Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 1: The Person and Work of Christ
God's First Man — The First Adam
As we daily observe the lives of men and women we see a vast difference in the quality of those lives.
We readily admit that people are living on totally different planes with a consequent vast divergence in character and conduct. We must seek the cause of such disparity. What or who is to blame?
If we acknowledge God to be the Creator of all things in His universe, then we are compelled to place the responsibility for such inequality either upon Him or upon man. It must be the result either of God's fiat or of man's choice. To say that it is due to the difference in the heredity, circumstances, environment or opportunities of people, is to beg the question altogether. Countless ones have come up out of the depths of poverty ,illiteracy, superstition, affliction and persecution to heights of nobility in character and conduct. Many have fallen from heights of wealth, education, ease, opportunity and privilege to the lowest depths of sin and shame. Upon whom then should the blame rest for such inequality in human life? Is God responsible for it? The only fair way to answer this question is to turn to His own record of creation and to read what He says of His first man, and to determine upon what plane He intended him to live.
Genesis 1:26, 27, "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 overall the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
Genesis 1:31, "And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."
If language has any power whatever to express thought, these words clearly teach us five things regarding God's first man,
- That he was created by Someone who already existed.
- That his creation was the result of God's deliberate, direct, creative will.
- That he was created in the image of God.
- That he was pronounced "very good."
- That he was given dominion over all the earth an
- d made the head of the entire terrestrial creation.
GOD CREATED MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE
God's first man was made just as God wanted all men to be. He was made after a pattern. God's first man came direct from God's own hand and bore a definite resemblance to his Creator. "The root idea of the Hebrew word translated 'image' is that of a shadow." God's first man, then, was God's shadow. He was like God. But in what respect?
To answer this question we are forced to ask another: What was God like? "God created man." The statement is made without any previous explanation of God Himself; He appears upon the first pages of revelation as a Being acting independently in the creation of a universe and of man with no explanation of Himself and with no reference whatever to His origin.
Who, then, created God? How many mothers have had to answer that query! It is, likewise, the first and greatest issue that confronts the philosopher as he studies into the secrets of the universe. In answering this question correctly one takes his first step in knowing who God is.
Scripture gives to men and women of faith an absolutely satisfying and final answer in the simple but sublime words, "In the beginning God." God never became for He always was. God is the great "I AM." "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." God had no beginning and will have no end. From everlasting to everlasting He is God. "For with thee is the fountain of life." "For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." God is the Uncreated: the Always-Existent. He is the eternal, infinite One. He is the Beginning of all beginnings.
This, then, is what God is. But if this is what God is in what respect could God's first man ever be said to resemble Him? Let us press on in our search for an understanding of this great truth. While God never explains Himself in Scripture He does reveal Himself. He wants men to know who and what He is, for if we did not have this knowledge we could never know God's original intention for man who was made in His image.
Let us turn to the first twenty-five verses of the opening chapter of God's Word and see if we find any revelation of Himself that throws light upon the kind of resemblance God's first man bore to God. We read:
"God said . . ."
"God made . . ."
These phrases each record something which God did. Outward action is the expression of inward being. What one does reveals what one is.
"God said," therefore God must have thought.
"God blessed," therefore God must have loved.
"God created," therefore God must have willed.
Genesis 1:1-25 reveals personality. God is a Person. He is a Person who thinks, loves, and wills.
We have now found out two things about God. We have learned that God is the Uncreated, the Eternal, the Infinite, the Fountainhead of all life. And we have learned that He is a Person who thinks, loves and wills. The deduction which we may make from this twofold revelation is that God is a Person who thinks, loves and wills on the plane of uncreated, unlimited, eternal, divine Life.
Are we ready now to answer the question, In what respect was God's first man like God? Perhaps we might clarify our thinking on one very fundamental point by first saying in what respect God's first man was not like Him.
Genesis 2:7, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
1 Corinthians 15:47, "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."
God was man's Creator. Man became a living soul. Adam was formed from the dust of the ground. He is of the earth, earthy. It will be clearly seen from these verses that God and God's first man Adam were not in the same order of beings nor did they live on the same plane of life.
God is uncreated, man is created. God is infinite, man is finite. God is heavenly, man is earthy. God is divine, man is human. Between what God is in His uncreated, essential, divine being and what man is in his created, finite, human being there is an absolutely impassable gulf, an immeasurable distance. God is not superman, man is not inferior God.
In what respect then did God's first man resemble God? Wherein was man God's shadow? It was in the wondrous gift of personality. Man is a person as God is a person. Let us trace this likeness in the opening chapters of Genesis.
As a person God thought and expressed His thought in words thus revealing the truth that intelligence is inherent in personality. God made Adam in His image.
Genesis 2:19,20, "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field."
