02.05.23 Evening - Baptist Catechism Q14
Good evening. •We are continuing our study of the Baptist Catechism. •Specifically, we are using the edition found in the white catechism booklets that we give away here at the church. •Tonight we are going to consider Question 14. •And that question is: “How did God create man?” What does it mean to be a human being? •What is it that makes us different from other creatures? •Why are we different from other creatures? •I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are some radical differences between you and a dog or cat or fish. •Why is that the case? •Why is it that you can think, reason, have a sense of morality, have desires beyond food and drink, have an eternal soul, have dominion over the world, and all the other things that are unique about us? •Simply put, it’s all because we have been made in the Image of God. •To be a human being is to be creature made in the Image of God. And that is what our catechism question this evening will be dealing with. •Question 13 talked about God’s work of creation. And now in Question 14 we move to God’s highest work of creation: The creation of man. •And the big thing that makes man so glorious, so high, so majestic, so unique, is that we are the only creatures made in God’s Image. •So this question isn’t dealing so much with the literal “how” of our physical creation. Rather, it is dealing with how God made man different from all other things. I hope to highlight some basic truths to you this evening. •Most everything will be by way of reminder. It’ll be things that you probably already know or have already thought about to some extent. •But I hope that thinking on the creation of man will cause you to consider how far we’ve fallen from that original state. •And, from there, that your thoughts may be directed to how valuable and glorious our Lord Jesus Christ is. May God use this sermon to bless us, and remind us that we were made by Him and for Him. •May God use this sermon to remind us that we have fallen from our original state of perfection. •And may God use this sermon to remind us of our glorious Redeemer, Jesus Christ. •May God bless the preaching of His Word. Now, with that said, I will pray. •And then we will consider our question for the evening. (PRAY) Our Heavenly Father, We thank you for this Sabbath day. And we thank you for another opportunity to gather together as your People to feast on your Word. We ask now that you would bless the preacher and use Him as your mouthpiece to declare your truth. And we ask that you bless the hearers. Cause us to hear you voice and heed and obey and believe it. Speak to us by your Spirit working alongside the Word. And change us. Cause us to love you more. Cause us to value Christ more. Cause us to see ourselves rightly. Sanctify us by your truth. Your Word is truth. We ask these things in Jesus’ Name and for His sake. Amen. Our Question this evening. I ask that you would read the answer with me. Q. How did God create man? A. God created man, male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures. •(Let’s do that again.) 1.) As always, let’s go through our answer phrase-by-phrase. •And the first thing I’d like to point out is that our catechism, both in the question and answer, affirms that God created man. •This almost goes without saying. God created all things. And so God created man. God created mankind, beginning with our first father Adam. Though we all know it, allow me now to read the account of man’s creation from Genesis 2:5-7. “When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” •God took dust, He took dirt from the ground, formed it into a man, personally breathed life into his nostrils. And the man became a living creature (or living soul). Notice how special the creation of man was. •All other creatures in the world God simply spoke into existence. And then they came into being exactly as they ought to be. •But here we read that God, though He did not have to, took His time more with man, if I can say such a thing. •God was more personal, more intimate when He made man. •And this tells us that mankind is very special to God. Mankind is not like the rest of creation. Mankind is unique. Mankind was made differently. •God has endowed us with a glory and privilege and honor that He has not given the rest of creation. And we will consider more of that, God willing, later. But from this short passage it is clear that God created man in the beginning. •And all humanity has come from that one man. (Even Eve was created from his rib.) •And since we all come from that one man, though it is through ordinary generation, we can rightly say that God has created all of us, because God created him. •Not only that, but God is the One who stitched us together in our mothers’ wombs. (Psalm 139) •So, in all ways, not just with Adam, in all ways we can say that God created man. As the children’s catechism asks in Question 1, “Who made you?” •The answer is “God made me.” •God made Adam. And God made every one of us. Truly, God has created man. Brothers and sisters, though this is not the main thrust of the catechism, I want to take a moment and say something to you: •There is a wealth of theology and ethics and morality that flows from this simple truth that God made man. •Oh, that we would understand this more! •God made us. And that means that we did not make ourselves. •And since He made us, that means that we do not own ourselves. He owns us. We are HIS creatures. •And since we are His creatures, we are subject to Him. He is the Authority over us. We do not merely answer to ourselves or even to one another. We are accountable to HIM, ultimately. •Since He made us, we are not free to do as we wish. Rather, we are only free to do as He desires and instructs us. That is part of what it