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THEOLOGY > Man > Crown of Creation > Creature


Man is a creature. The word, “creature,” is from the Latin creatus, a word which speaks of something that is created; therefore, for man to be called a “creature” means that man has been created. So one of the designations of man informs of his creation—man is a “creature.”

Since man is a creature, then it must not be thought improper to look to the Creator of man for an explanation of man. It is the Creator that explains the creature, which means that the significance of man is found in God. This is to affirm that the meaning of man is not within man but is outside of man, for man does not possess the necessary insight to be able to give a truthful interpretation about himself; knowledge of the purpose and meaning of man must be imparted, imparted by the Maker of man.

Because this knowledge comes from God, then the knowledge must be theological in nature, which means that the knowledge originates with God and that it is knowledge about the significance of man from the perspective of God. For any knowledge to be valid it must be theological (see: Foundations and Starting Point).

Since this is so, man must be discussed theologically before he can be discussed biologically, socially, or from any other perspective. For all the various dimensions of man must be explained in terms of God—reason cannot explicate man nor can science attribute meaning to man; these must be accomplished by Revelation from above.

And it must always be kept in the front of the believer’s thinking that the Revelation of God informs and guides human reason. Reason may contemplate a deity and assume some sort of value for man, but reason is limited in that it cannot provide normative and immutable principles. It is Revelation that reveals Yahweh, His creation of man, the Commandments that were given by the Creator for the creature, and the ultimate destiny of the cosmos that has been determined by the Lord of all.

Man is a creature opposite or separate from the Creator. As a creature man is separate from the Creator—herein is the greatest of all separations; man is not God, not a part of God, does not possess nor partake of any of the essence of God. Man is the creature made by the Creator, a distinction that is fixed, immutable, and eternal.

Creation rejects Pantheism which teaches that man, as well as all of creation, is simply an extension of God’s essence or the locus of God’s essence, which means that there is no distinction between man and the butterfly. In this scheme of thinking man’s value is lost because all of creation has equal extension from God and is therefore of equal value. Nothing sets man apart, for all of creation is united but no part of creation is more significant than another.

Against this sort of thinking is the Biblical declaration that man is distinct or separate from God; he is not to be identified with God but is set over against God. To borrow terminology from others, God is the “Thou” and man is an “I”; here is a dissimilarity that must be maintained if man is to have true value and is to be capable of real communication and meaningful relationship with Deity.

Man is a creature dependent on the Creator. An awareness of creaturehood destroys arrogance and self-sufficiency, undercutting pride in independence and self-determination. Man does not posit his own existence or maintain his existence; in every facet of his being he is contingent.

Only in God does being arise out of Self! Only God is Self-originating—He is “I Am” (see: Characteristics of God’s Existence). Such a declaration man cannot make if he fully realizes and contemplates his creaturehood, the fact that he is not eternal nor self-existing, but is conditional, dependent upon the Creator.

Dependency works against a strong humanistic autonomous individualism. Life is not about “I”; life is about Him—the focus is upward not inward. I am not to eat, drink, and be merry as “I” please; rather, all that is done is to be done for the glory of God (see: Glorify God). We do not live to ourselves, but to the One who created us and sustains us. Our purpose is not in our own devices, but in His immutable plan (see: Purpose of Man).

Dependency undermines a self-determinism that is set over against Divine determinism. In all things it is either man’s determination or God’s determination; man’s pride in his own existence causes him to evaluate too highly his own ability, thinking that independent ability, or will, is his right and is part and parcel of what it is to be man. But the more man properly contemplates his creaturehood, the more his understanding of what it means to be creature increases. And he comes to grasp that the creature serves for the Creator and not the reverse. It is God who determines; man is dependent (see: Theistic Determinism and Scriptural Support for Sovereignty). God is the Potter!

