Genesis 1:26-28 God Makes Humans to Represent Him in His Kingdom


16 Verses

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses

Genesis 1:26-28: God Makes Human Beings to Represent Him in His Kingdom…Covenant


We have discovered God created a kingdom and he is the King.


Now we discover that God makes human beings in his image to represent him in this kingdom.


Understanding the gospel and how all the stories, patterns and types point us to God’s redemptive work in Jesus and his restoration of all things begins in the beginning, Genesis. Genesis 1 and 2 are the baseline for what is God’s purpose, what is normal, what is right and where God is taking all things back to in redemption.


So, in Genesis we are seeing that baseline that determines our ethics and practice as people in Christ.


Mankind as God’s image bearers to represent him in his kingdom reign


  1. Man is created in the image of God.

There are a host of items would could tackle regarding us being God’s image bearers. That would be a systematic theology of the topic.


Among all the items we could discuss, we have to mention that God’s image is bound up in the characteristics and relational tendencies we share with God.[1]


The specific item we want to focus on this morning is that the image of God means we are able to fulfill the mission he has given to us.[2]


Of course, there are ethical implications to mankind being image bearers of God, but those are subject to the larger movement of the story of the gospel. They are not less than, they are simply subject to the overall purpose of God in all that he has done, and our purpose for these 16 weeks is to see purpose in how the stories of Scripture fit together to point us to Jesus and his mission.


1a. We are a unique reflection of God. 

No other creature in all of creation shares this designation.


1b. We are dependent on God. 

Because we are created in his image we are unique, but because we are created we are completely dependent on God. We can only be sustained by God.


1c. We are responsible to God. 

Because we are created by God and dependent, we are responsible to God.


Even though we have not yet been given our clear instruction, we have to be responsible to the one who made us uniquely like him.


  1. Man is created for the purpose of God

Not purposes but purpose. Verse 28 defines in nuances the purpose of God for his representatives/ambassadors that flows out of their created distinctions.


God made Adam and Eve, gave them life, placed them in the garden and gave them this important purpose of verse 28. This relationship introduces a key theme for us, and that theme is covenant. We’ll unpack that as we go along, just be aware that God’s relationship to man is mediated through covenant, and this first covenant involves us doing God’s mission.


Male and female to multiply and fill. Whole families on the mission. Not one and the rest disagreeing.


Female and co-laborer and helper for male to subdue and have dominion over the whole earth.


2a. We are created as image bearers to be in a relationship with God. 

God made us NOT because he needed a relationship (he has that in Trinity).


God made us in relationship with himself.


This has implications for the execution of our mission…we are to produce others who walk in relationship with God.


2b. We are created to fill the earth and subdue all creation.

This command validates every task necessary to fill and subdue creation on the whole earth as a holy task.


This fact redeems all legitimate vocations as good, holy and right.


2c. We are created to take God’s glory to the ends of the earth.

God gave a great commission to his image bearers to fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over it.


You won’t fail to see this theme all over the Old Testament from Noah’s recommission to fill the earth and multiply to Abraham’s call to bless all the nations that were just scattered from Babel over the whole face of the earth, to Habakkuk 2:14, “for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”, to Jesus’ command to disciple all nations.


God commissioned Adam and Eve as the first missionaries.[3]


Jesus command in Matthew 28:16-20 is not divorced from his command in Genesis 1:26-28. Rather, the command in Genesis is a pattern set to be fully executed after redemption was secured and the restoration was begun at the cross.


Good News Patterns to Observe and Obey

  1. Adam and Ever were to leave Eden, go to the whole earth and fill it with other image bearers who walk in relationship with God…we are to leave the homeland for the whole earth and make disciples who walk in relationship with God in Christ Jesus.


  1. They were to subdue the earth, take it from wilderness to fruitfulness…we are to make disciples who bear fruit by subduing the curse of the fall with the powerful subduing gospel.


  1. They were to have dominion…we are to expand the locale of God’s rule into every domain of society in teaching them to observe everything commanded by Jesus and taking dominion of every created domain of created order.


Check this link for our strategy of “glocal” engagement:

[1] Chris Bruno, The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 24.

[2] Ibid. p. 24.

[3] Ibid. p. 26.

Keep Looking

If you are around Three Rivers Church for any short time you will discover we love Scripture and we push people to the text to find God’s treasure. We preach from it, we study it, we read it daily to read it through multiple times. The word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We hide it in our hearts that we might not sin against God.

Here are a few plans for you to consider using if you don’t have one already TRC Recommended Resources

By God’s grace I’ve been using the same bible reading plan since I was 20. I’m 44 working on 45. This plan gets me through the Old Testament 1 time and the Psalms and New Testament 2 times in a year. Every year I’m astounded at what I see and hear that somehow I missed last year. The Spirit talks to me from he pages in my soul, and sometimes even pushing that line of audible. Yeah, I know that wigs some folks out, but he’s alive and he greatly desires we know more of him and are continually transformed by him and make that known to the world.

Keep at it.

Here is a great little video to encourage your continual investigation of the Manual.

Kingdom and Collaboration

Last week I wrote about the gospel of the kingdom. I want to follow that up with an example of some distinctions between the gospel of salvation and the gospel of the kingdom.

There is no need to defend that Jesus preached the kingdom and not merely salvation. It’s all over the gospels.

Mark 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Acts 1:3 (ESV) He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

What I want to do is lay out how an emphasis of preaching salvation without the kingdom differs from preaching the gospel of the kingdom in our message, disciple making, how we engage society, how the church is manifest as well as the implications on who we work with.


