Monday, September 14, 2015

Genesis 1:26-31 : Mankind Created as Man and Woman in the Image of God

The book of Genesis is the foundation upon which all the other 65 books of God’s written Word are based. The New Testament contains at least two hundred direct quotations or clear allusions to events described in Genesis–more than from any other book in the Old Testament.

When the Lord Jesus Christ, after His resurrection appearance on the road to Emmaus sought to give two depressed disciples perspective, He began with Moses. The first book of Moses is Genesis!

“And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). 

Genesis contains many of the fundamental doctrines of life by which we live as mankind upon this earth. Genesis reveals and explains the fact and existence of God and the origin of the creation of all things. Genesis reveals the true origin of man and of marriage. Genesis describes the origin of sin and it reveals the necessity of atonement. Genesis reveals the way in which God the Creator has responded to the plight of fallen mankind in terms of judgement but also in terms of grace, redemption and salvation. This is a BIG book , and out of it come all the important issues of life. 

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the greatest attacks on the Bible have been directed against the integrity and authority of Genesis. My goal in this series is to strengthen your faith in the absolute truth of the Bible , beginning with Genesis . 

Today we want to consider the creation of man in Genesis 1: 26-31, and we want to look at the implications of what is at stake if we ignore these truths. Here we see three significant facts concerning man:

1. God created human beings.

2. God created human beings in His image. 

3. God created human beings as male and female. 

All three of these truths from the Scripture are constantly attacked and ridiculed by the enemies of God the Creator.

1. Human beings have been created by God, for His glory 

This particular aspect about man – that man has been created by God is challenged by the philosophy of evolutionism. I am not here to waste your time on explaining the philosophy or theory of evolution, although I draw your attention to a report, released just this last week concerning another so called spectacular discovery of ancient human skeletons in a cave in South Africa, which are claimed to support evolutionary theory. Ken Ham correctly observes that we are constantly exposed to “misinterpretation of fossils “. I have included his response in an insert in today’s church bulletin. 

Back to the point: God created man! WHY did God create man? Isaiah has a magnificent response to this question in Isaiah 43:6 & 7 which says , 

“bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everybody who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” 

The Bible teaches us that God does and makes everything for His own glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps.19:1). 
The testimony of Scripture speaks of the fact than men and women have been created, not for themselves, but for the glory of God. This is why Paul says that it is such a shameful thing for mankind to exchange “the glory of the immortal God (who has made them) for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Rom. 1:23) 

God made man, not because He was lonely, and not because He was in need of company. God is the supremely happy, fulfilled and contented God. Nothing added to Him makes Him a happier being. But this does not stop the fact that He is worthy of being praised, because He is glorious! In fact it is right for us to praise God. 
Just like a painting speaks in praise of the painter or a piece of beautiful music speaks in praise of the composer, so God is glorified and praised by the creatures that He has made! The painting glorifies the painter as the music glorifies the composer. The 18th century composer Georg Friedrich Händel (1685 – 1759) composed that wonderful piece of music known as “The Messiah”. When he finished composing this music he sobbed: "I think that I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself!" That was the glory that Händel gave to God for this achievement. At the premiere in Dublin, in 1742, the Messiah was pronounced a masterpiece by all. At the London premiere, King George was so moved by the "Hallelujah Chorus" that he spontaneously rose from his seat, and the entire audience followed his example. That was the glory men gave to the composer. I am making this point because I want you to see that God made men for His glory. 

2. Human Beings have been created in the image of God. 

Again, by way of introduction to this fact, I remind you that this aspect is assaulted by the enemies of God. Every time a racist comment is made and every time a human being is cursed (see Matt. 5:21,22) and every time a human being is killed, the image of God in man is assaulted. We know this because in Genesis 9:6 God said to Noah, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.

Now the amazing fact is that human beings alone are said to have been made in the image of God. This is true even after the fall, as Genesis 5:1, 9:6 and also James 3:9 indicate. However it is also true to say that the image of God has been marred in man, and sometimes almost beyond recognition. Even in the case of us Christians this is true. Do you not often feel your sinfulness and do you not sometimes feel as if you are not portraying an adequate image of godliness? Do you not often sense that you are lacking those attributes that make you worthy of the name “Christian”? We sense our imperfections every day, and that is of course what the fall has brought about . God’s image in us is there , but it is a marred image, and it begs for renewal and restoration ! We want that which we first had in Adam, before the fall. 

