The Portrait & the Painter: The Image of God in Man (A Study in the Doctrine of Man and Sin)

INTRODUCTION:

Let’s talk art. I for one have no real artistic ability. I can’t paint. I can’t draw. Even my stick figures leave something to be desired. I remember when I was younger, my father and I used to watch Bob Ross paint on TV. And we’d watch him (with that amazing head of hair), and within 30 minutes, he’d take a blank, empty canvass, and create a whole beautiful landscapewith just a few strokes of his brush. And we’d watch him; and after a time we said, ‘Yeah, we could do that. We’ve learned enough, he makes it look so easy. We can paint.’ So we went to the craft store and we got some paint and some brushes and an easel and some canvass and we proved that we are in fact liars. We couldn’t paint. We didn’t have the skill to paint. We didn’t have the patience to develop the craft of painting.

Despite that, still, while I’m no artist, nor am I any kind of connoisseur of art in any of its forms (I honestly can’t tell you the last time I went into a museum). Still, there are times that I’ve seen a piece of art that was so perfect that it just stopped me cold. That’s what art is supposed to do. The whole point of creating a piece of art is to create something that will get a reaction. To create an image so striking that it forces the audience to stop, and think. I’m sure many of you have seen pictures of the paintings that cover the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. I remember seeing pictures in the seventh grade; all those amazing images that Michelangelo painted so many years ago of God, and Adam, and Moses, and Jesus Christ. I could look at those paintings for hours. But my favorite painting is one by a man named Norman Rockwell.

Norman Rockwell was an artist most widely known for his work painting the covers for the Saturday Evening Post. He began his career with them all the way back in 1916 and painted over 300 covers for that publication over the next 50 years. Rockwell was celebrated for his realistic painting style, and criticized for his optimistic, overly idealized portrayal of American suburban life; often painting scenes of families around dinner tables and grown-ups caring for small children. But in 1960 the Post was running a feature on Rockwell himself, to coincide with the release of his autobiography, and they asked him to paint a self portrait for the cover of that issue. Rockwell painted three.

His painting, titled Triple Self-Portrait, featured Rockwell sitting on a stool, looking over at a mirror, while painting himself in the canvas. But what makes the painting so brilliant is that everywhere you look, you see a different version of Rockwell. The painter has his back to us, so you can’t quite see him. He’s looking over into the mirror in which you can see the reflection of his head; but the glasses he’s wearing are all fogged up. And that’s fitting because the face of the man that he’s painting, the face you see on the canvass, is much younger and much more charming than he is. And so you have Rockwell. Rockwell the painter, Rockwell the subject, and Rockwell the ideal. But one thing I hadn’t noticed, and have a YouTube video to thank for pointing out to me is that at the moment this painting was finished, there were four versions of Rockwell. There was the painter, the subject, the ideal, and Norman Rockwell the man who created all three of those images.

As we go through this lesson, my aim is to show you that the image of God in man has no one definition. Like Rockwell’s painting it takes many forms, but that same image, in all its forms, is meant to point us toward that one, true, perfect image of God in which we were created. That image being our Lord, and our Savior Jesus Christ.

THE FALSE IMAGE:

In our first two lessons on this doctrine, we’ve seen a number of false images of man, haven’t we? Both Pastor Bob and our Brother, Stephen, have shown us a whole laundry list of ways in which mankind has sought to define man beyond the plain truth laid out for us in God’s holy book. Their first goal being to deny the very existence of God with the development of Secular Humanism, as Bob taught us is the introduction. Through that development, God is reduced to myth while man is raised up and regarded as the supreme being in the known universe. Once man is raised to such heights, man then seeks to go further and, as the new supreme being, define on their own terms the true purpose of man.

