The Image of God in Man – Part 1

Before you begin reading, I would like to properly attribute this post to Pastor John Piper. I see no reason to mislead you as to thinking this topic was stirred by my own thoughts. You see, I have this need to work out things for myself in writing; the following text is simply the product of my engagement with Pastor Piper’s topic and general exposition. That being said, the majority of this text is my response to the truth, not merely a reduplication of what Piper asserted.

We were created in the “image of God” (Gen 1:27) – the imago dei. Of all the scholastic swarm around the true specifications of such a designation, we must not forsake the essential intimation: images are designed to point beyond itself to another.

Above all else and underneath all the significations of the imago dei, we are purposed to point to God, to be an image of Him. The distinctive quality of our being created is to glorify God. We, as this image, glorify God differently than all of creation. Yes, the sunset declares God’s glory; the beauties of a flower, the wonders of the animal kingdom all glorify God, but our image is distinctive. Of all creation, God specifically created us in His image.

Where is the greatest and most apparent distinction in our giving God glory as opposed to the rest of creation? It must be our conscience moral representation of God’s righteousness. Animals, sunsets, spiders, etc. are all incapable of proclaiming God’s glory in such a way (this is best reserved for another discussion).

Nevertheless, does this essential intimation of God’s image in us seem most loving? Are we mere instruments that God plucks to stir up a melody for His megalomania? Are we mere tools? I do not feel much love from such a designed purpose. Were we created out of love, for God to love us, or were we created to be His tool? These questions are appropriately deduced, but they have a biblical resolution that generates a delightful ‘both, and.’

The resolution comes through this glorious truth, best worded by John Piper: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. The most loving thing that God can do is ‘use’ us for His glory, because that aim is achieved most in our joy in God. God’s desire to use us for His glory is His commitment to bring us fullness of joy in Him. God loves us by displaying His glory through us, and He accomplishes that by satisfying us with Himself. God feeds His “ego” by feeding us the satisfaction of Himself, whereby we can turn and joyfully praise the goodness and greatness of our Father. So, yes, we were created in the image of God, and this certainly means being an instrument for God’s glory; but also, yes, God created us to find our satisfaction in Him, thus to love us, because it is by such a means that He is most glorified.

Where can one build such a claim in the Scriptures? For one, look at the story of Lazarus in John 11. Jesus strongly affirms that He loved Lazarus (John 11:3, 5, 36); but how did Jesus love him? Jesus loved Lazarus by letting him die (John 11:6, 21). That sounds like a harsh love, a love that I do not wish my fiancé to have for me. So then, how did Jesus love Lazarus by letting him die? The resolution is in what Jesus proclaims in 11:4 – this will resolve for God’s glory (cf. John 11:15); and so it does. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and this ultimately points to the glory of God (cf. 11:45). Therefore, Jesus loves Lazarus, and thus lets him die, so that God’s glory may be magnified in the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus’ love for Lazarus is determined by His fitting of Lazarus to glorify God through him.

God’s love for us is manifested in His equipping us to glorify Him. Yet, one can easily see how this was for Lazarus’ greatest benefit; he was granted resurrection! The only thing that is better than survival is resurrection, being born again anew. God’s glory is not outside of the beneficence of His loved ones; rather, God’s glory is necessarily wrapped up in His children’s enjoyment of it. God’s most glorious act is resurrection, for it is one that leaves no boast for men; it must be a God-wrought act. Nevertheless, it is God’s most loving act, for it makes dead men alive in Christ. This new life is for our good, yes, but it is not without the supremacy of God’s ultimate glory.

Maybe a more noticeable passage that teaches this glorious truth is found in Philippians 1:20-21.[1] The apostle Paul concludes his consolation to the Philippians regarding his suffering with a stout proclamation: “I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be μεγαλυνθήσεται (megalunthesetai, ‘glorified’ or ‘magnified’) in my body, whether by life or by death.” The essential comfort that Paul gives to the Philippians is that Christ will be magnified in him whatever happens. God getting glory is the foundation for Paul’s perseverance. Now, how does Paul see to having Christ glorified in him? The answer is in Phil. 1:21: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul is asserting that Christ is his full satisfaction, even insomuch that death is more advantageous for him because death is a departure to be with Christ. Therefore, Paul is seeking to glorify Christ in his body, and he pursues this aim by having Christ as his ultimate satisfaction. Indeed, Christ is most glorified in Paul, when Paul is most satisfied in Him.


[1] You can see my previous post on this passage here: https://taylorterzek.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/philippians-120-21/

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