We first briefly describe how the Bible is arranged. The original will of God is stated clearly in the first three chapters in the Book of Genesis; we are to be conformed to the image of Jesus, which is described in the four Gospels; and then in short, doers are superior to hearers as said in the Book of James. In the rest of the books of the Old Testament, they describe how the Israelites tried how to be doers at that time. In the rest of the New Testament, it states what the disciples did and what disciples should do. Secondly, we emphasize the power of ‘God says’ in the second day. Thirdly, the concept of ‘after their kinds’ was started in the third day. Fourthly, we discuss the difference between the word ‘made’ and ‘creation’ and the word ‘heaven’ in Greeks. Fifthly, a good living environment was started in the fifth day. Sixthly, the good environment was continued by creating big whales, etc. And God made ‘man in Our image, according to Our likeness’, and created ‘man in His own image.’ We talk about the difference between the two distinct words, ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ with explanations. Finally, we discuss the image of God, and the free will of human after being contaminated by sin.
1. Preface: What we saw regarding the arrangement of the Bible
The original will of God is written in the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis. If Adam and Eve chose the fruit of tree of life, then they will “… live forever.”(Genesis 3:22) Now, “…the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, …So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.”(Genesis 3:23-24) But God is full of mercy and grace, and the plan of salvation started! Therefore, Jesus said in John 5:17, “…My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
In the Old Testament, “…he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them.”(Romans 4:11) Afterwards, the Law was announced through Moses, but it says in Hebrews 10:1, “…it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, …” This is “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”(Romans 3:20) It is clear that justification is by faith. The rest of the Old Testament basically talks about what the Israelites did in the era of the Old Testament.
In the era of the New Testament, Jesus on the cross “… offered Himself without blemish to God, …”(Hebrews 9:14) He became “…the propitiation for our sins.”(1 John 4:10) It gives everyone an opportunity to walk on the way of sanctification in Jesus, and to be conformed to the image of Jesus (see Romans 8:29). This means that we are fulfilling the original will of God by choosing Jesus, the fruit of the tree of life, and walking on the way to sanctification. So, we are back to an even better situation than Adam in the Garden of Eden.
The image of Jesus is described pretty clearly in the four Gospels. The rest of the New Testament basically talks about being a doer and what to do. Otherwise, it will be just like those described in James 1:23-24, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” It is said in Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; …” Yes, compared with those who have no chance to read the Book of Revelation, those who read are blessed. But don’t forget the word ‘and.’ According to the consistency of the Bible, those who do what are written in it are definitely much more blessed.
2. Regarding ‘God said’ in the second day
Let us first list all verses in the second day in Genesis 1:6-8. “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”
Now we see the second time they used the words, ‘God said’, which is definitely different from our words said. What is the difference then? “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”(Psalms 33:9) “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3) So, His words are mighty. We want to mention lastly that even in the aspect of human, His amount of work is not tremendous in the second day to make the expanse to separate the waters. The amount of work is like what happened in the first day, which was discussed before. In the first day, God only made the sun, moon, and stars appear. Of course, we cannot do such things.
3. ‘After their kind’ started in the third day
What happened in the third day is described in Genesis 1:9-13, “Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a third day.”
We can see that ‘after their kind’ is among the original will of God. The orange tree cannot become the apple tree. They are different species and their life is different. Otherwise, the world will be messed up if they could switch their lives. And we see that all vegetation and trees can be reproduced. And “God saw that it was good.”
4. Discussion of the two words, ‘made’ and ‘heaven’ in the fourth day
What occurred in the fourth day is given in Genesis 1:14-19, “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. God made (H6213) the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens (the firmament H7549 of the heaven H8064, KJV), to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”
We have discussed in the first day that the word ‘made (H6213)’ is not the same as the word ‘created (H1254)’, which means creating something from nothing. This word ‘created (H1254)’ is used in chapter one only three times. That is in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens (H8064) and the earth.” The other two times are in verse 11 when animals created and verse 27 when man created. All the other occasions use the word ‘made (H6213)’, which means the other things were already created before that time.
In fact, what we need to ask is the word H8064. As discussed, the word H8064 is translated as heavens in plural form in the first verse. No matter what people think that heavens mean each planet or stars have their own heaven, or there are at least four dimensions under reasonable assumption, it is correct that H8064 is always in plural form. But if we look at heaven from earth, there is only one heaven. The firmament (H7549) is singular. Since the word ‘heaven (H8064)’ is also used, there is only a logical explanation that the word H8064 is singular. Therefore, the word H8064 can be singular or plural depending upon surrounding words or the consistency of the Bible. No wonder H8064 is translated as ‘heaven’ or ‘heavens’ in English. It is like some words in English, where the same word can be used in singular or plural. In Chinese, some words have exactly the same form but with totally different meaning depending upon how they are pronounced.