We’ve seen this take many forms, with the Pragmatists who defined man according to his value in what he could offer society. The Marxists who believed the opposite, that man was actually defined by his place within that society. The Fatalists who believe that we have no purpose in the universe; that we are merely a part of a process which leads us from dust to dust, but without the Alpha and Omega as the purpose. And of course, the Libertarians, who believe that all men are free agents and that all men have the right to determine their own course and make their own free choices. It seems as though the further along we go the more man wants to redefine the nature of man as something more and more individualistic.

Last week, however, we saw the view of man which is probably the most prevalent in our culture today (if not, it will be soon); that being the Materialists. Those who believe that we are the product of an evolutionary process; one that is ongoing and one that tells us,‘that which we were, we are not still, and that which we are, we will not be in the future.’ The monkey becomes a man, and man becomes something else.

I for one believe in evolution. I believe that what man was, he is not; and that which man is, he will not be in the future. Of course, I do not believe in Darwinian evolution. I do not believe that that ape is our progenitor, but Adam. I believe in a biblical idea of evolution, one that comes in four distinct stages, or four images. The Created Image, The Fallen Image, The Redeemed Image, and The Glorified Image.

So as we continue to look through these four images of man, we’ll be looking at them characteristically to show the distinctions between them. But we’ll also be looking at them relationally. Ever since creation, man has been a relational being; an interactive being. Those primary relationships of man being the Divine Relationship; how we relate to God. The Communal Relationship; how we relate to our fellow man. And the Natural Relationship; how we relate to nature. And as we go through these, you should see not only the definitional differences between them, but also the ways in which those relationships change.

THE CREATED IMAGE:

So let’s begin by looking at the Created Image. In the creation account given to us in Genesis chapter 1 we read that, “In the beginning God created the heaven’s and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Then the bible continues to recount those first six days of active creation, as God creates the oceans, and the land, and the birds, and the stars. And then, on the sixth day, after creating the beasts of the earth we read these verses beginning with verse 26.

Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 God created man in His own image, in the image God He created him; male and female He created them.

28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The Uniqueness of His Image

Now, the first thing that we have to see here in this text is that The Created Image of man is a unique image. It is a special image. It has importance; we could even call it a holy image in so far as it is truly set apart from all other created things. That is, after all, one of the primary definitions of the word ‘holy’; to be ‘set apart’. There are many things we see in the text that show us this.

First, these verses about the creation of man are much different than those things which God created in the previous verses. In verses 1-25, we read about God creating light (verse 3), the sky (verse 6), the oceans and the dry land (verse 9), plants (verse 11), birds and fish (verse 20), and the animals (verse 24). And in every instance God simply says, “Let there be,” or “Let the waters teem,” or “Let the earth bring forth.” These are mere statements of creation, and they come to pass because God is the Creator. But then, in verse 26, we now see this peculiar statement, “Let us make man”. We looked at this briefly last week, but I really want us to stop for a moment and consider what this is telling us.

In the creation of all other things, all other things, God is referred to as a singular Being. The One Being of God has created everything else in the universe at this point. But then, there’s a pause, and God, no longer simply referred to as a single Being, but as a divine and plural Council of Persons creates man. Why the change? Well, I believe we can get a pretty good explanation if we look in the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:11-12

11 [In Him] also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the council of His will,

12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

Everything that God had created up to this point (the heavens, the earth, the animals), He created according to His will, but now, at this point, at this moment in time, God was about to create the one creature through whom He would be most glorified. That creature being Adam, a man created in the image of God, through whom God would multiply, and from which God would elect a people chosen before the foundations of the earth to be redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Importance of His Image

Next thing we see, in addition to that amazing truth, is that this man would also bear the image of God, Himself. God doesn’t create anything else according to his image. All the natural things of the world were just called into existence essentially. Light, sky, land, moons, stars; God simply says ‘exist,’ and they exist. All forms of life show a change in their creation, but how are they created and in what image are they created? Verse 24 back in Genesis says, “Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so” (Genesis 1:24). Verse 21, “God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind” (Genesis 1:21). Even plant life, verse 11, “Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind”” (Genesis 1:11). All life bears the image of its kind here on earth, but man has that unique privilege of bearing the image of his own creator.

