God’s Plan 2: What Is Man?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

~ Ge 1:27-31

Previously, we explored the question “Who is God?”, and we see that “God” is a word similar to “family”. God is plural, yet God is singular. The Smith family are one family, but each member is a different person. God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son are united as close as … a family. Even the words “Father” and “Son” show this close-knit family relationship. They are one, but they are one in that they are united to a single cause. That cause is to build a larger family.

…I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…

~ Eph 3:14-15

Man’s Mortality

God created human beings to become these members of His family. God wants billions and billions of children! Therefore, He originally created 2 human beings: 1 male and 1 female. Just as there are 2 beings in the Godhead (a close family relationship), God created 2 human beings as a family unit (so they could be “one flesh”).

However, God is spirit. People die, though. One of the age old questions is “What happens to you when you die?” This is one of the great mysteries of all time, but it doesn’t have to be so! The Bible clearly states, “for out of [the ground] wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Ge 3:19).

Notice that when man was created in Ge 2:7, “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground… and man became a living soul.” Adam was essentially animated dirt! Humans were not “given” a soul, but Adam “became” a soul. Humans do not have an immortal soul. If you search for “immortal soul” in a KJV or a NKJV, you just won’t find it!

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die.

~ Eze 18:4, 20a

We are twice told a “soul” can die! Obviously, if it can die, then it is not immortal!

Remember, eternal life is a “gift” from God. Ro 6:23 is often quoted, but little attention is paid to the last half of it: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The doctrine of the “immortal soul” clouds the real Gospel of Jesus Christ! It creates a false gospel based upon the pagan myths that mankind has invented, and it is not found in the Bible. Instead, the Bible says:

1. The dead “know nothing” (Ecc 9:5-6). Even their love and their hatred is gone. If mankind were immortal and if righteous people ascended to heaven upon death, then certainly their love for God would remain, would it not?

2. Likewise, there is no praise of God in death (Ps 6:5; Ps 115:17; Isa 38:18-19).

3. Souls die (already covered above).

4. When people die their “thoughts perish” (Ps 146:4). Some would argue that this should be translated “plans perish”. However, I would like to point out that, even if this was true, the heavy implication is that plans come through thought and reason. If they are unconscious, there is no thought and no reason, therefore, there are no plans either.

5. Dead people are “asleep” (Jn 11:11-13; 1Co 15:16-18). They are in a state of unconsciousness, similar to when a person is put to sleep prior to an operation (cf. Ge 2:21).

If the soul dies, then it does not go to heaven or to an ever burning hell upon death! This doctrine is a Satanic counterfeit of the doctrine of the resurrection, which is a fundamental belief in the NT (Heb 6:1-2). The only way to reconcile the doctrine of the immortal soul with Scripture is to redefine words such as “hell” (a hole in the ground, the grave, somehow becomes a fiery pit that burns forever), “second death” (instead of “cessation of life”, it becomes “life apart from God”) and “heaven” (“place where God’s throne is” somehow becomes “the reward of the saved”) amongst other word redefinitions. The practical usages of words are “spiritualized” into meaning something different, and even sometimes the opposite of what was intended.

What is the opposite of life? Death? Well, not if it means life somewhere else. The true Gospel tells us about a resurrection, where life returns to a body. That body may be a spirit body if it is the first resurrection (1Co 15:44). If there is an immortal soul, and if it goes to heaven upon death, then why is there a need for a “resurrection”? You see, you have to redefine the clear word “resurrection” as well! As lie builds upon lie, more and more words have to be redefined. Has the depth of the deception hit you yet?

Is God logical? If “death” is separation from God, then what happens when a Christian “dies” the first time? If they are going to God, then they cannot be separating from God at the same time! Instead of playing word games, wouldn’t it be better to just read the words that God gave us and try to understand them as written?

One more Scripture just so you understand how badly this particular doctrine contradicts the Bible. Will hell be thrown into hell? If hell is an ever burning place of torment, why would it be thrown into an ever burning place of torment?

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

~ Rev 20:14

The only way this makes sense is if “hell” were the grave. Death is the final enemy that will be defeated at the end of God’s plan, and the grave is symbolic of death itself. Of course, it is literal as well, since the whole planet, and all graves contained therein, will be enveloped in flames (S. 2Pe 3:10-12).

