MAN CREATED IN THE SIMILITUDE OF THE DEITY
Enter subtitle here
In the Image of God Made He Him
"With him (Moses) will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches, and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold"
THE TRUTH FULLY DISCOVERED
IT is our conception and conviction that the Truth in all its essential elements was formulated from Scripture by brethren Thomas and Roberts. We regard the matter of the scripturally-revealed Person of the Father as one of these elements. We do not regard these brethren as inspired authorities, but we do consider them faithful and dependable expounders of basic scriptural truth.
Christadelphians have for 100 years embraced what they believe to be the "Faith once delivered to the saints." Regarding the element of scriptural truth as to what is revealed concerning the personal form of the Father, it is our conviction from Scripture that the Christadelphian belief-as in all other basic points-is sound and true.
The suggestion that God has no form, or that His form, if any, is different from that manifested in the angels, and man, and the present glorious eternal spirit body of Jesus, and that the simple record of man's creation in the image of God must be interpreted symbolically-these views are not new in the world but have been fully considered in Christadelphian literature and study in the past, and have been rejected as error.
In the words of bro. Roberts (Chdn. 1896, p. 348), "Our mind is that the Truth has been found in its original simplicity and purity and completeness, and that the only enlightened business in hand is to preach and contend for and apply this."
THE TEACHING OF BRETHREN THOMAS AND ROBERTS
WE shall first show what bre. Thomas and Roberts and the whole Christadelphian body from their day to the present have believed to be the scriptural truth on this matter-one of the foundation truths upon which the whole structure of revelation and the ultimate purpose of God is founded. These references are abbreviated. The intention is not to give the reasoning in full (which can be looked up), but to briefly illustrate the consistent conviction throughout.
Then we shall show, by a few quotations from the "orthodox" writers of Christendom, that the idea that God has no form is one of their doctrines by which they oppose the scriptural truth of bodily salvation- the redemption of the body.
Then we shall give what we consider to be positive scriptural proof that the Christadelphian viewpoint on the matter is the true one, followed by a consideration of the passages put forward to prove differently.
QUOTATIONS FROM THE TRUTH'S STANDARD WORKS
Elpis Israel, p. 38-9: "The import of the phrase 'in the image, after the likeness' is suggested by the testimony that 'Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth.' In this respect, Seth stands related to Adam, as Adam did to the Elohim ... Would anyone be at a loss to know the meaning of Seth's being in the image of his father? The very same thing is meant by Adam being in the image of the Elohim ... The resemblance therefore of Adam to the Elohim as their image was of bodily form ... In shape, Seth was like Adam, Adam like the Elohim, and the Elohim the image of the invisible Increate, the great and glorious Archetype of the intelligent universe."
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Eureka, vol. I, p. 95-6: "Incorruptible and living substance, t
hen, is the Body of the Deity; and as the glorified Jesus is the 'Image of the Invisible Theos,' He must have 'parts' ... He has form and parts, as well as body, and is the great Archetype, or divine Original, after which all the Elohim, or immortal intelligences, of His universe are modelled and made ...
"Now these suggestions are sustained by 'the likeness of the glory of Yahweh' which appeared to Ezekiel. 'Above the firmament,' says this prophet, 'that was over the heads of the four living ones, was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it ... This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh'-ch. 1:26-8."
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Phanerosis, p. 28-9: "Paul says in Heb. 1:2-3 that the Son is the 'charakter' (Greek meaning 'graving') of His 'hypostasis' (substance) ... Seth was the image of Adam, and Adam the image of the Elohim (Gen. 1:26; 5:3) ... Adam the First was image of Elohim, and this was in relation to bodily form ... Body and form were the hypostasis (substance) of Adam and Seth ... Where 'image (charakter-graving) is predicated of hypostasis' (substance), that hypostasis must have both body and form. The Father-Spirit ... is a bodily form."
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Ways of Providence, p. 12-16: "Man is stated by James to be 'made after the similitude of God,' even the Father-see context (James 3:9). Paul also says he is 'the image and glory of God' (1 Cor. 11:7). Christ, formed in fashion as a man, is said to be 'the image of God' (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15); and 'the express image of His person' (Heb. 1:3); which gives force to Yahweh's description of him as 'the man that is My fellow' (Zech. 13:7).
"From this results the conviction that the Father is not only glorious substance, even spirit substance, but that this substance has the human form in its perfection. The Father's person is, in fact, the prototype of all intelligent being. Of Moses it was said, as indicative of the privilege which he alone enjoyed in his day, 'the similitude of the Lord shall he behold' (Num. 12:8). That this referred to the angelic manifestation of Yahweh is unquestionable, but still the fact remains that the similitude he beheld was the similitude of Yahweh.
"The God revealed to us in the Bible is a Creator, a Father, and a Person; universal in His presence and power, but still a located and glorious Person ... Our simple duty is to accept implicitly what is revealed ... The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is a personal Father, yet not a man, though we faintly borrow our image from Him."
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Bible Finger Posts, old #29, new #19 (Written by bro. Roberts, still distributed): "Concerning the Eternal Father, the teaching of the Scriptures is very clear ... That He is light and life incorporate in glorious form and substance, even the form which the human form faintly reflects."
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Instructor, p. 10: "The Bible reveals that man is a living soul or creature, originally made of the dust of the ground, in the image of God."
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Visible Hand of God, p. 18: "He (man) is the similitude of the divine form ... a special and noble creature formed for the glory of God."
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Christadelphian Answers, p. 1: "The doctrine that God is 'without body or parts' is utterly opposed to what is told us in the Scriptures of Truth, from which we learn that He is of human form-Exo. 33:23, Heb. 1:3, Jam. 3:9)."
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Christendom Astray, p. 118: "The Scriptures plainly teach that the Father is a tangible person ... We will not say that the Being with Whom he (Moses) had this intercourse was actually THE ETERNAL ONE, because it is evident from what Stephen and Paul teach that it was an angelic manifestation ... Yet it is affirmed that to Moses it was a similitude of Yahweh (Num. 12:8). It was therefore a manifestation of the Deity."
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Christadelphian Treasury, p. 4: "We learn from the Bible that the Deity it reveals has both body and parts."
