When a newborn baby arrives in the world, parents and family marvel at God’s creative work. They check for ten fingers and ten toes and look for all the vital signs of normal physical life. But do they consider that that squirming little body is a person with a never-dying soul?
In chapters one and two of Genesis, the Bible states that God created man in His own image. God breathed life into man and “he became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Man is more than animal life for it was not said that the land animals, the birds of the air, or the fish in the sea were “living souls” although God created them all. To further emphasize that God created only man with a soul the Genesis record states three times that man was created in God’s image:
And God said, Let us make
man in our image, after our
likeness: and let them have
dominion over the fish of the
sea, and over the fowl of the
air, and over the cattle, and
over all the earth, and over
every creeping thing that
creepeth upon the earth. So
God created man in his own
image, in the image of God
created he him; male and
female created he them.”
Studying how God created man in His own image with an eternal soul and special faculties for worship will help us grasp the meaning of Christianity and salvation.
God gave us the faculty of speech so we may receive communication from Him and may also express our hearts’ desires to Him. This marvellous gift of verbal communication— which is unique to man—was intentionally given by God so we could worship Him. It led to God’s gift of His written word and the gift of His living Word, the Lord Jesus, who is the divine Logos, the revelation of the Father.
God also endowed us with a conscience— that preacher within the heart—which cries “right” or “wrong” to our every word and deed. Conscience is a powerful voice within us. It speaks in the silence of the night and follows us through the decisions of each day sounding its alarm in the inner parts of our being. It can make us feel shame until we blush and even torment us with guilt. Though conscience may be stifled, it will never go away. This accuser within will continue to track us until the day of our death and then continue to accuse us in eternity when we stand before God.
A further proof of man’s creation in God’s likeness is our personality. Unlike the dog that barks at himself in the mirror thinking his reflection is another, man recognizes himself, converses with himself, and continually assesses himself. This function of personality is distinctly human and is a marvel of God’s voice within us.
An even more convincing aspect of our creation in the image of God is our spirituality. Man is a religious being with a soul-quest for the divine. Travel to any part of the world and you will find that the peoples who inhabit every corner of the earth are worshippers. Without the gospel and the light of the Bible their worship is wrongly focused, but they know that a higher power exists to rule over them. Visit the Egyptian pyramids and learn of the preparations that the Pharaohs made for the afterlife. They arranged for stashes of food, for animals, and even for their servants to be entombed with them thinking they would be needed in the afterlife. Who told them there is life beyond the grave? It was the inner witness of their souls for they were created to worship God.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible consistently teaches that man is more than body. Solomon said, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The Lord Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). There is an eternal future awaiting every person beyond this world. The Bible could not be clearer that the reality of eternity underscores all God’s revelation to man.
Because our souls will live beyond the grave, the prophets of the Old Testament cried, “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). The Lord Jesus also warned His hearers of their need to prepare for heaven. He spoke of the foolish farmer’s spur-of-the-moment plan to pull down his barns and build greater barns. It turned out to be a foolhardy plan for on that very night his soul was called into eternity.
In another example, the Lord contrasted the methods of two men who built houses. One built on rock and the other on sand. The house upon the rock withstood the flood while the other was washed away. Thus we are all warned of the judgment day that will test the foundations upon which we build our lives. All of these warnings are necessary because we have souls created in God’s image, souls made to worship God eternally.
Because we have souls we need to know God and be reconciled to Him. We need to have His presence and know His favor. Without fellowship with God we experience emptiness in our lives. We have a vacuum in our souls that only God can fill. The early church father Augustine said, “Thou [God] hast made us for yourself, and our souls are restless until they find their rest in thee.”
It is because we have souls that God sent His Son into the world to be a Saviour to sinners. If we had no souls and we ceased to exist after the physical death of our bodies, why would the Lord have come into the world as a Saviour to give us eternal life? There would be little good news to guilty sinners if Jesus came only to minister to our bodies. But there is great good news in Jesus’ words: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Because we have souls we will live for all eternity; therefore, ask the Lord Jesus to become your Saviour. He promises that all who trust in Him for salvation will live with Him in heaven for ever. Your soul will be saved from outer darkness. You will have a glorious future as you behold the face of your Creator and Redeemer for ever and ever. And in this life you will have full assurance you are saved from sin and guaranteed eternal life.
Rev. Ian Goligher is the minister of Cloverdale FPC and the editor of Current.