Author: Pastor Paul A. Bartz
The Biblical teaching that God is the Author of life is well known to Christians. Unfortunately, we have been influenced by the world into thinking about life in the same way as those around us who have been influenced by evolution. Life is much more than just a physical process brought about by the miraculous order of chemicals within the body. Evolution is totally unable to explain that order, but there is even more to life than that.
1. Read Genesis 2:7. Here we have more details on the creation of man. God forms man of the dust of the ground in the first part of the verse. Yet he is not alive until the second part of the verse when God breathes the breath of life into His creation.
This same situation is reflected in death. When man dies, there is a stopping of activity such as heartbeat, breathing, and electrical activity in the body, but there is no physical change to the structure of the body which can be called death. All of the changes which take place are a result of death.
Physically, there is no chemical or structural difference in the body immediately before and after death. Yet, as Scripture indicates here, the breath of life is gone. This should indicate to us that there is more to life than its physical structure, as wonderful as that structure is. Genesis 6:17, among other verses, also brings out this point.
2. Read Genesis 9:6. Although man is no longer perfectly in the image of God (Genesis 5:3), man was made in the image of God, and though corrupt, he is still quite different from the animals. Man remains set apart from the rest of living things, even though he has become sinful. For this reason man’s life is not to be taken by anyone, with the exception that God demands that one who takes another’s life have his life taken also. How does this approach uphold the value of human life?
How does this verse recognize that there is more to human life than the physical processes that can be measured?
What does this Scriptural outlook then say about the purely materialistic view of human life?
3. The word “life” is used in various ways in Scripture. This means that we must always let the text itself decide for us which meaning for the word “life” is intended by God. Take a look at Psalm 36:9; Job 19-25, and John 1:4-5 for example. How does the use of the concept of “life” in these verses differ from the verses we looked at in the last paragraph?
But while this is a different aspect of life, we must note that it is no more “figurative” than the usages referring to the physical life that we are living now. The spiritual life which we have cannot be materially measured, but this does not mean that it is not very real; even physical. It simply is much more than material, and so it cannot be measured by our scientific knowledge which is limited to the material.
But it is real, and therefore we can call spiritual life physical without meaning that it is material. How would this kind of referencing to spiritual life help in proclaiming the Biblical teaching on spiritual life to those who think that Biblical references to spiritual life, and even the resurrection, are figurative?
4. By way of illustration, the Bible teaches that human beings always occupy either material life or death, and either spiritual life or death, at any one time. One may be materially alive, but spiritually dead and in need of regeneration. Or one may be materially alive, and spiritually alive, and thus in the state of all believers on earth.
But when one’s material, or earthly life, ends, if he is a believer he remains spiritually alive because of Christ. Because these are all real states we have labeled them as physical, and therefore part of life.
Any study of our knowledge (the science, in the purest meaning) of life must include these facts. For this reason any scientific treatment of life is incomplete to the point of misrepresentation if it includes only material considerations.
5. Although no illustration is perfect, the above picture, which is based on the detailed study of quite a few texts, can help in understanding such passages as Romans 5:17-21.
Man was created in a condition of perfect material and spiritual life. Sin brought instant spiritual death and inevitable material death. As promised to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15), the promised Savior came to provide a remedy for this condition, which is explained in these verses from Romans.
The free gift of righteousness through the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ returns spiritual life to us, removing us from spiritual death.
6. This spiritual life must also be fed and nurtured, just as material life must be fed and nurtured. Many Scriptural passages talk about this. For example, read Romans 8:5-11. Note how even the outlook and conduct of one who has been restored to spiritual life is so much different than those who do not have spiritual life.
As we consider the gifts and wonder of life, we should never forget this aspect of life either. Would you agree or disagree with the following statement: Christians in general tend to forget the need to feed and nurture their spiritual lives, and as a result often suffer very real (physical) consequences.
We always need to remember that Jesus Christ is our real help, even as Christians. Because of the daily sin in our lives we daily need His forgiveness and life.