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.

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Toole and Piper on Race

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Imago Dei,Origins by sosipater on June 13, 2007

One of the most important issues that people need to think through non-emotionally is the issue of race.  This can be such a volcanic issue, and I think Satan is thrilled when it becomes so.  Christians especially should be eager to apply what we know about mankind from the Bible to this pressing issue. 

My church had our annual VBS this past week and I attended the Friday night finale where the kids put on different “acts” and displayed some of the things they learned over the past week.  One of the things that warmed my heart was to see children present Friday night who were from ethnic groups that gave the assembly a more diverse makeup.  Now I don’t espouse diversity as those of a liberal persuason do, but I like it because it gives us a more realistic view of the heavenly city and kingdom that Jesus is building with people of every different tribe represented.  I think that is going to be a very beautiful sight to behold.  Any form of racism is idolatry pure and simple, and disregards the key understanding of all mankind as made in the image of God and for the Christian especially has the danger of elevating racial distinctions above the work of Christ on the cross.  We cannot give racial differences more emphasis than the Bible does.

Our preaching pastor has been preaching verse by verse through Colossians, and as providence would have it, he preached on Colossians 3:11 this past Sunday.

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

You can listen to his sermon here.

Also on this topic I’ll point you over to Desiring God blog where they are posting Piper’s series “The Meaning and Signifcance of Race”.  This series is teaching the “(un)importance of race”.  Here is an outline from the series. 

The Meaning and Significance of Race

Listen

1. Evolutionary theory of human origins encourages racist thinking about human groups.

  • Evolutionary theory: Humans came from lower life forms.
  • Why does this tend toward racism? It can cause you to think that other groups of humans can be explained by saying they are less evolved.

2. The biblical correlation of Adam and Christ as the heads of physical and spiritual humanities points to the unity of the human race.

  • Romans 5:12 ff
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
  • 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

3. Paul makes the common origin of humans the ground of equality and the end of ethnic arrogance (Acts 17:24-28).

4. The genetic differences between races are absolutely trivial.

5. Dealing with various groups justly follows from a common origin as creatures of the same God.

  • Job 31:13-15
  • Proverbs 22:2

Creation Museum Part 2

Posted in Christ and Culture,History,Origins by sosipater on May 31, 2007

I want to make a follow up post to my original creation museum post found here.  There is a great article in the Salon about the museum.  Not great because the writer was a Christian, or even believed anything proposed at the museum, but great because the writer exposed a couple of things and, seems to me, didn’t even know it.  Let me give you a couple of examples.

In the next scene, after the fall from grace, Adam and Eve, looking far less happy than before, are standing next to two lambs they have slaughtered on a sacrificial stone table. The sacrifice has a practical value — the original couple are now wearing lambskin suits and the lambs are skinless — and a spiritual one; the lambs are sacrificed, a visitor explains to me, in partial payment for the debt incurred by Adam and Eve for eating the fruit of knowledge. I tell the visitor it seems unfair for the lamb to pay for their mistake. “Well, it wasn’t enough,” he says. “God had to send his only Son to pay the ultimate price for their sin.” When I tell him that sounds kind of extreme, he looks at me and shakes his head slowly a couple of times before moving on.

Gordy (the article’s author) is exactly right, Jesus Christ dying on the cross was extreme!  Don’t you think the sinless son of God paying the penalty for sinners is extreme?  Gordy, its called extreme love.  And it makes me want to make much of a God who loves that much.

Next,

After the flood, Noah’s descendants multiply again on Earth, but not quickly or broadly enough to satisfy God, who then introduces a slew of new languages to drive people apart, resulting in their dispersal around the globe. The ensuing C-for-Confusion theme is represented through a gritty and menacing back alley postered with newspaper headlines about the rise in abortion, drug use, homosexuality and teen suicide.

The entire exhibit, in fact, is awfully grim. A montage slide show of fetuses, starving kids, swastikas, tourniquet-bound arms ready for the needle bombard the wall in a room with a soundtrack of blaring sirens, boots marching in unison, and crying kids.

Perhaps some of us need a “grim” reminder of the fact that evil and sin reign in the hearts of man, and that the only thing that can do anything about it is the extreme sacrifice of Jesus.  Really good article, I recommend it.  I would love to hear what you think, and what else you would have told Gordy Slack (is that a cool name or what?)

Creation Museum

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Origins by sosipater on May 29, 2007

The Answers in Genesis Creation Museum opened yesterday with fanfare, including walking and flying protestors.  What is the Creation Museum you might ask?  (that is, if you haven’t clicked on the link already).  Here it is from their website.

The Creation Museum presents a “walk through history.” Designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director, this state-of-the-art 60,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life.

A fully engaging, sensory experience for guests. Murals and realistic scenery, computer-generated visual effects, over fifty exotic animals, life-sized people and dinosaur animatronics, and a special-effects theater complete with misty sea breezes and rumbling seats. These are just some of the impressive exhibits that everyone in your family will enjoy.

I can’t wait to go!  For some further takes on the museum, I highly recommend this article from Russell Moore, “Closed Minds at the Creation Museum”.  Here is a snippet,

I suspect, in the end, that the humility of the Creation Museum’s presentation is precisely what worries some Darwinists. Some previous generations of creationists have spoken in ways that made it seem that the scientific data is on our side, that the debate can be won using the very same playing field as naturalism itself with an appeal to raw general revelation. The Creation Museum exhibits offer very little triumphalism of this sort. The exhibits quite often ask the questions “what if” and “could it be.” The exhibits honestly acknowledge that every viewpoint rests on some authority, with this viewpoint interpreting the data through the authority of divine revelation. The Museum designers also seem to understand that the debate with Darwinism will not be won ultimately with brute facts, but with an alternative narrative, a narrative that rings truer than the Darwinist story of a nature accidentally but perpetually red in tooth and claw.

I think this may be a point that we, as Christians, miss most of the time.  While our society clamors for the next thing to occupy their time, the next movie to grab and soar their imaginations, or the next thrill to move their heart, we have the person, story, and excitement that they are missing.  His name is Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.  But we have got to get around to telling them about Him, not just why their stories are wrong.  To see another article about the Museum that is somewhat funny to me, because the author’s bias is not too hidden, check out this article in the Times UK.  Happy Dinosaur hunting!

The Evolutionary Beat

Posted in Origins by sosipater on July 24, 2006

Check out this article from the Washington Post and see how absurd people can be.  This whole article does nothing to prove macro-evolution, just that people, within their own species, show evidence of changes over time.  Big deal.  Anyway, the funniest thing is the “morphing demonstration” from a lemur to Stephen Gould.  If that is the best evolutionists can do, then the future looks bright for ID & creationism.