How did the human race begin? The Scriptures introduce man as a created being. In Genesis 1:27 this truth is stated, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The origin of man has long been the subject of human speculation. But in spite of all that has been done scientifically and otherwise, no one has ever come up with a better explanation than creation for the origin of man.
In recent centuries the theory of evolution has arisen, which attempts to explain all species of life, whether plant or animal, as a product of a gradual improvement that develops over many millions of years. The problem with evolution, however, is that it is a theory that has yet to be proved. With all the advantages of modern science, it has never been possible to change one species into another; a dog never becomes a cat; a plant never becomes a fish; and a tree never becomes a cow. In other words, a tree remains a tree though it may vary in its structure and leaf design and new kinds of trees can be formed, but the fact is that we have never been able by any scientific process to change one species into another.
Evolution has no solution for the origin of life. Science never has been able to produce life out of that which was not life. The Bible remains the simple and effective and clear explanation of how man was created. Further, in the creation of man he was made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27). No development in evolution could ever take an animal and produce in it that which corresponds to the image of God.
The revelation that man is the object of God’s creation is not simply taught in one passage but in many. In the first chapter of Genesis alone the fact of man’s creation is stated repeatedly. In the sweeping statement of John 1:2-3, Jesus Christ as the Word was “with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Colossians 1:16 is even more explicit, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
According to Hebrews 11:3, all things, not simply human beings, were made by God: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” If one accepts the Bible as the Word of God in other matters, one must necessarily accept the Bible when it indicates that God is the Creator and originator of all that has been created. It is significant that even unbelievers who scoff at the second coming of Christ have to conclude, “Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4), in other words, they must begin with creation. There is no alternative explanation to the doctrine of creation that satisfies the questions that are raised by the nature of our universe and the nature of man.
The Nature of Man
In the original creation as stated in Genesis 1:27, man was made in the image and likeness of God. This means that he has the essential qualities of personality, which are intellect or mind, sensibility or feeling, and will, that is, the ability to make moral choices. These qualities do not exist in any creature other than man, but they make it possible for him to have communion with God and also to be morally responsible for his actions.
The Scriptures further define man as composed of that which is material or immaterial. Accordingly, man has a body and he has life. In considering the matter of the life of man, the Scriptures record, “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 being” (Gen. 2:7). As man is discussed in Scripture, it becomes evident that in addition to material and immaterial, the immaterial part of man is considered under two major aspects-that of spirit and soul. When man was created, according to Genesis 2:7, he “became a living being,” literally, man became “a living soul” (KJV). Several hundred times in both the Old and New Testaments man is declared to possess a soul.
The Bible also claims that human beings possess a spirit. In Hebrews 4:12 the Word of God is said to penetrate human consciousness to the point that “it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit.” In general, the word “soul” seems to refer to the psychological aspect of man or his natural experience of life. The word “spirit” seems rather to refer to his God-consciousness and his ability to function in moral and spiritual realms. However, in the Bible these terms are sometimes used to refer to the whole man, such as the words “body” or “soul” or “spirit.” For instance, in Romans 12:1 believers are exhorted to offer their bodies as living sacrifices to God. In referring to a believer’s body, Paul is referring to the whole person. Likewise, “soul” sometimes refers to the whole person, and sometimes “spirit” refers to the whole person.
Other immaterial aspects of man are also mentioned in the Bible, such as mind, will, conscience, and other references to aspects of human personality. While the body of a Christian is considered sinful, it, nevertheless, is referred to in Scripture as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). The bodies of Christians should be kept under control and made to submit to the human mind (1 Cor. 9:27). The bodies of Christians, which now are corrupt and sinful, are going to be transformed, cleansed from sin, and made new like the resurrection body of Christ, at the time of resurrection or rapture (Rom. 8:11, 17-18, 23; 1 Cor. 6:13-20; Phil. 3:20-21). Though man in his present humanity is sinful and comes short of what God would have him to be and do, Christians can look forward to the time when their bodies will be made perfect in the presence of God.
The Problem of Sin
The problem of sin in the world has been faced by theologians as well as by philosophers of all kinds, and some explanations have been attempted. People who ignore the Bible fall into two classifications-those who explain sin as that which occurs because God is not omnipotent and could not prevent it, and those who postulate that God Himself is sinful and that, therefore, sin is in the universe. Adherents to polytheism, the belief that there are many gods, assume that the gods have limitations, that they are not omnipotent, that they sin. Therefore, they can offer no solution for the sin problem.
Christianity explains the problem in terms of divine revelation and what took place after Adam and Eve were created. The answer to the sin problem is that man freely chose evil and this brought sin into the human race. God had commanded Adam and Eve, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). The biblical narrative in Genesis, however, continues with the account of how Eve partook of the fruit of the tree and Adam joined with her in partaking of it (Gen. 3:2-6). The result was that the entire human race was plunged into sin.
