So far I’ve discussed the Scriptures which are the foundation for our theology (or at least is should be). We looked at the nature, character, and attributes of God. I have posted on Jesus Christ, his nature, life and work. Last week I posted on the Holy Spirit’s nature and work in the world and in the lives of believers., and also discussed sign gifts which sparked some great discussion.
I want to take a look at us. What does the Scripture have to say about you and me? I believe our view of ourselves will affect how we approach the Bible, how we approach God, and our view of salvation. Plainly put…. do we have an elevated view of ourselves and our nature or do we recognize where we actually stand before God? You can basically boil humanity down into two groups (there are subgroups of course) – one group has an elevated view of man, and low view of God, and the opposite group has a low view of man and high view of God.
The low view of man and high view of God, I believe is what is taught in Scriptures. It is recognizing the greatness of God and realizing in light of His greatness and His holiness that we are nothing. Isaiah realized this when he saw the LORD in a vision.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-5, ESV, emphasis mine)
Jesus said himself that apart from God we can do nothing, (John 15:5). So for those reasons and many others that is why I take a low view of myself and mankind and a high view of God. This is also the position that the Evangelical Free Church of America (as well as any evangelical church/denomination).
We believe that man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is, therefore, lost, and only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained, (Article V, 1950 EFCA Statement of Faith).
While I hold a low view of man that doesn’t mean that we are completely without value. We were not created this way. We were created in the image of God, in His likeness, a spiritual being that is eternal. We were created to have an intimate fellowship with God and to commune with Him. He commissioned us to fill the earth, subdue it, and to be stewards of the earth. It says in scripture:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so, (Genesis 1:26-30, ESV).
Adam and Eve were created in a perfect environment, and enjoyed God’s presence in a state of untested morality. Eve was then deceived by the serpent and partook of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which God had forbid them to do, (Genesis 2:16). Adam then willingly sinned against the only commandment that God had given them, (Genesis 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:14). Man then fell, breaking his fellowship and communion with God, bringing a penalty of sin and death to all generations and a curse to the world around him, (Genesis 3:7-19). This sin nature has been passed to every human being since Adam, (Romans 5:12), with the exception of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Mankind is born alienated from God, (Romans 5:19).
Man from then on has been in spiritual darkness, (Ephesians 2:2; 5:8), in ignorance, (1 Peter 1:14), blind, (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:18) and lawless, (1 John 3:4). Everyone one in history has sinned, (Romans 3:23) and deserves death, which is eternal separation from God, (Romans 6:23). Any good that mankind can do is only by virtue of being created in the image of God, but even then our good works are considered as nothing but dirty rags before God, (Isaiah 64:6).
Mankind cannot restore fellowship with God the Father on their own, (Genesis 3:8; Romans 3:10-20; Ephesians 2:1-5). God, being rich in mercy and grace, has given us His Word, His Son and His Spirit; for we are lost and without hope outside the grace of God, (John 1:12-13). In order for restored fellowship with God the Father, our hearts must be changed supernaturally, (Deuteronomy 29:4; Jeremiah 31:33; John 3:5). The Holy Spirit enters man when he exercises faith and trust in Christ, (Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23). Then the believer has the power of the Holy Spirit to have victory from sin, (John 7:37-39; Romans 6:4-13).
Next we’ll look at the salvation that God offers us through Jesus Christ.