Follower of The Way

Imago Dei

Posted in Christian Theology,Eschatology,Imago Dei,Origins by sosipater on September 1, 2008

The question I asked in my recent sermon title was, Imago Dei: What does it mean that we are created in God’s Image and how does it affect your life?

I think a lot of Christians know that we are created in God’s Image but don’t spend much time thinking about how we are to image God on a day to day, hour to hour, or even minute to minute basis.

I spent a lot of time in my sermon laying out that we are created in God’s image and what that means, but didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked on how we are to image God daily. I guess that will have to wait for another time. I did get to it though, and the implications for Christian living are foundational and far reaching. Here are the notes for most of my sermon, for anyone who is interested.  Happy imaging!

Imago Dei

– What does it mean that we are human beings.

– Historical sketch:

1.Before Augustine – What group we belong to.

2. After Augustine’s cofessions – More individualistic outlook.

3. Rene Descarte – “I think therefor I am”

4. Jonathan Edwards – Mind plus God’s Grace

5. Jean Jacques Rousseau – “Love ourselves”

6. Abraham Maslow – Man’s “hierarchy of needs”

America’s God is a God of “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism”

Back in Gen 1:1, we see God/Elohim creating everything and through the rest of chapter God is creating, day by day.

God preexists, he makes everything and everyone.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

In the 1st chapter of Genesis, God is showing us the uniqueness of the creation of mankind.

ONLY man is created in God’s Image and after God’s likeness.

– God counsels with or deliberates about man’s creation. “Let us”. With no other creation does God do this but man.

– (v. 26) The next, and very interesting thing we notice here is that God says “Let US” make man in “our” image. There have been 2 or 3 different interpretations of this but the way most Christians understand this is that God is speaking of the fact that he does not exist as a solitary being, but as a being in fellowship with others

– Though the word Trinity is not used here or explicitly taught, it is expressed here and is more clearly explained in the NT.
The word “man” in the Hebrew is the word “adam” and is referring to mankind in general, as opposed to the animals.

– (v.27). Here God says that mankind is made “in our image, after our likeness”. Even though these are 2 phrases, they are basically just two ways to say the same thing.

The Hebrew word from image has the root meaning of “to carve or to cut”, telling us that man images God, or represents him to the world.

The Hebrew for from likeness, means “to be like”. These two words combined are saying that man is a representation of God, who is also like God in certain ways.

We are given some specific ways in these verses that we resemble God:

1. Dominion v. 26 – In exercising Dominion man is like God because God has supreme and ultimate dominion over the Earth.

2. Male & Female v. 27 – complementarian relationship of the man and the woman, God exists as a social being in close fellowship within the Trinity, likewise, man is a social being who needs the companionship and community or fellowship that comes from marriage and family, friendships, and their church, where Christians are encouraged to live out their callings as God’s representatives. More on this calling later.

God Created Male and Female. What gender is God?
-God is spirit, so he does not have a gender..he is neither male nor female. God does reveal himself in a masculine form as Father, and Jesus was a man, but God is not an gendered being but as John say, God is a spirit.
-But male and female do both proceed from God are are made equal to each other in the image and likeness of God. Neither are more like God than the other.

3. v. 28, Men and Women are responsible beings who can be addressed by God & ultimately responsible to Him. By God blessing Adam and Eve He is also showing communication and relationship with them. Kindness and affection and a personal relationship.

4. v.31, Because man came directly from God, he was not corrupt, depraved, or sinful. He was in a state of integrity, innocence, and holiness. Whatever state we find ourselves in today, man, as originally created was, in God’s own word, very good.

Genesis 2:7-8, 15-16, 18, 20-24

7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

– Gen 2:7 – God spoke all of creation except for man, who he formed and breathed life into – giving of a soul and spirit.

– Gen 2:15-16 – God commanded – God is a moral being & so are we unlike the animals.

– Gen 2:18 – Now God makes Adam, the first man, the first woman, who is a helper fit for him. The implication here is that men need help! A helper is a good thing. The Holy Spirit is said to be the Christians helper here on Earth, so this is not a negative thing but a declaration of worth and value.

– Like we have said, the woman is an equal image bearer of God.

