July 24: Bearing Christ’s Image (our only hope for Heaven).

1 Corinthians 15:49. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Do you remember the creation of humanity in Genesis? We were made to image God.

Genesis 1:26-27. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

God made man in his image, but Adam and Eve marred that image with their rebellion. The story of God, and the story of the Bible, has been the restoration of that image to humanity. We are the image bearers of God. Idolatry is wrong because only humanity and nothing else should image God as an idol. Anything placed above God, or in between God and man, is doomed to disappoint us and fail us. Christ, in his humanity, has bridged God and man. He has restored humanity to image bearer of God.

It’s important to see that Jesus took on flesh in order to restore the image of God. The physical is not inherently evil while the spiritual is good. It’s all good. Some Jews and Greeks believed that God made two Adams. A bad physical one, and a good spiritual one in Heaven. Our goal then is to escape the physical and achieve the spiritual. But Christ embraced the physical and united the physical and spiritual in his person. He now promises us a renewed physical yet spiritual body. Restored humanity is both physical and spiritual. This is why what we do with our bodies matters so much.

Further, as we saw yesterday, Christ is the source of all spiritual life, but beyond this, Christ is also the standard of spiritual life. He not only gives spiritual life, but he also IS that spiritual life. His life is the quality and character of that life – we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. We don’t just live forever. We live forever in Christ’s image. His love. His joy. His peace. His patience. His kindness. His goodness. His gentleness. His faithfulness. His self-control. The very character and nature of Christ are ours.

This is crucial because without bearing the image of Christ we could not inherit Heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:50. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Paul does not mean that we will not have a physical body in Heaven. He is speaking more of the sinful nature of our earthly selves. We need a non-perishable body, the spiritual body, with all sin and selfishness removed, in order to live with God forever. And we will have this by and through the resurrection of the dead. “This is not a distortion of our original humanity, but will be the very thing we were made for in the first place” (N.T. Wright, 1 Corinthians For Everyone).

“To live is Christ” means that the Spirit will clothe us with the image of the Man of Heaven in all of his holiness, righteousness, and purity. This will allow us to not only live forever, but to live forever with God, in his glorious presence face to face. This is not something we achieve, it is a gift from God. It is grace. Have you received it?

Do you see yourself as bearing the image of God? Do you see others as image bearers? How could this change how you treat others? Do you celebrate your humanity? Do you also look forward to complete holiness? How does union with Christ help you to understand both your humanity and holiness?

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