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Christadelphian 1889, p. 104: "We cannot pretend to measure God or even adequately compare Him to any mere human standard. The glory of the incorruptible so far transcends the glory of the corruptible that it is impossible to institute anything beyond the very faintest comparison (Rom. 1:23, Isa. 40:18). Still there are some comparisons that are directly expressed in the Scriptures, and some others that are involved.
"First, with regard to the numberless variety of creatures that God made, it is said of man alone that he was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-7; 5:1; 9-6). This is confirmed by what is again recorded in the New Testament (1 Cor. 11:7; Acts 17:28-9).
"Made like the angels at first with respect to form and faculty (but for the present 'a little lower' than they with regard to nature and function), we are destined at the last-subject to Christ's approval-to become their equals in nature, life, function, power and glory. Like the 'third heaven,' it is the stage in the process of ascension from the earthy to the heavenly, and from the natural to the spiritual (1 Cor. 15:46-9).
"First, being 'born of flesh' (John 3:6), we are descendants of him of whom it is recorded that he 'was the Son of God' (Luke 3:38), and for which reason, as Paul says, 'We are also His offspring.' In this we have the raw material of God's purpose-God's image in living clay.
"Next to this, in being 'born of water' we become sons of God upon the still higher principle of being born again of the incorruptible seed, or the word of the kingdom of God sown in the heart (1 Pet. 2:23, Matt. 13:19). It is of this result that John says, 'Now are we the sons of God.'
"This in due time (in the case of the faithful) will be followed by what Christ calls being 'born of the Spirit' (John 3:5-7) ... a man thenceforward 'is Spirit' ... he has entered upon the last degree of qualification that introduces a man to eternal incorporation into the perfected immortal family of God (Rev. 21:7; Luke 20:36) ... Christ is both the example and the guarantee of its final attainment ... This accomplished, the likeness of the 'children of light' to the 'Father of Lights' may be accounted complete.
"When the pure in heart see God (Matt. 5-8; Heb. 12:14), they will not look upon a mere shapeless concretion of power or aggregation of nature's forces, but upon the glorious, personal Archtype of the universe, of whose person Christ is already the 'express image,' the very impress of His substance, and the effulgence of His glory (Heb. 1:3, Revised Version)."
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Christadelphian 1892, p. 132: "God has form, and His form is the human form ... we need not go nearer than this.''
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Christadelphian 1892, p. 169: "The Divine form-the form of man, who is 'made after the similitude of God,' even the Father (James 3:9). This is the form of the angels, who are also spoken of as 'the sons of God' (Job 38:7). Their designation as sons would point to a Father-form, even He Who 'dwells in light' ... With this in view, we can join in David's word with fullness of meaning: 'To Thee lift I mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens'; and in the prayer that the Lord taught his disciples, 'Our Father Who art in heaven'."
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Christadelphian 1892, p. 263-4: "He is the Eternal, Increate, Inevitable Archtype after which He molded the corporeal form of all His children ... It is not a matter upon which to speculate, for to do so is both irreverent and presumptuous ... We can approach no nearer than the Spirit has permitted in Exo. 24:10-1; 33:18-23; 1 Tim. 6:15-6, and the various symbols of His glory ...
"In discountenancing any speculative inquiry into the character of His Form, of His Person, of His Substantial Being, I do most heartily agree ... It is not a matter to be dealt with lightly or too familiarly; but with awe, reverence, and a worshipful silence, as becometh His children, begotten in the anointed Jesus, who is or bears His express image."
THE FALSE VIEWS OF CHRISTENDOM
BASED UPON THE IMMORTAL SOUL
Adam Clarke Commentary, vol. 1, p. 38: "Gen. 1:26 - What is said here refers to his soul-this was made in the image of God ... God was now producing a spirit; it was created after the image of God, and that image, Saint Paul tells us, consisted in righteousness, true holiness and knowledge, Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10."
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Interntl. Bible Ency., p. 1264: "It lies in the nature of the case that the 'image' does not consist in bodily form; it can only reside in spiritual qualities."
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Westminster Dict, of the Bible, p. 10: "He (Adam) was made in the image of God. Paul describes the similarity as consisting in knowledge, righteousness and true holiness."
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JFB Commentary, vol. I, p. 8: "In what did this image consist? Not in the erect form of man ... but in the moral dispositions of his soul, commonly called original righteousness."
The above quotations illustrate the general way in which these verses are interpreted by Christendom. Some however-recognizing, and more honestly facing, the force of the words in the original-seek a way of fitting them in with the orthodox conception of God and the soul, as follows-
Companion Bible, p. 4: "Refers only to outward form, not to attributes. 'Our image,' that is, of Elohim, the Second Person, who had taken the creature form in order to create."
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Abington Commentary, p. 221: "A further hint of a lower theological position has been seen by some in the repeated phrase 'in our image,' which is thought to point to a time when men believed that God had a material frame like that which man possesses."
THE LITERAL FOUNDATION OF SCRIPTURE
THERE is undoubtedly much more to the general subject of the 'image of God' than just bodily form. The whole Bible is built on this plan-
"First that which is natural, afterwards that which is spiritual."
The solid literal foundation in each case is firmly laid, and then the beauties of type, lesson or symbol are developed from it. But Christendom sweeps away the literal basis entirely and gives everything a "spiritual" interpretation.
There is much in the Bible about Israel, Jerusalem, temple, city, etc., that is figurative and spiritual. Christendom uses this to break down the literal foundation upon which these spiritual truths are built. To them, there is nothing literal in all the promises about Israel, Jerusalem, the land, etc. All, however obviously factual and literal, must be "spiritualized."
The word "body" is another excellent example of this treatment. Unquestionably there is much secondary or figurative use of this word, but it is all based on the solid literal foundation. When we read that he "shall change our vile body (soma) that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body (soma)" we know that it is strictly literal - the basic foundation of our hope of eternal life through glorification of the literal body.
And when we read "For the edifying of the body (soma) of Christ," and "We are members of his body (soma)," while we fully understand this does not mean a literal physical body, still we do not feel compelled to set the one against the other and conclude that the literal meaning must be false.
