Mystery of the Ages Synopsis, Part 3: The Mystery of Man
You are a mystery to every leader and intellectual in the world. Higher education offers an immense body of curricula on human physiology, psychology, anatomy and anthropology. Scientists study human beings inch by inch and cell by cell. Neurologists examine the human brain intensely, but no one can explain the human mind.
Did we really come into existence on Earth because of evolution, a blind, random process without design? Do we really possess an immortal soul? Why is it that human beings can think, reason and enjoy culture and the arts while animals cannot do any of these things? Since the human brain is nearly identical to the animal brain, what accounts for the vast difference in capability?
Finding the answers to these important questions is part of being human! Without these fundamental answers, we are incomplete.
In the past century, higher education has almost unanimously come to believe in evolution. Scholars and professors don’t just believe evolution; they also heatedly reject and scorn any kind of biblical education (Matthew 13:15). They reserve a special contempt for the Bible. Yet the evolutionary theory they exalt is fatally flawed. It cannot explain the awe-inspiring achievements of mankind, nor provide solutions to the mounting problems we now face. Not only is evolution an error, but there is no hope in it!
There is a reason the brightest minds do not look to God. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). God has purposely hidden His truth from intellectuals! He speaks to them as if in a foreign language (Isaiah 28:11).
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-3). God tells us to become teachable like little children. He created us to have a relationship with Him and to be taught by Him.
Are the intellectuals teachable?
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9-10). Leading up to these verses, God describes the horrible problems plaguing mankind. Then, He explains how to learn the most important knowledge that will solve these problems. It requires being weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts, meaning that we must work hard to mature and to achieve depth of spiritual understanding. We must put the jigsaw puzzle of the Bible together little by little, with a childlike attitude and a willingness to listen to God.
Higher education claims to have a monopoly on the most important knowledge on Earth. Our current system of education in the West has had over a century to produce fruits, and it has indeed produced them. But what are those fruits? Our societal, cultural and moral problems have only grown worse. Even our physical, economic and scientific problems have worsened. And now, nuclear weapons proliferation has put the survival of mankind in doubt! Christ prophesied this very thing in Matthew 24:21-22. We cannot solve our own problems. We cannot even figure out how to survive! Just 100 years ago, as flawed as humanity was, we had not yet threatened ourselves with the destruction of all human life! Now we are under its threat every day. Our prospects for survival are getting worse.
If ever there were a time to look into the Bible and heed God’s warning, it is now.
Jesus Christ will soon return to save us from ourselves. Why? The answer to that question can be found in Chapter 3 of Herbert W. Armstrong’s greatest book, Mystery of the Ages: The Mystery of Man.
Here to Build Character
“In the [it should read a] beginning God created the heaven [it should read heavens] and the earth. And the earth was [or became] without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2, emphasis mine).
Did God create the heavens and earth “without form, and void”? No—in fact, in between these first two verses of the Bible, a lot changed.
God did not create the Earth in a state of decay and darkness. Something caused the destruction described in verse 2.
You have to go elsewhere in the Bible to fill in the gap between verses 1 and 2. The interval between these two verses could have perhaps spanned millions of years!
God had created perfect, holy angels and stationed them on Earth to place the finishing touches on God’s creation. He appointed the archangel Lucifer to lead them. But Lucifer, whose name means bringer of light, failed to do his job. He rebelled and led the angels with him to rebel also. They toppled God’s government on Earth and then damaged the Earth and the universe in a cataclysmic war, attempting to seize the throne from their Creator.
Christ later said that Satan was stopped and hurled back to Earth, falling like a bolt of lightning (Luke 10:18). God then renewed the Earth, returning it to its original state of perfection but without the finishing touches (Psalm 104:30).
The first thing He did was turn darkness back into light.
God had created the immortal angels perfect from the start; but not all of them chose to stay perfect. Once some of the angels rebelled, God knew He had to enact a different plan, an even greater plan. To create companions who would never rebel and cause desolation and suffering, He was going to have to re-create Himself.
God chose to do this in physical human beings who could choose to develop His character. Only a God Being can be trusted absolutely to beautify the Earth and then the universe.
