“Let Us make man”
After renewing the face of the earth from its devastated state (Genesis 1:2) God (Elohim) said: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26).
Would God fail?
Adam and Eve decided not to conform to God’s image and likeness. So did the majority of mankind which sprang from them.
Man’s history and his present state point to God’s failure to make man in his image, according to his likeness. Man in general is so engrossed with anything but the development of his being to conform to God’s image and likeness.
But God is not God if he fails.
Man’s physical creation is not all. As God renewed the devastated face of the earth (Psalms 104:30) God set in motion from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) the salvation and Godly image building processes to effect a new creation of man in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
When the dust finally settles, so to speak, man would be changed to spirit and God would have succeeded in creating man in his image, according to his likeness (1 John 3:2).
This is the “good news” or gospel of Jesus Christ the Creator – Creation.
“Explain…the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26)
The Church of God – Friendship Way Life (FWL) believes that God provided the means by which the Holy Spirit indwelt individuals, who are now at different levels of understanding, would eventually “come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God”.
Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…
FWL recognizes the boldness by which the other bible adherents share their conviction. FWL likewise observes that the beliefs these other bible believers hold and share need to be straightened out so that “the way of God” could be explained “more accurately”.
Acts 18:24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
It is along this line that FWL publishes its work to explain “the way of God more accurately” to gain some headway for the Holy Spirit indwelt individuals “to come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”
The FWL shares its understanding on:
- The Main or Core Bible Message is Creation
- “Project Man”
- The Power of Death
- The Processes of Salvation and Godly image making
- The Nature of the Man Jesus Christ
- The Church – Those who are in Christ
- The Power of his (Jesus’) Resurrection
- Eternal Punishment
- The truth that Man is not going to Heaven but to the New Earth, and
- The Real Future for Finished Product Man
The Main or Core Bible Message is Creation
Hidden in the myriad of bible subjects being preached, the main or core bible message is lost in the haystack of confusion. Subjects like sin, salvation, faith, repentance, good works, etc. cloud the bible student as well as the teacher hindering the understanding of both.
The main or core bible message is understood in God’s declaration at man’s physical creation when God said: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26).
The “good news” or gospel of Christ being widely preached, which is salvation, is just but a part of God’s “Project Man” which seems to have been derailed at some stage of the production process.
Even before the actual “ground breaking” in man’s creation, God already foreknew that the project would encounter some hitch that needs a corrective measure. The ultimate corrective measure to save “Project Man” was for one of the God beings to suffer a humiliating and excruciating experience.
Having agreed to be the sacrifice, the Word became the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
For his love for man, God had to give his only begotten son’s human life to save man from the power of death which is to perish (John 3:16). After a man’s undergoing the salvation process, man proceeds to the spiritual or Godly image making process. By man’s own free choice to have God rule over him in his Christian life, he will gradually put on God’s character of love which is the image of God. When he overcomes the tests to the end, God will finally change the mature man to spirit to be like him as the finished product.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Being the powerful God that he is, God shall have succeeded in making man in his image, according to his likeness.
Having the main or core bible message established in the mind, the understanding that Jesus likewise grants on the related subjects like sin, salvation, faith, repentance, good works, etc. would be easily absorbed by the bible student.
And the main or core bible message is not salvation. It is Creation.
God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7). Some bible versions render “being” as “soul”.
Hence, “man became a living “soul”. Man does not have a soul. Man is the soul. God granted man the freedom of choice as to whether or not he would want God to rule over him. If man chooses not to submit to God’s rule, he commits sin (1 John 3:4) and merits the penalty of death (Romans 6:23). The man, or soul, who sins shall die.
Ezekiel 18:4 & 20 The soul who sins shall die.
Man’s history and the present events tell us that, generally, man chose and is choosing not to submit to God’s rule. Since practically all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), no man will ever make it as a finished product.
Knowing man’s proclivity to bungle his project, God aptly reserved Plan B – the Salvation Process – which redeems man from death and make man ready for the resumption of his creation process. Having to be started from scratch, death, the saved man is regarded as a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This “re-creation” involves the ultimate commitment and actual personal involvement of the Word to ensure the success of “Project Man”.
Being equipped with the freedom of choice, some men would choose not to have God as their ruler. And being the merciful God that he is, God will simply terminate the temporary life of these few wicked creatures. They will perish (John 3:16).
The righteous – the finished product man – will shine as God’s glorious children under whom the whole creation will God put into subjection (Psalm 8:3-6).
The Power of Death
Contrary to common belief, death is the opposite of life. A dead person ceases to breath. The dead is oblivious to the affairs of the living being unconscious.
Psalm 146:4 His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Death is man’s enemy and is powerful. In the day of his death, man losses power to even think.
Ecclesiastes 8:8…And no one has power in the day of death.
With its power, death holds dominion over the dead man. Without a resurrection, man will never rise again to life.
