Sermon Notes: Life and Teaching – Who is Man?

NOTE: When we ask “who is man?”, we are asking who mankind is; who a human being is. We are not leaving out women. 

When God creates people, he calls them “adam”, and “adam” properly translates as man, mankind, or human beings. 

We don’t have to play any silly sociological games with our language. 

We can call people and things who and what God calls them and we can define those nouns as God defines them. 

A word’s meaning is not determined by the myriad of possibilities in a dictionary or a society’s attempts to define a word.

NOTE: Be careful assigning any definition to a word you look up in Greek or Hebrew. It depends on the author’s use of that word as to its meaning in that sentence.) 

A word’s meaning is defined by how the author uses the word and their intent in using the word the way they did. 

When we come to the Bible, The Trinitarian God of the Bible is the author who worked through many scribes to communicate his word. 

Since the Lord is the prophet, the priest, and the king, he speaks, names, and defines a word’s meaning.

So, when we use words the way the Bible uses words, it’s ok to let God’s definition stand. “Man”, “mankind”, and “human” equal male and female because that is what God says.

So, when we ask “who is man?”, we are asking who human beings are as created by God. 

1 Timothy 4:16 “Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

When it comes to answering the question, “who is man?”, our answer will be the aroma of life to some and the aroma of death to others. 

Since Genesis 3, humans who are in a state of rebellion against God want to throw off God’s boundaries of human flourishing, but if we want life, we do well to let God define who a human being is. 

Our current sociological challenges of human identity are NOT new to the world. There is nothing new under the sun. Sin and lies and their fruit in the world run in cycles, and therefore, we are back to a place humanity has been before. 

A proper understanding of who God says humans are should lead us to seek the healing of humanity because human beings are innately valuable and good and worth rescuing. 

Do you know the Bible never speaks to man’s nature as innately evil like we have a tendency to do in our evangelical circles?

We are not by design evil, wretched, bad, or foolish. The Bible never says that, but you bet we can eisogete it in as long as it is said from the lips of a tribally accepted eisogete. 

God declared all of creation, and humans as the apex of his creative genius, very good. 

On a couple of occasions (Psalm 35:15; Matthew 21:41) David and Jesus call people who are seeking evil ends, wretches. They are not speaking to the nature of man. Rather, they are placing on people doing evil deeds the correct definition of their character NOT speaking to their innate nature. 

The Bible never demeans man’s innate nature, and yet even in theological circles we’d all feel right at home in, we are comfortable speaking about human beings in a way God never does. 

Humans are broken and under the condemnation of God due to sin, Judah’s sin is written on hearts with a diamond point (Jeremiah 17:1), yet humans are not innately evil or wretches. 

Humans are broken by sin, and loved by God so much that he would send his one and only son to be the propitiation for sin so that all who would come to him in faith would get a new heart, come under the favor of the Father, and become a new creation. 

We should be careful of how we speak to and about Jesus’ image-bearers.

Let’s read Genesis 1:26-28 together. 

What can we observe about man?

  1. Man is the image of God. Genesis 1:26
    1. Moses chooses two words in Genesis 1:26 to communicate the truth that we are like God: image and likeness.
      1. “Selem” – image, likeness
      2. “Demut” – likeness, similitude
        1. Some argue these two distinct words point out distinct parts of humans.  
        2. I would argue that based on how Hebrew works, Moses is using synonyms back to back for superlative effect (Hebrew does not have superlatives) in order to communicate that human beings are really very much like God. Humans are NOT God. But very much like God.
          1. Just like God in three persons yet one God, God constructs in man unity and multiple parts all in one being. 
            1. We have a physical form just like the pre-existent Son of God who reveals himself in places through the Old Testament as the God-Man (waking with two angels to meet with Abraham in Genesis 18; wrestles with Jacob in Genesis 32; the fourth man who looks like the Son of God in the fiery furnace with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah).
              1. Yes, we are made in the image of Jesus who created us and rose from the grave with a glorified body bearing the scars of life but without sin as the prototype of what we will look like forever when we rise in the resurrection because we have believed in him. (See Philippians 3:21 among many others)
                1. His body, which he has as eternal God, is partly how we image Jesus, our Creator.
                  1. This is also a reason Christians are to be gentle with the human body in it’s relationship to everything…people, the earth, systems, life, and death.  
            2. We have an immaterial part of us also that encompasses our mind and our soul.
              1. We have the capacity to cultivate a relationship with ourselves in our thoughts and communication of our thoughts and the effect of our thoughts and declarations on our bodies. 
              2. Just like the Father, Son, and Spirit work together in harmony and in love, we have that capacity to work together with ourselves and care for ourselves as very complex and glorious creatures. (see family systems theory)
                1. The Lord said that the way he created us in his image is very good. 
      3. This is important because Moses is leading God’s people into a land where the confusion on who mankind is and man’s relationship to the creation and relationship to himself and his relationship to the spiritual world and man’s role has been pillaged and abused and wrecked, and it is imperative in their discipleship they understand who they are.
        1. This is because sin has marred God’s image in us, and left to our devices, we will wound severely what God made innately good.
          1. Man is like God in unity and complexity.
          2. Man is not God. 
  1. What else does it mean to be like God?
    1. The image of God means that man is male and female. Genesis 1:27
      1. God creates man. God creates woman from man and declares both are in his image. 
      2. Men’s and women’s differences are part of the image of God.
      3. That is, the differences between men and women reflect in some way the image of God in creativity and glory.
        1. We need to be careful with how we speak about this.
          1. Somehow and in some way, the Triune God, has constructed male and female as a part of his image in us. 
          2. This is good, and it’s rather mysterious when we look to see these qualities in God’s person because of how we have refracted views of manhood and womanhood and we have to be careful in projecting those back onto God.
            1. Example: Not sure God is a deer hunting, “baccy” chewing, bourbon dranking, bible study dude. 
            2. I don’t know how to give a similar example of a lady like this in hyperbole, so I’ll refrain and prevent myself from getting into trouble. 
        2. The difference in us is reflective of God’s image in ways beyond what the text reveals, and we should be careful about speculating further.
        3. What does the difference between men and women tell us about God’s image in us and what are the implications?
          1. Differences in men and women show God’s creativity and care for complimentary gifts in unity and diversity.
            1. We see this in Trinity.  
            2. Men and women in all their differences display the multi-faceted glory of God.
          2. Differences in men and women set the pattern for marriage.
            1. 1 man + 1 woman = 4 Life
          3. Biblical marriage images what a covenant relationship is to be like between God and humanity and particularly God and his people (see Ephesians 5 and how marriage does this).
      4. Men and women equally represent God in their created spheres.
        1. Man and woman both sharing in God’s image is the Christian reason everywhere the gospel of the kingdom goes, Christian culture elevates women to equal status from abuses inflicted by demonic ideologies constructed on demonic regimes fueled by demonic lies about who women are. 

