When Adam and Eve came from the hands of God, each was a perfect being. They had been made in the image of God, and were given 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. Genesis 1:26. The earth and all that it contained was to be under man's dominion. As to his stewardship, he was accountable to no one but God.
Not only was man given a general supervision of all things, but he had a special responsibility in the area that had been set aside as his home. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed to dress it and to keep it. Genesis 2:8-15. God had spared no effort to make the first human home on this earth all that heart could desire. His particular attention and interest is indicated in the expression, And the Lord God planted a garden.
It was God's plan that Adam and Eve should reproduce, and that their children should populate the whole earth. As the parents had been made in the image of God, so their children would reflect the divine likeness. Eve had been especially designed to be a perfect companion for her husband. God planned that she should be a helpmeet; that is, suitable, or becoming to him. A perfect husband, a perfect wife, a perfect home, a perfect environmentthis was the divine blueprint for a perfect world.
The first pair had free access to everything God had created
except one tree which the Creator had designated the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9. They were clearly instructed that under no circumstances were they to eat of the fruit of this tree. They were not so much as to touch it. Genesis 3:3. God had pronounced the whole creation very good. Genesis 1:31. There was nothing harmful in this tree itself; but God knew it was essential that the love and obedience of these newly created ones be tested so that character might be developed.
In the mind of Adam and Eve there was no inclination to disobey their Creator, no tendency to do evil. On the other hand, every effort had been put forth by the Creator to enable man to live without ever yielding to the temptations that would be brought by Satan, who had been cast out of heaven as a result of the war between his forces and those of Christ. Revelation 12:7-9. Every trait of character was noble, every desire holy. He was made only a little lower than the angels, and had been crowned with glory and honor. Psalm 8:5. He was the son of God. Luke 3:38. Provision had been made to supply his every need and desire. There was every reason why he should always be obedient to the will of God.
But the Bible record tells us that the first real test of Adam and Eve's loyalty to God ended in their following their own inclination rather than the command of God. Satan, using the serpent as his mouthpiece, persuaded Eve that God was withholding from her and Adam something that would be good for her and her husband. While the temptation was apparently a trivial one, Satan had schemed cleverly to bring upon the unsuspecting Eve a synthesis of all temptations. By an appeal to what John calls all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (compare 1 John 2:16 with Genesis 3:6), the devil deceived Eve (1 Timothy 2:14) and led her to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When she offered the fruit to her husband, he ate also and thus sinned deliberately.
With the entrance of sin into the world, there began a sequence of events and changes in man and in the natural world around him that made it impossible for man's relation with God to remain as it had been from the day he was created. Even though God came again to the garden to talk with the transgressors, barriers had been erected which changed every relationship. Isaiah states the matter concisely: Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you. Isaiah 59:2. Not only were there barriers between the created ones and the Creator, but basic changes took place in the mind of man that made it impossible for God to deal with him as in the past. As a background for the study of the place of the prophetic gift in the relation between God and man, it is essential that one understand the conditions that made the gift necessary. What happened to the mind of man as the result of sin?
He could no longer see God face to face. Exodus 33:20. It seems obvious from Genesis 3:8 that the coming of the Lord into the garden was a usual occurrence. Apparently Adam and Eve had enjoyed talking with the Creator on many occasions; but, because of God's nature it is impossible for sin to exist in His presence. To shield our first parents from the brightness of His glory, which would have brought them instant death, God veiled His face as He did later when talking with Moses. Exodus 33:20-23. That Adam and Eve could no longer see God as He truly was, made a difference in their relation to Him. Two persons cannot maintain the same kind of fellowship at a distance that they do when constantly together. Adam's transgression caused the beginning of a separation which has continued for six thousand years. Small wonder that men who maintain that separation today know so little of their Creator.
