“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Created in God’s Image (Doy Moyer)
2) “Imitation Love” (Wayne Goff)
Created in God’s Image
Genesis is a battleground for worldviews. Humanists know that to undermine the teachings and concepts of Genesis will ultimately undermine Christianity. They know that biblical ideas are contrary to the evolutionary concepts to which they so dearly cling. Do Christians understand the importance of Genesis so well? Genesis matters because it is the foundation for understanding our relationship to God. Genesis teaches us who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. If we will have a proper view of who we are, then we must start with God.
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
Trying to understand who we are without God will never work. This is one of the fundamental failures of naturalism. Humanists seek to understand man first, then speculate how man invented God. The biblical perspective is very different. Not only does God come first, but mankind is made in God’s image (1:26-27). Identity, purpose, and destiny can only be understood within these perimeters: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Male and female are made in God’s image. The “image of God” is likely well beyond what we fully grasp. We are complicated creatures. We struggle to understand. How much more do we struggle to understand the infinite God? Since God is able to do far abundantly beyond anything we can ask or think (Eph 3:20), we would do well to maintain some humility. Though far from exhaustive, I would suggest that being made in God’s image includes:
Reason. God made us with the ability to think and reason. The idea of God communicating with mankind in any way shows God’s expectation of reason. We have minds capable of reflecting, thinking, and deciding. We are made to think, and this ability reflects the image of God.
Morality. We are moral creatures, but why? Darwinists assume that what we call moral behavior evolved just like everything else, but brute materialism does not have the ability to explain why we should or should not do anything good or bad. The biblical worldview understands that morality is tied to the Creator. God is, by nature, moral. “There is only One who is good.” God doesn’t just do or command good, He is good. He made humans moral creatures with the ability to choose right or wrong. This is not something applied to the animal world. Dogs don’t contemplate the moral ramifications of their actions. We don’t call a tiger immoral for killing another tiger. Only humans have this moral nature, and this directly connects us to God’s image.
Love. God is love (1 John 4:16). The nature of love is that it seeks a loving response. God made humans with the capacity to love. This comes with a risk, for if we can choose to love, then we are able to choose not to love. Choosing not to love will have great consequence. Love, then, is tied to free will, for love cannot be forced. If loving God is the greatest commandment, then it must be chosen. Our capacity to love, together with our moral nature and ability to reason, are powerful reflections of being made in God’s image.
Dominion. In the context of Genesis 1 is the idea of dominion. Mankind was made to rule over all other created things. This concept of kingship stems from God Himself, who is the ultimate Ruler. Being made in God’s image means responsible rule and leadership. Humans were made as the crowning glory of God’s creation, and this calls upon us to act appropriately. This is not for our own selfish ambition or pride. Rather, we are to submit ourselves to God and His glory, just as Jesus, our King, acted.
Why Sin Is A Problem
Sin is a problem precisely because we are made in God’s image. Animals have no moral dilemma or guilt. We, on the other hand, are guilty of sin because we are reasoning, moral creatures who can choose to love or not love God. If love means anything, then there will be consequences for not loving Him.
Law is a reflection of God’s character and nature. Sin is a transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4), and a falling short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). Sin violates the glory and nature of God. When we sin against God, we also sin against ourselves, acting contrary to the image in which we have been made. The consequences of sin should drive this point home.
Being made in God’s image, we were created to serve Him and not ourselves. Let us remember that proper reason, pure morality, undefiled love, and responsible dominion are what God expects of us. We, of all creation, are especially blessed to be created in God’s image. Now, we continue striving to be conformed to the image of His Son. Respecting who we are will necessarily involve respecting the One who made us this way.
— Via bulletin articles of the Vestavia church of Christ, May 27, 2018
There is a hit song produced by Anita Bryant and later by Marie Osmond entitled “Paper Roses.” I didn’t much care for the song myself, but the lyrics are haunting. It speaks of being deceived by what was perceived to be love, but which was not. As the song states:
“So take away the flowers that you gave me,And send the kind that you remind me of.Paper roses, paper roses,Oh how real those roses seem to me,But they’re only imitation,Like your imitation love for me.”
One can imagine from these words the pain inflicted on one thought to be loved but who was only deceived into thinking that they really were loved. For reasons unknown to me, that song has been going through my head recently. And it made me think of those disciples of the Lord who profess love for God but who really only have “imitation love” for Him.
Paul warned Titus of these people and wrote: ”They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work,” Titus 1:16. True love is shown by one’s actions or works. There were those who professed a love for Christ in word but who did not perfect that love by actions. The lesson for us is obvious. We must not only profess our love for God, for Christ, and for His church in the words of our songs, sermons, and classes, but also in our very lives.
* Deny ungodliness & worldly lusts, Titus 2:12* Live soberly, righteously, godly, Titus 2:12* Keep Christ’s Word and perfect love, 1 Jn. 2:5* Love your brother, 1 Jn. 2:10; 3:10-11, 14* Live sacrificially, 1 Jn. 3:16-17* Love God and keep His commandments, 1 Jn. 5:2-3
If anyone professes a love for God, and yet denies Him by their sinful actions, then they do not truly love God, but are only offering an “imitation love.” Dear reader, it is my hope that you have a true love for God and that this love is expressed in every action of your life. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
— via articles of the Roanridge church of Christ, November 4, 2018
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)