The Image of God in Man, Part 2

I have often heard people who are going through a trial thank others for praying by saying, “I have felt your prayers.” I have never openly objected to this exchange, but as a young Christian I have often wondered if this wasn’t quite Biblical. Our knowledge of what people are doing out of our sight is limited whereas only God’s is unlimited. However, I never made a big deal about it because it seemed like an innocent offering of Christian pleasantries. I know now that praying for others and being prayed for is no pleasantry, but serious business. You may know I have wrestled with a difficult thorn for many years and recently I lost further sleep. My wife asked our church to pray and I found sleep. So even though I don’t know the details of prayers said for me, God knows, so because of him I can say, “Thank you. I have felt your prayers.” However, I want to say more. I am nearly arrived to 40 years old and I am not only feeling the prayers of my current church family, but all my church families since childhood, my Christian wife, parents, spiritual mentors, friends, college friends, ministry friends, and colleagues. I wish somehow to express thanks for these prayers. It is my goal with God’s help that the following paper would be an expression of my gratefulness.
The subject of this paper is a continuation of my previous paper, The Image of God in Man. In my previous work I argue that one vital component of the image of God in man is perfect oneness and love between multiple persons, expressed originally in the marriage of Adam and Eve and teamwork dominion before the fall and now primarily expressed in Christian fellowship. In this paper I will extend the discussion a further step with an explanation of a very intimate aspect of the image of God, namely Christ in the Father and the Father in Christ. Furthermore, this aspect of God’s image is shared with mankind as believers in Christ and Christ in believers.
The gospel of John records,
8) Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."

9) Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, 'Show us the Father?' 10) Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. 11) Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works' sake. 12) Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. 13) Whatever you will ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14) If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it. 15) If you love me, keep my commandments. 16) I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor,  that he may be with you forever: 17) the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him and doesn't know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. 18) I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. 19) Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20) In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21) One who has my commandments and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him."

John 14:8-21 (WEB)
Jesus’ words of encouragement to his disciples during the final week of his earthly sojourn are absolutely incredible. With his help I hope to 1) explain what it means for believers to be in Christ and Christ in believers, 2) show how this is God’s plan for our spiritual growth, 3) defend how this is a most intimate, powerful, eternal, and infinite aspect of his image that he also designed in us, 4) share the story of the blacksmith’s wife, the lumberjack’s wife, the stone mason’s wife, and the farmer’s wife, 5) compare the excellencies of the Trinity with the insufficiency of Allah, 6) list a table of corruptions to his image of romancing converts into himself and he into them, and 7) finally to answer questions concerning implications for teaching disciples about God’s image, human authority structures, romancing unbelievers to Christ, marriage and mystery, gender in eternity, and hope deferred.
Please be warned that the corruptions listed under point 6 are revolting perversions to the image of God and are not suitable for minors to read. Educating ourselves about sin requires discernment for any Christian. What I mean is the grace of God protected me from many deadly sins simply by keeping me ignorant. Yet, we live in a world where the image of God in man has already been slaughtered by Satan, the world, and our own sin with abominable images and teachings growing more available by the day. In fact as I myself learn more about God’s image in man I painfully see my own offenses more clearly. Thus, to grow in grace to manhood we cannot remain ignorant, but must grow in knowledge of and appreciation for God’s image in us as well as be proactive in offensive and defensive strategies against Satan’s schemes to destroy mankind.
I am convinced that it is God’s image in us that Satan most hates because Satan hates God most. Moreover, Satan’s pride and lust for power can not bear that it is mankind who carries the image of God and not himself. Therefore, he will not stop his relentless campaign to entice men to join his efforts to build his own kingdom apart from God while viciously attacking believers to the very end. To effectively war against him we must proclaim a gospel of grace that has forgiven Christ’s people for even the terrible offense of violating God’s image in ourselves as we all have done to one degree or another.
1) Christ in the Father, the Father in Christ, believers in Christ, Christ in believers
One word picture useful to explain “believers in Christ and Christ in believers” is strength and weakness. Ephesians 6:10 exhorts, “be strong in the Lord and his mighty power.” God is strong and we are weak. I Corinthians 12:9 says, “my power is made perfect in weakness.” We are weak and God is strong. Consider a matrix of four combinations, two blessed and two vile.


God’s Image Fallen
Strength in...
Strength in Strength – Vile
Strength in Weakness – Blessed
Weakness in...
Weakness in Strength – Blessed
Weakness in Weakness - Vile
I have most often drifted off the road toward the strength in strength model and a few times toward weakness in weakness. That is on one hand to imagine my little strength in combination with God’s great strength or that my weakness partnered with another man’s weakness can accomplish much. Have you ever been tempted to think that you have strength to offer God or that it is OK to partner with man in sin to accomplish good? A number of years ago Satan nearly destroyed me through my own lust for power and delusional ideas about strength in strength and weakness in weakness. Thankfully God spared me and has used the event to draw me closer to himself, his word, and his people. Again I thank you for praying for me. As for our matrix let’s consider each cell in detail, the vile first and the blessed second so as to end on a positive note.
Strength in strength is vile. An example of this is Jesus’ disciples, James and John. In Matthew 20:20-28 their mother approached Jesus and asked if they could sit at the very right and left of Christ in his kingdom. They brought their little strength before the God of the Universe with this bold request. Jesus gently warned them that this was not even his to grant. Strength in strength was rejected. The remainder of the disciples then became indignant with James and John. However, Jesus did not reject James and John but told all the disciples that he came to serve and die for them even though their attitudes of self-aggrandizement were vile. Later the crucifixion of Christ brought James and John to weakness so that they could be useful servants of Christ.
Weakness in weakness is vile.  It is less common to find weakness partnering with weakness to attain a positive end. The human heart generally believes that power is the means to achievement. Upon reflection perhaps the daughters of Lot are an example of weakness in weakness. Lot’s daughters became afraid as to how to preserve their family line. So they schemed together to get their father drunk and then to sleep with him so as to continue their family line. Their scheme is filled with weakness as they partnered together in sin, led their father to drunkenness, and then both joined with him in incest instead of calling on God for strength. You can read the whole story in Genesis 19:30-38. Later Scripture tells that God ended the line of Lot because he cannot bless weakness partnering with weakness. He cannot bless sin for the sake of a supposed good end. However, Christ, though righteous, willingly was made sin, because he knew that his Father remained strong.
Weakness in strength is blessed. Note that John 14:20 says first that we are in him and second that he is in us. I am not sure if this is the pattern through the whole of Scripture, but it further supports what it means for us to be in him. For us to be in Christ means that our sinfulness is hidden from view inside of Christ and all that can be seen on the outside of us is his righteousness. Perhaps Jesus says we are in him first because the first step to becoming a Christian is not Christian works but confession of sin and receiving forgiveness. When we are hidden in Christ the Father only sees the perfection of Christ when he looks at us, even though we are sinners still. The righteousness and justice of God is perfect and absolutely pure causing his wrath to burn white hot against even the least sin. Consider how hot his wrath must be stoked against those who offend and rebel openly! Yet the elect of Christ are preserved because our offenses are hidden from the Father’s view inside of Christ. I must confess some of these concepts are hitting now like a sledge hammer, though I have been a Christian for over two decades. Frankly, be encouraged that if you have received Christ you do not need to ever become a Christian again, but be warned to fasten your seat belt for the wild roller coaster ride of God’s grace or rather be thrilled that God has clamped you safely inside himself for protection!
