The Human Condition




According to Scripture the eternal God freely and of his own accord (cf. Rom. 11:34f.) brought the temporal creation into existence (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 4:11). The physical creation was a merely temporary expedient designed to fulfill the divine purpose of displaying his glory (Ps. 19; Rom. 1:20) and achieving human salvation. Thus there was no covenant with creation: it was merely commanded (Gen. 1; Ps. 33:6,9; Rev. 4:11). Since creation has both a beginning and an end, it is temporary by nature (2 Cor. 4:18). Once its purpose of producing, nurturing and testing man who is made in the image of God is complete, it will be destroyed. Once the grain has been reaped and garnered, the uninhabited field (cf. Isa. 6:11, etc.) is desolate and has no further use (Mt. 13:39f.).


Creation was intended from the start to be inhabited (Gen. 1; Isa. 45:18). Thus, as the products of creation (cf. Gen. 2:7, etc.), we human beings along with all the animal creation are born by divine decree (Isa. 45:9f.; Acts 17:24-27). The ultimate intention so far as man is concerned is for God to adopt us as his children according to his good pleasure (Eph. 1:4f., cf. Dt. 7:8).

Since the physical creation is merely a temporary phenomenon (Gen. 1:1; 2 Cor. 4:18), provisional and finally destructible like the law which relates to it (Mt. 5:18), we need to escape both from the creation as such and our material (fleshly) bodies which stem from it (cf. 1 Cor. 15:42-54). Thus God promises us eternal life if we keep the commandment(s) (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5, etc.). In this we all fail, but Jesus the only man who is finally perfected keeps the law, gains life and incorruption (2 Tim. 1:10) and paves our way transformed into heaven. Since God makes us in his image, we are intended to aspire to be like him, that is, to be perfected (Mt. 5:48) and glorified (Rom. 2:7,10) but we all come short (Rom. 3:23; 5:12).


As has already been implied, eternal life is in prospect from the start (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5) but like Paul we can’t meet its condition (Rom. 7:9f.). And so with all others (1 K. 8:46; Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 3:9,12,23, etc.).

Creation Doomed

Unable to escape we are doomed to death like the animals that are mere flesh (Ps. 49:12,20; Eccl. 3:19-20), and the rest of creation which is subject to corruption by nature (Mt. 24:35; Heb. 1:10-12, etc.). Flesh and blood, that is, dust, cannot by nature enter heaven, but our spiritual nature is frustrated by sin. A defiled spirit cannot enter the presence of God (cf. Heb. 9:9,14; 10:22).

Jesus the Only Saviour

Since God made his original promise to man (Adam) on condition of his keeping the commandment, that condition had to be met by man (cf. Heb. 2). In the event this proves to be beyond our capacity. But God always intended to be man’s Saviour himself (Isa. 45:21-25; 1 Cor. 1:29; Eph. 2:9, etc.), so it was necessary for him to become man in Jesus. And it was as man in the flesh that Jesus overcame sin (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14f.; 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22). He alone kept the law and met the condition of life (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5, etc.). However, his personal reception of the Spirit (eternal life, regeneration) at his baptism was not enough. In his love and mercy he had to atone for the sins of the rest of mankind (1 John 2:2). Since he now had eternal life, he was in a position to offer his temporal flesh as a sacrifice on behalf of others (1 Pet. 3:18; Col. 1:22, cf. Mt. 17:24f.). He did this to the satisfaction of his Father who raised him from the dead. He then ascended transformed into heaven in accordance with the will and purpose of God (1 Cor. 15:53) thereby paving the way for his fellows who put their trust in him (Heb. 6:19f.; 10:19f.).

Just as Jesus, who had gained righteousness by obeying the law (Rom. 2:13; 6:16b), was sealed by the Spirit at his baptism (Lev. 18:5; John 6:27; 2 Tim. 2:19), so it is necessary that his disciples should be likewise (2 Cor. 1:21f.; Eph. 1:13; 4:30) since they are all members of the same family (Heb. 2:11-13, cf. Rom. 8:29). Thus, as they are justified by faith in Jesus, they too receive the Spirit poured out by him to apply his saving work (John 14:16f.; Acts 1:4f., cf. Gal. 3:2,5).

So when he became incarnate Jesus had every intention of remaining so only for a little while (Heb. 2:7,9, cf. 5:7). He who was rich briefly took on poverty so that he could redeem his people and make them rich (2 Cor. 8:9). In other words, he clearly intended to escape from this ‘evil’ age (Gal. 1:4) from the start (John 3:13; 16:28; Eph. 4:9f., etc.) but with us his fellows in train (Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:18). Since he loved all those the Father had given him, he was committed to rescuing us and bringing us to God (John 14:1-3; Heb. 9:28; 2 Thes. 2:1, etc.). So, having gained eternal life as man himself, he as the regenerate son was free to lay down his flesh (psyche, John 10:17f.; I John 3:16) which is unregenerate and temporary by nature (cf. John 3:6) in sacrifice for sin. Being free himself he had something to offer (cf. Mt. 17:24f.). Simply put, he died on man’s behalf (1 John 2:2). And like Moses before him escaping from the house of bondage (Egypt) he made his exodus from this world of bondage (Luke 9:31,51; Rom. 8:20, cf. 2 Pet. 1:13-15) and entered his Father’s house with his brethren in tow (1* What is involved here is Jesus’ eventual return when, having already dealt with sin (Heb. 9:28), he will come back to take his fellows to his Father’s house and there to be with him forever (John 14:3)).

Once he had risen (Acts 2:23f.) in the flesh (Luke 24:39) without seeing corruption (Acts 2,13), apart from giving instructions to his disciples he ascended transformed into heaven (John 17:5,24; 1 Cor. 15:50,53-55; Phil. 3:20, etc.).

The Perfection of Jesus

So Jesus as man (no docetism here!) was perfected (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:26,28) first by keeping the law which was the precondition of life and then by being led by the Spirit to fulfil all righteousness impossible under the law (Heb. 7:18f.; 8:7). By contrast the rest of us, who like Adam in whose steps we follow (cf. Rom. 7:9f., pace Art. 9 of the C of E), are all condemned by our sin and earn its wages in death (Rom. 5:12). This being the case, our only resort it to turn to Jesus who alone can save us through faith.

Salvation in Christ Alone

Salvation then is possible through Christ alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12, etc.). Since he was God become man in order to save us, we can cheerfully say Gloria Soli Deo or Glory to God alone (Phil 2:11).