The real, simple, literal framework of the Bible is our anchor. Certain statements are demonstrably literal. We need all of the literal scriptural foundation to combat the immaterial soul theories of Christendom, which merely brushes aside all literal statements that do not fit its views.
ACCEPTING JUST WHAT GOD HAS SAID
WHAT then is the literal foundation that we are given concerning man being made in the image of God? It is not a matter of what we think it should mean, or of developing an idea that we feel to be "conceivable." ANY conception of God is "inconceivable."
It is just as difficult, yea, more difficult, to conceive of Him without a body than with one - just as difficult and more so to conceive of Him with any other form than one like our Own.
It is just as impossible for us to adequately conceive of space as endless as it is to think of it with an end (for what is beyond?). Our minds are not constructed to grasp these things, and to speculate is folly.
We must - as carefully as we can - try to determine just what God has told us, and hold firmly to that. That is our salvation. Exactly what He has told us - thereby we may, in His mercy, save ourselves from the pitfalls that have befallen all who have permitted their minds to speculate and wander from the narrow beam of directly revealed truth.
When we have established the literal foundation, and fixed it immovably in our minds, then we can profitably examine the secondary meanings and lessons that are developed from it in Scripture.
As regards the soul, hell, death, satan, Israel, Jerusalem, temple, land, city, heaven, earth, etc., the Old Testament lays the solid foundation of literal reality. Upon this established reality the New Testament builds. Christendom throws the Old away - the book of definitions - and is therefore free to make what it likes of the New.
THE word "image" in question in Gen. 1:26-7 is tselem in the original Hebrew. This word occurs 34 times. Of these 34 occurrences-
In 4 places, it is used in connection with the making of man in God's image-Gen. 1:26, 27; 9:6.
In 27 places, it is obvious and inescapable from the direct context that the meaning is actual, literal form, shape and appearance.
In the 3 remaining places, the meaning is not fixed by the context. (One of these 3 concerns Seth being in the "image" of Adam-we believe the simple, natural meaning is obvious but not absolutely conclusive.)
The following are all the occurrences of this word tselem-
The four references to the 'image of God'-
Gen. 1:26-"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
Gen. 1:27 (twice)-"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him."
Gen. 9:6-"For in the image of God made he man."
The 27 times where the meaning is clear and unmistakable -
Num. 33:52-"Destroy all their molten images."
1 Sam. 6:5 (twice)-"Ye shall make images of your emerods and images of your mice."
1 Sam. 6:11-"The images of their emerods."
2 Kings 11:18-"And his images broke they in pieces."
2 Chron. 23:17-"And brake his images in pieces."
Eze. 7:20-"They made the images of their abominations and their detestable things."
Eze. 16:17-"Madest to thyself images of men."
Eze. 23:14-"Images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion."
Amos 5:26-"Moloch and Chiun your images."
Daniel, chaps. 2 & 3-Sixteen occurrences 'the great image,' 'the image's head,' 'smote the image upon his feet,' 'an image of gold, ' 'the golden image.'
Dan. 3:19-"And the form (tselem) of his visage was changed" -the visible appearance.
The 3 remaining times where the meaning is not definitely fixed by the context -
Gen. 5:3-"Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image."
Psa. 39-6-"Man walketh in a vain show (tselem)." Some translate this, "Although every man walketh in the image (of God), yet . . ."
Psa. 73-20-"O Lord, when Thou wakest, Thou shalt despise their image."
This last is illustrated by many passages, such as these:
Isa. 41:23 (God speaking to the idols) - "Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods ... Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought. An abomination is he that chooseth you."
Jer. 2:28 - "Where are the gods that thou hast made thee? Let them arise, if they can save thee."
Eze. 6:4-7 - "Your images shall be broken ... and ye shall know that I am the Lord."
So we see that in 27 cases 'tselem' conclusively means a literal, visible, outward form, and in the remaining three cases where the meaning cannot be proven from the context, this same meaning is the simplest and most reasonable one to infer.
In every place where the meaning of this word tselem is fixed by the context, it inescapably refers to literal form.
SO WHEN GOD USES THIS WORD AND SAYS THAT MAN IS MADE IN HIS IMAGE, WE BELIEVE THERE CANNOT BE ANY DOUBT AS TO WHAT HE MEANS US TO UNDERSTAND BY IT.
To suggest that this word as used here means something entirely different from its real meaning and the way it is used everywhere else is surely unreasonable and wrong, and would open a way whereby all the literal framework of the Bible could be nullified.
For any who will treat the Scriptures fairly and without previous bias, really seeking the meaning intended, Gen. 1:26 can convey but one simple, clear meaning.
Free from theological speculation about immortal souls and the body not being the real man, this is the conclusion all sound brethren have come to in the past as they have read this revelation from God.
WHOLE SUBSEQUENT PICTURE CONFIRMS THIS
THE whole subsequent picture as given in the Scriptures clearly confirms and agrees with this fitting and beautiful and inspiring and ennobling literal foundation of our kinship with the Father-
"In the image of God created He man."
This is necessitated by the revealed fact that - for those who are faithful - this mortal body is to be changed to glorious eternal spirit substance "even like unto Christ's glorious body" which is so described after his resurrection. (Christendom has lost this anchor of reality-bodies are quite incidental to their creed.)
Jesus Christ - a glorious spiritual body-now sits at the right hand of God, his Father.
To that divine family we hope to be eternally joined, each with his body changed to glorious, incorruptible spirit substance, sons of our Father in heaven.
This conception of God as the Father and glorious Archetype of all His children is woven throughout the Bible. It lies at the root of, and gives meaning to, all the ''manifestations of God" right down to that greatest and fullest manifestation-"a Son."
IN Num. 12:8 God says-
"With him (Moses) will I speak mouth to mouth . . . and the similitude of the Lord (Heb: Yahweh) shall he behold."
This word "similitude" is temunah and is exactly the same word as used in Deut. 4:12, "Ye heard the voice . . . but SAW no similitude." (This latter verse has been used in the arguments for the views we are combating.)
This word occurs ten times in all, as follows:-
Num. 12:8-"The similitude of the Lord (Yahweh) shall he behold."