Jesus Christ recognized the power of death. He has agreed with the Father that he will be changed from spirit to flesh (Philippians 2:6-8), hence, be subjected to death (Hebrews 2:9). When the time of his death drew near, Jesus cried out to the Father for assurance that when he dies, he be saved from death.
Hebrews 5:7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death….
Christ died. Death had dominion over Christ for the period he was dead. Thankfully, God raised Jesus Christ from the state of being dead. Christ was delivered from the power of death.
Romans 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
As an enemy, death will be destroyed.
1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Unless death is destroyed, the dead man will never escape from its power which is to cause him to perish.
The Processes of Salvation and Godly image making in man
Believers’ levels of understanding of salvation differ. Many hold that salvation is a gift, hence, not earned. Others, on the other hand, believe that salvation, being based on complying with certain conditions, is earned.
FWL sees the contention to have stemmed mainly from the confusion of the meanings of salvation, eternal life, and reward.
FWL teaches that salvation is a process which prepares man to receive the gift of eternal life which is not earned and the reward which is. Man’s power of choice is always involved in all trying situations while he undergoes the Godly image creation process which follows after the man is saved from the penalty of sin which is death.
Salvation is a process God set in motion after man sinned and merited the penalty of death. Salvation applies to man’s sins committed in ignorance and those knowingly committed after his Godly image building process has started. Salvation complements the Godly image building process until man is changed to spirit.
These processes involve:
- The Word becoming flesh (John 1:14) for the purpose of death (Hebrews 2:9);
- Jesus Christ’s death which paid the penalty of man’s sins reconciling man to God (Romans 5:10, 1st part);
- God’s raising up Jesus Christ from the dead to assure man’s own resurrection (Romans 5:10, 2nd part);
- God’s granting man repentance and man’s submitting himself for baptism and the laying on of hands for the receipt of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38);
- Man’s continuous submission to the lead of the Holy Spirit for him to acquire God’s image of love and grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18);
- Man’s working out his own salvation with fear and trembling (2 Peter 1:10) and his having to endure to the end (Matthew 24:13) as part of the acquisition of God’s image of love;
- Man’s change to spirit with eternal life as the culmination of the creation process (1 Corinthians 15:51, 53).
The salvation and Godly image building processes cover 3 periods:
- This age;
- The 1,000-year reign of the Kingdom of God on earth; and
- The Great White Throne Judgment period.
Having eternal life, with the bonus of reward of a governmental position under Christ, is the final outcome for man who undergoes the salvation and Godly image building processes in this age and who overcomes. The overcomers will reign with Christ as priests and kings during the 1,000-year period that will follow this age.
Revelation 5:10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”
Being blessed to be part of the first resurrection, the second death is rendered powerless over them.
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
The rest of mankind will undergo the salvation and Godly image building processes after this age. God is not willing that any should perish and everyone will have his chance for repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
The person who is granted repentance is on his way to God’s resumption of his creating the person in God’s image according to God’s likeness.
The Nature of the Man Jesus Christ
Many believe that Jesus Christ was both man and God at the time of his human sojourn on earth. He was “fully man and fully God” they say.
They believe that Christ was the Spirit who just took on a human body to compose Jesus Christ. Hence, when Jesus Christ “died”, it was only the body which died and the Spirit went somewhere else to preach to some spirits in prison.
The problem with this belief, if such was the case, is that Jesus Christ did not die. This would be contrary to the gospel Paul preached which is of first importance: that Christ died. Any preaching along the line that Christ the Spirit survived would make the belief in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which also you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died…
Jesus Christ died because he was no longer Spirit but was made flesh.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh…
The Word was made a little lower than angels for the suffering of death.
Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death…
This lowering of the Word’s nature from that of an immortal God to a mortal man necessitated the shedding off of the said immortal God nature.
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
The man Jesus Christ was not the Word as the Spirit in a human body. The Word himself became the flesh Jesus Christ.
Having shed off his immortal God nature and already flesh and blood, God filled Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 4:1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit…
God would not have filled Jesus with the Holy Spirit if the Word remained as Spirit dwelling in a human body.
After 3 days and 3 nights under the power of death, God raised Jesus Christ from the dead to become the firstborn of all creation.
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…18 And He is…the firstborn from the dead…
When God raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, Jesus Christ, the last Adam who was then flesh and blood, became a life giving spirit.
1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
If it is fact that the Spirit Word retained his spirit nature and just escaped from the body when Jesus died, there would be two spirit beings claiming to be the resurrected Jesus Christ.
The Word, who was spirit, became Jesus Christ the man who died and was restored to his glory as a spirit he shared with the Father before the world was. God granted Jesus’ prayer.
John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
When he walked on earth as the first born son of the then virgin Mary, Jesus Christ was a man subject to death. He was not a mere man being the only begotten Son of the Father.
Having shed off his immortal God nature, Jesus was not a God in that sense. God does not die. He “was made a little lower than the angels”. For this reason, Jesus’ immortal God nature had to be removed so he could die.
And Jesus Christ died, was dead and buried, and was raised back to life by the Father.
