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Baptist Catechism Question 13

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Introduction

Last time we considered creation broadly. This time let us zoom in on the creation of man as it relates to the rest of creation and God who made it.

Question

Q. 13. How did God create man?
A. 13. God created man as male and female in his image, in knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and with dominion over the creatures. (Genesis 1:26-28; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).

Exposition

A. God created man.

In Genesis 1:1-2:3, Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), tells us of the beginning of all things. He starts with an assumption; before the beginning, there was the Triune God, who has no beginning or end (Genesis 1:1-2; John 1:1-3). This Triune God brought all things that did not exist into existence by His powerful word in the space of six days out of nothing. Over and over, the first chapter refrain of “And God said let there be” or for animate life “God said let the earth bring forth,” followed by “and it was so” (Genesis 1:6, 7, 3, 9, 11 14, 15, 20, 24) Another repetition worth noting is God’s opinion of what He created. Throughout the six days, He saw that His creation was good (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25) and saw it as very good when it was completed (Genesis 1:31).
Included in the creation of all things is the creation of humanity. In fact, the report of humanity’s creation is longer and more detailed than that of all other things in the first chapter of Genesis. It is given nearly an entire chapter in Genesis chapter 2. Man is the pinnacle and high point of God’s creation. For man alone, we see a divine counsel convened before his creation (Genesis 2:7). God did not say as He had for all other things He created, “Let there be man on the earth,” and there was man on the earth. However, God did say, “Let us make man in our image, after our image” (Genesis 1:26). It was only after the creation of man that God saw His work as “very good.” God did not personally fashion the other creatures from the earth and breathe life into them. Yet, He did just that with man in Genesis 2:7. God did not give any other creature dominion over all other creatures as He did with man (Genesis 1:26-31). Nor did God enter into a covenant of life which would affect the rest of creation if man kept it or broke it with any other creature, but He did with man (Genesis 2:16-17; Hosea 6:7; Romans 5:12-14).
Consider, also, how the unity and plurality of the Triune God are also shone in the divine counsel at man’s creation when Moses records, “Then God (plural noun) said (singular verb), ‘Let us make (first-person plural verb) man in our image (with a first-person plural pronominal suffix), after our likeness (first person plural pronominal suffix) (Genesis 1:27).

B. God created man male and female.

The human body is gendered by God’s design. At creation, God made man in His image male and female (Genesis 1:27). It is important to remember that this gender binary is included in God’s concluding observation of His creative activity as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). God does not make mistakes. The purpose for such gendered existence is complementary companionship, dominion, and reproduction (Genesis 1:28-30). According to Scripture, this complementarity is most evidenced in marriage, a lifelong covenant union between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-25; Mark 10:1-12). In this marriage relationship, joys of sexual intimacy and reproduction are meant to take place (Genesis 2:25; 1:28-31; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20; 7:1-16).
The fall did bring with it strife between the genders (Genesis 3:12-13, 16) and also introduced such defects that bring someone’s gender into question, which is why they are sometimes labeled as intersex. Such a person must be distinguished from one who identifies as transgender, as a transgender person is waring against reality while the intersex person is suffering from a physical defect or genetic disorder. That said, as human being the intersex person should be treated with dignity and respect. The transgender person should be loved, but their delusion should not be supported.

C. God created man in His image.

As we read earlier, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The next verse poetically states that God created man in his own image, which is the honor of both men and women (Genesis 1:27). There is no need as some have done to make the image of God one thing and His likeness another. The terms complement one another. An “image” is an artistic depiction of something. A “likeness” is an appearance, pattern, or similarity of something.[1]
Man is not given God’s image, but is the living, moving, reigning, reasoning, and embodied image of the Triune God. The image of God is not to be reduced to one human faculty such as reason, nor should it be reduced to the function of exercising dominion. As God’s image, humanity was created “to be a limited, temporal revelation of his infinite, eternal attributes, particularly the attributes of God’s power, wisdom, and goodness, which the creation account highlights (Genesis 1).”[2] Also, as God’s image, man reigns over the lessor creatures (Genesis 1:26, 28).
Furthermore, at man’s original creation, the relationship between Adam and God was like that between a son and a father (Genesis 5:1-3; Luke 3:38).[3] The image of God also has connections to all human relationships, especially the most foundational of human relationships marriage (Genesis 1:27). The marriage relationship itself will lead to the multiplication of God’s image and the formation of society (Genesis 1:28).
Though the first man and all his descendants by ordinary generation fell from the state in which they were created, and man has become totally depraved (Genesis 3; 6:5), the image of God continues to set man apart from all other creatures. For this reason, humans life is to not be taken unjustly, nor are we to curse those made in the divine image (Genesis 9:6; James 3:9).
[1]Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Man and Christ, vol. 2, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 162. [2]Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Man and Christ, vol. 2, 194.
[3]Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Man and Christ, vol. 2, 194.
So though the image of God is not merely something we do or limited to some act or character trait, there are some abilities, traits, and responsibilities we have as image bearers.

1. God created man in His image in knowledge.

Man is a creature with rational intelligence. He is able by God’s design to acquire knowledge of God, himself, and the universe and order his own life in the light of that knowledge. God knows all things immediately. He does not acquire knowledge. Man knows somethings according to his limited capacity by sense experience and rational inference (Romans 1:18-20, Acts 14:15-17; 17:22-31), it is also possible as some believe that man knows somethings inherently as a creature made in God’s image (perhaps Romans 2:14-15). Man never will know all things, but his knowledge is being and will be renewed in Christ (Colossians 3:10).

2. God created man in His image in righteousness and holiness.

These traits of righteousness and holiness are the moral aspect of man as made in God’s image. Man at his creation was without moral defect. He was capable of fulfilling the ends for which he was made. His faculties were all ordered to meet the ends for which God made him (Genesis 2:15-17). Thus, he was able to glorify God. It is to this true righteousness and holiness of soul that Christ restores us (Ephesians 4:24).

3. God created man in His image with dominion over the creatures.

God is the absolute monarch over all things outside of Himself. They are created by Him and for Him. That said, in creating man in His image God made man an under king, a vassal, or a steward. Furthermore, God expressly gave man dominion over the other creatures. Moses records that 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” (Genesis 1:26, 28-29; Psalm 8:6-8).

Bonus: God created man body and soul.

The first man and all his descendants after him are composed of two distinct parts—body and soul—that function in harmony. The functional unity of a human person’s body and soul can be seen in the great commandment: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 13:30).
Though a functional unity of body and soul is taught in Scripture, body, and soul are also portrayed as distinct parts. This concept is most apparent when Scripture speaks of death when an unnatural separation of body and soul occurs. “The dust (body) returns to the earth as it was,” says Solomon, “and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
The body is the visible and physical component of a human being. It includes various tissues, parts and organs joined together to make the whole biological system.
The soul is the vitalizing principle that makes a human alive. It is endowed with greater powers than mere digestion, reproduction, movement, or sensation. The powers of intellect and will set man above lessor creatures. Man’s soul is spiritual, meaning it is without parts, invisible, and immaterial. This is an implication of it not being able to be killed through material means (Matthew 10:28). Jesus also clarifies that what is spiritual cannot be observed by the senses (Luke 24:39).

Uses

1. You are a creature.

2. Humans are all made in God’s image and have dignity and worth.

3. Care should be provided for the whole person: body and soul.

4. Christ is in the work of redeeming the whole person.

Conclusion

Q. 13. How did God create man?
A. 13. God created man as male and female in his image, in knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and with dominion over the creatures. (Genesis 1:26-28; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).
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