God’s Plan for Man—Part 1

God’s Plan for Man

THE whole universe is governed in keeping with the fixed plans of the Creator. Because this is true, those who sow seed know that in due time they will reap a harvest; and astronomers can forecast the exact movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars. God also has a plan for his human creatures, every detail of which is being worked out exactly according to his design.

God created the earth to be man’s eternal home, but he forewarned our first parents that their continued life depended upon their obedience to his law. They disobeyed and were sentenced to death. By heredity this death condemnation was passed on to their progeny, and the human family has experienced more than six thousand years of sin, sickness, and death. Now it is feared that the entire race might be destroyed through the selfish misuse of human inventions and discoveries.

But the Bible assures us that this will not occur, that, instead, the human race is to be restored to life as was originally designed by the Creator. The plan of God whereby this is accomplished has, throughout the centuries, been moving forward to completion, and the Bible reveals that now the time is near for the glorious consummation of that plan. Those who understand God’s plan for man are filled with hope instead of fear.

There are many facets to the divine plan, as you will discover. The short articles that will appear under this title will deal with some of the many phases of God’s plan for man. You will find the questions and reference materials useful aids to understanding. It is important that you look up all the Scripture texts which are cited, and read the suggested reference material. We commend these topical Bible studies to you. Should questions arise that are not answered in the studies, do not hesitate to write us concerning them.

The reference materials are the six volumes of the Studies in the Scriptures. These Bible study helps may be purchased from the Dawn.


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The Creation of Man

The six creative days referred to in the opening chapter of the Book of Genesis do not pertain to the original work of creating the universe, but to the preparation of our earth to sustain life—particularly human life. We are informed that the earth already existed prior to the beginning of these days of creation.—Gen. 1:2 (A)

These days were in reality long eras of time during which the gradual preparation of the earth for human habitation was carried forward. It was toward the close of the sixth day that man was created, in the image of God, and commanded to multiply and fill the earth. (Gen. 1:26-31) The image of God in which man was created does not mean a physical but a moral likeness. Man was endowed with the ability to reason and to understand God’s instructions concerning right and wrong, good and evil. (B)

Being created in the image of God does not imply that man was endowed with immortality, nor does it mean that an immortal soul was implanted somewhere in the human organism. The expression ‘immortal soul’ does not appear anywhere in the Bible. The word soul simply means ‘a living being’. The living being, Adam, was made up of an organism animated by “the breath of life.”—Gen. 2:7 (C)

God’s commission to our first parents to multiply and fill the earth reveals that the divine destiny for man was that he should inhabit the earth, which had been created to be his abiding home. (Isa. 45:18) Man was created an earthly being and perfectly adapted to the home God had prepared for him in the earth. (I Cor. 15:47) Nothing was said to our first parents about being transferred to another part of the universe.

Man was given dominion over the earth and over the lower animals. (Ps. 8:4-8) He was to subdue the earth, meaning that he was to bring it under his control and make it beautiful, useful, and productive. In the garden home which the Creator provided for our first parents there were both beauty and an abundant supply of life-sustaining food.—Gen. 2:8,9

It may be assumed that this marvelous garden home was designed by God to serve as a sort of working model for man as he endeavored to fulfill the commission given to him to fill the earth with his offspring, and to subdue it. And it is not difficult to imagine what the situation would have been had the divine purpose been carried out in keeping with the Creator’s arrangements.

As the human family increased in number, that garden home which God specially prepared eastward in Eden would soon have been too small, so its borders would have been extended as the need required. This would have continued until the entire earth would have become one vast paradise, filled with a perfect and happy human family enjoying continuous perfect health and life, rejoicing in the sunshine of the Creator’s smile. This was God’s purpose in the creation of man.

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Questions:

In order to understand the plan of God for human salvation from sin and death, it is essential to know the divine purpose in the creation of man. Can you answer these questions?

Is it the original creation of the universe that is described in the first chapter of Genesis?

Were the creative days of Genesis twenty-four hour periods?

In what sense was man created in the image of God?

Was man created immortal or given an ‘immortal soul’? What is a human soul?

What was implied by God’s command to fill the earth and to have dominion over it?

Explain what the human race would have experienced had the Creator’s will been carried out without interruption.


Reference Material:

(A) “The New Creation” (Volume VI), page 18, 1

(B) “The New Creation” (Volume VI), page 39

(C) “The Atonement between God and Man” (Volume V), pages 307,308


Summary of Important Thoughts

Man was created in the moral image of God, endowed with the ability to know right from wrong. He was commissioned to multiply and fill the earth, which God created to be his eternal home.


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Death’s Reign Begun

It was God’s design that man should enjoy everlasting life on the earth, but it was necessary that he prove his worthiness to enjoy the blessing of life in his earthly home by rendering obedience to divine law. The penalty for disobeying God’s law was death.—Gen. 2:15-17; Rom. 6:23

God stated his law very simply and thus made clear what the penalty for disobedience would be. But Satan, speaking through the serpent, said to mother Eve that death would not result from disobeying God’s command.—Gen. 3:1-5

Through the ages since then, this falsehood has been expressed in many different ways, with the result that few have believed that death is a reality. Most religionists throughout the heathen and professed Christian worlds insist that “there is no death.” Thus they agree with the vicious falsehood perpetrated by the Devil in the Garden of Eden.

