November 24, 2012

Heads or Tails

One of the main tenants of the Bible and the Christian faith is that we are to be conformed to the image of the second Adam, and not to the first. We are to divest ourselves of our sinful image and we are to take on the image of the second Adam who is Christ. It is a much more beneficial to imitate Christ than sinful Adam. For the sake of our salvation and having the Kingdom here now in this lifetime we must bear the image of Christ in all we do, say, think and are (1 Cor. 15:49).

1 Corinthians 15:49 ~ “…and just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”

The word above that means image in the Greek is εἰκόν/eikon from which we get the modern word icon. It is an image, an image of the heavenly things or a likeness of them. It is the Greek equivalent of the word used in Genesis 1:26-27 (בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ/tselem) when the Bible says that man was made in the image of God. It is a word that literally means in its truest translation, a reproduced artistic representation (as exact as possible) whether it be on a painting, statue or as a figure stamped on a coin. It is an image as if one states face-to-face with a mirror. So what we have in view here is an Artist’s masterpiece or a Self-portrait of sorts. When used in the idea of making a coin it is the idea of painstakingly etching an image, line by line into a hardened surface that is resistant to the etcher’s tool. A coin that is a smooth faceless blank with no character and no redeeming value until it has been shaped into something useful in the hands of its Creator…something that has character or a character similar to its Maker. The Artist signature on His work. Not only does an image imply a likeness, in the case of God and man, it also implies a relationship based in dependency to an origin or original. If truly made in God’s image we therefore should expect to be made in the image of God’s eternity or forever-ness. 

When remade in the image of God at our conversion to Christ we are made of more durable stuff or more permanent material. We are stamped and made immortal in the image of Christ. Even in our first form when we were made in the image of God in Genesis we were left with an indelible lingering mark of God in our very being. When God set his image on the first Adam or what amounted to sinful man, it decayed and was lost by the choice of men. It was through said choice and because of the rebellious and damning influence of the devil. Man, like God has an ability to choose his own path. God is immutable and unchanging but man is different. Man changes and is unpredictable. When man is stamped in God’s image it was as if the image hadn’t quite set or solidified like a molten metal hot from the forge or refiner’s crucible. It was a firm impression but as yet incomplete object or an incomplete image. The general character, constraints or outline for what man would become and what man could be was there but all the little nuanced details had not been etched into the material. God left this to man to make these fine-tuned decisions yet through His Spirit continues to work to define or etch the final image.

Within this molten form is the making of something glorious now incomplete. Within this persona is the reflection of grace. It is in grace that we are forever united to Christ and outside grace we are forever separated from Him.  We will either be further solidified into the image of Jesus or we will be forever returned to the scorching flame of the furnace to never again bear the image of the Maker, we will only drift amorphously in a cauldron...a fiery Hell.

The deeper into grace we go the more indelible the image of grace is on us and the more permanent the image remains. The farther into God’s grace we go the deeper into forever we reach and the lower the probability that we will ever be altered again. As we move away from sin into the image of Christ the more we move towards our eternal glory in God.

Christ is the true image-bearer. He is the mold into which we must flow and become a perfect reproduction of. We must mold to His die, a die being the specialized shape or image used as a tool to cut or shape material. The process of creating the image can be done through force by pressing or using a press. The image could also be created when the material is heated until it completely breaks down and melts perfectly into the mold. Either way the image becomes like the die or in the case of the Christian, the image becomes like the One that died.

This is also why we have the seal of God stamped on us at our conversion through the Spirit of God as we read in Ephesians 1:13-14

Ephesians 1:13-14 ~ “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

On Earth in the worldly realm, a seal is the exact impression or copy of the signet ring of a King. In the case of this text and in the spiritual realm the Seal being the exact image or representation of Christ in the form of the Holy Spirit as Jesus Himself says in the Gospel of John 16…

John 14:16-17 ~ “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 16:7-11 ~ “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

If Jesus, who is the perfect image of what we are to be, does not go away like a mold or die moving away from the image it stamps, the beholders of the image cannot see the image the mold has stamped in to the raw material and left behind. It is this image left behind in others that helps draw people to the faith, like fruit draws people to a tree to eat it. What Jesus therefore leaves behind is a perfect image or another just like Him that bears the same image. He stamps this on the hearts of the people why? Because the stamp inside pushes out the other thing that dwells inside the believer…which is sin. God puts the very thing we need (the Holy Spirit) to battle our internal sin (Romans 7) in the very place it needs to be to give us victory (our hearts).

Yes, in our sinful fallen nature we can deface the coin but even a defaced coin retains its face value…why?  Because the real value is not in the coin itself but in the backing of value it receives from the Maker. The coin will retain its original value as it is eventually will be redeemed by the One who created it and gave it its value to begin with. The coins worth is gauged by the one that makes it and gives it inherent value. It is as valuable as the Maker wants it to be. If priceless to the Maker it is priceless to others. Often times the value might be stamped right on its face for all to see, other times there could be hidden value that it acquires the older it becomes. The trick to retaining the value of an older coin is to not allow the world to wear it down. To smooth over the etchings put into it by its Maker. It needs to be pulled out of circulation for special use or to be kept from the abuses of the world (evil/sin). Even the most defaced coins can retain their original value as long as they are identifiable has having come from a certain Maker.

The stamped image on the souls of men are everlasting. Once we are God’s currency with the world we remain His currency unless he takes us back. Unless the silver or gold is refined into something else it is an image with value. When we convert we are re-stamped. Grace is firmly set in our nature in Christ through the Spirit. Like the brethren in Christ that we all are, we will all bear a similar image of Christ. We will not bear similar markings as the world wears us down and scars us in its own unique way. These markings build and shape our character until no two coins are exactly alike unless they are proofed or perfected in Christ. Every perfected coin shines gloriously like the day it was originally printed with a perfect impression of its original mold…and it is an image create by and of the Maker Himself.

So how do we know whether we have the image of Christ stamped on us? The real question that we then need to ask is how are changed into His likeness? How will our thinking be changed that will affect our actions that are seen by the world. Jesus’ objective was to please his Father in all things Our objective should be to please the Father in all things. Our will must be exclusively for Heaven and the Kingdom of God.  On the Day of Judgment Christ will know His own. If he does not see His image stamped upon us it will spell doom for the person that does not have it. God cannot look upon that which is sinful without judgment. If He does not see the mark or blood of His Son upon us we will be passed over and relegated to condemnation and eternal punishment. That which is Caesar’s will be given to Caesar and that which is Christ’s will be given to Christ (i.e.: Mark 12).

If we do not take on the image of the Lord we will inevitably take on the stamp of the world. We will be transformed into the likeness of the world (1 John 2:15-17). We will be cast into the mold of the time and the culture which always passes away and we will pass away with it.

What’s more is that when we are conformed to Jesus, we were predestined to be conformed to Jesus. He is the first among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). We being in His image are therefore predestined to salvation. It is only fitting that we should bear His exact image as He is the head of the Church. It is ironic and interesting that God will make those obedient to Him the head and not the tail in Deuteronomy 28:13. Ironically this passage speaks of money and lending. If one obeys the Lord they will become so prosperous that they will become the lender (the head), not the tail (the borrower). If we apply this figurative analogy of the coin to this verse we see that we will be indeed like the Head who is Jesus Christ…

Deuteronomy 28:13 “The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

…so it is not surprising that Jesus Christ would be the head on our figurative coin. So which will it be? The head or the tail?

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