The next passage in Genesis that deals with man as the image of God is Genesis 5:1-3:

1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man (Hebrew adam), he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

– This section of scripture starts off with a reminder that God created man in His likeness, using the same Hebrew word as in 1:26.
– We haven’t mentioned the fall of man from Chapter 3 of Genesis, but we do learn there that Adam and Eve sinned against God which had the affect of plunging mankind into a slavery to sin/disobedience, and from then on this sin nature is passed on to every person who is ever born.
– Because of the catastrophic event, there a some who would say that man completely lost the likeness of God. But as we see here and for the rest of The Bible there is no mention of that here, on the contrary, this post fall reference to creation reminds of our image bearing role in creation.
– There is no doubt that God’s image has been tarnised/disfigured/warped by the fall, but as bad as the fall was, it was not even enough to completely erase our foundational nature as image bearers of God.
– To add strength to this argument, v.3 here tells us that Adam fathered a son, post fall, and this son Seth was born in the image and likeness of his father, Adam. Since Adam bore God’s image and Seth was made in Adam’s likeness, we can infer that Seth and (everyone else) is an image-bearer of God.

The next and final passage dealing with the image of God is Genesis 9:6:

6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.

– The context here is God giving instructions to mankind via Noah to preserve the Earth and its inhabitants
– The basic message here is that whoever murders another person is deserving of the same fate, which obviously is death.
– The reason for this is grounded in the fact that mankind is made in God’s image.
– Anthony Hoekema in his book “Created in God’s Image” has this to say about this passage:
” The reason that murder is here said to be such a heinious crime that it must be punished by death is that the man who has been murdered is someone who imaged God, reflected God, was like God, and represented God. Therefore when one kills a human being, not only does he take that person’s life, but he hurts God himself – the God who was reflected in that individual. To touch the image of God is to touch God himself; to kill the image of God is to do violence to God himself.”

What does the New Testament say about the Image of God?

One passage, James 3:9, pretty clearly tells us that fallen man still retains the Image of God. Speaking on the power and evil capacity of the tongue, James tells us this:

9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

James is here pointing out the evil inconsistency of both praising God and cursing others with the same tongue. But what is inconsistent about it? Because the other people that we curse are people made in the likeness of God. Again, on the verse Hoekema has this to say: “human beings as here described have at some time in the past been made according to the likeness of God and are still bearers of that likeness. For this reason it is inconsistent to praise God and curse men with the same tongue, since the human creatures whom we curse still bear the likeness of God. For this reason God is offended when we curse men.” And it is important to remind ourselves that James is talking about all people everywhere, not just Christians or those who look and act like ourselves, but all people everywhere

– Before we move on lets recap and throw out some other things that show how people are like God or made in His Image:

1. We can make moral decisions in our dominion of the Earth. We can have positive and negative affects on the Earth

2. we are social: write, communicate, speak

3. Emotions: we feel things deeply

4. We can think, learn, we have an intellect and can reason
5. We are immortal and have a spirit, live forever, our soul will go on
6. Creative ability – art, music, building things, technology
7. Appreciate beauty – aesthetics & the arts

All of these attributes of man flow from the Imago Dei – being made in the image of God.

Before we look at a few more NT verses, I want to transition our thinking a little bit. Up until now we have been thinking about the IOG as a noun, as it what it is. I want you to begin to think about it as verb as in, how can I, as an image bearer, Image God as I should be? I think this is the way that the NT shows us the importannce of the IOG, in that we not only are made in the IOG, but that we must live and act as an Image of God.

Ways we are like God – Communicable or shared attributes:

1. God is spirit – we have a spirit
2. God is Holy – by God’s grace we can live a Holy life
3. God loves and is good to others – We can love others and be good, and fair and just to others
4. God is truth – we don’t have to live with lies..we can tell the truth and receive the truth with gladness
5. God is just- we too can see after justice and righteousness
6. God is merciful and compassionate – we too should be merciful and compassionate to others
7. God is beauty and defines beauty – we too can creaty beauty and appreciate beautiful things – music, art, aestetics, architecture, food.
8. God is a God of order – through the Gospel God brings order to chaos and we too can bring order to the world around us

– These are things we share with God, not only Christians but all humans, and is a tremendous blessing that God gives to all humanity, to share in God’s very own attributes. None of these things were created by man, but were given to us by God, as blessings, to enjoy and share with him. As we know we have fallen into sin and can’t do these things like we should, but we can still pursue them to a degree as image bearers, but only with God’s help and common grace that he gives to all. If there was no sin we would reflect perfectly God’s image.

