Baptist, What Do You Believe? #7

Article III, Man

Review Questions:

1. What is regeneration?
2. What is illumination?
3. Why is the Holy Spirit called the Holy Spirit?

This week in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 we turn our attention to Article 3: Man. What makes us different from the animals? Is there any difference, or are we just grown up germs? Is it simply that we have won the cosmic lottery, and wound up at the top of the heap? Or could it be, as Article 3 begins, that we are the special creation of God? At first glance, if we are His crowning work then something is very wrong with this picture. As we work our way through the doctrine of man, as laid out in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, we begin to see the picture rightly, as God would have us see it.

The Creation of Man
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.
What is so special about man? Where in Scripture are we told that man as the crowning work of His creation?

  • We are made in God’s own image and likeness: Genesis 1:26
  • God gave us dominion over all else that He had created on earth: Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:6
  • God blessed man: Genesis 1;28
  • Only after the creation of Man did God say that His creation was very good: Genesis 1:31
  • Man is the only creature that God breathed the breath of life into: Genesis 2:7
  • We are made just lower than the angelic beings, and with glory and honor: Psalm 8:5
  • God sent his only begotten Son to die on a cross and redeem His people: Romans 5:8

The underlined portion above is the only part of Article 3 that constituted a significant change from this article in the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. Obviously, the societal mores in the 21st century are not what they were in the middle of last century. Even though homosexuality was a known sin in 1963, it was not an accepted practice in general society. Today, on the other hand, homosexuality has passed into, not only accepted practice, but is all but considered as perfectly normal in America. The added wording is intended to show that the creation story specifically includes gender, and in fact shows God to be kind and generous in providing complimentary companionship as a part of His crowning work of creation. It is only after the fall that prohibition against the perversion of homosexuality has to be spelled out (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9).

Man’s Rebellion and Fall (Genesis 3:1-24)
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.

Not long after being placed in the garden, Adam and Eve disobeyed the one and only command of God by, first desiring the benefits of the forbidden fruit (being like God: Genesis 3:5), and then taking and eating it (Genesis 3:6), thus bringing sin into the world. We are also told in this section that the temptation was prompted by Satan. All of humanity was represented in Adam, and consequently, all humanity inherited a sin nature. On a personal note, I believe that the phrase his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin is too weak. The next sentence leaves no doubt that all are indeed sinners by virtue of being the posterity of Adam, but the word inclined weakens the idea a bit. An inclination can be changed. while a nature cannot.

David said in Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” This verse points out the inherency of our sin nature, and as the next sentence of Article 3 states, as soon as we are capable of sin, we do so. As Christian parents, this should not make us wonder what the age of accountability is, but rather should cause us to raise our children as Timothy was raised, knowing from childhood the sacred Scriptures, which were able to save him (2 Timothy 3:15). What better blessing any parents could give their child, than for them to never know a time when they didn’t have saving faith in Christ Jesus.

God’s Gracious Act of Redemption in Christ Jesus
Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God.

Here we have a nutshell version of the gospel. Because man is a sinner by nature, that is all he is capable of. It takes a gracious God to bring man back (Ephesians 2:8,9). Man cannot and will not come to God (Romans 8:7), so God must do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, through His son Jesus Christ. Only then can we fulfill the creative purpose of God (Ephesians 2:10).

The Dignity of Every Human Being
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.

Here we are where we started with the doctrine of man. Man being made in God’s image makes him special, having full dignity, and sacredness. The article gives two proofs for the dignity of all mankind: being made in the image of God, and Christ dying for His people. Man bearing the image of God is the reason God condemns murder (Genesis 9:6). In Acts 17:26 Paul points out that all of the races have their origin in Adam and Eve, and later in verse 30 he tells his hearers that God has commanded all men everywhere to repent. Jesus, when He gives the great commission in Matthew 28:19 tells His disciples to make disciples of all nations. John, in Revelation 5:9 records that God has saved people from every tribe and language and people and nation. All peoples everywhere, therefore deserve our greatest effort to reach them with the gospel of grace.

Previous Lessons:
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #1 (An Introduction)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #2 (On the Doctrine of Scripture)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #3 (On the Doctrine of God)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #4 (On God the Father)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #5 (On God the Son
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #6 (On God the Holy Spirit)

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