Man's life is a mystery. Scholars, historians, and philosophers through the centuries have sought to understand man and the meaning of human existence. Despite man's endeavors to probe into the secrets of the universe, the universe remains a mystery. Although many consider the universe and man's purpose on this earth to be an insoluble riddle, the Bible, one of God's greatest gifts to mankind, unlocks this mystery. The Bible is God's revelation to man. It reveals the reality concerning God, the universe, man, the relationship between man and God, the relationships among men, and man's obligation to God, as seen through creation and the Scripture.
God's Word tells us that He is self-existing and ever-existing. In eternity past God was there. At a certain point He made a decision to create man. God's desire was to have this man express Him in His image and represent Him with His authority on earth (Gen. 1:26-28).
This is quite meaningful. Before God created man, He made billions of items in this universe. He created the plant life, the animal life, and finally the highest life, the human life. We can easily see that the plants were created for the animals, and the animals were created for mankind. However, it is not easy to realize that man was made for God's purpose. The Bible tells us in the very first pages of Genesis that God's creation of man was different from His creation of all other things. He created man in His own image. Let us illustrate this matter by using a glove. In the regions of the world where there are long, harsh winters and extreme cold , most people are accustomed to wearing warm gloves. A person's hand cannot fit into a handkerchief because it does not have the image or form of the hand. Because the glove is in the image, the likeness, and the form of a hand, it is able to contain the hand. A glove is made in the form of a hand for the purpose of containing the hand. In the same way, the human life was created according to the image of God so that God could dispense Himself as the divine life into the human life.
Man was created not only to express God but also to be God's representative authority. God wanted man to rule over this created earth with His dominion. Although God judged and sentenced His enemy, Satan, the created man was committed with the responsibility to execute this judgment. Man was to rule over a vast territory for God.
The unique way for man to express God and represent God is to receive God as his life that man may become a counterpart of God. Man was created with the capacity to receive and contain God's divine life. All of man's human virtues, such as love, honor, and goodness, were created by God so that man may have God's life and live out the divine attributes.
Man's life is the highest created life, much higher in quality than the plant life or animal life. Not only so, man was created after God's kind. The animals in God's creation were created after their own kind. Thus, the animal life cannot contain or express the human life. However, man was made after God's kind, with th eability and capacity to receive another life - the divine life. In this respect man is unique in all God's creation.
Not only so, man is a vessel, a container (Rom. 9:21, 23). Because we are vessels of God, God wants to be our content. Just as bottles are made to contain milk and beverages, we are made to contain God. This is the reason that knowledge, wealth, material possessions, and accomplishments can never satisfy us, because we were created to contain God.
All human beings, regardless of their race or nationality, are vessels of God. The Bible, the word of God, divides this vessel into three parts - the spirit, the soul, and the body (1 Thes. 5:23). Everyone is aware of his own physical body. It is tangible, concrete, temporal, and lends itself to scientific investigation. If we were to ask a chemistry professor, "What are the physical properties that constitute man's physical makeup?" he might produce an analysis chart and point out that human beings are composed of so many percent water, nitrogen, carbon, and various other elements. As a professor chemistry, he would be correct, no doubt, according to his field of research. However, his research would be limited to the physical part of man's being, the part that is made up of the elements of the earth. Since the beginning of history man has sought to be free from the imprisonment of his body. He has tried to find new ways of pleasing his overworked senses, only to find that it all has been done before. Although man has managed to prolong biological life, every man comes to the point where he has to admit that the body is a dead end. God's purpose for man does not focus on man's physical body.
After examining man according to his view, a psychologist might say that besides man's body, man has an inward, hidden composition. Man has a mind, a thinking orgain. He also has emotions, the faculty of inner feeling, capable of loving, hating, and being depressed and elated. He might also point out that man has a will, a faculty for making decisions. In short, man ia a living, thinking, feeling, and deciding entity - not mere animated dust but a real, living person, having a unique and distinctive personality. He would say that our inner self, our psychological self, is our real self, while our body is merely the outward shell of our being. Psyche, the root of such English words as psychiatry and psychology, comes from the Greek word meaning "soul". Psychology is the study of the soul. The three faculties of mind, will, and emotion compose the personality and are merely the components of the human soul.