Strength in weakness is blessed. You may have already caught on to the idea here. Next Jesus says he is in us. The picture here is that we are weak and can accomplish nothing in ourselves, but Christ comes inside of us to enable us to do his works with his power. Consider what Timon and Pumbaa said when they learned that Simba was the Lion King. Simba said, “Hey I’m just the same old guy.” They said, “Yeah! But with power!”   Likewise if Christ is in us we are filled with his power. Christ does not merely place us inside of himself to hide our sin, but also places himself inside of us to do his good works with his power. Jesus said in John Chapter 14 quoted above that we will do even greater things than Christ himself! Of course we accomplish these things not through our own strength, but through his strength in us. Similarly, Christ made himself nothing so that the Father could be glorified through him.
My discerning readers will note, however, that the table above is imprecise. The explanation above gives a picture of our condition only under the fall. But, Adam and Eve reflected God’s image even more perfectly before the fall. And the model above only seems to serve a purpose for sinful man. Can mankind without sin, that is Adam and Eve before the fall, or believers in eternity, enjoy being in Christ and Christ in us and to what purpose? Moreover, Christ is in the Father and the Father in Christ, but Christ is not in the Father to hide his sinfulness! And the Father is not in Christ because Christ is weak! The matrix above is insufficient.” It does not fully explain what it means to be “in.” We need a model that is “in” sufficient. We need an additional matrix to outline this relationship when there is no sin. You can imagine that even more beauty is anticipated where there is no sin. One word picture useful here is authority and submission. John 15:10 (WEB) explains how Jesus was in the Father and how we are in Christ, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and remain in his love.” Christ was in the Father because he obeyed the Father's will. We are in Christ if we obey and remain within the bounds of his will and so in his love. If we step outside his commands we step outside his love and will suffer his wrath. Everything is happy in the home where children remain obedient to their father’s commands. However, when children step outside this love they will be disciplined by their father.
But how is the Father in Christ and Christ in us? Consider John 14:10-15 again,
10) Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. 11) Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works' sake. 12) Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. 13) Whatever you will ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14) If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it. 15) If you love me, keep my commandments.
When Christ obeys the Father, the Father is in Christ doing his works. When we obey Christ, Christ is in us doing his works. Do you want Christ to be in you? Then you must obey him! Do you want to be a great person like Christ? Then obey your authorities like Christ obeyed his father.


God’s Image Perfected
Overpowering – Vile
Command obedience - blessed
Obey command - blessed
Leaderless - Vile


American culture no doubt is revolted by this table. The rally cry of Democracy is freedom! But has anyone ever asked, “Freedom from what?” Without question for most it is freedom to do as they please with instant whining at the suggestion of obeying another. The democratic ideal has nurtured a hardened brood of rebels whose philosophy of life is at complete opposite with our precious Savior. Why the most beautiful words ever uttered in the whole of history in Christ’s lonely garden reflect uncompromising obedience even unto death, and that because he loved us. Jesus said, “...nevertheless, not what I desire, but what you desire” (Matthew 26:39). Again, let’s consider each matrix cell in detail, the vile first and the blessed second so as to end on a positive note.

Authority with authority is overpowering. Authority does not partner with authority even in the godhead. The Father is the ultimate authority who accounts to no one but himself. Christ, however, is subject to the Father. You will remember above that Christ told James and John that it is not even in his power to grant who will sit at his right or left. It is nearly humorous that James and John sought power with Christ and Christ confidently told them he doesn’t even have that power himself! Yet it is not humorous because too often you and I are just like James and John ourselves. I Corinthians 15:28 also says that Christ will remain eternally subject to the Father. The point of what we are saying is that God does not blast at mankind with two barrels of authority, but instead sharp shoots with one barrel, God through Jesus Christ. A whole volume could be written on the subject of relations among the Trinity alone. John 16:14 shows that the Holy Spirit brings glory not to himself but to Christ. John 17:1 shows Christ subjecting himself in asking to be glorified by his Father, but for the purpose that he could bring glory to the Father. Really a Trinitarian God is the only possibility of a God that is unlimited in power and glory as well as humility. He does not pat himself on the back as monotheistic God must do. These excellent qualities of the true God were not invented by man, but observed by eye witnesses as recorded in the Christian Scriptures. Later in this paper I will also compare our God’s multi-dimensional superiorities with the one-dimensional Allah!
Regarding overpowering authority, wise parents also know what I am talking about. Children often need rebuked or corrected, but it is overpowering when both parents chime in with the rebuke together. A child will be left despairing and who will they have to turn to then? A wiser strategy is for only one parent to speak the word of rebuke seeking the child’s restoration. The other parent while in silent agreement with the rebuke can then serve as an effective mediator in the restoration. The world even understands this after a fashion with the terms “good cop, bad cop.” The “good cop” retains an advocate relationship with the criminal while the “bad cop” brings down the hammer of threat and law. Together they may get a confession and progress toward restoration. Again authority partnered with authority is overpowering and ineffective, and not even modeled in God himself.
Submission with submission is leaderless. Not much needs to be said here. Imagine a group of people all eager to submit to leadership, but with no leader. In this case life would become a giant “Chip and Dale” comic strip. One would say, “You choose” while the other would say, “Oh no I insist that you choose!” No one would ever be offended, but truly all would be lost with no progress made in any direction whatsoever. Incidentally, this is often how a young man and woman can fall into sexual sin on a date. Men if you are asking a woman on a date it is your job to lead out with a godly plan. Of course leadership also means involving her in that decision and coming up with a plan together. But whatever you do, don’t find yourself holding hands with a beautiful woman on the couch and no constructive plan ahead unless of course you are married and the kids are in bed!
Commanding obedience and obeying command is blessed. Again our crazy world imagines that fulfillment is found in freedom to do as you please. However, Christ explained that true freedom was to be found in obedience. “31) Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, 'If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. 32) You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'  33) They answered him, 'We are Abraham's offspring, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How do you say, 'You will be made free'?'  34) Jesus answered them, 'Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. 35) A bondservant doesn't live in the house forever. A son remains forever. 36) If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed' " (John 8:31-36 WEB). You will find this a common theme in the Scriptures which teach disciples to obey Christ, wives to obey husbands, children to obey parents, slaves to obey masters, Christians to obey church leaders, and citizens to obey governments. Authorities are blessed to command obedience and subjects are blessed to obey.
Also relevant to a discussion of authority is I Corinthians 11:2-16. I have explained in a previous article, Absolutely True...However, that Corinthians teaches that a woman are under a man’s authority, that is a wife is under her husband's authority, and women have been given glorious long hair to be the glory of men. This same passage also highlights a chain of authority as follows:
1. The Father is the head of Christ
2. Christ is the head of all mankind (that is men and women)
3. Man is the head of a woman
Liberated women may find great offense to this teaching. However, several questions could actually bring joyful acceptance by many. Woman, if you are offended at submitting to a man, your husband, should we all be offended at submitting to Christ? Should Christ be offended at submitting to the Father? Remember that someone once said, “There is strength in submission.” Moreover, consider the chain of glory as explained in John 17:1-5, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, and Ephesians 5:25-28.
1. Woman is presented to man as glorious
2. Man (and woman) is presented to Christ as glorious
3. Christ is presented to the Father as glorious
If a woman is offended at being on the bottom of God’s chain of authority is she also offended that she is on the top of God’s chain of glory? Finally an important caveat, though man is head of a woman, man does not stand as mediator between God and woman. Christ alone is our mediator. That is man is commissioned with authority over woman, but Christ alone serves as savior of both man and woman.
