Share This Episode
The Daily Platform Bob Jones University Logo

1693. Imaging God In The World

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2024 6:00 pm

1693. Imaging God In The World

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 679 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

January 24, 2024 6:00 pm

Seminary professor Dr. Greg Stiekes continues a series about the doctrine of man called “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.” The scripture passage is from Genesis 1:26-27.

The post 1693. Imaging God In The World appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.


Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform.

We're continuing a study of the doctrine of man called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Greg Stikes and Caleb Benson will introduce him. We're privileged to have continuing our doctrinal theme series this morning, Dr. Greg Stikes.

Greg has become a personal friend. I've fallen in love with his view of life and his sense of humor. God has equipped him in amazing ways to contribute the ways that he does to our campus. God walked him through his educational journey while also walking him through pastoring. And I think that brings an incredible perspective on theological training and ministry. He did an undergraduate degree and a master's degree here, but he did those in speech.

And so he's incredibly eloquent. God then led him on to teach at Northland. And then during that time, he completed a Master of Divinity degree, became youth pastor at Fourth Baptist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. God led him on to pastor and during that time, he did a PhD. He teaches courses in New Testament and worship here. And I know you'll be encouraged as he leads us to the word of God this morning. Give Dr. Greg Stikes a warm welcome. Thank you so much, Dr. Benson. I think my life just flashed before my eyes, actually, and all that he was saying. I hope you're doing well today.

I'm really thankful to be able to participate in the series. One of the things that's supposed to be said is probably the greatest genius of the Renaissance. I don't know how much you know about Leonardo, but you probably would recognize the pictures of the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa.

And that shows what a master he was. I mean, 500 years or more since he's been dead, and yet the world over knows about these paintings. But Leonardo's most well-known pieces of art is just a sketch that you might also recognize. It's the drawing of a figure that he called the Vitruvian Man. Now, this is the Christian University version of the Vitruvian Man that Leonardo apparently sketched some years after the original. But the Vitruvian Man was a drawing of a human male with exact specifications based upon the ancient writings of the Roman architect Vitruvius.

Vitruvius believed that the specifications of the perfect human were mathematically consistent. Vitruvius said that the height of the man is the length of the outstretched arms, and the width of his shoulders is one quarter his height, and so is the distance from his elbow to the end of his hand. Four fingers make a palm, six palms make a cubit, four cubits make the height of a man. From the chin to the nose and from the nose to the hairline are equal measurements.

I know that doesn't work for some of you. Standing with his feet together and arms outstretched, he fits perfectly into a square, and stretching out his legs and arms, he fits perfectly into a circle with his belly button exactly in the center of the circle. And we could go on. But Leonardo da Vinci read Vitruvius' writings about 1500 years after him and attempted to capture the human symmetry in this drawing, because what stood behind these mathematical intricacies was the idea that the human form corresponded to the universe. And just as the universe had been perfectly designed, so human beings had been perfectly designed, with equally precise measurements and fractions. Thus, the human form was a representative of the divine will, a representation of the perfection with which God had created the world. To look upon the human form was to look upon the infinite wisdom and genius of God. I wonder if Leonardo realized how close he was to the truth, because as our series title reminds us, the Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Fearful refers to something that causes us to step back in awe, and wonderful refers to something that is set apart or unique or special. But the thing that makes human beings fearfully and wonderfully made above and beyond anything else is not our physical form, but the fact that we are actually created by God in His own image. And as image bearers, we are put here by God in this world to reflect His image, to reveal who He is among ourselves and for everything else that God created. I know we often hear that we are created in the image of God.

That's not news to you. But have you ever considered God's genius and wisdom behind this decision? What made God decide to create us this way? We begin to see an answer when we look at the Genesis creation account.

If your Bible is there, you can turn here, but I'm going to show you the text on the screen as well. God says in Genesis 1 verse 26, let us make man, Adam, human beings. Let us make humans in our image after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle and over all the earth and over everything that creepeth upon the earth. So, verse 27, God created man in His own image. In the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.