We were created to image God perfectly, but we failed. We sinned and tarred the image. We are like broken, warped mirrors, like the kind they have at fairs. you can still see your image, it is there, but it is broken and mis-shaped. So our job, what we were created to do is image God perfectly and we can’t anymore, so what did God do? He sends us someone who can image God perfectly. His name is Jesus.

-Jesus is the unserpassable, perfect example of what God wants each of us to be like. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:4:

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The greek word here is “eikon”, where we get our English work icon, and is the equivalent of the Hebrew word for image used in Genesis.
– So when we see Jesus, we see the glory and the image of God.

Colossians 1:15

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

So even though God is invisible, we can’t see him with our eyes, in Jesus Christ the invisible God becomes visible. The person who looks at Christ is actually looking at God.

– Hebrews 1:3 says that The Son, Jesus, is the “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”.
– Here in Hebrews we see an absolutely facinating relationship between the image of God and the incarnation (Jesus coming in flesh as a man).
-While the incarnation is a great mystery, God becoming flesh, we can presume or imagine that the very reason that Jesus, God, could come to Earth as a man is because man was made in God’s image. What other being could he come as, as no other being has a resemblance to God.
In John 14:8-9, Jesus tells Phillip if you see me you have seen the Father. IWO, I am the Fathers perfect image.
So now we have a benchmark, a measuring rod, and standard for what it means to be a normal human. Jesus is what normal should be like. He is normative. We are all abnormal. This means that in this life we are not to compare ourselves to others…Ever, but to Jesus, who perfectly Images or reflects God.
So the question before us is can we image (verb) God and if so how do we image (verb) God?
-Romans 8:29 says that ”
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,”.
There is our answer to the can we part. So how do we?
– Colossians 3:5-10 –
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
– John Calvin said that we image God by reflecting God’s image like a mirror (i.e. Moses’ face), we are to radiate God to the Earth/others. This looks like mirroring God’s patience, His love, being truthful, being compassionate, showing mercy, being just (not prejudiced and prideful), pursue holiness and righteousness… to be more and more like Jesus.
– So there is no better way to see the image of God than to look at Jesus.
– Unfortunately through sin our mirror is broken, but by the power of the Holy Spirit Christians can reflect God more & more and bring glory to Jesus.
– This is our key to a joyous life. What a great, joyful experience it is to mirror Jesus and focus on him instead of focusing on ourselves.
We exist to mirror Jesus and glorify God. This is our root source of joy, meaning, & significance, even in times of trouble.
– Living in a way that doesnt’ seek to mirror God, IOW living for sinful, selfish desires and sin, apart from you creator, is wasting your life and a giant wild goose chase of eternal consequences.
In closing I want to give you just a couple of implications of the Imago Dei.
1. Root of why we show justice, compassion, and equality.
2. Loving all people of all ethnic backgrounds becuase all people equally bear the image of God.
3. We are to respect all human life, no matter the age or condition.
– The only way you can do what you were created to do well, that is image God, is to be in relationship with Jesus.
– Be connected to God and His people and let the church come along side you and connect you to others. Its not good to be alone. God is not alone and you shouldn’t be either.
– The only way we can continue to mirror God well is by daily, progressive renewal of our hearts and minds through the Gospel and the Word.
– Our ultimate Goal and our promised end is that one day, as John wrote in 1 John 3:2, we will see Jesus as he really is, as God’s perfect image, and when that happens, we will be like Him, the perfect image bearers we were created to be.


Is Jesus the true Israel?

Posted in Christian Theology,Eschatology by sosipater on April 3, 2008

For my eschatologically minded friends I recommend this blog post by Kim Riddlebarger.  Very short but good look at verses from Isaiah, the Gospels, and Acts that can be understood quite literally as showing that some Israel focused prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ Himself, the true and kingly offspring of Abraham.

