Know Your Bible: The Mystery of Man
Infinitesimally less value than they suppose; supremely greater potential than they know

What is the value of a human life? Look at the world around you—it is clear there is a lot of confusion about man’s purpose, the importance of our lives, or what awaits us after death.

It is common today to hear people talking about their pets on the level of sons and daughters, or claiming that animals are better than humans because at least they don’t betray or lie about each other. Plenty of people care far more about animal rights than they do about the rights of unborn babies.

At the same time, many talk about human dignity as though humans are endowed with “god” powers, and we should glorify and be confident in ourselves alone.

There is a deadly reason for these disturbing trends. The triumph of secularism and evolution over the message of the Bible in society has led billions of people to believe these errors. There is an evil spirit being who rules the world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and wants to blind the minds of mankind to the truth.

The late Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong dedicated Chapter 3 of his magnum opus, Mystery of the Ages, to the mystery of man. He wrote: “Human life is at once of infinitesimally less value than they suppose, and at the same time of supremely greater potential than they know.”

Get out a pencil and paper and write out the following scriptures as you go through this vision-sharpening study. Let’s learn about your inspiring purpose, awesome potential and glorious future!

A World Deceived

1. The vast majority of humans have failed to follow God. Why? Revelation 12:9.

Satan the devil is the culprit, the cause of such dreadful stupidity regarding all things that really matter in life. Mr. Armstrong expounded on the intentional ignorance about the purpose of human existence by the fields of government, education, science, technology, industry and even religion. Humans are willfully uninformed because this subject involves God. Of course Satan would want to interfere with man’s understanding of God!

2. What is wrong with the human mind apart from God, and why? Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:2.

Under Satan’s influence, the vast majority of human minds are either actively or passively hostile toward their own Creator. Mr. Armstrong compared Satan’s influence over humans to radio waves transmitting sound. Satan is a master at broadcasting wrong moods, attitudes and impulses into human minds. His captivating sway has blinded the world to God and to the biblical solutions to our problems.

Re-creation Week

To understand how the world has descended into violence, chaos and confusion today, we must be transported back to the beginning of human history.

The Bible does not say the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Right at the start of the book, this science-contradicting “creationist” belief is refuted. As Mr. Armstrong explained, the first chapter of Genesis describes the original creation of Earth and its re-creation. Verse 1 shows God creating the heavens and the Earth in the same “day,” meaning the same general span of time. The rebellion of the third of the angels placed on Earth (Revelation 12:4) to beautify and complete it led instead to the destruction of the entire planet (and the rest of the universe): “And the earth [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 1:2). When God creates, He ensures the end result is “very good” (verse 31). He would never create the Earth “without form, and void” or in a state of waste and decay, so there must be a gap, perhaps of millions of years, between verses 1-2.

1. God ordered repairs for the damaged Earth. How? Ephesians 3:9; Psalm 104:30.

For all eternity, God was in charge of the Word (John 1:1-2), who later became Jesus Christ (verse 14). God commanded, and the Word created according to those commands by using the power of the Holy Spirit, which Mr. Armstrong compared to the invisible force of electricity. (I typed this on a computer by the power of electricity.) God and Christ love to create—that’s their profession.

2. What was God’s first priority in restoring Earth to its former condition of unfinished perfection? Genesis 1:3-5.

On day one of re-creation week, God separated light from darkness, day from night. This was a symbolic moment, as Mr. Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages, Chapter 2: “Mystery of Angels and Evil Spirits”: “Satan is the author of darkness. The rebellion of the angels had caused the darkness. God is the author of light and truth. Light displays and enhances beauty, and also exposes evil. Darkness hides both.” It was as if God reclaimed part of the planet from Satan, His rebellious protégé, by restoring light.

During the next five days of re-creation week, God created Earth’s atmosphere, dry land, bodies of water, plant life, the sun and stars that illuminate Earth, sea life, animal life and, finally, human beings (verses 6-26). Thus, the planet was restored to its originally created position—in preparation for the creation of human beings!

