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Bible verses about Image and Likeness of God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 1:26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Moses writes that man is created in God's "image" and "likeness." Any reliable lexicon mentions that "image" and "likeness" reinforce each other in a manner common to Hebrew. It means we are like God in form and implies that, like Him, we have a spiritual capacity which animals do not have.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God Is . . . What?


 

Genesis 1:26-27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Here in the Bible's first chapter, God states His goal: He is making man in His own image! By using both "image" and "likeness," God explained that He would create man to be just like Him! Man would not only look like God, but humanity would also have a spiritual ability to understand His nature and learn to conform to it. Through the experiences of life and the process of building godly character, humankind can put on the image of God and be resurrected into His Family (I Corinthians 15:49-53).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
God's Master Plan


 

Genesis 1:26-27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When God molded Adam of the dust, He shaped him in the outward form of Himself; He gave this unique form to man alone. Besides this, God gave man dominion over his environment, and to do this job, He gave him abilities like His own. Man can think, reason, make decisions, and plan. He can originate and evaluate ideas and bring them to completion. He can communicate and express complex concepts that can be understood by other men. Mankind understands and marks the passage of time.

No animals have these abilities! But there is more: Man has a unique ability to imagine and desire life after death (Ecclesiastes 3:11)! Men want to live forever! The problem is that without the revelation of God, they have NO IDEA how to attain it!

William Gray
Taking It Through the Grave


 

Genesis 1:26-27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice the overall context of these verses. It is the very first chapter of the Bible, and God is laying the foundation for what will follow. If the foundation is not laid correctly, then the rest of the building is crooked. God is beginning to establish our vision of what His purpose is and where we are headed with our lives, and being what we are, we need to have some insight into what He is. So He tells us immediately that we are made in His image and His likeness.

He contrasts us with the animals. Each one of them reproduces after its kind. And when they reproduce, they look like their parents. They look like each other. God is clearly implying that He is reproducing Himself and that His purpose is that we will be exactly like Him when He is finished with us. Even now, in our physical forms, we are made in His image so that we will have the potential to be exactly like Him.

Virtually every explanation of these two verses begins with an assumption: that God did not really mean what He clearly states.

Verse 26 says the creation of man is about to occur. It is yet future. Verse 27 says the creation in the past tense. By the time the statement in verse 27 is done, man is already in His image. It is not future. It is past tense. It is not an image and likeness in progress as in the creation of a character image, but within the context, the image was already accomplished. A physical image and likeness of God has been made.

Who knows better? The God who authored the Book and the people He used to write these things down—or people who are looking at it centuries after the fact and have never seen God or heard His voice, people who are using a combination of Bible verses, metaphysics, philosophy, science, and assumption?

What is the assumption based on? It is usually on men's definition of the word "spirit." They combine that with John 4:24, which says that "God is Spirit." Adam Clarke provides a typical explanation: "Now as a divine being is infinite, he is neither limited by parts or definable by passions. Therefore he can have no corporeal image after which He made the body of man" (vol. 1, p. 38).

That is a direct contradiction based upon an assumption. It is based upon disbelief. Certainly, God does not have a material body, but that does not address the issue. The issue is whether He has a spiritual body, which served as a model for mankind, and whether He has a body that has parts.

This is important because men within the church of God are now telling members that God does not have form in mind at all in this verse, but only character image. This is important to us in understanding the nature of God and getting a correct perspective of the goal and purpose of life itself. They are associating Him with being not much more than the Catholic beatific vision or with man becoming part of a vague, immaterial blob without independence. This would effectively do away with the doctrine of being born again into a constructive and developing Family of creators.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

Genesis 1:26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

At the very beginning of the life of men, God says something that implies a great deal more: that He would make man "in Our image." In a nutshell, this is God's purpose for mankind.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 1)


 

Genesis 1:26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The actual creation of Adam and Eve and the placing of them in the Garden of Eden was not an end in itself but only a necessary step at the beginning of a process that continues right down to today.

God is creating a community.

From the very beginning, God implies the expansion of His own community. He says, "Let Us," indicating a community already exists. Man was made, physically, in God's image, and he begins with characteristics of shape and form in common with his Maker. The rest of the Bible fills in the details of how mankind is being brought from having not only form and shape in common with his Maker, but also character, so that he fits perfectly into the community that the Maker is expanding.

When the Son of God came, He came with a message from His Father. Jesus gave as the title to the message that He brought, "the good news of the Kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14-15). This is the Boss Himself, and this is the title He Himself gave. It was the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Is there any doubt in our minds that God is forming a community? Is there any doubt that Jesus Christ will rule this community, first, and that afterward, He will turn everything over to the Father? (I Corinthians 15:28)? There is nothing ambiguous here. Is God forming a community?

The important thing for us is what ramifications the good news of the Kingdom of God has on the way we live our lives. In the course of the unfolding of Christ's ministry, and the apostles' afterward, we find some interesting things that have a direct impact on the way we live our lives.

First, Christ was the Son of God. Does not a son indicate a family relationship? “Son” is used in the Bible in at least two different ways. One means "a direct descendant of." The other is used in the sense of "characteristics of, but not necessarily direct descendant of." The Bible says plainly that Jesus was the Son of God, a direct relationship. Since He was of the same Family, there is a family relationship. He was not only a literal Son born of Mary of the Holy Spirit, but He also showed the characteristics of God. He was God.

Is Christ indicating a family relationship with us in Mark 3:34-35? We have already seen that the community that He is creating is a kingdom. This kingdom is also a Family. Everybody is related, all being sons of the Creator. Everybody has the same characteristics. Do not the descendants of parents look like their parents? Sure they do.

Everything fits together beautifully, and logically. God is reproducing Himself.

Consider Romans 8:14-15. Is that a family? Thus, if we have the Spirit of God, we are part of a family. We are Jesus' brothers. We are Jesus' sisters. We are Jesus' mothers (see Matthew 12:50). We have the same Father as He did.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 1)


 

Genesis 1:26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

At the very beginning of the Book, God tells us what He is doing. His project, His work, began with the formation of man as a physical being in the bodily form of God, and it will not end until mankind is in the nature and character image of God.

To accomplish this, God gave men free moral agency to enable us to choose to follow His way and assist in the development of His image in us, since we cannot be in His image unless we voluntarily choose to do so. Then the character is truly ours, as well as being truly His, because it is inscribed in us as a result of what we have believed and experienced.

God is not merely eternal. He is supreme in every quality of goodness, and in Him absolutely no evil dwells. In the Bible, this goodness is called holiness, which is transcendent purity. It permeates every aspect, every attribute, of God-life. God's character is holy, and it flows out from Him in acts of love, making it impossible for Him to do anything evil. This is the state towards which He is drawing us.

Law must be seen in this context. If we tear law from the context of God's purpose, then we can come up with anything we want to say about law. We can say, "Oh, it is all done away," or "We do not need to do this." However, we cannot tear it away from the purpose of God, and there is a reason for this.

Does God abide by law? The creation screams at us that He does! Everything He creates operates by law, and it does so because it came from His wonderfully orderly and organized mind. It is a reflection of what His mind is like because this is the way He is. He is a law-abiding God.

