Understanding the Bible

For Further Study - This is a Supplement to Chapter 4- Major Bible Themes: Man

This page includes the following three sections, accessed by links from Lesson #4.
It is recommended that you work through Lesson #4 completely.
Then, as you go back and review the lesson, follow the "Further Study" links.
What is man? Psa 8:3

Like all of the rest of creation, man was created to show forth the glory of God. However, the means by which man shows God's glory is unique in creation.

"The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psa 19), demonstrating "the eternal power and godhead" of the One who created them (Rom 1:20). Indeed, all of creation is designed to declare His glory, as spelled out in:

Psalm 103:19-22

Thus, on both the macro and micro level, every created thing in the universe, whether animate (having life) or inanmate (lifeless) was designed to fulfill God's will, by following His laws and written instructions. They are ordered by "hearkening unto the voice of His word" (Psa 103:20b).

But to man, God has given free will, allowing us to decide for ourselves whether, to what extent and how we might follow His Word. He has given us clear instructions (from the simple command to Adam, to the whole counsel of God which is the Bible). But unlike the rest of creation, we have chosen to disobey His written instructions, with terrible results.

When cells in a human body suddenly refuse to follow the written instructions and set out to do their own thing, the result is cancer, deformity, disease, destruction and death. So, it is with man's refusal to submit to His Creator's will and way.

Satan and the fallen angels (who followed him in rebellion against God) led the way for man's fall into sin. For the fallen angels, there is no return to God's favor. But for man, God made a way, that we can be cured of our waywardness, and brought into conformity with God's will, so that all of creation, purged of all that is dis-ordered, will again fulfill His Word, including those men who have freely turned to Him.

God's purpose is that every created thing and creature, will be in complete conformity with the will and purpose of their Creator. This is the end unto which human history is moving, as echoed in the closing choruses of the book of Psalms (Psa 148; Psa 150:6), and also at the close of the Bible, at the end of the age (Rev 4:11). The means by which, He will accomplish that purpose, is through the redemption provided through the One perfect man (Rev 5:9,10).

Return to the related point in Understanding the Bible, Lesson #4 - Bible Themes: Man
The Three Parts of man!

God created man in His image and likeness. Man's similarity to his Creator can be seen in the characteristics which distinguish man from the rest of creation and from other creatures.