He came to know evil as well as good. Genesis 3:22. It was God's plan that man should know nothing but good. It was not necessary to know evil in order to develop character. All that was essential was that evil should be resisted and good should be cherished. However, the impulses that led Adam and Eve to a knowledge of evil have been carefully cultivated by man, and it has become easier to yield to evil than to hold to good. God's plan would have meant a continual growth of good in the life of every man. Not only did man transgress the divine law, but there was introduced into his mind an entirely different kind of thinking. His mind could never again be exactly as it had been.
He became afraid. Genesis 3:8-10. Adam and Eve had known no fear; there was nothing to cause them to be afraid. Their lives were in full harmony with the will of God, and every creature on the earth was subject to their command. They could see the character of God revealed in all things that had been made. As long as they remained away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there was nothing that could harm them. But when they had rebelled against God and He came to talk with them, they were afraid. What had happened? There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear. 1 John 4:18. They had failed in love. Where before there had been constant devotion to the Creator and joy in His presence, now, when they heard His voice, they ran to hide. No longer did they have perfect love which would admit no fear. Seeds of terror sprang up to choke an ever-growing affection. Fear has increased steadily through the ages, until, in the last days, there will be an unprecedented time when men's hearts fail them for fear. Luke 21:26. This constitutes a sign of the nearness of the end.
He became subject to death. Genesis 2:17; Ecclesiastes 9:5. The work of Christ is described as being to deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Hebrews 2:15. Death will be the last of man's enemies to be destroyed. 1 Corinthians 15:26. The knowledge of the imminence of death has done much to shape man's thinking and actions. Age, physical infirmity, senility, are factors to be reckoned with in every lifefactors which would have had no need to be considered had it not been for the disobedience in Eden.
He began defending himself against God's inquiries. Genesis 3:12. Few persons are willing to accept their responsibility for sins of either omission or commission. Slyness and scheming have become an integral part of human thinking in an attempt to shift blame from self to another. Misrepresentation and outright lying have resulted, until today many persons endeavor to shift responsibility for wrong in an attempt to better their own position at the expense of others. Adam did not want to bear the consequences of his own rebellion, and his thinking had changed sufficiently to cause him to try to lay the blame for his action upon the one whom God had made to be his beloved companion.
His mind was corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3. Simplicity is used here in the sense of purity. Previously man's mind had been uncontaminated by outside influences. Now, instead of working in a simple, straightforward manner, Adam's mind was confused. The kind of thinking he had been accustomed to was spoiled. It was like the dead flies in the apothecary's ointment that Solomon uses so vividly as an illustration of man's folly.
He became blind, ignorant, alienated from God. Ephesians 4:18. As the centuries passed, man degenerated more and more, so that Paul's description of the spiritual condition of the Gentiles is accurate. The understanding has become darkened, not because God wants it that way, but because man has failed to concentrate on deep spiritual truths. He remains ignorant of
the love and mercy of God and the plan of salvation. He is like a child who knows nothing of the love and care of a parent. Such a child is unable to comprehend the meaning of a true home where the interest of each member of the family is bound up with the interests of every other member. The thinking of that person becomes warped, and he remains an alien from his loved ones. Sin brought alienation, not only into the home relationship, but between man and his God. It is difficult for many to understand that God wants to establish a relationship that will bring man eternal life and happiness.
He became carnally minded. Romans 8:6, 7. In one sense all the changes that took place in man's mind as the result of sin might be summarized by the expression carnally minded. The word from which carnal comes is the one which designates the human body. Paul uses it to designate that which pertains to the material realm in contrast to the spiritual. Mere humanity is in contrast to the combination of humanity and divinity which God intends. All the other characteristics mentioned contribute to the condition of carnality where the thinking is focused on the things of earth and the body rather than on things above. As mentioned previously, all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16.
All of these changes did not take place immediately when Adam and Eve sinned. But the train of events and the changes which have resulted in humanity's present degenerate condition were initiated when Eve reached out and took of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God might have followed any one of several courses of action after sin entered the world. He might have blotted man out of existence. Had He chosen, He could have simply abandoned
man to his own devices, allowing him to pursue the path he had chosen. Or, if He had seen best, He might have decided that since man had failed as a free agent He would make him incapable of further sin, so that the universe would not feel the effects of rebellion on the earth.