NOTE: The next part of answering the question: what does it mean to be like God will follow a framework taken from John Frame’s Systematic Theology on the image of God in man.

What Frame sees and I agree with in Genesis 1 is that God creates humans to bear the likeness of himself as prophet, priest, and king. 

These parts of God’s nature are evident in the text if you understand the role of prophet, priest, and king from the rest of the biblical text, and how Jesus, our Creator, fulfills those roles and gifts his people to fill those roles in the kingdom of God. 

The components of prophet, priest, and king as part of God’s image in man are how God rules his people through fellow image-bearers who are set apart as prophets, priests, and kings. 

And, even cooler, when Jesus comes and establishes the foothold of his kingdom, he fulfills in himself the offices of prophet, priest, and king as the God-Man who established this likeness of himself in mankind. 

Jesus then saves and gathers a people who all become a royal priesthood and a holy nation ruled by the King of Kings through biblical church government and governed by his prophetic word spoken and preached in the church and in the world so that all the people of God in Jesus Christ can regain their fully restored roles and prophets, priests, and kings in the eternal kingdom to come while seeing that all nations have access to this salvation. 

Therefore, prophets, priests, and kings capture large swaths of what it means to be like God as his image-bearers. 

So, let’s take a peek at what it means to be like God as prophets, priests, and kings on earth in the order they show up in our text.

