Article III of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:
“Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.”
God’s crowning act of creation occurred when “the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7).
The Bible is a story about God and human beings: Adam and Eve’s creation in innocence, their rebellion and fall, and God’s work of restoring both sinful mankind and a cursed creation to their Edenic innocence. God’s redemptive role in human history may be summarized in several key biblical truths.
1. God has created every human being in his image. All people possess the imago dei, or image of God. This doesn’t mean we look like God, for God is spirit. It means, however, that all people possess a spiritual capacity that makes us moral creatures who can know God and enjoy intimate fellowship with him.
Every person, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, abilities, socioeconomic class, or even behavior retains God-given worth and dignity. The imago dei extends to every human being without exception. Therefore, every person is to be treated with the utmost respect.
By making human beings in his image, God sets humanity apart from the rest of creation. His work of redemption is directed specifically to the salvation of men and women whose imago dei has been tarnished by sin.
2. God’s glory is revealed in the distinctions between men and women. Human beings are created male and female – a distinction Jesus affirms (Gen. 1:27; Matt. 19:4-6). Gender reflects the goodness of God’s creation, including diversity, unity, and order. Thus, we should rightly celebrate true masculinity and femininity as gifts from God.
Men and women are equal in value and dignity before God – God took Eve from Adam’s side, not his head or feet – and they best glorify God when they carry out the complementary roles he has given them. The gender chaos that prevails in modern society grieves the heart of God.
3. Every human being is fallen. Sin entered the human race through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. It has spread to all humanity, as well as to the created order (Gen.3). As a result, there is sickness, death, conflict, and a diminished sense of community throughout the world.
All people are born with an inclination to sin, and all people act upon this tendency to live independently of God through willful rebellion against him. This alienates people from God and merits his divine justice (Rom. 3:10, 23; 6:23).
The world is not as God created it or intended it to be. Humanity and the world system in which we live descend further away from God. Sadly, Christians contribute to this malaise as we fall into temptation and sin – often grievously.
4. God has sent his Son to redeem us. Sinful human beings and the fallen world in which we live would spin desperately out of control, with no hope of being restored to a right relationship with our creator, apart from the finished work of Christ. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus left the glory of heaven and came to earth, adding sinless humanity to his deity via the miracle of the virgin birth, on a mission to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).
Jesus’ sinless life, sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross, and physical resurrection from the dead purchased the salvation of all who repent and trust in him – without distinction of ethnicity, gender, age, ability, or social status. This truly is good news for all people, who are called to repent and believe.
5. Christ is redeeming people from every tribe, people, tongue, and nation, who stand now and forevermore in the presence of God in unified worship (Rev. 5:9-10). Further, Jesus has promised to return to set things right.
One day, all people will stand before Christ and give an account of their lives, including how they treated others (John 5:28-29; Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 4:5; Rev. 20:11-15). He will purge our fallen world of sin and its stain and restore creation to its pristine perfection, dwelling personally with those he has saved (2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 21-22).
As the authors of Lifeway’s six-part study on The Baptist Faith & Message put it, “Only by knowing Jesus Christ can we understand what true humanity was meant to be. By God’s grace, demonstrated and made ours in Christ, we are restored to fellowship with God and are enabled to fulfill the purpose for which we were made.”
Next: Article IV of the BF&M: Salvation