Adam was created with the power to think and to express thought in words. Adam had intelligence. As a person God loved and expressed His love in blessing thus revealing the truth that emotion is inherent in personality. God made Adam in His image.
Genesis 2:18, "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; and I will make him an help meet for him."
God gave Eve to Adam to be his wife and God said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).
Adam was created with the power to love and to express that love in fidelity. Adam had emotion. As a person God willed and expressed His will in action thus revealing the truth that will is inherent in personality. God made Adam in His image.
Genesis 3:6, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."
Adam was created with the power to will and to express that will in choice. Adam had volition.
God's first man was made in God's image in the sense of having a personality patterned after God's in its power to think, to love and to will; but with this difference, that God thought, loved and willed on the plane of uncreated, unlimited, eternal, divine life, while Adam thought, loved and willed on the plane of created, limited, finite, human life. The intellectual, emotional and volitional life of God's first man was perfect within a limited sphere. Above and beyond this was the perfection of God's personality within an unlimited sphere. (See Diagram 2.)
The resemblance which God's first man bore to God through likeness in personality made communion and cooperation between them possible; while the difference of plane on which each lived determined the basis of their relationship. God was the Creator, Adam was the created. God was the Sovereign, Adam was the subject.
It also set the boundaries of Adam's intellectual, emotional and volitional life; all must lie within the realm of divine sovereignty. The sovereignty of God expressed in His divine will was to be the circumference of Adam's human life. Unlimited liberty in thinking, loving and willing was given him. But one condition had to be met. He must think, love and will within the circle of God's will. Such a limitation was not for the purpose of making God a glorified despot: a Sovereign who ruled arbitrarily with no thought for the well being of His subject.
On the contrary the limitation was wholly beneficent. It was purely for the purpose of keeping man in the only sphere in which he could remain perfect, in which he could come into the fullest and most complete realization of the possibility of his being, in which, in fact, he could remain in communion and cooperation with God.
That God intended man to become even more than we see him to be in the unfallen first man of Eden the whole trend of the Bible shows. Adam was made in the image of God plus the capacity for sonship. "Man as originally created, was not only in the im-age of God he was also made to live in union with God, so that all his limitation might find its complement in the unlimited life of the Eternal. It is a great mistake to think of man as made, and then as put into some position where he might rise or fall, according to the capacity of his own personality. It is rather to be remembered that he was created in the image of God, and then put into a probationary position through which he was to pass unharmed to some larger form of existence, if his life were lived in union with the God who had created him. If however he chose a separate existence, and cut himself off from union, in that act he would fall" (G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of the Christ, p. 28).
What would God's first man do? Would he accept the limitation and live his life in union with God, con-tent to let it be kept wholly within the circle of God's will, or would he exercise his will in a choice contrary to the will of God and so cut himself off from the life of God? There would be but one way to know the way of a test. God gave the test.
Genesis 2:8-9, "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."
Genesis 2:16-17, "And the Lord God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
"Of every tree thou mayest freely eat" — unlimited freedom of choice within the will of God. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it" — limitation of choice bounded by the will of God.
"The Lord God commanded the man saying, Thou shalt not —" Here was the Great Divide. This was the watershed between the sovereignty of the Creator and the subjection of the created. All on one side was within the circle of God's will: all on the other side was without the circle of God's will. All on one side meant union with God: all on the other side meant separation from God. All on one side spelled life: all on the other side spelled death. God gave the test. Adam was to make the choice. God gave the command. Adam could obey or disobey.
Just here we must pause to penetrate a bit deeper into the study of Adam's personality to see if there was anything within him to hinder or to help him in the making of his choice. Did God make Adam so that he could will to live wholly within the circle of God's will and have every other part of his being in active sympathy with such a decision? In the very constitution of Adam's being did God place anything that would favour and foster such complete and continuous obedience?
Scripture does not say a great deal about the three-fold nature of man but what it does say is very illuminating and indubitable. It does tell us how man came to be what man now is.
Genesis 2:7, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Scripture names for us the component parts of man as thus created by God.
1 Thessalonians 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
In Genesis 2:7 God gives us the divine order in the creation of the component parts of man.
The Formation of the Human Body
"And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground." "The first man is of the earth, earthy." The earth was to be man's dwelling place. In order that it might have communication with the external world in which it dwelt, the body of man was formed of earth, and then equipped with five senses, sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Because of its connection with the earthly, the body is the lowest part of man. Yet it has the exalted privilege of being the home of the spirit and of being its only outlet to the world of sense. The body is the port city of the human personality.
The Emanation of the Human Spirit
"And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." The divine Potter formed the human frame and then breathed into it the breath of life. This life principle which came as a direct emanation from God became the human spirit. Some one has aptly said, "Man is dust in breathed by Deity."
