The Revelation of God – 8
The greatest question ever asked by mortal man is found in Acts chapter two verse 37: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Only the Word of God answers that question.
The Bible submits to our consideration five great propositions: (1). God created man in His own likeness and image. (2). Man sinned, and the likeness of God within him was corrupted. (3). God has devised and revealed a plan to reinstate Himself in the minds of men. (4). The scheme of redemption is adapted to our wants, and is sufficient in itself to enlighten and convert the world. (5). God approaches man through his ears and eyes, his understanding.
There is not an intelligent, and therefore accountable, person on earth who has not at some time asked himself four great questions: Who made me? What relation do I sustain to Him? What is my condition? Where will I spend the hereafter? The Bible is the only book in the world that proposes to answer these questions. In fact, it is the only book that can answer them.
Please allow me to get personal for a few moments. I exist. I am here. I think. I act. I hope. I love. I believe. This hand has painted the pictures, built the ships, the bridges, the railroads, and the pyramids of the world. These eyes photograph all nature, and the mind directs the commerce of the world, explores the earth, and penetrates the secret chambers of the Most High. Where did I originate? Why was I created? Am I in any respect like my Creator? Am I immortal, or will my existence end with death? Is my body and mind one? Does my body think, or is it the servant of the thinking man within?
You and I cannot answer those questions. However, the Bible can! Will you hear it? "Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen. 1:26-27). "For what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor" (Ps. 8:4-5).
Man was made after the similitude of God (James 3:9). He is a double being, composed of two distinct elements. The Bible says: "The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7). "And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (Ecc. 12:7). "For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. 5:1). "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being" (Rom. 7:22). "The natural person (the body, flesh, blood) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him (flesh and bones cannot think), and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (Rom. 7:25). "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer man is wasting away, our inner man (nature) is being renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). "For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3). "But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (1 Pet. 3:4). "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life" (Prov. 4:23).
We have here a number of expressions which prove conclusively that there is more of me than my body: “Natural man,” “outer man,” “this tent/tabernacle,” “inner man,” “heart,” “mind,” “imperishable spirit.” The first three refer to my material organization; the others to something that is immaterial, and therefore invisible.
I! Do you grasp it? I am? Can you understand it? I shall be forevermore! Do you believe it? The body is mortal; the mind is immortal. Man is a little world in himself. “I” am the center; the body is the circumference, “I” am the king; my body is the “palace royal.” “I,” or mind, represents our individuality, our independent existence - our distinct personality.
Is man wholly mortal? If so, what is that principle that diversifies character; makes one man a poet, another an orator, another a mathematician, another a mechanic? What is that within us that is never satisfied, never full, never at rest? What is that which bursts through the gates of the physical prison and reaches out after the everlasting, the unseen, the unknown? Whence comes this wonderful machine, this ceaseless activity, this insatiable thirst for immortality? They are the products of “the likeness” of God that is within us, the indestructible mind.
Man was created both in the image and likeness of his Maker. Did he lose the likeness of God when he sinned? Yes, in a great degree, but it is impossible to destroy it entirely, for it is woven into the constitution of man. There is not a tribe of people on earth, however ignorant, corrupt, or degraded, that does not possess some idea of a supernatural and all-wise Creator. Some men are so corrupt that they do not respect conscience; but all men fear God or dread the future. Man cannot get away from the thought that there is a God.
The statement that man was made in the “likeness and image” of God contains some very important lessons. What is meant by the image and likeness of God? Answer: That man is like God! Is man able to think? God gave him this power in the creation. Is man able to reason? This ability is inherent in his nature - the gift of God. Is man capable of decision? This is a part of the likeness of God imparted at the beginning. Is he capable of loving? Love is of God (1 John 4:7).
Did man maintain his unity with God? He did not. Why not? He sinned, or rebelled against God, and was condemned to labor, suffer, and die. Did his heart remain pure? Did he continue uncorrupted in mind? Did he live at peace with God and himself? Was his mind still the image and likeness of his Maker? Was he free from sin? NO, he began to wander away, and the farther he wandered from the Lord the less of His likeness he possessed.
He crowded God out of his heart and mind by perverting his nature, by filling himself with lust, hatred, malice, hypocrisy, envy, uncleanness, idolatry, deception, wrath, superstition, ignorance, pride, ambition, rebellion, selfishness, and the love of this world. As the “thick darkness” of ignorance and superstition settled down upon his mind the light of heaven faded away. Step by step he wandered away from God until the likeness of God was so corrupted, so destroyed, so nearly obliterated, that he forgot whether there is one God or many gods; whether his Maker is pure, truthful and good, or the impersonation of vice, lust and corruption!
Just in proportion as the nations of the earth have appreciated the principles of justice, truth, and holiness, have they been free, contented, and happy. Just in proportion as they have refused “to retain God in their knowledge” (Rom. 1:28), have they been sinful, superstitious and degraded. What makes a man a heathen? Nothing more or less than forgetting the true and living God. Does the Bible support these declarations? Let it speak for itself. It will make it plain. It never fails. The Lord is able to speak the truth, for all truth emanates from Him (John 14:6; 17:17).
Man gradually wandered away from God, and therefore corrupted himself by degrees. Lust conceived and brought forth sin (James 1:15), and sin led him on to degradation. The departure from God began within – in the heart. It manifested itself without – in the life – and led to darkness. The Bible says:
"Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth" (Gen. 6:11-12). "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one" (Ps. 14:1-3). "They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children because they are blemished; they are a crooked and twisted generation" (Deut. 32:5). "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen" (Rom. 1:21-25). "And constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain" (1 Tim. 6:5). "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear" (Isa. 59:2).
This is a terrible picture. Why were the people, before the flood, corrupt? Because they forsook God and turned to evil. Why was the earth filled with violence? Because the people had, through their corrupt practices, lost their union with God. Why did David say there were none who did good? Because sin had corrupted their minds, and almost destroyed the likeness of God within them. Why did they refuse to glorify the one true and living God? Because they had drifted so far away from Him that they would not honor His name, or respect His authority. Why did they become vain in their imaginations? Because sin had corrupted their thoughts. Why were their foolish hearts darkened? Because they had willfully shut out the light of heaven.
Why did they worship the creature more than the Creator? Because they had forsaken and forgotten the true worship, but their disposition to worship remained; hence they deified the creature and despised the Creator. What separated the people from God? SIN. Why are the practices of sinful men an abomination in the sight of God? Because they are the products of sinful hearts – minds devoid of judgment. They refuse to “retain God in their knowledge,” and as there is no other way to retain Him, to know Him, or to be filled with Him, they naturally drifted into darkness. Without God. Deplorable condition! Without hope. Indescribably dreadful! NO prospect for the life that is to come. Horror of horrors!
THANK GOD, JESUS THE CHRIST IS THE ANSWER!