That is exactly what Jesus does by His substitutionary death for us. Jesus is the Restorer of our marred image (2 Cor. 5:17). As conversion happens by the grace of God, so repentance takes place, and so He forgives, and cleanses, and He begins a reclamation project called sanctification. All this results in the ability for human beings to be able to give Him the glory that is due to His name. 

Summary of the first two points : 
1. Human beings were created by God. They did not arise through impersonal forces. Human beings were created to glorify God. They were created to worship. The fall has brought about false worship.
2. The doctrine of the image of God in man causes Christians to value human life. Therefore abortion, euthanasia, murder, and degrading of human beings through practises such as slavery, exploitation and racism etc. will be addressed by thoughtful Christians.

3. Human Beings have been created by God as Male and Female. 

This aspect has been severely attacked in our world by making us believe that there is no functional difference between men and women. In fact there is a huge agenda, mainly driven by the Lesbian – Gay – Gender neutral lobby in the world, not only redefining the nature of biblical marriage, but also redefining the biblical fact that God created men and women in His image. This lobby wants us to obliterate the difference between men and women altogether. 

In this regard we are made aware of some bizarre stories, like the Canadian couple in Toronto raising their 4-month-old without identifying the child as a boy or a girl : “Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, are raising their third child, Storm, to be free of societal norms regarding gender. Is Storm male or female? The parents won't say, so no one knows except Storm's older brothers, Jazz and Kio, as well as a close family friend and two midwives who helped deliver the baby, according to the Toronto Star.” (Fox News : 24th May 2011) . A BBC report of the 7th July 2011 reports that Sweden has opened its first gender neutral school ! 

It is maintained by this lobby that the world has been in the grip of stereotypes ( i.e. Christian values) for far too long. So called homo- sexual theologians are now in the process of re-interpreting Bible texts, which speak explicitly against homosexual practises[1] and the scary part is that there are Christian churches that now endorse these new interpretations. 

What does the Bible say ? 

It is important to begin where the Bible itself begins — in the Garden of Eden, before the Fall. Adam and Eve were created in God's image, equal before God as persons, yet distinct in their manhood and womanhood. They were equal, not in form, nor in function, but in essence.
As equal partners before God they were designed to fulfil different and complementary (not competitive) roles. In assigning Eve a role as Adam’s helper she is not a slave but a helper perfectly suited for Adam [2] , a helper perfectly suited for Adam[3] . In order for her to be perfectly suited for him, she had to be equal to him. This is in Adam's expression of delight upon first seeing Eve. He viewed her as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Gen. 2:23). She was from him — his same substance, she was his equal.
It was in the context of this partnership that they were designed together to be fruitful and fill the earth (how do homosexual couples do that?) and to subdue it and have dominion…
It is in this partnership that they were to glorify God together, and to reflect the image of His glory together. 
Connecting this fact with Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:22-23 , the picture of Christian marriage reflecting the partnership between Christ and His church, and reflecting the image of God of love, this all becomes a lot more profound !

Implications if Point 3 is disregarded:

1.The Health of the Home is at Stake : If families do not structure their homes, in obedience to the biblical order of Genesis 1 then they will not have the proper foundation from which to withstand the temptations of the devil and the various onslaughts of the world.
2. The Health of the Church is at Stake: If churches disregard these teachings, following culture or philosophy instead, then the members of those churches and subsequent generations will be less likely to submit to God's Word in other difficult matters as well. If the church compromises the Word of God at one point, it becomes much easier to do it at other points; this in turn undermines its spiritual health, not to mention that of future generations (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
3. The Gospel is at Stake: Ephesians 5 calls husbands and wives to relate to one another as a picture of Christ and the church. The picture involves humble, sacrificial leadership by the husband and joyful, intelligent submission to that leadership by the wife. Husbands and wives who disregard this portray a distorted and false picture of Jesus Christ, the Head of the church. If a husband is domineering or passive he distorts the image of Christ. A wife who either usurps authority or becomes a passive slave of her husband distorts the image of Christ . If we care deeply about the Gospel, then we will care deeply about the authenticity of the picture of Christ we are portraying.

[1] There are six primary passages of Scripture that reference homosexuality: Genesis 19:4-9,Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Timothy 1:9-10. 
[2] God emphasized her equality by designating her as his ezer kenegdo
[3] "comparable to" [NKJV], "suitable for" [NASB, NIV]; "fit for" [ESV];

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