2) Spiritual Growth
Spiritual growth takes place then when we take steps from the first matrix, God’s Image in Fallen Man, to the second matrix, God’s Image in Perfection. We begin in the first matrix without God in utter weakness with both an unwillingness to obey and incapacity to accomplish the Lord’s will. We grow into the second matrix gaining confidence before God because we are protected from wrath inside of Christ and gaining a willingness to obey and a capacity to accomplish the Lord’s will because Christ is inside of us. Another table will help to illustrate this process of growth.


Spiritual Growth
Believers are “in” Christ
Christ is “in” believers
God is reconciling the world to himself in Christ not counting men’s sins against them, but many do not yet believe. II Corinthians 5:19.
Christ not in believers before they believe, but in fact Satan so they are not filled with Christ for good, but with Satan for evil. Eph 2:2.
Believers made aware of protection from God’s wrath in Christ and rejoice in salvation. Romans 5:10-11
Christ lives in believers permanently making our spirit alive to God and able to do his works. Romans 8:10.
If a man remains in Christ to hide his sin from the wrath of God he will bear much fruit, John 15:5. Christ promises to keep this man safely in his hand, John 10:28. Because we now believe that God loves us we are motivated to obey Christ and remain in his love, though obedience is not perfected until eternity, John 15:10.
If Christ remains in a man to fill him with strength to do good works he will bear much fruit, John 15:5. And Christ promises to continue his good work in this man, Philippians 1:6. Christ is at work in us to accomplish things even greater than he did, even though we remain imperfect sinners still, John 14:10-15.
We are no longer in Christ to shield God’s justice from our sin because we will no longer sin, but instead we will obey him perfectly and therefore be eternally in his love, John 15:10.
No longer will Christ be in us to overcome our sin because we will no longer be sinners, but instead he will be in us because we will do his will perfectly, John 14:10-15.
The great joy of the elect of Christ is the discovery that the love of God chose us from before the foundation of the world. There never was any question in the mind of God that we would be saved from suffering the second death in the Lake of Fire. This is possible because the elect were always safely hid in Christ, even in unbelief. You will note that with Christ in us we will also grow in obedience, but perfection is attained only in eternity and then only as a gift of God’s grace. We would also be remiss not to list some of the key ingredients to spiritual growth such as the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17), Scripture (II Timothy 3:16-17), prayer (James 5:16), fellowship (I John 1:3-4), remaining in Christ, and Christ remaining in us (John 15:5).
Since even the best Christian remains a sinner while on this side of glory, spiritual growth must include an ability to face the Lord honestly with all our flaws. In unbelief we may turn to hypocrisy imagining that we can hide our sin from God. Or we may thumb our nose at God, sinning brazenly, caring nothing about him. However, in belief, God calls us to stand boldly before him knowing he loves us in spite of our sin and weakness, to openly discuss our sin with him, to join him in hating our sin, to join with him fighting against our sin, and to long with him for the day when we are in his presence without sin.
Paul was able to rejoice in his weakness,
1) It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. For I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2) I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I don't know, or whether out of the body, I don't know; God knows), such a one caught up into the third heaven. 3) I know such a man (whether in the body, or outside of the body, I don't know; God knows), 4) how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5) On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in my weaknesses. 6) For if I would desire to boast, I will not be foolish; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, so that no man may think more of me than that which he sees in me or hears from me. 7) By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted excessively, a thorn in the flesh was given to me: a messenger of Satan to torment me, that I should not be exalted excessively. 8) Concerning this thing, I begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9) He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:1-9 (WEB)
This passage is difficult, but only because of pride. Even as a Christian I want strength, but my flesh continues to believe I can find strength in myself. Paul learned, however, to rejoice in weakness, and so was filled with God’s strength. Friends, we should not imagine that the battle to crucify our fleshly desire for strength or the battle to humbly receive his strength is a one time affair. Christ is not into affairs. His goal is an eternal marriage and he is the groom and we are his promised bride. He is a bridegroom committed to us for the duration and with determination that we would be made into his image, strength combined with humble obedience.
Jesus teaches in John 10:9 that he wants his sheep to comfortably come in and go out to find pasture at will. The same chapter teaches that there are hungry wolves ready to pounce and hired hands that will fail, but he is the good shepherd, so do not be afraid.
Herein lies the secret for sinners to grow spiritually, first, we must be very bold in receiving his forgiveness for he has already forgiven all our sin in Christ. Second, we also must be very bold inviting Christ to work in us through his strength because we have no strength in ourselves. As we practice these two spiritual disciplines we will grow in him understanding grace by receiving grace and his good works will grow in us by obeying his commands.
As our pride dies we become more comfortable coming into Christ and with him coming into us and we will grow in grace, till we can even rejoice even in our weakness as Paul did, because we know that Christ has all the strength we will ever need and more. The beauty of God’s design is that we may have imaginations of what we could do for God and work toward them. But gladly our work is rejected for the power of God’s work in our lives. I say gladly because the growth in grace possible with him staggers the mind in contrast to our useless efforts. Friends, consider again that Jesus said in John 14:12 that anyone who has faith will do even greater things than Christ has done. Can we humbly accept that we are eternally forgiven in Christ and that he wants in us to do good works?
By now you should see the two greatest pitfalls to spiritual growth. On one hand Christ wants us to rest assured that we are safely in him and therefore protected from God’s wrath even though we are sinners. However, if we deny our sin, I John 1:8, spiritual growth will be impossible because a veil of hypocrisy will remain or grow between us and God. God knows our sin, but we won’t talk to him about it. How foolish! Or on the other hand, Christ wants us to accomplish awesome things through us, even greater things than he accomplished. However, if we imagine that we can do these things by human effort, John 15:5, we will instead accomplish nothing. Why move a mountain with our paltry little shovels? Bring in the dynamite of Christ’s power!
3) Intimate, Powerful, Eternal, and Infinite
It seems to me that a better understanding of the Trinity doctrine can be gained by understanding the “in” doctrine above. Christian orthodoxy marvels that God is three persons in one God and rests content that this mystery cannot be understood. Yet the “in” doctrine gives us some clue about the relations that exist within the Godhead. We have already shown above that Christ is in the Father because he obeys the Father and thus remains perfectly in his love. We have also shown above that Father is in Christ because the Father’s will is accomplished through his obedient Son. Is this not a major step in understanding how three persons are one? The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are perfectly one in will because the Son obeys the Father perfectly and yet at the same time they are three persons. Likewise they are one in all the attributes of God, except for person and roles. God’s unity of will and attributes is to an infinite degree ruling out tri-theism and his distinction in persons and roles are eternal ruling out modalism. The point of what I am saying is that the loving intimacy throbbing within the Godhead is beyond imagination because it is intimate, powerful, eternal, and infinite. Consider again what Jesus said when Philip said “Show us the Father.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me.” As you see Jesus was radically one with the Father and yet remains one person of the three person Godhead. But why should this rivet our attention? Because Jesus also prayed, “that they may be one as we are one.”  This should arrest our attention for two reasons. First, God intends that believers share the same loving intimacy that exists within the very Trinity. Second, Jesus prayed that this would come to pass and so it will!
All this sounds wonderful, but the price is high to enjoy this intimate and loving fellowship with God and his people. Jesus said, “Whoever seeks to save his life loses it, but whoever loses his life preserves it” (Luke 17:33 WEB). You must being willing to lose your life and count it as nothing. And again, “He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life,” (John 12:25 WEB). You must, in fact, be willing to hate your own life! Self-preservation is the antithesis of the Christian life. Every effort to preserve “I” must die in order to join the loving intimacy of Christian fellowship. Christ did not come to earth to represent himself, but as the Father’s ambassador from Heaven. Likewise, we are called not to represent ourselves, but Christ. Frankly, the level of commitment to and unity with another person is to such a degree that Paul said he dies every day. Paul put aside his fleshly craving to serve himself in order to serve Christ. Frankly, if you want to follow Christ, you must die to self first. Consider another table comparing sinful man’s efforts to preserve self with Jesus’ self-sacrifice.
