13 December 2017

MAN’S DESTINY

It is not being selfish but rather responsible to be concerned about our own personal end. We can afford to be mistaken about many things in life, but we dare not be lacking in understanding and confidence about our own personal eternal situation. This is too important to neglect. This is too consequential to afford any laxity of thought or practice.

We need first of all to turn our attention to what was in the Divine Mind for man before God created him. What kind of a creature did God bring into being and what were God’s long term plans for him?

The Fall caused by sin has altered everything but let’s think about man’s characteristics before the pollution by sin.

MAN IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

“God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness… God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1: 26, 27).

In these verses God declares four times that the creation of man was “in the image of God.”

It is clear that God is not referring here to the bodily aspects of man’s being but beyond that to what separates man from the animal creation.

There are six aspects of God that God has implanted in every human being so that every single person can say that they are made in the likeness of God.

1. Man has a spirit that gives him the capacity to understand that there is a God and that it is possible to fellowship and commune with him.

Animals don’t say prayers!

The clearest evidence of this was when God came and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. These were Adam and Eve’s most precious moments.

2. Man has a mind that can think about God’s creation and God’s revelation of Himself to us.

Animals don’t gaze into sunsets and wonder at their glory.

Animals may have brains but lack any capacity to “remember their Creator.”

3. Man has been endowed with a conscience that tells him there is a difference between right and wrong. All human beings are endowed with that ability. Even those who commit the worst crimes somehow know they should not have.

4. Man has a free will to choose that which he desires. He is not pre-programmed but is permitted to make choices.

5. Man has an artistic sense that enables him to appreciate beauty, completeness and that which is wholesome and good.

6. Man has a heart that is capable of responding to love (and of loving his Creator).

God endowed man with all of these characteristics in order to share communion with him. It was God’s purpose for him to fellowship with the divine on a continual and eternal basis. Eternal life is not something that is “an add-on extra” to man’s existence but the very heart of his reason for being here. God made us to share fellowship with us always and forever.

MAN A LIVING SOUL

God made man to live (Gen. 2: 7,9, 3: 22).

Death is an intruder. Death is an invader with a situation where there was no divine intention that it should occupy. There was no empty space for death to fill. Death is added on and as such destroys God’s ideal.

MAN’S DEATH

1. Even after the Fall God still intends life and salvation for man. “Why will ye die?’” asks God (Ezek. 33: 11). “God… wants all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2: 3-4).

2. Death comes because of the Fall. “In the day you eat you shall surely die” (Gen. 2: 17).

3. Physical Death.

At the fall God said to fallen man “dust thou art and unto dust shall thou return” (Gen. 3: 19). In the New Testament “Through one man… death passed on all men” (Rom. 5: 12).

“It is appointed unto men once to die” (Heb. 9: 27).

4. Spiritual Death.

At the Fall man did not actually die physically but he did die spiritually. That spiritual death was the loss of fellowship with God. He was sent out of the Garden of Eden and no longer had these divine moments when God came in the “cool of the day” (Gen. 3: 22-24). When the prodigal son returned the father said, “This my son was dead and is alive again.” Salvation is restoration to fellowship with God and communion with Him.

5. The Death of the Unrepentant.

Jesus said to some people “You shall die in your sins” (John 8: 24).

The account of Lazarus and the rich, unrepentant man describes graphically the repercussions of death without salvation (Luke 16: 19-31). They suffer, they are conscious, they remember, they are beyond comfort or help, they cannot leave or escape from their situation, they are responsible for their situation in that they have not listened to God in life.

6. The Death of the Righteous.

The contrast is real and clear. Although deserving the death of the wicked the righteous are forgiven and “have passed from death to life” (John 5: 24).

“There is no condemnation” (Rom. 8: 1).

Not even death can separate the believer from Christ (Rom. 8: 38-39).

Paul anticipated death. “We are of good courage… and are willing rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5: 6-9).

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Ps. 116: 15).

Paul so desired to be with Christ that he wasn’t sure if he should chose to live longer or die sooner (Phil. 1: 21-24).

7. The Time of Death

God sets the length of our lives

“For everything there is a season – a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecc. 3:2).

“Even the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Ps. 139:16).

Job summed up the end of life “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months is with Thee, and Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass” (Job 14: 1-6, 16: 22).

That raises the issue of the sanctity of life as given by God for as long as He determines.

It also raises the subject of careless living that shortens a person’s life and of careful living that could prolong one’s life. “Why should you die before your time?” (Ecc. 7: 17).

8. Victory over Death.

“The last enemy that shall be abolished is death” (1 Cor. 15: 26).

Jesus came to abolish death. The work of Jesus was “that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2: 14-15).

Only in Christ is there victory over death.

“So teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90: 12).

In the future death will be completely done away with for those who are in Christ. Eternal Life will then be the privilege and inheritance of all who are in Christ. To be in Christ is to trust in Christ as Saviour and serve Him as Lord.

WORDS John Matthews