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God’s relationship with mankind is unique. Before the creation of this world, the Almighty was thronged with sentient, free-will, moral agents He had created. We use the general term angels for all of them. God calls them His sons.[1]

Not all angels are created equal, for “one star differs from another star in glory.”[2] A cursory read of the first chapters of Ezekiel or Revelation is sufficient to show us that heaven holds more fantastical creatures than infantile harp players or white-robed humanoids with wings. As a class of beings, angels are presented as more powerful than humans.[3] They appear in the throne of heaven, traveling between heaven and earth, single-handedly slaughtering armies, and riding chariots of fire. For all that, Jesus never took their shape.

Philippians 2:5-7
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: KJV [Emphasis added.]

A common lie perpetrated by I-died-and-went-to-heaven movies is that humans become angels at death. Such is not the case. We are different races with different destinies. And as intriguing as being an angel may sound, angels have left heaven to become “human.”[4] They are fascinated by us.[5]

Psalm 8:3-6
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: KJV

We were made to have dominion over all of God’s creation including the angels. For a race of beings who have difficulty with simple self-control, it seems improbable that our ultimate destiny is to rule the cosmos and all within it. The only reason this is so is because of sin. Dominion was man’s original mandate.

Genesis 1:26-27
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. KJV

We should never discount the importance of man’s connection to the earth. This planet is where God planted His garden and placed His people, a people made in His image. Understanding death requires an appreciation of “dust to dust” and where God’s image fits in the wet clay. But before we look at the architecture of man, let us fast forward to the day of redemption for a glimpse of what awaits us.

Romans 8:16-21
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. ESV

The entire creation is suffering under the decay of entropy awaiting the revelation of the blood-bought sons of God. Our destiny as rulers over God’s creation is inaccessible outside of Christ for it is only in Christ that all things can be placed under our feet.[6] We were made with this purpose in mind.

Genesis 2:7
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. KJV

All of man is in this verse: body, spirit, and soul. Our bodies were formed from the earth. Millennia later, David will still acknowledge this when he writes that he “was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”[7] Unlike angels, whose glory can be distracting to themselves and others,[8] our clay bodies are uniquely formed to hold spirit-life from God in a way that brings Him glory.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. KJV

Not only was man’s body uniquely designed to house the spirit from God, it was made in a way that allowed Jesus to come into the world.

Hebrews 10:5
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: KJV

When we understand that our bodies were intentionally formed to be spirit vessels, we can break away from the false shackles of dualism and materialism. Dualism elevates the spiritual/immaterial at the expense of the physical. Our bodies thus become base, restrictive, and vulgar, something to be escaped. Materialism would have us deny the spiritual and attempt to explain all phenomena through physical means. In this view, we are not really sentient, free-will beings but expressions of complex bio-chemical reactions over which we have no true control.

Though assaulted with materialism on a consistent basis, Christians are most susceptible to the errors of dualism. Many Christians live through this life with the pale hope of dying and going to heaven instead of resting on the anchoring truth of the resurrection. Somehow, the thought of being a disembodied spirit is thought to be superior to life in the flesh. To think this way is to forget that the Son of God welded Himself to the human race and will always have a body clearly identified as Jesus of Nazareth.

God’s Spirit gave man life when He breathed it into him. Man’s life came from God. All other living things on earth arose from the land or the sea at the command of God.[9] This is why when animals die, their spirit goes down to the earth but when men die, their spirit goes up to God even though the bodies of both go back to dust.[10]

The reality of spirit life and its journey after exiting the flesh is the essence of the death experience. Its reintroduction into flesh is the definition of resurrection. To understand both in Christ is to be liberated from the fear of death and set free to walk in faith.

[1] Job 38:7.
[2] 1 Cor. 15:41.
[3] 2 Pet. 2:4.
[4] Gen. 6:1-2; Jude 1:6.
[5] 1 Pet. 1:10-12.
[6] Eph. 1:18-23.
[7] Ps. 139:15.
[8] Themselves: Ezek. 28:17. Others: Rev. 22:8-9.
[9] Gen. 1:11-25.
[10] Eccles. 3:20-21; 12:7.