However, we cannot see Him - not literally, with our eyes. It is here that faith enters the picture: We can see evidence of Him, and we can believe what He says. His law outlines the way that He lives. It is the way of this holy, law-abiding God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 20)


 

Genesis 1:26-28   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

As God created, it is extremely significant that of all He created, only one creation is in His image, mankind. This is important to the purpose God is working out. Also, it is significant that of all the creatures God created, only mankind is given dominion over anything else, animate or inanimate.

Verses 26 and 28 show the first inkling of man's awesome potential. We are in God's likeness and His image, and have been given dominion in order to fulfill that potential.

If one looked up the word "image" in a Hebrew dictionary, it would not be very satisfying, being a typical textbook definition. It merely means "a shadowing forth, a phantom, a sketch, an outline." It gives the impression of a mere shape, a stickman. However, it has another, more interesting definition that means "whatever makes a man remarkable or procures respect."

The word "likeness" is commonly thought by linguists to mean nothing more than an intensification of the word "image." Even though it is a different word, its meaning is very similar. Putting those two words together, the Hebrew clearly shows that we are remarkable, especially in comparison to all other life. We are in the image of God.

Though we are remarkable, we are merely an outline, a mere copy or representation. We are illusory compared to God, because He is the reality.

The word “image” deserves further examination. The word "image" could evoke different mental images depending upon one's perspective. Over the past several decades in the United States, "image" has acquired a deceptive application that obscures its true meaning. This application skews one's understanding, interfering with the meaning God intends.

For example, today, a politician hires a publication firm to create an image for him that the people will find acceptable, and, thus, vote him into office. If someone is trying to find employment, they dress a certain way to project a particular image for employers to perceive. Corporations also try very hard to find the right image before the public.

To an American, an “image” has subtly come to mean "the illusion of what something is presented to be" rather than "the essence of what it really is."

In Hebrew, the word translated "image" is not "a deceptive illusion." Rather, image means "the likeness of one subject expressed in another." This difference is important. It means, "the likeness of one subject, God, expressed in the other, man." The verse indirectly says that man is very much like God.

The Hebrew meaning is frequently used in English in reference to family resemblance or characteristics. We say that a child is the spitting image of his father or his mother, possibly referring to physical or social traits.

The "image" is no illusion; it is the reality. It is the family trait. It is the essence of reality.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Right Use of Power


 

Genesis 2:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

From our childhood, we carry an image of God kneeling over the created but inert Adam. He is lifeless until God performs the first mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and then Adam springs to life! His eyelids flutter, he takes a deep breath, and then he bends from his waist and sits up.

Nowhere does the Bible show God breathing life into any animal that He created. When He created them, they started breathing. Why should man be any different?

He is different because he is in the likeness of God. He did something to man that actually made man into the image of God. While he was lying there on the ground, he was still yet a creature. But when God knelt down and breathed into him, the infusion of the spirit in man occurred. That is what made man in the image of God! That is what gave man the power to have dominion. It gave man the intellect he needed to rule what God has created.

Man has creaturely life, but with the infusion of the spirit in man, he is more—a living being with intelligence. Man was given the power to govern his actions, not by instinct, but by memory, by conceptualization and thinking spatially. A man can appreciate beauty, communicate verbally, or write. A human being has feelings that are—in the expression of their subtly and power—far above an animal in terms of love or hate, and above all of the emotions that fall in between.

We can create and destroy. The power is in a man to do these things. The power is in the spirit when combined with the brain, but it has to be developed.

God shows very clearly that, as we are, we are nothing more than a pale representation of what we can be. Yet, we are endowed with powers that lift us so far above the animals on earth that we can have dominion over them.

Mankind is then commanded to fill the earth and subdue it. Subdue means "to tread upon," which implies "to bring into subjection." It does not mean "to destroy" or "to treat violently," but "to control and direct." In Genesis 1:26 and 28, God implies that He has conferred powers to mankind not given to animals.

It is also the first indication, when combined with Genesis 2:7 and 15, that when God confers a responsibility, He also confers the powers to carry out that responsibility.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Right Use of Power


 

Genesis 2:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When we read in Genesis 2:17, do we not subconsciously read into it, "Yes, but He does not really mean that. He means we will eventually die"? We soften it, expecting that God will not carry through with what He literally says.

The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary says about this verse, "That in the day that you eat thereof you shall die." It means as soon as he ate, he would die. The Keil-Delitzsch is a very conservative commentary. The Interpreter's Bible Commentary, which is one of the most liberal commentaries, says, "Death would follow immediately!" From one of the most conservative commentaries, Keil-Delitzsch, to one of the most liberal, The Interpreter's Bible Commentary, they agree the verse says that when they touched that tree, thus showing the intent of their heart, they would die.

In the beginning, at creation, all sin is deemed as worthy of death. Every sin is a capital offense. In creation, God was not obligated in any way to give life to you or me. Life is a gift that puts us under obligation, and that obligation is stated, or at least implied very strongly, right when man is being created. God gave life to man and put him under the obligation of being the image-bearer of God (Genesis 1:26). That is why we were created.

In chapter 2, we are further obligated by God's command to take of the Tree of Life, and not the other tree. The implication there is that only God knows how we are to live in order to fill our obligation to be the image-bearer of God. We have to learn that the root of sin lies in the desire of men to live their lives in self-centered independence from God. This is what keeps us from being the image-bearers of God that He intended us to be. If we deviate from this, have we not broken our obligation to God? If we deviate from this—if we go from the path, if we miss the mark—we have sinned. We have broken our obligation to mirror and reflect the holiness of God.

Implied by the name “Tree of Life,” God is telling us that we do not intrinsically possess the kind of life that God has, and that if we want that kind of life, it must be added. It is added through what the Tree of Life symbolized. What if we do not meet our obligations? We forfeit the gift of life when we sin.

Is God unfair if something is so clearly stated? Do we see why He commands us to choose life? He sets before us two different ways. He commands us to go in a certain direction, because if we go in the other direction we have broken our obligation to be image-bearers, and then He is not obligated any longer after that to continue our lives. He is under no obligation to continue the life that He gave to us as a gift. God is not acting unfairly nor with injustice, for the commands are very clear.

When the penalty was stated to Adam and Eve, did God say, "If you sin, some day you will die"? No. The penalty is clearly stated to be instant death, just as suddenly as it fell on Nadab and Abihu, and on Ananias and Sapphira, and Uzza.

Let us look at this realistically and let us not try to soften what God very clearly and literally says. He meant the death penalty in the fullest sense of the word. The only reason they lived was because it was right at that point that God extended grace. God was no longer obligated to continue their life.

They had broken His Word, deviated from the path, and the just thing for God to have done would have been to kill them just as He did Uzza. That is not what He did though. Instead, He gave them mercy, and He gave them grace. There is a saying, "Justice delayed is justice denied," but not always so. In this case with Adam and Eve, the full measure of justice was delayed for grace to have time to work.

We need to be thinking of this in relation to ourselves, because He is establishing a pattern. Justice was delayed so grace would have time to work. In this case, the delay of justice was not the denial of justice, but the establishing of mercy and grace. So right at the very beginning of the Book, in its third chapter, grace is introduced.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Justice and Grace


 

Genesis 2:24   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In Genesis 2:24, when the marriage covenant is ordained, man and woman are designated as "one flesh"—one unit. God is indeed creating a Family modeled after His own characteristics, but not all Godlike characteristics are found in one sex or gender, any more than they are found in one race. It bears repeating that God did not create a superior and inferior sex, any more than He created a superior and inferior race.

