In the initial creation of man, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image,” and -“according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Image refers to man’s outward appearance. In a way, what this says of man is not true of any other creature. Man reflects the outward appearance of God. It was appropriate, therefore, that when the Son of God carne to dwell on earth, it was in the form of a man-not an ox or a beetle-and not even in the form of some heavenly creature, such as a seraph.
Likeness refers to man’s inner nature. Scripture refers to God as a triune being: Father, Son, and Spirit. Similarly, man is revealed as a triune being, consisting of spirit, soul, and body.
The account of man’s creation in Genesis 2:7 reveals how his triune nature carne into being: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man becarne a living being.” A more correct translation of a living being would be a living soul.
Man’s spirit carne from the infused breath of God, transforming his body which was formed from clay, into living human flesh. Instantly, by the breath of God, he became a living soul.
The soul thus formed is the ego, the individual personality. It is usually defined as consisting of three elements: the will, the intellect, and the emotions. The soul has the responsibility for making personal decisions, expressing itself in three phrases: “I want;” “I think;” “I feel.” Unless touched by the supernatural grace of God, all human behavior is controlled by these three motivations.
Man was created for personal fellowship with God. However, his sinful disobedience produced disastrous effects in all three’ elements of his personality.
Cut off from contact with God as a result of sin, man’s spirit died. This was in fulfillment of God’s warning: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall; not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The physical death of Adam’s body, however, did not follow for more than 900 years.
Through exercising his will in direct disobedience to God, man became a rebel in his soul. Since that time, every person descended from Adam has inherited that same nature of a rebel.
In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul describes the results of rebellion which have affected every one of us:
And you … were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience [rebellion}, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Sin causes us to be dead in our spirits. In our souls, we have all been in rebellion against God. Our bodies, too, have become subject to corruption-that is, to sickness, decay, and death.
Yet the boundless love of God is such that He continually longs for the restoration of His fellowship with man. “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us” (James 4:5, nas). Furthermore, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God has opened a way for the restoration of that fellowship which was lost.
In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul goes on to describe the outworking of salvation in our spirits: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Our spirits, being reunited with God, are alive once more. At the same time, our souls-through repentance and faith-are released from rebellion and reconciled to God.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:10-11
When we realize that we have all been in rebellion against God, we understand why there can be no genuine salvation without repentance. Repentance means laying down our rebellion and submitting ourselves to God’s righteous government.
Salvation also makes provision for the body. Delivered from the slavery of sin, our bodies become temples in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Our bodies now have become instruments of righteousness (see Romans 6: 13). Finally, at the return of Christ, our bodies will be transformed into immortal bodies like that of Christ Himself!
In his book Spiritual Exercise, Watchman Nee shared what it means when a Christian says that he/she is saved:
Now let us be clear as to the meaning of the word “salvation” in the Bible. What is the objective of salvation? This may not be easily understood by new believers because they lack an accurate knowledge of what salvation is. According to the Bible, salvation is related to the world, not to hell. The opposite of eternal life is perdition (perishing), while the opposite of salvation is the world. We are to be saved out of the world. As long as we belong to the world, we are in the state of perdition.
Let us notice the four cardinal facts concerning the world as shown in the Bible: (a) The world is condemned or judged before God, (b) the world lies in the evil one, (c) the world crucified the Lord Jesus, and (d) the world is an enemy to God. Please note that the world not only sins, but has also crucified the Lord Jesus. It is therefore God’s enemy. These are the four cardinal facts of the world as God sees it. All who are in the world, irrespective of their personal conduct, are already judged and thus in perdition.
What is wrong with people in this world is far more than personal unrighteous acts of behavior. Their very position is wrong before God. How can a person forsake the world if he is still keenly aware of its loveliness? But one day he is made to see the wrong position of the world before God. However lovely the world may be, it has to be forsaken. So salvation deals with deliverance from an improper relationship with, and position in, the world.