Of course, none of these possibilities could be compatible with the thinking of the God of infinite love. The only course open to the Creator was to do everything possible to restore humanity to the original condition of perfection, so that they would once again be ready to associate with heavenly beings. But that restoration could be accomplished only on the basis of man's personal choice. It must not be imposed on him through the superior power of the Creator.
In order to bring this about, man must receive instruction concerning the loving Creator and His power to redeem all who choose to be saved. Since sin no longer permitted God to speak face to face with fallen humanity and to teach them as He had done formerly, some other means of communication had to be established. Through the centuries the Lord has used a variety of methods to maintain contact with men in order to instruct them in His will. Several of these methods will be considered briefly.
1. Angels. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1:14. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them. Psalm 34:7. In addition to the guidance and protection which one ordinarily thinks of as angel ministry, angels have been used as agents of communication carrying messages from the throne of God to men.
Two angels brought Lot this message: Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. Genesis 19:15. The angel of the Lord spoke to Balaam the message that convicted him and led him to confess, I have sinned. Numbers 22:31-35. It was an
angel who gave Israel the emphatic instruction that no league should be made with the nations in the land of Canaan, lest the gods of the nations should become a snare to them. Gideon was called to his responsibility of delivering Israel from its enemies by an angel. He was instructed, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? Judges 6:11-14. An angel announced to Joseph the true identity of the child to be born to Mary. Matthew 1:18-25. Gabriel spoke to Zacharias of the coming birth of John the Baptist. Throughout the Bible there are records of the appearance of angels with messages from God.
2. Created works. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20. Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. Acts 14:17. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. Psalm 19:1, 2. The silent witness of nature is an agent to bring to man messages which reveal the wisdom and power of the Creator.
3. Urim and Thummim. Two precious stones were set in the breastplate of Israel's high priest, and by these the Lord guided the spiritual leader of the people in making decisions. At the time Joshua took up his work, God gave Moses this instruction for the new leader: And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. Numbers 27:21. The use of the Urim and Thummim apparently
became an important factor in God's communication with His people as the high priest brought before the Lord specific questions to which positive or negative replies could be given.
4. Dreams. Grouped with the Urim and the prophets is another frequently used method of communication. And when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. 1 Samuel 28:6. Dreams were used to make revelations to prophets, as will be discussed later; but they also brought messages to those who had not been called to the prophetic office.
It seems that the youthful Joseph had not been called to be a prophet, but the dreams God sent him had vital prophetic significance to the family. Genesis 37. The dreams of pharaoh's out-of-favor butler and baker were interpreted by Joseph. Genesis 40. They prepared the way for the later interpretation of Pharaoh's dream. Genesis 41. The dream of the Midianite soldier, interpreted by his fellow, encouraged Gideon to go forward in response to God's command. Nebuchadnezzar's dreams (Daniel 2:1ff. and 4:5ff.) prepared the way for the elevation of Daniel to a position of leadership, and they led to the eventual conversion of the king. The numerous examples of communication through dreams reveal the deep impression they made on the mind, and the significance attached to them.
5. Voice from heaven. As far as recorded incidents indicate, the number of times God spoke a message by a voice from heaven was limited. The major occasions were concentrated during the brief ministry of Jesus. This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17. These were the words the Almighty spoke from heaven at the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth. On the mount of transfiguration the words of approbation were repeated, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. Matthew 17:5. Finally, during the last week of the life of the Saviour before His crucifixion, as He commented on the news that certain Greeks had
come to see Him, the voice of the Father came again. His words in response to Jesus' request, Father, glorify Thy name, were, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. John 12:28.
Centuries earlier, God had come down on Mount Sinai to speak to Moses in such a fashion as to cause all the people to hear. Exodus 19:9, 19. While this was somewhat different from the instances in the life of Jesus, apparently the purpose was similar, and this occasion may be fittingly grouped with the others. On other occasions God apparently spoke to Moses and Aaron from the pillar of cloud. Number 12:5, 6.
