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What the Bible Teaches--A Guide to Total Christian Commitment 
by Rev. James McRobbie    ©Pillar of Fire, International 
"God never leaves man in hopeless despair."
Learn more about the power of the Holy Spirit for personal holiness through Sanctification

[Bottom of page] [The Living Word] [Back: Chapter 4] [Next: Chapter 6] [Index]
Chapter 5 Contents: |Man's Creation| |The Fall of Man| |Inherited Sin| |Free Moral Agency| |Seven Dispensations| |Future Destiny|

[What the Bible Teaches refers to numerous passages from the Bible. Your study will be greatly enhanced by looking up the verses as you go along. If you want to look up Bible verses online as you study, clicking here will open up "The Bible Gateway" in a new window. You may then use the title buttons on your browser screen to move back and forth between the Bible and this study. All quotations in What the Bible Teaches are from the King James Version [KJV] unless otherwise specified.]
    Editor's note: James McRobbie uses words such as "man," "men," "mankind," etc., in their universal sense. No effort has been made to edit his diction to conform to current notions.

Chapter 5: What the Bible Teaches ABOUT MAN

"Then let us pray that come it may,
As come it will for a' that;
That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,
May bear the gree, and a' that;
For a' that, and a' that,
It's coming yet, for a' that;
That man to man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that." --Burns
    In order to be informed regarding the origin of man as well as his final and eternal destiny, we must turn to the Book of God. There we become acquainted with the various dispensations, placing him under different circumstances and various relationships to God; of how he fulfilled the will of his Creator, or rather, how he failed to do it; of his redemption; of the end of his probationary privilege; of the final judgment, and of the issues of eternity.
 Man's Creation| |The Fall of Man| |Inherited Sin| |Free Moral Agency| |Seven Dispensations| |Future Destiny|
 

Man's Creation

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    Man is the crown of God's creation. He is in every respect "fearfully and wonderfully made" [Psalm 139:14]. He is a tripartite being, consisting of "spirit and soul and body" [1 Thessalonians 5:23] -- a threefold being who, in each of these respects, is admonished to be "presented blameless," and "sanctified wholly," unto the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
    Consider the dignity and glory of man -- how lowly in his creation and still how lofty -- he was formed of the humble dust; he was made in the image and likeness of God. The dignity of man is also seen in that he is exalted immeasurably above the animal creation, for he is capax Dei -- he is capable of understanding God. The original image, of course, has, in many instances, become sadly distorted, yet is not completely obliterated. Christ is the light that lights all who come into this world [John 1:9; Romans 1:19-20]. The thing that God supremely desires; the thing that our Lord suffered to offer us; the thing that all the promises point to, is that we might be conformed to the image of His Son [Romans 8:29; Colossians 3:10; 2 Peter 1:4]. That image was revealed amongst men in a most perfect and exalted manner [2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3]. Nothing is higher than this, and to this end we may expect chastisement and refinement [Hebrews 12:10]. Yet, thank God, "We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" [1 John 3:2].
    One of the most tragic anomalies of our time is that innocent childhood and impressionable youth should be taught in numerous places of learning that the evolutionary theory of the origin of man is the scientifically ascertained truth. While the evolutionist endeavors in vain to discover one single missing link between man and the brute creation, it is logical to think, if the evolutionary theory is correct, that there should be thousands and millions of links -- halfway developed species. Why is there none? Answer: Because there never was any. The Word of God gives us the true picture of the original man, and it also points us to the Golden Link, our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered vicariously to bind all who come to Him and accept Him, to God and heaven.
    Against this modernistic evolutionary theory that man is the product of millions of years of development, and that the Genesis story of Adam and Eve in the Garden is purely allegorical and with no reality, is the fact that our Lord confirmed the historical teaching of man's creation according to Moses. He said, "In the beginning God made them male and female." St. Paul made it conclusive, unless we deny the Word of God; he said, "Adam was first formed, then Eve" [1 Timothy 2:13]. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 there is the statement: "As the serpent beguiled Eve," making genuine the story of the fall. The Bible, moreover, plainly declares that Adam was the first man [1 Corinthians 15:45].
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    There are different scriptural terms referring to the creation of man. In Genesis 1:26 are the words: "Let us make man"; in verse 27, "So God created man"; and in the second chapter, verse 7: "The Lord God formed man." Here are three words: make, created, formed, which deserve consideration. That He "formed" him, has reference to his body; he was "formed of the dust of the ground." Then God "made" the beasts, and said, "Let us make man," using the same word in each instance. This refers to the living soul, or life, that was given to man's body and which is akin to the life bestowed upon the lower animal creation. This is verified in verse 30 (chapter 1), "To every beast. . . wherein is a living soul" [marg.]. In the New Testament, "soul" is the rendering of the Greek psyche, and signifies life. It is the personality, the individuality, the ego -- the governing and controlling part of the individual man centering in his mind. In mankind it continues beyond the grave, whereas in the lower animals it ceases at death. This part of man is capable of being sanctified wholly and of being lost. Then man was "created" in the "image of God" [verse 27], and this is a reference to that part of him that is spiritual and that is endowed with dignity. "He hath set eternity in their heart" [Ecclesiastes 3:11, marg. R.V.]. The New Testament Greek word for "spirit" is pneuma, and is that higher and divinely bestowed faculty by which the ego, the man himself, as distinguished from soul, is capable of communion with a holy God. In his natural state man is "dead in trespasses and sins" [Ephesians 2:1], and as a dead person is wholly void of life, so a sinner has no divine life -- he lacks what the Bible calls the "new birth."
    The divine image lost in the fall can be found only in Christ, and thus St. Paul says, "If any man be in Christ there is a new creation" [2 Corinthians 5:17, marg., R.V.]. This recreation that man finds in conversion does not apply to the physical man, nor to the soul of man, although both are affected, even transformed by it, but to the spirit -- it is the spiritual being that is brought to life through the redemption of Christ, bringing spiritual life to the dead soul, and recreating the whole being into the moral and spiritual likeness of God.