God Himself defines the human spirit in these words, "The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah, searching all the innermost parts." The spirit is the crowning part of man's being. It is God's masterpiece in human creation. It is the part of man which has relationship to the unseen, spiritual world, which has fellowship with God. Through the spirit man apprehends, loves and worships God. Dr. A. T. Pierson says, "The spirit receives impressions of outward and material things through the soul and the body, but it belongs itself to a higher level and realm, and is capable of a direct knowledge of God by relation to its own higher senses and faculties. In an unfallen state it was like a lofty observatory with an outlook upon a celestial firmament" (The Bible and Spiritual Life, p.116). The spirit is the capital city of the human personality.
The Creation of the Human Soul
"And man became a living soul." Above the body and beneath the spirit stands the soul, the medium between the two. It has been said that in its relationship to the body and bodily senses it might be likened to the photographer's dark room. The impressions regarding the external world received through the senses are gathered up and conveyed to this dark room where they are developed into distinct expressions of thought, emotion or will.
In its relationship to the spirit and the spiritual world the soul might be likened to the judge's bench. The evidence regarding God and spiritual realities which the spirit finds in its research in the spiritual realm is brought to the bar of the soul and there either accepted or rejected.
Man, then, is a trinity; spirit, soul, and body are the integral parts of his triune being. In the constitution of God's first man two independent elements were used; the corporeal and the spiritual; the material and the immaterial. Each was essential because man was to be related to two worlds; the seen and the unseen; the material and the spiritual. He was made primarily for God and in order to have intercourse with God he must have a spirit capable of communion and fellow-ship with the Divine Spirit. But man was to be placed in God's material universe that he might have tangible relationship with the external world of people and things. So he must have a body capable of such con-tact and communication. Man was to be in close, continuous touch with both heaven and earth; with the external and the temporal; with the spiritual and the material.
When God placed the spirit within the body its home on earth, the union of these two produced a third part and man became a living soul. The soul uniting spirit and body gave man individuality, it was the cause of his existence as a distinct being. The soul, consisting of intellect, emotion and will became the central part the seat, as it were, of man's being.
The soul acted as the middleman between the spirit and the body; it was the bond which united them and the channel through which they acted upon each other. The soul stood thus midway between two worlds: through the body it was linked to the visible, material and earthly; through the spirit it was linked with the unseen, spiritual and heavenly. To it was given the power to determine which world should dominate man. The very great importance of this theme in its relationship to succeeding lessons and the intense desire that each reader may have a clear understanding of it leads me to quote at length from Andrew Murray's book, The Spirit of Christ:
"The Spirit quickening the body made man a living soul, a living person with the consciousness of himself. The soul was the meeting place, the point of union between body and spirit. Through the body, man, the living soul, stood related to the external world of sense; could influence it, or be influenced by it. Through the spirit he stood related to the spiritual world and the Spirit of God, whence he had his origin; could be the recipient and the minister of its life and power. Standing thus midway between two worlds, belonging to both, the soul had the power of determining itself, of choosing or refusing the objects by which it was sur-rounded, and to which it stood related.
"In the constitution of these three parts of man's nature the spirit, as linking him with the Divine, was the highest; the body, connecting him with the sensible and the animal, the lowest; intermediate stood the soul, partaker of the nature of the others, the bond that united them, and through which they could act on each other. Its work as the central power was to main-tain them in due relation; to keep the body, as the lowest, in subjection to the spirit; itself to receive through the spirit, as the higher, from the Divine Spirit what was waiting for its perfection; and so pass down even to the body, that by which it might be the partaker of the Spirit's perfection, and become a spiritual body.
"The wondrous gifts with which the soul was endowed, specially those of consciousness and self-determination, or mind and will, were but the mould or vessel into which the life of the Spirit, the real substance and truth of the Divine life, was to be received and assimilated. They were a God-given capacity for making the knowledge and will of God its own. In doing this the personal life of the soul would have become filled and possessed with the life of the Spirit, the whole man would have become spiritual.
"To gather up what has been said, the spirit is the seat of our God- consciousness; the soul of our self-consciousness; the body of our world- consciousness. In the spirit God dwells: in the soul self, in the body sense."
It is clear from all this that God's original intention was that the human spirit through which alone man can be related to the Spirit of God and to the spiritual world should be the dominant element in the human personality. The spirit was to be sovereign and as long as it remained so the whole being would be kept spiritual.
But while the human spirit was to be sovereign in the realm of the human personality with both soul and body yielded to its dominance, yet it was to be subject in turn to a higher power. Dr. A. T. Pierson says, "One obvious lesson in this Biblical psychology is that God evidently designed that the human spirit, indwelt and ruled by the Holy Spirit, should keep man in constant touch with Himself, and maintain in everything its proper preeminence, ruling soul and body" (The Bible and Spiritual Life, p. 123). (See Diagram 3.)
Thus we see that the human spirit was to be a sovereign under a Sovereign. It was also to be the middleman between the eternal and the temporal; the unseen and the seen; the divine and the human; the heavenly and the earthly. The spirit had its windows opened heavenward and Godward and through spiritual perception, insight and vision it was constantly receiving spiritual impressions which were to be sent oui-ward by way of the soul to the body. The spirit through unbroken fellowship with the Holy Spirit was to be the channel through which the whole being of God's first man would be linked to the life of God and so made and kept spiritual.
This brief study of the threefold nature of God's first man, Adam, shows us that his human personality was so constituted that he could always think, love and will within the circle of God's will. He could choose to live under the authority of his divine Sovereign. There was nothing within himself to hinder perfect obedience to the will of God.
One other question remains to be answered. Was there anything without his life to hinder? Was Adam's environment conducive to complete and continuous obedience to God's will?
God placed His perfect man in a perfect environment. The picture given in Genesis of the garden of Eden is that of a place in which there was satisfaction and sufficiency for every need of man's spirit, soul and body. The Creator had made Himself responsible for meeting bountifully every need of His creature. Even the brief account given of the life of Adam in Eden reveals perfect adjustment to his environment. Righteousness ruled; therefore, peace resulted. There was nothing within his environment to hinder perfect obedience to the will of God.
God not only placed this perfect man in a perfect environment but His own relationship with Adam was perfect. It was a relationship both of communion and cooperation.
Adam had communion with God. Man was made for God. There is ample Scriptural authority for this statement in such verses as Isaiah 43:7, 21; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11. The fact that man was made in the image of God in his intellectual, moral and volitional life shows that God desired fellowship with him and made him with the capacity for such fellowship which was not given to any other of His creatures. The beautiful words in Genesis 3:8, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day," reveal God even taking the initiative in seeking communion and comradeship with Adam and Eve. So God's first man walked and talked with God as friend with friend; he was able to know and to enjoy God as a kindred nature; he was in inner, spiritual harmony with God.
God's first man also had cooperation with God in His governmental activities. Adam was God's vice-regent, as it were, over all His works: he was the executive instrument by divine appointment to carry out the divine purpose. God made Adam His representative as the visible monarch of all living things. "He had dominion over the fish of the sea, 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." Within his own sphere he was made a sovereign, subordinate only to God.
One thing more remains to be said concerning God's first man. Adam was not only an individual but he was the federal head of the human race. God made His first man the head and representative of man. Bishop H. C. G. Moule in his Outlines of Christian Doctrine, says: "Adam was a true individual, as truly as Abel. But, unlike his son, he was, what only one other Being has ever been, the moral, intelligent Head of a moral, intelligent race; not only the first specimen of a newly created Nature, but in such a sense the Spring of that nature to his after-kind that in him not only the individual but the race could, in some all important respects, be dealt with" (p. 168). Adam by God's appointment was the source of human life of all mankind: the head of the human family. He was God's first representative man. Through him in creation God established a union with the whole human race. Then He commanded Adam to be fruitful and multiply.
God's first man, then, was perfect; he was put in a perfect environment and he had perfect fellowship with God. Harmony reigned within himself, within all his relationships both with the inferior creatures beneath him and with the sovereign Creator above him. There was everything within and without his life to foster complete submission to the sovereignty of God and perfect obedience to His will. Would he be content to remain a sovereign under a Sovereign? Would he choose continuously to live within the circle of God's will? Would his whole personality be kept under the control of the Divine Spirit and so maintain its life on the spiritual plane? If so, then through this first man, made in His own image and controlled by His divine Spirit, God would people the earth with beings who would also bear His likeness, yield to His sovereignty, serve Him with fruitfulness, and live together in righteousness and peace.
G. Campbell Morgan in The Crises of the Christ states Adam's position before God in the following paragraph, "Finite will is to be tested, and it will stand or fall as it submits to or rebels against the Infinite Will of the Infinite God. Thus unfallen man was a being created in the image of God, living in union with God, cooperating in activity with God, having the points of limitation of his being marked by simple and definite commands laid upon him, gracious promises luring him to that which was highest on the hand, and a solemn sentence warning him from that which was lowest on the other. He was a sovereign under a
Sovereignty, independent, but dependent. He had the right of will, but this could only be exercised in perpetual submission to the higher will of God" (p. 32).
Genesis 2:16-17, "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, . . . of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it."
Here is God's will expressed in concrete form. Through this command God puts the test to His first man. Adam had the right to will and he had the power to will Godward.