John Hagee and the CUFI

Posted in Eschatology by sosipater on July 29, 2007

End of the Age for “Left Behind” Series

Posted in Books,Eschatology by sosipater on April 4, 2007

Hold on to your reading glasses, looks like it is the (less than greatly anticipated) ending to the popular Christian fiction series of Left Behind books.  I italicised the word fiction because while I agree that it is completely fiction, I don’t believe everyone does.  Do you think the Tim Lahaye Prophecy Bible’s take on end times is much different from the Prophecy that is propagated in the books?

Anyway, here is a story from the UK Times about the last book and some of the responses to the series.  Interesting is the lower demand seen for the latter books versus the earlier ones.

Kingdom Come, the last of the “Left Behind” series of Bible-inspired thrillers written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, tells the story of the final postmillennial battle between Jesus and Satan. “I’ll give you a clue,” Jenkins said, “the good guy wins.”

But the author also accepted that the brand was not as successful as it once was, with 300,000 first-edition copies of Kingdom Come being printed compared with 1.9 million for previous books. “Maybe the edge has come off as far as it being a novelty,” he said.

You can read the whole article here.

Shepherd’s Conference

Posted in Christian Theology,Eschatology by sosipater on March 8, 2007

The 2007 Shepherd’s Conference put on by John MacArthur’s church out in California began yesterday.  And boy did it begin with a bang.  Apparently Dr. MacArthur chose to speak on eschatology, specifically why Amillenialism is dead wrong and is the theological sister to arminianism, and why all calvinsts should be pre-millenial.  Whoa, who’d a thunk it!

I must say I have not heard the lecture and am getting most of my information from Tim Challies’ live blog found here, and Jason Robertson’s post here.

My thoughts are it is no biggie if Dr. Mac disagrees with Amillenialism, but he seems to go over the top in trying to sully the system and its adherents.  Not cool.  Check out the links and let me know what you think.

New Link:  Check out what Kim Riddlebarger has to say about this here.

Christian Game “Force for Evil”

Posted in Eschatology,Miscellaneous by sosipater on December 6, 2006

Ok all you eschatological minded folk, here’s one for the Christmas stocking. 

“Christian Video Game is a “Force for Evil” says the British “Times Online” article.    My favorite quote:

Troy A. Lyndon, the chief executive of Left Behind Games, said: “The game is designed to be a classic battle between good and evil. We have deliberately censored the blood and it does not gratuitously depict death or violence. Left Behind is not taken from the Bible, it is a fictional story.”

Primer on Ammillenialism

Posted in Christian Theology,Eschatology by sosipater on August 3, 2006

Over at Fide-O Jason Robertson has a very cool primer or short description, or not so short, of the Ammillenial end times position.  Interesting is his list of prominent theologians who are/were amill.  Now, before anyone gets testy, some of the big names from days of old are harder to pin down because our current terms of amill and postmill weren’t around back then.  These two positions can be very close, so both camps claim some of the names.  This is no big deal to me, because even though historical positions of churchmen are helpful, the final determiner is which position is more consistent, overall, with scripture. 


Posted in Eschatology by sosipater on July 17, 2006

Doxoblogy has a great interview with Kim Riddlebarger, mainly on Ammillenial eschatology.  Here is a good quote.

Progressive Dispensationalists have made some very important steps in the right direction in their understanding the nature of the Kingdom. In Russell Moore’s book, The Kingdom Of Christ, he gives a lot of weight to the already/not yet aspects of the Kingdom found in Scripture. My question is, can this view be held consistently outside of either a Post- or Amillennial framework?

I have found George Ladd’s book The Presence of the Future, helpful in this regard. He was historic premill, and yet took the already/not yet data of the NT quite seriously. But the major problem for all forms of millennialism is the discussion between this age and the age to come (which runs parallel to the discussion of the kingdom). This distinction between “this age” and the “age to come” not only supports the presence of the kingdom in the midst of this age (through word and sacrament), but anticipates its consummation in the age to come (the not yet). Whenever this age is mentioned in the NT, it is tied to things temporal. But whenever the age to come is mentioned, it is tied to things eternal. Thus when Christ comes back and consummates the present kingdom, there is no place for a half-way renewed earth (as in premillennialism) or a consummate kingdom (of some sort) before Christ’s return (as in postmillennialism).