Then we see God declare this creation of man differently. God saw the light he created and declared that it was good (Genesis 1:4). God considered the earth and the seas that He made and He said that they were good (Genesis 1:10). God saw the plants and the animals and the trees and the fields and the birds and the beasts and the sun and the stars and He says that they are good (Genesis 1). But then we come to Genesis 1:31, and there’s another change in the pattern where it says that, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). What was called good without man is called very good with man.

Now, in the past, I’ve heard this explained two different ways. Some say that God declares His creation “very good” at this point because man was His greatest creation. And I’ve heard others say that the phrase “very good” is used at this point because God’s work is finished, and the results of all His work are “very good”. But consider for a moment what we’re examining here. Maybe it’s neither, and a little of both. I would offer to you that the reason why God declares the work of His hands to be “very good” at the end of the sixth day isn’t merely because the creation was complete, nor was it because man was now present within it, but it was because the Image of God was now present within it.

From this moment forward. From all the time spent in the garden, throughout the entirety of Old Testament history and straight through the birth of the church and on into eternity future, the image of God will always be present on the earth. The image of God is established on the earth at this moment of creation, and it is never undone. That’s one of the primary functions of man, to fill the earth. Verse 28 says, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28), but what are we filling the earth with? Are we just filling this place with people? Is it just a high population God wants? No.

Q: So, I’ll ask you, what is it that should truly fill the earth? (A: The Glory of God! (Isaiah 6:3, “[The Seraphim] called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.””)

The Fellowship of His Image

Another thing to point out about the Created Image of man is in its being created both male and female. Verse 27 says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). This is important. It’s important because this is still chapter 1. We haven’t gotten to chapter 2 yet. In chapter 2, the bible goes into much more detail about Adam (male) being created first, and the purpose and the circumstances that then led to the creation of Eve (female). Men and women are not the same. Several times we read in scripture about the different roles for men and women within the church and within marriage. There are several statements in the scriptures about conduct for men and the conduct of women, and they often differ. But there’s none of that to be found here in Genesis 1. There’s nothing about headship or submission or gender roles. Here we simply read, “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

What this means, is that though there is a purpose for God creating us as males and females, and although those differences have important biblical and practical implications for us as Christian men and women; the bible is clear that all of mankind, both men and women, bear the image of God. There is no gender, or race which we can claim bears an image that is less than any other.

But a question we should consider here is the question of God creating man as a plurality. Does the notion that God said, “Let Us make man,” imply the creation of man as both male and female? Is there a sense in which ‘man’ can not represent the full image of God unless there is ‘woman’ present? Well, as is usually the case with these easy questions, the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ The doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches us that Jesus Christ was both fully God, and fully man. Jesus was God; The Gospel of John is very clear about Jesus, the Logos or the ‘Word existing in the beginning with God’. But the bible also tells us that He ate and He slept and He drank and He wept. Jesus was a man. So we have to ask, was Jesus less than the full image of God without woman? Colossians 1:15 reads this way, talking about Christ, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”; further in verse 19, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:15 & 19). If the fullness of the image of God could be present in Christ, it’s because man was created to bear that image. But, is that enough for us to say that man bears the image of God alone? Well, as we saw earlier, God is a God of fellowship. Back in our study of the attributes of God, Bob took us through a study in the Solitariness of God. And one of the main points of that study was that God, and the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit is absolutely and completely self satisfied. God requires nothing outside of that holy union with which to be satisfied. His internal fellowship is a beautiful part of what makes God, God. So too are His creation. The fact that God has made us male and female doesn’t tell us that we are an incomplete image without one another, but it does tell us that we can’t properly demonstrate that image outside the fellowship of others.

