“What Is Man?”


By Wayne S. Walker

     "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?  For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8.3-5).  In this Psalm about the glory of the Lord in creation, David points to the care that God has shown for mankind as a demonstration of God’s greatness.  In making his point, David asks, "What is man?"  Sorry feminists, but the word "man" is here used generically of all human beings and will be so used throughout this article.  From a purely physical standpoint, scientists can tell us what man is made of, including so much water and certain chemicals.  In this sense, we are not much different from the animals.

     However, man is more than just a collection of water and chemicals.  The Bible makes this clear when it says, "So God created man in His own image…" (Genesis 1:26).  No other aspect of God’s creation is said to be "in His own image."  Thus, in the very way in which He created us, God was mindful of man and endowed him with a spiritual nature that is in God’s own image.  Furthermore, because man is the crowning glory of God’s creation, He has further visited us in that he gave man "dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28).  What is man?  He is an intelligent being, created in God’s own image, just a little lower than the angels (cf. Hebrews 2:6-9).

     At the same time, there is another answer to the question.  What is man?  He is a fallen being due to sin, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  What makes this fact even worse is that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).  Yet, even in this, God has been mindful of us in that He "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  He has visited us, quite literally, in the person of Jesus Christ to make salvation by His grace available to all men (see Titus 2:11).  So, what is man?  He is a being created in God’s image who has fallen through sin but is so loved by God that He "is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).  How do you view yourself?  


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