means to be created by Him. •And since He has made us, we owe Him everything. Literally everything. We owe Him our affections. We owe Him our allegiance. We owe Him our obedience. We owe Him our devotion. We owe Him our hearts. We owe Him our everything. We need to get it deep into our hearts that GOD MADE MAN. •And we need to do our best to declare this deep truth to the world around us. •This simple fact is part of the foundation for everything we believe and do. •God made man. And that means He is God over man, Ruler over man, Law-Giver to man, and the final Judge of all men. •God made us. And if we get that deep into our hearts, that will change many things. •It will change how we view our purpose for living. •It will change how we interact with others. •It will change how we view the world and everything in it and everything that happens in it. •God made man. Remember that. Rehearse it to yourself every day. “God made man. We did not make ourselves.” 2.) Moving on, our catechism reminds us that, “God made man, MALE AND FEMALE…” •We just read in Genesis 2:5-7 that God made man from the dust of the earth, but then in Genesis 2:18 and then 21-23 we read: Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him…So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” •God made man from the dust of the ground. And then God made woman from the rib of the man. •So then, God made mankind. And He made them male and female. God made mankind male and female for a few reasons: 1. God made the woman to be a helper to the man. •God made them male and female in order that they would be companions to one another. So that man would not be alone. •What a blessing it is to have relationships and families and companionship! •This was and is a great blessing to man. 2. God made them male and female for the sake of procreation. •Obviously, this is how nature works. God desired the world to be filled with human beings. And so, He made mankind able to reproduce with male and female. 3. God made them male and female and put them together in marriage in order to image forth the future glory of Christ and His Church. •The man, being the Head and protector and leader of the woman represented Christ. •The woman, being submissive to the man represented the Church. •Now, nobody knew this until the age of the New Covenant came and the Apostles declared it to be so. •But Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 that this is an old truth that has been made clear under the New Covenant. (That’s what it means for something to be a “mystery” in the Bible.) •Their marriage to one another, male and female, pictures Christ’s relationship to His Church. He is the Head, He leads, He protects, He loves. And His Church lovingly submits to Him and was “taken from His side,” so to speak as He died for us and the Church was formed from Him and His work. •This is beautiful and glorious stuff. Now, though all of that is good and true, the reason why male and female are mentioned in our answer is because of what follows. •The big thrust of the catechism is about God making us in His Image. And it is stressing that what follows in the answer applies equally to men and women: •Both men and women are made in the Image of God. •Genesis 1:26-27 explicitly states this: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let THEM have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own Image, in the image of God He created him; MALE AND FEMALE He created THEM. •So then, mankind, both male and female, are the Image of God. Both were created in His Image. •So what follows, the meat of the answer, applies to every single human being, both male and female. 3.) To continue then, “God created man, male and female, AFTER (in) HIS OWN IMAGE…” •But what does that mean? Of what does the Image of God consist? That’s the great question. Well, we know that this DOES NOT mean a physical likeness to God. •Genesis 1:27 is NOT teaching us that man physically resembles God. That is manifestly nonsense. •In fact, that’s what the Mormons teach. They teach that God has a physical body (their god used to be a man, after all) and that we all look like him. •That is nonsense and heresy. God has NO PHYSICAL BODY. •The divine nature has no physical body. It is immaterial, not physical or tangible. God may manifest Himself in tangible ways, but His nature is SPIRIT. •As Jesus says in John 4:24, “GOD IS SPIRIT, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” •Now, let’s be clear: Jesus Christ is God, He is fully God, and He has a body. But His body is part of His true HUMAN NATURE. His divine nature as the Son of God has no body. •So, again, being made in the Image of God is NOT to be understood as saying, “Man looks like God in some physical or visible way.” •As it is written, “God is not a man…” (Numbers 23:19) So what does it mean, then? •Well, to get something of an answer, we need to look to portions of Scripture that speak of man being in God’s Image. •And there are two places in the NT that we now turn to in order to get a better understanding of the idea. 1. First, we go to Colossians 3:10. •There, Paul is talking about what has happened spiritually to believers. And he says, “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in KNOWLEDGE after the IMAGE OF ITS CREATOR.” •Christians are being renewed in knowledge after the Image of God. •And because of that, we can conclude that the Image of God has to do with KNOWLEDGE. It has to do with knowledge in general and also something of the knowledge of God. 2. Second, we go to Ephesians 4:24. •There, Paul is once again talking about how Christians are to think and behave. And he says, “and to put on the new self, created after the LIKENESS OF GOD in true RIGHTEOUSNESS and HOLINESS.” •Christians have a “new self” or new nature. And that self