God has characteristics (revealed throughout Scripture) that are considered to be masculine and feminine. Our own bodies mirror this. Human reproductive glands, for example, manufacture both male and female hormones. Women's ovaries produce small, but significant amounts of androgen (a male hormone). Likewise, men's testicular canals produce not only testosterone, but also a small but significant amount of estrogen (female hormones). God has also designed the human anatomy so that both sexes have vestigial equipment of the opposite sex. No one is 100% male or 100% female—not even the most muscular man or the curviest woman can claim this distinction.

Together, men and women make up a composite image of the living God. Individually, we are incomplete, partial, and lacking something in our personality. One of the reasons God gave us marriage state (a God-plane relationship) is to learn how the other half of the God-image behaves. We learn from our mate's traits and characteristics of the opposite sex in order to become complete God-beings. The Bruce Willis/Russell Crowe macho-warriors and the Nicole Kidman/Meg Ryan goddess stereotypes are insufficient models for a God-being. God the Father is not in the process of making macho-warriors or goddesses, but balanced members of His Family.

Part of this process—incredible as it sounds—involves the male incorporating Godlike feminine (not effeminate) characteristics such as tenderness, mercy, and patience. Similarly, the female needs to learn or adopt masculine (not tomboy or butch) characteristics such as strength, assertiveness, and decisiveness. If we make a thorough search of the Scripture, we would find the masculine and feminine traits of God equally distributed. Ironically, if gender-neutral advocates had their way, these delightful differences would be blotted out.

Space permits elaboration on only a few from each list. We see ample and abundant masculine traits in the Bible: strength, power, decisiveness, aggressiveness, provider, ruler, and leader. Feminine traits are also abundant: beauty, grace, mercy, tenderness, caring, and affectionate. In order to qualify as members of God's Family, both men and women need to incorporate all these characteristics into their personalities.

Men often have a hard time being as loving and affectionate as their wives are. Little boys know that Mommies make the best pillows, and Daddies make the best armrests. If some of the women in the congregation would enlist the aid of the men in the congregation to hold their babies, the men might break out in a cold sweat. Nevertheless, motherly feelings and instincts come from God. It did not bother Jesus Christ to express a motherly instinct: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. . . ! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. . . !" (Matthew 23:37).

David F. Maas
Is God a Male Chauvinist?


 

Genesis 12:1-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Critics assert that Israel's history demonstrates the weakness of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in that their God could not keep His promises. Is that so? We need to set the record straight.

The Old Testament is a chronicle of Israel's repeated failure to obey God, of its refusal to keep His commandments and statutes. In Psalm 78:10-11, 40-42, 56-57, the psalmist mentions that Ephraim (meaning Israel at large)

did not keep the covenant of God; they refused to walk in His law, and forgot His works and His wonders that He had shown them. . . . How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power. . . . Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God, and did not keep His testimonies, but turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers.

II Kings 17:7-8 speaks of the sins of the Kingdom of Israel, up north:

For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, . . . and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel.

The prophet Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 32:30, quotes God's scathing indictment of the people of both Kingdoms: "[T]he children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only evil before Me from their youth."

Because of their sins, as II Kings 17:18-20 indicates, God

was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight. . . . Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunders, until He had cast them from His sight.

In Psalm 78:59-62, the psalmist Asaph relates that God, when He became aware of the idols of Israel,

was furious, and greatly abhorred Israel, so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, . . . and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand. He also gave His people over to the sword, and was furious with His inheritance.

As early as the days of the founder of the Kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam I, God understood the direction Israel was taking. In I Kings 14:15, God warns that He will ultimately

strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the [Euphrates] River, because they have made their wooden images, provoking the LORD to anger.

Much later, Amos warned Israel, "Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth" (Amos 9:8).

The patriarchs were, as God attests again and again, faithful. However, the people of Israel failed to observe the terms of God's conditional promises to them. Israel exhibited again and again its refusal to obey God. As a result, it has yet to enter into the peace, prosperity, and eternal possession of the land He promised the patriarchs. Hebrews 3:8-11 summarizes the matter: "In the day of trial in the wilderness, [the children of Israel] . . . tested Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation. . . . So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'"

Because of the peoples' recalcitrance, God withheld His blessings, ultimately separating Himself from them by casting them out of the land He had promised the patriarchs. God punished Israel for its disobedience by deferring the fulfillment of His promises to the patriarchs. This deferment did not make Him unfaithful to the people, because His promises to them were conditional, based on their obedience to His revelation.

In fact, it is not perverse to assert that God was completely faithful to the children of Israel, doing to them exactly what He promised He would do if they persistently sinned against Him. At the right time and for the right people, God will honor His unconditional promises to the patriarchs. Israel's sad history is the consequence of peoples' faithlessness, not of their God's weakness.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Eight): The Scattering of Ten-Tribed Israel


 

Genesis 18:1-9   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Lord appeared, and Abraham saw Him coming. What did He look like? He looked like a man. But it was the Lord because Abraham bowed down and worshipped Him, and the Lord did not reject his worship.

In verse 4, Abraham says, "Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet." God has feet. Then he says in verse 5, "And I will bring a morsel of bread." We find that God took the bread and the meat, and the three of them ate. He spoke, so He had a voice, and He conversed with Abraham and Sarah.

God shows other qualities here that are interesting to think about. How long did it take Abraham to run, order a calf killed, have someone slaughter it, bleed it, skin it, butcher it, roast the meat, and then serve it to Him? It must have taken a few hours at least. In the meantime, God is sitting under a tree, and He is at the same time running the whole universe. He must have been handling all of the other things that go on in the universe from that chair or pillow He was sitting on.

Do we ever feel rushed because we have too many things to do? Yet, here is the busiest Being in all of creation, and He had enough time to sit down, wash His feet, and wait patiently while they made Him a meal. Do we ever become impatient? In this example, we see patience exemplified.

So, we see God exhibits qualities other than form and shape, even though they may not be mentioned directly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

Genesis 19:1   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

These angels are the other two who were with the Lord when He was entertained by Abraham. The other two "men" are identified conclusively as angels. It is interesting that the story begins in Genesis 18:1 as though these three spirit beings just suddenly appeared, as if one moment Abraham could not see them, and the next moment three people were suddenly there. Apparently, Abraham was of such experience that he recognized immediately who they were. He certainly was not nonplussed because he immediately bowed down and worshipped one of them, recognizing that One as the Lord.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

Exodus 33:22-23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Moses asked to see Him in His glory, and in His glory God still had shape and form. He still was solid; He held His hand over Moses' eyes so the man could not see through it, and he must have felt the pressure of the hand on him. If Moses saw God's back side, God must also have a front side.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

Psalm 17:15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

To have His likeness is not just to be spirit as He is, but also to be like Him in quality of life. If we are, then the relationship with Him and His other sons will continue for all eternity. That is the Christian hope!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Resurrection From the Dead


 

Isaiah 30:1   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"Spirit" is ruach, and it is used in the sense of invisible force or power. Thus ruach, depending on the context, is used to express intelligence, will, truth, hope, faith, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, omnipotence, omnipresence, infinity, invisibility, or holiness. These words are different from those in reference to God's soul (see Leviticus 26:11), which had to do mostly with feelings, with emotional qualities. Here ruach covers aspects that have to do with mind power.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

Isaiah 40:12-31   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Making and worshipping an idol is foolishness and a lie, because a manmade image can never truthfully represent the Eternal God. For a son of God, worshipping idols is irrational (Acts 17:29); to look to something physical as important or more important than God defies all wisdom. The way the world looks to physical objects is superstition (e.g., good luck charms, religious crosses, shrines).

