We live in a pragmatic age. We want to deal with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations. We want to know how we can use something to our advantage. We want to know “What’s in it for me.” To a very great extent this thinking is formed in us by our materialistic way of life. If we can’t see the immediate usefulness of something we are uninterested in it.
We are basically self-centered beings, not willing to learn something new or different even though it may be something very important – something that would enable us to live more closely to the ideal that God intends for us. This attitude is very evident in religion as well as in other areas of life.
The subject of man being made in the image of God and being made a new creation to restore that image is not something we place much emphasis on. We prefer to dwell on the things we must do to be saved from sin so that we can “go to heaven when we die.” As far as glorifying God is concerned, for many it seems that the thing to be concerned with is that we “worship” on Sunday – as long as we get all five “items of worship” done right.
But the Bible makes a big deal out of man being made in the image of God. And if it is important to God, shouldn’t we make a big deal of it also? There IS something in it for us if we will but give ourselves a chance to learn what it is. Obviously we should want to learn all we can about the subject of being made in the image of God because this is what God intended for us from creation. But why? Why did God make us in His image?
For the answer to that we must go all the way back to the beginning – back to where God gave man his orders,
“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.” (Genesis 1:28).
God, by virtue of having created all things has the right to rule over His creation. But here He gives man the responsibility to rule (have dominion) over all creation. Man has the right to rule because God has given him that right. But what enables him to do so? How does man know how to rule over creation?
Obviously he must do so in the same manner in which God Himself rules over it. Sin made it tremendously more difficult for man to carry out this responsibility, obscuring our vision of what God expected of man. Since Jesus came to reveal God to man by manifesting His image we have not only a much clearer understanding of what God is like and of what we should be, but the possibility of knowing what our responsibility is before God is in this world.
Obviously man was intended to be co-ruler with God. This is what David said in Psalm 8.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
A part of that responsibility is that of judging. The ancient kings were both king and judge. Paul tells the Corinthians that since they will judge the world they ought to be competent to judge matters among themselves.
“…do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
And chew on this for a while. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 is that they (Christians) might know or comprehend…
“…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:19-23).
Now continue reading into the 2nd chapter to verse 6 and see what the same power of God has done for us. He said that God…
“…raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:6).
Where is Jesus right now? Seated at the right hand of God, right? On what is He seated? The only seat we ever read about in heaven is the throne of God and Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. And Paul said here that we are seated with Him “IN CHRIST JESUS.” Where, then are we seated? Isn’t it necessarily inferred that we are seated with God – on the throne of God?
This is the language John used…
“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:6 KJV).
Albert Barnes said of this verse…
The word “kings,” as applied to them, refers to the exalted rank and dignity which they will have; to the fact that they, in common with their Saviour, will reign triumphant over all enemies; and that, having gained a victory over sin and death and hell, they may be represented as reigning together. (eSword).
Jesus said to His disciples who were arguing about who would be greatest in the kingdom…
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30).
Wow! Talk about honor! This is something of what is involved in men possessing the image of God. It is enough to humble us to know that God wants us in such a position of responsibility in His creation.
No, we do not become deity. But we are a new creation made in the image of God and for His purposes. We do possess something of the divine nature in that we become like Him and can continue to increase in His likeness.
Tomorrow we will look at what the Bible teaches us about “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”