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The Image of God
So many
good-sounding ideas have been promulgated in explanation of the 'Image of God' in God's original design of humanity, stated in Genesis One, that there is often an inclusive approach among many preachers/teachers that something must be 'right' in what has been said by preachers/teachers in the past.
The danger with this attitude is that, with any spiritual error, it is not simply that it is wrong, but more importantly that it also hides or deflects us away from a specific truth.
that reason it is perhaps good to begin by 'clearing the decks' of what this Image of God is not.


What It Is Not!
It is NOT Morality
It is NOT Spirituality
It was NOT lost in the Fall
God's Image is unique to His design of humanity (male and female), it can neither be morality nor spirituality for both of these are fully present in the angels of God, and they are certainly not formed in His image.
In other words, the Image of God in humanity is not a God-facing quality. It is not something that adds to human worship or spiritual awareness in any way in which the angels of His presence have a lack, as themselves not bearing His image.
Nor is this Image a special quality that has been lost by the moral fall of mankind, for after the Flood of Noah God makes it clear that from now onward humanity is to be responsible for justice because God made mankind in His Image. If that factor was lost by the Fall that would undermine and make nonsense of the very reason presented here for the unique value of human life in contrast to all other forms of life –
 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image." 
Genesis 9:6
It is NOT a human-trinity
A fairly common misinterpretation of 'Image of God' among Christians is that human beings are a 'trinity' of spirit, soul and body (a misunderstanding of 1Thess.5:23), as being a reflection of the Trinity of God. This error arises from a false understanding of the New Testament word for soul (ψυχή/psuchē), which actually simply means 'life' and is not a separate spirit entity. This is demonstrated in the use of this same word in Revelation for the lives of fishes in the sea (Rev.16:3), who have no life after death.
In the
Genesis One statement of God's decision to create humanity, the use of the plurals "let us", "our image", and "our likeness" also do not describe a committee of the Divine Trinity making a decision. The plurality of God's personality in Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not in the context of this statement and so are not a part of its message to Israel through Moses. Nor is this simply the royal 'we' of a king's pronouncement on behalf of his kingdom as some others have unwisely said. The Old Testament itself illustrates for us the use and meaning of the plural pronouns in God's decisions.

What It Is!
Isaiah the prophet's call to his ministry took place in a vision during his worship in the temple. He describes this as –
"I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne ...
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'
Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me'."
Isaiah 6:1-8.
This statement
from the Throne uses the plural "us" because it is a sovereign declaration of the Court of God Most High.
other words, Isaiah's call to be a prophet was not a private matter arising within the intimacy of his personal relationship with God. It was a call to represent God's authority to Israel – to carry whatever message the Lord may instruct him to deliver – authoritatively.
This is
demonstrated in the very next chapter when delivering a message publicly to fearful King Ahaz of Judah saying –
"If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all. ...Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as Heaven."
But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test."
And he
[Isaiah] said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?
Isaiah 7:12-13.
So Isaiah
then gives a public prophecy beside the highway concerning the deliverance of Judah from the threat of the combined military forces of Syria and israel, with such profundity that, long after its fulfillment in Isaiah's lifetime, the leading Jewish Scribes (Septuagint translators) far beyond Isaiah's time correctly translated it as also a messianic prophecy. Inherent in Isaiah's call was the authoritative nature of his ministry as expressed in the plural pronoun for the Court of God in Heaven on whose behalf he spoke.
Isaiah 7:14.
See: Isaiah's Virgin Prophecy
It is the
Bible's own originating context of this Image of God that explains to us God's own understanding of humanity made in His Image.
Genesis 1:26-28.
"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. And God blessed them.
And God said to them
'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion
the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth'."
As in
Isaiah, the plural pronouns refer to the decision of Heaven's Court. Image has here nothing to do with shape. But it has everything to do with reflecting/exercising representative authority over creation, God's creation, on behalf of God, as its context above confirms.
Image of God
The blurring and turning of this 'Image of God' in mankind – from a creation-facing responsibility to a God-facing religious or spiritual function/relationship – has robbed us of the actual purpose of human existence in God's design for humanity.
A design fulfilled in Jesus!
pious as it may sound, humanity was not designed for the purpose of worshipping God, in spite of what Calvin or any other great reformer has said. God has no need of that! His holy angels are far better equipped to enhance His presence in adoration than any natural human function could ever be. Humanity needs to worship God simply as an effective preparation to fulfil its purpose in representing Him authentically and authoritatively.
turning the 'Image of God' in mankind in a God-ward direction is to seriously undermine the authority factor in its very purpose and so nullify the essence of His design in the special value of human existence.
and wonderfully, this image of God in His original design of humanity was perfectly fulfilled in the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Example today.
"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
2 Corinthians 4:3-4.
That the Genesis One design of humanity is in the Apostle's mind in this statement about Jesus is confirmed by its accompanying reference to God calling light out of darkness in Creation's beginning (2Cor.4:6).
Hence Christ's authority over nature, which He said His very human disciples could also exercise even more (Matt.21:21).
The Bible's

climax of all human history is shown to us in the symbol of God's people as His Bride-City, the New Jerusalem (cubic as the ultimate fulfillment of Israel's 'holy of holies'), which will then be the place of God's Throne, of God's authority over all forever –
"...the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him.
They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light,  
and they will reign forever and ever."
Revelation 22:4-5.
  Humanity's fulfillment is the human incarnation of Heaven's authority over all as it was in Jesus the Christ.  

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