The doctrine of man seeks to help us understand what God intended when he first created man and what purpose he wanted to accomplish. The Bible is not silent about who man is in both the pre-sin era (in the garden of Eden), the post-sin era (after Eden onwards) and ultimately, the post-Christ era (early Church till His return). Identity questions find their answers in our understanding of the beginnings of man from God, the sustainer of man–by God, and the end of man–to God. Failure to see it this way will mess up our perceptions and, ultimately, our reception of the gospel message.
A high view of God brings a healthy perspective of man (in sin and Christ). But unfortunately, many people have not understood what and who God is from firm Biblical grounds. Much of what many know is from what people around them say and probably from podcasts. However, what we have not done is delve deep into God’s word and grapple with who God really is as we grow in our relationship with him. (For a better treatment of this matter, check out our blogs on the doctrine of God at www.kuzaapp.com). The following facts will briefly summarize this matter:
- God is Holy (Isaiah 6:1-7), meaning he is infinitely perfect above all things. He has no capacity for sin.
- God is Good (Exodus 34:6, Matthew 7:11), meaning he is generous in attitude toward us and longs to bring joy and blessing to all his creatures.
- God is Eternal (Genesis 21:33, Psalm 90:1-4, Exodus 3:13-14, 1 Timothy 1:17), meaning that he is not contained in the frame of time and he will never cease to exist!
There are many more that we could add here, but on account of these three, we can easily see that when God created man, he did it based on his holiness, goodness and eternality.
Humanity created: Why did God create us?
Many people find themselves tangled up in ideas concerning the creation of man–or the purpose behind his existence. Evolution and its consequent arguments have thrilled many, yet they fall short. Superhero narratives captivate the mind with a false promise of an invincible man but to no avail. Why, then, were we created?
- For God’s glory
The glory of God is the splendour and brilliant beauty that shines through all of his divine attributes but is especially evident in the crucified and risen Christ. God created man so that, in a small way, he could be seen as brilliant and full of splendour in the creature that bears his image, unlike any other. Of course, God is glorified in plants and animals but much more in man and woman. (Isaiah 43:1-7, Ephesians 1:11-12).
- For the fulfilment of our purpose: Glorifying God
Man and woman were created to show God’s splendour and brilliant beauty in Christ through thought and deed. He makes much of Himself by creating us so that we may make much of Him as we live for Him. Why am I here? The Catechism question, “What is the chief end of man?” has this answer to it, “The chief end of man is to glorify God (Father, Son and Spirit) and enjoy him forever.” Many may have goals such as growing up, studying, getting some career going, having family (maybe), travelling the world and then dying. Could that be all there is in this thing called life? Is that my purpose in life? By no means! Our purpose in all these is singular; to glorify God, expressed in many forms (teaching, Engineering, parenting etc.) (Psalm 27:1-4).
- To represent God’s image and likeness
Unlike other creatures, man is in the very image of God, giving him value beyond all other created things. How do we see this expressed in man? Firstly, man has a moral compass that guides them into knowing what is right and what is not as he relates to others. The presence of right and wrong choices proves that we are morally oriented (Genesis 2:16-17). Secondly, man has a spirit that can respond to the workings of the Spirit, unlike other creatures (John 4:24). We are spiritual beings. Thirdly, man can think and engage in deductive conversations and decisions. Just like God, we have a mind that can process things rationally, leading us to a place of judgment. Finally, man can relate with other men and God, just as God can relate with men. Genesis 3:8 tells us that he came to talk to man and woman in the cool of the day. The relationship is one of the things Christ came to restore between God and man.
Humanity compromised: What happened to us?
In Genesis 3, the good God had created was defiled by Satan’s deception. The sin of rebellion against God’s rule, a trampling of God’s wisdom and a forsaking of God’s word changed the face of things.
The Fall (Image distorted, not lost)
Genesis 3 shows us how this walking away from God bore significant consequences for man. Expulsion from Eden, physical death, spiritual separation and deadness of our ability to respond to God. When Adam sinned, the image of God, created to live in full expressions of the life of God, had become frail and prone to wanderings, so vast and deep that the hopelessness afterwards was cataclysmic. All others who came after this- Noah’s days, Abraham’s days, Sodom and Gomorrah etc. show us how far off humanity had fallen. Paul, in Romans 3:23, said, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But all was not lost. Though man was born in sin, the image of God in him was not lost (otherwise, we would need a recreation of man). The sacrifices in the tabernacle were all pictures of what ought to be done, and they all fell short because they had no power to restore the lost image of man.
Redemption (Image recovered in Christ progressively)
The compromise would be dealt with by the coming of Jesus Christ–God’s perfect sacrifice that would take away the world’s sin. That which was distorted now has meaning and value in the finished work of Christ at the cross. Christ bought us with his blood, returning us to the place we were meant to be as God’s image bearers (2 Corinthians 5:17). Man is not left to their vices. Yes, severe damage happens while we walk in sin, yet the Lord will not cast away those who come to him in faith. Redemption is available in Christ.
Completion (Image wholly restored at the resurrection)
Ultimately, man, through a relationship with Jesus Christ, can be eternally restored at the return of our saviour and will never need any adjustments or improvements (1 Corinthians 15:49). Outside of Christ, God’s image in man remains distorted. Sin distorts God’s image by making us see ourselves as less than we should. Sin caused us to live below the standard God had set for us; perfect harmony with the Father. Look around and see how lowly we carry ourselves; the indulgences in drugs, alcoholism and immorality, to mention a few. We’ve reduced ourselves to nothing because we have lost sense of who we really are. But Christ makes the difference!
The feelings of insecurity, unacceptance, guilt, shame, etc., affect us because of sin. We are in a complete mess until we come to Christ for faith and salvation!
We are all equal: Why male and female?
Finally, man and woman were created equal (Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 11:11). None was deemed better than the other by God. A man’s physical make-up differs from that of a woman, therefore fit to carry out some things better than a woman. But there are things a woman’s body can do or handle that the man’s body cannot do. That is how God designed things. However, society has distorted this beautiful design by using the differences between men and women to prove a point. This does not bring God glory at all. Why then male and female?
Personal relationships. (Genesis 1:27). For there to be relationship and beauty. It would be disastrous if the world were full of men or women alone. We cannot overlook the beauty in the male and female design! God knew what he was doing.
Mutual submission. (Genesis 1:27, Ephesians 5). Contrary to popular opinion, the differences between men and women are not a matter of superiority. On the contrary, God intended for the differences to benefit all involved. But unfortunately, we lack joyful submission between the genders because of the fallen nature we acquired after the sin of Adam. We no longer desire to see things the way God made them. Therefore, in light of the current state of things, we must be prepared to be firm and be found contentious in this matter.
All that God created was good, as per his very confession. After the fall, all this goodness was altered but not destroyed. Because of the death in man’s heart, these two genders find themselves in a sort of war that will never end until we are reunited with the Master’s heart at salvation and progressively in the sanctification journey. In essence, we, males and females, have the same goal but with varied responsibilities. We must therefore be intentional in focusing on our ultimate purpose of glorifying our Creator in all we do.