So, What is a “Soul”?

The Hebrew word for “soul” is “nephesh”. It translated in various ways as “creature”, “being” or “soul”. It can be combined with other words to be translated “life”. In other words, it doesn’t even have to be a live body to be a “soul”!

And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body [nephesh] of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day:

And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body [nephesh] of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the LORD in his appointed season among the children of Israel?

And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body [nephesh], or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD.

~ Nu 9:6-10

So, when Adam “became a living soul”, he literally became a living, breathing creature. He was made flesh and blood, but in the Garden of Eden was an opportunity. While he lived in the Garden, the Tree of Life was available to him. He had the opportunity to become immortal at the proper time and place!

Spirit in Man

Yet, it would be foolish to say there isn’t a spiritual side to man. What makes one think? What makes one be creative? There is more to being created in the “image of God” than a physical likeness. God gave humans intellect to be able to read His word and understand it. God gave people the ability to converse, explore the universe, study and think in order to learn more about Him.

Let me take a small sidetrack here to say there is nothing wrong with real science. Science has imposed a system that has allowed us to come up with modern medical miracles, fly across the world in a matter of hours, instantly broadcasts messages electronically around the globe and back and fly men to the moon and back. The original purpose of science, though, was to learn how God did things. It has since been perverted and twisted in order to explain things without God. They are trying to explain the creation without a Creator! They are trying to explain the effects without the Primary Cause! Regardless of what you believe, there had to be a First Cause. Yet, in spite of all of our advances, science cannot explain why. Why this vast universe? Why haven’t we discovered life outside of our own planet? Why was I born?

Science focuses on the physical. Many try to deny the nonphysical. Yet, that is at odds with reality.

I once read where Stephen Hawkings lamented (sorry don’t recall the title of the book) that he could not understand why there were only 4 dimensions. He postulated there should be 20. Well, I cannot help but wonder, “How do you know there are only 4?” Does the fact that we cannot measure something mean it does not exist? Does the fact that we cannot detect something with our senses mean it does not exist? There is another dimension, Mr Hawkins. It is called the spiritual dimension. It is not physical, and it must be revealed to us (Cf. Nu 22:31; 2Ki 6:17).

People every day all over the earth are measuring something in which they cannot see, hear, taste or feel. However, it is as real as my index finger. Don’t know what I mean yet? How about a clue? In the U.S., we obsess over it. Still don’t know? C’mon! It’s time! We measure it, we waste it, we track it and in some ways we are slaves to it. However, you cannot touch it, feel it, see it or even weigh it. It has no mass. Yet, it is a force we cannot really control, and it would only be a fringe element that would deny its existence.

What is life? One definition is that something is alive when it moves, it consumes fuel and it reproduces more like itself. Unfortunately, fire also fits this definition. How do you know when something is alive? Likewise, how do you know when something is dead? That one is easy. It is dead when it stops moving! Lack of respiration, lack of heartbeat and lack of brain waves might be indicators on larger organisms. On smaller organisms, you cannot hook up a heart meter to it. You simply know because it quits moving and never moves again. Yet, really, what is life? How do you measure it? How do you quantify it? It cannot be felt, touched, seen or heard. You can only see the effects. Life itself cannot be weighed. It has no mass. Yet, who would deny its existence?

Animals are wonderful creations. Through the seasons of the year, they display patterns of living that occur year after year. Some of the most amazing patterns are those of migrating birds. One bird in particular travels hundreds of miles each year and settles only a few miles from where it started! These patterns are passed down generation to generation. We call the force that governs these patterns “instinct”. You cannot see instinct, only the results. Furthermore, this instinct does not circumvent animals learning new behaviors. Dogs do not have an instinct to sit, lay down or stay simply because of a sound, a voice command. However, they have the ability to learn to do so in return for certain rewards. Sometimes, they can be trained to overcome instinct, but attempts to do so have also resulted in animals turning on their owners. Instinct cannot be felt, touched, seen or heard. It cannot be weighed. It has no mass. Yet, scientists study it. They do not deny its existence.

