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Here and Hereafter

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    3 Objections Examined


    IT is supposed by some that the expressions used in connection with the record of man’s creation, are such as to show that he has an immortal soul, or is an immortal being. Let us candidly examine them to see if such is really what they teach.HHMLD 29.1

    The first of these expressions is the opening testimony of the Bible concerning man, which asserts that he was to be made in the image of God. Genesis 1:26, 27: “And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”HHMLD 29.2

    The first impulse of a person unacquainted with this controversy would be to ask in astonishment what this has to do with the immortality of man; nor would his astonishment be in any wise diminished when he heard the reply that “as God is immortal, man must be immortal also” because made in his image. Has God, then, no other attribute by immortality, that we must confine it to this? Is not God omnipotent? — Yes. Is man? — No: Is not God omnipresent? — Yes. Is man? — No. Is not God omniscient? — Yes. Is man? — No. Is not God independent and self-existent? — Yes. Is man? — No. Is not God infallible? — Yes. Is man? — No. Then why single out the one attribute of immortality, and make the likeness of man to God consist wholly in this? In the form of a syllogism, the popular argument stands thus:— Major Premise: God is immortal. 1 Timothy 1:17. Minor Premise: Man is created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27. Conclusion: Therefore man is immortal.HHMLD 29.3

    This is easily quashed by another syllogism equally sound, thus:—HHMLD 30.1

    1. God is omnipotent.
    2. Man is made in the image of God.
    3. Therefore man is omnipotent.

    This conclusion, by being brought within the cognizance of our own senses, becomes more obviously, though it is not more essentially, absurd. It show earlier that the argument for immortality drawn from the “image” of God, is unqualified assumption, or that puny and finite man is clothed with all the attributes of the Deity.HHMLD 30.2

    In what respect, then, is man in the image of his Maker? The only correct and safe rule of interpretation, applying to language in the Bible as well as elsewhere, is to allow every word its most obvious and literal import, unless some plain reason exists for giving it a mystical or figurative meaning. The plain and literal definition of “image” (see any good lexicon), is, “An imitation, representation, or similitude of any person or thing, sculptured, drawn, painted, or otherwise made perceptible to the sight; a visible presentation; a copy; a likeness; an effigy.” We have italicized a portion of this definition as containing an essential idea. An image must be something that is visible to the eye. How can we conceive of an image of anything that is not perceptible to the sight, and which we cannot take cognizance of by any of the senses? Even an image formed in the mind must be conceived of as having some sort of outward shape or form. In this sense the word is used in the thirty-one times of its occurrence elsewhere in the Old Testament.HHMLD 30.3

    The second time the word “image” is used, it is used to show the relation existing between son and father, and is a good comment on the relation which Genesis 1:26, 27 asserts to exist between man and God. Genesis 5:3: “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image.” Every one would at once understand by this language, physical resemblance, and similarity of nature. Now put the two passages together. Moses first asserts that God made man in his own image, after his likeness; and a few chapters farther on he asserts that this same man begat a son in his own likeness, after his image. And while all must admit that this latter includes bodily form or physical shape, the theological schools tell us that the former, from the same writer and with no intimation that it is used in any other sense, must refer solely to the attribute of immortality. There is no room for any other conclusion than that just as a son is, in outward appearance, the image of his father, and possesses like mental and moral characteristics, so man possesses, not the attributes of God in all their perfection, but a likeness, or image, of him in his physical form and moral nature.HHMLD 31.1

    It may be said that the word “image” is used in a different sense in the New Testament, as, for example, in Colossians 3:9, 10: “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” Granting that the word here refers only to the inward nature, instead of the outward from, it must still ever be borne in mind that the point which popular theology has to prove is that man is immortal because in the image of God. This text is against that view; for that which is here said to be in the image of Him that created him, is not the natural man himself, but the new man which is put on, implying that the original image had been destroyed, and could be restored only in Christ. If, therefore, it meant immortality as used by Moses, this text would show that that immortality was not absolute but contingent, and having been lost by man, can be regained only through Christ.HHMLD 32.1

    Ephesians 4:24 shows how this new man is created: “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Nothing is said about immortality even in connection with the new man. It is simply a new moral nature.HHMLD 32.2

    Again: the word here translated image ( ) is defined by Greenfield as meaning, by metonymy, “an exemplar, model, pattern, standard; Colossians 3:10.” No such definition as this is given by Gesenius to the word in Genesis. So, though this Greek word may here have this sense, it affords no evidence that the Hebrew word in Genesis 1:26, 27 refers to immortality, and may not be confined to man’s outward form and moral nature.HHMLD 32.3

    The same reasoning will apply to 1 Corinthians 15:49, where the “image of the heavenly,” which is promised to the righteous, is something which is not in possession of the natural man, but will be attained through the resurrection: “We shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” It cannot, therefore, refer to the image stamped upon man at his creation, unless it be admitted that that image, with all its included qualities, has been lost by the human race, — an admission fatal to the hypothesis of the believers in the natural immortality of man.HHMLD 32.4