Eve herself was deceived by Satan’s lie, and partook of the forbidden fruit. Then she offered it to Adam and he partook. But Adam was not deceived. He knew what the result of his disobedience would be.—I Tim. 2:14

It is quite possible, we think, that Adam lacked faith in the Creator’s ability to overrule Eve’s transgression in a way that would be to his benefit; so he deliberately disobeyed, feeling that life would not be worthwhile without his helpmate, Eve. Whatever his reasoning, his sin was willful and the divine sentence of death fell upon him. (Gen. 3:17-19) Eve shared in this condemnation.

The transgression and condemnation of our first parents were prior to the birth of their children. This meant that the process of dying had already begun when their children were born. Thus their offspring were imperfect and automatically came under condemnation to death.—Rom. 5:12

The reign of sin and death had begun, and has continued for more than six thousand years. During this time countless millions have suffered and died. Sorrow, sickness, and pain—mental and physical—have been experienced by all, both young and old, in every generation. This long period of human suffering is described in the Bible as a nighttime of weeping which has come upon the human race as a result of God’s condemnation resting upon the people because of sin. (Ps. 30:5) However, in God’s due time, as we shall see later, there will be a release from suffering and death.

The Apostle Paul said that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” (Rom. 1:18) It is revealed by everything which reminds us of sickness and death. Truly, man is learning the terrible result of transgressing divine law.

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Questions:

In order to understand God’s plan for the rescue of fallen man from death, it is necessary to grasp clearly just what happened in the Garden of Eden. Can you answer these questions?

What was the condition upon which God’s perfect human creatures could enjoy everlasting life on earth?

What is the divine penalty for sin, and what was Satan’s deception concerning this?

Was Adam deceived by Satan concerning the penalty for sin?

What may have been the reason that Adam willfully transgressed God’s law?

Explain why Adam’s offspring shared in the death condemnation which came upon him.

What is one of the ways by which the Bible describes the reign of sin and death?

How is the wrath of God revealed from heaven?


Reference Material:

“The Atonement between God and Man” (Volume V), pages 407-409


Summary of Important Thoughts

Obedience to God’s law is the condition upon which any of God’s intelligent creatures can enjoy a continuance of his favor and the blessings of everlasting life.


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The Hope of Deliverance

When God pronounced the sentence of death upon our first parents, he did not leave them without hope that at some time and in some manner the penalty might be lifted. A ray of hope is to be noted in the statement God made to the serpent pertaining to a coming seed that would bruise his head.—Gen. 3:15

We cannot suppose that Adam and Eve understood clearly the implications of God’s statement concerning the seed of the woman; but they seemed to have been given some hope by it, for when their first son, Cain, was born, Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.”—Gen. 4:1

In the light of subsequent promises of God, it is now clear that God’s statement concerning a seed that would bruise the serpent’s head actually did mean that in God’s due time Adam and his race would be delivered from Satan’s rulership and from sin and death. (Rev. 20:1-3; I Cor. 15:25,26) This means that the original purpose of God in the creation of man will be fulfilled, and the earth will become one vast paradise, populated by the redeemed and restored offspring of Adam and Eve.—Rev. 21:4

About two thousand years after man’s fall into sin and death God made a promise to Abram—who was later called Abraham—saying that through him and his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:3) Later, when Abraham proved his worthiness by demonstrating his willingness to obey the Lord in the offering of his son, Isaac, in sacrifice, God confirmed this promise by his oath.—Gen. 22:15-18; Heb. 11:17-19

In the New Testament, the seed promised to Abraham is identified as Christ. (Gal. 3:8,16) The further explanation is given that those who follow in the footsteps of Christ will be associated with him as the promised seed. (Gal. 3:27-29) This means that true Christians will participate with Jesus in the future work of blessing mankind with health and life.

It was because of God’s great love for his human creatures that, even though he foreknew they would disobey him, he had, through Christ, made provision for them to be released from the penalty of death. (John 3:16) God’s plan for the deliverance of mankind from death through Christ is on the same basis as the condemnation of the entire human race through one man. All lost life through Adam, and all will have an opportunity to regain life through Christ.—I Cor. 15:21,22; Rom. 5:12,19

There are many promises in the Bible to assure us that when the divine plan for the deliverance of mankind from sin and death is complete there will be no more sickness, pain, or death, that joy will replace sorrow, and that all tears will be wiped away. (Isa. 25:8,9) This deliverance of mankind from sin and death will include the awakening of those who have died. These have all been ransomed by Jesus and will be restored.—Isa. 35:10; Rev. 21:1-5; I Tim. 2:5,6 (A)

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Questions:

To know the answers to these questions implies a priceless knowledge of the revealed purposes of God pertaining to his human creation. How many of them can you answer?

Did God leave our first parents without hope when he pronounced the sentence of death upon them?

What did Eve say which indicates that she may have thought that her son, Cain, was the seed mentioned by God?

Who is the seed of promise that will yet bruise the serpent’s head; and what will the complete fulfillment of this promise mean in human experience?

What promise did God make to Abraham concerning a seed?

What explanation does Paul make concerning the seed and who it will be?

Explain how the love of God provided deliverance of mankind from sin and death.

Describe the conditions on earth which will obtain when the results of the fall are set aside.


Reference Material:

(A) “The Divine Plan of the Ages” (Volume I), pages 191,192


Summary of Important Thoughts

The vague statement made to the serpent concerning a seed is in reality God’s first promise of deliverance of fallen man from sin and death.

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