Let's observe two things here. First of all, human beings, men and women, are not merely one of many wonderful things that God created when He made the world. We are actually at the top of the pile. We are at the crescendo of the climax of the entire symphony of God's creation. Second, the way we were created is special.

If you read the creation account throughout God's creative work in Genesis 1, God always declares something to be so. Let there be light. Let there be a firmament. Let the dry land appear. Let the earth bring forth grass.

Let there be birds flying above the earth. Let the earth bring forth creatures. These are God's declarations about what is to be and creation always responds in obedience and brings forth. However, for the first time in the creation story, when we come to verse 26, God speaks to Himself. He says, let us make humankind in our image after our likeness. And we know that this creature is going to be unique because God is having a conversation about it before it happens. He plans the creation of human beings in verse 26 and then He carries out that plan in verse 27. God finishes all of His glorious creation and He says to Himself, let's create special creatures that are unlike any other to rule over all that we have made and let's create them to hold our image so that they will reflect the glory of God to the rest of creation.

So we were created, both male and female, with a unique purpose by God. Created in His own image, in His likeness. Now, people commonly ask, what does it mean that we are created in the image of God?

And I'm afraid when it comes to that topic, there are actually more questions than answers. Some say that the image of God has to do with the fact that we rule over the earth. I mean, if you look at verse 26 there, it says that as soon as God makes human beings, He wants them to have dominion over the earth. But it doesn't say that dominion is what this image of God is actually.

In fact, imaging and ruling could be different things. Others, including some notable theologians, actually say that maybe God has the physical image in mind when He says, let's make God, or let's make man after our image. But the view here is kind of hard to square with what the rest of the Bible says about God being a spirit.

I mean, the Bible literally calls God the invisible God. Others recognize the fact that we humans, above all other creatures, have an ability to reason and make choices and create in a way that mimics God's creative, infinite genius. To problem solve, to invent amazing things, to make intellectual choices. Or the fact that there is a universal sense among human beings of right and wrong.

There's a moral compass in the world. There's also the observation that we share a unique ability to communicate with one another, with speech, on a highly intelligent level. We have the ability to love one another and commune with one another on an intimate level. And we're given the ability to commune with God. All of these ideas have been suggested as manifestations of being made in God's image, but they are just that. They're suggestions, they're inferences from what we see in the world and what we see in the scripture. Because the Bible never comes out and describes explicitly what being made in God's image is.

And it's even more baffling when we consider the fact that God is still infinitely other than we are. When we read God's challenge to his people in Isaiah 40, to whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare unto him? To whom then will you liken me or shall I be equal, set the holy one? God doesn't answer this question by saying, well, humankind!

I made you in my image after all, don't you remember? That's not what God responds here. Whatever God means by making us in his image, we are still a dim reflection compared to the majesty and power and wisdom and glory of God. At the same time, we all understand that there is something unique about us that makes us different than all of the other creation. Something in the way God decided to create us that sets us apart.

And we could have this conversation for a long time and look at all the things the Bible says, but it may actually cause us to miss the whole point. Why did God create us in his image? God created us in his image so that we would image him in the world, so that we would flesh him out, so that we would be in some sense an incarnation of God in the world. One Old Testament scholar likens our being made in God's image to the image that Nebuchadnezzar put in the land of Babylon to represent him in Daniel chapter 3.

You remember the story. This is the image that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I mean this isn't here the image, but it's like the image that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was told to bow to. And when you read the story in Daniel 3, you might picture that Nebuchadnezzar puts a statue of himself up, but historians think it's actually like this obelisk.

It was actually described as being 90 feet tall and about 9 feet wide. But the word that describes Nebuchadnezzar's image is the same word that we read back in Genesis 1 when it says that God created us in his image. And the idea in Daniel 3 is that because Nebuchadnezzar wanted his whole kingdom, his whole empire to understand who he was and that he was present there even though he couldn't be everywhere, he put up images to represent him throughout the kingdom. Another scholar, a New Testament scholar, likens the image to the idol that you might have found in a temple in the ancient world.