What is meant by salvation then? To be saved is.to be released from that fraternity, that position, and that relationship of, in and with the world. In other words, I come out of the world. People are usually most concerned with their personal justification, but they need to be reminded of the place from which they have been saved. Salvation is to be saved out of the world, not only out of hell, for the world is under the judgment of God.
Is eternal life a gift that can be obtained by any sinner unconditionally? According to the late George Jeffreys (1889-1962), who was one of greatest evangelists of the 20th Century, the answer is ‘no’.
The idea that eternal life is a gift that can be obtained by any sinner unconditionally is as false and unscriptural as the notion that it can be merited by works. The forgiveness of past sins is only granted to those who, by the grace of God, decide not to continue in sin. How utterly helpless and hopeless any earthly Government would be if it released all its prisoners and allowed them to continue as aforetime breaking the laws of the land. Civilisation—yea, the whole world—would soon be reduced to a state of irrevocable ruin. The sinner at conversion enters into a new life, which reveals itself in the changed deeds of his body. Before conversion he is a drunkard, after conversion a sober man; before conversion he is a thief, after conversion he is honest; before conversion his lips blaspheme, after conversion they praise God. The change is at once admitted because his body acts differently. The body is the medium through which the new life is made manifest. (Healing Rays by George Jeffreys)
Is your boyfriend or fiancé holding you back from becoming a Christian? If so, please read this story that was narrated by the late RA Torrey in his book, Heaven or Hell.
The fear of man ensnares people to their eternal ruin. Many men and women lie in Christless graves and will spend a Christless eternity because the fear of man kept them from the acceptance of Christ. One night after speaking, I gave the altar call. Among those who were moved by the Spirit of God was a young woman. She rose to her feet and started to come to the front. The young man who sat beside her touched her arm. He was engaged to marry her. He said, “Don’t go tonight. If you will wait for a few days, I may go with you.” For fear of offending her fiance, she sat down.
I went back the next week to speak at the same place. At the close of the meeting two young women came and said, “Oh, Mr. Torrey, just as soon as you can get away from the meeting here, come with us. There is a young lady who was going to come forward the other night, but the young man to whom she is engaged asked her to wait. She did wait, and now she has scarlet fever. She probably won’t live until morning. Come to see her just as soon as you can get away from the meeting.”
I left as soon as I could. I entered her home and went into the room where the poor girl lay dying, hardly recognizable as the same person, but perfectly conscious. I urged her to accept Christ.
“No,” she said, “I was about to receive Him the last time you were here. I didn’t repent then. I am dying; I can’t repent now.”
I begged her. I knew it was her last hour. I did everything, but she would not yield. When I left that room of awful darkness, a young man in the hallway grasped me by the hand. He was shaking like a leaf. “Oh,” he said, “Mr. Torrey, I am engaged to marry that girl. Now she is dying without Christ. She is lost, and I am to blame. I am to blame.”
The Spirit of God is moving on this earth with mighty power. Many of you are on the verge of a decision for Christ. Don’t let the fear of man frighten you from taking your stand now.
In an earlier article, I had touched on the importance of being born again as a condition for inheriting eternal life (Proof text — John 3:3 [NLT; with emphasis mine]: “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.””). Now, let me show you what it means to be born again.
However, a person cannot be born again, unless he/she first dies:
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3; New American Standard Bible; emphasis mine)
You might ask, “What do you mean to say that I must die? Are you asking me to commit suicide?”
No! (and God forbid that you attempt suicide!) It is to self that you must die of, as the Aramaic Bible in Plain English version of Colossians 3:3 makes clear: “For you have died to yourselves and your lives are hidden with The Messiah in God.” (emphais mine)
The specifics of what this entails is detailed for us further in the chapter:
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10; NIV)
In addition, you need to die to the things of this world:
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2; ESV)
But you might protest and say: “What you ask is very difficult to do!”
Indeed, it is, which is exactly why the Lord Jesus Christ told those who wished to be His disciple to “count the cost“:
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-33; Authorised KJV; emphasis mine)