6. Holy Spirit and the individual. One of the most encouraging of all God's promises is that He will constantly guide the individual who chooses to submit his ways to the Creator. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6. By the prompting of the human mind the Holy Spirit in a personal way draws each child of God within the sphere of influence of divine counsel. And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. Matthew 10:19, 20.
7. Christ in person. Most impressive and influential of all God's methods of communication with man is the one Paul mentions in the introduction to his letter to the Hebrews. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds. Hebrews 1:1, 2. Christ came to reveal to mankind the character of the Father
in a fashion that could not be done by any sinful man. Only He could open men's eyes to see the Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Exodus 34:6. He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. John 14:9. This was Christ's assertion when Philip urged, Lord, show us the Father. Verse 8. In Jesus the whole of the will of heaven was communicated to earth.
8. Prophets. Seven methods of communication which God has used have been mentioned. Each has had its place in the divine plan to reach the minds of fallen men. Each has been a part of the Lord's plan to maintain communication with man in the attempt to bring him back to a condition where it will be possible to give him immortality. The barrier erected by sin necessitated a roundabout approach. The Lord chose to make that approach largely through the work of the prophets whom He selected to represent Him among the people.
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7. The major revelations of the will of God for the instruction of the church in all ages have been given through the prophets. Because He had compassion on His people (2 Chronicles 36:15), He repeatedly sent His messengers to Israel to teach them His will, rebuke their backslidings, comfort their sorrows, encourage them to good works, and call them to repentance. So important did the Lord consider the work of the prophets that if the people persisted in rejecting the messages of these agents, God said there was nothing more He could do for them. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. 2 Chronicles 36:16.
Communications to the prophets generally came in the form of visions or dreams. If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. Numbers 12:6. God opened to
His chosen men scenes of the past, present, and future; and He directed them to speak, write, or retain their revelations as the occasion demanded. The nature of these revelations and their accompanying phenomena are to be considered at some length a little later. Our present objective is to discover why God used this method of communicating His messages to mankind.
1. The gift of prophecy was used to prepare the way for Christ's first advent. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17. To work out the plan of salvation it was essential that God become man, partake fully of his nature, live among men, be tempted in all points as other men are, and in human flesh gain complete victory over sin. To bring man's thinking and living back into harmony with God's, a revelation had to be given through a life. Choosing men to work for other men and to pass on to them special messages from God is obviously the most effective general method that could have been chosen. Thus, through prophets the Creator accomplished the preparation needed before Jesus came to earth.
2. Prophets stood before the people as representatives of the Lord. Their very presence showed the people that God was sufficiently interested in them and close enough to them to choose men from among them to represent Him. They were men subject to like passions as their neighbors; not visitors from another world, but men among men. While the plan was subject to dangers because of the weakness of humanity in the persons selected, yet it possessed inherent possibilities for success not present in any other method.
In a sense all the prophets of the Old Testament were forerunners of Christ, types of the coming Messiah. Peter, addressing
the people in Solomon's porch, avouched that in Jesus was fulfilled Moses' prediction. He said, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear. Acts 3:22. Compare Deuteronomy 18:15. Jesus is listed among the prophets, for He represented God before the people, spoke the messages of heaven, by divine revelation penetrated the future and unveiled things to come, and called men to loyalty to the Father. Every loyal and devoted prophet either typified or memorialized the Master as the greatest of prophets. They did the same kind of work He did. They were His men, and as such did a work that could never have been done so effectively by an angel or a voice from heaven. As the life of Christ revealed to mankind God's personal interest and love, so the lives of the prophets demonstrated that the Lord was going as far as He could to reveal Himself to His people. The presence of the prophet was a constant reminder of the presence of God.
