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Sermons from Galeton Community Church

Doctrine of Man: The Image of God II

May 9, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: Romans 1

Scripture: Romans 1

Review

Today we are going to continue our discussion on the Doctrine of Man –

looking at man being made in the Image of God.

The focus of last week was to look at Scripture so that we might better understand how it is said that man is the crown of God’s handiwork.

We examined the different usages and interpretations of the words

  • Image
  • Likeness

As history struggled to understand them.

We looked at Dispensational Theology and how that system fails by ascribing to God aspects that Scripture does not say that He possesses…namely, a body.

We concluded by looking at what the Westminster Confession had to say about man being created in the image of God…

Westminster Confession of Faith.

We learned that, despite all the difficulties and struggles and false steps…

  • Man is a rational and an immortal being.
  • Man is endued with knowledge,  righteousness,  and true holiness.

That man is a rational being.

He must be a rational being…

  • If he is going to glorify God
  • If he is going to fellowship with God
  • If he is going to do that in a way that is unique from the rest of creation.

Introduction

Today, we are going to continue our discussion by looking at how man, being created in the image of God

  • How this implies/ requires responsibility of man towards God.
    • Nay, the responsibility we have, before God
    • To live according to His rules and expectations
    • Not as what best suits our fancy or some other internal reasonings
  • How this can be seen in the basic nature of man

Remember, God made man, after every other creature, and blessed man higher than any other creature, and we, in return, are to glorify Him higher than any other creature. (even ourselves) -à Think about, created in His image.

We know the image of God in man does not refer to the body.

  • For God does not have body parts

We know that the image of God does not refer to the sharing of the essence of God because the divine essence is not only

  • infinite, eternal, and unchangeable

but it is also incommunicable to any creature.

The image of God consists in the

  • spirituality and eternality of the soul (though inferior to God)
  • the dominion man exercises over creation
  • and principally in his ability to reason and conform to the moral requirements of God

The image of God Implies Responsibility

As such, Man is a creature that is able to respond to the God who created him and therefore is accountable to Him.

John 1:1-9

The first few verses of John 1 speak of creation and provides an introduction to Christ.

John 1:1

  • “In the beginning” à before there was time, in eternity past, was the Word
  • “was the Word” à the “logos”, the “Word” expressed and communicated
  • “the Word was with God” à “pros ton Theon”

Numbers 12:6-8

God spoke "mouth to mouth", "peh ‘el peh” with Moses -- this is why his face would shine when we came back down from the mountain.

John tells us that Christ was "pros ton Theon", "face to face" with God for all eternity..."pros ton Theon"

It speaks of the Christ who was there in creation.

It speaks of Christ by whom ALL things were created.

Verse 9: speaks of Christ as the true life that lighteth every man

  • not just Christian men
  • not just believing men
  • but all men

Man, by the true Light of Christ, is enlightened.

Man is a reasoning being and has the knowledge of God.

Listen to the words of Calvin:

“But as the Evangelist employs the general phrase, every man that cometh into the world, I am … inclined to adopt the … meaning … that from this light the rays are diffused over all mankind… For we know that men have this peculiar excellence which raises them above other animals, that they are endued with reason and intelligence, and that they carry the distinction between right and wrong engraven on their conscience. There is no man, therefore, whom some perception of the eternal light does not reach.”

Did you hear that:

There is no man, therefore, whom some perception of the eternal light does not reach.

Thus, we see that Man is indeed responsible to God, there is no excuse

Man has a knowledge of God. (this is a part of the Image of God)

John 1:12,13

  • Man is saved and redeemed by God not by his will nor by his blood it nor by his flesh by the work of God who transforms his mind.
  • And then he is caused to be reborn---to become children of God.
  • This is a glorious blessing that not even the animals can possess.
  • This is a glorious blessing that not even the angels can possess.

Many use John 1:9 to say “here is evidence God universally redeems all men.”

But really,

  • It teaches that man is accountable to God for the light of Christ has shined.
  • It teaches that man is a thinking being without excuse.

Westminster Confession: Chapter 1, Article 1 & Romans 1:19-12, 2:1

  • Men are without excuse.
  • Men are responsible they are responsible for their actions.
  • Men are responsible to the God who has created them.
  • Men are responsible to act upon the commands of God.
  • Men can see the wisdom and power of God in the orderliness of creation.
  • Men are created in the image of God, have chosen to rebel against Him.

Man as the Image of God Seen in Man’s Basic Nature

This is yet another aspect that makes the study of this doctrine both wonderful and difficult …. both awful and terrifying…

We’ve seen that man is the crown of creation – being made in the image of God,

  • with living, reasonable, and immortal souls,
  • in knowledge righteousness, and holiness,
  • having the law of God written on their hearts.

