I can say that the issue that separates worldviews in our day today comes down to this question. Is there a purpose for your existence? There isn't there. And if there is no God, I guarantee you, there is no purpose. And if there is no purpose, there is no God. But if there is a God, then there is a purpose. And if there is a purpose, then there must be a God. Why do you exist? Why are you here on this planet? These questions have challenged philosophers and theologians for millennia, and we live today in a time of great confusion, many young people searching for their identity, for their purpose, yet in a worldview that excludes God. Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. If we are to know who we are, we must know who God is.
And all week, R.C. Sproul is mining the riches of the book of Genesis to help us understand God's Word better. And today, he'll help us see our true purpose as those made in the image of God.
Here's Dr. Sproul. From dust to glory. When we consider that title for this survey and introduction of the Scriptures, I'm intrigued a little bit by the middle word, to.
From dust to glory. We use that word quite frequently in our language, don't we? We say something is from A to Z.
The Bible spoke of the region from Dan to Beersheba, for example. And normally, when we use this word, to, we're talking about a goal or an aim or a purpose. We're describing some kind of motion that has a starting point here and a destiny over there. And you recall in our study of Genesis 1 that in the first sentence of the Old Testament, we have the affirmation that there is a beginning point in time and in space, but that that which begins at a particular point in time and space is moving. Not just planets moving in their orbits, but history itself is moving.
It's moving to some designated point. And in the Hebraic concept of history, we're talking about history, which is inaugurated by the creative act of God, finds its goal and its consummation in the redemptive purpose of God. I'd like to tell a story about one of my granddaughters, who right now is about three years old, but as soon as she learned how to speak, my son began to teach her the children's catechism with very simple questions. Darby, who made you? And Darby would say, God made me. And he had all these questions. And the one that I liked the most, and I would ask Darby when she was two years old, Darby, why did God make you and all things? And Darby would simply say, for His glory.
And I just thought, I hope she never, ever, ever forgets that. That is, the question is the why question. Why a world?
Why people? Why history? For His glory. Now, when we use the word for, in this case, or the word to, we are engaging our minds with a very important idea, and that is the idea of purpose. Now, when we read the Scriptures, we are reading a book that is unfolding on every page a divine purpose for your existence, for my existence, and for the existence of this entire universe. Recently, I was on vacation with my wife, and I'm not accustomed to being in such a relaxed mode where there's, quote, nothing to do, because I've really found it impossible to do nothing.
I don't know what nothing is other than it is not, and so since it is not, I cannot do it. And so, I would say to my wife every day, what do you want to do today? What shall we do? I was asking a question about purpose. How shall we use this time? What should be our objective?
What should be our goal? Now, when we get into the story of the creation of mankind, at the end of chapter 1 of Genesis, in verse 21, we have this record, Genesis 1 21, and then God said, let us make man in our image according to our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all of the earth, over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God, He created him. Male and female, He created them. Do you see that here, just as in the opening line of the Old Testament, is a description of God's acting with a purpose? Within the Godhead, there's a conversation. Within the Trinity, there's an agreement. Within the Godhead, there's a plan for action, and it's not as though the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were on vacation, and one said to the other, well, what are we going to do today? But there is this statement of purpose coming from God Himself when God says, let's do something.
Let us now make man in our own image. Now again, this is such a simple statement here in Genesis that we may be inclined to skip over it quickly and fail to mark its profound significance. If there is any crisis in human thought and philosophy at the end of the 20th century, particularly in the Western world, it is a crisis that focuses on this word, purpose. And the crisis of purpose is bound together with the eclipse of the idea of divine creation, because implied within the idea of the very first line of Scripture that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth is this idea that the world and all that is in it is not an accident, but rather it has come to pass through an ordered intelligent decision of a supernatural being who has a purpose for everything that He does. But if we adopt the worldview that is common in our land today, we are instantly cut off from this whole idea of purpose, because what are we told? We are told that we are the product of the blind forces of chance. As one philosopher said it, we are grown-up germs who have fortuitously emerged from the slime.