Man Is Not an Animal

1. What made the creation of humans clearly distinct from that of the animals? Genesis 1:20-27.

God created all animals after “their kind”—giraffes look like giraffes, dogs look like dogs, whales look like whales. However, He made man after the God kind—in His “image” and “likeness,” or character and appearance! Though not perfect as God is, we have potential that no animal has: the potential to develop God’s character—to think, speak and act the way He does. Beyond that, we also look like God! God is composed of spirit (John 4:24), invisible to human eyes (Colossians 1:15), but He still has a face, eyes, ears, mouth, nose, body, arms, legs, fingers and toes. Our similarities to God are a sign of our incredible human potential. More on this later.

2. Are humans responsible for ruling the animal kingdom? Genesis 1:28-29.

Humans are responsible for preserving and improving this unfinished planet—for treating God’s creation with care and respect (Genesis 2:15). We have the God-given honor to exercise “dominion” over the animals. This fact alone is proof that humans are more valuable to God than animals are.

3. Why is there such a vast difference between the mind of a human and the brain of an animal?
1 Corinthians 2:11, first part.

The one component that separates humans from animals is the human spirit. This verse helps us complete a simple math equation: human brain plus human spirit equals human mind. There are levels to this—without a spiritual component combined with our brains, we are nothing more than the lowly animals. Because of the human spirit, we can do so many things the animals can’t: reason, make complex decisions, plan, design, build, create, appreciate art, literature and music, express love, and much more. Animals operate on instinct; humans can use instinct and critical thinking.

This brings us to the first of two functions of the human spirit: It imparts the power of intellect to the human brain. The dumb animals don’t even come close to our mind power. You will never see a pig build and fly a spaceship to the moon.

Imagine a worldly scientist comparing a human brain to a monkey brain. How frustrated and confused would he be to see virtually no difference in physical composition and makeup, yet know that something must be different to make humans so much more capable than monkeys? Because the modern field of science refuses to accept the existence of the spirit world or to consider any spiritual factors in its research, scientists draw conclusions that are light years away from the truth!

The most obvious example of this is the scholarly “religion” of evolution. Mr. Armstrong explained in his booklet Does God Exist? that scientists have proven life can only come from life. Scientists think they can trace life back to the tiniest particle of matter, but they have no clue where that first particle came from. Because they refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Creator God, they claim that it’s impossible for anyone to know how that first particle appeared. Instead, they place blind faith in the truly wacky hypothesis of evolution. They would have you believe that the monkey is your ancestor!

The Immortal Soul Lie

1. Animals and humans are similar in just one notable way. What is it? Genesis 1:20-21, 24; 2:7.

In these verses in Genesis 1, the Hebrew word nephesh is correctly translated “moving creature that hath life” or “living creature.” However, in Genesis 2:7, translators incorrectly rendered the same Hebrew word as “soul.” They erroneously assumed that only humans are souls. Nephesh means “life of animals,” or mortal, physical life—not immortal, undying spiritual life. Both animals and humans live physical lives dependent on air, water and food.

2. What is sin, and what is the penalty for it? 1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; John 3:13; Acts 2:34.

Humans live the same physical lives as animals, and we die the same way too. The penalty for sin is deathnot an eternal life of burning agony in hellfire. Your Bible confirms that no man besides Christ has yet been resurrected to immortal life. Even David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), remains dead and buried.

3. Does death really mean death? Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10.

The dead are dead! No thoughts, no actions. No heaven, no hell. Just the grave.

4. Where did the immortal soul lie originate? Genesis 3:1-5.

Satan deceived Eve into believing the opposite of God’s warning (Genesis 2:16-17). Eve was tricked into rejecting God’s divine revelation about the consequences of eating from the wrong tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, instead of the tree of life. To determine whether to eat the forbidden fruit, she relied on observation, experimentation and human reasoning (Genesis 3:6). She saw that the fruit looked good, tasted it to be sure, then concluded that it really was as good as she had expected. Finally, she gave some of the fruit to her husband, Adam—who was not deceived but followed her lead anyway (verse 7). To this day, scientists use the same four-step plan, called the scientific method: 1. Reject revelation. 2. Observation. 3. Experimentation. 4. Human reasoning. There’s simply no place for any thought of the spiritual.