Sinful man
Man clings to worthless idols
refused all the kingdoms of this earth
Diana Ross sang “I will survive
died in Jerusalem
United States declared independence
depended on God’s Word
Finds freedom in doing as one pleases
found freedom in obedience
Fled from God till all alone like a banner on a hill
was the firstborn of many brothers
We can see from Isaiah Chapter 30 that efforts at self-preservation will result in the saddest of endings. Sinful man flees from God’s rest to a place all alone, completely surrounded by his useless idols, like a banner on hill. Contrast this with Jesus, who set a perfect example of self-sacrifice and so extended the intimate fellowship of the Godhead to a great brotherhood among mankind. Thankfully, even though our rebellion has brought us to a place of helplessness, God is still able to pluck us from our perilous position to safety again within the great brotherhood he is building. 
Unfortunately, loss of self is one of our greatest fears. If we give up our personal rights and personal space what will be left? I used to watch Star Trek and there was a sinister group of villains called The Borg. However, it is not quite right to call them a group because they were many persons, united in a spooky unified purpose, will, and mind to take over the universe. They would travel from galaxy to galaxy seeking to suck more and more individuals into their collection. Their calling card was, “you will be assimilated!” The Christian God likewise has a goal to bring us into an unbelievably perfect unity with him and with each other. However, unlike The Borg God is good. The pickle is that it is we, sinful men, who are bad and want nothing to do with a good God or with self denial in order to be brothers with our fellowman. A radical change, a new birth, is needed for man to even be willing to be “assimilated” into Christian brotherhood. You have heard that “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” God is after true love and intimacy with his people and therefore will not have artificial, pretended, or anything less than 100% true blue faith in and love for Christ. Don’t get me wrong you don’t have to have a faith to move mountains. But the question is do you have any faith in and love for Christ at all? God is a relentless and jealous suitor for our love and trust. He wants us to know that we can trust him and that not to trust him is perilous. He is on a red hot passionate mission to romance sinful men to true devotion.
What will you say to his love?
Really the teaching that Christ is in the Father, the Father in Christ, believers in Christ, and Christ in believers is incredibly passionate, even romantic! Sadly we American Christians have commercialized the good news. I myself have examined the Christian Scriptures thoroughly with a goal to build outlines, strategies, schemes, and devices to bring sinners to Christ. God’s word says a true Christian will bear fruit and my anxious heart drove me to calculation. Though discipled and trained in the study of Scripture by a respected Christian whom I still respect deeply, it was my wife who had never done an inductive Bible study in her life who rebuked me by saying, “You are just making projects out of people!” In contrast the throbbing intimate love God has within himself and has intended for us might be best described by the words “romance” and “chivalry.” There is nothing artificial or contrived about it!
Unfortunately, these concepts are nearly dead in the world today. Recently I browsed Borders book store and saw a book titled How to remake your wife or get the one you want. On the cover was pictured a cheesy smiled man in front of a big red heart. Brothers, this is an excellent way to commit suicide. Buy the book and let your wife see it on your end table. You will be dead shortly. Consider some recent movie titles that also mock God’s design for intimacy; How to lose a guy in 10 days, Seven days and seven nights, My first 50 dates, The 40 Year Old Virgin. And the world laughs at these abominable perversions of love!
One of my favorite movies is Cyrano de Bergerac. In this movie Cyrano wishes to court Roxanne with his love, but he is fearful she will be appalled at his big nose. She, however, does not seem to mind his big nose, but neither does she have any romantic interest in him. It is Christian, however, who catches her fancy. The problem is Christian has no eloquence with words and so he calls on Cyrano who despite the big nose is quite eloquent with words. Cyrano then agrees to write love lines for Christian to memorize for courting Roxanne. As the plot thickens Christian is shown to be a selfish beast who is only interested in kissing Roxanne. Cyrano rebukes him soundly, but Christian finds it impossible to control his passions. Christian then finally becomes disgusted with himself realizing it is the man behind the love lines that Roxanne really loves, Cyrano. Cyrano holding his end of the bargain continues to urge Christian to pursue Roxanne, but Christian instead seeks an escape by sacrificing his life in the French war. Now you would imagine that with Christian out of the way, Cyrano would reveal that he is the man behind the letters. However, this film is about chivalry and so Cyrano continues to maintain a high standard of chivalry hoping that Roxanne may notice him romantically despite his big nose. Though she is his friend she does not see romance in the big nosed man until the very end of his life. The movie ends with Cyrano fighting his selfish desires to the death in order to uphold chivalry while Roxanne weeps that she only now understands the character behind the man who really loved her.
Whether the director intended it or not Cyrano can be seen as a picture of the romance and chivalry in Christ towards mankind. Just as Cyrano spoke love lines to Roxanne through Christian, Christ has decided to speak the good news through Christians to reach the lost. But sadly because of our sin Christians are a poor reflection of our savior. I highly recommend the movie. I told you all this so I could mention one last abominable movie, Roxanne by Steve Martin. Steve Martin did a remake of Cyrano de Bergerac in which the plot remains similar though modernized, except for one detail. As soon as Christian is out of the picture, his recast of Cyrano hops in the sack with Roxanne for a round of unwedded sex. Chivalry and romance are truly dead. Yet the intimate teaching that we are in Christ and he in us offers hope that God will make good in what seems to be an impossible soap opera on this planet. That is with Christ’s help we can be a part of romancing more people into fellowship with Christ, despite our failings. We must remind ourselves that though God may use us to minister the gospel it is the intimate romance and chivalry of God himself that is at work in us and in spite of us to effectively court yet more unbelievers to salvation. May God fill us with his heart of chivalry and romance so we can reflect his image!
Just how precious and powerful is God’s heart of romance? This aspect of God’s image explains the passionate love that throbs within the Godhead, the Father for the son and the son for the Father. The depth of love shown to us is then more deeply understood when we consider that Christ willingly obeyed his Father and stepped out of the Father’s love in order to receive wrath for our sin, so that we could be forgiven. It is simply impossible to imagine a God like this and more impossible to imagine that we are the beneficiaries of this love. The reason that a true understanding of the gospel will result in the good work of loving yet others is because a sinner cannot be blessed like this without an utterly passionate desire to serve his savior in reaching the lost somehow, someway, somewhere. Neither stumbling, failing, nor correction from the Lord will stop this desire because God’s love for us never stops.
We ought to also regard God’s image of romance in ourselves as especially precious because even the angels of Heaven do not possess God’s image. Never are angels said to have been created in God’s image. Never are angels said to be in Christ or Christ in them. We have shared in the rebellion of fallen angels, but they are not forgiven while we are. We will share eternity with good angels, however, they by merit, while we only by grace.  This observation is not made to demean angels. Angels instead are in fact tremendously wonderful creatures of God excelling man in knowledge, strength, and many other capabilities. Yet it is man who is created in God’s image, the intimate heart of which is Christ in the Father and the Father in Christ shared with us as believers in Christ, and Christ in believers.  This precious fact is not a matter for boasting, but great humility, because it is all the result of undeserved grace. Thus we will excel angels in only one thing. We understand the heart of what it means to be saved by the grace of Christ with ourselves in Christ and Christ in us. For this the righteous angels marvel and rejoice!