The Bible says repeatedly that we are here on Earth to build character. In Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong wrote:
And now, of all living beings in the universe, only God could be certainly relied upon never to depart from the way of His law. No higher, more perfect being could be created than the cherub, Lucifer, who rebelled. Character cannot be automatically created by fiat. Godly spiritual character is the habitual action and conduct of the person or created entity to come to a knowledge of the true ways of God, and to exercise the will to follow those ways even against opposition, temptation or self-desire to the contrary. Character must be developed with the assent, will and action of the separately created entity. It is imparted by God and must be willingly received by that entity. So God now determined, or had predetermined, to accomplish the supreme creative feat—by reproducing Himself! That was to be accomplished through man! God knew this must be brought about through matter.
Because the angels failed, their job on Earth became ours! God purposely created Earth like unfinished furniture, or like a cake without icing. Earth still needs finishing, this time from human beings who become members of the God Family! This is why man exists! We will finish God’s creation on Earth, and His creation in us, by building the character of God. We look like God physically, but we are also created in the image of God, meaning the character and mind of God (Genesis 1:26). What an incredible potential!
Romans 8 says that the universe is mourning and waiting for human beings to be born as the sons of God, to repair the damage caused by Satan and the demons, and to unite with God in the closest, most loving, most beautiful relationship imaginable.
Humans are in the form and shape of God Himself. What an inspiring truth!
Many people believe that human beings possess an immortal soul. What does the Bible say?
“And 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). Living soul here just means breathing creature. The same word is used to describe animals, in fact. Man’s soul is physical, made of matter. Just like the animals, our souls die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6). When humans die, we die. We do not continue thinking or having emotions. We do not have immortal souls. That concept was introduced to Christianity well after the Bible was written.
The price for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ paid this penalty for us. But the penalty is death, not eternal life in an unbearable pit of fiery torture!
All humans, whether relatively good or abominably evil, die. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). There is no heaven or hell, as traditional Christianity teaches. No human, not even the great King David, has gone to heaven (Acts 2:29, 34; John 3:13).
The Human Spirit
We do not have immortal souls, but we do have something within us, a power of higher thought that God gives us through something you could call the human spirit. The vast difference between the human mind and the animal brain is incontrovertible proof against evolution. Mr. Armstrong continued:
The physical brain of the higher vertebrates in the animal kingdom is essentially the same in physical form, design, constituency, as human brain. The brains of whales, elephants, dolphins are larger—and chimp almost as large. Yet the output of the human brain is indescribably greater. Few indeed know why!
Many passages of Scripture show that there is a spirit in man. Spirit is not matter, and man is matter. …
Science and advanced education today almost universally assume nothing exists but matter. They deny the existence of spirit. Which is to say, whether admitted or not, they deny the existence of God.
Nearly all scientists insist that man is entirely physical. And they continue to be confounded by their studies of the human brain, which shows them no indication of the power and uniqueness of the human mind. Because of this stubbornness, they will never understand what makes the human mind so special!
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). There are two spirits here: God’s Holy Spirit and our human spirit. The human spirit gives man the ability to think and reason like God! Scholars relying on the evolutionary theory won’t uncover this dazzling truth.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). God has a marvelous future in store for us, but we will never know it unless we yield our human thoughts, our human mind, our human spirit, to Him. By nature, we cannot understand God. We need His Holy Spirit to combine with our human spirit.
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (verse 11). We can understand why man because of the human spirit attached to the human brain, forming the human mind. When we die, our human spirit returns to God, preserving our features and our character. This makes possible our entry into the Family of God, our incredible human potential, upon our resurrection from the dead.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (verse 14). The human spirit alone is not enough. God must humble us so that we are teachable.
God has given man a soul and a life that is utterly indistinguishable from a cow or a dog or a mouse. Yet at the same time, He has formed our bodies to look like Him! He has given us a human spirit that gives us human minds, setting us far apart from the animals and other creatures. This spirit makes it possible to think like God does, if we will yield to God and let Him join His Spirit with our spirit. This unites us with God and makes it possible to be born into His Family, to receive eternal life and to succeed where the angels failed, living forever in joy and obedience and excitement with God the Father and Christ His Son.
This is who you are. This is what you are. This is why you are.