The Fall of Man

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    It would be folly to conjecture how long Adam remained in his original state of purity. The Bible does not enlighten us on this. It is clear, however, that this fair couple in the Garden were the "gods" of all created things. "I said, Ye are gods" [John 10:34-35], was our Lord's statement on one occasion. Genesis clearly states that they were to have dominion over all the lower animal world.
    Man was originally vegetarian. Neither he nor the lower animals were created as carnivorous creatures. "Every herb bearing seed," and "every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed," was to constitute his diet [Genesis 1:29-30]. The first permission to eat meat was subsequent to and because of the fall, and is recorded in Genesis 9:3.
    These noble progenitors of ours, as lords over God's creation, evidently were given a place Lucifer occupied and which he forfeited in his transgression. Infuriated with jealousy, he cunningly assailed them through the medium of the serpent, not the crawling, elongated creature as he is now, and they were seduced -- doubted God's Word and sinned. In the Garden was the "tree of life," an emblem of that life everlasting which was their inheritance, and the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." The "apple" that Eve is purported to have given Adam is usually considered a metaphorical expression. The magnitude of their sin, however serious though that was, was not in the simple eating of a forbidden fruit, but of something far more sinister: it revealed rebellion, lawlessness, hate, doubt, and self-will against the good and holy government of the Creator.
    The subsequent expulsion of man from the Garden was in lieu of his redemption. Had he eaten of the "tree of life" in his sinful state he would have remained sinful forever [Genesis 3:22]. Now, without [outside] the precincts of his first fair home, face to face with the toil, sweat, and tears of the curse, he must learn through type and symbol how to trust in a slain substitute, a Redeemer, who would in due time pay the price of sin once for all, and in that way once more give him eventual access to the "tree of life" [Revelation 22:2].
    The prescribed punishment for sin in the Garden was death. "Thou shalt surely die." The death that followed this first sin was threefold: first it was spiritual death. They were there and then separated from intimate fellowship with God and consequently became deprived of spiritual life. At the same time, apart from faith in a Redeemer to come, they became victims of eternal death, and, not having access to the "tree of life," physical death began to work in their members, to which they were, after a limited probationary period, to succumb.
    God never leaves man in hopeless despair. Side by side with the curse we find the first terse promise of redemption [Genesis 3:15]. The seed of the woman was eventually to bruise the serpent's head. Redemption is also seen in that they were clothed with the skins of animals [Genesis 3:21] -- their covering came through the death of another.
    The first religious act mentioned in the Bible was by Cain, a murderer. Mere religion never saved anyone. The Bible plainly says Cain "was of that wicked one" [1 John 3:12]. Moreover, Abel knew that he was righteous; he had the "witness," God "testifying of his gifts," involving the shedding of blood, which was an emblem of his faith in Christ.
    All through the history of our race there can be traced the fact of good and evil, of faith and unbelief, of sin an holiness. The whole race of man is lined on one side or the other -- on the side of Cain or the side of Seth, that is morally and religiously -- the good seed and the wicked seed. Those who are of Christ and those who are of the devil are seen side by side; they are the wheat and the tares, and this condition of intermingling is to continue [Matthew 13:37-43; Revelation 14:14-20].
 