The Image As Demonstrated Through His Attributes

It’s occurring to me that I could go on all day about the image of God in man as he was created, but I simply must press on. But let me just say a couple more things about the Created Image. First, since we’ve already talked about the attributes of God; there were several attributes that we saw in that study that we defined as communicable attributes (those which could be passed on). The reason that those attributes could be passed on was because we, as the image of God, have been created to display those attributes. Attributes such as love, mercy, faithfulness, goodness, holiness; all of these attributes were meant to be displayed through us. They’re meant to be displayed through you. That’s the image that you bear, the image of God. So as we go into the next section in a minute; just keep in mind that this was the starting point. In the garden, with Adam and Eve; this was the image that was on display, and this was the image that was broken.

The Relationships of The Created Image

And finally, on the created image, I wanted to talk about those relationships. As we saw earlier, man is a relational being. And we want to look briefly at the way created man related to God, to man, and to nature. All of these relationships, I believe, can be boiled down to one word, “with”. Man was created to have a relationship with God. Likewise, he was created to have a relationship with mankind, and also to have a relationship with nature. All of these relationships were active, not passive. Man was placed in the garden (Genesis 2:8); God was also present in the garden (Genesis 3:8). It says, in Genesis 3:9 that God “called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”” (Genesis 3:9), as if God was expecting Adam to be present with Him. When Eve ate the forbidden fruit in verse 6, it says that, “she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). She didn’t take the fruit to him; she didn’t have to go looking for him. He was already there, with her. And when man was placed in the garden, the bible tells us that, “God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Don’t just pick fruit and run; stay, tend to the garden, care for it, be active. These relationships were all present in man as he was created, and they were blessed relationships. Of course, that all changed after the fall.

THE FALLEN IMAGE:

Now we’ll look at the Fallen Image of man. In that process of biblical evolution that I mentioned earlier; this is, sadly, the furthest that many will ever get in the process. When God created man, man was sinless. Man was righteous. Man was holy. But God, in His wisdom, determined that man would have the possibility to fall into sin. Now, this is a bit of a mystery because we aren’t told much about the Created Image of man in regards to sin in the bible. But we can make some biblical assumptions.

First is that man, having been described along with all of creation as being “very good” (Genesis 1:31), would seem to indicate that man, as he was created, was without sin. Second, as we’ve seen in past lessons, God is not the author of sin. We reject any notion that God, being Holy and all wise could have any capacity for sin, or be the author of it. Three, the result is that if God was sinless, and man was sinless, but man fell into sin; then God must have made man with some changeableness that was present in his created state. In other words, if God is unchangeable, then man must be changeable. And finally, This changeableness was not a part of the image of God, but was merely a limitation of it. The Created Image was not a perfect image.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession, on the creation of man, would seem to reaffirm what we’ve just said:

“After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, rendering them fit unto that life to God for which they were created; being made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change.

– London Baptist Confession 4.2

For the Created Image, sin was a mere possibility until that terrifying day that it became a reality. God gave the command to man, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Death didn’t exist in the Created Image. The chief end of man, all men, even Adam was to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But Adam fell, and he changed, and he became disobedient. And in eating of the tree, Adam died. But he didn’t die all at once. He died spiritually in an instant but he didn’t die physically for another 930 years.

This is where we see a shift from the image of God as being a single, identifiable quality; and instead see the image split, seemingly having two separate aspects; those aspects being the structural aspect and the functional aspect. As we said earlier, we defined the Created Image of man as being created to be sinless, holy, righteous and one which would have a relationship with God. Fallen man no longer bears those qualities. He is sinful, wicked, unrighteous and completely separated from God. Yet after the fall we read passages like Genesis 9:6; “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). Or In the book of James which tells us, “With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9).

