Man's Value is in the Image of God
Nov 23, 2018
One’s view of God as a personal or impersonal God affects one’s entire outlook on life, how one views his fellow man and their relationships, and ultimately one’s entire culture and national character.
It all begins with the question, Is there a God? And if, is He a personal or an impersonal God? Whichever view a man adopts will shape his view of God’s character. That will in turn determine man’s character and value. That in turn will affect the manner in which we relate to others, and this is the basis of law in any culture.
The God of the Bible is a personal God who created man in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). God revealed His nature through many names throughout the Old Testament, culminating finally with the name of Yeshua (Hebrew) or Iesous (Greek) or Jesus (English).
Yet the crowning truth, the most fundamental character of God is revealed in the new Testament by the apostle John, who said in 1 John 2:7, 8, 9,
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born [begotten] of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us….
First, God is love. Second, His love is “manifested in us.” If the love of God is not manifested in us—that is, in our nature—then we do not really know God at all. If our nature is not love, then we have not truly been begotten of God. Only a begotten son of God truly knows the love of God, because he or she too is love.
We conclude, then, that our personal God is love, a word that personalizes Him. He created man in His image and hence, this God of love intended for man to be love as well. Adam’s sin thwarted this later and temporarily, causing men to lose sight of God’s nature. The judgments of God, beginning with mortality (death) itself, clouded men’s ability to know Him, and eventually, many lost sight of His love-nature. Their separation from God gave them separation anxiety, and they felt abandoned.
God made a way for man’s return so that he could maintain a personal and direct relationship with God, but many strayed from that path. This only increased their sense of abandonment. Thrust into a chaotic and uncaring world, where the elements seemed to have no mercy, many began to think of God as impersonal, uncaring, and unfeeling. To survive, they searched for Eden by finding unity with the loveless, chaotic, and impersonal creation.
So the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1:25,
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
One of the oldest biblical truths is that man was created in the image of God. When this sense of divine origin, purpose, and connection with a personal God was lost, religions replaced this truth with principles based on man’s connection to an impersonal creation that was indifferent to their personal needs and aspirations.
Some degenerated into animistic religions by which they appeased the gods (energies). Their gods were not only indifferent to them but were hostile or capricious. The pantheon of Greek gods had a ruler but the gods and goddesses under Him had competing agendas, and they displayed all of the negative human emotions and attributes found among men. They were like men and women who had achieved immortality without perfecting their character or nature.
Even Venus or Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was more like a divine whore than a goddess of genuine love. The concept that “God is love” was beyond their religious thought pattern, and having no personal God to emulate, their culture too was debauched, and they fell far short of the original divine purpose to be and act according to the image of God.
The Rational Word (Logos)
John 1:1 begins by saying, “In the beginning was the Logos.” By identifying the Creator-God as the Logos, we learn that God is not only love but also the Rational Word. This implies order rather than chaos. In other words, love created in an orderly and logical manner, and if man puts on the mind of Christ—who is the Logos—he too can think rationally and find order in creation and in history.
The pursuit of the Logos caused the men of the Reformation to study the word in order to change their thinking to conform to the image of God. This resulted in new ways to view government and culture, as they rejected the oppression of man’s governments that had been based on self-interest, raw power, or pseudo-love. This was also very different from the governments of the East that had been formed by cultures of an impersonal god. So Vishal Mangalwadi tells us in The Book That Made Your World,
“The scientific, technological, military, and economic success of the West came from the fact that it became a thinking civilization. Was its rationality a coincidence of history? Or did the Bible promote rationality because it informed the West that the ultimate reality behind the universe was the rational Word (logos) of a personal God? It was not, as Indian sages thought, primeval silence, senseless sound (mantra), energy, or impersonal consciousness” (p. 77, 78).
While I have no doubt that this assessment is true, we ought to keep in mind that the mind (soul) of man is mortal and that this inner death prevents the mind of man from reaching its full potential. Mortality results in character flaws and lack of love, which are all beneath God’s goal and intention for men created in His image. Therefore, like God, all rational thought must be predicated on the love of God in order to reach the divine standard of measure.