Mankind is at the top of God’s physical creation. As we have been learning, mankind is destined to become the top of God’s spiritual creation as well. Even evolution regards mankind as the most evolved and “the top of the food chain”. Who can deny mankind’s abilities? Mankind has intellect, reasoning, hope, love, creativity, etc, that way surpasses that of the animals. The seat of all of this is the human mind. The mind cannot be felt, touched, seen or heard. It cannot be weighed. It has no mass. Yet, do not scientists study it? They do not deny its existence.

Animals and humans both have spirit components. Animals have instinct, and humans have a consciousness that is vastly superior.

All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

~ Ecc 3:20-21

Let’s not underestimate the import of this Scripture! Animals (“beasts” in KJ times) have a spirit. It goes “downward to the earth” when it dies. The spirit in them ceases to exist, so we cannot automatically assume that all spirit lives forever. This “spirit” is the instinct that we recognize. It is their programming. It is shown in their limited ability to learn new tasks (or, tricks if being taught).

Notice that “all go unto one place” – the grave. The answer to the question “Who knoweth the spirit of man…?” is God! God saves off our experiences, our loves, our joys, our very character and nature so that He can resurrect us when the time comes. If we refuse to repent, if we refuse to enter into His family, He has the ability to destroy even that spirit, that life force (lit. “psyche” which also means “mind”), in the Lake of Fire (Mt 10:28). And, BTW, “destroy” means to put out of existence, not to exist somewhere else (Cf. Mt 2:13)! In many other places, “apollymi” is rendered “perish” (S. Mt 5:29; 8:25; 10:28).

But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

~ Job 32:8

There’s the key! It is the spirit in man that enables us to understand what God has in store for us. That is why mankind is vastly superior to ordinary animals. He was given a mind to aid him in understanding God! However, we are not complete! There is still something missing!

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

~ 1Co 2:10-12

God has a Spirit as well. God uses that Spirit to grant us understanding (Jn 14:17, 26). We must have His Holy Spirit in order to be saved (Ro 8:9, 16).

God is spirit (Jn 4:24; the KJV has “a” inserted in it, but modern translations don’t put that in). That is, He is composed of spirit, even as we are composed of flesh and blood. His Spirit joins with our spirit to make us a new creation (2Co 5:7; Gal 6:15). Is this symbolic? For now, yes. Eventually, however, we must become spirit beings ourselves! This concept is very important because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1Co 15:50)! If God’s Spirit is not within us, if we are not resurrected and made into spirit ourselves, then we will not make it into the Kingdom of God! God is spirit, and He will have spirit beings for children!

That is what was offered to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden! That was what the Tree of Life symbolized!

What would you do if you were offered this amazing gift? Sadly, many will not take heed! Many will turn away! Adam and Eve did!

There is more to deal with, however, before going back to the Garden of Eden. Next, we have heard it said that Jesus is “the only begotten Son of God”, but some have gone to great lengths to misinterpret what that means.

Jesus, the “Only Begotten Son”

Jesus Christ is the “only begotten” Son of God. Why that distinction? Does that mean He is the only son of God? No!

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…

~ Jn 1:12

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…

~ 1Jn 3:1a

Jesus was the “only begotten Son” of God, but some translations have chosen to render it “only son” and changing the meaning! The words “birth” and “begotten” (or, more modern “conception”) are English words. These are both translated from the word “genao”. The Greeks did not make a distinction between conception and birth because they viewed birth as a process instead of an event. I want to point this out early on, but please hang onto that thought. It is from this word that the word “monogenes” comes, which is translated “only begotten”. He was the only human being physically “begotten” and later “born” of God the Father. It was the work of the Holy Spirit that made Mary conceive. Jesus had no earthly father. He was born of a woman, a virgin. Some render it as “uniquely conceived”, and this is legitimate as well, given that He was the only One physically born of God.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

~ Isa 7:14

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

~ Mt 1:18-23

It was through the power of the Holy Spirit by which Jesus was conceived.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

~ Lk 1:34-35

Now, if we read this literally, the Holy Spirit came upon Mary to enable her to conceive. So, if the Holy Spirit were a person, then Jesus prayed to the wrong Father! This is further proof that God is not a trinity! No, the Holy Spirit is the power, the force, of God, and it was through that conduit that Mary was impregnated with Jesus. He was literally the Son of God, which is what some will try to spiritualize away! However, it being done through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, also goes against the teachings of some extreme fringe elements that want to portray God as having sex with Mary. That wasn’t necessary, as the same power that came over the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection, the same power that seals us until the day of our redemption, that same power was the “how” of Mary’s pregnancy.