is created after the likeness/image of God. •And that Image has to do with righteousness and holiness. •So, once again, we can conclude that the Image of God has to do with RIGHTEOUSNESS and HOLINESS. And this is why our catechism says, “God created man, male and female, after His own image, in KNOWLEDGE, RIGHTEOUSNESS, and HOLINESS…” •Now, let’s flesh that out a little bit. 1. First, God created man, after His own Image, IN KNOWLEDGE. •Man is a rational being. We are able to think. We are able to know things. We are able to reason and use logic and have memories and learn. •Other creatures can’t do that. At least, not like we can. Not even close. •So being made in God’s Image means that He made us with the ability to think and know. •Man has a MIND that is unique in the created order. But, to get more specific, man was originally created with knowledge embedded into him. •Man was created with a sufficient knowledge of God, His character, His will, and His works. •Man knew God in the beginning. And man knew what God expected of Him. Man knew of His majesty, power, authority, and goodness. •God created man with sufficient knowledge to make him fit for obedience to God. •God created man with sufficient knowledge to make man accountable to obey, love, and glorify his Maker. And this images forth God, because God is WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE itself. •God, to speak humanly, thinks. He is a mind. He wills, He is a rational Being. •And so, to image forth something of Himself, He created man as a lesser kind of rational being and placed knowledge and understanding within man, so that man might fulfill His calling and glorify God. 2. Second, God created man, after His own Image, IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. •Righteousness has to do with morality. It has to do with being and doing good as opposed to evil. •And man was originally made righteous. He was made morally upright and good. There was no sin in man, in the beginning. God did not make man sinful. God made man in the Image of perfect righteousness. •Ecclesiastes 7:29 says, “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” •Though we are sinful now, it was not so in the beginning. Man was once upright. Man was once INHERENTLY RIGHTEOUS. Man was once morally perfect, inside and out. This is how God made Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve with perfect knowledge of His Moral Law. •That is, the Law summarized in the Ten Commandments, was written on their hearts. •And they had the ability to perfectly keep it in love and faith toward God. •Now, they obviously also had the ability to disobey and sin against the Lord. •BUT that does not take away the fact that they knew the Law of God in their hearts and that God had created them righteous and with the ability to obey, if they so chose. Being made in God’s Image, in righteousness, tells us that man is intrinsically MORAL. •That is, we are responsible moral agents. •This is why we have an innate sense of right and wrong. This is why we intrinsically know that there is a God that we should worship. •This is why we intrinsically know that we should love our neighbors. •After the fall, some of it is fuzzy, I won’t deny that. But we know the absolute basics of morality without ever needing to be taught. •The Law is still written on our hearts. We are still moral people, even though we often behave immorally. We have consciences that either accuse or condemn us. We are moral agents. •And because we are moral agents, we are accountable to God and intrinsically know that a day of reckoning with Him is coming for all of us. Being made in righteousness reflects who God is, just like knowledge does. •It images forth God because IS RIGHTEOUSNESS and GOODNESS itself. •God Himself is the standard. And the fact that we all recognize a moral standard and are accountable to it displays that to the world. 3. Third, God created man, after His own Image, IN HOLINESS. •Now, this one is harder to understand, I think. But I think that it has something to do with man’s ability to be in fellowship with God. •Holiness has to do with being unique. And man was made distinct from all other creatures. •And the biggest thing that makes us different is that God put man in fellowship with Himself. •God made man, not only physical, but spiritual. We have souls. We are body and soul and NOT body only like the other creatures on earth. •God created us to not just know about Him, but to know Him personally. He created us for fellowship with Himself. And, in the beginning, at least for a time, Adam and Eve, man, lived in perfect fellowship with God. •Man lived in perfect knowledge and moral righteousness before the Lord. •Man knew God intimately. God spoke directly to man. God came down to the Garden to fellowship with man, it seems. •Man imitated the example of God perfectly and submitted to all the holy will of the Lord. •Man knew God in a real, perfect way in the beginning. And because of this holiness of man, man was immortal. •Man was created to live forever in this relationship with God. •And only sin could bring about death. Only sin could disrupt this holy fellowship. •God made us to know Him personally. God made us to be with Him forever. •So, mankind has a capacity to know and love God. And this is glorious. No other creature on earth can know and love the Lord. But we can, by His grace. For this is what He made us to do. And this images forth God because God is immortal, a relational Being (Trinity), and utterly holy in every way. •We show something of this because we have immortal souls, can relate to God, and were created in a higher class than our fellow creatures. 