Bryan Vinson, Sr.
While reflecting on the magnitude of creation the Psalmist was constrained to exclaim, "When I consider the heavens the work of thy fingers, and the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou visitest him?' This is not a display of incredulity, but of simple amazement as touching the concern, the interest and mindfulness of God toward man in connection with the fact of God's greatness and grandeur as attested by the work of creation. There is, then, the acknowledged acceptance as a fact that God exercises a mindfulness of man in this language. Therefore, we should be interested in the truth here acknowledged and such reasons as we can discover for this interest by Jehovah in us, and the avenues of expression employed by him in evincing this concern.
We are initially informed of God's interest by his expression of gratification in the creation of man, and as subsequently manifested by his association with man. There was a felicity of association with and communion experienced between God and the original man, that continued unbroken and unmarred until the intrusion of a third party on the scene. The design of this intruder was to destroy this felicitous relationship, and he knew that only by a corrupting of man, thereby rendering him unfit for the divine association, could his ends be accomplished. Also, he knew that this corruption could only be effected by sin, and that sin is a development wrought in consequence of evil temptation. Hence, he tempted man, and through this temptation, so seductively and alluringly presented, man was deceived (that is, the woman). An immediate result was a consciousness of guilt experienced by the first pair is evidenced bv their shame in being naked, and their hiding from God. Not only does sin render man unfit for God's presence as viewed bv God, but as also sensed by man himself. Sin separated man from God. As thus guilty before God, we are confronted with every conceivable solution of the matter by God. What is He to do with this creature that had afforded him such gratification and pleasure heretofore, but who now had become unfit and unworthy before his maker? While disavowing any intention to limit the intellectual resources of God, and therefore limit the alternatives that occurred, or could occur to him, we, nevertheless, can conceive of but three possible eventualities in the determination of the solution. First, the annihilation of man; second, the abandonment of man; and, third, the redemption of man. We wish to consider each of these briefly in relation to this subject.
By annihilation is meant, of course, the idea of extinction thus a cessation of existence. There are religionists, professedly at least, who embrace the idea of destructionism, meaning thereby annihilation. The term destruction, however, does not mean annihilation when employed in regard to man. The idea of a punishment identified is an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, assigning the meaning of annihilation to the term destruction makes nonsense. With the possibility of God annihilating matter we are not concerned; that he can annihilate spirit with us is, at least, questionable. Man when regarded as a creature made in the image of God is to be thus recognized as having a spirit that constitutes him as the off-spring of Jehovah. Is man, as thus identified capable of extinction? This we seriously doubt. But be it as it may, the very fact that God did not, assuming He could, annihilate man resolves the matter is touching this conceivable solution as one not employed by Him.
The second, that of abandonment, poses another situation as expressive of a possible attitude of God toward man. Had God, acting as offended Deity by the sin of Adam, determined to abandon man and thus leave him to his own resources how different would the fate of mankind be. True it is that the vast majority of our race is wholly unmindful of God, and thus act as though there is either no God, or, if there be one, that He exercises no interest in or influence over the lives and fortunes of mankind. This, then, is equal to a course of abandonment by God as it effects us, and renders man vain in his own conceits by attributing to himself a self-sufficiency beyond his own real powers of mind and body. But we know that God did not abandon man, and, therefore, we are interested in some reason or reasons for Him not abandoning us to our own resources and left us to wander through life aimlessly and destitute of His help and guidance His providence and government. Certainly regarding man as wholly depraved we could find no logical reason for God's continuing interest in and regard for man. Should the doctrine of total depravity be true then man is totally destitute of good, and there being no element of good discoverable in him by His Maker there would, understandably, been an abandonment of man by God. Consequently, we are led to the observation that since God did not abandon man He, therefore, saw in him some good, and thus rnan is not totally depraved by virtue of his initial transgression, or any subsequent sin.
This leads us to the Divine Determination to Redeem man, to effect his recovery from ruin and all the evil consequences of sin, and from the guilt of sin. If man is to ever be worthy of divine association he must be recovered from the guilt of sin, and thus the purposed salvation from sin is wrought through the voluntary offering of Christ, with all that is involved in his sacrifice, is but the supreme manifestation of God's mindfulness of man. God is mindful of man as pertains to his present existence and well being, Jesus taught that God takes cognizance of the falling sparrow, and provides for the clothing of the lily, and in view thereof he suggests that by reason of the superior worth of man, he much more cares for us. God's care for us is displayed every moment in the workings of providence, general as it blesses all men, and special as touching his own.
But just as Jesus taught that we should not labor for the meat that perishes, and that a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses, even so should we learn therefrom that the material provisions with which God blesses us does not and cannot constitute all of his interest in us. Inasmuch as there is about us that which bread alone does not satisfy, we must accept the view that God has designed that which is related to our inner needs, the righteous interests of the spirit.
This, of course, involves the mindfulness of God for man as it relates to salvation from sin. The apostle Paul, while viewing his past and present in contrast, and in recognizing the blessedness of salvation, he said that "by the grace of God I am what I am." Salvation by grace is a fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and thus the gospel is the gospel of God's grace. The idea of salvation by grace is that of being saved as an act of favor on the part of him who saves us; that is, there is no merit attaching to us warranting or requiring this action by God. Consequently we conclude that the scheme of redemption, in its conception, development and execution all constitute the supreme expression of God's mindfulness of man.
From this consideration of the matter we are led to the conviction that a child of God, an heir of salvation, should unceasingly be filled with gratitude for the mindfulness of God for him as evidenced in the salvation thus enjoyed and the inheritance promised him "is reserved in heaven. A Christian is the wealthiest of all people; he has the constant assurance that he walks always under the watchful eye and within the protective power of God as he walks by faith and in the light. The mindfulness of God for man is a continuing fact, and one of supreme significance and worth, which beside it all other blessings and joys fade into worthlessness.