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9-4-22 Great Themes of the Bible: Man—The Image of God

Great Themes of the Bible: Man—The Image of God

David Peterson / General

Great Themes of the Bible / Man; Image of God / Psalm 8; Re 5:9–10

Sermon Type: Topical

Proposition: Humans are made in the image of God so that they might image in the world. We image God by our actions, our character and our capacity for knowing him.


1. What does God look like?

Gabby–“God has giant ears so he can hear everything we are saying.”

Kamran–“God’ got an invisible head and he floats in the garden. One side is night and the other side is day and God sees the owls and bunnies and butterflies. God also rides a motorcycle but he’s playing hockey in Pasadena right now. He can do everything.”

God had white hair, but he dyes it brown. – Emily, 5

God wears a cloak that takes away people’s sins. – Dillon, 9

God always wears a shiny dinner plate behind his head as well as a wrinkled sheet. – Nick, 9

“A man or woman, but tall.” – Makayla, age eleven

OMG!: How Children See God by Monica Parker

2. Image of God in the Ancient Near East

Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 1: Genesis 1–15 (“Image” and “Likeness”)

Both Egyptian and Assyrian texts describe the king as the image of God

3. The Bible stands out. All People are the image of God

Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 1: Genesis 1–15 (“Image” and “Likeness”)

Whereas Egyptian writers often spoke of kings as being in God’s image, they never referred to other people in this way. It appears that the OT has democratized this old idea. It affirms that not just a king, but every man and woman, bears God’s image and is his representative on earth.

I. The Image of God = Ruling—God-like Activity (Rev. 5:10; Ps. 8:6; Ge. 1:26; Ge. 2:15)

1. Reigning=exercising dominion=expressing human capacities for the glory of God=what is often called the Cultural Mandate

Genesis 1 and 2 — indicates that all of life is sacred; every dimension of life, family life, business life, our life as citizens. Indeed, Moses uses the language that God put them in the garden “to serve and to keep it.” It’s the same language that he will use again in Numbers 3 to talk about the Levites and how they are to care for the tabernacle. And so, the Bible knows no distinction between “sacred” and “secular.” All of life comes under the reign of God. And this incredible cultural mandate is that we will create and make culture in a way that shows the Creator and how God made the world and intended for us to relate to him, each other, and to the world. Well, as we follow Jesus in every area of life, Paul picks up this language in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3 and he talks about putting on the new self, the new humanity, and it’s very Adamic language. It’s referring back to the original mandate that was given to Adam and to Eve. And so, as we read through Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3, we see Paul discipling the Ephesians and the Colossians in every area of life — “Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord and not unto men.” And so, we continue to carry out that cultural mandate as we follow Jesus and make disciples in every dimension of life.


2. Fulfillment comes in fulfilling our calling—whether believer or not—it’s part of being human

Actor Charlie Hunnam has recently begun a transition to writing. About to turn 40, he had reached a place in life for some evaluation. Hunnam knew he would be out of work for a while due to COVID-19. And in his heart, there were stories that he had been carrying around. He shares, “They had been sort of given to me like gifts. And I wasn’t honoring the gifts.”

As he started the process of honoring these gifts, Hunnam found new energy. He started to get up around 4:00 am daily to go on a short hike. He would be back home, showered, and ate breakfast by 6:00 am. Then he would sit down to write until 7:00 pm. That’s 13 hours! He explains the sensation this way:

I just started to get this really “now” feeling of life. Like there’s nothing else in the world that would be better for me than what I’m doing right now. And the result of it was more positive than anything I’ve ever done in my career. … And I’ve worked really, really hard to cultivate this gift and be proud of the work that I’m able to do now. But part of me feels like it’s an uphill struggle.

But when I write, I feel as though I’m honoring the innate gifts that God gave me. I feel like I really can do this [stuff] at a high level. And that’s a feeling that I’ve never had in my life before, in any regards. I feel like we all have one or two innate talents, and a task of life is to identify those and then do that as much as you possibly can. Because that’s where the joy and the presence is going to come from. That’s where the grace is going to come from.

Source: Frazier, Tharpe, “Charlie Hunnam On Choosing Vulnerable Roles.,” GQ (November, 2020)

3. Greatest fulfillment is using our gifts for that which lasts.

II. The Image of God = Loving—God-like Character (Rev. 5:9; Ge. 1:27; Col. 1:15)

1. God’s image is to reflect is Character

Concordia Self-Study Bible Chapter 1

“Image” includes such characteristics as “righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24) and “knowledge” (Col 3:10). Believers are to be “conformed to the likeness” of Christ (Ro 8:29) and will someday be “like him” (1Jn 3:2).

2. God’s character is love, a relationship of love—Ge. 1:27

3. Key to this capacity is the word, speech—interpersonal communion

Genuine listening is challenging but fruitful:

Listening deeply means silencing that noise, listening not just with your ears but with every sense you’ve got, every cell in your body. It means listening to all that is said and unsaid, to the body language, the tone, the eye movement. It’s full-body listening. This type of listening builds trust, opens doors, and offers a path to deep discovery and a sacred connection that forms the basis for new understandings and otherwise unimaginable possibilities. Study after study shows in sector after sector—in medicine, marriage, real estate sales, and more—that true listening generates better results. And yet most of us go through our entire education without having learned how to do it.

Source: Simon Greer, “Can Deep Listening Heal Our Divisions?” Greater Good (1-19-21)

A Japanese language instructor held up a cup filled to the brim with water and said:

“The Japanese are like this full cup. Their lives are very busy and full.” He held up the glass full of water. “We’ve got to be careful of pouring on the truth, as important, great, and glorious as it is. If you pour water into a cup that’s already full, where will that water go? Of course, it spills onto the floor.”

He said, “Sometimes in our zealousness to share the good news, we can overdo it, and we just pour it on. And then that opportunity—that water—is wasted because people’s cups are already full.

“But when you take time to listen,” and he took a sip out of the cup, “you’re now providing space. There’s now capacity for you to share something that’s going to impact their heart because now you know their story. Now you know what passage of Scripture to share or what encouraging word to say. Now you know how to pray for them because you’ve taken the time to listen.”

Source: Anonymous (as told to Martha Krienke), “Everyday Evangelism,” The Alliance (11-20-17)

III. The Image of God = Knowing—God-like Capacity (Ps. 8:2; Ge. 3:8; Matt. 5:8; Rev. 22:4)

1. Genuinely loving comes from genuinely knowing God (1 John 4:7).

2. We are the creature that can know God.

Animals are bound to their environment by limitations set by heredity. Humans, in contrast, are not so closely restricted by inherited factors.

This plasticity and adaptability which so conspicuously endowed man beyond all other animals with the ability to control so much of the world in which he lives is reflected both in the structure of his body and of his mind. Both are the least specialized of any to be found in the Order of Mammals to which he belongs. Now this is an extremely important point to grasp. That is that man biologically is both structurally and mentally the most plastic and adaptable animal in existence.2

Because of this transendending capability, humans are never completely fulfilled by any one achievement or by any one “transformation” of the world we author. Rather, we are continually on the move to something yet undefined. That is to say, humans are never completely satisfied.



To Know You by Dunsin Oyekan

Just one passion, one purpose

To know You more and more

When I know You, I’ll find me

Just one passion, one purpose

To know You more and more

When I know You, I’ll find me

No life outside You

No one besides You

Let me know You more and more

When I know You, I’ll find me


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