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Isaiah 57:15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He put this in His Word to impress us and thus encourage us with the greatness of His power, wisdom, and humility. If we are so impressed and encouraged, we respond by honoring Him through our humble obedience, thus glorifying Him and enabling Him to form us into His image.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment


 

Daniel 7:13-14   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Ancient of Days, the One who became known as the Father, is seated on a throne. He wears clothing and has shining white hair. Yet, the "One like the Son of Man" is also a divine Being. So, we see two God Beings in the same place and at the same time, and it is designated that the second is the One who will bear rule in the kingdoms of men.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

Daniel 10:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He had, as we would describe it today, an iridescent, glorious body, blazing eyes, and a booming voice. And this being is not even God!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

Amos 8:14   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"The sin of Samaria" refers to a name, Ashima, a Canaanite mother-goddess. This Ashima represents the importation of foreign cults and gods. Historically, Israel borrowed gods from the surrounding nations and combined their worship with that of the true God. By changing His nature, they destroyed the right image of the true God. This, in turn, changed the source of beliefs, ideals, laws, standards, ethics, and morality. Thus, when a famine of God's Word comes (Amos 8:11), immorality swiftly sets in.

Dan was the location of one of the sanctuaries that Jeroboam I set up to imitate the Temple in Jerusalem (I Kings 12:29). His counterfeit sanctuary was made of a counterfeit Holy of Holies. Instead of cherubim, it had two golden calves arranged to form the base of a counterfeit mercy seat. Over the years, the visible presence of the calves became familiar to the Israelites, who soon were worshipping the calves as God. After a little more time, the nature of the calves became the nature of God.

Beersheba, with its false shrine associated with the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was in the southern part of Judah. People made pilgrimages to Beersheba, a very long and arduous trip. Over time, they came to believe that righteousness accrued to them simply by going there. They walked "the way of Beersheba," thinking to put God in their debt.

But God owes no one anything! He blesses those who are in the right attitude, who are following His way, who are growing and overcoming.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Matthew 7:13-14   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Never let anybody convince you that Christianity is not a religion of works. Christianity is hard work! That is what our Savior says. It is difficult! It is hard work because its direction and purpose run counter to human nature.

Confusion about "works" enters the picture when people wrongly try to associate "works" with "salvation." We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8)—there is no argument with this biblical fact. Works enter the picture as a necessary part of the process of growth within God's purpose—not salvation. Salvation is, in a major sense, an already finished work of Jesus Christ, which is why so many biblical statements about salvation are written in the past tense.

However, laziness plays a large part in why we do not grow. God expects us to work, though we will not earn salvation by it. We grow because of work, by overcoming problems. If we are too lazy to work at overcoming things, though we may be in God's Kingdom, we are not going to reap the rewards God's promises to overcomers.

God is looking for His children to grow. Every parent wants his child to become a mature adult who is able to take his place in society, to live independent of the family yet still be connected to it in a loving way, to stand on his own feet. God sets the pattern, and He wants His children to grow as free and independent moral agents. However, we are not that way when He finds, calls, reveals Himself and His way to us, and leads us to repentance. He wants us to grow into what He is:

And God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26)

God gives everybody who reads His Book an early indication that work will play a major role in what He has created. Dominion! That is "rulership" or maybe a better word would be "management." And dominion over or management of our own personal environment requires work.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

Matthew 17:1-5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When Peter recollected in II Peter 1:16, he was recalling the event in Matthew 17. When Jesus was transfigured, glorified before them, He did not take on a different shape and form than He had before. He still had a recognizable face. He still had clothing on, but everything became shining and bright. Undoubtedly, this was done to impress on the minds of these three men that this Jesus was God in the flesh.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

Luke 9:29   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The word "appearance" is eidos, "that which can be seen with the eye."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

Luke 24:36-40   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Consider the context and the time. He is resurrected, composed of Spirit. He is God. Does He indicate at all that being in the body is only a part-time experience for God? No, instead He teaches them that a spirit being's body is not vaporous like a ghost and that it is not composed of earthly flesh and bone.

The implications are important in relation to other parts of the Bible. In this case, what He does not say is important because He wants them to answer in their own minds just the opposite of what they originally thought, "This is a ghost. It has no form or shape."

Yes, He did have form and shape, and it was solid to the touch. They felt Him, and their hands did not pass through Him. He is saying that He has flesh and bones, but they are not physical. They are spirit flesh and bones.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

Luke 24:36-39   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This passage makes it very plain that God in composition is spirit, that He does have form, that He is solid, and He has skin and bones. The description even includes scars in His hands and feet!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)


 

Luke 24:39   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This is not an angel but the resurrected Christ, formerly a human being. By means of a resurrection, He has gone through a transformation, and now He is God, a Spirit. He says, "Feel me. I'm not a ghost. I am solid." So they felt Him, and sure enough, He was solid.

He would not have invited them to feel Him if He did not have substance, and this was probably included in the Bible so that we would understand what our potential is. We are not going to be ghosts—we are going to be like Christ, as it says in Philippians 3:20-21. We will have a body like His glorious body, and His body has substance. Yet, even though it was substantial, the wall presented absolutely no problem: He apparently went right through it. He did not have to open the door to enter the room.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

John 3:5-8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Ruach is translated as "wind" in the Old Testament. Here, the Greek word is pneuma, which is the equivalent of the Hebrew ruach meaning "an invisible force or power." The illustration refers to wind. A person cannot see air, but it is real, is it not? Its molecules can be packed so solidly, so close together, that they will lift a huge airplane right off the ground. One cannot see the molecules, the atoms, the electrons, or protons, but they are there. We deal with other invisible forces or powers, like electricity and light, on a daily basis, and they certainly exist.

That is the gist of the meaning of spirit. No one would argue that air, of which wind is constituted, is not real, and though it is invisible, it is made up of particles too small for the unaided eye to see. The Bible provides ample evidence to prove that God and angels are not universal nothingness floating around in nowhere. God is not universal mind, conscience, or goodness. He is not an abstract power filling the whole of space. Except for the vast differences in power and potential, the only difference between humans and God is that mankind is earthly flesh and bone whose life is in the blood, while God's body is also flesh and bone but composed of Spirit and immortal.

This has practical ramifications that must be explored because it means that God cannot be omnipresent in the body. The Bible's consistent description of God shows Him at one place at one time, and He is generally seen managing or participating in His creation. We see Him sitting, standing, walking, talking, eating, drinking, commanding, etc., in specific locations. Nowhere is there any mention of God's size, and therefore the conclusion must be that He is of ordinary, human size, and when He became a man, the Scripture says, there was nothing notable about Him except His character and His powerful teaching.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

John 4:24   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God is Spirit, and nowhere, not even in one verse, does it say that God does not have a body. He is perfect, immortal, infinite, immutable, self-existing, omnipotent, omniscient, invisible, impartial, absolutely holy, full of knowledge and wisdom, and sufficient to provide for His entire creation.

Like any other person He has names, and in His case, many names. And just as our names identify us as specific individuals, His names identify Him. He has titles by which He is known. Men and women have titles by which they are known.

