Thursday, September 11, 2008

Made In the Image of God

God Is Spirit And So Are We

We have no difficulty conceptualizing God the Father, The Holy Spirit, angels or demons as being spirit without bodies. So when we read verses like Acts 23:9, we see and accept that spirits can speak. Notice that it is the Pharisees that brought up this suggestion. The Sadducees didn’t believe in spirits. Are Adventists the modern Sadducees?

“There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. ‘We find nothing wrong with this man,’ they said. ‘What if a spirit (pneuma) or an angel has spoken to him?’” Acts 23:9 (NIV)

But SDAs have not been taught to recognize that humanity also has the entity, spirit, as part of our beings. The scriptures are not silent about this fact. They are brimming with promises that relate to our kinship with our Father.

“But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit (pneuma).” 1 Cor 6:17 (NIV)
The exciting news is that we, too, are spiritual beings, and it is this truth that allows us to be one with God in spirit.

The exciting news is that we, too, are spiritual beings, and it is this truth that allows us to be one with God in spirit. It almost seems too wonderful to believe, too sacred to say. But it is the very word of God. It is our spirits that will endure throughout eternity. Our bodies will be utterly destroyed and raised in a different form at the second coming of Christ. They will be transformed from mortal to spiritual bodies (which I don’t even pretend to understand, but by faith I believe it). They are buildings in which our spirits dwell. One is a perishable, temporary tent, the other is an imperishable heavenly building that will endure and become the permanent dwelling place for our souls and spirits. In fact, flesh and blood cannot inherit eternal life.

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Cor 15:42-44 (NIV)

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” 1 Cor 15:50 (NASB)
Where did John get the confidence to say you have eternal life rather than you will have eternal life? He learned it from Jesus.

Because John knew that the spirit is independent of the body, he was able to say, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 (NIV) Where did John get the confidence to say you have eternal life rather than you will have eternal life? He learned it from Jesus: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV) It is clear when John restated it himself, in 1 John 5:13, that he understood what Jesus meant. It was an important theme in his gospel. Again he gives his readers this hope as he relates the sure word of The Word, "’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’" John 11:25-26 (NIV)
We could ask ourselves, “Do we believe this?” We will show later that when the Bible speaks of death, it always refers to the body, not the spirit. The term “sleep” is only used to describe the bodies of believers - never unbelievers - while “death” is used to describe both the bodies of unbelievers and believers. Just keep that in mind for later. We will develop it more fully.

“For you did not receive a spirit (pneuma) that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit (pneuma) himself testifies with our spirit (pneuma) that we are God's children.” Romans 8:15-16 (NIV)

Can a breath or animating force make one a slave to fear? Interestingly the word used for both the human spirit and the Holy Spirit is the same word, pneuma. To allege that pneuma means only air or breath is to say that God is only air. But it is the Spirit of God that can communicate with the human spirit because it is of the same substance. Paul was no dummy. He grew up in the Roman town of Tarsus and would have spoken Latin, Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. (Supporting evidence in Appendix). He studied in the rabbinical schools and spoke Hebrew fluently, but he could not have survived in Tarsus, nor could he have preached and written to the gentiles in Asia Minor, without also speaking Greek.

In Athens, when he preached to the people, and in his letters to the churches he planted, he quoted Greek poets and delivered sermons in the Greek-speaking gentile nations to which he had been sent. It is clear that he was very well educated. Living in America it is easy to assume that people speak only one language, but in the world Paul knew one would not be able to function knowing only one language. This parallels current-day Europeans. One of my close friends grew up in Finland and speaks eight languages. She has told me that all of the people of Finland speak at least three languages. As I have traveled the world I have seen that it is primarily in America where people have the luxury of knowing only one language. Because Paul was fluent in both Greek and Hebrew, he knew how to choose his words. It was intentional that he chose the same words to describe the spirit of God and the spirit of humanity. He had deeply experienced life in the spirit, and understood that this is one of the ways in which a human being is made in the image of our God who is Spirit. We are His children. He is Spirit; we are spirit.

“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (pneuma). Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit (pneuma) gives birth to spirit (pneuma).’” John 3:5-6 (NIV) This is a perfect illustration. Flesh can reproduce flesh. The Spirit also reproduces His own kind, the image of God in humanity, spirit. Now put this alongside the message echoed in this text. “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits (pneuma) and live!” Heb 12:9 (NIV)
He specifically calls Himself the Father of our spirits because that is the part of us that will endure.

Of course the Father Spirit would give birth to our spirits and would, therefore, be the Father of our spirits. It all fits together and makes perfect sense. But it makes no sense to speak of the Father of our breath. He specifically calls Himself the Father of our spirits because that is the part of us that will endure. Since flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, it is our spirits that continue on. Our current bodies are like a tent or a cloth that we cast off. “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” 1 Cor 15:50 (NIV)

“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit (pneuma) within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit (pneuma) of God.” 1 Cor 2:11 (NIV)

We take after our Dad! I’m like my Daddy and even my name is derived from His. My spiritual surname comes from my family origin as a child of God. “ For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” Eph 3:14-15 (NIV)
Summary of Made In the Image of God
1) One of the ways we are created in God’s image is that we, too, are spirit.

2) It is with our spirits that we commune with God, who is Spirit.

3) It is in our spirits that we become one with God.

4) The Bible tells us that we “have eternal life,” “will never perish,” and “will never die.”

5) Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit. In this essential way we are said to be the children of God.

6) He is the Father of our spirits. For this reason we are called by His name.

Quiz for Made In the Image of God (more quiz fun!)
Choose the Correct Answers:

1. When we unite ourselves with God, Paul says we become one with Him in:
A. Breath
B. Body
C. Spirit
D. Appetite

2. At the resurrection, our bodies will be made:
A. Flesh and blood
B. Spiritual
C. Natural
D. Skinny

3. All of the following teach that we have eternal life in Christ now, except:
A. Ellen White
B. John the apostle
C. Jesus
D. Paul

4. Paul teaches that the Holy Spirit testifies that we are children of God thru which of the following?
A. Our minds
B. Our obedience in Sabbath-keeping
C. The Investigative Judgment
D. Our spirits

5. The Greek word pneuma is used to refer to the Holy Ghost’s Spirit, but a different word, that means "breath," is used to refer to our spirits.
A. True
B. False

6. Paul would have been fluent in all of the following languages except:
A. Hebrew
B. Greek
C. English
D. Aramaic

7. Flesh gives birth to all of the following except:
A. Spirit
B. Organs
C. Bones
D. Blood

8. All we are and all we have comes from God, but the unique bond between us that makes us His children is that He is the Father of our:
A. Flesh
B. Children
C. Spirits
D. Breath

9. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom and cannot be inherited by flesh and blood.
A. True
B. False

10. God will give us a white stone on which our names are written. Our true names are derived from:
A. Our second cousin, twice removed
B. God’s own name
C. Our mother’s maiden name
D. The name of our choice

11. Because He is Spirit, our ability to commune with God most deeply is thru our:
A. Minds
B. Spirits
C. Thought projection
D. Cell phones

Answers: 1-C, 2-B, 3-A, 4-D, 5-B, 6-C, 7-A, 8-C, 9-A, 10-B, 11-B

The Next Chapter: Separate But Not Equal

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit: three in One. If we are made in the image of God, which part(s)? Or, should we ask Whom do we most take after?


Unknown said...




Gently Broken said...

Thank you for your comments. Tell me more about yourself. Blessings from the throne of God, Cherry