As taught by Zach Thompson.
Equipping Time: The True and Restored Image of God
Good morning everyone. This morning, we are going to finishing up the semester of Equipping time with a time considering how Jesus is the restored image of God.
In order to understand how Christ restored the image of God, we need to have a good grasp on what the image is, so that is where we will start today.
First, we are going to briefly review the image of God and the fall, then we’ll consider how Christ is the true and restored image of God, then at the end, we’ll consider how we are brought into the image of God and that this is reason for hope.
So let’s begin with the image of God as we first see it in the Bible.
Man was created in the image of God.
Genesis 1:26-28 says this. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 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.”
The image of God is not something you have. It’s not something God gave to humans as some kind of gift. It’s who we are. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” To be human is to be in the image of God. It’s literally who we were made to be. Adam is called the son of God more than once in scripture (Gen 5:3; Lk 3:38), and when Adam he is called a son of God, it’s a reference to the fact that Adam is an inescapable reflection of God on earth.
Being made in the image of God is like being a mirror that reflects God to creation.
Timothy discussed this in his talk. There’s no explanation of the phrase “image of God” in Genesis 1 because, for the original audience, it would have been clear what it meant. It was royal language. This how kings spoke of themselves. Adam is a royal son. And you can see a royal rule here in the text.
This brings to another thing I want to highlight here.
Being an image bearer is related to dominion and dynasty.
We aren’t even going to attempt a full exploration of this because this is a theme that you can tease out through the entire Bible, but let’s point out a couple of things here. You can see this clearly in the commands that God gives to Adam and Eve.
Look in Verse 28. What’s the first command for Adam? “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion” over everything.
Be fruitful. Multiply. Fill the earth. Subdue it. Have dominion.
Authority and offspring. Dominion and dynasty.
As an image bearer, Man was created to rule over the creation and multiply image bearers.
Psalm 8:6, “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.”
The image of God was made to rule.
And Adam was commanded to multiply. He was commanded to spread the image of God all throughout the earth. This is why Eve was his helper. Adam couldn’t do this alone.
Called to rule creation and have descendents who would rule creation.
He was a royal son given authority that would extend to his sons.
Who you are precedes what you do.
Mankind was created with a special relationship to God. And because of that relationship, mankind had a particular role. Rule God’s creation, and and spread the glory of God by multiplying his image bearers.
But the bearer of the image rebelled against the one whose image he bore.
And this our next point,
At the Fall, the image of God was marred but not lost.
You know the story.
In Genesis 3, Adam rebelled against God. The serpent deceived Eve, and Adam passively listened to his wife, and he ate of the fruit. “You will be like God,” said the serpent.
In Adam’s sin, the image bearer looked at God and said, “I will be the glorious one. I will be the ultimate authority. You said that I would die, but I defy you.”
On a sunny day, you might look down and see your shadow on the ground. Adam became like a shadow seeking to overcome the real body that it shadows. He became like a mirror that has reflected a person and suddenly thinks that it can operate independently of that person.
It was ridiculous, but it’s what happened.
And so, the image of God became misshapen because of sin. The mirror meant to reflect God glory began to lie to the world. Sin made the image of God become like a mirror with so much mud on it that you can’t see the reflection. Sin mars us because it reflects to the world a lie about who God is.
In God’s patience, he didn’t obliterate Adam and Eve. But in his justice, he cursed them.
Eve’s pain in childbirth was increased. Adam’s labor on the earth would be characterized by pain and futility. His dominion would find resistance instead of submission.
God created him to be an image bearer who would have joy and satisfaction as he carried out God’s commands for dominion and dynasty. But in the curse the entire created order was turned on it’s head.
The earth was made to have Adam as it’s king—God’s representative on the earth. With Eve submitting to her husband and all creation under their dominion. But in the curse, the creation resists them and authority is contested at every turn.
And this is where we find our world.
The image is still here, but it is barely even recognizable. And we know that mankind is still in the image of God because of what God says to Noah after the flood. God instituted the death penalty for those who would kill an image bearer. He did this because we are still image-bearers, even in our fallenness. Still image bearers, but something is wrong.
Romans 3, “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes”
Sin dominates the image bearers, and so the world is broken and futile.
But thanks be to God that He didn’t ignore the brokenness.
Christ is the True and Restored Image of God
We mean this in two senses. First,
Jesus is God made manifest.
We see this in places like Colossians 1:15, where it says, “He is the image of the invisible God” or in Hebrews 1:1-4, where it says that “he is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”
Jesus is God made manifest, and so in this sense, he is the true image of God. He has an authority that is his by his dvine essence.
Jesus himself very clearly claimed this in several places but John 14 is a really clear example.
This is when Jesus has just said that he is going to prepare a place for his followers and that he is himself, the way, the truth, and the life. Look in verse 7,
John 14:7–10, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
In these verses, Jesus tells Philip that to see him is to see the Father. And it’s clear form the way he is speaking that this is a unique relationship. He isn’t telling the disciples, “I have the Father and you can too.” He is making a claim about himself. Jesus was the one by whom “all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:16-20)
He is the one who was “appointed the heir of all things.” He is the one who “upholds the universe by the word of his power. [The one who] After making purification for sins, . . . sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Heb 1:1-4)
Christ is the true and restored image of God. These verses make it really clear that part of this is that Jesus is God who took on flesh. The second in which this state is demonstrated in Scripture is that
Jesus fulfilled all that man was created to be.
