God’s Image – Lost and Restored

“When man was created, he possessed the image of God in the structural and broader sense, and at the same time imaged God properly in the functional or narrower sense, since he lived in perfect obedience to God. After man had fallen into sin, however, he retained the image of God in the structural or broader sense but lost it in the functional or narrower sense.

That is to say, fallen human beings still possess the gifts and capacities with which God has endowed them, but they now use these gifts in sinful and disobedient ways. In the process of redemption God by his Spirit renews the image in fallen human beings–that is, enables them once again to use their God-reflecting gifts in such a way as to image God properly–at least in principle. After the resurrection of the body, on the new earth, redeemed humanity will once again be able to image God perfectly.

The image of God in man must therefore be seen as involving both the structure of man (his gifts, capacities, and endowments) and the functioning of man (his actions, his relationships to God and to others, and the way he uses his gifts). To stress either of these at the expense of the other is to be one-sided. We must see both, but we need to see the structure of man as secondary and his functioning as primary.

God has created us in his image so that we may carry out a task, fulfill a mission, pursue a calling. To enable us to perform that task, God has endowed us with many gifts–gifts that reflect something of his greatness and glory. To see man as the image of God is to see both the task and the gifts. But the task is primary; the gifts are secondary. The gifts are the means for fulfilling the task.”

-Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 72-73.

Man’s Reflection of God

“Man’s rational powers . . . reflect God’s reason, and enable man now, in a sense, to think God’s thoughts after him. Man’s moral sensitivity reflects something of the moral nature of God, who is the supreme determiner of right and wrong. Our capacity for fellowshipping with God in worship reflects the fellowship that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have with each other. Our ability to respond to God and to fellow human beings imitates God’s ability and willingness to respond to us when we pray to him. Our ability to make decisions reflects in a small way the supreme directing power of him “who works out everything in conformity to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:11). Our sense of beauty is a feeble reflection of the God who scatters beauty profusely over snow-crowned peaks, lake-jeweled valleys, and awe-inspiring sunsets. Our gift of speech is an imitation of him who constantly speaks to us, both in his world and in his word. And our gift of song echoes the God who rejoices over us with singing (Zeph. 3:17).”

-Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 71.

Man’s Body As God’s Image

“Man’s Body also belongs to the image of God…. The body is not a tomb but a wondrous masterpiece of God, constituting the essence of man as fully as the soul… it belongs so essentially to man that, though through sin it is violently torn away from the soul [in death], it is nevertheless again united with the soul in the resurrection.”

-Herman Bavinck, Dogmatiek, 2:601, translation by Anthony A. Hoekema in Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 68.

The Image of God

“Man does not simply bear or have the image of God; he is the image of God.

From the doctrine that man has been created in the image of God flows the clear implication that that image extends to man in his entirety. Nothing in man is excluded from the image of God. All creatures reveal traces of God, but only man is in the image of God. And he is that image totally, in soul and body, in all faculties and power, in all conditions and relationships. Man is the image of God because and insofar as he is true man, and he is man, true and real man, because and insofar as he is in the image of God.”

-Herman Bavinck, Dogmatiek, 2:595-96, translation by Anthony A. Hoekema in Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 65.

Six 24-hour Days: Fact or Fiction? – Part 2

By Erik Martin

-Continued from yesterday-

5. Jesus’ Teaching

Jesus also embraced a straightforward reading of Genesis 1. He affirmed the common Jewish interpretation of Genesis when He cited, without reservation, Genesis 5:2 in Matthew 19:4. If the Jews erroneously understood Genesis chapters one and two, Jesus would have corrected them as was His practice (Matthew 23:1-23; Luke 13:1-4).

Jesus was eager to correct the misinterpretations and false teaching of Second-Temple Judaism (Matthew 22:29). He firmly upheld the accuracy and truthfulness of God’s Law (John 10:35; 17:17) while also carefully fixing Jewish misconceptions by freeing the text from their bogus traditions (Matthew 5:17-19, 21-48).

6. Historical Evidence

A recent creation has always been the predominant, if not the universal, position of the people of God. A young earth was embraced by Judaism for thousands of years. A recent genesis is the universal position of the historic church. Until the Enlightenment, orthodox Christianity never questioned the Genesis account.

