Sunday, May 24, 2015

Victory Series Bible Study Week 3: The Nature of Mankind

Greetings gents!

This week continues our Men's Bible study. Building on last week's study, which discussed the nature of God, this week expands our study to the centerpiece of God's creation: humanity. The primary passage for this week is Psalms 8: 1-9.

"O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!"

In the story of creation (Genesis) we learned that God created man in his own image, and that mankind is to hold dominion over the world. Study author Neil T. Anderson points out that this section from Psalms both reinforces the original description in Genesis as well as expands on it. Humanity is one part of many amongst God's ordering of creation. The hierarchy essentially works as follows: God first, then the angels of heaven, then humanity, then the rest of the natural world.

However, despite man's third-rung position in this ordering, mankind possesses a quality that makes it special. It is man that is tasked with overseeing and caring for the natural world. God just as easily could have given this task to the angels, with mankind existing among the animals and plants being overseen. However, God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27), and as Anderson points out: "He set humans apart from the animal kingdom by giving them the ability to think, feel and choose. As a result, humans have the unique ability to participate with God in the shaping of their lives."

Anderson then goes on to explain the mechanics of humanity: man is created of the material of the natural world ("dust of the ground") and the spirit ("breath of life" Genesis 2:7). Man exists as a physical and spiritual whole, and that man's soul is essentially his inner self. However, since we are not the source of our life, we are inherently open to external influences that seek to mold our hearts and souls. What we take in, therefore, is what stamps itself onto our character as men.

What I took from this is that we as men need to guard against what we allow to influence us. Do our influences lead us away from being Godly men created in our maker's own image?

Additional questions for us to consider are:
-What does it mean to be physically and spiritually alive? Are they the same thing?
-In what ways do each of us possess an "inner person" and "outer person"?
-What have you taken into your heart which supplants God as the central force of your life (pride, lust, chemical addictions)?
-How can we as men take on the character of Christ?

Think about these questions and really ponder what is in your heart. Does it reflect God? If it does not, what does that say about your heart and your relationship with the one who gave you it?

I hope everyone has a pleasant week. Stay strong, guys!

-Hunter

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