3. Prophets kept men constantly aware of God's instruction to them. They must never entertain the idea that they had no access to divine counsel. A prophet among them would be a continual reminder of the nearness and availability of all the instruction they needed. This was emphasized by the Lord in Deuteronomy 30:11-14: For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
What was true of times when a prophet was personally among God's people is also true of those who have access to the written testimony of the prophets in the Bible. Counsel is always available and is never far off.
4. Through the prophets God could maintain direct connection
with the people without talking with them face to face. Visions and dreams served the same purposes as would face-to-face conversation. In vision the prophet could be taken into the very presence of the Lord. His eyes could see the King in His glory on His throne, a sight that no natural eye could see. His reaction to what he had seen would be that of a man, his descriptions in human language. The Spirit of God guided as these revelations were passed on to the people, so there was no misrepresentation. They were described in the best manner of which the prophet was capable. Messages through the chosen prophet were intended to accomplish the same purposes as a personal communication from the Creator.
5. It was essential that the people should have before them a demonstration of what fellowship with God could accomplish in a human life. Though subject to like passions as we are, the prophets were men who walked with God, and as such could give witness to the transforming grace of the Holy Spirit and the molding influence of His power in the daily life. While the evidences were not always so striking as when Moses came down from the mount with his face shining, yet there was no mistaking the fact that the personal communion of the prophet with God made a distinct difference in his experience. To the people who were receptive and responsive, this served as an invitation to a closer walk with God. This kind of witness could have been given only by one man to another.
6. The presence of the prophets tested the people as to their attitude toward God. The Lord knew that the way the people treated His prophets was the way they would treat Him if He was among them. His position appears to have been well taken when we consider the manner in which Christ was received.
7. Prophets assisted in the plan of salvation, for God has consistently used a combination of the human and the divine as His most effective means for reaching men. Noah and his family could have been saved without the building of an ark, but God wanted human effort combined with His. The
tables of stone that were preserved in the earthly sanctuary were the ones cut out by the hands of Moses on which the law was inscribed by the finger of God. Man provided the fuel, but God kindled the fire that consumed the sacrifices of the sanctuary. Jesus Himself was the product of a mysterious blending of the divine with the human. Man, as God's major means of communication, only rounds out the picture of His most effective method of dealing with the human race.
8. As God worked through the prophets, He had in mind a broad plan which included the preparation of a written record that He would put into the hands of all men. The great principles of His government, and illustrations of how these principles had worked in the lives of men, were set forth. A consistent cumulative record, a product of human effort under divine guidance, was intended to wield a constant influence and give a sense of continuity and unity in the working out of the plan of salvation. In every age the plan has been the same, but the teaching of it has been adapted to the particular needs of the people of the age. From the lives of men through the centuries have been selected those incidents best suited to teach succeeding generations the lessons they needed most. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 1 Corinthians 10:11.
Nothing, of course, was left entirely in the hands of men. God's plan was, and still is, to link divine power with the communications given to the prophets so that they would be effective in the lives of those who were willing to accept them. The instruction itself would bring about the necessary transformation; that was the work of the Holy Spirit in making the word of God quick, and powerful.
While there are obvious reasons for the general utilization of the prophets in communicating the divine will to mankind, yet each of the other methods revealed in the Scriptures has had its particular place. Each has been used in special instances when
it served more effectively than the gift of prophecy. It is profitable to analyze the type of situation in which each method was used. Since God always uses the most effective means possible under the circumstances, it is clear that no single method would have served His purposes. He was endeavoring to turn men from sin to righteousness so it would be possible for Him to completely transform their minds and restore in them the image of Christ. The ministry of the prophets was the most effective general means God could devise for reaching man with the plan of salvation.
The outstanding product of the ministry of the prophets is the Bible. As Christ revealed God in His life, so the Bible stands in written form as the supreme revelation of the character and will of God. Had there been no personal ministry on the part of the prophets other than the writing of the Book, the word would reveal the way by which man might be restored to oneness with God. Earlier in this chapter we noted eight results of sin upon the human mind. Through the gift of prophecythe ministry of individual prophets, and the writing of the ScripturesGod has revealed the correction for each defect, the way of supplying each deficiency, the path of return from each defection. The changes in man's relations and thinking will be noted again, and with these will be the Bible remedy for each defect. Let us give particular attention to the close connection between the revelations through the prophets and the proposed means of restoration.
