Christ is the image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. Colossians 1:15
God is Spirit. God is invisible. And yet, He reveals Himself with increasing clearness.
He glimmers through creation and nature. We shiver with awe at the glimpses God allows us of himself in nature. He is more transparent in man, whom He created after His own Image. And because we are created in God’s image, we can also see something of him in humanity. Finally, with growing clarity through Christ who is the true Image of His Person, God in flesh. We see and know him best where God defines himself in line and form and action, and that is most explicitly accomplished in his Son, who took on human flesh. The invisible God is most visible in Jesus Christ. Through Christ, we see the Creator.
Image, not likeness. What has been sculptured conveys more reality than what has been pictured in lines and tints; it gives the full appearance; in marble or in metal the image imitates the massive form of life. And while the likeness that is drawn with pencil or brush conveys in turn the warmth of life, the glow of soul, the mobile features, which the cold, hard marble refuses to express, yet the image is more impressive, is more overwhelming by its mightier reality and tangibility.
The Scripture therefore does not speak of the likeness, but of the Image of God Who is invisible, and in this expression the whole action of religion centers itself. God gives His Image; man corrupts this Image; man wants himself to make an image of God. This desire himself to make an image of God is grievous sin; and in the end this sin reaches its utmost height, when Satan, as the Beast, as the man of sin, as the Antichrist, himself erects an image, for which he demands worship which alone is due to “the express Image of God’s person”—the Christ.
This revelation of God in His Image must not be taken in a figurative or metaphorical sense. On the contrary, it is supernatural reality. Hence the saying of Jesus to Philip (John 14:9): “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” And hence the hope of glory for every child of God, that one day he too shall see Christ as He is, and that in seeing the glorified Christ, he shall see God Himself face to face. He shall not see Christ, and afterward and alongside of Him see God, but he shall see God in Christ.
Sin has marred the Image of God in the unregenerate beyond the point of recognition. And now God gives in Christ, in one person, His full Image in perfect clearness. And this was possible in our human nature, because from all eternity the Son was the Image of the Father, and, as by the shadow of this Image, our human nature was formed from the dust of the earth.
He, therefore, who rests content with the revelation of God in nature, depressed as it is by the curse; or he who rests content with the revelation of the spiritual being of God in man, as he is dead by sin; cannot attain unto the true knowledge of God, but must fall away into idolatry or false philosophy.
“No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27).
Therefore Christ remains the center of our Divine worship. Not only by what He spoke, by what He did, by what He suffered, but by His own Person. The glory of the Apostles lies in what they have heard, seen and handled of the Word of life.
Let me say it this way: Christ is glory. We name ourselves after Him – Christians; He brings us salvation. His redemptive work is recorded in Scripture and still goes on. The course of world history is decided by a nations’ being for him or against Him. Peace lays over the land in His name. Good families turn dysfunctional when they neglect him.
Some claim him to be a great prophet, another Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed; but when they do, they undermine the Christian religion and even the development of the human race. That’s a lie, after all. Any attempt to shade his glory brings night to the soul.
And while it’s forever true that in Christ we will receive eternal life, we should remember that the blessed accommodations of heaven are only furniture. The glories of eternity are not pearly gates or streets of gold. Glory for real believers is in knowing God face-to-face, in having that intimate fellowship. And that glory is, through Christ, already here. In Christ, we sense something of the glory of eternal life – now, here below! Eternity is not something that comes along only at the end of life. Eternity begins in our knowing God here. And we can know Him, most fully, through Jesus Christ.
How? Through Scripture. Even though He’s long ago ascended, the record doesn’t lie. He was among us. Read his story, and He still comes alive. Our imaginations bring Him into our homes, our conversations, our very lives. Listen to Him speak, marvel at His parables, and it seems He is here with us, addressing, admonishing, encouraging, and comforting us – just as He did with His disciples. The story makes Him real.
But His essence isn’t just in the story, the written record. He’s given us part of Himself, His Spirit, a flame of love and sacred purpose that glows in His people. Christ came two thousand years ago, but He’s not gone. He’s here in us. He knows our names. We understand Him from the Bible, and we recognize Him in our hearts.
Christ, the image of the invisible God, doesn’t merely charm us with that image, doesn’t just show it to us to make us marvel. That’s not it at all. What He’s up to is His own sculpting job. By showing us what He is, He’s taking what we are and shaping it, molding it, giving it form and substance to this end: that the very image of God we seek, the substance of the Father, is itself made more perfect in us. Through the work of the Spirit, he’s making God visible in us.
This happens when we choose to relate with Him…to have that personal relationship with Him…and remain in Him.
On this earth, we can come to no greater knowledge of God than that which is created when Christ, himself the image of the invisible, renews that very image of the same invisible God in us.