What does it mean to be a human?
The Bible teaches us that God created humans to be his representatives on earth. This world belongs to God and we are to care for it. But what separates us from other creatures? Why is being human special?
Ten things about humanity:
- Humanity is a direct creation of God, not descended from any other being.
- Humanity is created out of the earth (at death, our corrupted bodies return to it).
- Humanity is created in the image of God. This means that humans are like God in any and every way that humans can be seen to be like God.
- Humans are the only rational beings capable of making moral judgments.
- Humans are the only creatures created with a will or volition.
- Humans were created as holy beings before the fall. Humans were created absent of any kind of evil and remained that way until the fall.
- Humans are the only creatures who were created with immortality. Humans were created to live for eternity.
- God made humanity lord over all creatures in Genesis 1: 26. The Earth was created for humanity’s enjoyment and for humanity’s use.
- Humanity has been created as both a physical and spiritual being (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Humans have a body and a soul. 2 Corinthians 5:10 teaches that the body is the partner to the soul. If we do not relate to God as physical beings, we do not relate to God at all. To think about God, we must use our mind, which includes our brain, which is both spiritual and physical. We always relate to God in physical ways, we praise Him with our tongues and lips, we long to know Him in the seat of our emotions, we link this to our hearts, and we want to see Him with our eyes. [Only Christ can separate the soul and the spirit (Hebrews 4:12). The word “soul” is used in Scripture in relation to the things of the world. The word “spirit” is used in Scripture in relation to the things of God. There will be a reuniting of the soul and the body at the resurrection. To say the body is the whole of what makes someone human is not Scriptural. To say that the spirit is the whole of what makes someone a human is also not Scriptural. The Bible teaches that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5:8. However, we will not again be fully human until our bodies are restored in the eternal state.]
- The body and soul are transmitted through natural birth, and humans are born into sin at conception.[It is not Scriptural to say that our souls pre-existed. To say that God creates the soul at the moment of conception and that He places the immaterial part of man in the body at conception is also not Scriptural.]
To be human, we must have three distinct relationships, one with God, one with other humans, and one with the earth. We cannot separate our relationship with other humans from our relationship with God. If we are at odds with another person, in worship we must leave our gifts at the altar and first be reconciled to that individual. God loves other believers as much as He loves you, and you cannot love God without feeling the same way about those around you. God created humans for the purpose of worshiping Him (John 4: 23) and for the purpose of living eternally with Him in fellowship (Revelations 21:3).
Humanity is fundamentally a community. Genesis 1:26-27 teaches that God created people, and it uses plural pronouns, such as “them” and “us.” This does not teach individualism; man needed woman. Even when Adam walked with God in the Garden, God said to Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Humans were not made to be in private relationships with God alone, isolated from others, but they were to have relationships with God through and with each other. Some of the most meaningful times in worship are in the midst of the community worshiping as the community. God is a communal being, and He has sovereignly chosen to create us in His image as communal beings.
Humans should also have relationships with other creatures, but that should not kill or replace our relationships with other humans (Ephesians 2:11-16). We are to love God’s creation and care for it as if we are caring for God’s own possessions. After all, the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it belongs to Him.
Humans are also created to have a relationship with the earth. We were created for the earth, it is our home, and we are to subdue it, care for it, and rule over it. We are to multiply and fill it.
The Fall of Humanity
The Fall is a real historical event. The first temptation was to cast doubt on the veracity of the word of God and it promised something God had already given. The second was to question the goodness of God. When Adam chose to disobey God, God placed a curse on natural creation. Instead of humans being at peace with creation and ruling over it, the Fall caused humanity to be at war with creation. Another result of the Fall was human mortality, making people subject to physical death (Hebrews 9:27). This also caused spiritual death, or separation in the relationship between man and God. If nothing is done in this time, it leads to the second death (Ephesians 2:1; Revelation 20:14). If someone is only born once, that person will die twice. Today, all humans are born spiritually dead. Our nature is inclined towards sin, and we are totally depraved. Additionally, as a result of the Fall of man, a curse was placed upon creation, but that curse will be lifted at the coming of the New Heavens and the New Earth (Romans 8:19-21; 2 Peter 3:13).
According to Romans 6:6, the inclination to sin can be controlled by believers now but it will eventually be removed entirely (Revelation 21:27). Christ forgives our personal sins and allows us to survive the Fall through the faith we place in Him (Ephesians 1:7). The “old man” is the person you used to be; therefore, these passages refer to the old lifestyle as being what no longer exists in us because with salvation we may now live for Christ.
The Restoration of Humanity
God’s salvation in Christ has taken care of the effects of the Fall (2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 11:1-10). In salvation, mortality will be swallowed in immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-57). No one will even be subject to death in the resurrected state (1 Corinthians 15:23). There will be reconciliation and regeneration but no second death for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).