We are cosmic accidents with no inherent purpose to our existence. That's why Albert Camus made the philosophical observation in the middle of the 20th century that there is only one serious question left for philosophers to consider, and that is the question of suicide, because suicide becomes an option when there is no answer to this question, why? The minute I believe that my life is without purpose and that history is without purpose and the universe itself is without purpose, if I'm thinking at all, I've got to ask the question, I've got to ask the question that Camus raised. Hamlet said it this way, to be or not to be, that is the question. And when he went on to muse over his own predicament, you know, to be or not to be, that's the question, whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or by opposing in them.
What was he asking? He said, here I am, thrown into my existence at this moment, and what faces me as far as I can see are the slings and arrows of what? Fortune. Outrageous fortune. That's a sophisticated Elizabethan way of considering human existence as being nothing but chance, that your life is a fortuitous event, and that's what the prevailing viewpoint in our culture is screaming to our children every single day. You're a cosmic accident. You're a grown-up germ.
You came from nothing. You're going to nothing, but keep a stiff upper lip when you face chance and fortune which is outrageous. But the question that is asked is a question of nobility, a question of virtue, whether it is nobler in the minds to suffer the slings and arrows of this outrageous fortune or by opposing in them. To die. That's the option. To die.
Then what? To sleep. Perchance to dream. Perchance to dream.
There's the rub. For in that dream of death, what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause. And there's the respect that makes calamity.
Though so long life. He's saying, what if there is something beyond? What if I am accountable? What if there was a purpose to my existence? What if it is more than an outrageous fortune in which I find myself? See, that question that reverberates in literature, in the film, in every cultural medium is the question of purpose. Who am I?
Why am I? The answer to that question is found here at the end of chapter 1, when God says, let us make man. That the act of the origin of human existence is the result of an intelligent decision of an eternal omniscient being who knows what he's doing.
And as Albert Einstein once remarked, doesn't play dice. What Einstein was saying is that the origin of the universe is not a crapshoot, but it is the work of a purposive deity. I can say that the issue that separates worldviews in our day to day comes down to this question. Is there a purpose for your existence? Or isn't there? And if there is no God, I guarantee you, there is no purpose. And if there is no purpose, there is no God. But if there is a God, then there is a purpose. And if there is a purpose, then there must be a God.
Even Aristotle understood that, or I should say especially Aristotle understood that. Let us create man in our own image. And so the Scripture tells us the origin of humanity. And the language that is used here in Genesis is a little bit difficult for us to comprehend because we're told that we are created in the image and the likeness of God.
Wow! After all of the earlier stages of creation where God makes the trees and makes the sunshine and divides the days and fills the water with fish and the air with birds and makes all different creeping things and all of these animals, and as He steps back and looks at what He has made, He pronounces His benediction on it and says, that's good. But He hasn't reached the pinnacle of His work yet until He says, after I have all these creatures and all of these denizens and all of these things teeming and filling the universe that I have made, I look and I see nothing that bears my image, nothing that has my likeness. And so God said, let's make one work of creation whose purpose is to be my image and to be my likeness.
I'm going to create a creature. I can't obviously create another God. Even God can't create another God because the second God would by definition be a creature.
He would be finite, dependent, derived, contingent and all the rest. That's one of the things that God can't possibly do. He can't clone Himself.
So I can't just reduplicate myself. I'm going to create a special work with a special capacity to be like me, to bear my image, to mirror and to reflect my glory, to display my character to the rest of creation. And I'm going to take this work of creation and give to it dominion over everything else so that all other things, all other creatures in this world will be subordinate to this One who is my image-bearer. And so God creates us in His image and in His likeness. Now, that does not mean that we are exactly as God is, but there is some point of analogy, some analogy of being, some way in which we as human creatures are like God. And the philosophers and theologians have speculated for centuries about precisely what it is that is comprised in this idea of the image of God.