Man could not see God face to face. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him. Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how
sayest thou then, Show us the Father? John 14:7-9. (Italics supplied.) Christ reveals the Father, and the Scriptures reveal Christ, for they are they which testify of Me. John 5:39.
Man came to know evil as well as good. Unfortunately, no one can avoid being acquainted with some of the evil that exists around him. As long as we are in this world we cannot avoid some contact with evil and its results. But no mind needs to dwell on evil. Through the prophets enough of good has been made available that it is possible to feed the mind regularly with good. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8.
Man was afraid. All fear may be eliminated from the life. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear . He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. 1 John 2:5.
He was subject to death. Although subject to death, Christ gave man hope, for He said, The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63.
Man began defending Himself. Through the straight testimony of the prophets the Lord has caused men to acknowledge their sins and to repent of them. David's experience is only one of many examples. Nathan, the prophet, accused: Thou art the man. David confessed: I have sinned. 2 Samuel 12:7, 13. Like a sword, the word cuts deep into the mind, discerning its thoughts and intents. It convicts men of the truth that they cannot hide their actions or thoughts from God.
Man's mind was corrupted. The change of a corrupt mind
calls for creative power. This, too, is provided through the word. Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24.
Man became blind, ignorant, and alienated from God. Greatest of all the prophets, Jesus quoted another prophet when He outlined His work on earth. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. Luke 4:18. The assurance is given, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling. Ephesians 1:17, 18.
Man became carnally minded. Divine provision is made so that the mind need not be devoted to the things of the flesh. Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2. The manner of cleansing is specified: That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. Ephesians 5:26.
The pattern for bringing about the transformation may be summarized in a few words:
Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27. This is the great objective.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Ephesians 3:17. This is the way Christ dwells within man.
Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17. This is the path by which Christ finds entrance into the human life.
Christ and the Bible are so closely associated in the working out of the plan of salvation that each is called the Word. The grace of God, ministered through the agency of the Word, brings about the transformation and restores man's mind to its original allegiance to God. The gift of prophecy has been the means of placing before men God's plan of restoration.
1. Man was created perfect, but without a fully developed character.
2. The first major test brought to Adam and Eve resulted in their yielding to Satan's temptation.
3. Sin not only erected a barrier between man and God, but brought about changes in man's thinking and in his basic relationship to God. It was essential for God to establish methods of communication with man in order to reclaim him.
4. Several methods of communication have been used, but the most general one has been the giving of instruction through the ministry of the prophets.
5. By revealing His will through prophets, God has offered to man the way by which he may be restored to his original relationship with God.
1. What made it impossible for God to talk face to face with man after sin was introduced into the world?
2. Study carefully each of the methods of communication listed. Find as many additional examples of these methods as possible. After checking on several incidents under each heading, what conclusion do you reach as to the kind of circumstances
under which this particular variety of communication was generally used? What does it seem that God was trying to accomplish in each instance?
3. Compare the gift of prophecy with each of the other methods discussed. In what ways is it superior to the other methods as a means of communication? Make your comparison with each method separately. Do not generalize.
4. Find additional examples of God's use of a combination of the human and the divine in the working out of the plan of salvation.
5. How far can God go toward bringing about a complete transformation in the mind of a man in his present life?
6. In your opinion, have the prophets adequately fulfilled the purposes the Lord had in mind in calling them to their special work?
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gilt of Prophecy, pp. 15-21. Mountain View, Pacific Press Publishing Assn., 1936.
Haynes, Carlyle. B., The Book of All Nations, pp. 128-152.
, The Gift of Prophecy, pp. 7-20.
Nashville, Southern Publishing Assn., 1946.