life, then to be executed for something He never did. It’s just so tragic, if you don’t know what’s going on. Look at John 10:17-18. While the rest of the world is thinking that it just killed Jesus, Jesus says He gave His life. No one took it from Him. This is called the “atonement”.
Go to Romans 5:8-11. There are three words we need to understand here, two are in these verses. The first word is…
That word means “an exchange”, also “reconciliation”. It denotes the alteration of man’s relationship to God. Now, through the atonement we don’t have to remain under the wrath of God for the punishment of our sin, and now stand in a new relationship to Him. Rom.5:11 in the KJV uses this word.
This word means “to set forth as righteous” or “a judicial decision to free a man from his guilt”, also to “represent him as righteous”. Through faith in Christ for His atonement for us we are now made to stand right before God as though we were completely innocent. This is in Rom.5:9.
This word means, “to change against anything”, it implies an action by the aggrieved party laying aside His enmity. This is one sided, in this case, God lays aside His judgment of our sin on the basis of the atonement for the purpose of reconciling us to Him, thereby making us justified. Also Rom.5:10-11.
Take a look at 2Cor.5:17-21. Here is the same thing explained. Jesus dies on the cross on our behalf; this satisfies the righteous requirements of God’s Law that says the “soul who sins shall die”. Now through faith in Christ we can be reconciled to God and are made to stand right before Him as if we had never sinned. This is our reconciliation. See also Eph.2:14-18. Try to do that on your own!
Now through faith in Him we are brought back to a relationship with God whereby He goes to work in us and on us molding and shaping us into the image of His Son, back to what He created us to be. For further reading check out Isaiah 53, also atonement is the key feature of the sacrificial laws of the O.T.
So now God has made the way for man, lost and hopeless in his sin, to be brought back into fellowship with God. There is no other religion in the world that features this. Every other religion leaves you in the same place it finds you and has no power to help you. In Christ alone is atonement, reconciliation, the only hope for mankind.
Romans 1:18-32 explains that the world is already clued in on all this stuff. Humanity knows intuitively that this is true. So what do we do? In the face of our situation as humans and in the light of what Jesus has done for us, what do we do? I know, in the face of our guilt before God’s law lets be moral! Let’s be good so God will just give us a pass on a lifetime of violating His laws! Maybe He won’t notice! Then in spite of all that His law says and my many violations of His law He’ll let me into Heaven. Jesus died for all those other poor schmucks, but I don’t need it, I’m okay on my own, right? If God does that for you, then He is not God because He would not be just. If God does not punish violations of His law, then what is the law for?
Considering our situation, our hopelessness in the face of God’s law, our utter inability at saving ourselves, Jesus says this to us; “Come…”
Go to Matt.11:28-30. Jesus says come to Me. With the reality of our guilt looming over our heads, Jesus says come to Me. Recognizing the hopelessness of our condition; Jesus says come to Me. Feeling everyday the crushing weight of our unforgiven sins; Jesus says come to me. Our responsibility is to come to Him. This part of the message is to drive the Calvinists and Reformers crazy. For if God’s Word teaches that we CANNOT and WILL NOT come to Christ, why does He say come? Why would Jesus call to us if we are unable to respond? Responding to Christ’s call is not a “work”, it is surrender.
In John 6:37 Jesus says; “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” Jesus is ready willing and waiting for us to answer His call and surrender. In Acts 2:21, Peter quoting Joel 2:32 says; “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Paul says in Romans 1:16; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek…”
Romans 6:23 says; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Do you understand your situation apart from Christ? Are you prepared to stand before Him and explain why you rejected His free offer of salvation?
The condition of man is hopeless apart from Christ. But as long as we live there is always hope for Jesus holds out His offer of salvation for all who would hear and surrender. For those of us who have we have discovered the glory of being born again. (2Cor.5:17) We have experienced the relief of the guilt of our sin being lifted from our shoulders and replaced with the easy yoke of the Lord. Don’t let another moment go by without surrendering to the Lord and freely receive His free gift of reconciliation. Come home to God, where you are intended to be.