The Bible shows that He has a head, hair, face, arms, fingers, hands, waist, loins, eyes, eyelids, nostrils, ears, mouth, lips, tongue, breath, feet, and back parts. God even speaks of His heart! He rests, but He does not get tired. He feels things. He eats and drinks, and the alcohol in wine, as Judges 9:13 says, has an effect on Him: It cheers His heart. He laughs. He becomes angry. He speaks in a small still voice; He roars from Zion. As a man, He wept. Sounds a great deal like us, does it not? It should because we are made in His image and likeness.

But there is even more. He goes about from place to place in a body, just like anybody else. He rides in a vehicle. He walks. He plants. He works. He lives in a spiritual place called heaven.

Yet, despite all these biblical descriptions, the men and women who claim that God has no body never cite any other passage except John 4:24 as proof. But He has revealed Himself in so many different ways in His Word that what these people say turns God into a liar who deceives mankind about what He is like.

Let us be clear: John 4:24 does not teach that God has no body. It, plus a multitude of passages that we have read or alluded to, expand our understanding about the properties of spirit—about what spirit bodies are like. Spirit is just as real as matter, except that it is a much higher type of substance and is governed by higher laws.

John 4:24 is a statement of fact, but it does not define or analyze spirit. The properties of spirit are described throughout the Bible, as those who actually saw and heard God and interacted with Him reported their experiences. Either they are right, or these modern writers are. They cannot both be right because they contradict each other. Which will we believe?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

John 4:24   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The King James has wrongly translated this verse from the Greek. It really says "God is spirit," not "a" spirit - there is no indefinite article in the Greek. Basically, Jesus is saying that God is invisible and immaterial.

This scripture directly refers to the Father. "Spirit" is used in the sense of composition. However, just because the Father and the Son are spirit does not mean they have no form. If they had no form, how could the Bible honestly say that humans were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26)? They do have form. Physically, we are in Their image.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)


 

John 5:16-17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"Hitherto" (King James version) is not a word that we are familiar with. It means, "to here," so in this context it implies "to this very day." Jesus is saying, "My Father is working right up to this point of time, and I am too." God is an active Creator. He did not create everything physical, and then just sit back, cross His legs, and twiddle His thumbs. He is an active Creator.

God created this universe to carry out the next step in His purpose, which is His ongoing work. He is creating a Family of beings just like Himself. He is reproducing Himself by creating us in His image. "Conversion" is the word that describes this process of transformation—"from glory to glory"—from the glory of man to the glory of God. We are being brought into the image of God.

This image is not in the way that we look, but in certain knowledge and attitudes that we believe, accept, submit to in thought and in conduct. It is accomplished by putting the mind of God in us. This regeneration begins a growth process. In our case, it is the growth of God's mind in ours.

God's mind, just like ours, is more than words. It is also attitudes, feelings, moods, passions, inclinations, and perspectives. These things can be described by words, but they are not words. They develop through the combination of knowledge and experience, most frequently within relationships. We really cannot relate to a machine, but we can relate to other beings—we can have relationships with God and men—fellowships, social intercourse, work, play, and interaction. From these experiences, these mental, emotional, and attitudinal aspects of the mind, beyond mere words, create and develop.

As it happens, nothing actually is produced that has form, weight, or can be measured. Rather it is knowledge gleaned from experience, and it is accompanied by God personally and actively working and creating to enable us to accomplish our part in carrying out His will. Remember, Paul said, "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 6)


 

John 5:37   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus gives no indication that the Father has no form. He is saying here that He does indeed have a form. He teaches that He has a voice and shape.

The word "form" here is from the Greek eidos, which means, "form, shape, appearance, fashion." It is used in a context indicating what can be seen with the eye. That is what Jesus says, "You have not seen His form"—that is, with the eyes. He does not mean something visualized in the mind.

Luke 3:22 says, "And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form." Those who were there saw it with their eyes, and it had shape to it. Likewise, the Father has shape that is visible to the eyes and a voice that is audible to the ears.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

John 14:10-11   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The word in could prove to be quite a puzzle because, if we understood it as "inside" rather than "in union with," we would have God and Christ crawling inside and out of each other. It would create a farcical, "Where is He now? The Son is in the Father. No, the Father is in the Son." Or, because Christians are included in verse 20, it would be, "No, He's in me." "No, He's in you." Or, "No, I'm in Him." We could get all confused. But God is logical.

Here, the sense is definitely "in union with." The Father and Son are two separate Beings who sit side by side in carrying out the responsibilities of providing for and maintaining the operation of His creation both physically and spiritually. When the Son was on earth, He was in union with the Father, and the Father was in union with Him.

It is almost as if they were—well, humanly, we would say "one flesh." When a man and a woman marry, are they two different beings? Yes, they are. Are they commanded by God to marry for the purpose of becoming one, in union with each other? Yes (Genesis 2:24).

Do they crawl in and out of each other? No, of course not. Nevertheless, a blending takes place: a blending of mind and personality. And what eventually happens? It is something that begins even before the two become married. No matter where one of them goes, because of their experiences together, he or she carries the presence of the other with him or her, and they can call up those memories in the blink of an eye. Is that not simple?

The same principle is involved in the union of the Father and the Son—and the union of God and the Christian.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

John 15:5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He speaks directly to us, stating a principle we must learn to live with. The power to do spiritual works, to overcome, to produce the fruit of God's Spirit, to be used by God in any righteous manner comes from above. Israel's journey through the wilderness illustrates this. Every step of the way was physically empowered by the manna and water God provided.

Understanding God's hand in our preparation for the Kingdom of God is also advanced by remembering that we are the clay sculpture our Creator is molding and shaping (Isaiah 64:8). Does any work of art—any painting, carving, drawing, tapestry, work of literature, or fine meal for that matter—have inherent power to shape itself?

The natural man, even apart from God's purpose, is a magnificent work of art. David writes in Psalm 139:14, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Yet, when we have put on incorruption and immortality, and have inherited the Kingdom of God, we will be the most magnificent masterpieces there are, far superior to what we are now. To mold and shape us into God's image requires love, wisdom, and multiple other powers far beyond anything any person—even Jesus as a human being—has.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)


 

Acts 7:56   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Could Stephen have seen Jesus as a man in Judea during His ministry? There is certainly a strong possibility he did. Did he recognize who it was? Yes, he did. Immediately, he recognized His form, His shape, His face, and that He was standing beside another God Being.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

Romans 1:19-20   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God can be understood—even the unconverted can comprehend some things about Him. Despite these verses in Romans 1, the opinions of learned men say that God is incomprehensible, yet Paul is saying that there is a clear testimony. It is a constant and natural revelation of God's power and nature, and that revelation is sufficient for God to hold these people responsible for their conduct.

This natural revelation, however, is not sufficient for salvation because God shows in other places that salvation requires a specific and personal revelation of His word. "No one," Jesus says in John 6:44, "can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day."

But this revelation through what God has created is clear enough for Him to hold people responsible for their conduct. Thus, if His invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature are clearly understood by the visible things that God has made in this world, then all we need to do is to use a little common sense in connection with plain statements from Scripture to find out what God really looks like. So, if God says that His attributes can be clearly understood by the unconverted, and if He is seen in the visible creation in this world, what visible things on earth give us a picture of the invisible God?

