Oct 21, 2009

Resembling God - Ligonier Leadership Conference (VIII)

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"Mankind is made to resemble God. What, then, does it mean to be made in the image of God?" --Ligon Duncan, "Created in God's Image," Ligonier Leadership Conference

Ligon Duncan The question quoted above is that which Dr. Duncan sought to answer throughout his second discussion at the Ligonier leadership conference. His answer was full-orbed, challenging, and thought-provoking. Among the many great points, one in particular stood out: "We are to represent God's ownership and interests in His creation." How glorious--and yet so daunting.

First, and it ought to go without saying, God owns everything. He is Lord over all. And, somewhat surprisingly, He has called out mankind to practice vice-regency, to be stewards of His creation. Second, His interest in creation isn't for the sake of creation alone. He intends to glorify it, to redeem it from its plunge into misery and chaos, and in so doing, be glorified as the merciful Creator. This will be accomplished totally on that final day when the redemptive plans and purposes of God are fully enacted. But, we need to note in this time between the times, that they've already been enacted during the first advent of Christ, and His church has been called to pick up that charge, to live (in certain ways) as if that final day is as good as done.

We needn't wonder in the abstract how to live this way, or, put differently, to resemble God. We have the perfect example before us--the God-man Jesus Christ, which means that, given the greater revelation of the new covenant, reflecting God's image means reflecting Jesus, the one, true human to have ever lived. "To err is human," said Barth. Au contraire: To sin is not to be more human; rather, to be fully human is to be sinless, to perfectly resemble the thrice holy God. That day is coming. But not yet. Let us therefore in the meantime "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:1-2).

Chris Donato is senior associate editor of Tabletalk magazine.