Exod. 20:4-"Thou shalt not make any graven image or any likeness of anything."
Deut. 4:15-"Ye saw no manner of similitude."
Deut. 4:16-"The similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female."
Deut. 4:23-"Graven image, or the likeness of any thing" (Same in verse 25).
Deut. 5:8-"Graven image, or the likeness of any thing."
Job 4:16-"An image was before mine eyes."
Psa. 17:15-"I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness" (RV: 'with beholding Thy form.')
It will be observed that in every occurrence but the first and the last, the context leaves no possible doubt that actual, outward, visible form or shape is meant. Eight times out of ten the context positively fixes the meaning. On what possible ground can it be claimed that in the other two places (Num. 12:8 and Psa. 17:15) where the similitude of God is referred to, we have any license to give it a different meaning? To arbitrarily say that temunah does not mean visible form in these two places in question, when it undeniably does everywhere else, is utterly unreasonable.
How can God teach us anything, if we are going to treat words like this? Here again He is using a word to teach us something about Himself, and in every other place in Scripture where He uses that word He so arranges the context as to make the meaning inescapable-literal form. He says of Moses, "The similitude of Yahweh shall he BEHOLD," and a fulfillment of this promise is described in detail in language that can leave no doubt as to its literal meaning-Exo. 33:20-23.
ALL REVELATIONS OF GOD POINT JUST ONE WAY
ALL that is revealed on this subject tends in one direction. All the 'similitudes of Yahweh' that have been manifested have been of just one form. Surely God is leading our minds to but one conception. Bearing in mind the clear meaning of Gen. 1:26, this consistent presentation all through Scripture is irresistible in its import.
As bro. Thomas points out (Eureka I, p.95-6), "The appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh" (Eze. 1:28) which was "the likeness as the appearance of a MAN" (v.26) is another link in this chain of the manifestation of the similitude of Yahweh.
And what else can we reasonably make of Exo. 33:20-23-
"And He (Yahweh, v.17) said, Thou canst not see My Face, for there shall not man see Me and live . . . thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen."
Surely no words could be plainer or more specific than this, if we will accept them in their simple meaning. Again we have Exo. 24:10-11-
"And they saw the God of Israel and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone."
All this fits perfectly on the foundation of Gen. 1:26-7 that God patterned His children after His own form; which form-in the faithful-will be perpetuated in the incorruptible spirit nature like to the glorious body of Jesus Christ.
We do not desire to analyze or speculate upon these statements. We do not know how or to what degree either Moses or the elders or Israel or Ezekiel saw God. We do not believe it is a profitable subject for analysis or speculation.
We simply desire to extract from these passages the one basic revelation in them-the simple confirmation they give us concerning the revealed form of God. God has chosen, in His wisdom in laying the foundation of our knowledge, to reveal this. If He had not, it would be utter presumption to discuss it or theorize upon it. But He has been graciously pleased to make certain revelations, and this point we are considering is part of the knowledge concerning Himself and ourselves that He desires us to receive and live by-
"Your BODY is the temple of the Holy Spirit"
Ye are shaped for a noble and exalted destiny - as glorious SONS of God!
This revealed truth helps to guard us against the nebulous vaporizings of trinitarianism and immortal-soulism. It is just the opposite from what the wisdom of the world has decided that God should and must be. For the pitifully limited natural human mind to formulate conceptions of what is or is not "fitting" as regards the Nature and Person of God is the sheerest folly. Wisdom will simply accept what God has revealed.
1 COR. 11:7 and JAMES 3:9
1 Cor. 11:7-"Man is the image and glory of God."
James 3:9-"Men, which are made after the similitude of God."
These both clearly refer to Gen. 1:26-7, and speak of a natural condition applying to all men indiscriminately. It is clear from the first reference that it is something the man alone has in the primary sense and NOT THE WOMAN.
To say that it means "spiritual discernment" is obviously unsound because Paul and James speak of it as something still applying to all men in their day. And by this line of argument, 1 Cor. 11:7 would indicate that sisters had no spiritual discernment.
To say that it means "dominion" is very strained, for both Genesis and James describe mankind as "created," "made," in the image of God, clearly referring to some inherent factor of the actual thing made, part of the actual making or forming, and not something externally bestowed upon him, as dominion. This "dominion" interpretation also, of course, ignores the meaning of image in Gen. 1:26 as we have shown it to be.
THE SPIRITUAL CONFIRMS THE LITERAL
Truly, in the New Testament, the "image of God" is also used in a much higher sense than external form, but rather than destroying the simple literal foundation, the spiritual application is BUILT UPON and confirms it.
We do not find ANYWHERE in Scripture that spiritual lessons and applications disprove the actual, literal facts they are patterned from.
Passages using this expression or thought in a spiritual sense are:
2 Cor. 3:18-"We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory" (Amer. Rev. Vers.: ". . . are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another.")
Col. 3:10-"Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him that created him."
Eph. 4:24 (Amer. Rev. Vers.)-"Put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."
It will be clearly seen that the "image of God" in these passages is a likeness to Him in mind and character. This is a legitimate and scripturally supported spiritual application, patterned on the natural, as many spiritual teachings are. It is quite clear and understandable and-while based upon the literal meaning-there is no confusion or confliction with it.
CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN LITERAL AND SPIRITUAL
THERE is plainly a vast difference between the simple, literal "image of God" in which man was made at the beginning and all men have been made in since, and the image referred to in these passages which is a matter of developed character, tried faith, growing in knowledge, obedience learned through things suffered, spiritual transformation of the mind, etc.
The natural image is bestowed upon ALL from creation forward; the spiritual image is a matter of lifelong effort and gradual attainment. THE SCRIPTURES DO NOT CONFUSE THE TWO.
James 3:9 could not possibly be referring to the same thing as 2 Cor. 3:18. The first is natural, involuntary and universal; the second is spiritual, voluntary and individual. The first is applied to all men; the second only to the faithful believers.
It is essential to PERCEIVE THIS DISTINCTION, and not mix these references together.
