The Theology of Redemption
Study One – Man’s Need of Redemption
The Fall of Man
This lesson introduces the first study of the series, Man’s Need of Redemption. It will consist of two lessons. First, man’s creation as a perfect image bearer of God’s glory and subsequent fall into sin and corruption will be discussed. The next lesson will focus on the extent and depth of that corruption and how it has effected our being.
Our study of Redemption begins at the creation account on the very first pages of the very first book in the bible. As I’ve stated previously, redemption is the story of God as he relates to man, who corrupted himself at his initial trial of faith and obedience. It begins in Genesis and weaves its way throughout both the Old and New Testaments. So, the reason I’m starting here is because this is where God starts. In the creation account we learn of man’s original blessed state and the events that led to his fall from the state of innocence into a state of corruption.
It is vital to note that in the beginning God created everything good. All things were made for his glory. ‘And God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good‘. (Gen 1:31A) This clearly demonstrates that man in his created state was ‘very good’. He was not flawed in character or sinful in nature.
Man was made in God’s image: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Gen 1:26). What does it mean to be created in the image and likeness of God himself? Are we physically like God? God is spirit and does not have a material body as we understand it. God is omnipresent, meaning he fully occupies all space everywhere. God is fully present here with me as I type this just as surely as he is fully present with you as you read this. This cannot be the meaning of the terms ‘image’ and ‘likeness’.
A simple definition is this: Man is like God and represents God. We’ve determined that we cannot be like him physically since we are not pure spirit and are not in any sense omnipresent. So how are we like God? The Hebrew words for image (tselem) and likeness (demut) refer to something that is similar to but not identical to the thing it represents. We are similar to God in many ways , yet this does not mean in any way, shape or form that we are ‘little gods’ as is taught in some circles. Man is in no sense divine or has a divine nature. Hence, the definition that we are ‘similar’ – not carbon copies.
Man reflects God’s image in the following vital ways:
Perfectly. Man was not made flawed in any aspect of his character or nature. He was formed without spot or blemish, physically and ethically. He did not originally have a tendency toward sin or rebellion.
Morally. Man has a moral compass – a powerful inner sense of good and evil. He has a capacity for behavior that is either holy and righteous in keeping with God’s image or unholy and unrighteous, which is contrary to God’s image. It’s beyond all dispute that men have a conscience. We all have an inner sense of what is right and what is wrong. The laws of God are written on our hearts. (See Romans Ch.2) All humans are morally accountable before God for their actions. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Cor 5:10). Created in His image we are keenly aware of this judgment to come, either consciously or subconsciously . By nature, we recoil from the horror of such a concept, so it is often suppressed.
Spiritually. We aren’t just physical beings, but spiritual as well. Every person has an inner being that exists in union with our physical bodies. This spiritual essence continues on beyond physical death for eternity. God himself is spirit. (John 4:24). We also, must be spirit. The Genesis account of creation demonstrates that man is set apart from all other creatures. ‘then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature’ (Gen 2:7). Jesus himself made an unmistakable distinction between body and spirit: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28). The terms spirit and soul are similar in meaning and sometimes used interchangeably. Man may be able to destroy the physical body but he cannot touch the invisible, immaterial soul. God has jurisdiction over our souls and upon death he either ushers us into his radiant presence or casts us away into eternal gloom.
Mentally. Man is able to reason and think logically. No other creature on the planet has a fraction of man’s ability to think and solve problems. The complexities of language and our ability to communicate with other humans on multiple levels has no parallel in the world. Man is keenly self-aware. Many a philosopher has pondered the significance of his own existence, his place in creation and the ultimate fate he is in store for. King Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes, ‘He has put eternity into man’s heart‘ (Ecc 3:11). We have a conception of our life as something that is continual, ongoing beyond the physical death of our bodies.
The creative faculties of man appear to have no bound. A simple look at the displays of paintings, sculptures and other craftsmanship in an art museum,or the diverse and imaginative selections of cinema and theater productions that have been created reveals the distinct image of God in us. Libraries full of diverse books that have been written about worlds near and far as well as the swift advances in technology with computers, automobiles, aeronautics and medical research so clearly demonstrates man’s creative brilliance that it can scarcely be denied that he is made in the image and likeness of God, who has created all things visible and invisible.
Man also reflects God mentally in the emotions he feels and expresses. Scripture reveals that God feels joy, love, anger and hate among multitudes of other feelings.. All of these emotions man has the capacity for as well. However in his fallen state, his emotional capacity is corrupted and often his heart is ruled by emotions gone amuck.
Relationally. God in his infinite wisdom has instituted a series of relationships in society in order to give us a tangible, understandable demonstration of the way in which we are to relate to God. In marriage our spouse is a reflection of a believer’s relation to Christ. The scriptures compare the body of believers to an earthly bride. Paul admonishes husbands to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Children mirror our relationship to our Heavenly Father. We are his children who look to him to provide for our every need and who preserves and cherishes us as his very own. Without the earthly family structure we could never rightly understand how God relates to us.
I should point out that when I use the term ‘man’ I am referring to the entire human race, both male and female. Woman was made from man, as represented by God taking out one of Adam’s ribs and forming her from it. Woman was created out of man and thus, was also made in the image and likeness of God in exactly the same way as man. Woman is not an inferior creation by God but is equal in every way to man. She is only subordinate to man in the authority God has given.
Adam was a complete person and did not lack any one virtue within himself, perfectly reflecting God’s image. Taking a part of him out and forming woman demonstrates that the relationship of man and woman uniting and becoming one flesh is an act of completing each other. It is a reuniting of the wholeness of man. Apart from this bond both man and woman are incomplete. This again, represents our relationship to Christ. Apart from union with him we are not whole.
To be Continued…