5. A good environment started in the fifth day
In Genesis 1:20-23, it says, “Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.”
God created a good living environment for man before man was created. There were first plants on earth, then birds in air and fish in water. Finally, on the sixth day, God brought forth living creatures as described in the next section.
6. Human image and likeness in the sixth day
The first half of the sixth day is described in Genesis 1:24-25, “Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.” We are now absolutely sure that ‘after their kind’ is among the original will of God.
The rest of the same day is given in Genesis 1:26-31, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image (H6754), according to Our likeness (H1823); and let them rule over (H7287) the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image (H6754), in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue (H3533) it; and rule over (H7287) the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
From these verses, we know that all living creatures and man are created to be vegetarian. We notice that everything was good before the creation of man. Only after man was created, God then said that it was very good. We can see that the creation of man is rather different. Before man was contaminated by sin, he has the image and likeness of God. The verses also mentioned what man had to do, the responsibility of man.
Please be aware that the likeness (H1823) and the image (H6754) are two different words. When we talk about the image of God, we would say somethings like, ‘God is holy,’ ‘He is merciful and righteous,’ etc. The Bible doesn’t say clearly what the likeness of God is, although the God should have a unique likeness. Let us first take a look at the likeness of Jesus. He is “made in the likeness of men.”(Philippians 2:7) Therefore, the likeness of Jesus is equal to the likeness of men. We know that the likeness of men is now the likeness after men are contaminated by sin. If the likeness of men can be contaminated by sin, then the likeness of Jesus is contaminated by sin also since they are equal. By this way, how can it be that “…Christ …offered Himself without blemish to God … (Hebrews 9:14)”? In conclusion, the likeness of men cannot be contaminated by sin, which was created being the likeness of God.
Let us now take a look at the image of Jesus. He is made the same as a human, which consists of three parts – spirit, soul and body, as said in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “…and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete…” His image is different from ours. Our image is contaminated by sin and He is not. Why? We know the fact that “…the Child who has been conceived in her (Mary) is of the Holy Spirit.”(Matthew 1:20) So, He started from no sin. But He was a human. His soul could commit sins just like our souls. But He is the one “…who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”(Hebrews 4:15) Therefore, He has nothing to do with sin. From verses, we can conclude logically that He has the image before man was contaminated by sin, which is the image of God as particularly said in Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Therefore, we need only to be conformed to the image of Jesus since there is no need to be conformed to His sinless likeness due to the fact that we already have it. This is said clearly in Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Lastly, we want you to be aware of that the concept of the Holy Trinity has already mentioned in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God (H430, plural) created (H1264, singular) the heavens and the earth.” The word God uses plural, and its verb is singular. And when talking about the image and the likeness, the plural such as in Genesis 1:26 is used.
7. The image of God and the free will of human
Jesus indirectly said that His image is the image of God in John 12:45, “He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.” Who sent Him then? He said clearly in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; …” And He directly said so as described in John 14:8-9, “Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” Thus, the image of God is the same as the image of Jesus. We need only to be conformed to the image of Jesus, we can then go back to the image of human originally created by God. Here, we can see how consistent the Bible is. We also use the logic in a previous paragraph to get the same conclusion. Indeed, the Bible is consistent.
To conclude, let us take a look at what the image of God is. The Bible talks a lot about the image of God, and we can find them in the whole Bible. Here, we only talk about two points. First, let us talk about holiness. Regarding this point, God directly says that He is holy as said in Leviticus 11:45 “…you shall be holy, for I am holy.” Man was created according to the image of God. Before man was contaminated by sin, Adam absolutely had the quality of holiness.
Now let us see that God has the absolute authority, “For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”” (Romans 9:15) He absolutely has free will. Man was created according to His image. How can man have no free will? Indeed, He didn’t interfere the choice of Adam and Eve, which was out of free will. Nowadays, our free will after contaminated by sin is different from that originally in Adam and Eve. We can still freely to choose if we want to believe in God. But for those unbelievers and for those temporarily falling outside from in Jesus, we are bound to behave what said in Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.”
(Verses refer to those in NASB unless otherwise specified.)
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