The Apostle Paul reveals to us in 1 Corinthians 1:18 “the word (logos, or divine logic and wisdom) of the cross,” which is very different from the wisdom of the world. To the Jews, a crucified Messiah was a “stumbling block.” To the Greeks a weak and crucified Savior was “foolishness.” But Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:24, 25,
24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For example, when Moses was told to put a tree into the bitter waters of Marah (Exodus 15:25), this seemed to be an illogical, foolish command. But Moses did so by faith, and the waters were healed. Why? Because in the logic of God, the tree represented the cross of Christ, which alone can sweeten any heart of bitterness. Faith was the bridge between Marah and the heart of man. Faith bridged the historical gap between the tree and the cross.
Such is the logic of God. Spiritual logic works by faith. Faith can move mountains.
Again, when the prophet lost the axe head in the Jordan River (2 Kings 6:5), Elisha “cut off a stick (ets, “tree, wood, timber”) and threw it in there and made the iron float.”
Elisha acted by faith when he heard the word of God. The word made no sense to the carnal mind of man, but faith connected his tree with the cross of Christ and saved the iron from the murky depths of death (Jordan). The iron in this case represented the iron kingdom that was yet to rule the earth, as prophesied in Daniel 7:7. In other words, Elisha’s act prophesied that the cross of Christ could raise the dead and save those who were trapped in a bad kingdom.
This is the logos of the cross. While it makes no sense to the carnal mind, faith hears and obeys the word of God, and the results prove that this word is rational.
The Dignity of Man
Genesis 1:26 says that man was created in the image and likeness of God. This gave man value. Any culture that does not assume this to be true will not value man properly. Even atheistic humanism, which claims to value man, will fall short in the end, for he views man as just another animal and values him accordingly. Though he may be valued as the king of animals and congratulate himself for his love and benevolence, the struggle for who will be the greatest king among men always justifies their right to murder their opponents. So the Soviet Union and China have justified their practice of killing millions of people—people who have no value.
The church has not been exempt from such carnal thinking either. The church has treated its “heretics” and “infidels” by the same standard. If they did not recognize the popes as their absolute masters, they had no value but were, in fact, a burden having negative value. The dignity of man applied only to those who had faith in the pope, whether he was right or wrong.
The dignity of man is measured by how we value men and their labor. First, the personal God of love created man in His own image and likeness. This gave man intrinsic value. Therefore, man’s labor was also sacred and inviolable. His labor was designed to form, shape, and increase the value of God’s raw creation. God owns what He labored to create, but man also owns what he labors to shape and form things into useful items.
Hence, the Supreme Court ruled in a tax case during the 1880’s that a man’s labor is his most sacred property right and could not be taxed directly. As long as the American government respected the law of God, he also respected the dignity of man and the sanctity of his labor. But as God’s law was cast aside in favor of Marxist Socialism and Darwinian atheism, governments began to tax men’s labor. Man was degraded in their eyes, and governments assumed the right to steal men’s labor. In the process, man lost dignity and value.
The Reformers, who rediscovered the true dignity of man, pointed to the incarnation of Christ as the divine validation of man’s dignity. After a few centuries of biblical study into the mind of God and man in the image of God, they set forth principles that were ingrained into the American Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1789).
Their biblical views were not fully accurate, of course, and compromise forced them to limit liberty to white people; nonetheless, their foundational principles represented a great leap forward in the history of mankind. I believe their work formed a bridge between totalitarian views of old Europe and the Kingdom of God that yet lies ahead.
The other major problem was the rise of Socialism since the French Revolution (1789-1794), culminating with Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto (1848), coupled with atheistic evolution of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859). These secular views, attempting to create a utopian society without God, violated all of the foundational principles of Scripture by which true liberty is based. Hence, America, Europe, and the world in general have continued to suffer indignities, governments have not respected their God-given right to own their labor, and their labor has been stolen in the name of the common good (“love”).
However, we now prepare our hearts through prayer and studying the rational word of God by faith to make a second great leap in the history of human governments. The imperfections and compromises of the past 2½ centuries will be corrected in the Age to come. As prospective overcomers, we are putting on the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2), and He is working internally to conform our hearts to the image of God (2 Corinthians 3:18).
With Christ as our Head, we are His body, taking directions from our Head and expressing His love to all, which results in liberty and justice for all. In this way, we may testify by our lives of a new and living way that is really just the original pattern and purpose for which we were created.