4. Lastly, we’re reminded that God created man, after His own Image, WITH DOMINION OVER THE CREATURES. •We read about this in Genesis 1:26. But let’s read again in Genesis 1:28: •And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and SUBDUE IT, and HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” •God made man with authority over every single thing on the earth. •Under God, man was to be the ruler of creation. •As Psalm 8:6 affirms, “You (God) have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…” God created man with the capacity and legitimate authority to subdue the earth and use it for good and holy and righteous purposes. •He gave us the ability and authority to use the earth as we saw fit, under His Law, to build culture, advance technology, govern, make civilization, and all the rest. •He gave us the authority to use the earth for His glory and the good of our fellow men. And this images forth God because God IS THE TRUE AUTHORITY OVER ALL THINGS. •He is the Sovereign Ruler of the Skies. He is the King. •And man was to display the kingship of God, the rule of God, by ruling well, as God’s representative to the world. In summary: God created man to know Him, obey Him, be accountable to Him, have fellowship with Him, and govern the world as His representatives. •He made us in His Image in order that we might be little images of Him in the world that display something of what He is like. •That was God’s purpose for man. And that is why we were created as we were. 4.) Now, another question arises: Since man has fallen into sin, since we have fallen from this state of perfect knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, are we still the Image of God? •The answer is a resounding YES. •The Image of God in us has been marred by sin, but we are still His Image Bearers. •James 3:9, written long after the Fall says, “With it (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” Sin has marred the Image of God in us, but it is still there. •Like a cracked mirror distorts the image it reflects, the mirror still reflects something of the image. That’s what we are now. •We are moral agents and know right from wrong. But now we are immoral and inconsistent and hypocrites. •We have moments of righteousness. And we know righteousness is good. But we are unrighteous as a whole. •By God’s grace, we can still be in fellowship with Him. But we are now naturally dead in our sins and have no fellowship with Him, unless He has mercy. •And our dominion is no longer perfect. The natural world and creatures fight and struggle against man, though with much effort, we can still subdue it to some degree. •We are still the Image of God. We are just distorted images. And because we are still God’s image bearers, we all have worth, notwithstanding our sinful nature. •We are still unique in the created order. We are still worth something. •Why? Because God is still God. And His Image is still intrinsically valuable. •This is the primary reason why we must treat our fellow human beings with respect, dignity, and love: They bear the image of God. •And so, to show disrespect, prejudice, malice, or any other wicked thing to our fellow man is to despise GOD in whose image they have been made. •Even after the Fall, all men still have value because God is still God. But, brothers and sisters, we distorted image bearers need restored by God. •We need the busted mirror fixed. We need renewed. We need to be made new. •And this is why we so desperately need the Lord Jesus Christ. •Christ, the TRUE MAN, the visible image of the invisible God, came into the world to live, die, and be raised from the dead in order to restore His People to what they should’ve been. •He came to cleanse us from our sins and give us His righteousness in order that we might once again have fellowship with God. •He came so that, by faith in Him, we might begin to live righteously and morally, and more faithfully reflect the image of God who made us and saved us by Christ. •He came to change our hearts so that we might exercise our authority in a way that honors God. •He came to restore the knowledge of God to us so that we might know and obey and please Him as we ought. Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from our sins. •But that means much more than saving us from the penalty for our sins. •He came to restore us in every way, so that we might be true human beings once again, as God made us. •He came to restore us to what we were in the beginning, so that we might fulfill God’s calling to man. •And He did this by becoming one of us. By becoming a man in order to redeem fallen men. By being everything that we should’ve been so that one day, by His grace, we can be everything we ought to be. •Truly, Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of sinners. •He saves us from the wrath of God and restores us to our original state. And all this by grace alone through faith alone in Him alone. Jesus Christ has crucified our Old Man with Himself in order that we might put on the New Man, who is being conformed more and more to the image of God. •And, one day, that process will be made complete when we, with our physical eyes, in the Resurrection, see the Lord and are sealed in the perfect and righteous state in which man was originally made. •All glory to be to Christ! •He has done it! And He will finish what He has started! So, brothers and sisters, my fellow Christians, bear His Image well! •You were made to know God. So know Him! •You were made to walk uprightly before Him and display His righteousness. So do it! •You were made to exercise your authority and abilities in a God-honoring way. So use your creativity and authority well! •You were made to know Him in true and intimate relationship. So know Him and love Him through faith in Jesus Christ and walk daily with Him! May God grant us grace and conform us more and more to His image, through Jesus Christ our Lord. •Amen.