And yet, being made in this image, man decided to cast off that crown,

  • being discontent with all that God has provided,
  • deciding he knows better than his creator,
  • rebelling against that very image in which he was created.

Man as the Image of God Seen in Man’s Basic Nature.

  • No matter how hard man tries
  • No matter how many mental gymnastics he might perform...
  • No matter how many “slick” reasoned arguments he might produce…

He cannot shake off the responsibility he has before God.

Man cannot escape the fact that he was created in the image of God.

Man cannot escape the fact that his basic nature command full obedience….

Man cannot escape his basic nature…being created in the image of God.

Romans 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

The Scripture teaches that the word is truth and that we are to be sanctified in and through the Word of God.

  • We have the truth of God in the form of propositions in God's word.
  • We have a propositional understanding of God as a thinking being.
  • We cannot but think God … having been created in His image.

This verse describes the ungodly man as holding the truth in unrighteousness.

  • God has made the truth manifest in them…what may be known…in them.
  • God has shown it to them.
  • God has manifested His truth of who He is and thus holds man accountable.

“Hold the Truth in Unrighteousness”

Let’s take a moment to examine this passage a bit further...

“The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men”

  • ...who "hold the truth in unrighteousness"

Verse 18 -> "hold the truth" -> Greek word: : katecho, as “hold”

Two primary usages in Scripture:

  • Majority Usage: to hold something very tightly, to heed, to take, to keep --> where Paul tells Timothy to "hold fast the things received."
  • Minority Usage: to hold down, or to suppress.

Interestingly, most modern translations use the minority reading, “suppress”

But I do not believe “suppress” is the best translation.

The word can sometimes mean “suppress” but using this here greatly weakens the meaning of this passage.

If you were to study the areas where Paul uses this word in the New Testament, you’ll see that most often it is rendered as

  • “hold”
  • sometimes as “hold fast”, or
  • “keep”, or
  • “retain”

Most modern translations have already made the decision of what this word means are telling you to accept their rending – usually without explanation.

The Authorized version neither says "hold fast" or "suppress" but leaves the reader to do the work to understand what Paul is saying.

Here is what Paul may be saying...

  • The ungodly man holds fast the truth of God but he holds it unrighteously
  • The ungodly man hold the truth of God and counts on it
  • The ungodly man knows the truth of God
  • The ungodly man knows the truth of God and yet refuses to acknowledge some parts of it

Far more than a suppression,

…there is a dependence upon the truth of God that is seen here

The unrighteous man must sit in the lap of God in order to slap Him in the face (Van Til)

  • Even though the ungodly and unrighteous may puff up their chests and loudly deny God,
  • The ungodly and unrighteous must still
    • continue to convince themselves and
    • remind themselves

that they do not believe in God or that their way is the right way

Why, because they know better.

  • V.18 -> "for God hath shewed it unto them"

There are 3 things God says the unrighteous know about Him.

  • His eternal power (v. 20)
    • power -> speaks to the governing of everything.
  • His Godhead (v. 20)
    • Godhead -> speaks to His right to govern everything.
  • The judgment of God (v. 32)
    • that they who do such things are worthy of death.
    • they have the witness of creation around them.
    • they have the internal witness of being created in the image of God -> that a priori knowledge that God has given them.

Now, then,

  • What do the ungodly and unrighteous do with the knowledge of God?
  • What do the ungodly and unrighteous do with this knowledge?

He holds it in unrighteousness.

  • he denies the power of God.
  • he denies the Godhead/ authority of God.
  • he ultimately creates his own god and replaces the morality of God with his own morality.

Do you see how a proper understanding of this verse serves to reinforce what we are learning about man being made in the image of God?

Conclusion

The Scripture teaches in John 1:9 that man has a knowledge of God’s existence.

Man has had the light of Christ, the express image of God, the knowledge of God and His will revealed to “every man that cometh into the world.”

Romans 1: reinforces this same understanding.

It is not that man was born without this knowledge and then later, at some later point in their life, God reveals it to them….

  • Man is endued with living, reasonable, and immortal souls,
  • in knowledge righteousness, and holiness,
  • having the law of God written on their hearts.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27

Man cannot help but think God.

They are morally bound as thinking beings to the teaching of God.

  • Whether it is in their basic structure created in His image
  • Whether it is through the proposition of revelation that is given
  • Whether it is in written form
  • Whether it is in verbal form

Being created in the image of God removes all excuses and arguments.

Man is bound, required, and expected to glorify and to honor God and all that he does, in all that he thinks, and in all that speaks.