Individualism ultimately leads to self-deification and self-worship, which is an infatuation with the self. Life becomes all about the individual, his rights, his freedom, his will, his accomplishments, his ability. The focus is earthly, material, and temporal; man’s perspective becomes introverted, with all of reality being interpreted in terms of man. Man becomes the supreme object in his own thinking. Finally man bows before an altar he has erected to himself—the throne is occupied by his ego.

In these sentiments the end of man becomes man; man exists for himself, with life being the pursuit of selfish desires which when achieved do not satisfy. So the worship of man leads to frustration and defeat—there is nothing but despair. If you begin with man, then you must end with man; and man by himself cannot establish significance for himself.

Man’s fulfillment is not found within himself, his being; it is not in the pursuit of selfish ends, not below in the arena of the earthly. Worth and significance are not on the horizontal plane, but on the vertical; the creature must not look to the creature but to the Creator (see: Fulfill the Will of God).

As a creature, man is subject to the Creator.  According to the Scriptures, man is the clay in the Potter’s hand, and the Potter is God (Isa. 45:9; 64:8; Jer. 18:5-6; Rom. 9:20-21). Man does not determine the circumstances of his existence—a bitter pill for the modern liberated thinker who feels assured that human freedom is the epitome of existence.

The totality of man’s existence is determined by the Creator (see: Theistic Determinism), and man has no option but to submit to Sovereignty. Man is not self-made; he is what he is because of the Creator and the exercise of the Creator’s Sovereignty (see: Scriptural Support for Sovereignty).

To be creature is to be created, and to be created for a purpose. This raises a question that is basic and foundational: whose purpose? Does the creature exist for the purpose of the creature, or for the purpose of the Creator of the creature? The answer is crucial and fundamental to the worldview of the individual being engaged by the question; the answer will determine whether a person’s interpretation of reality is from the perspective of the creature or the Creator, from the viewpoint of man or God (see: Purpose of Man).

If man is clay in the Potter’s hand then the comprehension of existence must be from the top down, rather than from the bottom up. Assuming the validity of the image of clay and Potter, then it should be accepted without controversy that it is be the Potter that gives definition and interpretation of the significance of the clay.

The clay exists for the working of the Potter; the Potter does not exist to succumb to the imaginations of the clay (see: God is Sovereign).

As a creature, man is responsible to the Creator. After God created man, He gave him instructions, both positive and negative. Positively, He said: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28); and negatively, He said: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen. 2:16). Clearly God informs man as to what he can and cannot do, thus the Creator is making the creature responsible to Him by establishing Law that the creature must follow.

Man was not created and given autonomous freedom; at the very beginning his freedom was limited and restricted. Total self-determination was not bestowed upon the creature—the Creator is under no such necessity; man was informed that his life is to conform to a standard not of his own choosing. The Creator has the prerogative to set the boundaries for the creature He made, for the creature is commanded by the Creator (see: Theistic Determinism).

And in that Divine command resides responsibility for obedience and penalty for disobedience: “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Man must conform to God’s Law or endure the judgment for lack of conformity to the Divine precepts. Man has never been without accountability to his Creator.

As a creature, man is destined for the Creator. Whether in life or death, whether in heaven or hell, man’s destiny is a meeting with God. And this telos cannot be escaped nor negated. It is with God that man has to do.

Part of the tragedy of human existence is the removal of this dimension from human reflection. Life is too involved with living and enjoying the present, not realizing that life is not an end in itself, but that at the end of life is God. The present is merely a moment in the progression of linear time, and time is only a prelude to eternity.

Time will be terminated, but before man enters the dimension of eternity, there is the judgment. The Lord is “the righteous Judge” (II Tim. 4:8) who “judges righteously” (I Pet. 2:23). After death, there is the judgment, the judgment of man by God—the creature must stand before his Creator (Heb. 9:27).

Life should be an anticipation of and a preparation for this meeting. As life progresses it is a progression toward death, but death is not the end; after death there is the audience with the Maker.

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