The last two centuries of human history have seen the spectacular rise of the soul's powers. The great minds such as Churchill, Einstein, Emerson, and Dostoevski have contributed an abundance of thought. The great wills have produced an abundance of decisive action in government and culture. Without a doubt the soul has soared to its peak in the past few decades. Yet in spite of man's great accomplishments, the sense of inner emptiness remains. We can conquer the moon, but within ourselves there remains some uncharted territory. We can study the world's great philosophies and still not find the answer to the great questions concerning our human existence. We can obtain the highest education an dyet remain restless and dissatisfied. Within the soul of man, the search for the meaning of human life will always end in frustration.
Hidden and obscured, there is a faculty deep within man that has remained a mystery throughout all the ages. It is deeper than the soul. Just as the life-giving marrow is hidden within the bone, hidden within the soul is the human spirit. The spirit of man was made specifically to contain God Himself, to be filled with God. Man is never satisfied because this deepest part still remains to be filled. Through the mind man is able only to consider God and know God objectively, but through the spirit man is able to contact God, contain God, and enjoy God.
Before man partook of God's life and nature in the tree of life, he was seduced by Satan, God's archenemy, and thus became corrupted and fell into sin. The fall of man is the greatest tragedy in the universe. Its effects are still with us today as we witness the war, injustice, poverty, crime, oppression, and sickness around us daily.
Because man disobeyed God's word, he fell under God's condemnation, became separated from God, was deprived from fulfilling God's purpose, and is destined to an eternal death in the lake of fire.
Not only so, because of the fall, man was corrupted inwardly in nature. Although man was created in the image of God and thus possesses a good nature that matches God's nature, with virtues such as truthfulness, goodness, holiness, wisdom, kindness, and valor, through man's fall an evil nature entered into man and now wars against his good nature. Because sin is in man, he is unable to carry out his good intentions. Furthermore, man cannot escape his evil nature. The Bible says that in man, that is, in his flesh, nothing good dwells (Rom. 7:18). Man wills to do good, but he simply cannot do it.
Through the fall of man Satan as sin entered into man, corrupting his body and causing it to become the flesh, contaminating his soul so that it became the self, and deadening man's spirit. Sin damaged man in three ways: it caused man's spirit to be deadened; it caused man's mind to rebel against God; and it caused man's body to sin.
In his fallen state, man is like a damaged and untunable radio that cannot receive and play music, but rather makes meaningless noise. He is also like a beautiful and well-formed cup that has fallen into the gutter and become covered with mud. Throughout history man has tried every possible way to escape sin, only to find that good works, education, ethics, ideologies, and materialism cannot save him from sin. Man has been fully usurped by Satan and is under his control, totally helpless and unable to save himself.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Savior sent from God into the world to solve the problems of fallen and sinful men. He came almost two thousand years ago to the Middle East as the embodiment of the Triune God. The Bible says that in Jesus Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9). Not only so, He is God incarnated. Hence, He is both the complete God and the perfect man. He is more than a good man, a great man, a moral man, or a holy man. He is the God-man. This God-man was nailed to the cross to accomplish the work of redemption. According to the Bible, He died as 1) the Lamb of God to take away man's sin (John 1:29), 2) the bronze serpent to destroy God's enemy, Satan (John 3:14-15), and 3) a grain of wheat to release the divine and eternal life of God and impart it into us (John 12:24).
Hence, God took two steps. First He became flesh, born as a man called Jesus. After living a perfect and sinless life and dying on the cross to redeem sinful man, He rose from the dead and in resurrection changed His form from the flesh to the Spirit. Hence, the Lord Jesus became the Spirit. This Spirit is called the life-giving Spirit. A crucial verse in the Bible tells us that the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). God the Father is unapproachable. Although He came in the Son to dwell as man among men, God the Son was still not able to enter into man because He was in the form of a man with flesh and blood. By the Son's death and resurrection, His form was changed from a physical one into a spiritual one. As the Spirit, that is, as the spiritual air that we can breathe in, Christ was able to enter into His disciples. Thus the entire Triune God - the Father, the Son, and the Spirit - reaches man. In other words, when the Triune God reaches His redeemed people, He is the Spirit.
