March 27 - April 1
Created in the Image of God
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 1:26-31; 2:18-25.
MEMORY TEXT: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: What does it mean to be created in God's image?
CREATION AND DIGNITY. In Genesis 1:26, 27 "is clearly set forth the origin of the human race; and the divine record is so plainly stated that there is no occasion for erroneous conclusions. God created man in his own image.... There is no ground for the supposition that man was evolved, by slow degrees of development, from the lower forms of animal or vegetable life.'Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 44, 45.
The psalmist says, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6); "For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast" (v. 9). God was not dependent upon pre-existing matter, but created this world out of nothing (ex nihilo). The universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made of things which appear (Heb. 11:3). If God had been indebted to pre-existing matter to create the universe, where would it have come from? Has matter always existed alongside God, there for Him to use? If that were true, who created matter originally? Where did it come from? From solidified gas or gel? But where did the gas or gel come from? As the Greek philosopher Aristotle pointed out, there must be a "first cause" or an "uncaused cause." We believe that "first cause" is God.
Scripture speaks of God in human terms having form (Exod. 24:10; Num. 12:8) with feet (Gen. 3:8; Exod. 24:10), hands (Exod. 24:11), mouth (Num. 12:8; Jer. 7:13), and heart (Hos. 11:8). We must be careful not to attribute to God the limitations of our physical nature, to become too anthropomorphic in visualizing the Creator. However, to say that God is completely different from us is just as wrong as to say that He is completely like us. Jesus said, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24, NKJV). A mediating position is found in the answer Jesus gave to Philip when he asked to see the Father. Jesus said, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9, NKJV). While the context has reference to the character of the Father more than to His form, the comparison with the Father's tangible characteristics cannot be excluded. Those who wish to jettison all anthropomorphic characteristics of God are unable to explain how personal human beings can be brought into existence by an impersonal force.
"As man came forth from the hand of his Creator, he was of lofty stature and perfect symmetry. His countenance bore the ruddy tint of health, and glowed with the light of life and joy. Adam's height was much greater than that of men who now inhabit the earth. Eve was somewhat less in stature; yet her form was noble, and full of beauty."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.
While in vision Ellen White "saw a throne, and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus' countenance and admired His lovely person. The Father's person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light covered Him. I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like Himself He said He had, but I could not behold it, for said He, 'If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist.'"Early Writings, p. 54.
Compare what Moses saw of God while on Mt. Sinai described in Exodus 33:17-23 with Paul's statement in 1 Timothy 6:13-16. How do you reconcile the two?
Not only did Jesus say to Philip "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father," but He also said, "I am going away and coming back to you. . . . I am going to the Father" (John 14:28, NKJV). "The Father's arms encircle His Son, and the word is given, 'Let all the angels of God worship Him.' Heb. 1:6."The Desire of Ages, p. 834.
Can you visualize God's arms encircling you and saying, "Welcome home"? What a thrill that will be! Aren't you glad that God is real?
In the Old Testament the term heart (leb) brings the total nature--emotional, volitional, and intellectual-of men and women together. It has a combined meaning we call "mind" (Deut. 15:9; Judg 5:15, 16) or "intellect" (Job 8:10; 12:3; 34:10) and is often used with the idea of a person's thought or wish. In this sense, what is "in the heart" actually means "what is in the mind," and what is in the mind makes men and women what they are. "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7, NKJV). Paul, on the other hand, does not employ such general terms; they are much more precise. He uses words such as flesh (sarx) and spirit (pneuma) respectively to denote the ethical and higher aspects of man's moral nature, as well as soul (psyche) to denote the principle of individual life and native rational ability, which of course has been affected by sin (Rom. 1:8; 8:6, 7; Eph. 4:17; Col. 2:18; 1 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:15). (See H. D. McDonald, "Man, Doctrine of," Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1984], pp. 676-680.)
After Adam and Eve sinned, what changes in their behavior indicated a change in their thinking? Gen. 3:8-13.