It is the meaning of the former-the natural, universal image-with which we are concerned. This meaning we believe we have conclusively demonstrated by a thorough examination of what the original words used by God really mean, and the way they are consistently used to fix that meaning beyond question. Also by other Old Testament foundation references to the subject of the form of God.
The abandonment of this essential truth will soon lead to a broad disintegration of the scriptural picture concerning the spiritual body, and a long step toward the bodiless, immaterial, immortal soul conception.
The Scriptures nowhere give any support to the theory that the image of God in which man was-and still is - made is "dominion" or "spiritual discernment that Adam had but Eve hadn't," etc. Nothing of this kind is included in the simple, natural meaning of the words used. These are groundless and unsupported suppositions, the fallacy of which should be obvious by the fact that such a wide range of meanings must be given a simple term in order to make it fit all references.
Heb. 1:3-"His Son ... the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person."
This is the AV, and it seems to represent the meaning of the original words as accurately as any, unless "substance" (RV) is a closer rendering than "person." We believe this verse to be a strong support of the truth concerning the form of God. It appeals to us in that way, but we do not insist upon this exact meaning here, because it is not absolutely literally conclusive.
The "express image" is in the Greek charakter, literally "engraving," and, as bro. Thomas points out in Phanerosis, the engraving of a substance points strongly to a form, specially when it is tied in with such a visual aspect as "the brightness of His glory."
However, as bro. Roberts mentions (Chdn. 1892), the case does not rest on this verse. To those who feel the force of the other testimony, this reference adds strength, but they would not use this verse exclusively as a primary proof.
Col. 1:15-"His Son . . . who is the image of the invisible God."
The specific introduction of the word "invisible" surely directs our minds to the aspect of sight and appearance. This seems inescapable. To us, therefore, this verse is another clear link in the chain. The word "image" itself here is not conclusive, for the Greek word (eikon) is used both literally and figuratively in the New Testament, though more often in the primary sense of an actual, visible similitude.
"In heaven their angels do always behold the face of my
Father which is in heaven"-Matt. 18:10
SETH IN ADAM'S IMAGE, AS ADAM IN GOD'S
WE would like to direct attention to the exact parallel between Gen. 1:26-
"Let us make man in our image (tselem), after our likeness (demuth).
And Gen. 5:3-
"Adam begat a son in his own likeness (demuth), after his image (tselem)."
It will be noted that the original words are identical.
Surely these identical expressions-used in similar relation and so close together, and further tied together by Gen. 5:1-must mean the same simple thing. Surely it is highly forced and unnatural to suggest that we must interpret them in two entirely different ways, according to our own ideas of what they should mean.
REFERENCES TO BODILY PARTS
THERE is another aspect which we do not present as absolutely conclusive in itself, but which to us adds great supplementary strength to the picture. Beside the continual and natural references to God as a person as we know such-"Father," "He," etc.-there are the many allusions to Him that imply a form similar to man's-His face, His hands, etc.
It is argued that this is all "symbolic," and that on this basis, He must also have wings (Psa. 17:8) and feathers (Psa. 91:4).
True, much is symbolic and figurative. Many such expressions are used of men in other than a literal sense, as to "hold something in the hollow of one's hand," or to "grind the faces of the poor." But, on the foundation already given, we believe the many places which refer quite naturally and apparently literally to God as an actual person with a form like man's carry great weight in presenting a consistent picture. It is just what we would expect, on the basis of Gen. 1:26.
We know "wings" are quite obviously figurative, but we experience no more difficulty with this than we do when we ourselves use the expression "take someone under our wing." Such clearly figurative expressions-employed freely by men themselves-cannot be used as an excuse to brush aside all the natural and simple references to God's face, hands, eyes, etc., without some very real evidence that none of this is intended to convey the idea that it quite naturally and simply does convey.
If God is very anxious and concerned that we should NOT get this impression, it is surely strange that ALL the references to Him, from Genesis to Revelation, when accepted in their ordinary sense, so strongly lead TO that impression, whatever aspect of the subject we consider.
We are well aware that Christendom considers a literal sitting down in a literal Kingdom of God to partake of literal food with Christ as a gross and absurd notion, but-believing what God has said-we are quite unmoved by an apostate Christendom's views, or the views of the "wise" of the world. The same applies to this question.
VERSES USED IN ATTEMPT TO DISPROVE THE TRUTH
There are some verses that are quoted in an effort to prove that the form of man is not patterned after the form of God:
Deut. 4:15-"Ye saw no manner of similitude (temunah) on the day that the Lord spoke to you."
Even on the face of it this does not in any way support the above contention. It is a perfectly true statement of fact, and it is emphasized to guard them against their very prevalent weakness of desiring to make and worship images. But of Moses-in whom there was no such danger-God said, "The similitude (temunah: same word) of Yahweh shall he behold" (Nm. 12:8). And we are given an instance of this happening (Exo. 33:20-23).
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Jer. 10:23-"It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."
The argument from this is rather obscure and hard to define. It lies in the suggestion that the phrase "that walketh" is given as a distinguishing characteristic of man, as contrasted with God. Surely the simple, reasonable meaning lies in the connection between "that walketh" and "his steps," just as if we said, "It is not in man that laboreth to direct his labor aright." Consider a very similar expression (Psa. 89:48)-
"What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?"
Could this be used to prove that God has no life, simply on the ground that man is spoken of as living?
* * *
Eccl. 7:29-"God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions."
It is inferred that this verse refers to the making of man in God's image and man's subsequent decline from that image. Apart from the fact that this suggestion contradicts the clear meaning of "image" in Gen. 1:26, we believe the clearest proof that this interpretation is impossible lies in the distinction that Paul makes in 1 Cor. 11:7 between the man and the woman as related to the image of God-
"Man is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man."
Both man and woman were made "upright." Both were "very good" before transgression. If we say that being made "upright" was being made in the image of God, then we deny that the woman was made upright. If woman was not "upright" or "straight" when made, then the statement that they were "very good" would not be true, and God would be made the originator of sin.
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Rom. 1:23-"They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man."
We would like to call attention first to the fact that this in no way states or proves or indicates that man was not made in the image (form) of God. This should be clearly realized, for much has been made of this by inference.