If God took millions of years to create and intended Christians (and Jews) to embrace an old earth, then why did He allow the church to get it wrong for 2,000 years and Judaism for the previous 1,500 years? If God created over long periods of time and then intentionally lied to His people or allowed them to misunderstand for thousands of years, then He is not truthful or good.

Furthermore, He would be an impotent communicator and the rest of His revelation is likewise unreliable and inaccurate. Furthermore, why would God finally enlighten His children to the truth by revealing it through the scientific speculations of those who hate Him? God, as a loving Father, always communicates accurately by speaking to His children through His prophets and now the Scriptures. Any other belief undermines the foundation of Christian faith. Christian epistemology requires no less.

7. Scientific Evidence

Finally, science does not actually prohibit a young earth. We have no extant humanly-generated eyewitness record of the origin of the universe. No man observed the beginning; even Adam only got in on the very end. This does not leave us in the dark. God was present and provided a reliable record.

Since no human witnessed the foundation of the world, and creation cannot be replicated, modern science can only hypothesize theories about the origins of time, matter, and life. Science applies uniformitarianism and assumes that the current patterns of the cosmos have never changed. This overlooks several important factors.

A. The earth was created without sin and sin has altered the way things work.

B. A global flood destroyed the past ecosystem and severely altered the world.

C. God created with apparent age.

He made Adam an adult, capable of naming all the animals, old enough to seek a mate, able to tend the Garden and competent to provide for His own needs.

God created the heavenly bodies as a celestial clock. Their function visibly marks out times and season requiring their light to have been instantly apparent on earth. The sun testifies to, rather than sets, the length of days. The length of a day was established on day one, not day four.

Science tries to undermine the Genesis account and gives many evidences to prop up macro-evolution. Even so, evolution cannot produce a battering ram able to definitively discredit the Genesis record. The question of origins comes down to epistemology. What do we trust as reliable? How do we know what we say we know? Do we trust the Scriptures or do we trust science?

Read part 1: https://modernpuritan.com/2014/03/14/what-happened/

Six 24-hour Days: Fact or Fiction?

by Erik Martin

Thesis: God created the earth in six literal twenty-four hour days approximately six to ten thousand years ago.

While this has been the historic position of Christ-followers, a traditional understanding of creation is now unpopular. Let’s look and see if the Bible really teaches a quickly-completed and recent creation. Has the church misunderstood God’s intention? What does the Bible really say?

1. Genesis 1:1

The most compelling support for a recent formation of the earth is Genesis chapter one. The opening verse of the Bible unequivocally declares, “God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen.1:1). In Genesis 1-2 the declared Creator explains how He accomplished this feat.

The Biblical text uses plain time markers understandable even to uneducated men to indicate the timeframe and chronology of God’s creation. Jews calculate their days from sundown until the following sundown. Genesis 1:3 speaks of the first creation day having an evening and then a morning. This linguistic structure links the days of Genesis 1 to Judaism’s common method of marking days. The length of a day when Genesis was composed, around 1450 B.C., is therefore comparable to the length of a day at the Beginning–even before the sun was born. Consequently, the original audience of the first book of Moses, Israel in the wilderness, would easily have understood that the creation was fully accomplished in six normal days.

An unbiased and straightforward reading of the first chapter of Genesis requires a quickly finished creation. Furthermore, God does not have a speech impediment; He is not a poor communicator. If He intended us to believe in an old earth, He could have easily explained His creative acts in a way that unambiguously recognized millions of years of creative processes.

2. Biblical Genealogies

Next, the biblical genealogies testify to a recent genesis. A few generations may be missing from the accounts, but any significant gaps or omissions would undermine the genealogies’ authenticity and accuracy. If the written records are missing scores of generations, how could descendants, hundreds, let alone thousands of years later have any hope of identifying and verifying their ancestors?

Furthermore, the clear and careful record of each man’s length of life and the age he became a father indicates that the text is meant to be and is an accurate historical document. The original audience of Genesis, Israel in the wilderness, could have easily traced back their genealogies using those recorded in the Pentateuch.

God seems to have expected His people to study His Word this closely. Why else did He include so many genealogical tables? The Israelites’ calculations would have easily established a very young age for the earth. Even more, if God wanted His covenant children to believe the universe was billions of years old, He could have easily told them. He would have included longer genealogies and noted any major gaps.