Even in the first utterances of the curse at the Fall, God made a promise. In Genesis 3:15, He said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Jesus came to bruise the head of the serpent and make right what was broken.
Where we would passively lean into sin, he resisted to the uttermost. Where we would run from discomfort, he walked in obedience. He perfectly obeyed and perfectly imaged the Father.
By virtue of being truly human and perfectly obedient to the Father, he fulfilled what mankind was meant to be
This is really clear in Hebrews 2. In verse 6, he starts with a quote of Psalm 8. He writes,
Hebrews 2:5-18, “It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Man was created to live in perfect obedience to the Father and have dominion and build a dynasty of image bearers. And Jesus fulfilled everything that man was created to fulfill. He was perfectly obedient to the Father. He submitted his will to the Father as he was given all Authority. And he preached the gospel of the kingdom of God and invited people into it. He called people to come and follow him and be reconciled to God.
Remember, being an image bearer is related to dominion and dynasty. Authority and offspring.
Zero in on verses 8-10 there. “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death [Christ was given dominion. Everything is in subjection under his feet but keep going. We see dynasty here.], so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
In bringing many sons to glory… The dynasty of they kingdom of God is not one that carries from fathers to sons, although we pray that our children would believe. It’s a dynasty carried on preaching and faith.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Rom 10:14-15)
Jesus is the true and restored image bearer, and when we have faith, we are united to Christ as his people. We are adopted as sons, and we are being conformed to his image.
1 Corinthians 15:49 says, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
This brings us to our main point.
By faith, we are united to Christ and are being conformed to his image.
There are three realities I want to highlight here. First,
This is part of our identity.
In Christ, we aren’t the same as we were. We are the people of God. 1 Peter 2:10, “Once you were not a people, now you are God’s people.”
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
In Christ, you are a new Creation. It’s not something you will attain at some point. It’s already yours. The old has passed away.
Romans 8:29, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Ephesians 1:4-5, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will”
If you are in Christ, then you were predestined to be conformed to the heavenly man. Before the foundation of the world, you were chosen to be adopted as a son.
If you are in Christ, this is who you are. You are one who was chosen to be conformed to Christ and brought near to God.
We could look to so many texts. This reality is literally plastered all over the New Testament. In our bodies, we bear the image of the man of dust, but in Christ, we we bear the true and restored image of the heavenly man.
Let’s look at one more text on this point.
Romans 6:9-11, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
In these verses, we see an echo of the creation language of dominion. Sin and death no longer have dominion over Christ. And in Christ, the same applies to us. Our identity has implications for our lives.
This brings us to our next point.
This is grounds for holiness.
In Romans 6, that’s actually the very next point he makes. Look in verse 12.
Romans 6:12-14, “12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
Paul makes a similar point in Colossians 3:5-11.
Col 3:5-11, “5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”
As the people of God we have been adopted into the family of God, but our flesh is still weak. We have to actively kill the sin that would dominate us.
But why would we even try? Because who you are precedes what you do.
You have been adopted as God’s child. You owed a thousand lifetimes of debt, and he forgave you and invited you into his home as his child. You were a usurper who was brought into the home of the king.
If you have trusted in Christ, then this is what your salvation is like. A destitute thief brought into the palace. So live, knowing that this is true of you.
Maybe you’ve heard the word “sanctification.” Sanctification happens is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ!
It’s like in 1 Corinthians 3:18, where Paul writes that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
In Christ, we are adopted as sons and conformed to the glory of his image.
This is reason for hope.
We don’t yet fully bear Christ’s image, but we will. The people of God bearing the image of Christ is part of what we would call the “already-not yet.”
We already referenced 1 Corinthians 15:49, but did you notice something that it was speaking of the future? Not the present. “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
As long as this life lasts, we will be in the process of being conformed to his image. But remember promises like 1 John 3:2-3,
“Beloved, we are God’s children now [adopted image bearers], and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
Or remember Romans 8:18-25, where Paul talks in verse 19 about how “creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” Why would creation be waiting? It’s because the revealing of the sons of God hasn’t been consummated yet. That becomes even clearer a few verses later in verse 23, when he says that , “not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
We’ve seen from other verses that we’ve already been adopted, but here, Paul makes it clear that we still await adoption. It’s like a family who has adopted a child from another country, but the child doesn’t live in their home yet. That child is already legally part of the family, but they live in the wrong country. They have the name but not the place.
That’s what Paul goes on to address in verse 24. “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
We bear the image of Christ, and we are being conformed to that image. And we have the promise that one day, it will be fully ours. We’ll perfectly reflect God in the way that mankind was always meant to reflect him–in the way that Christ reflected his Father.
We already referenced Romans 8:29, where Paul wrote that “those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” But that isn’t the only promise there. Paul didn’t stop writing there. He went on to say that “those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God will not leave you as an orphan. Your suffering isn’t in vain. It’s just before these verses that we see the Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
And it’s just after these verses that Paul lists out clear promises of victory and hope that are based in this exact reality. If before the dawn of time, God sovereignly ordained that you would be conformed to the image Christ, what could possibly destroy you? With our identity firmly planted in Christ, we have hope.
I want to close reading those verses Romans 8:31-39
“31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”