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.