The bible clearly tells us to regard men, one and all, as still bearing the image of God, even though we know that there are a number of qualities of that image which are no longer present within them. The qualities that they still posses, that structural aspect of the image of God, would include all the qualities that we’d regard as secondary. The bible tells us that all men know of the Creator through creation (Romans 1); that would be a structural quality of the image of God, but not everyone knows Him as their Lord and their Savior. That’s the functional aspect; a primary quality of the image of God. That’s the very purpose of creating man in His image; so that man would be able to fully know Him and worship Him and glorify Him. The holiness, righteousness, intimate knowledge, obedience are all those functional qualities for which we were designed. All the others, the structural qualities, wisdom, understanding, the conscience knowledge of right and wrong; even fallen men bear those qualities. Those are the qualities that can make men very religious, but unsaved.

The Created Image was an obedient image, but the Fallen Image is self serving and wicked. Genesis 6:5 defined the hearts of fallen men this way, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). What did we say that we were to fill the earth with? The glory of God. But what does the bible say that we fill the earth with? Again in Genesis 6, “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). To understand the image of God as it was to be present in man and then to see the reality after the fall, it’s no wonder God sent the flood. Man set himself against God, and God answered.

That’s how we can understand the relationships of the Fallen Image. It’s a “Vs.” relationship. We are no longer ‘with’ anything, but against. It’s man vs. God, and man vs. man, and man vs. nature. After the fall in the garden, God cursed man and cast him right out of the garden. His firstborn son killed his second-born son and the ground was filled with thorns. And that’s one way we know that man is indeed still the image-bearer of God; because he’s still being held to the same standard of an image-bearer of God. The same standard given to Adam is the same standard given to us all. Sinners are cast out. We’re given a law and we break it. We never live up to that standard, but we’re held to it just the same. What can we do?

THE REDEEMED IMAGE:

Luckily, we don’t do anything. God has already done something. God is the Doer, and the Creator, and the Author. We could even say He’s the Painter. And in the act of painting, a painter doesn’t just run his brush across the canvass once and come out with a painting. No, a painting is a series of layers. The artist will paint a background first; then they’ll add those elements that can be seen in the distance, then they’ll start to focus on the subject. And with each new layer of paint, the painting changes. The original painting was “very good”; that is until man spilled sin on it, and now God is at work fixing it. He’s changing the painting. He’s working to restore it, not just to its original image, but into something even better.

The Redeemed Image of man is that next layer. The fall of man was no surprise to God. It was decreed by God before He even created the world. And along with the fall, He also decreed that He would elect a chosen group of people that He would save from that fall. The means by which He does this is through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. As we’ve already seen, Christ came, and was the image of God. He reflected the image of God without the corruption of sin. And through His death, our sin is removed. But this is not done all at once. There is a process that God uses, and through this process, we are transformed to become more and more like Him. It’s a process of renewal, and restoration, and sanctification. The bible speaks of this often.

Romans 8:29

29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

2 Corinthians 3:18

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

And what we’re talking about here is that functional aspect of the image of God. While we still reflect the glory of God through His image structurally, our functional image was dead, and had to be renewed. And as it is renewed by the Spirit, that functional aspect begins to awaken within us, and as it does, we begin to reflect the glory of God in new ways. There are other passages that talk in more detail about what this process looks like, and what its results are:

Ephesians 4:20-24

20 But you did not learn Christ in this way,

21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,

22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,

23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Colossians 3:9-10

9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him-

In 2 Corinthians it says that, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As we are being transformed we are, in fact, new creatures. And those new creatures are being renewed to display what? Holiness, righteousness, and true knowledge. The image is returning to its former glory, but it does not happen instantaneously. It’s changing, and adapting. It is, in a way, evolutionary. In his book Created in God’s Image, Anthony Hoekema puts it like this:

The image of God in this sense is not static but dynamic. It is the pattern according to which our lives are being renewed by the Holy Spirit, and the eschatological goal toward which we are moving. We should think of the image of God in this sense, therefore, not as a noun but as a verb: we no longer image God as we should; we are now being enabled by the Spirit to image God more and more adequately; some day we shall image God perfectly.

