Image and Likeness = Sanctification and Missions

Wednesday I spoke of man’s created role as God’s kings, prophets, and priests. Obviously when speaking of God making us to carry out these offices we must say that all of these offices find their apex in the Person of Christ, who then is (by no surprise) said to the very image of God throughout the new Testament, and this comes to us in the doctrines of sanctification and missions. Follow me here:

Adam, with the aid of his helpmate Eve, were to carry out these roles because God not only wanted Adam and Eve to rule over creation, but to spread His image throughout the earth by procreation. Adam failed to do this. Next, this same command is passed onto Noah and his family in Genesis 9:1-2, but Ham, Noah’s son, failed like Adam. This un-fulfilled command then becomes a promise God made Abraham. Rather than being told to spread God’s image across the globe, God promised Abraham that He would bless the nations through his descendants.

Did the cultural mandate just go away? No. It is fulfilled by Jesus.

Jesus is called the ‘last Adam’ in 1 Cor. 15:45, and is referred to in Romans 5:14 when Paul says, ‘Adam was a type of the One who was to come.’ These verses mean that in Adam we get a preview not only of what Jesus would be like, but also of the work Jesus will do. How so?

Jesus, unlike Adam fulfilled this command from Genesis 1:28 not by procreation (as Adam was to do) but by making new creations out of sinful human beings. Recall when a person places their faith in Jesus, they become new creations. They, who were originally made in the image of God (but are now marred by sin) are now through salvation more realistic displays of the image of God than they have ever been before because they are living in communion with God, and that’s what they were made for. In regards to sanctification – when one is saved by Jesus, Jesus begins to conform to His own image, which the Bible says is the exact representation of the image of God (Heb. 1:3, Col. 1:15-20). So being conformed into the image of Jesus in sanctification is God’s work of making us into what we are always meant to be – the image of God.

So you see, the more people come to Jesus, the more people are being made into the image of God by Jesus through what is called sanctification. What does this mean? Jesus is fulfilling the Genesis 1:28 command by making these new creations all over the globe.

Therefore, to be made in the image of God means we have an inherent dignity and sanctity, it means we were made to be God’s prophets, priests, and kings as we build and create culture, AND it means the image of God is now being spread throughout the whole earth by Jesus, through the gospel, with the aid of His helpmate, the Church.

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