When God put our first parents here on earth, were they as perfect as God? And if they didn't have God's perfection, in what respect were they imperfect? Also, if God did not make Adam and Eve perfect in character, how did He later intend that they develop that perfect character?
Many Christians blindly assume God created Adam and Eve spiritually perfect. They, therefore, can only conclude that God was surprised, and even sorrowful, to discover that the "perfect" humans whom He had just created had sinned. According to this reasoning, God then supposedly scratched His head and began thinking out a way to "repair the damage." This traditional but Satan-inspired doctrine of the "fall" of man actually makes God into an unknowing weakling. What, then, is the truth? What really did happen? "And God said, Let us [the Father and Son] make man in our image, after our likeness..." (Gen. 1:26). Since man was made in God's "image," man looks like God, and therefore God looks like man. God is not an amorphous entity or a mere sentimentality. He is not merely some ethereal essence of "good," "truth," "love," or "righteousness." God is real! But He is not composed of perishable matter. "God is spirit" (John 4:24); He is eternal, incorruptible. "God" (Heb., Elohim) is one of the names of the universe-ruling divine family of spirit-composed beings. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27). Nothing in this inspired account of man's creation tells us that God made man as perfect as Himself. We cannot assume God created man in His perfect "spiritual image" when Adam and Eve obviously later proved themselves to be imperfect. Nevertheless, God was pleased with what He had created: "And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (verse 31). Physically, Adam and Eve were perfect creations. They were not created in a state of sinfulness. Yet God surely understood that they had the capacity and potential for sin. Just as man knows (through measurement and testing) the basic strength or capacity of the things which he manufactures, so God knew the strengths and weaknesses of His creation. God Almighty knew that Adam and Eve were human. God did not assume that Adam and Eve would live a perfect, sinless life. He knew better.
Proof That God Foreknew
Satan the devil — formerly a great superarchangel — was originally created perfect (Ezek. 28:15). Fully knowing that the devil sinned even after being thoroughly trained at the seat of God's Headquarters government in the third heaven (verse 14), and that he still remained on earth, God knew the inevitability of Satan tempting the first created man to disbelieve God and commit sin. If the superarchangel and all his holy angels had been led into rebellion (Ezek. 28; Isa. 14; Rev. 12; Jude 6), how much more certain that man, made lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7), would also sin? So God knew the human weakness, the imperfection in character, inherent in Adam and Eve. He not only foresaw the eventual entrance of human sin, but He also made provision for the eradication of the penalty for the mistakes which He foreknew our first parents (and all their offspring) would commit. Long before man was created upon this earth, the Creator planned that the member of the God family who would later be known as "the Son" would die for the sins of all mankind — including Adam and Eve. Notice what Paul told the Ephesians: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption [Greek, sonship] of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (Eph. 1:4, 5). The Goodspeed translation reads: "Through him he chose us out before the creation of the world, to be consecrated and above reproach in his sight in love. He foreordained us to become his sons through [the death and resurrection of] Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of his generous purpose...." The Living Bible renders these verses as follows: "Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do [dying for our sins] for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault [or sin]...." From the Weymouth translation: "He chose us as his own in Christ before the creation of (he, world, that we might be holy and without blemish in his presence." Clearly, these verses prove that God must have known, before the creation of the world, that man would indeed sin — and hence would need a Savior. God was not taken by surprise when man transgressed against Him.
Plan of Redemption Foreordained
Notice also Paul's explanation of this mystery to Timothy: "Who [God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (II Tim. 1:9). The apostle Peter revealed that the saints had not been redeemed with silver and gold, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained [as man's Redeemer] before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (I Pet. 1:19, 20). The Jerusalem Bible renders this passage as follows: "Who [Christ], though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake." And the Weymouth translation: "It was not with perishable wealth, silver or gold, that you were ransomed from the futile habits of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ — as an unblemished and spotless lamb. He [Christ] was predestined indeed to this work, even before the creation of the world, but has been manifested in these last days for your sakes." So again we see that God planned that Jesus Christ would die for the sins of the world even before man was created. The apostle John wrote: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the Beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb [Christ] slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). (See also John 17:5, 24.) The Father had said in effect (long before man was created): "We will create mankind in our image. But since they will have the power of choice, yet will lack godly character, they will chose to go the way of sin. They will, therefore, need a Savior. And since you [the one who later became Christ] will be my Spokesman [Greek, Logos] in dealing with humanity, it will be necessary for you to give your life for erring, sinning mankind." Before the ages of this world began, Christ voluntarily agreed to lay down His life for these yet-uncreated sons of God.