Inherited Sin

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    Some have claimed that it would be unjust of God to permit the posterity of Adam to be held responsible for his offense. Why should we be afflicted through his transgression? they argue; it was his responsibility, not ours; we cannot help what he did. At the beginning of the fifth century, Pelagius, a Briton, strongly advocated this theory. He affirmed that the sin of Adam did not affect the race; that they are as pure as Adam was before he fell; also that Adam would have died physically even had he not sinned. The Socinians of the sixteenth century held the same tenets.
    In reference to inherited sin it is not difficult to harmonize experience with the teaching of the Scriptures. Besides, it is God's sovereign right to act as it pleases His, and so He works "all things after the counsel of his own will" [Ephesians 1:11], and since Adam was the federal [covenantal] head of the human race then his unborn progeny were in him seminally, for God "hath made of one blood all nations." Reason asks with the prophet, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." Do we realize that the curse pronounced then upon Adam is still in force? Moreover, centuries of civilization have not improved man's nature or modified the curse in any way. Are we conscious of the fact that this earth is the field of blood where God's holy Son was murdered by human beings? The methods of some nations in modern warfare have given vent to such bestialities as to be unmatched by cannibal, savage, or barbarian of any age; yet some would argue against the depravity of man's fallen nature, and even deny it.
    There are a number of scriptures to show that the divine image in man, called spirit, is utterly dead in the natural, unconverted man. There is Jeremiah's well-known verse [Jeremiah 17:9] which shows that there is nothing good in the heart; that it is "deceitful above all things," and "desperately wicked." Read carefully Paul's indictment in Romans 3:10-18 and see how little natural goodness there is in the human heart. Yet this is the Word of God. In Ephesians 2:3 it is plainly stated that we "were by nature the children of wrath." The prophet David in the penitential Psalm [51:5] humbly confessed: "I was shapen in iniquity." Perhaps the most conclusive proof of inherited sin is Romans 5:12-19. Ponder these verses deeply. In Adam, death passed upon "all men to condemnation," and "by one man's disobedience many were made sinners."

Free Moral Agency

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    An agent is one who acts for another. We are actors. That man is a moral agent signifies his relation to good and evil, to right and wrong. That he is free shows that he is not influenced in any way by the omnipotence or omniscience of God. God knows the end from the beginning, but He leaves man to choose, either actively or passively, and to work out his own salvation and eternal destiny. The powers of the will and mind by which man exercises his volition, and by which he decides and acts, is a prerogative placed independently under his control by the Almighty.
    Free agency is linked with man's probationary state; his destiny is the outcome of his own choice. He may, of course, become so weak of will as to be unable to act in accordance with the dignity of his choice. Our Lord doubtless referred to this when He said that many would seek to enter into the kingdom and would not be able, and that the "spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
    One of the outstanding scriptures confirming man's free agency is Deuteronomy 30:19: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." Joshua appealed to the Israelites to exercise their volition and be wholehearted for God in these words: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" [Joshua 24:15]. Jesus, too, on that memorable triumphant morning when He wept over Jerusalem, said, "How often would I have gathered thy children together, . . . and ye would not" [Matthew 23:27]. Again He said, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" [John 5:40]. The very last utterance of the Scriptures are those yearning expressions of the Spirit, saying, "Come."
    Nothing is more destructive to the soul than fatalism. It robs one of his free moral agency and makes the "whosoever" gospel meaningless. Many are so gripped with the conviction that what is to be will be, and have become the hopeless, pliant victims of the wicked one. In this can be seen the danger of the pernicious doctrine of perverted predestination. One was heard to say, "My father and mother were both drunkards, I was born with the devil in me, and I will never be different." That is fatalism. Thank God for the Gospel of hope. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." There is certainly no hope for man in himself, so he must cast himself unreservedly on the "God of hope" [Romans 15:13]. We are always to remember that God is man's true friend, and we of the church must befriend him, too.