It is simply a perfectly true statement of fact that-forsaking the true and pure worship of the Creator-they made and worshipped gods patterned after vile and corruptible men.
WHETHER OR NOT MAN IS MADE IN THE FORM OF GOD DOES NOT AFFECT THE SIN HERE SPOKEN OF.
Forsaking the true God-putting Him from their minds (v.28)-they followed the tendencies of their own lusts and desires, and created false gods, patterned after themselves.
"They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (v. 25).
That was the sin. The fact that-patterning idols after men-they would approximate the form of God, would be quite incidental. It was creatures, with all their vile passions and propensities; they were the patterns and ideals they were copying for their objects of degraded worship.
Bro. Roberts, says, in answer to exactly the same objection in the 1892 Chdn., pg. 133- "The allegation in Rom. 1:23 against the fools who had 'changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man' has reference to nature rather than shape, as shown by the emphasis on the terms of the contrast-'corruptible' and 'uncorruptible' in connection with 'glory.'
"The mythology of the Greeks and the idolatries of the Canaanites may illustrate what is meant. They reduced the glowing fountain of Eternal Power to a mere creature like man with his weaknesses and passions."
This is emphasized by the following verse: "Wherefore God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts."
Some have thought, on the basis of v. 18 ("Who hold the Truth"), that this first chapter of Romans refers to believers who have gone partly astray. But the Rev. Vers. here has, "Who hinder the Truth."
The original word is katecho, and while it admittedly is and may be translated "keep, possess, hold fast," it is also just as accurately rendered ''seize, stay, withhold, let, restrain."
Surely it will be quite evident from a careful reading of this chapter that it is the whole mass of the Gentiles that is being spoken of, as chapter 2 speaks of the Jews. The whole scope and framework and plan of the epistle demand this. Paul says (3:9)-
"We have proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are ALL under sin,"
* * *
John 5:37-"Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape."
This is interpreted to mean, "nor seen anything of similar shape." This is not sound interpretation; it takes all the point and meaning out of the passage. The passage says, "Ye have not seen His shape" (eidos-form, appearance). Consider the context of the same verse-
"The Father hath borne witness of me, ye have neither heard, etc . . ."
The point at issue is WITNESS, testimony, evidence.
It is God's OWN authentic voice or visible manifestation that is in question as a matter of genuineness and witness. Whether or not they had seen countless men fashioned after His shape is entirely irrelevant.
It will be noted that all the foregoing "proofs" are based on inference. Not one of them actually says what they are used to try to prove. This is true also of Psa. 73:20, which was considered earlier.
MALE AND FEMALE FORMS
AS a further objection, it is said that if we accept the natural and literal sense of Gen. 1:26, we immediately introduce the question of sexual characteristics (because of the distinction of 1 Cor. 11:7). This is a train of thought-in relation to God-that we are very reluctant to even consider, much less discuss. Jesus said (Mt. 22:29):
"Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures . . .
"They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage . . .
"They are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection."
But still they are real, actual, perfect spiritual bodies, with head and limbs, etc. Let us not be like the Sadducees who confused the incidental and passing with the essential and lasting. Let us take a larger, truer view.
To say that apart from sexual differences there is no distinction between the male and female forms is just not true. (This argument is put forward in an attempt to show that 1 Cor. 11:7 cannot refer to form, because there the man is said to be the image and glory of God in distinction to the woman who is but the glory of the man and not the "image of God.")
Male and female are two distinct forms. All general proportions, and many important details, vary. Examine any book on figure drawing or anatomy. The facts of the case are just what we would expect to find in the light of Paul's words in 1 Cor. 11:7-similarity throughout with just sufficient difference to create a clear distinction between the two forms and to show that one is the original creation and the other is a modified reflection of it.
This point, instead of weakening the case, when examined beautifully strengthens and illustrates it. Mere sexual characteristics-a temporary provision for present necessities (Luke 20:35)-need not, and should not, enter into the consideration for a moment. Those who accept the true scriptural picture experience no difficulty in this respect, and no desire to presumptuously pry beyond the limits of divine revelation, or introduce unseemly aspects. It is only the contrary view that insists on raising this aspect.
ARE WE IMAGE-WORSHIPPERS?
IN support of this theory, it is constantly and repeatedly charged against the brethren and sisters and Christadelphians generally:
"If you have any knowledge of God's form, you have created an 'image in your mind.' You are worshipping that, instead of worshipping God Himself, and you are therefore an image-worshipper."
Surely it is obvious to any reasonable person that this is an utterly illogical confusion of thought. It could just as reasonably be argued that if you have any conception of God at all "in your mind"-whether it be of form, nature or attributes-then you are worshipping something "in your own mind."
It is essential to have some conception of God "in the mind"-
"This is life eternal-that they might know Thee, the only true God . . . "
"We know what we worship."
This conception, to be "worshipping in truth," must consist of what God has been pleased to reveal concerning Himself-no more, no less. God has revealed the fact that He patterned man after His own form, and it is pure nonsense to say that by believing this one becomes an image-worshipper.
We do not know what God looks like, beyond the general revelation that man's form is patterned after God's. We do not seek to know. We feel no obligation or liberty to speculate on the matter at all. We desire to learn as much as we can about the vast store of knowledge that God has revealed-not waste time in dangerous and profitless speculation about what He has not.
But even if we had been told exactly what God's appearance is, to say that this would make us image-worshippers and that we would immediately be "worshipping an image in our mind" is self-evidently absurd. We know exactly what our friends look like. When we love them, does that make us image-lovers, just because we have a picture of their form in our mind? Are we loving them, or an image in our mind? When we write to them or send them a message, are we addressing them, or an image in our mind? Surely the fallacy of the whole thing is obvious!
The disciples knew exactly what Christ looked like. They were with him for years before, and 40 days after, his glorification. They necessarily had an exact picture in their mind of his appearance. Were they praying through an image in their mind when they prayed through Jesus to the Father? It is recorded (Heb. 1:6)-
"And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."