"Man was originally endowed with noble powers and a well-balanced mind. He was perfect in his being, and in harmony with God. His thoughts were pure, his aims holy. But through disobedience, his powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened through transgression that it was impossible for him, in his own strength, to resist the power of evil. He was made a captive of Satan, and would have remained so, forever, had not God specially interposed.... In his sinless state, man held joyful communion with Him 'in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.' Colossians 2:3. But after his sin, he could no longer find joy in holiness, and he sought to hide from the presence of God. Such is still the condition of the unrenewed heart."Steps to Christ, p. 17.
Fact: "There is a way that seems right to a man. But its end is the way of death" (Prov. 14:12, NKJV).
Prayer: "Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name" (Ps. 86:11, NKJV).
Promise: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps. 119:105, NKJV).
Christian Education: "Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator-individuality, power to think and to do."Education, pp. 17, 18.
Men and women were created with a spiritual dimension akin to the Creator. They were called to be holy as He is holy. The word spirituality is relatively new. It is not commonly used in biblical or theological dictionaries, and there is a reluctance to speak of spirituality without grounding it in Scripture. Expressions such as spiritual formation, spiritual health, and spiritual discipline can easily lead men and women to think of spirituality apart from personal obedience to the Word of God. In the past, expressions such as holiness, holy living, godliness, walking with God, discipleship were more acceptable because they emphasized commitment and a deepening relationship with Christ guided by Scripture. The penetration of secularism into every aspect of modem life and the surge of interest in spiritualism are cause for alarm.
Asceticism, reaching a higher spiritual state by rigorous self-denial, discipline, exclusivism, and contempt for the material world is not spirituality according to Scripture:
1. The biblical revelation of God leaves no place for human wisdom as in Eastern thought, nor for human reasoning as in Greek thought. The will of God has been given to us in Scripture. The Ten Commandments, written by the God of the covenant, gives us a very different orientation.
2. Christian spirituality is also Christ-centered. Scripture speaks of believers being in Christ and being followers of Christ in the sense of having a dynamic relationship with Jesus as Saviour and Lord that leads to continued spiritual growth assessed by reflecting Him.
3. True spirituality engenders fellowship, the communion of the saints, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. It means godliness and spiritual friendship reflected in the horizontal as well as the vertical dimension of existence. It means the embodiment of the love of God in the human heart for Him and for others. (See J. M. Houston, "Spirituality," Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, pp. 1046-1050.)
Compare the expression "be ye holy for I am holy" in Leviticus 11:44, 45 with 1 Peter 1:13-16. In what way are they different and yet the same?
|Application: Can a person continuing a life of sin such as adultery or dishonesty, without repentance and change, claim to have a spiritual relationship with Christ? Does what you do in the body have an impact on your soul, the spiritual part of you?|
Throughout the Old Testament the concepts of men and women as unique and responsible individuals and as social and representative beings are clearly set forth. For example: Adam was a man and yet mankind. Old Testament writers see in him individuality and social solidarity. He is not viewed atomistically but as the representative of the whole human community. Similarly, Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, and others, such as the king and the high priest, embody in themselves the whole nation. From this perspective of racial solidarity it follows that Adam's sin affected not only himself but every man and woman who followed, both in themselves and in the whole range of their social relationships. Scripture teaches that God created the entire human species in Adam and Eve by empowering them to procreate and propagate "after their kind" (Gen. 1:12, 21, 25). The solidarity of the race and its solidarity with sin is seen in such passages as Psalm 58:3; Romans 5:12, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:3. (See H. D. McDonald, "Man, Doctrine of," Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, pp. 677-679.)
List the six illustrations of the higher application of the law that Jesus gives in Matthew 5:21-47 that reveal the kind of relationship with others that reflects the character of God.
