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Catechism Class: The Divine Image


The Divine Image.

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 3.Q6 

Welcome to our catechism class.  In this lesson we are looking at Lord’s Day 3, Q6 in the Heidelberg Catechism.  In our last class, on Lord’s Day 2, we learned that we are miserable, wretched sinners, condemned under the law of God which we have wilfully broken. That divine law reveals to us just how far short of God’s righteousness we have fallen, when we measure up our own lives against God’s standards.   But in Lord’s Day 3 the catechist teaches us that mankind wasn’t made sinful. We were created in the image of God. So what does that mean? 

Image by PopcornSusanN from Pixabay


1. The Image of God – Our Unique DIGNITY

Q6. Did God, then, create man so wicked and perverse?  A. No, on the contrary, God created man good and in his image,  

READ: Genesis 1:26-31  We are different from the rest of creation, and we are set above the rest of creation!  Let’s explore some of the reasons why being made in the image of God makes mankind different, unique among creation and a privileged being…

  1. A Special Image.  How can we say that we are created in God’s image?  Remember that GOD IS NOT LIKE US! Isaiah 46:5  So when we say we are made in God’s image we are not saying that God is like us, that he looks like us, or dresses like us, but rather that we are like him, there are certain of his attributes and characteristics that he has bestowed upon us also.  The catechist singles out two of these attributes for special mention when he says,  God created man good and in his image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness:
    1. Righteousness. In our created, pre-fall state, we had a right standing before God, we were by creation just. 
    2. Holiness. We were created spotless and sinless.  Genesis 2:25 reminds us of our initial innocence. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.  Adam and Eve were innocent, righteous and holy, they could look upon their nakedness without sinful thoughts….  And because they were righteous and holy they could approach the Lord God in the garden, and enter his holy presence. Ephesians 4:24  
  2. A Specific Image.  We are:-
  • Personal beings. Relational. We are capable of having a relationship with other people and with our maker. In fact that is exactly why he made us.   2 Corinthians 3:18  
  • Rational beings. We have intelligence and a will.  A God like capacity for knowledge and thought and action.   Colossians 3:10  
  • Creative beings. Mankind is extraordinarily creative.  It marks us out from the rest of creation.  In this sense we are displaying one of the attributes of our own creator.  
  • Authoritative beings. He made us to rule, to subdue the earth and rule over it and populate it. 
  1. A Shared Image.  
    1. No distinction by skin.  Have you noticed that there is no distinction made here as regards race or colour or ethnicity?  We all share the same common first parentage.  We are all fallen sinful humans, who were all in Adam. We all have equal dignity.  
    2. No distinction by age.  That extends to all ages.   And what of the unborn.  The fact that we are made in the image of God –  does that not mean that when we deliberately deprive a baby of life, we are attacking the uniqueness and dignity of God’s creation?  
  2. A Sexual Image! God made us as either men or women.  Genesis 1:27 Jesus reaffirmed this biblical view of mankind, in  Matthew 19:3-5   You are not free to decide what sex you are, no matter how much a man may feel like a woman, to say that you can choose your own gender identity is simple to deny physical reality and biology, and worse, to fly in the face of God’s order of creation.  It is a heinous sin.
  3. A Shattered Image.We still retain that image, structurally. – we are still human beings like Adam, but not functionally for we are now slaves to sin.   We still have the image of God stamped upon us, but because of sin it is distorted and warped and disfigured beyond recognition. But we’ll look at that more fully in our next lesson.

So God made mankind unique, with an intrinsic value, so that every human life is precious, including those who have not yet been born.  The psalmist celebrates this in Psalm 8:3-8.

2 The Ideal of God – Our Unique DESTINY.

So, why did God create us as he did?  Why did he not just stop, when he had created the world and the animals and the birds and so on? If the eco-warriors are to be believed, humans are such a scourge that the world would be better off without them!  So, why are we here?  Let’s be very clear about one thing…

  • God didn’t NEED to create us!  I couldn’t put this any better than to quote Dr Stephen Lawson in ‘Foundations of Grace’ “…not because He needed someone to love. Throughout all eternity past, God enjoyed perfect love and intimate communion within His own being. The three persons of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit—enjoyed perfect relationships and completely fulfilled one another. Thus, God was not inwardly lonely or personally empty; He was entirely self-satisfied, self-content, and self-contained. So God did not create because of some limitation within Himself.  Instead…
  • God created us to know him, love him and enjoy him! Our catechist puts this very succinctly, when he says, … so that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him, and live with him in eternal blessedness to praise and glorify him.   We were created in God’s image to reflect his glory, and express his greatness.  The Shorter Catechism, begins with this point, when it asks in Q1, “What is the chief end of man?”  and answers,  “Man’s chief end is to glorify God,  and to enjoy him forever.”  1 Corinthians 10:31. 

So, the Scriptures teach us that we are created in the image of God, with a unique purpose.  In our next class we move on to Q7-8, to remind ourselves of what happened next. 

© Bob McEvoy April 2021

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