God’s Gift and Our Responsibility

KEY VERSE: “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” —Genesis 2:7

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Genesis 2:4-8, 18, 21, 22

THE BIBLE’S account of the creation of man is straightforward and logical: “The Lord God 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) We know today that this is scientifically correct. Man’s organism, or body, is composed of elements found in Mother Earth.

When man was sentenced to death for disobeying divine law he was told that he would return to the earth—“Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19) We know that this is also true; that a dead body does eventually return to dust, to the earth.

We know too that the air we breathe is the “breath of life.” Deprive the lungs of air and the body becomes lifeless—it dies. In Leviticus 17:11 we read that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Again we know this is scientifically correct. It is now common knowledge that from the lungs the life-giving oxygen of the air is carried by the blood to every part of the body. How wonderful that Moses should have so stated this nearly four thousand years ago!

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote, “The first man Adam was made a living soul.” Paul also wrote, ‘The first man is of the earth, earthy.” (I Cor. 15:45,47) Here we find the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest logicians of all time, virtually quoting from the Genesis record of creation and agreeing with it.

Now, what happened when the breath of life was blown into the nostrils of this first human organism? Simply this: it became alive—or as the text declares, “a living soul.” Thus seen, the soul is really that which results from the union of the organism with the life-giving qualities of the breath—the breath of life. When the body becomes impaired through disease or accident to the point where it can no longer function sufficiently well to react to the life-sustaining impulses of the breath of life, the soul, or life of the individual ceases to exist, it dies. Likewise, if for any reason or in any manner the breath of life is kept from the body, as in drowning or in asphyxiation, the life also ceases—the soul dies.

The great secret of life, the outward manifestations of which we are able to understand to some extent, is in the hands of the Creator. He is the great Creator, not only of man, but of the lower animals as well. He is to all life on earth what the sun is to all natural light; that is he is the source. It is not possible for man to form an organism, put in it some of the earth’s atmosphere, and have it live. The literal air is the breath of life both to humans and to the lower animals, because it is a medium of the Creator by which means the life-principle is communicated to all living things in the earth.

This life-principle, however, is not an intelligence in itself, but merely the power of God by which all life exists. In Genesis 7:15,22, this same breath of life is said to be a possession of the lower animals.

The theory of the inherent immortality of man is not to be found in the Bible. Our text declares that God created man out of the dust of the ground and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” The result of the uniting of the body with the breath of life is said to be that “man became a living soul.” Obviously, when the body returns to the earth, and the breath or spirit of life returns to its original source—to God who gave it—it leaves the individual in exactly the same condition as he was before birth, which was a condition of nonexistence.

The word immortal is used only once in the entire Bible, and it is applied to the Lord, not to man. (I Tim. 1:17) The word immortality, used four other times in the Bible, is descriptive of a future conditional reward for those who in this life walk faithfully in the footsteps of the Master. Let us emphasize that we are not attempting to prove there is no future life for human beings, but rather, that all hope of future life according to the Bible is based on the fact that there is to be a resurrection of the dead. For the world of mankind this will involve a life-renewal process very similar to that which Adam experienced in his original creation.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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