The biblical narrative also supplies the fact that Satan, who appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent, was evil. This implies that there was an original creation of the angelic world and that some of the angels sinned against God and became the demon world, led by Satan, that exists today. Scripture assumes that God would not create evil but created a world in which there was moral choice possible, and both angels and men chose evil instead of that which was right.
Unlike the philosophic world, which has no solution for the problem of evil, the Bible not only accounts for its origin but also provides a divine remedy in the promise of Genesis 3:15 that the woman would have offspring who would crush the head of the serpent, fulfilled in the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection. Satan was defeated and his ultimate judgment was assured.
A biblical doctrine of sin is absolutely essential to understanding the Scriptures as an account of God’s revelation of salvation that is available through Christ and a record of victory over sin that is promised to those who will put their trust in God. The doctrine of sin is at the root of explaining history with its record of wickedness, suffering, sin, and death. The proper doctrine of sin is also necessary to understand humankind and his reaction to God and to God’s revelation.
Before Adam sinned he was innocent in thought, word, and deed. He had been created without sin but with moral choice. The challenge of obedience to God was very simple. The only command God gave that could be disobeyed was the command not to partake of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17).
After Adam sinned a radical change took place. He died spiritually. Physical aging began the process that led ultimately to his death, and his conscience was aware of the fact that he had sinned against God. The immediate result of sin was that God cursed the serpent for tempting Eve (Gen. 3:14-15). The woman was promised that she would be subject to her husband and that her pain in childbearing would increase (Gen. 3:16). Adam was promised that the ground would be cursed because of him and he would find it difficult to produce food. He was also informed that eventually he would die and return to the dust from which he was made. Because of the changed situation, Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden where they had been placed, which prevented them from eating of the Tree of Life, which would have given them physical life forever (Gen. 3:22-24).
The Effect of the Fall on the Human Race
The devastating effect upon Adam’s personal situation was extended to the entire human race because Adam was the head, or beginner, of humanity.
In the discussion of sin and its effect upon the human race, the Bible teaches that what Adam did was imputed, or reckoned, to all his descendants. Accordingly, it is revealed in Romans 5:12-14 :
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
The whole human race was considered as if they themselves had done what Adam did, and the judgment was affirmed that if they had the same opportunity in the same situation that they would have sinned against God also.
In providing a solution for human sin as intimated in Genesis 3:15, God provided in Christ crucified the One who would make it possible for people to be saved. This required an imputation, or a reckoning, of people’s sin as if Christ Himself had performed it. As stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” When Christ died on the cross, He died in our place as a Lamb of sacrifice because He was bearing the sins of the whole world (John 1:29).
The fact that Christ has died and paid the price of man’s sin makes it possible now for God to reckon, or impute, righteousness to those who believe in Christ. An earlier example of this is the statement that when Abram believed in the Lord concerning his future posterity, “it was credited to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). Accordingly, though Abram was a sinner like all other members of the human race, when he put his trust in God as the one who would fulfill His promises, he received by divine reckoning the righteousness that only God can give. Accordingly, the same God who permitted sin to occur also provided a Savior in the person and work of Jesus Christ, which now makes it possible for sinners to be saved and be considered righteous in God’s sight.
The principle of imputation of righteousness to those who believe in Christ is the basis for our justification and is mentioned frequently in Scripture (Rom. 3:22; 4:3, 8, 21-25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Philem. 17-18). Though it is difficult to understand completely what Christ did when He died, He died as our sin-bearer, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, a fact that is mentioned many times in Scripture (Isa. 53:5; John 1:29; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). The fact that Christians have been made righteous and justified before a holy God makes it possible for them to be a part of the body of Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13).
Just as the Scriptures make clear that a believer in Christ is justified by faith, or declared righteous in the sight of a holy God, so it is also true in Scripture that one outside of Christ has none of the benefits of Christ’s redemption. The unsaved have the sin of Adam reckoned to their account; they are born with a sin nature that naturally sins against God; and to this their personal sins are added. Because of Adam’s sin everyone, even those who are Christians, experiences physical death (Rom. 5:12-14). Those who are not saved through faith in Christ are spiritually dead and are separated from God (Eph. 2:1; 4:18-19). They will also experience the second death, which is defined as eternal separation from God (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).
The History of Man
The history of man since Adam and Eve brought sin into the world has been a sad record of the human race departing from God in spite of all that God has done for them. Though Adam and Eve had consciences that enabled them to distinguish right from wrong, that did not make them good, and their posterity drifted farther and farther from God until God decided to destroy the whole human race, except Noah and his family (Gen. 6:13). Following the flood, God gave to Noah the basic principles of human government. However, the human race again demonstrated its depravity by building the Tower of Babel, and God had to judge by confusing the languages of the people.