  1. Man was given intellectual and creative abilities. He is able to think, design and build (applying the abstract concepts generated by his mind to the physical world in which he lives). We have previously seen that it is beyond the realm of possibility that life should arise from random chaos (as atheistic evolutionists would have us believe, contrary to the law of biogenesis), but rather life always comes from that which is already alive. This is seen even more clearly, when we understand that life does not result from chance interactions of amino acids, but rather is always based on the instructions written with words in DNA. Such language based instructions could not have arisen out of chaos, but must have originated in the mind of a Person with supreme intelligence. The intelligence, with which He has endowed man, allows us to comprehend the laws of nature which govern our universe, and to conceive of things which have not previously existed. The creative abilities of man seem boundless, encompassing literature, the arts, and technologies of various kinds. Our intelligence is far above that of other creatures on earth. Yet, it is far beneath that of our Creator. While man has recently identified the language of DNA, its complexity remains beyond his comprehension.
  2. Man was created in three parts. The Tri-unity of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is mirrored in the three parts of each man: body {GK=soma}, soul {GK=psuche} and spirit {GK=pneuma} (1The 5:23). These parts are distinguished in and by God's Word (Heb 4:12). The diagram, by Clarence Larkin (c. 1919), shows these parts in relationship to one another, and to the entities with which they interact.
         Plants have bodies, but not souls. Animals have bodies, and 'living souls' by which they have consciousness of other creatures (eg., Gen 1:21,24 where 'creature' is translated from HB=nephesh, soul; 7:21,22 where 'breath' is HB=neshamah, often translated as 'soul'; 9:4,5,10,12,15,16 where HB=nephesh is translated: life, lives, or creature; Job 12:10; Rev 16:3). Man is distinguished from the animals, in that God has also given to him a 'spirit,' which is eternal, and which has an innate consciousness of responsibility toward his Creator. (This distinction is implied in Gen 2:7, where man is differentiated from the other creatures, in that he alone was imbued with a spirit of life which came directly from God.)
    1. The spirit of man - is the essence of his eternal person. No other man can know the spirit of a man directly, for it was designed to interact with God, who is Spirit. Man's spirit was equiped with "sensors" which relate to God consciousness, and the comprehension of God's Word. However, at man's fall into sin, man became spiritually dead, and therefore, is unable to understand, to seek after, or to fellowship with God. The natural man, while spiritually dead toward God, and unable to comprehend the deep things of God, naturally turns his attention to investigate and explore the natural world, with which his spirit has an affinity (1Cor 2:9-14).
           Through faith in Christ, and the resulting new birth by which God's Spirit dwells within the believer, we who were once dead are made alive, and have the privilege of relationship with God (1Cor 2:15,16; Eph 2:1-5; Joh 3:6). The state of man's spirit (whether dead in sin, or alive unto God) affects the other parts of the man (Rom 8:16; Rom 1:9; Heb 12:9).
    2. The soul of man - is distinct from the spirit of man (Heb 4:12). The soul is the seat of man's emotions (eg., Gen 34:8; 1Sam 18:1). Man's emotions are influenced and can be controlled by either the spirit or the body of a man (1Pet 2:11; Luk 1:46,47). For example, much, that passes for the worship of God, is fleshly exuberance, driven by things which appeal to the physical senses (eg., music, visual display, etc.). A man may "feel" that he is drawing near to God, while in reality, he is far from Him. True worship is the moving of the inner spirit of man, by God's Spirit to understand and to respond aright to God's Word which is Truth (Joh 4:23). Together, the spirit and soul of man are often referred to as his "heart" (Psa 34:18; 1Cor 2:9).
           At physical death, the spirit and soul are separated from the body, but the inner man remains conscious and is able to recognize and interact with other men in a similar state (Luk 16:19-31).
    3. The body - is the means by which the inner man is able to interact with the physical world and with other men. The body is a temporary dwelling (a 'tabernacle' or 'tent') which will be laid aside when a man's earthly life is done (2Cor 5:1-4). It is an instrument or tool, by which the inner man can serve his own pleasures, or by which he can serve God, and make Him known to others (2Pet 1:13-15; Rom 6:12,13).

    Man's three parts can be viewed in comparison to the three parts of the OT Tabernacle, where the innermost compartment, the Holy of Holies, was reserved for the Presence of God. Prior to the dedication of the Tabernacle (and the Temple), this was just an empty room. Upon its dedication, the Spirit of God filled it with His Presence, and the Mercy Seat became the place of communion between God and man (Ex 25:22). So, Christ indwells and communes with the hearts of those who have been made alive by the Spirit of God (Rev 3:20).
         Just as the Holy of Holies had no windows, and only one entrance, so, man's spirit has no direct interaction with the world. Likewise, while in its natural state of spiritual deadness, man's spirit has no communion with God. The center of man's being, guarded by its own will, is closed to the voice of God. Therefore, before the inner man can respond to the Gospel of Christ, the message must be presented through his body and soul (2Cor 5:20). He must hear (with the physical senses) and believe in his heart (with the soul and spirit). The reality of true faith is displayed to others through the body (by confession of the mouth, and by change of life). (See Rom 10:8-14; Luk 8:12-15).
  3. Man was created for relationship with God - as the three Persons of the Godhead commune among themselves, so, Adam and Eve communed with God, before their fellowship was broken by their turning, from submission to Him, to follow their own way.
    • For those who are "in Christ," that relationship has been restored (1John 1:3).
    • Those, who are in Christ, are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live according to His way, and to have victory over the flesh (Gal 5:16-25; 2Cor 3:18).

Return to the related point Understanding the Bible, Lesson #4 - Bible Themes: Man
When does human Life begin? (or) How do innocent babies become sinners?

That first question is at the root of the conflict over abortion. But it is also important for understanding our individual origins and condition. As we saw in the section about the Three Parts of Man, there is more to man than the body. Man is distinct from other living organisms, such as plants and animals, in that he has a soul and spirit, through which he posseses a consciousness of God and a conscience of moral right and wrong. Since this distinction is the essence of being human, we can logically say that a human person begins when he or she is imbued with a human soul and spirit. But when does this occur?
     The biblical teaching, that every human being has inherited a sin nature from Adam, provides a key for discerning between the common theories concerning when a human life begins.

Return to start of Understanding the Bible, Lesson #4 - Bible Themes: Man
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