Note: In Matthew 5:48, Jesus is not speaking of perfection as absolute sinlessness. The word perfect (teleios) means full-grown or mature adult beings, such as trained and fully qualified professionals (compare 1 Cor. 13:11). Paul speaks of "them that are perfect" (1Cor. 2:6) and of "as many as be perfect" (Phil. 3:15). At the same time, the apostle recognizes that there are always new heights to gain and that he himself has not reached the ultimate perfection (Phil. 3:12-14). (See SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 341.)
|Application: "Ministers especially should know the character and works of Christ, that they may imitate Him; for the character and works of a true Christian are like His.... He is our pattern."-Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 549.|
There are different views as to how sin affected the nature of man. In the Augustinian-Calvinist view, men and women are totally depraved, totally dead, their will is not free to choose the good. Therefore, salvation is an act of God's irresistible grace and predestination of those who are chosen by Him to be the elect. Arminius and John Wesley, on the other hand, taught that Adam's sin had dire consequences and that each of us possesses a "natural propensity" to sin. At the same time they maintained that every man and woman still possesses free will and the ability to choose to ratify or to turn against this inborn direction by accepting Christ as their Saviour and the aid of the Holy Spirit to help them walk in the way of righteousness. In other words, men and women are sick and need the medicine of the Great Physician. (See H. D. McDonald, "Man, Doctrine of," Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 680.)
Find three texts that show that our freedom to choose good--and thus reflect the image of God-has not been entirely lost by the entrance of sin.
Related to the question of freedom to choose the good is the question of what constitutes the moral image of God. Some biblical scholars make a distinction between the creation-image given to all men and the redemption-image given to the redeemed. Such theological distinctions are unwarranted. The practical question is: Was this moral image totally obliterated at the entrance of sin, leaving men and women totally depraved, or was the moral image simply shattered, leaving humans unable to restore it on their own? If the moral image of God in men and women had been totally obliterated, if Adam and Eve had fallen "totally flat" after they sinned, how could there be a succession of falls?
|Reflect: "When Christ took human nature upon Him, He bound humanity to Himself by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Satan will constantly present allurements to induce us to break this tie-to choose to separate ourselves from Christ. Here is where we need to watch, to strive, to pray, that nothing may entice us to choose another master; for we are always free to do this. But let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, and He will preserve us.... Nothing can pluck us out of His hand."-Steps to Christ, p. 72.|
FURTHER STUDY: Look up the word Evolution as listed in the Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White to understand some of the reasons God gives why this theory is unacceptable and not according to the biblical record. Also read the article entitled "Science and a Literal Creation" in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, pp. 46-63. Look up the phrase "Image of God" in the Index to better understand the meaning of that expression and read Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . . , Chapter 7, "The Nature of Man," which gives a more comprehensive view of the subject.
SUMMARY: The Bible teaches that God created all things out of nothing. He did not use evolution to create humans but molded Adam from clay and breathed into him the breath of life.
Working in the field with ADRA International is anything but boring. During the 15 months I spent working in public health in South Sudan, broken bones, malaria, and other hardships threatened our work. But some experiences made it all worthwhile. This was one of them.
Six of us crammed into ADRA's tiny utility vehicle for the eight hour trip to the ADRA base camp in South Sudan. The rain-rutted roads made travel painful at best. Halfway to our destination we were stopped by a roadblock. When the base commander saw us he asked us to examine a Dinka woman who had been in labor for five days. George, a Kenyan nurse, and I examined her and agreed to take her to a hospital four hours away.
We squeezed back into the jeep and continued our journey. Two hours later Mary, the expectant mother, began to fidget and perspire. George suggested we stop and examine her again. We laid my bed sheet on the tall savanna grass beside the road and examined Mary again. The baby was coming-now!
George quickly went to work, but Mary delivered a baby boy before we were ready. I cleaned my knife and George cut the cord. Soon she delivered a second baby, a girl. But the tiny girl was not breathing. I wrapped the baby boy in my bath towel while George worked on the little girl. After several minutes the little girl began to breathe on her own!
After Mary had rested a bit we loaded her and the twins into the back of the vehicle. George rode with our new passengers in the jeep, and the rest of us began walking toward our destination. When we reached camp, long after dark, we learned that Mary' husband had met his new family at the hospital. When he heard the day's story, he promptly named his new son Adra. Suddenly the long trip that day hadn't seemed so tiring after all.
Mary with Baby Adra and his sister (left). Constance Strahle was serving a Immunization Coordinator with ADRA/South Sudan when she met Mary.
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