God/man icons

God/man icons

When God created us, He said, “Let us make man in our own image and after our own likeness.” Then He did it. He created us in His own image and likeness. Genesis 1:26-27

What is a human being made to be like? Who’s image and likeness are we designed to reflect?
Where do you get the information that tells you this?

Notice this biblical icon of mankind: God/man This is the divine/human vision of scripture that identifies who and what we are.

2 Peter 1:3-4 puts it well: His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (likeness of God), through the knowledge of Him who called us by His glory and goodness, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption the is in the world through lust.

That passage is a mouthful, but twice it points to what God has given us concerning what and who we are. Verse three tells us: that God has given us all we need for life and godliness. Life. Godliness. We are not dead images of God’s likeness, but living ones. He has supplied us with those. Verse four tells us: God’s promises empower us toward fellowship (koinonia) or sharing in the divine nature, after freeing us from corruption (destruction, perishing).

The scriptural human icon is amazing! God creates and brings us into His very likeness and image. God/man.

This is all the more made clear when we read about the nature of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, son of Man. John 1 opens with these words: In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God. Then John tells us this: The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus, the one who came to us as a baby, that Christ child born in Bethlehem about whom people throughout the world think of this time of year. Charles Westley’s song says: Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emanuel. The biblical icon of Jesus, ironically, is this: God/man

Hebrews 1 speaks of Jesus as God, above the angels, Hebrews 2 speaks of Jesus as man, being made a little lower than the angels. Jesus is the Lion and the Lamb, the Master and the Servant, the Almighty and the meek and humble, the divine and the human, God and man.

So, where is this lesson going? I’m glad you asked! Today I want to introduce you to the biblical icon of the Bible. Can you guess what it is? God/man. The Bible has both divine and human natures in it. Last week we looked at a handful of the claims of the Bible to be the Word of God. These are all through the pages of scripture. Yet, and this is way over my head, did you know that there are scriptures that claim NOT to be God’s word? Here’s a couple for your consideration:

Look at these two statements from Paul’s pen in 1 Corinthians 7:10-12 (read) also in the same chapter, verse 25 (read). Whose words are these that follow? God’s words or Paul’s? Are these words of God or of man? Paul later says it again in verse 40 of this same chapter! But notice Paul’s final statement there in verse 40.

One of the most human examples in the New Testament gives us a statement and correction about that statement immediately following: Paul in 1 Corinthians again, chapter 1:14-16 gives us this where Paul says, “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius lest any of you say that I baptized you in my own name.” Now notice the correction in the very next verse: “Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides that, I do not remember whether I baptized any other.”

What is clear here is that Paul forgot and said something not true but he then corrected his words with what was true. That is very human, is it not? We know that the Holy Spirit did not forget and then remember. This is where the humanity of the writer emerges in the midst of the divine guidance of God.

The Bible has both divine and human elements. It was inspired by God, and yet it was written by real men in real time and space, in real cultures within real historical settings. The icon for the Bible is: God/man. We need both. Through God it speaks to us from eternity to guide us into God’s will and ways. Through men it touches our lives and reaches our understanding. When someone stresses the divinity of Jesus at the expense of His humanity, it produces heresy. We need Jesus to be both God, fully and fully human. His divinity has power to forgive our sins, His humanity enables Him to represent us in His death for us. Jesus dual nature reaches across both shores giving us a bridge to God.

In the same way the divine and human elements of scripture are important. It is divinely powerful to save us, it is humanly expressed to reach and teach us. I heard about a man who believed the Bible to be God’s word so that he would close his eyes and open his Bible and place his finger on the page. Whatever it said was what he believed God was telling him to do. One day he opened his Bible and his finger landed on the verse that said: “And Judas went and hung himself.” Not quite sure what to do with that, he tried again. This time his finger landed on these words: “Go thou and do likewise.”

The truth is, we need to read the whole Bible and listen to the entire message within it’s pages.

When we look at scripture and listen to it carefully, we hear the voice of God. But we also hear another voice. One that is very human. The Bible has the voice of both God and man. The icon of the Bible, like the icon of Jesus and the icon of every human being is this: God/man. There is both a divine message and a human story within the pages of the Bible. It is this and the misunderstanding of how to handle the scripture that creates a lot of confusion about the Bible. When someone says every word of the Bible is God’s word, what do we mean? This means that God directed the writings of the scriptures, that they are guided by Him. It does not mean that everything in the Bible is agreeable to God. The Bible itself states otherwise. There are words of God’s enemies and even Satan himself recorded in the Bible. Paul, writing to Timothy admonished Timothy to be diligent to show himself approved unto God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15.
1 Timothy 1:3-12 tells us about people who want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We need a tool to help us interpret the word of God correctly and Paul gives it to us right in 1 Tim. 1:11. It is the blessed gospel that was entrusted to the apostles.

Who here knows what a record album is? Raise your hands. Who does not know what a record album is? Things have changed over the years. Just checking. I want to use this as an illustration:

A record is a plastic disc with a small hole in the very center. On that disc is recorded in high fidelity, original songs of other sounds. We take that disc and put in on a turn table with a pin in the middle of it and it spins at a given speed. Then we take a stationary arm that has a needle and place it on the spinning plastic disc and voila! It plays the music sounding just like the original! But if you take a drill and drill a hole an inch off center and put the same disc on the turn table and set the needle on it, you will discover something interesting. It may still play, but it will not sound like the original. It will be distorted.

So it is with the Bible. When we read the recorded word of God in scripture, we need to have a correct center around which everything revolves and finds it’s true sound doctrine. Jesus Christ is that center from which the entire Bible is to be read and understood. Through Him everything else finds its high fidelity.

As we read through the Bible this next year. Be sure to keep the focus Jesus gave us. Seek first His kingdom and righteousness. This way we will hear God’s voice and find our place in His plan.