The very thing that God Himself says in Genesis 1:26. We—mankind—look like Him.

Is that so difficult? Just understanding this principle, it is no wonder that the Greek gods of mythology reflected mankind in all of our foibles, weaknesses, and passions. The Greeks simply turned the principle around. They turned the image around, reflecting in their gods the things of man.

Other portions of Scripture, like I Corinthians 2:6-16, explain the special, personal revelation of God that helps us to know the things of God, so that we can have the mind of Christ and put on His image. However, we know from other passages that the created human being is but a pale reflection of the reality of God, and that God's creative power is still at work reproducing His image in men. That is, we are a work in progress and still unfinished.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

Romans 5:6-10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Sanctification and justification are not the same. They are, however, different processes within the same purpose, and they are definitely related issues. They both begin at the same time: when we are forgiven, justified, and sanctified. Justification has to do with aligning us with the standard of God's law that in turn permits us into God's presence. We will never be any more justified than we are at that moment; justification does not increase as we move through our Christian lives.

Some believe that Jesus Christ lived and died only to provide justification and forgiveness of our sins. However, those who believe this are selling His awesome work short. As wonderful as His work is in providing us with justification, His labors in behalf of our salvation do not end there. Notice that verse 10 says we are "saved by His life." Jesus rose from the dead to continue our salvation as our High Priest. God's work of spiritual creation does not end with justification, for at that point we are far from complete. We are completed and saved because of Christ's labor as our Mediator and High Priest only because He is alive.

Sanctification unto holiness continues the process. Hebrews 2:11 states that Jesus is "He who sanctifies," and those of us who have come under His blood are called "those who are sanctified." Note these verses carefully:

» John 17:19: And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

» Ephesians 5:25-26: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.

» Colossians 1:21-22: And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight. . . .

» Titus 2:14: . . . who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Sanctification has a definite purpose that is different from justification. In one respect, justification—as important as it is—only gets the salvation process started. Sanctification takes a person much farther along the road toward completion. It occurs within the experiences of life generally over the many years of one's relationship with the Father and Son. How long did God work with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and the apostles to prepare them for His Kingdom? By comparison, will our perfection be achieved in just a moment?

Sanctification is the inward spiritual work that Jesus Christ works in us. Notice His promise, made on the eve of His crucifixion, in John 14:18: "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." Moments later, when asked by Judas, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" (verse 22), Jesus replies, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (verse 23). These clear statements show that Jesus would continue His work with them following His resurrection.

As our High Priest, He continues that work in us after our justification. He not only washes us of our sins by means of His blood, but He also labors to separate us from our natural love of sin and the world. He works to instill in us a new principle of life, making us holy in our actions and reactions within the experiences of life. This makes possible a godly witness before men, and at the same time, prepares us for living in the Kingdom of God.

If God's only purpose was to save us, He could end the salvation process with our justification. Certainly, His purpose is to save us, but His goal is to save us with character that is the image of His own.

Notice Hebrews 6:1: "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God." This verse and those immediately following confirm that, at the time of justification, we are not perfect or complete. Justification is an important beginning, but God intends to complete the process of spiritual maturation that He began with our calling. When sanctification begins, our Christian walk truly begins in earnest.

Sanctification, then, is the outcome of God's calling, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, justification, and our becoming regenerated by God through receiving His Spirit. This combination begins life in the Spirit, as Paul explains in Romans 8:9: "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His."

At this point in Christian life, the principles of Christianity must be practically applied to everyday life. At this juncture, it might help to recall what righteousness is. Psalm 119:172 defines it succinctly: "My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness." The apostle John adds to our understanding in I John 3:4: "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." Both rectitude and love concisely characterize the same standards, the Ten Commandments, and we are required to labor to perform both.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Four)


 

1 Corinthians 2:10-11   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There is a human spirit in which all of mankind shares. It is what, more than any other component of what we are, that enables us to be in God's image, and yet each person is a different personality. We are distinct from each other so that each person's spirit is also distinct. It is his own. Your spirit is yours, and my spirit is mine.

My spirit projects John Ritenbaugh. It projects my personality, my mind, my attitudes, my knowledge, my understanding, my wisdom, and my discernment - things that have come to me as a result of my experiences. Yours is exactly the same way.

What spirit goes back to God when we die? Is the spirit that goes back to God after your death different from the one that goes back to God from me when I die? Of course it is. Mine is mine, and yours is yours. In reference to God, His Spirit is Holy Spirit, but it is uniquely His. Are not He and the Son distinct from one another? They are.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

1 Corinthians 6:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Being in or in union with God does not mean to be bodily inside of each other, because in all the verses that describe people who were "in" another, they had bodies of their own. So being in means "joined with" toward the accomplishment of the same purpose, and in our case, it is for the fulfilment of God's purpose that we are in union with Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

1 Corinthians 11:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The word "image" is the Greek icon. Anybody who has a computer running Windows knows what an icon is. In Greek icon means "a likeness," "a resemblance," or "a representation or image," and it is often used in the sense of the image of a man—something made of wood, gold, silver, or other material. Man is in the image of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 15:35   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Do things ever change, or do the same questions keep coming around all the time? This sounds as modern as last year—God has no body. So people in the first century were questioning what kinds of body the sons of God will have in the resurrection. Why were they questioning that? Because there were undoubtedly people, most likely of the Gnostic persuasion, who were saying that God does not have a body. And, they argued, since we are to be made in the image of God, we will not have a body either.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 15:36-37   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul says a change will take place, and he refers again to what comes out of the grave being a body—a spirit body.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 15:39-40   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There is no question in Paul's mind that there are celestial bodies. What is a celestial body? Many Bibles translate "celestial" as "heavenly." Paul is speaking about spirit bodies. He says plainly that spirits have bodies.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 15:41   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

All things in creation have bodies designed for their purpose in creation. And though there are similarities in design, they are different because of function. Notice how often the word "body" appears in this context, and within its purview, the cherubim, seraphim, and angels are included.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 15:42-49   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The image Paul speaks of is not merely that we will be composed of spirit even as Christ is, but that our very nature and character be like His. If God desired that we merely be spirit, He could have made us like angels. Angels, however, are not God; they are angels. God is doing a work in us through which we will become like Him, not like angels.

His purpose requires that we cooperate. Though our part is very small by comparison to what He is doing, it is nonetheless vital. Notice how Paul draws this beautiful section of I Corinthians to a conclusion by drawing our attention to what it will take on our part to make God's purpose work: "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:57-58).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Three): Hope


 

1 Corinthians 15:49   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Are we sons of Adam? Why do we have this image? Why are we like him? Because we are his offspring! We have been born into this earth, the offspring of Adam, as Acts 17 clearly proves. When we are resurrected we will bear the image of our Father. We will be just like Him (I John 3:2), even as we are now just like Adam was. We will be God!

Incidentally, the word image means "that which corresponds to and reproduces the original." No image—whether it is a reproduction in a flat mirror, a three-dimensional hologram, or a living child of a parent—is an exact replica or image, because each person has his own peculiarities. That is so evident and logical that everybody should be able to understand that nobody can be God exactly as God is God, because each person is an individual personality. We will be a reproduction of Him, but we will be unique—because we are who we are, and He is who He is. He has His life and His history, and we have ours. However, we will still be God. We will be just as much "God" as a baby in the human family is a "human" like its parents.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 15:49   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The "heavenly Man" is Jesus Christ. We will be transformed to be like His glorious body. If we are to have a body, which will be like His, then He must also have a body now. When God restored Him to His former glory (Jesus' prayer in John 17:3-5 requests He be restored to the glory He had with the Father before the world was), He then returned to the kind of body He had before when He was the model for Adam.

