Q: What Does it Mean that Man is Made in God's Image?
Selected from our Questions and Answers program
A: God and man are alike in many ways. First of all, God is a trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Man is also a trinity: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
They are also alike in this: God and man in the beginning had fellowship together. Obviously, man was created for that purpose, and that's the very reason God created him in His image — man had to be able to understand, to communicate, to respond. Adam was able to do all of that, though Adam fell and no longer wanted that fellowship with God. In fact, I think he was totally incapable of it after the fall. That's the reason regeneration is necessary for any of us, because we're born with a nature that is in rebellion against God. That's the picture of man today. We've got a nature that's at war with God. We're told in Romans 8:7, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." God told Adam, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). He did die spiritually that day, so man today is dead in trespasses and sins. But man has that capacity for God, and when he's regenerated — when man reaches up and accepts Christ as his Savior, acknowledges that he's a sinner, and is brought back into a relationship with God — he can have fellowship with Him. He can read His Word and be blessed by it. He can pray to God. All of these things are made possible because man is made in the image of God.
And then I think there's a third thing: Man is self conscious. Now as far as we know, even the highest form of animal life doesn't seem to have that self consciousness, that God consciousness. No monkey in a tree ever stopped jumping from limb to limb and said, "My, what in the world am I doing this for? Who am I? Where am I going? What's my future? And what about this great universe I live in?" They just don't seem to have that capacity. But man has that, and I'm sure it is really God consciousness. It's man who asks the questions about the universe. Many years ago in England, a group of astronomers held a meeting and Sir James Jeans put forth the theory of the expanding universe. One of the atheistic astronomers spoke up and said, "Well, in the light of all that — this vast universe — who is man, after all?" And Sir James Jeans answered very quickly, "Man is the astronomer." He's the one who knows about it, you see. And he knows about it because God is the one who created it, He's told man about it, and only man has that awareness, as far as I know. The monkeys are not studying the stars. That is the way that man is created in the image of God.
Some critics of the Bible say it contradicts itself, and they point to Paul’s letter to the Romans and the book of James as proof. Dr. J. Vernon McGee explains this apparent contradiction and clarifies how James and Paul really don’t disagree at all.All Sermons by Dr. J. Vernon McGee