Let us use a few illustrations to explain this. Although the sun is unapproachable in itself due to its extremely high temperature, it reaches us as rays of sunlight. The rays of the sun are the reaching of the sun to us. In other words the essence, nature, and characteristics of the sun are found an included in its rays.
We may also use the illustration of ice, water, and vapor. Although the essence of all three are two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, their outward forms can change without altering any of their essential characteristics. Vapor may be likened to the Spirit, which is the easiest of the three forms to be received by man. The Spirit is the very divine breath or air that can be readily received and experienced by man.
Furthermore, in the modern world nearly every home has electricity installed in it. Although the source of the electricity may be a hydroelectric power plant situated on a river, the electricity reaches the homes by wires or cable. Christ the Son is the heavenly wire, coming from God the Father, the divine power plant, to bring the supply and power of the Spirit as the heavenly electrical current to us. Just as the current of electricity is the electricity itself in motion, so the Spirit of God is the flowing and reaching of God Himself to man. In other words, the Spirit transmits God Himself to us. The application of the Triune God to us is the Spirit. The Spirit is the "current" of the Triune God for us to apply; He is the Triune God in motion.
Furthermore, it is vitally important to realize that the Spirit is the entire Triune God. The Holy Spirit cannot be separated from the Son or the Father. We may easily separate the two elements of oil and water, but it is impossible to separate tea from water after the tea bag is steeped in the water.
The Holy Spirit is the ultimate consummation of the Triune God reaching us. When the Lord Jesus took the step of being transfigured into the form of the Spirit, that was the final step of His process; He could change no further, for He had reached His goal. This was His full development. We should not think that when the Holy Spirit reaches us, only He, the Third of the God-head , comes, and the Father and the Son remain in heaven. According to the Bible, when the spirit comes, the Father and the Son also come with the Spirit. We can say that the Father is the source, the Son is the course, and the Spirit is the flow. This is truly marvelous!
God today is the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2). If you ask people on the street or in the shops who God is, some may say that God is the Creator, and others may reply that He is their Redeemer and Savior; however, not many will say that God is the Spirit. God is not merely the Spirit; He is the life-giving Spirit.
To be a Christian is to receive the Holy Spirit into our human spirit. Man can be likened to a radio, and the Spirit of God can be likened to radio waves. Within a radio there is a receiver. Likewise, within every man there is a human spirit as the recipient for man to receive the Spirit of God. If a radio is turned off or the receiver is not functioning properly, the radio waves will not be received by the radio. Today many human "radios" do not function because their owners do not "switch on" by exercising their spirit. People today are unable to contact God because the receiver within them, the human spirit, is out of order.
In order for us to receive and enjoy this wonderful One, we must turn our heart to God and repent. The meaning of repentance is to turn to God. Previously, we had our back toward God. Whether we were doing good or evil, we were turned away from God. In order to receive God, we must first turn to Him. We must then believe in and receive God. God required that our heart believe and that our mouth confess. The Bible tells us that if we confess with our mouth, "Lord Jesus," and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Rom. 10:9).
The Christian life is a life bubbling with the Lord every day, all the day long. As soon as we awaken in the morning, we can call on the Lord and use the Bible to contact the Lord by praying in spirit. Since there are three hundred sixty-five mornings in a year, we can have a new beginning every morning by being revived in our human spirit. Not only can we be revived by ourselves, but it is also good to speak with others concerning what we have enjoyed of the Lord. This can be done face-to-face at home, in the market place in town, or at work in a factory.
Such a wonderful all-inclusive Spirit brings into us the divine, eternal, uncreated life of God. This life enables us to enjoy Him, experience Him, and live Him out in our daily life. Whether we are factory workers, housewives, farmers, professionals, or laborers, we can enjoy such a Spirit and live by the unsearchable riches of this divine life. May the Lord bless you and cause you to live according to God's purpose.
This article is taken from a series of gospel messages
given in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia in 1992. They have
been instrumental in bringing over 7,000 people to the knowledge
of God, the Bible, and the Christian salvation.
The entire series comprises six articles with the following topics: 1) The Bible, 2) There Is God, 3) Christ Is God, 4) Christ Is Spirit and Life, 5) Christ's Redemption and Salvation, and 6) The Meaning of Human Life.