4) Excellencies of the Trinity Compared with Allah
We have said already that our Trinitarian God really is the only possibility of God that is unlimited in power and glory as well as humility. However, a monotheistic god, such as Allah, is forced to pat himself on the back to advance his cause with mankind. Consider two salesmen who approached you with the invitation to join their company.
First, you dialogue with Mr. Allah. You say, “Hello. How can I help you?” He says, “Obey me and gain bliss. Disobey and gain perdition.” You ask, “Who do you represent?” He says, “I represent my self alone.” You ask again, “Have you any record of positive relationships?” He confesses, “Many follow me in fear.”  You say, “That doesn’t sound positive. Let me speak to your boss.” He says, “I am the boss.” You ask again, “Is there any history of love in your company?” He confides, “I love myself. It doesn’t matter if my employees love me. Obedience only is demanded.” You say, “It seems to me that you are quite full of yourself. I’m not interested!”
Second, you dialogue with Jesus Christ. You begin again, “Hello. How can I help you?” He says, “It is I who help you. Come follow me.” You say, “I don’t even know who you are. Do you have any record of positive relationships?” He answers, “I love my Father and my Father loves me.” You question again, “You said you help me? Why should I trust you?” He reminds you, “I am trust worthy. I obeyed my Father, even unto death, in order to die in your place.” You say, “You died in my place? I want to pay my own debts!” He says, “To pay your own debt you would have to be damned.” You ask again, “You died so that I wouldn’t have to be damned?” He says, “It was my Father’s will.” You now ask, “Can I speak to your Father about his love for me?” He now says, “When you speak to me, you are speaking to the Father as well, because we are one.” You say, “You are that close?” He says, “We are that close. I am in him and he is in me. And we want you to share the same love that we have for each other, you in me and I in you.” You say, “Wow, you are full of your Father’s love. I am unworthy of this love. How can I repay you?” He says, “You cannot repay me, but I still love you.” You say, “But how do I start?” He says again, “Follow me.”
Of course no man can invent the true God. The true God exists apart from the invention of any man. The gods invented by man couldn’t be God at all. Nor could any man invent the excellence we marvel at in the Christian God; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Consider another table comparing the Trinity with monotheism.  


Christian Trinity
Christ sent by the Father, Luke 4:18
Allah never came to Earth
Christ obedient to his Father, John 15:10
Allah obedient to no one
Christ appointed by his Father, Hebrews 1:2
Allah appointed by no one
Christ in the Father, John 14:11
No one in Allah
The Father in Christ, John 14:11
Allah in no one
Christ glorified by the Holy Spirit, John 16:14
Allah glorified by himself
Christ glorified by his Father, John 17:1
Allah glorified by himself
The Father glorified by Christ, John 17:1
Allah glorified by himself
The Holy Spirit is messenger of the good news, John 16:5-15
Allah introduced by man
Some may look at the chart above and conclude that Allah has won the contest. They may reason that his power and authority are infinitely great because he is alone in greatness, while the Christian Trinity is filled with weakness because of the evidence of submission to authority by Christ. Allah stands as the cosmic Marlboro man independently strong. Yet Christ defines strength as submission to his Father. Frankly, who would you rather trust; a perfect Father and Son or the Marlboro man? Who would you give your life to; a man who praises his Father and is praised by his Father or a man who praises himself?
5) Four Wives
Thus far we have explained that there is an incredibly intimate, powerful, eternal, and infinite love throbbing between the three persons of our Christian God revealed to us as Christ in the Father and the Father in Christ. Moreover, this love of God effectively reaches out to mankind to court us with his love and win us to wholehearted devotion, even to the point of giving us the same intimate love for him and each other found within the Trinity himself. So not only is Christ in the Father and the Father in Christ, but Christ has also encouraged his disciples by saying “you are in me, and I am in you,” as we have already discussed. It would not be inappropriate to use the words passionate romance to describe the advance of God’s love into our lives. Of course this is not a worldly romance where a lonely man courts a beautifully attractive woman, but a godly romance where a beautifully attractive God graciously chooses to court some of his enemies. The Scriptures themselves even refer to the church as the bride of Christ and Christ as our bridegroom. This being the case I have invented an extra-Biblical story about four wives, merging the parable of the four soils with the courtship of Jesus Christ and the parable of the two sons.
Often upon a time in a land very, very near there were four women who met to talk over tea. And as you could imagine the conversation of these lovely ladies would often turn to a discussion of the men in their lives. However, their conversation was no idle banter about laundry, cooking, cleaning, and hopeless despair over husbands that need a mother more than a wife. Instead, each of the four was newly married and though their marriages were far from perfect, in fact quite corrupted by the selfishness found in young couples, each new bride had the hope that their marriage would somehow fulfill the dreams that had grown in their minds from childhood fairy tales. Yet, the problem remained that none of them had found the secret to fulfilling their dreams. How could their husband be Prince Charming and their marriage a fairy tale? And so the four wives met regularly to brainstorm for the answer to fulfilling their dreams. The blacksmith’s wife shared that though she admired her husband’s strength with the hammer and anvil, she just could not understand his work and tragically he left her and she now openly hated him. The stone mason’s wife talked very excitedly about her husband’s skill in laying stone, but their troubles often interfered with wedded bliss and most recently her husband hurt himself and has been unable to work. The lumberjack’s wife bragged about her husband’s ability to clear entire forests with his axe, but the grounds at their own home were overgrown and ugly causing great marital strife. And the farmer’s wife complained that even though their ground was fertile the produce from her husband’s garden was terrible and it was his fault that she was growing quite fat from his provision.
One day during a regular tea discussion the four wives were visited by a dashing man dressed in a black tuxedo who simply called himself Prince Charming. The four ladies giggled and invited the man to sit down. Each of the ladies felt a twinge of guilt at inviting such an attractive man to sit with them. They may have even admitted attraction to him, except that strangely he had repulsive gashes bleeding on each hand. They wanted to ask him about his hands, but the genteel nature of the tea party did not permit the discussion of such awkward things as reality. So they simply ignored his bleeding hands with great effort, effort equal perhaps to ignoring an Elephant in your living room. At first the ladies imagined that this man was simply an odd practical joke by their friends or husbands, but Prince Charming maintained his sincerity and explained that he was the true Prince Charming and came to end their quest and provide the answer to their most important question. He explained that if they obeyed the directions in his Book they would have a fairy tale marriage and their own husband would be Prince Charming. Being impatient and wanting a fast answer they begged Him to stay and simply tell them the answer Himself. He explained that this could not be because they must acknowledge the matter of His hands which was impossible at their tea party. Moreover, He quietly said that He Himself was the definition of romance and that He would win each of them that He chose. At this the four women shrieked indignantly and threw the man out the door leaving His book broken on the floor.   The women no longer giggled, but quietly made excuses to leave and go home. Though the man’s promises seemed fanciful and His ego unbearable the four women each secretly snatched pieces of His Book as they passed by. The romance promised simply overpowered their reservations.
The blacksmith’s wife went home and read Isaiah 54. She was quite startled to discover that a woman described in the Book was in fact herself. Just like the woman in the Book she had no children and her husband had left her. However, the Book explained that the true Prince Charming is her husband. Moreover, the Book also explained that the true Prince Charming had created the blacksmith who forged the weapons that brought trials into her life so that her hope in the true Prince Charming would bring victory even over trials. The blacksmith’s wife cried in despair over her losses and her self-destructive bitterness toward her own blacksmith husband and wiping her tears said she did not have the strength to hope for the fairy tale any longer. Nonetheless, she hoped against hope and obeyed the command of Isaiah 54 to sing, enlarge her house, and be not afraid and eventually she understood, even though her heart was initially very hard. She understood that perfect romance can only exist in this world with the true Prince Charming, and only in the eternal fairy tale in the sky will all His people enjoy perfect romance forever. Why she even astounded all her friends by forgiving her blacksmith husband and saying, “I’m as guilty as he,” though he never returned. Even so her belief in future glory gave her unconquerable hope.