    In 1 Corinthians 11:7 we read that man, as contrasted with woman, is “the image and glory of God.” To make the expression “image of God” here mean immortality, is to confine it to man, and rob the better part of the human family of this high prerogative.HHMLD 33.1

    In Genesis 9:6 we read: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Substituting what the image is here claimed to mean, we should have this very singular reading: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood [or taketh man’s life], by man shall his blood be shed [for his life be taken]: for immortal made he man,” so that his life could not be taken. Evidently the reference in all such passages is not only to “the human face divine,” but to the whole physical frame, with its mental and moral capabilities, which, in comparison with all other forms of animated existence, is upright and godlike.HHMLD 33.2

    But here the mystical interpretation of our current theology has thrown up what is considered an insuperable objection to this view; for how can man be physically in the image of God, when God is not a person, is without form, and has neither body nor parts? In reply we ask, Where does the Bible say that God is a formless, impersonal being, having neither body nor parts? Does it not say that he is a spirit (John 4:24)? — Yes; and we inquire again, Does it not say that the angels are spirits? Hebrews 1:7, 14. And are not the angels, saying nothing of those instances in which they have appeared to men in bodily form, and always in human shape (Genesis 18:1-8, 16-22; 32:24; Hosea 12:4; Numbers 22:31; Judges 13:6, 13; Luke 1:11, 13, 28, 29; Acts 12:7-9, etc., etc.), — are not the angels, we say, always spoken of as beings having bodily form? A spirit, or spiritual being, as God is, in the highest sense, so far from not having a bodily form, must possess it, as the instrumentality for the manifestation of his powers. 1 Corinthians 15:44.HHMLD 33.3

    Again: it is urged that God is omnipresent; and how can this be, if he is a person? Answer: He has a representative, his Holy Spirit, by which he is ever present and ever felt in all his universe. “Whither shall I go,” asks David, “from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Psalm 139:7. And John saw standing before the throne of God seven lamps, which are declared to be “the seven Spirits of God,” and which are “sent forth into all the earth.” Revelation 4:5; 5:6.HHMLD 34.1

    We now invite the attention of the reader to a little of the evidence that may be presented to show that God is a person, and so that man, though of course in an imperfect and finite degree, may be an image, or likeness, of him, as to his bodily form.HHMLD 34.2

    1. God has made visible to mortal eyes parts of his person. Moses saw the God of Israel. Exodus 33:21-23. An immaterial being, if such a thing can be conceived of, without body or parts, cannot be seen with mortal eyes. To say that God assumed a body and shape for this occasion, places the common view in a worse light still; for it is virtually charging God with a double deception: first, giving Moses to understand that he was a being with body and parts; and secondly, under the promise of showing himself, showing him something that was not himself. And he told Moses that he would put his “hand” over him as he passed by, and then take it away, that he might see his “back parts,” but not his “face.” Has he hands? has he back parts? has he a face? If not, why try to convey ideas by means of language?HHMLD 34.3

    Again: Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders saw the God of Israel. Exodus 24:9-11. “And there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone.” Has he feet? Or is the record that these persons saw them a fabrication? No man, to be sure, has seen his face, nor could he do so and live, as God has declared. Exodus 33:20; John 1:18.HHMLD 35.1

    2. Christ, as manifested among men, is declared to be the “image” of God, and in his “form.” Christ showed, after his resurrection, that his immortal, though not then glorified, body had flesh and bones. Luke 24:39. Bodily he ascended into heaven, where none can presume to deny him a local habitation. Acts 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 8:1. But Paul, speaking of this same Jesus, says, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature.” Colossians 1:15. Here the antithesis expressed is between God, who is invisible, and his “image” in the person of Christ, which was visible. It follows, therefore, that what of Christ the disciples could see, which was his bodily form, was the image to give them an idea of God whom they could not see. This of course would not exclude the moral attributes manifested by Jesus, but which could not be manifested without some bodily organization.HHMLD 35.2

    Again: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Philippians 2:5, 6. It remains to be told how Christ could be in the “form” of God, and yet God have no form.HHMLD 35.3

    Once more: “God, who at sundry ties and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” etc. Hebrews 1:1-3. This testimony is conclusive. It is an inspired declaration that God has a personal form; and to give an idea of what that form is, it declares that Christ, just as we conceive of him as ascended up bodily on high, is the express image thereof. It said that the word “person,” should here be rendered “substance.” But this does not affect the conclusion in the least; for if there is substance, there must be shape, and the only indication given in the Bible of what that shape is, is the human form.HHMLD 36.1

    The evidence already presented shows that there is no necessity for supposing that the image of God, in which man was created, consists of immortality; and Paul, in his testimony to the Romans, forever destroys the possibility of making it apply to immortality. He says (Romans 1:22, 23): “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” The word here rendered “uncorruptible” is the same word that is translated “immortal,” and supplied to God in 1 Timothy 1:17. Now if God by making man in his image, stamped him with immortality, man is just as uncorruptible as God himself. But Paul says that he is not so; that while God is uncorruptible, or immortal, man is corruptible, or mortal. The image of God does not, therefore, confer immortality, though it does indicate the high organization and godlike nature of man.HHMLD 36.2

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