1 Corinthians 15:1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which also you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…
While the Man Jesus was an immortal God being before he became flesh and after his resurrection from the dead, he was not such when he was a man for the purpose of death.
Church – Those who are in Christ
The Christian is a person who has been granted repentance, been baptized, and has received the gift of the Holy Spirit which dwells in him. The badge of identification of a Christian is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in him.
Romans 8:9 Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
The Christian lives by every word of God being enabled to do so. His life is characterized by the manifest fruit of the Holy Spirit, Love (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Church of God, the Body of Christ, consists of Christians or Holy Spirit indwelt persons. Being a spiritual body, the Church of God is not contained in any form of human organization.
The parable of the wheat and tares illustrates the situation in any group of believers.
Matthew 13:24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”
The wheat represents the Holy Spirit indwelt persons who are “in” the Church of God while the tares represent those who are merely “with” it.
The members of the body are spread throughout the world like salt and could be part of humanly organized bodies or groups of believers. Being spread out, Christ refers to these individual members as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth…
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world.
While the members are many and are spread throughout the earth, there is only one Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
The Power of his (Jesus’) Resurrection
We have established the reality of the Power of Death. Unless a stronger power overcomes the power of death, the person who dies will perish.
Even Christ died and was under death’s dominion for the period he was dead. If Christ was not raised back to life, then we are still in our sins and those who have died have perished.
1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
Thankfully God raised Jesus from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…
Christ’s resurrection assures all in Christ to be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
While through Christ’s death we were reconciled to God, we shall be saved by his life.
Romans 5:10 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.
Among Paul’s aims in his walk with Christ is to know Christ and the power of Christ’s resurrection.
Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…
And we know that the power of His (Jesus’) resurrection saves us from the power of death.
It is clear in the bible that the penalty of sin is death. Death is the opposite of life. When God metes out the penalty of death to those who choose not to make God to reign over them, they die. They are lifeless.
When they die, they cease to feel anything. And they are no longer subject to resurrection. Their punishment is final and eternal. Their being dead is irreversible. They perish.
Often overlooked in the oft quoted verse of John 3 is the fact that “perish” is the opposite of eternal life which is promised to the overcomers.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The common belief which is not supported by the bible is that eternal punishment means man will languish in hellfire writhing in pain day and night continuously for eternity but not dying. This is even contrary to logic.
Man is of the dust, mortal, subject to death. When he suffers even 3rd degree burns, his life is at a peril. How much more if he is to be burned in hellfire? Should he last even for one hour? If so, the “hellfire” is not really that hot as it could not kill even for eternal burning. Besides, God is compassionate. How could God bear seeing his creature suffer more than he should?
“Eternal fire” in Jude 1:7 is a poetic expression describing a fire which continues to rage as long as there are still combustible materials to be consumed. If people are to be thrown into that fire, they will be consumed, more than the victims of fire we know who are merely charred beyond recognition. At least in the latter, we could still see some remains. In the hellfire, there will be none but ashes maybe.
“Eternal punishment” in Matthew 25:46 is used in contrast to “eternal life”. These two are opposites. If eternal life is for the righteous, being continuously burned without dying in hellfire is not the opposite since they are still alive.
The eternal punishment spoken of by the bible is the finality of death for those who choose not to make God to reign over them from which there is no more recovery.
Man is not going to Heaven but to the New Earth
Let’s read Revelation 21 to find out where man would go. The present heaven commonly believed? Or to the new heaven or new earth.
Verse 1 states that the new heaven and the new earth have replaced the first heaven and the first earth which have already passed. Hence, the present heaven is out of the picture.
:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Verse 2 states that the new Jerusalem comes down from God out of heaven.
:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
If the new Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, it shows that the new Jerusalem will be outside of heaven.
John confirms this in verse 10 where he was shown the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven.
:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
Verse 3 states that, instead of man going to the new heaven, it is God who joins man to dwell with them.
:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Man is not going to heaven, old or new. The earth, referring to the new earth, is what Christ promised the meek. And there could be no meeker men than those who are indwelt by and who submit to the lead of the Holy Spirit of God.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
The Real Future for Finished Product Man
Professing Christians are in a quandary as to what the saved will be doing for eternity. Many believe that they will be playing harp before God for ever. Even for just a week, to continuously play the harp would be boring.
For believers, the bible clearly states what’s in store for man when he has already acquired God’s image of love and is already changed to an immortal spirit son of God. God made man to have dominion over all things God created.
Psalm 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet…
Hebrews 2:8…For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
The present heavenly bodies in the ever expanding universe are devoid of life. These bodies await man’s change to spirit.
Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
When one ponders on the number of these heavenly bodies to be worked on by the already everlasting man, one can appreciate Isaiah who said that of the increase of Jesus’ government and peace, there will be no end.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end…
This is the real future, far from being boring, that awaits man. And the immediate future of becoming a fully created being in God’s image according to God’s likeness is, for man’s eternity, only the beginning.