The stone mason’s wife read Jeremiah 23:29. She read that though her own husband cannot work, that the Book of the true Prince Charming is like a hammer that breaks rock into pieces. She wondered if the hammer of the true Prince Charming could even break her troubles into pieces. Her stone mason was a good man who could hammer stone into pleasing works, but he could not provide shelter from troubles, especially now. The stone mason’s wife also cried in despair over her troubles and also could find no strength to hope for the fairy tale any longer. Nonetheless she also found comfort in Prince Charming’s Book, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” She likewise obeyed Prince Charming’s command and took heart and eventually she and her stone mason husband together learned to trust the true Prince Charming with all their troubles.
The lumberjack’s wife read Psalm 29. Though the first two wives were broken to tears by Prince Charming’s Book, the lumberjack’s wife was utterly undone. In fact she simply stared into space for an hour, before crying, “I am stripped bare! The true Prince Charming has been working perfectly to serve me and my family through my imperfect lumberjack husband and I myself have filled my house with strife from ungratefulness!” The lumberjack’s wife remained catatonic for years and never said a word to her three gossiping girl-friends again. Eventually after much tender care she likewise obeyed the command of Psalm 29 and ascribed to Prince Charming the glory he deserved for working good through her lowly lumberjack husband.  You simply would not believe the fairy tale that began when the lumberjack’s wife thanked the true Prince Charming for her lowly lumberjack husband and then greeted her lumberjack at the end of the day with a kiss and thanked him for working hard all day, even though their own yard was still in weeds. In the years that followed they managed to clean a bit of their own grounds in between the kissing.
The farmer’s wife read John 6. Curiously after reading this difficult passage in Prince Charming’s Book she began to chuckle. She chuckled more and more until she was rolling on the floor laughing. She had seen her three friends each broken to tears by the Prince’s Book and she was determined that she would likewise obey, but without all the whiny shows of weakness. She had been raised in a farm family herself and knew that fairy tales can come true, but only with long hard work. Yet the Book oddly explained that fairy tale romance can be attained only by EATING the true Prince Charming like he was bread. She again laughed at this proposition boasting irreverently that after years of eating her husband’s terrible produce that eating the true Prince Charming would be a delicious piece of cake. Sadly, however, after a mouth full of Prince Charming she discovered that He was quite different food than she had ever eaten before and found it quite revolting to her. She spit Him out with disgust and with her hands on her hips insolently said, “Well I never!” and stomped back to her farmer husband. Rather than obey the Book she preferred to eat her farmer husband’s goods while complaining, blaming, and growing to a new dress size annually.
And so three wives found the fairy tale with the true Prince Charming through obedience to the Book even though at the first they found neither strength, or sense to obey. And the fourth wife made great boasts, but because of the personal cost rejected Prince Charming and His fairy tale for a life that ended sadly ever after.
Friends, you will note that joyful obedience to Prince Charming’s Book was the answer to the four wives deepest need and longing and ours as well. That same book also says, “To him therefore who knows to do good, and doesn't do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17 WEB). And again, “And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men” (Colossians 3:23 WEB). No doubt you have guessed that my story is not simply about men, women, marriage, and romance though an application there may benefit many of us. However, I am talking about the courtship of Jesus Christ with mankind. He is the true Prince Charming that we must have. His kingdom is the land of the true eternal fairy tale. Trust in him and obedience to his book is the only way to attain it. Have you obeyed his command to trust fully on and only in him?
6) Corruptions to Romance
In part one of The Image of God in Man I presented a table of corruptions to perfect oneness and love between multiple persons. The table listed ways that sin has destroyed oneness in marriage, family, and Christian fellowship. However, our conclusion was positive as we recalled that Jesus himself prayed that we would be one as he is one with the Father and Holy Spirit. In this paper, The Image of God in Man, Part 2, I would like to present a table of corruptions to romance, comparing the commonly understood perversions to earthly romance with the less commonly understood perversions to spiritual romance. I use a listing of sexual perversions documented in modern clinical psychology plus a few additional perversions. Most of us can picture a beautiful romance between a man and a woman where a gentleman’s winsome courtship wins the hand of a lovely lady leading to a beautiful romantic relationship and marital commitment. Likewise God is a suitor and mankind is the object of his courtship with the purpose of a beautiful romance culminating in a marriage. The Scriptures explain that he is the bridegroom and believers are the bride. In earthly romance suitors are attracted to lovely ladies in hopes of finding fulfillment. In divine romance, however, God is not attracted to his enemies, but romances us nonetheless, that is he wins our love in order to demonstrate the power of his grace. Perhaps you are uncomfortable comparing the earthly-sexual romantic with the spiritual romantic. I am uncomfortable myself! Yet, Paul himself in the Scriptures associates the false gospel of works salvation through circumcision to the grotesque procedure of emasculation. The purpose of extending the comparison further in the following table is to help us better recognize perversions to the gospel and restore the ideal of godly romance to Christian evangelism.
Also consider one last caveat before examining my table below. The unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day until this day are no doubt enraged by the association of the romantic with God. Their God is high and mighty, holy, as is ours, but theirs is untouchable. Why they would not even say his name! They immediately tried to stone Jesus for saying the name 'Yahweh' in John 8:59. What do you think they would do when we call Jesus our friend, brother, or even our bridegroom? The true God is holy, but he is also romantically intimate. He reached down to touch us and intends us to touch him. The unbelieving pagans of Jesus’ day and ours are likewise enraged, but they because the best romance is holy romance. Their ancient false gods and modern desecrations of sexuality are not holy, but as dirty as the gutter. And because their only experiences with romance and sex have been sinful their gods either have nothing to do with sex or are likewise sexual sinners. What angers them the most about Christian doctrine is that we, even more than they, rejoice in sexuality and romance, but unlike them we thank God for these wonderful gifts and desire to use them only as God intended. If only they understood that God designed sexuality in man as a reflection of his very own image! In fact romance and sexuality are some of God’s most precious gifts given to mankind to be protected with the greatest care.
Thus I say again intimate love and romance is at the very heart of Trinitarian relations which he further extends by reaching out to us in love and desires to share with us for each other. The love observed as Christ in the Father and the Father in Christ is extended to us as believers in Christ and Christ in believers is made plain in the table below. Remember the Holy Spirit himself says that eternity will begin with the wedding supper of the Lamb. The parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25 explains that believers are like virgins waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom in order to begin the wedding banquet and consummate the marriage. Therefore it is fitting to compare earthly and spiritual romance. God is romancing sinners into himself and himself into sinners.