3. The Sabbath Day

God grounds the Jewish sabbath day–after six work-days–in His own past action. Israel was given one rest-day after six work-days because God worked the same way (Exodus 20:8-11). This parallel becomes absurd if each Creation day was more than 24-hours or if major gaps separated each day.

4. Beliefs of the Biblical Authors 

Thirdly, a recent creation was assumed, embraced, and taught by the biblical writers. The Psalmist testifies that God merely spoke and creation was accomplished (Psalm 33:6, 9). When Malachi references Genesis He endorses the teaching of Genesis (Malachi 2:10).

The Apostle Paul cites Adam’s fall in Romans 5:12-21. Paul treats Adam as a historical man and the biological father of all mankind. Furthermore, Paul constructs his entire Hamartiology upon the historicity of Adam. If Paul had known the Genesis account to be mistaken, He ought to have clarified any confusion. If Paul was mistaken about creation then he might also be mistaken about the sin, judgment and righteousness he teaches.

Paul is not alone in linking the present problem of sin with Adam’s transgression; He is merely echoing the prophets (Isaiah 43:27; Hosea 6:7). The Epistles scathingly condemn false teachers and work to correct their errant beliefs (Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Galatians 1:6-9; Titus 1:10-16; Jude 1:4; 1 John 4:1). If God knew reality to contradict common Jewish thought, He would have clarified through one of His prophets or apostles.

Part 2: https://modernpuritan.com/2014/03/15/what-happened-2/

In the Very Beginning

As Christians our guide for life, what we must believe and how we ought to live, is the Bible. If we follow Jesus we must embrace all that God reveals to us in His Word. Therefore we must believe the truth that God is the Creator.

Why can’t we just ignore what the Bible says about creation?

1. First God says He is the creator and we dare not reject what He affirms.

2. Secondly, if God is not the creator than He has lied to us and is untrustworthy.

3. Thirdly, if God is not the creator, We owe Him nothing and can disregard Him.

4. Finally, if God is not the creator, than Jesus’s sacrifice is not necessary, it did not pay for sin and it is irrational.

The rest of the Bible, it’s teaching and message, are rooted in the following truths about the creation of the universe.

God the Father created everything (1 Corinthians 8:6). God made everything through Jesus (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). The Holy Spirit was active in creation (Job 26:13; Genesis 1:1-2). God created by His breath, through speech. He breathed out creation (Psalm 33:6, 9; Psalm 148:5 Hebrews 11:3).

God predates creation, He existed before matter was created (Psalm 90:2); He had been king from before time began (Psalm 93:2). God created all matter. He made the universe (Genesis 1:1). The sun, moon and stars are his creation (Genesis 1:14-16; Genesis 8:3). God made the earth (Genesis 1:1). God created in six days and then rested (Genesis 1:1-32; 2:1-3; Exodus 31:17).

God intelligently created everything (Jeremiah 51:15; Psalm 104:24). Everything God created was perfect (Genesis 1:31). God did not create sin, sin entered the world from man (Romans 5:12; Genesis 3:6). God did not create death, death entered the world because of man’s sin (Romans 5:15-19; 1 Corinthians 5:21)

Everything was created for God (Colossians 1:16) and to bring Him glory, yet God also created the earth for man’s habitation, man’s use, and filled it with animals for his food (Isaiah 45:18; Genesis 1:28; Genesis 9:1-3)

God created man in His image (Genesis 1:27). We are made like God; who we are reflects (in a lesser way) who He is. God created all men from one race and all are equal before Him (Acts 17:26). God created man male and female (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 5:2, Mark 10:6) thus our genders and gender roles come from Him.

Everything exists today because God continues to uphold it all (Colossians 1:17). God controls all the forces of nature (Psalm 147:18; Job 36:32; 37:15; Mark 4:35-41). God controls both good and bad (Isaiah 45:7); He governs all. Creation testifies of God’s eternal power, divine nature, wisdom and glory (Romans 1:20: Psalm 19:1).

We must accept God as Creator by faith (Hebrews 11:3). God should be praised because He is the creator (Revelation 4:11). God will create a new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17) which will be free of the curse that now afflicts this world (Revelation 22:3).