We Are Literally “Brethren”

Jesus was unique in another aspect, though. He was the first to be resurrected to eternal life. He became the “firstborn among many brethren” (Ro 8:29). “Many” means just that! God wants billions of children!

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

~ 2Pe 3:8-9

People go to church, and they call each other “brother” and “sister”. We are called “children of God” both in Scripture and by many religious. Is that just symbolic? Most of the world’s churches do not fully understand what that means (if any understand at all)!

The God Kind

Let’s go back to Genesis to really grasp what is going on.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

…And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

…And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

~ Ge 1:11, 21, 24

Notice how everything was created after its “kind” and was expected to reproduce after its “kind”.

And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

…And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

~ vv 26, 28

Wait! There is no “kind” here! Everything else was created after its own “kind”, but man was made in God’s “image”! The shocking truth is that mankind was created after the “God kind”! The exciting proof doesn’t stop there, either! What happens when Adam starts to create more of the human kind?

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth…

~ Ge 5:3

Is there any question that Seth took on attributes that Adam had? Is there any question that Seth is Adam’s son? Is there any question that Seth was born after the Adam “kind”? Can it be any clearer that God created humans after the “God kind”?

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

~ Jas 3:9

The English word similitude is used in various passages to show form or likeness. The form of the word in Jas 3:9 “homoiosis” is specific to that passage and always means “likeness” or “making like”. Essentially, it conveys the same meaning of “image” in that we are somehow a physical representation of what God looks like, and we carry certain of His attributes, such as intelligence, reason, creativity, imagination and the capacity for learning and transmitting ideas. God took Himself as a blueprint and created human beings that He can relate to and eventually live with Him as His children in eternity! God is reproducing Himself!

People like to run around saying they have been “born again”, but they have little to no comprehension what that means! God is literally creating children. We must literally be “born again” to be in His family. We have seen that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; therefore, we must literally become spirit beings to be completely “born” of God!

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

~ Jn 3:5-8

Notice that you cannot detect those born of the Spirit any more than you can see the wind! You can see the effects of spirit, but, unless they are supernaturally revealed to you, you cannot see spirit.

Since the Greek views “birth” as a process, this process starts when we are “begotten”, or conceived, by God’s Holy Spirit joining with our human spirit (just as when sperm and an egg unite in the uterus), and the process ends when we are “born” literally into spirit beings. So, whenever you see “begotten” and “born” in the Bible, keep in mind that it is a process, not an event as we in the English-speaking world view it. So, conception and birth are different stages of the process.

That is why only a few in the COG will say they are “born again”. They realize that birth in the English-speaking world is an event, and the time of that event has not yet happened. They will become spirit beings at Christ’s return (S. 1Co 15).

Now, if Adam and Eve had kept God’s commandments and if they were allowed continued access to the Tree of Life that God’s way of life would have led to, then they could have become spirit beings in His Kingdom during their lifetimes. In fact, death could have been totally avoided.*

However, there first was a test. However, Man Failed the Test.

*I realize that in some COG circles there is the notion that the bodies of Adam and Eve would have eventually worn out and they would have died the first death anyhow. If that were true, however, then God’s warning “Dying ye shall die” would have been meaningless. Furthermore, the wages of sin is death (Ro 6:23), so why would they have died if they had not sinned?

Some would point to Heb 9:27 to say that everyone is appointed once to die, and thus reason that Adam and Eve would have had to die the first death. As further evidence against this teaching, consider that the saints who are alive at Christ’s return will not see death. What happens to their appointment to death? Why are they not required to die first?

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One Comment

  1. John, I saw your post on Ray's blog. I perceive that you think pretty highly of yourself and your own knowledge. I would ask you to rethink what you have posted about brother Ray. You need a little more exposure to the bigger gospel presentation that Ray gives.
    I hope you will think about this.
    Thanks, John

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