And generally what is assumed is, well, at least part of what it means to be in the image of God is that God is an intelligent being. He is omniscient. He thinks. He is aware.
He's conscious. You look at Star Wars and that old movie that has the line in it over and over again, may the force be with you. Small comfort to have a force be with you.
What does that mean? An electric shock? Gravity? A tidal wave?
A volcanic eruption? Those are all manifestations of force. But we can conceive of force without intelligence. To be in the image of God means to be able to participate in this incredible phenomenon that we call thinking, reflecting, deciding, learning, knowing, reasoning. And we can't think like God thinks in the sense that we have omniscience or that we are infinite in our perspective.
No, not at all. But we have a point of similarity, a point of likeness. And not only that, but as His creation in His image, we are also made as moral creatures. We're going to be studying next the story of the fall in the Old Testament, the grand tragedy, if you will, of human history. But the one thing that is required for a fall into moral corruption is that there must be a moral nature to start with. When the rain falls from the heavens and the drops of water hit the earth, we don't speak of this as sin. We don't think of this as a moral fall or as a matter of corruption.
An object falls to the ground. It's just obeying the laws of nature, of gravity at that point. But when we're talking about creation and redemption, the grand problem that is being resolved in the scope of biblical history is the problem of a moral fall. But for there to be a problem of a moral fall, first there must be a moral creature. And so when God makes us, He not only makes us as intelligent beings, as thinking beings, as rational beings, but He gives to us a will. He gives us emotions so that we can make decisions and engage in actions that are of a moral kind. There's nothing moral or immoral about the rolling of a stone or the blowing of the wind because the wind has no consciousness.
The wind is merely a force. In a word, what is lacking is personality. But when God creates and creates creatures in His own image, He makes them persons. You are a person, and you understand, though you may not be able to articulate philosophically what personality involves and what it is precisely, you know what it means when you hear the Word.
You know that you are a person and all of what is engaged in that dynamic concept of personality. But the personality that God initiates and ordains in creation is not one-dimensional. It's not unisexual.
It's not androgynous. But He creates these people, male and female, so that even within the human sphere of creation, God creates a setting for a relationship that is magnificent between a male and a female. And He empowers and endows these persons with a unique capacity to mirror and to reflect the very glory of God. I think that we often miss the point of this story of creation because we're told in Genesis that the whole process of creation takes place in seven days. And something different and unique happens on each day of creation. And the consummate day for the Jew is never the sixth day. It is always the seventh day. So that the ultimate day is the seventh day, the penultimate day is the sixth day, and what day are we made?
Not on the seventh, but on the sixth, because the seventh day is hallowed. It's made sacred. And I think in that very act, in that very work of creation, God is saying something to those creatures that He makes on the sixth day. He's telling us something about our purpose, that you as a person made in the image of God have been made for that which is sacred. You have been made for that which is holy. You have been made to reflect His glory. We so need to be reminded of that truth and not be influenced by the confusion and the purposelessness of the world. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind.
I'm Nathan W. Bingham. Today's message is from R.C. Sproul's Dust to Glory series. It's a series of three series of three series of three series of three series of three series of three series of three series of three series of three series of three series of three series of R.C. Sproul's Dust to Glory series. It's his complete overview of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It's a 57-message series, and it can be yours for your donation of any amount. When you give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org, we'll send you the special 8-DVD set as well as giving you digital access to all of the messages and the study guide.
So give your gift at renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800-435-4343. Another resource to aid you in your study of the Bible is the Reformation Study Bible. Dr. Sproul was the general editor, and it contains over 1.1 million words of verse-by-verse and topical explanations. You can learn more about the Reformation Study Bible at reformationstudybible.com.
There's also a student edition available, which is a wonderful gift for recent grads before they head to college. So visit reformationstudybible.com. At the end of Genesis 1, God saw everything that he made and declared it was very good, but it didn't stay that way. So join us tomorrow as Dr. Sproul considers the fall of man here on Renewing Your Mind. .
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