Why an Imperfect Man?
Some ask: "Why didn't God create men so that they could not sin? Why didn't He create them perfect in character in the first place?" Well, the simple fact that God didn't do this is testimony to the fact that perfect, Godlike character is not created instantly. Rather, it is the end product of a process of development. God can create sinless creatures; and He has, in fact, already done so. Horses, cows, dogs, cats, frogs, snakes, insects, birds, fishes — all are sinless. They always do exactly what they were designed to do. But when God creates a being with its own Godlike mind, having its own free will, then that very power of volition inherently includes the ability to make wrong choices — the power to sin — to will to go the wrong way. God is perfect. He has perfect character. And He can certainly create beings who have the capacity to develop perfect character. But this can only be done through the crucible of time, experience and free choice — which means that sin and suffering are always possible. God did not want to fill the universe with dumb, mindless creatures devoid of willpower. Neither did He want to create mechanical automatons or robots. He could have done that, but He wanted to create sons — beings with abilities and power similar to His own. He therefore thought out a plan whereby He could first create these potential sons (as clay models) in His own image. The Creator knew they would have built-in weaknesses, and would at first unerringly choose the way of sin. Therefore God also knew that He must devise a means whereby they could overcome sin and become born of God as His spirit-composed sons to live and reign eternally in His Kingdom. Since these "clay models" must necessarily have the power of choice, their free wills would permit them to sin and suffer. God had to devise a way whereby their sins could be forgiven.
God's Plan for Sin
Since God is a just and holy God, He could not just wink at sin. Men would need a Savior to save them from their sins. God knew that all men would sin (Rom. 3:23). He also knew that sin was bad for man — that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). How could the righteous and just claim of a perfect God and His perfect law be satisfied? If a member of the very God family (the Logos-Christ) would become human (made or changed into flesh — John 1:14) to die in the place of sinners, then that would satisfy the just claim of a holy, sinless God. This Logos (the "Spokesman" or the "Word," see John 1:1-3) member of the God family would have to die for the sins of the world. "For God [the Father] so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God the Father loved erring humans so much that He willingly gave His only equal to be born as a human, as His Son, to die for mankind. And Christ voluntarily gave Himself up to do the Father's will. Aeons ago, even before the creation of Adam and Eve, the God-Beings who later became the Father and the Son worked out this plan of salvation. Humanly speaking, Christ didn't want to die, but He knew it was necessary if humanity was to be saved: "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup [an excruciating death on the cross] pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matt. 26:39).
God's Purpose for Man
What, then, is God's purpose for mankind? It is simply this: to be born into the very God family (John 3:1-7). Christ said we must be "born again" (verse 7). "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (verse 5). Man must repent of his sins and accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Then God promises that man will receive the precious gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). The Spirit of God imparts to man the very divine nature and character of God. When one receives the Holy Spirit he thereby becomes a son of God (see Romans 8:14). The apostle Peter also spoke of this spiritual begettal by the Father into the very family of God: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according
God must have known, before the creation of the world, that man would indeed sin and hence would need a Savior. God was not taken by surprise when man transgressed against Him.