Do we understand what this means? When He was resurrected, He was restored to what He was before when He was the model for mankind. As the model for Adam, He was like He was when He was resurrected. He was God. The composition was spirit, not flesh, but His body had shape and solidity (remember that He was touched in His resurrection appearances).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

1 Corinthians 15:49   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

I Corinthians 15:49 shows the end of the process, which it encompasses in just a brief phrase, "we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." We were born into the human family, and we have borne the image of that family, an image that all of mankind has in common. All of us have the human spirit. We may be different ethnically. We may look different from the person sitting next to us, but now in Christ Jesus He is building a commonality, one God intends us to use to increase our fellowship with Him, as well as increase and deepen the respect and fellowship that we have for each other until we come to bear the image of the heavenly. Then, of course, the fellowship will be in totality. That is where Christians are headed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

2 Corinthians 3:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In this verse, which refers directly to Jesus Christ, "spirit" is used in the sense of composition. But just because the Father and the Son are composed of spirit does not mean they have no form. If they had no form, how could the Bible honestly say that humans were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26)? They do have form. Physically, we are in Their image.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)


 

Galatians 4:5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is an obscene fallacy to consider that mankind needs to be "redeemed" from God's law. The law does not keep one in bondage—sin does. The law just points out why that man is in bondage. As the notes at Galatians 4:3 show, God's intent and desire is to free us from the bondage of sin, just as He redeemed the Israelites from Egypt. Right before God gave Israel the Ten Commandments, in a preamble of sorts, He stated very clearly, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2). God's law points out to people why they are reaping the negative consequences of the choices they make—why they are in bondage to sin and condemned to pay the physical and spiritual price.

Jesus Christ was supernaturally conceived ("made of a woman") and took on the consequence of all of our sins ("made under law"), so He could redeem—pay the price for—everyone who was also under the condemnation of the law. We are redeemed from the bondage of sin and its consequences, not from the perfect law of God! It should be noted that He did this for all men, not just for the Jews. Hence, the "redemption" could not be referring to redemption from the moral instructions of what is right and wrong, simply because the Gentile Galatians were not familiar with God's law before He called them.

Prior to God's call from this satanic system, we were Satan's children. We bore his image, and resembled him in word, deed, and attitude (Ephesians 2:1-3; John 8:38-44). When God calls us into a relationship with Him, He justifies us—brings us into alignment with His perfect law—and gives us a measure of His Spirit so we may begin to understand His ways. To those that He chooses and who properly respond, He gives the authority to become His sons (John 1:12). This sonship is by adoption, because our first father was Satan the Devil!

Genesis 1:26 shows that God's intent is to recreate Himself and to have a Family of spirit beings. Because He loves us, He gives us the opportunity to be called the "sons of God," which alienates us from the world because the world still bears the image of Satan (I John 3:1). Through the sanctification process we are changed, and become more and more in His likeness, and upon our resurrection we will be raised with incorruptible spirit bodies, fully part of the Kingdom—the Family—of God.

David C. Grabbe


 

Ephesians 1:3-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"For I am the LORD. I do not change" (Malachi 3:6). He has never deviated from His purpose from the foundation of the world. Once He had planned what He would do, He set out on to fulfill His purpose, and He has never strayed from it. Genesis 1:26 suggests this strongly: "Let Us make man in Our image." What is He doing? He is reproducing Himself. If He is creating man "in His image," then He is reproducing Himself!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 1)


 

Ephesians 4:17-32   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Most of us realize that the unity of the church of God courses through the book of Ephesians as a general theme. Paul illustrates the church as a complete body of which Jesus, though in heaven, is the Head, and the elect here on earth comprise the rest of it. Early on, Paul declares how God has planned the organization of His purpose from the very beginning, determining whom He would call, give His Spirit to, and perfect as His children.

In Ephesians 4, the apostle begins to clarify our Christian responsibilities regarding works. He appeals to us in verse 1 to make every effort to live a manner of life that measures up to the magnificence of our high calling. He then makes sure we understand that we must carry out our responsibilities in humility, kindness, and forbearance as we strive to maintain doctrinal accord in purity.

He explains that Christ has given each of us gifts to meet our responsibilities in maintaining the unity of God's church. Foremost among these gifts are teachers who will work to equip us for service in the church and eventually in the Kingdom. This same process will enable us to grow to completion, to mature, no longer wavering in our loyalties, certain in the direction of our lives, and not deceived by the craftiness of men.

With that foundation, the "therefore" in verse 17 draws our focus to the practical applications necessary to meet the standards of the preceding spiritual concepts. We must not conduct our lives as the unconverted do. They are blinded to these spiritual realities and so conduct life in ignorance, following the lusts of darkened minds.

Because we are being educated by God, the standards of conduct are established by His truths and are therefore exceedingly higher. We must make every effort to throw off the works of carnality and strive to acquire a renewed mind through diligent, continuous effort so that we can be created in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness (verse 24).

In verses 25-29, Paul moves even further from generalities to clear, specific works that we must do. We must speak truth so that we do not injure another through lies, as well as to maintain unity. Because deceit produces distrust, unity cannot be maintained if lying occurs. We must not allow our tempers to flare out of control, for they serve as an open door for Satan to create havoc.

We must be honest, earning our way so that we are prepared to give to others who are in need. We must be careful that what we speak is not only true but also edifying, imparting encouragement, empathy, sympathy, exhortation, and even gentle correction when needed.

In verse 30 is a brief and kind reminder that, in doing our works we must never forget that we owe everything to our indwelling Lord and Master. We must make every effort to be thankful, acknowledging Him as the Source of all gifts and strengths, enabling us to glorify Him through our works.

In the final two verses of the chapter, Paul delineates specific responsibilities concerning our attitudes toward fellow Christians within personal relationships.

This brief overview of just one chapter shows clearly how much works enter into a Christian's life as practical requirements that cannot be passed off as unnecessary. How else will a Christian glorify God? How else will he grow to reflect the image of God? How else will he fulfill God's command to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19) except by faithfully doing those works that lead to life?

Through the whole process of sanctification, the Christian will make constant use of two additional works: daily prayer and Bible study, which must be combined with his efforts to obey God. No one who is careless about performing these works can expect to make progress growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ during sanctification.

Why? Without them, he will have no relationship with either the Father or the Son, and thus will not be enabled to achieve the required works. They are the Source of the powers that make it possible for us to do the works God has ordained. If we do not follow through on these two works, we will surely hear ourselves called "wicked and lazy" and be cast into "outer darkness" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:24-30).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Four)


 

Philippians 3:21   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There is nothing ambiguous, cloudy, or vague about this. Our bodies will be conformed to be like His. It does not say they will be conformed to be like an angel's. It does not say they will be conformed to be like a better human being. They are going to be conformed to be like His body. Paul is referring to the Lord, who is God! Our bodies will be like God's body.