Christ had a form which was intimately revealed to men and to angels. Is this command therefore "image-worship"? Let us learn to distinguish things that differ and not make these groundless charges of "image-worship" just because the simple testimonies of God are accepted in their natural and obvious sense. We are not wiser than God.
True believers worship God Himself. They ascribe honor and glory to Jesus Christ whom they know on infallible testimony to be a real, tangible spirit body in human form. To call this image-worship is a meaningless confusion of words.
THE GLORIOUS BODY OF CHRIST OUR GROUND OF HOPE
The present, real, glorious spirit body of Jesus Christ is the anchor and foundation of our hope and belief. If we allow these various sure landmarks of revealed Truth to be tampered with and nullified to fit private views, we shall soon find that we have no solid body of Truth left at all.
The suggestion that Jesus merely assumed a human form when he appeared after his resurrection, and that he himself-his real spiritual identity-was something different from and independent of that body, has no support in Scripture and is a wide departure from what is revealed.
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
"Handle me and see, for a spirit (such as they thought they saw-v. 37) hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39).
To say that Jesus just assumed a body for the occasion is to make a mockery of his words here. It was the real, bodily Jesus that died; the real bodily Jesus that rose from the dead, and was changed from a mortal body to an immortal body.
If we hold fast to the simple record of the Scriptures, where do we find these ideas about an immortal, immaterial essence independent of a body? That has no place in the scriptural record, and is not the Jesus we know.
"Jesus showed HIMSELF again to the disciples" (John 21:1).
If it was not the real ''himself" they saw, but just a temporary body that the "himself" was using, we can see the foundations disintegrating under such passages as "Dust THOU art." We use this passage to prove that the living body was the real Adam.
"Thou wilt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption" (Acts 2:27).
If the body that was raised and glorified was not the real, permanent Jesus, but only a form he took for the occasion, what happens to the resurrection of the body? It becomes meaningless.
"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things in body, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).
The good, as well as the bad, receive their reward IN BODY.
"The Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile BODY, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious BODY" (Phil. 3:21).
This is how the faithful attain to immortality-by having their BODY made like Christ's, their Elder Brother. To say that he has no body, but assumes a body on certain occasions, is completely foreign to-and destructive of-the scriptural picture-
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
"There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body; and so it is written: 'The first man Adam was made a living soul' (a natural body); the last Adam was made a quickening spirit (a SPIRITUAL BODY).
"The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they that are earthy; and as IS the heavenly (Christ), such are they that are heavenly.
"And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the IMAGE of the heavenly.
"For this corruptible must PUT ON incorruption, and this mortal must PUT ON immortality" (1 Cor. 15:42-53).
The foregoing is the true picture as we have always believed it. This plainly teaches:
(1) That Jesus Christ, the last Adam, was made a SPIRITUAL BODY-that is what he actually IS-his real identity-he IS a spiritual body, not a bodiless essence that just assumes a body as it desires. The Scriptures know nothing of such.
(2) That the faithful will be made like he is by their mortal BODY being changed to an immortal BODY. He is the firstfruits and example, the head, the firstborn, the first among many brethren.
It is a false and dangerous speculation, wholly unscriptural, to say that the real Jesus is something different from his body-
"This SAME JESUS, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen HIM go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Of Stephen we read (Acts 7:55)-
"He being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and JESUS STANDING on the right hand of God."
And of Paul-
"Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" (1 Cor. 9:1).
"Last of all he was seen of me also" (1 Cor. 15:8).
And it is specifically testified-
"This MAN, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, SAT DOWN on the right hand of God" (Heb. 10:12).
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ SITTETH on the right hand of God." (Col. 3:1).
This is the way the Scriptures present the matter to us. These are God's words. Simple humility and wisdom will accept what God says, and not try to improve on it. Where do we get any license to nullify and deny these testimonies, and presume that they do not mean what they say? What floodgates of uncertainty would be opened by treating Scripture this way!
We are very much afraid of these speculations concerning Christ as a bodiless essence. These assumptions (and others, are afraid, as the future will unfold) arise from refusing to accept the clear foundation God lays in the beginning-
"In the image of God created He him."
This is the beginning of the divine plan to create a family for Himself for His glory and pleasure, of which His only begotten Son was to be the Head and Elder Brother.
We greatly prefer the safe and solid and scriptural conclusions of bre. Thomas and Roberts-
BROTHER THOMAS' VIEW
"Having affirmed that man stands related to two kinds of BODY, the apostle gives us to understand that in the arrangements of God the spiritual system of things is elaborated out of the animal. In relation to human nature, two men are presented as its TYPES in the TWO PHASES it is to assume. These Paul styles 'the First Adam' and 'the LAST ADAM', or 'the first man' and 'the second man.'
"The former he terms 'earthy,' because he came from the ground and, goes thither again; and the latter, 'the Lord from heaven,' because being 'known no more after the flesh,' he is expected from heaven as the place of his final manifestation in 'the body of his glory.'
"Then, says John, 'we shall be like him.' If, therefore, we have been successful in depicting the Lord as he IS NOW, while SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD; namely, an incorruptible, honorable, powerful living person, SUBSTANTIAL AND TANGIBLE, shining as the sun and able to eat and drink, and to display all mental and other phenomena in perfection: if the reader be able to comprehend such an 'IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD,' he can understand what THEY ARE TO BE who are counted worthy to inherit His kingdom.
"Therefore, says Paul, 'As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the IMAGE OF THE HEAVENLY,' or 'Lord from heaven.' This CORPOREAL change ... is an absolute necessity before they can inherit the Kingdom of God. A man ... must be 'changed into spirit,' put on incorruptibility and immortality of BODY." (Elpis Israel, p.44).
"The Bible has to do with things, not imaginations; with BODIES, not phantasmata; with 'living souls' of every species; with CORPOREAL beings of other worlds; and with incorruptible and undying men" (Same, p.46).
AND BROTHER ROBERTS' VIEW
"The angels, in FORM AND FEATURE, resemble human beings. They eat and drink, and walk and talk, and deport themselves in general like ourselves; but, unlike us, they are incorruptible, deathless, perfect, and strong in the might with which God has invested them for the execution of His purpose.
