THE basf - clause 4

THE BASF – CLAUSE 4

“That the first man was Adam, whom God created out of the dust of the ground as a living soul, or natural body of life, “very good” in kind and condition, and placed him under a law through which the continuance of life was contingent on obedience. – Gen 2:7; 18:27; Job 4:19; 33:6; 1Cor 15:46-49; Gen 2:17”.

Whereas the first four clauses of the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith establish the Scriptures to be the only true source of Divine Wisdom; and outline certain fundamental truths relating to the Eternal Creator and His Son, Jesus of Nazareth; this clause brings us back to the condition and position of man prior to the Fall. In Genesis, the elementary principles of the nature of man, and the circumstances of the entry of sin into the world, are described; and a correct understanding of these foundation principles is vital in order to understand the doctrinal edifice which Scripture builds upon them. Only when we understand the true nature of man, can we recognise our true position before God; and the dire need for salvation in Christ.

The Genesis record recounts the formation of man by God: “And Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7). The formation of man from the beginning then, was as “a living soul”, formed from the clay (Job 33:6), and energised by the ruach chayim, or “breath of life”, imparted by the Almighty.

Those who believe the dogma of Egyptian and Greek mythology, later adopted by the paganised Church – the alleged “Immortality of the Soul” – readily seize upon this expression “a living soul” with great delight, deducing it to provide support for their delusions. But it does no such thing; the Inspired record says, “a living soul”, not “an immortal soul”. Moreover; it also declares that all of the animal Creation are similarly “living souls”, or living creatures, as the same Hebrew words are translated: “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:21); “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind; and it was so” (Gen 1:24). It is evident therefore, from these verses, that the term “living soul”, or creature, is an “umbrella” term descriptive of all of the animal creation, given life by “the breath of the Almighty” (Job 33:4).

On this, Bro Thomas comments:

The phrase living creature is the exact synonym of living soul. The Hebrew words nephesh chayiah are the signs of the ideas expressed by Moses. Nephesh signifies creature, also life, soul, or breathing frame, from the verb to breathe: chayiah is of life – a noun from the verb to live. Nephesh chayiah is the genus which includes all species of living creatures; namely, adam, man; beme, beast of the field; chitu, wild beast; remesh, reptile; and ouph, fowl etc. In the common version of the scriptures, it is rendered living soul; so that under this form of expression the scriptures speak of “all flesh” which breathes in air, earth and sea.”

Again, in speaking of “the breath of life” which was imparted into the frame of Man, he writes:

“Quadrupeds and men, however, are not only “living souls” but they are vivified by the same breath and spirit. In proof of this, I remark first, that the phrase “breath of life” in the text of the common version is neshemet chayim in the Hebrew; and that, as chayim is in the plural, it should be rendered breath of lives. Secondly, this neshemet chayim is said to be in the inferior creatures as well as in man. Thus, God said, “I bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh wherein is ruach chayim, spirit of lives” (Gen 6:17). And in another place, “They went in to Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh in which is ruach chayim, spirit of lives”. “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing, and every man; all in whose nostrils was neshemet ruach chayim, BREATH OF SPIRIT OF LIVES” (Gen 7:15,21,22). Now, as I have said, it was the neshemet chayim with which Moses testifies God inflated the nostrils of Adam; if, therefore, this were divina particula aurae, particle of the divine essence, as it is affirmed, which became the “immortal soul” in man, then all other animals have “immortal souls” likewise; for they all received “breath of spirit of lives” in common with man.” (Elpis Israel, p31-33 fourteenth edition).

A NATURAL, EARTHY BODY

It is abundantly clear then, that Genesis does not teach Immortal Soulism, but rather describes the life and breath of all flesh, created by the Eternal Lord of Heaven and Earth. In accordance with this, the Spirit through Paul equates the term “living soul” with a “natural”, “earthy” body, as distinct from an Immortal, spiritual body: “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit … The first man is of the earth, earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1Cor 15:44-49).

From time to time, various questions are raised regarding the physical nature of Man before the fall, and various hypotheses are advanced to explain them. If Adam had not sinned, if his nature had not undergone a transformation to immortality, would he have died at some point? In Elpis Israel, Bro Thomas suggests that his body, not being created for an immortal existence, would have eventually worn out. Others hold that Adam was created a mortal, dying creature, who needed to have the decaying process arrested in him by a continual eating of the Tree of Life. But the danger lies in using conclusions we may reach from such speculations to formulate doctrinal structures upon. For instance, the latter option, harmless enough as it may appear on the face of things has led some to fundamentally wrong beliefs. If we say that Man was created Mortal, and in need of being kept alive by a particular life-sustaining food, then we must conclude that when Man sinned; no physical change took place within him to produce the sentence of death. Rather, he was excluded from the Tree of Life. And from this, it may be reasoned that as there was no physical change in Adam following his sin, the nature of man now, is identical to as it was before the fall – decaying! The Truth of the matter, as revealed by Scripture, is that “death” really is “the wages of sin” (Rom 6:23), and that therefore it did not enter the world until “by one man sin entered into the world” (Rom 5:12), and that as we shall consider more fully in our next study, if the Lord Will, man became mortal, or “deathful”, a condemnation which physically passed to all Adam’s seed (Rom 5:16-18) (For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see the booklet, “The Defilement of Human Nature and it’s Cleansing in Christ”.

So it is that we must be aware that whilst it may be interesting to speculate about matters concerning which Scripture is largely silent; we ought to exercise great care and caution with the conclusions we may arrive at. If our speculations do not harmonise with the first principles of the Gospel, we are in grave danger of being led astray by our own philosophies.

What then, can be firmly, and certainly deduced from Scripture? No more than that which is stated by the BASF, namely, that Adam was created what the Apostle styles “a natural body”, earthy, formed from the dust of the ground, and energised by the life-imparting “breath of life” given by the Creator and Sustainer of all living. And of this “breath”, or “spirit”, Elihu spake “if He set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself His spirit and His breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust” (Job 34:15), and Solomon testifies that in the event of death, “than shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl 12:7).

But in the “very good” state in which Man was originally formed, without any element of decay within him (for Death had not yet “entered into the world” by sin), his “natural body” would be capable for existing for however long it’s Creator wished it to. It would be capable of sustaining a “very good” undying existence for as long as the Lord deemed necessary, with the possibility of death occurring at any point, subsequent to the introduction of sin. Adam was “placed under a law through which the continuance of life was contingent on obedience”, and the physical constitution of man was so created to fit this circumstance. If he transgressed, he would die. If he remained obedient, he would not die. Beyond this, we are unwise to speculate, and even more unwise to formulate doctrines based upon where our speculations might lead us. The fundamental Truths of Scripture concerning the nature of man are simple and clear – before his transgressed, there was no active element of decay within him. But as a direct consequence of sin, he became mortal, as the inworking of death began, and all of Adam’s posterity who inherit his then sinful nature, also inherit the principle of mortality which condemns that nature to the grave. This, we shall examine in more detail in our next study, if the Lord Will.

Christopher Maddocks