  1. The image of God means that mankind has a prophetic authority.
    1. The prophet’s role is to speak God’s word faithfully.
      1. Why?
    2. God communicates, and he does so with language.
      1. God speaks, and when he decrees, he causes things to happen.
        1. Genesis 1:26 “Then God said…”
        2. All through Genesis 1 we read, “God said…”. 
      2. One of the first experiences Adam has is hearing God speak to him.
        1. Genesis 2:19 records for us Adam’s discovery of his need for Eve as he exercises being like God in prophetically identifying the creatures as that identification became the creature’s name.
          1. Genesis 2:19 (CSB) 19 The LORD God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
            1. Adam’s work was to observe and then use language just like God did in creating to identify and define creatures truly, and he does so faithfully and correctly.
            2. Adam begins his co-regency with the Lord by acting like the Lord in speaking faithfully and truly and effectively. 
    3. Adam is like God as he speaks on behalf of God as his co-regent in creation. 
    4. Language and its use is a prophetic activity and has powerful potential.
      1. So, humans are to look like God by speaking like God, about God, and as God’s voice among creation.
        1. We are not to make our prophetic likeness to God more than it is by attempting to take on God’s role. That would be wrong. 
        2. We are not to make less of our prophetic likeness to God either by failing to recognize the powerful purpose of being kings and queens under the King of Kings on this earth either. 
  2. The image of God means that mankind has a priestly presence.  
    1. The role of the priest was to represent God’s presence among his people.
      1. They were to be present representing God’s presence. 
    2. God does not create from a distance. God, the perfect priest, was present in creation as he made all that he made. 
    3. God fashions man together personally. He is present with Adam as he creates Adam.
      1. God then puts Adam on the job and present among the creatures while God summons creatures to Adam so he can prophetically put names on things while present as a priest among creation. 
      2. Adam is God’s co-regent who represents him among all he has made, thus he is like God in being present as God’s priestly representative.
      3. Adam is to be present, but he is NOT God and can’t be all present, so he has to multiply and fill the earth with other image bearers so he and his children can be present as God’s priestly representatives. 
        1. Genesis 1:28 “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth,…”
        2. Part of Adam and Eve’s priestly work is to see that creation is filled with other prophet-priests who will be present to represent God in all of his creation because creation is big!
        3. Notice that God blesses mankind as his priests, and in blessing man to be among creation, God blesses creation with Adam’s presence. 
          1. Humanity’s presence is to be a blessing of peace, power, capacity, and good. 
  1. The image of God means that mankind has a kingly work of subduing and ruling.
    1. What we mean by “kingly” is that man was created in God’s image to exercise oversight in properly doing with creation what God designed them to do with creation as his co-regents.
      1. What does that kingly work look like?
      2. The language of Genesis 1:28 speaks to man’s role in stewarding physical creation.
      3. Genesis 1:28 (CSB) God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
        1. The two words used are “kabash” and it’s best translated as “subdue”.
        2. The other word is “radah” and it’s best translated as “rule”.
          1. Man’s kingly rule is to get the absolute maximum out of an absolutely wild and living earth by putting the “kabash” on it to tame it.
            1. This is not a negative word. 
            2. This word is positive in that subduing implies that things need to be pruned and tended to in all necessary and appropriate ways in order to maximize them, and this is pre-sin. 
          2. Man’s kingly rule looks like overseeing-ruling the fulfillment of creation’s potential in righteousness as God’s kingly co-regents. 
          3. This kingly rule is often called the cultural mandate, and I like to call it the creation mandate as obedience to God’s created function creates a culture.
            1. The subduing and ruling of creation is the act of creating a culture out of all the domains that make up a whole society by the means of being God’s representatives as prophets, priests, and kings. 
  1. Application: What has happened to that good stuff?
    1. Genesis 3 tells us that sin has inserted the virus of death into this glorious work God has done. 
    2. Sin has not destroyed the image of God in man, but sin has marred the image of God in man, and therefore, man’s work as God’s co-regents has become severely more difficult. 
    3. What exactly has sin killed?
      1. Sin has killed, first and most vital, relationship.
        1. Relationship between God and man. 
        2. Relationship between man in himself. 
        3. Relationship between man and man. 
        4. Relationship between man and creature. 
        5. Relationship between man and physical creation.
          1. HINT: It is in the granular work of managing the healing of these relationships that domain work gets at obeying the Lord Jesus’ instructions in Luke 10:9 when he says “heal” the sick and “say” to them the kingdom of God has come near to you.
            1. Example: Poverty is a breach in the relationship between man and physical creation.
              1. See “When helping hurts”. 
      2. Sin has caused us to devalue the goodness of humanity so that we strive to control and dominate each other rather than serve each other. 
      3. Sin has confused created differences in men and women and therefore sought the destruction of humans and the marriage relationship. 
      4. Sin has caused mankind to abuse his prophetic role of using language by imitating the serpent in twisting truth, flat-out deception, and speaking the language of death and curse on one another.
        1. Examples: false teachings; false salvation through faith systems that are not true; curses; lies; miscommunication; misidentification; 
        2. Redemption is sometimes presented as a cleansing of our “lips”.
          1. Isaiah 6:5-7; Psalm 12; Zephaniah 3:9-13
        3. Language as prophetic image bearing is so powerful that James warns that the human tongue in sin has set ablaze entire forests, metaphorically speaking. 
      5. Sin has caused mankind to abdicate his priestly role of presence in blessing creation with peace, power, capacity, and good.
        1. Rather than our presence creating the blessing of peace, power, capacity, and good, there is the potential in our presence for fear, terror, decreased capacity, and relational devastation.
          1. Humans themselves have destroyed, by their presence, other humans, destroyed creation, as well as the potential, capacity, and power of others and nature.
      6. Sin has caused mankind to take his kingly authority in the oppression and damage of people and creation rather than cultivating mankind and nature to release all of the dynamite of blessing in mankind’s gifts for human and natural flourishing. 
    4. The day you eat from this tree, you will die. – God
      1. We just don’t believe that sin is deadly. 
      2. Our parents didn’t believe it then in the garden, and we don’t believe it now. 
    5. What do we do?
      1. Repent and believe the good news of Jesus and his kingdom.
        1. New creation will break in, and you will be set on the path to being back on mission with God in the world. 
      2. Get to know God, and learn to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. 
      3. Exercise your role as a prophet of God by knowing and speaking his word to anyone who will hear. 
      4. Exercise your role as a priest in your vocational domain by looking for broken relationship issues, and get to work repairing them.
        1. This will be different for each one of you, and this is work unpacking in your next RL group gathering.
      5. Exercise your role as king in subduing and ruling first yourself, then your family, then your job, then any extended influence the Lord grants you to have. 
      6. Walk in a life of sanctification that will only come through the cross and God’s good continual refinement of your character until either we pass on or make it until the Lord himself returns. 

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