to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (I Pet. 1:3, 4). Through this new begettal by the Spirit of God, we become "partakers of the divine nature" (II Pet. 1:4). We drink in the divine nature and attributes of God — becoming more Godlike. Man is made in God's "image" so far as form and shape, but he has to be renewed in God's spiritual image. To do this, the child of God must "put off the old man with his deeds" and "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the [spiritual] image of him that created him" (Col. 3:9, 10). What is man's ultimate destiny? At Christ's return to this earth, the righteous dead shall be resurrected to immortality. Those who remain alive at Christ's coming shall be instantly changed from mortal to immortal: "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Cor. 15:53; see also I Thess. 4:16, 17). At that instant, Christ" through His mighty power, will "change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things [including death] unto himself" (Phil. 3:21). Why are we here? Why did God create humanity? The apostle Paul answers: "For the creature [Greek, creation — including man] was made subject to vanity [empty, futile, fruitless lives], not willingly [not by any will or choice of its own], but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in [the] hope [of eternal life], because the creature itself [the universe, including man] also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:20, 21). God made man for the purpose of developing godly character so that He can thereafter give him eternal life in the Kingdom of God forever. "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation [making known] of the sons of God" (verse 19).
Man's Potential Weakness
Did God create our first parents, Adam and Eve, perfect? Yes, in physical form and shape they were created as perfect specimens of humanity. They had no physical blemishes; neither did they, at creation, have any spiritual blemishes — any sin. But they were created with a capacity for potential weakness — with the power of choice — which God knew would permit them to go the wrong way. Why didn't God create Adam and Eve with inherent, perfect, Godlike character? Because godly character, as explained earlier, is something which can't be created instantaneously even by divine fiat! Godly character can only be created in beings who have Godlike minds with the power to think freely and to choose, This power of choice involves the ability to make wrong decisions. The wrong choice (sin) ultimately leads to suffering and death. God Himself could not create beings with the power of choice and then give them instant godly character! To develop this Godlike character takes time and experience. This is why God created men with a capacity for weakness. If God could have created man with inherent, perfect, Godlike character, He would have assuredly done so. Our Creator is a God of infinite love and mercy. He certainly would not have made the "creature" — and man — subject to "vanity" (to temptation) with the awful potential of sinning and suffering — if this could have been avoided! Had God Himself been able to short-circuit the mountain of sin and suffering which weak humanity bas brought on itself, then He would have certainly done so,
How God Creates Perfect Character
Even God cannot instantly create perfect humans — beings so perfect in character they would always think and do the right thing — never yielding to the wrong course of action (never sinning!). Why then did Jesus Christ say to His followers: "Be ye [become ye] therefore perfect, even as your Father... is perfect"? (Matt 5:48.) How can we possibly become perfect? God is creating this perfect character in and through those who now voluntarily yield to Him and His process of salvation. This process (of repentance, acceptance of Christ, and of godly living) continues throughout our lifetime through the indwelling of the Spirit of God. In this way, we are to come "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). This process of developing godly character was something which the Creator thought out long before man was created. Many scriptures reveal that God's "mystery" of salvation is now hid from the masses of humanity but that God will eventually offer everyone the opportunity to receive salvation, for God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" — in God's own time and way (II Peter 3:9). The vast majority of untold billions who have lived and died have never known the true God — have never known His way of salvation. But this ignorance of God's way is God's doing — it is His responsibility.
Salvation Through Christ
What will God do about this? Cannot the Creator resurrect those who died in sin without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ and without knowing what to do to receive salvation? Many scriptures do indeed reveal that God will resurrect the vast majority of all humanity in a great resurrection to occur approximately one thousand years after Christ's return to this earth. (See Rom. 11:15, 31-33; Rev. 20:11, 12; Ezek. 16:55; Ezek. 37; Matt. 10:15; 11:20-24; 12:36, 42.) "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim. 2:3, 4). For more information on this subject, read our free reprint "Is This the Only Day of Salvation?" Jesus Christ, while upon this earth, revealed that it was only through Him that men could be saved. He said: "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved..." (John 10:9). "I am come that they [mankind] might have life [eternal], and that they might have it more abundantly" (verse 10). Can salvation be obtained through any other being — other than through Christ? "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Did God create Adam and Eve "perfect"? Yes, insofar as being perfect specimens of humanity, and insofar as being without sin at the moment of their creation. But they were also created with a potential capacity for weakness — the ability to sin — to choose the wrong course of action. But man, with the help of God, can also choose to develop perfect Godlike character. How privileged to be able, now, to understand, and to take part in God's glorious plan of salvation. His purpose is to create sons of God who voluntarily choose to develop perfect godly character in their lives.