– Anthony A. Hoekema – Created in God’s Image

So this Redeemed Image of God has a relationship that I would define with the word ‘towards’. The Fallen Image of man was against God, he was away from and out of the presence of God, but now, just as we define ‘Repentance’ as a change of mind or direction, so too does the Redeemed Image have that very quality. We now walk a path that is ever towards our Creator. We walk according to His word. Psalm 119:35 says, “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it” (Psalm 119:35). This Redeemed Image will display obedience, and communion with God. It will also direct us toward our fellow man and toward nature in new ways. The Redeemed Image will no longer seek only for itself, but for others. It will display love and care for its neighbors. It will be a faithful steward of all that God has entrusted to it. That being said; the Redeemed Image is not a sinless image, but it’s getting closer. But closer to what?

THE GLORIFIED IMAGE:

The final stage in our evolution. The final coat of paint will take place when Christ returns in glory to judge the world, and God creates the new heavens and the new earth. And on that day, we will be conformed completely to the image of God. In a moment we will be changed into the unchangeable. We will be completely without sin; both the stain of it and the capacity for it. We will be remade in the Glorified Image of God.

1 Corinthians 15:49-52

49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

51 Behold, I l tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,

52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

But what does this look like beyond the mere physicality of it? What does it mean to be in a glorified state? Well, in this case, I want us to look at the relationship first; because our relationship to God is one in which we are, once again, with Him and glorifying Him. But more than that, it’s God ‘and’ man. This relationship isn’t just one of fellowship, but one of unity. God is unified with His Bride. Man is of one Body; man and man are unified in Christ. Even nature will be in a harmonious relationship with man. Isaiah 11:6 says, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). God, and man, and nature in this perfect harmony; all adversaries removed.

Add to that, we will not simply dwell with God in the new creation; we are ruling with God. God rules, and His people rule in the new creation. We don’t assume that we will rule this world as independent from God, but that we will rule it with Him. The author of the book of Hebrews makes that point to us while quoting from Psalm 8 in chapter 2:

Hebrews 2:5-8

5 For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.

6 But one has testified somewhere, saying, “WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM?

7 YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;

8 YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

The apostle, Paul writes something similar to the church at Corinth:

1 Corinthians 6:2-3

2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?

3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?

We may not fully know what this rule will look like, nor can we fully know much about the new creation. But we do know that this will be an eternal state in which we are given the glorious privilege of enjoying a pure and holy union with our everlasting Lord, and that we will glorify God in a new age without end.

Ephesians 2:4-7

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

THE PERFECT IMAGE:

When we looked at Rockwell’s painting, we saw that all three of the images in his self portrait were all meant to represent parts of himself. Still, all of them were meant to point us to the one true man known as Norman Rockwell. Likewise, as we conclude, all four images of man that we’ve seen today all bear the image of God; albeit differently and dynamically. But they, too, were all meant to point us toward that Perfect Image of God; that being the Man who was God, Jesus Christ. Several verses in the Bible talk about Christ as the image of God:

2 Corinthians 4:3-4

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Hebrews 1:3

3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

John 14:8-9

8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

It is this Perfect Image that we are to reflect. As we saw earlier; at some point, this is the image we will reflect. It was this Image that gave Himself in love, through death, that we might live. If we are to bear this image, then we are to display this kind of love. Listen, there’s a lot of good information in this study. A lot of profound truths. But if you want to apply this study to your life, then I would urge you to consider the image in which you were created; the image of God, and to bear that image in love toward your neighbors. 1 John tells us, “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). I’d like to close this study now with a quote by John Calvin to this point:

We are not to consider that men merit of themselves but to look upon the image of God in all men, to which we owe all honor and love. … Therefore, whatever man you meet who needs your aid, you have no reason to refuse to help him. … Say, “he is contemptible and worthless “; but the Lord shows him to be one to whom he has designed to give the beauty of His image. … Say that he does not deserve even your least effort for his sake; but the image of God, which recommends him to you, is worthy of your giving yourself and all your possessions.

• John Calvin – The Institutes III.7.6

Amen!

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