The UK Bible Students Website
Christian Biblical Studies
Part IV (final)
By A. Prentice
All Scripture citations are to the King James (Authorised) Version
THE HUMAN RACE we see today is not a satisfactory representation of God’s handiwork in either the moral or physical sense. The curse pronounced on Adam and his offspring has intervened over several thousand years, playing havoc with man’s gene pool and setting into operation a slow-motion death. Man is now only a pale reflection of what God intended him to be.
This imperfection is evident in many areas of individual and collective human endeavour, and gives leverage to the arguments of evolutionists and atheists (often one and the same) that Man cannot have been engineered by a supremely intelligent Higher Being. Bodies wear out, organs fail, the recall of memory is at best faulty, and in general human beings are weak and inefficient – very ‘un-Godlike’. Had an infallible designer-God created the human body, so the argument goes, it would work better than it does. It is this inefficiency and the occasional clumsiness in the design of the human body that especially engages the attention of perceptive writers such as Professors Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones. They are not wrong in all of their observations.
Quoting from Psalm 8, the Apostle Paul writes (Hebrews 2: 6-9; a portion italicised for emphasis):
6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?
7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
This passage contrasts the state of Adam (v. 7), the first man, who forfeited his perfect life by sin, with Jesus (v. 9), who did not. This contrast is an important one, for it lies at the heart of understanding how Jesus could be the Saviour of anyone: Jesus the man was, in His human perfection, like the perfect Adam at his creation. St. Paul summarises the connection between the two (Romans 5: 18):
Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam, ed.] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus, ed.] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Jesus died on the cross as a perfect substitute – an equivalent – for Adam, dying in the sinner’s place, taking the sinner’s (Adam’s) condemnation on Himself (Galatians 3: 13):
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
The physical perfection of the human being is not a question that occupied the attention of the Christian church during the Gospel Age, and it is perhaps of little or no interest to many Christians. Most believers expect at death to go to heaven, shedding their ‘vile earthly body’, their temporary earthly abode.
But the kingdom of God has an earthly component – ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth’ (Matthew 6: 10). From other Scriptures we learn that the vast majority of mankind – the non-elect – will be resurrected and offered an opportunity for everlasting life in the Millennial reign of Christ. This Biblical truth adds a new dimension to the question of man’s eternal destiny. The Paradise forfeited by Adam’s sin is to be restored – not metaphorically, but literally. On the assumption that a disorder in man’s physical organism leads inevitably to death, we anticipate that this process will be stopped. Whereas at the present time the unavoidable expectation of mankind is eventual death, extinction, in the perfect state there will be a confident expectation of living everlastingly, the human body being made perfect.
We should not claim even for perfect Man abilities that may be technically impossible. We can have no way of knowing the appearance and abilities of the perfect man as he came from the hand of God. Obviously he was mortal (die-able). But we can know nothing for certain of his physique, his intellectual capacity, or the power of his memory, how strong he was or, for example, how fast he could run, and so on.
The Scriptures do assure us that the Adamic curse will be removed and that an earthly paradise will be reinstated. This means that Man will be restored to his former glory of perfection. However, since we do not know in detail what constitutes perfection, we cannot determine what elements of human nature are imperfections in the present state. Will our memory be better? Will it be unlimited? The Scriptures are silent on such things.
Any clinical definition of perfection will miss the point. What we may now regard as imperfections may be normal features of human, material existence. Free will, the ability to choose, implies a calculation of the respective merits of two or more options. So long as we may choose to do this or that at whim, we open ourselves to making ‘mistakes’, trivial though they may be. Not being able to see around corners, it is quite likely that we may bump into someone coming the other way. (Which is why ‛I’m sorry’ was invented!) And, assuming the universal need for rest, we may reasonably conclude that even in perfection Man will require sleep to re-energise him. This implies that he will grow tired and therefore susceptible in some degree to making errors due to impaired judgement.
The most important aspect of human perfection is moral integrity, for it is in being sinless and holy that the perfect human being will most closely approximate to the likeness of God. Virtue, not vigour, counts the most. The ability to will the will of God and to carry it out in one’s daily life will be within the reach of perfect Man in a perfect world.
But none will win perfect eternal life unless he or she accepts Christ as Saviour and King. God’s kingdom on earth will offer all who have ever lived the opportunity to do just that. Thus the pursuit of a perfection proper for humanity, and pleasing to their Creator, will find its blessed fulfilment.
For more details on the ‘two salvations’ – one heavenly, the other earthly – follow this link:
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