"In the angels we behold an exemplification of WHAT THE SAINTS WILL BE after resurrection, for Jesus says:-
'They that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels and are the children of God' (Luke 20:35-6).
"It is a state in which they will be real, SUBSTANTIAL, HUMANLIKE IN FORM, of flesh and bone, yet incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and never-dying" (Christendom Astray, p.132).
"Paul points to Christ AS HE NOW IS as a specimen of the spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44-5). Here is an unmistakable clue to the simple and glorious truth of the matter. The righteous are to be MADE LIKE TO CHRIST.
"Now, concerning Christ, we have the plainest information on this point. The BODY THAT WAS CRUCIFIED ON CALVARY was the body that was put in Joseph's tomb, and that came out alive on the morning of the third day. When Jesus appeared alive to his disciples, it was an ACTUAL BODILY MAN that so appeared ... Here was Jesus, after his resurrection, possessing flesh and bones.
"In 40 days, he visibly left the earth in the presence of his disciples; and it was said to them by two angels, 'THIS SAME JESUS, who has been taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go.'
"Consequently, Jesus at his return will be a REAL AND BODILY person, possessing flesh and bones; for HE IS SO NOW, AND HAS BEEN EVER SINCE HE WENT AWAY. Paul saw him several years after his departure to heaven. He is a living illustration of what a spiritual body is ... as tangible as the bodies we now possess, yea, more so" (Finger Post 31, What is a Spiritual Body?').
THE DANGEROUSNESS OF THE THEORY
ALL this is undermined by the theory that actually the angels and Christ are spiritual essences independent of bodies. The scriptural picture of salvation is eternal life manifested through incorruptibility and perfection of body, and Christ and the angels are presented to us as examples. Surely the dangerousness and unsoundness of a theory is self-evident when it requires such a complete revision of the scriptural picture, and such groundless assumptions that the real facts of the case are quite different from the way the Bible invariably presents them to us!
The Bible always presents angels and Jesus Christ to us as real, actual, substantial bodies in human form, Jesus the very same body that was laid in the tomb. The theory presented requires us to believe that from beginning to end this is all one big deceptive appearance-that actually they are bodiless, immaterial identities, and that the bodies that have been seen and handled and presented as evidence of reality were just assumed for the occasion.
NO DESIRE TO PRY OR SPECULATE
THE revealed fact that we are "made in the image of God" does not enable or entitle us to picture God, and none of us desire to. We realize that this is both dangerous and irreverent. God's visible appearance is inconceivable. "Glory" is an inseparable element of His nature and substance-
"The GLORY of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another . . . so also the natural and spiritual bodies" (1 Cor. 15:40-4).
"They changed the GLORY of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man" (Rom. 1:23).
Jesus is now both "the brightness of His GLORY, and the express image of His person." Israel was denied any visible manifestation, and the reason strongly impressed upon them-that they should be fenced against the ever present danger of pictorializing God-reducing the GLORY of the great Majesty of the Heavens to an image or picture.
THE VALUE OF WHAT HAS BEEN REVEALED
It has been revealed to us that we are patterned after Him. This is a great and gracious revelation. We cannot presume on it or beyond it, but we can humbly accept it. It inspires us with a sense of direct relationship to our Father in heaven. It emphasizes and ennobles the truth that our bodies are His temple, and that they are a vital and important part of His purpose. This revelation points FORWARD to the glorious communion of the divine family in the eternal ages of the future. It is fitting and beautiful.
It also entails upon mankind great responsibility before Him. Formed intimately as SONS, bearing the DIVINE IMPRESS, it is men's destiny and duty to comport themselves as sons.
God could have made us any shape, mere creatures for His pleasure. But how inspiring and ennobling and uplifting to learn of the destiny He has planned for us as eternal sons of His glory! How much deeper and richer and fuller has He made the possibilities of our love for and communion with Him by this evidence of kinship! Picture it otherwise, and the great excellence and fittingness of the way His wisdom has planned it will forcefully impress us.
This is the profitable avenue of thought to follow. Not prying backwards along the revelation, and speculating concerning the details of God's being, but advancing with it in the direction of what it means as regards our relationship to Him, and our ultimate destiny.
Paul says to the Atheneans-
"Forasmuch then as we are the OFFSPRING OF GOD, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device" (Acts 17).
Here again is a direct relationship between God and man implied, a relationship so strong and direct that certain facts concerning God are inferred on the basis of it. Man is never represented as a mere unrelated creation of God, as the animals or the trees or the planets, but always as His CHILDREN.
THE BEAUTY AND NECESSITY OF THIS TRUTH
INASMUCH as God's own Son was to be born as one of the human race-identical with them-a very real and close relationship between God and man is necessitated. And when we realize-as we do-that the present form of man is to be eternally perpetuated in glorious spirit-nature, we see the beauty and necessity of the primary revelation concerning the relation of that form to God's.
Just so much has been revealed. Just sufficient to form the necessary foundation. At this point we must stop, for we are on holy ground. To attempt to peer further than is revealed, or to speculate concerning God or to pictorialize Him is the height of presumption.
We all well realize this and are heartily in accord with the necessity of caution in this respect. There is no subject where delicacy and discretion are more essential. We do not forget the lesson of the fifty thousand who were slain by God for having looked into the Ark, and the people said in awe and fear-
"Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?" (1 Sam. 6:19-20).
Truly an "image of God" must not be made or worshipped-in the mind or anywhere else. None of us have any desire to do so. To attempt to is to "change His celestial glory" to terrestrial standards.
We are simply concerned with learning and believing the necessary things that God desires us to believe-in the plain, simple way that God desires us to believe them.
We cannot understand God's nature and being. We realize the pitiful limitations of our intellects in this matter. But we CAN, in humble faith, believe what He tells us. He has chosen, for reasons of His own love and wisdom, to tell us in the plainest of words that He has been pleased-in the furtherance of His own glorious purpose-to fashion man after His own form.
"In heaven" said Jesus, "angels do always behold the face of my Father."
This beautifully and simply sums up the understanding and hope that God desires us to have concerning Himself. May we have the wisdom to accept it in simple faith.
G.V.Growcott, The Berean Christadelphian, 2/65 and 3/65