The word conform or, as it is in the King James, fashioned means "to make similar to or identical with." Will our bodies be "similar to" or "identical with" God's? Which one does Paul intend us to understand? John writes in I John 3:1-3:

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not knows us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now are we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that, when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

When he says, "it has not yet been revealed what we shall be," he means that we do not know some of the specifics about what our nature will be like, but we do know what it will be in a generality: "We shall be like Him."

What other creature that God has created has been given the Spirit of God and is being conformed to His image? Angels? Hebrews 1 says that the angels of heaven worship Jesus Christ. He is greater than angels, and we are going to be conformed to Him! We are not going to be conformed to angels. The conforming is to be to God.

Another thing that John adds here is that this hope—to be conformed to the image of God in Jesus Christ—is what motivates a person to purify himself. It is the engine that drives a person along the Way, because he knows where he is headed. He is not going to be someone slightly above angels but someone like the Son of God, one who is worshipped and is worthy of the worship of angels. This doctrine is not ambiguous in any way. We are going to be like Him, and He is worthy of worship.

Does it not say in Revelation 3:9 that people will worship the saints? Do people worship angels? No, the angels tell them, "Get off your knees, because I am a servant as you are" (see Revelation 19:10). God says we will be worthy of worship as part of the God Family.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 1)


 

Philippians 3:21   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When Jesus was resurrected, He took pains to make it clear to His disciples that He was not a ghost, not merely an essence. He had flesh and bone. He was plainly saying that there was substance to what He was then—and thus to what He is today.

To put it bluntly, He was saying that He was corporeal. Corporeal from Webster's means "having tangible qualities of a body such as shape, size, and resistance to force." If a person leans against the wall, it resists him. Why? Because it is solid, tangible. If Jesus was not solid, whenever His disciples stretched their hands out to Him or perhaps ran their fingers against the palm of His hand where the nail marks were, they would have felt nothing, yet there was substance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

Colossians 3:9-10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We will conform to our image of God. Whatever our image of God is, we will make an effort—expend energy—to become like it. We had better be sure that it is the right image! Conforming will take place just as surely as a child born into a human family will conform to the image of that family—particularly the parents—and pick up their characteristics, whether they want to or not. This is a true principle, which Paul is speaking about here, only in a spiritual vein.

Since the Christian is to be "renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him," he cannot be renewed in knowledge unless he is conforming to the right image. What Moses did when he was forty amounted to this: He knew about God, but he did not know God. He had head-knowledge of God, of the prophecy that God made to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16, of the fact that the four hundred years were almost up, and that, counting Levi, he was of the fourth generation of Israelites who had been in Egypt.

He had head-knowledge, but he did not really know God. Therefore, he jumped the gun. Although he was excited and zealous, he was way off-base in terms of God's plan. However, in the intervening forty years, he came to know God. As he did, his beliefs about God changed, and thus his convictions also changed. They became more in harmony with the true knowledge of God.

Strong belief must be present, but it also must be right or it is out of sync with God. Those strongly held beliefs will not produce the right fruit because the way of life will not correspond with the true image of God. In other words, if our knowledge of God is not correct, it will not produce the right fruit because it does not conform to the true image of God.

At forty years of age, Moses' image of God was wrong. In his excitement and in his zeal, he went out, but he did not produce the right fruit. He could not because his image of God was incorrect. Forty years later, after spending so many years in the wilderness, his image of God was more correct, much clearer. Did it produce the right fruit? Yes, it did. Israel was released from its slavery because Moses was in harmony with God's will. The image of God was right, and he was conforming to it.

If our image of God is wrong, then our way of life will not be consistent with God's. Just like Moses, we need time for this process of coming to know God to take place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction, Moses and Us


 

Colossians 3:10-15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When Paul speaks of putting on the new man here, he gives us several attitudes we need to emulate as followers of Christ. Most of them involve the way we deal with each other because a major part of what God is teaching us has to do with building and solidifying our relationships. As we see in the next few verses, he comments specifically on the husband-wife, parent-child and employer-employee relationships.

Why? Largely, our judgment by our Savior hangs on the quality of our relationships. We should never forget the principle found in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats: "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25:40, 45).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Road Less Traveled


 

1 Peter 1:2-5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We have been summoned to a great cause. The summons is personal and specific. It presents us the challenge of choosing to live a life worthy of the awesome vocation to which God has summoned us. Our calling has become our life's work. God has summoned us to yield to His creative efforts of reproducing Himself, just as II Corinthians 3:18 instructs us: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Five): Who We Are


 

1 John 2:8-11   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Life without love is death because it is a life of selfishness, the opposite of what God is. John says it is like being blindfolded and having blurred judgment besides. Yet we have the love of God; He has shed it abroad in our hearts by His Spirit (Romans 5:5). This is not an abstract love for people in distant lands but is toward and for those with whom we have daily contact. God's love not only enables us to make progress in His way, it is the solution to the murder problem.

Hatred, the spirit of murder, destroys fellowship with God and man. If one has hatred toward another, it proves he does not love God. God is love. No one with the spirit of murder within him is in the image of God. Such an attitude must be overcome, for no murderer will enter His Kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Revelation 7:9-12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Bible tells us that all the redeemed will see God's face. Here is a picture of the redeemed, projected forward to the time when they are in the Kingdom of God before His throne. What are they looking at? The Bible says they will see His face.

God has a face, prosopon, which literally means "toward." It also means "the eye" or "the face." When used in reference to a person, it means "the part toward, at, or around the eye," "the face," or "the countenance."

Why would John use this word? When one person is talking with another, they are looking at each other, beholding what is toward each one, and the focus of their attention is on the other's face, that is, the eyes and what is around them. Hence, this word is almost variably translated face, countenance, presence, or person in the New Testament, depending on how expansive the context is.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)


 

Revelation 20:12-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Since all are to be judged according to their works, what if one claiming to be Christian has no works to show when God clearly expects them? James 2:19-20 clinches the argument: "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?"

This entire issue is actually quite simple. No amount of works can justify us before God. Justification by faith in Christ's atoning blood makes one legally free to access God and to begin a relationship with Him. However, from that point on, works are absolutely required for sanctification unto holiness - to the extent that, not only is one's reward contingent upon them, but also salvation itself. Will God reward one who can show no works at all, or provide salvation to one whose faith is so weak it produces bad works? Such a person would be totally out of place, unfit for living eternally in the Kingdom of God.

Ephesians 2:8-10 makes this reality even stronger. Even though we are saved by grace through faith, the very reason we are created is for good works that God Himself prepared beforehand for us to walk in. The gospel of the Kingdom of God provides the reasons for which works are required - the major one being to prepare us for living in God's Kingdom.

God intended Israel's forty-year journey through the wilderness to prepare them for living in the Promised Land. However, even though Israel had the gospel preached to them and had godly leadership provided by the likes of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua, in their stiff-necked unbelief they refused to submit in obedience to God's commands. They thus failed to receive the necessary preparation for using the Promised Land rightly, becoming an eternal example of why works of preparation are needed (Hebrews 4:1-2).

Can we learn a lesson from their examples? When God brings us out of spiritual Egypt, He is not done with us yet. In fact, a great deal of spiritual creating within us remains to be accomplished before we will be fit to live and occupy a working position in God's Kingdom. We are being created in Christ Jesus, created in His image. Can we honestly say we are already in His image when we are merely legally cleared of sin? Absolutely not! As great as this is, it is not the end of God's creative process. God is not merely "saving" us. His purpose is far greater than that.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Six)


 

 




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