You go into the temple to worship and if you want to know what sort of god or goddess you're worshiping, there would be a statue or an image of the deity in the temple for you to discover something about God. Well that's really an interesting way of looking at it because in a profound sense, when God created Adam in his image and he placed him then in the garden, it was like he was placing him in a temple to serve him and worship him alongside of his wife whom he created in his image from Adam. And when we come to the end of the Bible, we find that the new earth in Genesis 21 and 22, for those who know the Lord and will live with him forever, the whole earth has become a temple where the image of God, in other words human beings who are bought with the blood of Christ, are scattered throughout the world imaging their creator to the glory of God. This is the whole point of our being made in God's image. All that God has created us to be.

Our ability to rule, the dexterity we have with our bodies, our ability to reason and make choices, our sense of morality and goodness, our capacity for love and community at the least. These are God's gifts to us so that we can image God to the world, so that we can flesh him out, so that people can look at us and be reminded what God is like. Now it's no secret that our ability to image God has been greatly compromised in the fall. Human beings are still made in God's image even after sin entered into the world. In fact, God refers to our being made in his image in Genesis 9 6, which is after he had to destroy the world because of sin.

That means that all human beings are still born into the world with the calling to image God in the world. But we're broken images. Our ability to image God has been diminished by sin, and I don't think I need to take the time this morning to demonstrate this.

We all know. Every part of humanity that may express what it means to be made in God's image is damaged. Our mind, will, emotions, our physical bodies, our whole person has been corrupted by sin. Political power corrupts the hearts of rulers. People use their intelligence for good, but also for evil.

Even though we know the right thing to do, we often do the wrong thing instead. Even though people love, they often love the wrong things, or they love in the wrong way, or they love for the wrong reasons, it means that we have a diminished capacity for representing God in the world. However, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, who perfectly imaged God during his time on this earth, by the way, if you have trusted his death for your sins and his resurrection, and you are a child of God, there is great news for you.

God has already begun within you to restore your ability to image him to the world. And you've got to see this in scripture. It's part of the apostle Paul's theology of the new creation that he talks about in several of his letters, but I want to just look this morning at Ephesians for just a second. Ephesians chapter 1 starting in verse 9, Paul says in these verses, now watch this, the good pleasure of God in all he's doing is that in the dispensation of the fullness of time, he might gather in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him. God's plan for the ages is to unite all things in and through the salvation provided through Jesus Christ. In other words, God is going to take the shattered pieces of the fallen world and put them back together again. Not like taking a broken vase and super gluing the pieces together, but by making a whole new creation that is better than what we started with. Well, how is God going to do that? He starts by restoring his image.

So he says in chapter 2, and you have he quickened. In other words, brought to life. Who were dead in trespasses and sins, wherein in time past he walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, among whom also we all had our conversation in times past and the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. That's a marred image.

That's a broken vessel. That is a person created with the incredible ability to image God in the world, but with that ability compromised by sin. So for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ, God recreates that image through a new birth, a new creation. So verse 4 says, but God, who is rich in mercy for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath he quickened us, created us with new life together in Christ. So stepping down to verse 10, Paul says, because we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Now, if you're looking at verse 10, this does not mention specifically the image of God, but Paul is using creation language to explain the complete transformation that is at work in us because of Jesus Christ.

And then he's going to expand on this later in the letter. That takes us to chapter 4 and verse 17. Paul says, this I say therefore and testify in the Lord that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk.

And here we have this long vice list again of all the things that are wrong with us because we are a damaged image. But then he comes to verse 20 and he says, in contrast, but ye have not so learned Christ. If so be that you have heard him and have been taught by him as the truth is in Jesus, that you put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, the originally created man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, there's the marred image again, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and, notice, to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. When Paul says that the new man is created after God, the idea is he's created after the likeness or image of God. And I don't have to guess at this because in Colossians 3 where Paul is explaining the exact same thing to the Colossian church, he says in verses 9 and 10, ye have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. In other words, after the image of God.

