ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CREATION THE LORD GOD FORMED man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. God later caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. Upon opening his eyes, he beheld a woman near his side. The Hebrew word nephesh can be translated as “living being” or “soul,” and is aptly applied in the King James as “living creature.” A careful reader will likely observe that Adam, not overlooking his wife thereafter, were in fact the last recorded souls to be made in relation to the creation week. Before Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and Eve from his rib, the waters and the air and the whole face of the earth had already brought forth abundantly a host of living creatures—each after their own kind. And yet, the man and his wife were not simply living souls. Unquestionably, they were God’s crowning achievement. They were the result of a conversation. Let us make man in our image. Ever since Moses penned these words mankind has sought a definition as to what it exactly means—and yet the Bible never explicitly gives one. But let us not overlook the forest for the trees, because God’s image is the story of the Bible.
I am often reminded that proof of our immortality is the fact that we’re created in God’s image. And yet this attribute is clearly incommunicable. Why?—because the Bible plainly tells me so. There is quite a difference between recognizing a Scriptural truth, that we are created in God’s image, and equating ourselves with God. Let us not confuse the two. We are created in His image, but we are not the Creator. To equate ourselves with God in this way is a direct teaching of the Mystery Religion. Quite ironically, its founder and master architect, that crafty serpent of old, woke Eve with forbidden fruit by asking: “Hast God truly said…?” Satan led Eve to believe, if she ate of the fruit, she would become like God.
Many of our church fathers bought it, hook, line, and sinker—for the most part. To let a Christian brother in on the truth today, that we are indeed a mortal soul, is to speak against God’s Word—at least, in their rationale. Regardless, God “only hath immortality,” and the Bible is not mistaken when declaring it. The Apostle Paul, clearly forsaking his Hellenistic education, wrote to Timothy:
“Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen (1 Timothy 6:15-16).”
God alone is immortal—Amen. Adam and Eve were not. And neither are we.
In the whole of Scripture, there is not one exception to the rule—at least, not at present. And why should we be surprised? God’s Word tells us not all of His attributes are communicable to man. For example, God is self-existent. Adam and Eve were not. In Jesus’ epistle to the church we read: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8).” Secondly, God is omniscient. In 1 John 3:20 we read: “For God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” This also we cannot attribute to Adam and Eve. Thirdly, God is omnipotent. Job once spoke to the LORD, “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be witholden from thee (Job 42:2).” Adam and Eve were clearly not all-powerful. Furthermore, God is infinite. Upon building Israel’s first temple, Solomon is recorded as praying: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? (1 Kings 8:27)” Adam and Eve were not infinite, nor were they incorporeal, transcendent, triune, indivisible, and they certainly did not attain incomprehensibility, as Isaiah attributed of the LORD: “There is no searching of His understanding (Isaiah 40:28).” There is more of God—so much more—that we are not.
Rather, Adam and Eve were created to reflect a perfect character which was communicable to no other living soul on earth but them. Firstly, they were self-aware. Scripture says: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5)” Therefore, we also are self-aware. And much like our creation week parents, we are to be merciful and keepers of justice. To this effect, Hosea 12:6 reads: “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” We are furthermore to be dispensers of grace. Concerning grace, the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus: “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Ephesians 4:7).” And I shan’t overlook this central tenant of the human experience—we are to love one another (John 13:5). In these ways—and more—we are very much created in God’s image.
And yet in these communicable attributes, which Adam and Eve at one moment in time perfectly exhibited, sin has disrupted. Quite tragically, it has twisted, contorted, and perverted the image of God to no end. Even our self-awareness has been thrust into the arms of humanist lovers. Accordingly, what we perceive of reality is more often than not a bath house of pagan perversities. Moral depravity is a sad state of affairs filling the reality of our lives, a truth which the pages of the Bible unbiasedly exhumes. It is the gangrenous story of avarice and lust, gluttony and sloth, envy, pride, lies, idolatry, and murderous ambition, all of which we have genetically inherited through our forefather Adam. Essentially it is paradise lost and, in a dazzling plot twist—this cannot be overstated—paradise restored. The Apostle Paul neatly fleshed out this stunning new act in the Adamic drama to the Church of Corinth when he wrote:
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Corinthians 15:45-50).”
The Apostle Paul once again defied Hellenistic Judaism’s insistence in the pre-existence of souls, particularly the Platonic influence found in the Jews highly influential Book of Wisdom. He is saying to the Corinthian that our blessed Savior, who existed before Adam, did not originate from the dust of the earth like every other mortal soul when taking on Adamic flesh. The Second Adam is from heaven, and because He is found without blemish, Jesus is a life-giving Spirit; the first-fruit who promises that “we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” at the resurrection. This much is future tense. And yet, we are commanded at present to put on the new man—that is, the spiritual genetics, if you will, of the Second Adam. Let us not confuse our present command and future promise.
To the saints at Ephesus, Paul wrote:
“And that ye put on the new man [second Adam], which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24).”
Just as consistently, Paul reminded the saints at Colossae:
“…And have put on the new man [second Adam], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him (Colossians 3:10).”
To the church at Philippi, Paul’s message remained undeniably consistent with the rest. We are presently in the image of the first Adam. And yet one day our LORD Jesus “will transform our lowly [earthy] body to be like His glorious [heavenly] body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:21).”
There is a lot of confusion as to why we are still the earthy; the natural body; and yet we are also expected to be a new creature, or as Paul would write: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).”
I have often heard it spoken from the Calvinist, If I’m born again, how can I be unborn? To him I ask, if we are born again now, will we be born again-again at the resurrection? I believe the new creature teaching should be quite separate from the born again doctrine. One is present, a shadow of what is to come; the later still future tense, a fulfillment of all that was formerly promised. The new creature is born of baptism. Our participation with Christ’s crucifixion is a death to the old earthy man. More precisely, because we have died to the earthy man, we have been given the Holy Spirit as an assurance of our down payment, and may therefore set our eyesight upon a kingdom come eternity in new spirit bodies. Specifically, we must live now for the heavenly man. To be born again into our new spiritual bodies—I think both Jesus and His servant Paul were clear of its ultimate fulfillment—we must be patient and await the resurrection. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, the Apostle wrote, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Corinthians 15:50).
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).”
So let us become the new man then! No, no—by stating that we are a new creation, the Christian is not hoping to achieve the impossible. His lofty goals are not earthy ambitions, which liken to Satan’s own hopes of self-ascendancy to the heights of heaven. The true saint has died to the mystery religion. His hopes are therefore not impossible works-based undertakings. He is not the Superman of Friedrich Nietzsche lore, nor the practically-perfect Mary Poppins of P.L. Travers’ witchcraft and Theosophy. Let us not be confused any longer. In order to put on the new man, the sinner understands he must be found in Christ. Or as Paul would instruct Colossae, we must be hid with Christ in God. To this effect he wrote:
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).”
If we are dead to our earthy selves, then we cannot keep to our former ambitions and still expect to enter into the presence of a holy God. Scripture is clear on this. As earthy men, we were enemies of God (Romans 5:10). In order to be born again at the resurrection, we must die to the self and be hidden in the righteousness of Christ. Paul wrote: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27).” Here we discover our new self—not clothed with a cape or a parrot-face umbrella, but in the arms of our Savior. It is not because we are the second Adam. It is only because our Father in heaven, when He looks upon us, sees Christ the Savior—the second Adam; the lamb who takes away the sins of the world—standing in our place.
Paul wrote to Corinth:
“For He hath mad Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).”
And quite similarly, to Ephesus he wrote:
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13).”
The untarnished image of God is one which bears the righteousness and holiness of our Creator because Christ Himself bears it in our place. This is the very image which Adam and Eve were constituted to bear before their decision for sin. In other words, for those of us found in Christ Jesus, God “will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:12).” So let His kingdom come be restored unto us in the only way achievable; let us be hid with Christ, in His righteousness and holiness, and therefore be found created in the image of God on the day of resurrection. As new creatures, we must willfully live for our resurrected bodies by forsaking our earthy selves, for it is written: “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24).”
The Christian must see to it that holiness is restored. The Apostle Peter wrote: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15).” He furthermore must see to it that humility is restored, for Jesus “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:8).” The second Adam became nothing, even becoming “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” This also we are to become—nothing. To this point, concerning the self-conscious man’s natural inclination for humanism, Galatians would remind us: “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself (Galatians 6:3).” We are expected to be curators of justice and mercy and dispensers of grace, like our Savior, but love also must be restored. As further evaluation that the new man exhibits the very image of God, which he claims to be hidden in, Jesus gave this strict command: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:5).”
These are communicable attributes of God’s image. “For we are His workmanship,” Paul wrote to Ephesus, “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).” The path of the new creature is the narrow way. To the church of Galatia Paul accredited the saintly man as the “many as walk according to this rule.”
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God (Galatians 6:15-16).”
Elsewhere, Paul writes of the new creature as one who “also should walk in newness of life” while awaiting the resurrection.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are burided with him, by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likness of his resurrection (Romans 6:1-5).”
Becoming a new creature doesn’t make us immortal any more than it makes us omnipotent, omnipresent, transcendent, or triune. But dare I forget our blessed hope! Our becoming like the second Adam will not merely secure a return of what once was. Adam was of the earth. But Jesus was of heaven. With Christ serving as a witness and first fruit of our own resurrection to come, our spiritual bodies will dramatically expound upon and ultimately fulfill what it means to be called sons of God. The Apostle John wrote concerning the sainthood: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name (John 1:12).” Though we shall never become omnipotent, omnipresent, transcendent or triune at the resurrection, nor beyond (Scripture makes no mention of these attributes), we will finally secure what the self-conscious human hopes to achieve on his own—by way of persuasive argument. We will be given an unconditional immortality. After all, the Apostle Paul wrote of the resurrection: “this mortal must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53).”
The self-proclaiming immortal man, desiring to be like God rather than made in His image, wishes for nothing else but to climb over the wall of heaven or hop the back fence into eternity and sit upon the throne of its King rather than wait in the grave for the LORD to wake him with a trumpet blast, followed with the radiating starry-light of resurrected immortality. But know this, the sainthood of all ages wait upon His glorious appearing. Even the dear Apostle John understood of his youthful friend, the Savior whom he longed to be with; they would not be reunited again (on this side of curtain or the other) until He returned to establish His Davidic kingdom, “for we shall see Him as He is.” But not before.
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).”
The quick and the dead wait upon the LORD.
Dark Speeches: the Mortal Soul Series