A Brief Doctrine of Man

There can be no better place to start concerning the Doctrine of Man than with God’s view of man at the beginning. Too often, we begin our view of man with his sin. Though this is vitally important, we must step further back—back to Creation—to grab hold of a comprehensive perspective.

Doctrine of Man

In Genesis 1:26-27, we observe that man was the only creature made in the image of God. According to Paul in Romans 3, the problem in the “Fall” was that in sin, mankind fell short of the glory of God. Let’s take a moment to think about this. Falling short of God’s glory, is to fall short of the image we were created to reflect.

Image Bearers

In Pagan religions, idols were created to reflect the image of their false gods. In Judaism and Christianity, we are the creation which is made to reflect the image of the One True God. This is why when Jesus was tested about taxes, as recorded in Matthew 22:21, our Lord said to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to render to God the things that are God’s. Taxes can go to Caesar, but our lives must go to the Creator.

In light of this image-bearing quality, every part of the Story of God communicates God’s love and compassion towards man. Whether this is seen in God’s walking with man in the garden or in God’s plan to walk with man in the new Heavens and new Earth, God’s love for his image bearers is unmistakable. Even the reality of Jesus’s incarnation reveals to us what God’s true view of man is.

We were created to reflect the image of the One True God. #imagebearers Click To Tweet

Sin

But this story would be incomplete without the reality of sin. Scripture’s truth declares that all have sinned and have fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23-24). Scripture also bears out that all sinned and therefore all died (Romans 5:12). The significance of sin concerning the Doctrine of Man has to do with our inability to undo the effects of sin.

If we don’t apprehend a proper understanding of sin, as it pertains to the Doctrine of Man, we might be led into two fatal errors. First we might believe that we can save ourselves, which is an utter impossibility. Or second, we might believe that there is no hope at all.

Image-bearing creatures that we are, fallen and tainted by sin, we required a Savior. A Savior who would come in the form of a man—of an image bearer—but live without sin, never falling short. Although we are spiritually dead because of sin, Scripture tells us that God’s power in the Gospel has called us to Salvation.

Image-bearing creatures that we are, fallen and tainted by sin, we required a Savior. Click To Tweet

Salvation

And here we arrive at the point where a proper understanding of this doctrine—the Doctrine of Man both before and after sin—has a significant impact on our soteriology (our Doctrine of Salvation).

Man was made in the image of God to carry the image of God and, because of sin, fell short of that image. However, and this is an important concept to grasp, falling short of this image does not mean that man feel “out of” this image. Though we were spiritually dead, we still maintained our ability to respond to the God of the universe. We still had/have the ability to respond to the powerful Logos (Word) of God.

To put it another way, we are not unable to respond. The idea that man is not able to respond to the call of God through the Gospel doesn’t put man in his rightly humble state, it instead declares God to be impotent. For if the God who spoke light into existence by the word of His mouth cannot penetrate the ears of dead men, then He is no longer omnipotent.

The idea that man is not able to respond to the call of God through the Gospel doesn’t put man in his rightly humble state, it instead declares God to be impotent. Click To Tweet

Let’s Talk

I’d love to read your thoughts down in the comment section below. Want to talk this out? Feel free to email me at nathan@nathanfranckhauser.com.

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