Perfect Romance
Man eyes woman
Father eyes His people in Christ
Man wins woman
Holy Spirit wins unbelievers
Man asks woman
Jesus asks for confession and belief
Bridegroom weds bride
Christ weds the church
Husband loves wife
Christ perfected in His People
Husband and wife
Christ and His People
God is passionately reaching out to mankind through Jesus Christ to court us with his love and take us to himself as shown in the table above. Strangely enough God commands believers to participate in reaching yet others with the good news of his love. This is strange because since we are still sinners it becomes inevitable that we will introduce corruptions to the beauty of his romance with mankind. No doubt it would be better for him to bring the flowers and chocolates to each person by himself so the loves lines will not be flubbed up. Yet God apparently throws in this extra challenge to show even more powerfully that his romantic passion for the lost is so hot that it cannot be hindered in the least by our failings. What is more, since he is at work within believers he is in effect personally present through us to say the love lines. Nonetheless, it would be wise for us to consider a listing of corrupt ideas about God’s perfect romantic nature. In this way we can strive to remove corruptions and better imitate him. This will also serve to remind unbelievers that we are only a poor reflection of Christ, and if they only new him personally they would have no choice but to receive his love. 


Corrupt Romance
No marriage
God doesn’t choose to save or love
Wives as trophies
God only loves the loveable
Arranged marriage
God saves without winning our love
God forces a confession without winning the heart
God wins the heart without a confession
God quits courting unbelievers to exploit believers
God reveals truth without love
God avoids the truth for fleshly topics
God advances without our commitment
God enjoys his own suffering
God advances commitment without understanding
God enjoys making us suffer
Transvestic fetishism
God wants our works, but not our hearts
God motivated by conquest and lust, not love
Stood up at the altar
God not faithful, salvation falsely promised
God rejects his people for another
God not faithful, salvation can be lost
Common law marriage
God permits unbelief in heaven
God has no eternal pleasure in store for his people
God’s grace cannot please, man must please himself
God maims truth and love seeking self pleasure
Man and man
God loves only himself and not us
Woman and woman
God missing so man must love himself
Man alone
God alone, not concerned with man
Woman alone
God doesn’t exist, man alone
You may have to grab a dictionary for some of the words above. I worked my best to make the comparisons above sensible. However, please do not miss the main point because of disagreement with a detail above. The main point is that God is absolutely none of the things listed in the table above! Yet because of the sin that remains in each of us we may think he is like that or represent him like that to others. He is the perfect romantic, but our view or representation of him is often corrupt. Again I emphatically say, God is not in any way like the things listed in the chart above. Instead he is a wonderfully dashing Prince Charming and if only you knew him you too would be captivated by his love. Look to his cross and know him!
7) Implications
How should we then teach disciples about God’s precious image of intimate love designed in mankind while protecting this image given to us from corruption by Satan, the world, or even ourselves?  Consider a brief discussion of strategy. One short term strategy is the use of ignorance to protect young disciples from things they do not yet need to know. Ignorance of how to sin has saved many from destruction. For example medicine is useful to heal. However, medicine may be used improperly causing injury or even death. Thus in our household we place medicines out of reach from children. As another example, sex is a wonderful gift from God. But all would agree it is wrong to discuss the mechanics of sex with small children. They must remain ignorant of this subject.  Yet, at some point they likewise must be taught. There are even other examples where we should be cautious in educating ourselves. I do not know how to make a bomb with household supplies. I know it can be done, but I am wise to not even bother to educate myself because it could only serve the purpose of mischief or temptation.
The Bible says take only ways that are safe. No need to learn about unsafe paths unless God has called us to minister to one tempted or fallen on that path. Yet God’s purpose is that he would take great pleasure in us and we would take great pleasure in him, fully experiencing the wonder of his image in us. This cannot be obtained through ignorance. So if ignorance is one strategy another strategy is education. Knowledge of how to sin can be overpowered by knowledge of God’s superior design. Satan’s motive is not only to mar and destroy God’s image in mankind, he is also attempting to establish his own kingdom where his way is praised as better. However, he will never be able to make one improvement upon the superior design of Jesus. So growth in Christian discipleship requires educating disciples about the wonder of God’s creation, especially his image created in us. Yet because of sin in the world learning about God’s goodness is no walk in the park. Each good thing from God is able to be corrupted by Satan. Why Satan has even led some to corrupt the very gospel itself! So should we proceed with fear preferring ignorance because it would be better not to know than to corrupt good things from God? Or should we proceed with confidence knowing that even though we may stumble, God’s design is clearly better than any of Satan’s corruptions?
To me it seems we have no choice but to proceed boldly in the war to prove God’s superior designs because the world is already filled with abominable images and teachings further corrupting the image of God in man. Though we may be able to keep young disciples ignorant for a time they will see these corruptions whether we like it or not. Thus we should make every effort to learn about God’s creation and thank him for it, as well as warn our selves about the terrible corruptions possible. Consider one possible scenario. Jesus explained that marriage is a wonderful gift for us during this age, but that in the age to come we will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Here is a truth that Satan may corrupt as he has already begun to corrupt. The world gives marriage little respect and it would not be surprising if Satan leads them to eventually abolish the institution themselves. However, Christ will not end earthly marriage in Heaven because he disrespects it. He created marriage for a wonderful purpose. In eternity, however, he simply plans to replace earthly marriage with the even more wonderful spiritual marriage, Christ to his bride, the church. Christians also know the truth that the age to come doesn’t begin until we see Jesus Christ face to face. Thus, earthly marriage is ordained until we see Jesus.
Lastly, since we do not possess sufficient wisdom in ourselves to fight Satan’s schemes we must lean wholly on the Lord’s word and prayer.
How can we design human authority structures better by modeling them after the authority structures observed within the Godhead and blessed in Scripture?  Several observations can be made about authority and submission from the relationship between the Father and Son. First, authority and submission are not bad, but in fact very blessed. Second, lines of authority and responsibility are crystal clear in the Godhead. The Father commands and the Son obeys. Third, there is no role reversal or democracy within the Godhead. The Son never commands or votes with the Father, but only obeys him. Fourth, the Son is not demeaned by obedience, but instead exalted. Are we blessed then to adopt these principles in human authority structures? One axiom of the world is that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To control corruption many nations have turned to Democracy. The premise is that by limiting the power of individuals or groups of individuals that corruption will be restrained. For example, Saddam Hussein, was a corrupt man who abused power to kill many. It would be fair to ask if Democracy, therefore, has done a better job of restraining corruption. Considering that the United States has permitted the murder of tens of millions of unborn children it does not seem that Democracy has effectively curbed corruption either.
Where did we go wrong? There is error in the world’s axiom. Power does not corrupt. Mankind is already corrupted in sin, not because of power, but because of a sin nature inherited from Adam. Further, absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, because God is absolute in power and yet not corrupted. Interestingly the Scriptures do not avoid human authority structures because of sin. God places sinful men in positions of authority in spite of their sin. Further, the Scriptures also command subjects to obey their authorities in spite of their sin as far as Christian conscience will permit. One advantage of this system is that when a human authority sins, God is able to deal with the sinful authority because the one responsible is clearly seen. Yet history also shows that when God punishes a nation there is suffering for the righteous and the unrighteous. And who will suffer if God punishes the Unites States for the tens of millions of unborn babies killed? There will likely be suffering for all! God’s word says, “Don't seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God's wrath. For it is written, 'Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord' " (Romans 12:19 WEB).
The conclusion of the matter is that human organizations should accept that obedience is blessed and authority and responsibility should be clearly defined. Finally, having clear lines of authority does not rule out plural or team leadership. For example, the Scriptures point to multiple elders and deacons as church leaders so that they would be accountable to each other and to God together. Consider a Scriptural organizational chart of the universe below.