Seven Dispensations

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    Man is a "political animal." He is a being possessed with an aptitude for government, for "politics is the science of the social and ethical relations of men and communities of men in the state of civil society under organized government." Looking at the political state of world affairs today, failure and incompetency seem to be written over everything. There is social unrest, a cry for a more equitable justice, a vain looking for an order that will bring a worldwide Utopia of bliss.
    Man's failure lies in the fact that he is constantly seeking to act independently of his Creator, and so God gives him opportunity of proving himself. This is what He has been doing since the beginning of time, but the dire results have been ever and always the same, proving that under all circumstances, apart from grace, man is a failure.
    There are seven dispensations or ages revealed in the Scriptures. These cover the whole period of man's existence, and in each of them it may be seen how God patiently bears with generation after generation with man's ultimate benefit in view, just as an earthly father, in order to aid his struggling, helpless children, would exercise various means in order to enlighten and instruct them. Yet every age, as may be seen, ends in disastrous failure.

Future Destiny

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    The strength of spiritualism lies in the fact that it claims to have penetrated the veil that separates the present from the future. But modern spiritualism is simply a revival of ancient necromancy which had God's bitter anathema upon it [Leviticus 20:27]. The messages spiritualists bring are not from God but from deceiving demons.
    There are, however, one or two places in the Bible where the veil has been drawn aside, which, with other references, afford us a glimpse of what lies beyond. For example, in Matthew 22:23-33, Jesus replies to the Sadducees who denied the fact of a literal resurrection. He said they did err in "not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." In this connection we are given a little light on the condition of the saved in the future glory world. There, the present order of earthly relationships and blood kinships as they are known today will be untenable. The saints will be fashioned in their glorified bodies after the semblance of angels. [See Philippians 3:21.] Yet there will be perfect recognition: "Then shall I know even as also I am known."
    In the story of the rich man and Lazarus [Luke 16], the former is represented as being in torment as soon as he left the body; the other was carried by angels at death and placed in Abraham's bosom in paradise.
    Revelation 5:9 and also 7:9-17 reveal a company around the throne redeemed and praising God. When Jesus led "captivity captive" [Ephesians 4:8], paradise, the Old Testament intermediary place of departed spirits of the saved, was removed from Hades to heaven. The saints had, of necessity, to abide in this place until Jesus qualified as man's Redeemer on the cross. Now, when a saved person dies, he goes directly into the presence of Jesus in heaven. Paul did not go down into paradise; he was "caught up" into it, that is, in soul and spirit, into heaven. [See 2 Corinthians 12:1-7]. St. Paul further stated that to die was not to sleep in the grave, but to "depart and to be with Christ" [Philippians 1:23]. When Stephen died he was heard to say, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" [Acts 7:59], showing that he was there and then swept into His presence.
    Wicked people, as with Dives, go immediately into a local hell to be in soul torment until the resurrection. There will be a resurrection of saved and unsaved [Acts 24:15; John 5:29; Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:4]. At the judgment of the Great White Throne [Revelation 20:11-15], two books will be opened: the book of records, and the "lamb's book of life." Only they who have their names written in the book of life will enter eternal bliss [Revelation 21:27]. Then the wicked, in body and soul, will be cast into the "lake of fire" [Revelation 21:8], a place prepared for the devil and his angels.
    In the eternal state the redeemed people of God will get back to the "tree of life" [Revelation 22:1-4], where they will no more bear the effects of the curse, and where there will be no more pain or separation or death. There, too, under the emblem of the "Holy City," the "New Jerusalem," the multitude of the redeemed are seen coming down to possess the earth in its redeemed and celestial state. "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Best of all, they will enjoy the eternal presence of Him who loved them and washed them in His own blood, for
  "God himself shall be with them, and be their God."
 
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