With almost the entire world departing from God and sinning flagrantly, God chose Abram to fulfill His purpose in redemption. To Abram was promised that he would be able to bring blessing to the entire world (Gen. 12:1-3), ultimately fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Throughout the Old Testament the descendants of Abram were used as channels of divine revelation. Prophets spoke orally to the people, and some of them wrote the Scriptures, including the opening books of the Bible written by Moses. In spite of increased knowledge of God and His moral standards, the human race became evil, and Israel, the immediate divine recipient of God’s blessing, was also judged sinful and had to be dealt with in the captivities. The Old Testament, instead of being a revelation of improvement as envisioned in the theory of evolution, instead took man farther and farther from God with the result that the human race no longer had the longevity it did in creation and that many acts of violence and sin were performed.
After Jesus’ birth in the New Testament with His subsequent life on earth, His rejection by His generation, His crucifixion and death for the sins of the whole world, and His glorious resurrection, a new chapter in the history of man begins. However, just as was true in the Old Testament, the human race, for the most part, rejected God and went on its wicked way.
In the present age God is calling out from both Jew and Gentile those who will believe in Christ and be saved. He is not attempting to judge the sins of the world, though sometimes there is divine judgment upon sin. Even with all the advanced revelation given in the writing of the New Testament and the presentation of Jesus Christ to the world, the moral history of the world has become more and more a record of departure from God.
The apostle Peter recorded in graphic tones how man departed from God and denied redemption by blood (2 Peter 2:1), and how religious leaders who were not saved would, like Balaam, lead people astray (2 Peter 2:15). This would continue even to the time of the second coming of Christ, when scoffers would reject the doctrine and refuse to believe that Christ is coming again to judge the world (2 Peter 3:3-4).
The apostle Paul in his last epistle in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 summarizes the awful extent of human sin, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
The present age of grace will be followed by the Day of the Lord, an age in which God will deal directly with human sin in the time of trouble preceding the second coming of Christ, a time that continues throughout the millennial kingdom when His rule will be one of absolute authority. Though the millennial kingdom in many ways is a bright spot in the future history of the world, even in the millennial kingdom there is rebellion at the end when, in spite of all the divine revelation given to them in the Millennium, people will rebel against Christ and attempt to conquer Jerusalem by force.
In the sad destiny of the human race, there will be division of those who are saved and those who are lost, with the saved being in the presence of the Lord forever in the new heaven and the new earth and the new Jerusalem and the lost ultimately being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). From God’s viewpoint, out of the dark history of the human race will come those among angels and men who choose to worship God and who will share with them the joy and bliss of eternity in the presence of God in the new Jerusalem.
1. How do the Scriptures represent the creation of man?
2. What is the claim of the theory of evolution?
3. Why is organic evolution rejected by those who accept the Bible as the Word of God?
4. What solution does evolution have for the origin of life?
5. How does evolution fail to explain that in man which corresponds to the image of God?
6. How was Jesus Christ related to creation?
7. From what was the universe formed at God’s command?
8. Why do scoffers have to begin with the concept of creation?
9. Define how man is divided into material and immaterial?
10. To what is “soul” referred to in man?
11. What does “spirit” refer to in man?
12. How are “soul” and “spirit” contrasted to “body”?
13. Why are these three terms sometimes used to represent the whole of man?
14. What immaterial aspects of man are mentioned in the Bible other than soul and spirit?
15. What is the contrast between the present sinful state of a person’s body and his future body?
16. How has humankind attempted to solve the problem of sin in the world?
17. How does the Bible explain the entrance of sin into the human race?
18. In contrast to the world of philosophy, what does the Bible offer as a solution for the sin problem?
19. Why is it important to understand what the Bible teaches about sin?
20. How is physical death related to sin?
21. What curses did God pronounce upon Satan, woman, and man after Adam and Eve sinned?
22. How does the sin of Adam relate to us today?
23. How does God solve the sin problem for people today?
24. What is meant by imputation? And how is it used in the Bible?
25. What does it mean to be justified by faith?
26. How does history demonstrate that conscience is not enough to keep people from doing what is wrong?
27. What did God do in the time of Noah?
28. What principles of government were introduced after the flood?
29. What did the descendants of Noah demonstrate regarding sin at the Tower of Babel?
30. What did God promise Abram?
31. To what extent were the promises to Abram fulfilled?
32. How did the world as a whole react to the coming of Christ, His death, and His resurrection?
33. What is God’s primary purpose in the present age?
34. Does the Bible predict that evil will get worse or that sin will be gradually overcome?
35. What age follows the present age of grace? And what does it include?