5. How did God punish Adam and Eve for choosing Satan’s way over God’s way? Genesis 3:15-24.

Adam and Eve were cursed for this fateful decision! To this day, women agonize in childbirth, and men toil to till the earth—all because of one bad decision. Much worse than that, though, was that God cut off all mankind from accessing the tree of life. God refused to allow sinful humans to eat from that tree, take on immortality, and be trapped in miserable bondage to sin forever. Instead, the vast majority of all humans remain in ignorance of their purpose and potential—until a time very soon when all will finally understand!

Ever since the first recorded lie that Satan told to Eve, false religions around the world have perpetuated the myth that humans possess an immortal soul. Traditional Christians, for example, believe in the erroneous doctrine of heaven and hell, even though this belief would nullify the need for the three resurrections outlined in the Bible (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:5, 14-15).

Bridging the Gap

1. As mentioned above, the first function of the human spirit is to impart the power of intellect to the human mind. What is the second function? 1 Corinthians 2:11, last part.

“But the human spirit in mortal man makes possible a direct contact from the great Spirit God. There is no direct channel of communication between the dumb animal brain and the mind of the Supreme God” (Mystery of the Ages, Chapter 3).

Remember the point about levels: Humans are a distinct level up from the animals. We understand an entire vast realm of information of which animals are completely ignorant. Likewise, humans with the Holy Spirit are aware of spiritual truths that the rest of mankind can’t comprehend. The good news is, all humanity will have a chance to acquire the Holy Spirit, according to God’s perfect timing!

Mr. Armstrong wrote that the human spirit “is the very means God has instilled, making possible a personal relationship between human man and divine God.”

He continued: “The value of a human life lies in the human spirit and its potential of being united with God’s Spirit—which is God-mind and God-life” (ibid).

2. When does God consider us His sons? Romans 8:16.

The process of physical growth in humans parallels that of spiritual growth. The human spirit is imparted to a human at the moment of conception, which begins physical life. Likewise, when the Holy Spirit combines with the human spirit upon the conditions of faith and obedience (Acts 2:38), spiritual life begins!

Water baptism and the receipt of God’s Holy Spirit is just the start of our transformation into God’s spirit-born sons! “Through God’s master plan for his spiritual creation, to be covered later, it had been master-planned by God and the Word that the Word would divest himself of his supreme glory, and in due time take on him the likeness of human flesh, as Jesus Christ, making possible the spiritual phase of the creation of man—God reproducing himself! What a master plan for the extreme ultimate in creative accomplishment! How great is our God, in mind, purpose, planning, designing, as well as creating—from the tiniest germ or insect to the most huge sun, dwarfing our own great sun to insignificance! And the incredible human potential is that the great majestic God is, in man, reproducing himself—man can be born into the God family!” (ibid).

3. What happens to the human spirit at death? Ecclesiastes 12:7.

“The departed human spirit at death is in fact a spiritual mold, of itself unconscious, yet in the resurrection bringing into the resurrected body all the memory, knowledge and character as well as form and shape of the person before death,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “The human spirit of itself cannot see, hear, think or know. The only real life, inherent and self-containing, lies in the Holy Spirit of God, united with the human spirit. The value of a human life lies in the human spirit and its potential of being united with God’s Spirit—which is God-mind and God-life” (ibid).

Once dead, the human body decays and is gone forever. But the human spirit returns to God, a record of everything about that human. The human spirit separates man from the animals, provides a link to the mind of God, and preserves who we are so, after death, we can be resurrected with the same traits we have today! This is a truly marvelous creative masterpiece of the Almighty God!

4. Is it really possible to be spiritually born as God’s sons? John 3:1-8.

Ponder the brilliant mind and epic plan of God and the patience He must have to work with sinful humans to convert us into His spirit-born sons. Only a select few are now becoming eligible for this second birth. But God will one day resurrect all humans to physical life for an opportunity to meet His conditions for spiritual transformation. One last inspiring quote from Mr. Armstrong: “God’s wonderful master plan will call everyone who ever lived to receive eternal salvation, but on real repentance and belief of God’s truth” (ibid.). And to think—all of this is made possible by the human spirit, the one component that separates us from the animals!