What does all of this mean? It means that in Christ we are a new creation, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5.17. We have been transformed from the inside out. It means when we come to faith in Christ, the old person that we once were in fallen Adam has been recreated through union with Christ and has become a new person, a new creation.

And that new person is created with a restored ability to image the person of God through Jesus Christ, just as we were originally created. Now we still wrestle with sin because we are still in a fallen world. We still shroud the image. We obscure it.

Sometimes we hide it. But that doesn't cancel out the fact that we have been recreated in righteousness and true holiness. Believers alone in all of creation have been re-equipped to fulfill the very purpose for which God originally created them. So, if you keep reading in Ephesians 4, Paul gives numerous examples of how we're supposed to live now that we have been recreated after the likeness or image of God. Verse 25, we stop lying and we start speaking the truth. Do you know that when you speak the truth, you are imaging God to the world because God cannot lie?

In verse 26, Paul warns us against unrighteous anger. Do you know that your patience with other people and your refusal to be angry unless God's word and truth are on the line is fleshing out the character of God? In verse 28, Paul says, don't steal but labor to give to someone in need. Do you realize that when you live your life selflessly, not to enrich yourself but to meet the needs of others, you are bearing forth the image of God? In verse 29, do you know that when you use your mouth not to say something base or corrupt but graciously to encourage one another, in fact, another person made in God's image, you are representing God in the world. And when you are kind and caring and forgiving, you are an incarnation to God in the world that He has called good.

And Paul continues on this theme deep into chapter 5, but in the opening of chapter 5, we find an appropriate summary of what he is trying to say to us. Ephesians 5, verse 1, be ye therefore followers of God as dear children. Do you know what the word followers means in the original language?

Most of your modern translations have this word instead of followers. Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children. Do you realize the sheer significance of that command? God has put us here that we might imitate or image Him to the creation so that we might bring Him glory. Are you aware of this purpose statement that is stamped indelibly upon every one of your lives? I'll say this, you may hear a lot about the fact that being made in God's image means that it is our responsibility to be creative, to invent things, to make art and music, to learn languages, to do math and science, to discover, to explore, some say even to play sports, to rule over the world in a way that makes the best environment possible and all of these things, and I think there's some truth in that. In fact, I've heard it said even that unbelievers, when they display their genius and creativity, are unwittingly bringing God glory who created them in His image. However, the only clear distinction that the Bible gives us that is connected to the restoration of God's image in us through Christ is the command to be holy like God, that we should obey Him, that we should image the love of Christ and the purity of Christ and the joy of Christ and the peace of Christ to the world.

And there are two observations that we can make from this. First, holiness provides a moral compass for any of the other things that we might do as image bearers. Just because we can create or invent something or organize something doesn't mean we should.

We are living in a culture where everybody is asking, can we? Believers need to also ask the more important question, should we? And second, the fact that image bearers are primarily commanded to live out the holiness of God means that in Christ, we are all capable of imaging God to the world.

We don't have to have loads of creativity or technological genius or world-class managerial skills to image God to the world. We just need to obey God. We need to love as God loves. We need to show the kindness of God to others. We need to show mercy to those in need like God does. We need to strive to keep ourselves separate from sin as God is separate from it. You think that you are just living a normal average life with normal average problems, doing normal average things.

I'm saying, stop thinking that way. You are a child of God created by God in His image and therefore endowed with an amazing eternal purpose to image your Creator for His glory and for the good of your fellow image bearers. This is the reason that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. This is imaging God to the world. Father, thank you so much that you have seen in your infinite wisdom and creativity to actually make us in your image.

We are stunned by this. And we consider it takes us back. Now, Father, help us to live like it as you've commanded us. And may we bring glory to your name as your image bearers. In Christ's name we pray. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached at Bob Jones University by Dr. Greg Stikes. Listen again tomorrow as we continue the series fearfully and wonderfully made on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-24 22:51:49 / 2024-01-24 23:01:28 / 10

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime