This morning we continue our series dealing with “What Do Baptists Believe?” by examining our doctrinal beliefs about man. We have just concluded several weeks of study about the nature and character of God (feel free to review the prior posts), and so today we will compare that with the nature and character of humanity. The Baptist Faith and Message addresses this topic with the following statement -
Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the
crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In
the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By
his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the
temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence
whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as
they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the
grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of
God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and
in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy
of respect and Christian love.
The Bible clearly teaches that God created man in His own image. The word "image" means "in His own likeness". In other words, we were not created exactly like God but rather were made to resemble God. Unlike all other creatures, man was created with many of the attributes of God. We are like Him mentally, morally, and socially. Man is the crowning work of God's creation.
Man was created with a body, soul, and spirit. The body of flesh is the vessel in which the soul and spirit reside. It is the material body that gives physical ability to the soul and spirit within. The soul is the whole personality of the person - it is who the person actually is. It includes their intellect and emotions. The soul is immaterial in and of itself, and it enables a person to be conscious of this world and lively. The spirit is also immaterial, and it enables the man to be consciously aware of spiritual things which are outside the physical realm - such as the presence and reality of God.
Mankind was created by God as male and female. While each represent God in unique ways, both are coequal before God. As a general rule, men typically demonstrate certain attributes such as a desire to lead, to protect, and to provide. Women, on the other hand, often are more loving and tender-hearted, merciful, nurturing, and submissive. While certainly different, all of these characteristics reflect the nature of God.
Because all people are created in the image of God, He loves and values them all equally. Therefore, all persons, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, position, family, wealth, or any other reason, possess full dignity and are worthy of respect and Christian love. It is on this basis that the Scripture teaches us not to judge one another, but rather to lovingly accept one another with the love of Christ.
Mankind was made not only to be loved by God, by also to love Him in return. Genuine love is not compelled, but is voluntarily given. As such, man was created with a free will so that he might truly demonstrate love for God. Unfortunately, the first man and woman - Adam and Eve - chose to sin against God. As the sole representatives of the entire human race, their sin separated all of humanity from God. Ever since the first sin was committed, all people have been born with a sinful nature which is now inherent to humanity.
This innate inclination to sin leads all people to commit sin as soon as they are morally able. Therefore all people, by their own free will, are sinners and are under God's condemnation. The Bible teaches that each person is held individually accountable for their own sins. This means that, although we've all inherited a sinful nature as the result of the actions of those who lived before us, we are not held responsible for their sins. We will be judged on the basis of our own sins, which are plentiful no matter how righteous we profess to be.
So... God created man to love, worship, and revere Him. But man chose to forsake the goodness of God by sinning against Him. God is completely holy and perfectly righteous. Man is desperately unholy and fully unrighteous. The contrast could not be more stark or drastic. Only the miraculous grace of God can remedy this great disparity. But how? Join us next week as we discuss God's magnificent solution to this vexing problem.