God the Father
God the Son
Church Leaders
You will note that the Scriptural organizational chart is very clear. The only potential for confusion is that disciples are accountable to both Christ as well as some other human authority. Confusion could arise in this situation when a human authority commands obedience which would result in the violation of Christian conscience. In this case the Christian is commanded to obey Christ first and therefore disobey the human authority as demonstrated in Acts 5:29. This chart shows that we are all under Christ. You will also note that is virtually impossible for a human to not have at least one human authority also over them. Church leaders should be in a plural arrangement and accountable to each other, and still remain under the authority of human government. A Christian king would likewise be called to submit to church leaders. The only two conceivable arrangements for a human to not have another human authority is an unbelieving king or a solitary spiritual leader that is also king of his realm. However, neither of these would be advisable positions. Yet we know that sin pulls each of us toward the altar and throne of independence!
How can we partner more effectively with God in romancing unbelievers to Christ?
The unbelieving need to be won to belief that Christ has died for them and persuaded to invite Christ into their lives. Several points from the discussion above stand out as key to partnering with God in this romance. First, we need to point people to Christ and not to ourselves. Second, we need to eliminate corrupt understandings of our romantic God. Third, we need to model joyful obedience to our authorities. If we grudgingly obey our authorities, why would those we are reaching be interested in obeying Christ and their authorities? Fourth, we need a resolve to experience the intimate union of Christ in the Father, the Father in Christ, believers in Christ, and Christ in believers. We need to eagerly desire and doggedly work toward the same oneness between us that exists between Christ and the Father. We must be “assimilated” and bring as many with us as are willing!
Can we understand more about marriage and mystery as explained in Ephesians Chapter 5 and what blessing is to be gained?
Paul teaches that a husband and wife’s relationship is like the relationship between Christ and the church. He says this is a mystery. Good romance retains the element of mystery rather than itemized action plans. I know I have already risked the romantic with too many tables and lists above, yet I will risk one more table. One may be tempted to think that the comparison between human marriage and spiritual marriage in Ephesians Chapter 5 implies a fairy tale romance with no picture of pain. However, this is not the case at all. To be sure the tale does end happily ever after, but sometimes there may be very painful circumstances in human marriage, just as there is in spiritual marriage. The earthly marriage of husband and wife and the spiritual marriage of Christ and believers have this in common, blessing and trial.   The only difference is that if there is tension between Christ and the church, the church alone is the offending partner. If there is tension between a husband and wife, either one or both is the offender.


Husband and Wife
Christ and Church
Intimate union
Forever forgiven
Spouse short of expectations
Christ loves us though we fall short
Silent treatment
Spouse not talking to us
Christ loves though we neglect prayer
Spouse offended
Christ loves though we’re offensive
Spouse argues and fights
Christ loves though we resist his will
Spouse leaves
Christ faithful though we are faithless
Spouse divorces
Christ disowns those who disown him
Earthly marriage ended
Spiritual marriage consummated
Earthly marriage and spiritual marriage both have blessing and trial in common. Yet the perfect response of Christ through trials with his bride serves as an example to earthly marriage partners going through trial. What I am saying is that Christian partners are each called to live sacrificially for each other just as Christ does for us. And if our spouse does let us down our marriage is not any worse than that of Christ’s betrothal to the church. Thus Christ can be a great counselor and comforter whether your marriage is blessed or filled with trial.
Is it possible to make any conclusions about the perpetuation of gender in eternity future?
Several facts from Scripture lead to the conclusion that gender will be maintained in eternity future. I discussed some of these facts in The Image of God in Man as well as the Zinger Marriage Part 2: The Divine Marriage Amendment. However, it may be useful to itemize a complete argument at this point.
Redeemed mankind will continue as male and female in eternity future because: 1) Genesis 1:27 explains that we are created male and female to reflect God’s image and so in glory we can predict the perfection of rather than the removal of gender, 2) Ephesians 5:32 explains that male to female earthly marriage is given to man to reflect the image of his self-sacrifice for us, Christ to man, and so in glory since he never stops giving to us we will never stop giving to each other, though not as earthly husbands and wives, but as spiritual brothers and sisters with God as our Father and Christ as our husband, and 3) Galatians 3:28 is wrongly interpreted to mean that differences will be eliminated in eternity, because this verse means that in Christ differences are made insignificant now for though I am a gentile and a man it doesn’t matter in the least because Jesus made me see that I am the same as any other person and in eternity my earthly ancestry cannot be changed, nor my gender.
How can those whose hope has been deferred continue to hope?  
Each of us have had the terrible experience of loss. Suppose we lost a job, a family member to death, our health, or even a marriage. Does the Christian faith have hope to offer when the best things of this life lie crumbled in ruins? Yes. Case in point, marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind and originally the primary expression of God’s image of loving oneness in mankind. Thus, suffering through a broken marriage may be one of the greatest losses.  How can one find hope after such a loss? First the body of believers in Christ now stands as the primary expression of God’s image of loving oneness. The value of fellowship found within the body of Christ trumps anything possible in marriage while we are in the spiritual warfare of this age. That is even if your marriage fails through faith in Christ you still have a winning hand. But you may rightly point out that the body of Christ is missing some of the components of loving oneness found in marriage. This is true. However, Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15 that though Christian fellowship is a comfort through the trials in this life our greatest hope is not this life at all, but our future life with Christ our bridegroom and his bride in eternity. We are anticipating the wedding supper of the lamb and the consummation of the most fantastic marriage imaginable. Loss of an earthly marriage is tragic, but the shadow of this loss will be erased by the brilliance of our marriage to Jesus Christ.
Imagine the fellowship we will enjoy with him and each other when sin is forever erased and Christ’s enemies are gone. Though hope is deferred our hope remains unconquerable because 1) God is greater than all our sin, 2) God still works miracles, 3) Jesus is returning for his bride, 4) Satan and sin will be banished from heaven and earth, and 5) the image of God in mankind will be perfectly, completely, finally, and eternally restored.
Writing this paper I hoped to accomplish two things. First I wanted to brag about our God’s excellence observed as Christ in the Father and the Father in Christ. I wanted to show how our God’s excellence cannot be matched because he is humble and magnificent, graceful and powerful, submissive and commanding. He is the perfect balance of everything that is needed to be the most wonderful God. Secondly, I wanted to humbly say that though mankind has fallen into sin it is God’s purpose to restore his image in his people perfectly as believers in Christ and Christ in believers. I hoped you would join me in amazement over this inexpressibly good gift from God. Our time and energy is wasted on cheap idols that cannot serve or satisfy in the least. However, here is a prize that is neither an idol nor a waste of effort, that of Christ-likeness!
Finally, I didn’t see this at first, but a strange combination of themes has coalesced; love, trust, obedience, and intimacy. We want love and intimacy. Yet, Satan would sell us these things without trust or obedience. Because Satan’s counterfeit of romance is pleasure without commitment it is fleeting. However, God’s plan demands that pleasure and commitment grow in tandem because he wants to give us eternal romance. Love and intimacy will grow when trust and obedience also grow. My friend, do you know what I am talking about? Do I know what I am talking about? What I am saying to the married and potentially married is that if we want romantic conversation and great sex with our spouse then we must trust God and honor and obey our authorities as Christ commands. What I am saying to host of unwed sex partners is why appreciate pleasure and depreciate commitment? Why not instead obey Christ and marry, appreciating both pleasure and commitment? What I am saying to the unmarried and divorced is that your longings are only temporarily deferred. Keep trusting and obeying Christ and prepare for the ecstasy of perfect intimacy with Christ and his people in eternity. Consider the example of our promised husband who obeys his father by remaining chaste, though he is hot with passion for the consummation of his marriage to us, his bride.
Now that is what I’m talking about!
Thankfully Christ says he is returning soon, “He who testifies these things says, 'Yes, I come quickly.' Amen! Yes, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20 WEB).