Jesus saves his people to go and make disciples and subdue all things in bringing them back under the rule of Jesus as ambassadors of his kingdom and image bearers of God. The gospel of the kingdom saves and sends on mission, not as ministry professionals, but as God gifted artists within their God-given domain that is already “glocal” (local and global).

So, what are some distinctions in the gospel of salvation and the gospel of the kingdom in message, disciple making, engagement, church and collaboration?

Our Message:

Gospel of salvation (GOS): Focus is on avoiding hell and going to heaven

Gospel of the kingdom (GOK): Focus is on the king and his rule over everything and our submission to the king

When I was a kid, I got hit with a simple decision: go to hell where it’s super hot and there is a devil or pray to Jesus and go to heaven. That, I’m not kidding, was the “gospel” I heard. That jacked me up for quite a few years. I was 20 before I heard someone preach the gospel from the pages of the bible and it was powerful, instantly transformative and took me from death to life and sent me on a global mission for the fame of Jesus.

Heaven and hell are not all that is at stake. Jesus is reestablishing his rule that was challenged in Genesis 3, and his death and resurrection has broken the curse and all things are being brought back under his rule and I have, as a rescued image bearer, a task of joining in that work.

There is a difference.

Disciple Making:

GOS: Focus is on becoming a member and it linear and programatic…Christianity 101, 102…etc. The focus is on programs and ministries ran by the professional ministry people and maybe the rest of us can be a professional ministry person too if called.

GOK: Focus is on the good news of the kingdom making sons and daughters who hear and obey the King.

I used to think about disciple making in terms of stages of intellectual growth. Then I encountered the globe and saw non-educated people with a bible and the Holy Spirit who knew and practiced more than I did. I discovered that the power they lived with flowed not from their intellect but from their obedience. That’s not to demean the intellect, but to help put it in the right place, and it’s not at the top nor is it the power source.

Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV) Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Hearing and obeying is life and it is the essence of discipleship. Effective disciples don’t attend many classes; they are taught how to hear and obey and can be powerful followers of Jesus the day they are saved.


GOS: Rather indifferent to society. In fact society is something to avoid because it could tarnish the Christian.

GOK: Society is God’s created order and because Ephesians 1:7-10 and Colossians 1:20 teach us that Jesus is reconciling all things back under his rule, including people, we are to engage in domains (law, government, medicine, agriculture, construction/infrastructure, etc.) as God’s means of reestablishing his rule on earth as in heaven.

Theologically I understand there is a difference between the world as the system opposed to the kingdom (1 John 2:15-17; 1 John 5:19) and the world as the realm of God’s created order.

I was told to avoid the world as a youngster. It was never described to me what was meant by that. So, I assumed if it was not in the church it was the world. Bad assumption. You know what happens when you assume, right? Ass…u…me… You get it.

But I was a kid, how was I to know?

Jesus made the world. It’s not inherently evil (See Genesis 1:31) and Genesis 1:31 Notes and Genesis 1:32 Audio. It’s broken and Jesus is fixing it and we are his agents in doing so.

C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles helped to put all that biblically back together for me. Read your bible and read the Chronicles along with it and the repairing of the world will begin to make sense as a historical and true story line.

We are to engage and not avoid the world. We are to not be stained by the lies of the dark kingdom, but we are to definitely engage.

The Church:

GOS: The church is a building or an institution that is identified as a place not a people.

GOK: The church is the “ecclesia” the called out ones…the family of God in Christ Jesus…the people of God under Jesus’ rule.

Let me be clear. To the immediate glance, there may not be much difference here, but the out working of each concept is seismic.

We’ll work these out over the next few weeks. But trust me, there is tactical difference between the gospel of salvation and the gospel of the kingdom.

If the church is a place, then the kingdom’s great movements in hard places is less than it is here in the west because we have buildings. I have actually had people in our 14 year history ask me, “When are you guys going to be a real church?” Seriously. Consumers visit TRC and go other places because we rent space we share with a school even though they like what they hear because they think the church is a place. Never mind the city gave us an entire elementary school and we use it to partner with the city to engage the domain of government to help solve the foster and adoption crisis in our state and country. We have chosen not to meet there for now because we are doing kingdom work not simply having a service in it.

Those poor persecuted Christians…they need some buildings like here in the states. Right? No! If the church is a people then we have some things to learn from those believers in hard places.

With the gospel of the kingdom practices change. Priorities change.

Therefore, the question becomes, who can we work with?

Who do we work with?

How one thinks about the kingdom determines how they practice their stuff. How one practices their stuff determines who they can work with.

I guarantee you many have not even thought this through. They think that because we believe in Jesus we should be able to just do the same thing. It’s not that simple. Many who believe in Jesus have tactical differences in how they apply Jesus’ commands to disciple the nations.

Heck, some don’t even base their ministries on the command as anything they need to give significant thought to beyond an offering or percentage of their budget they give to the poor missionaries so they don’t have to endure such terror themselves. When you think kingdom you have to think about what Jesus said for us to be doing. If one thinks through the question: What if the church was the missionary? Their tactics have to change.

Collaboration is an emphasis right now in many circles. It’s common for folks to look to work together, but anyone who collaborates with others knows you can’t collaborate with people whose ideology has tactical differences.

You can’t collaborate with people whose vision is actually a tactic and they’ve sold God’s vision out for a ministry strategy. 

Why? Because to take on the tactics of one whose tactics are disconnected from God’s vision for the world is to deny the vision that has given manifestation to who/what you and your work is.

I understand that some have not even considered collaboration to that microscopic level yet, and I would say that is why they are not likely effectively collaborating with anyone because it keeps “not working”. 

Effective collaboration can only happen with transcendent, Godward, biblical vision not ministry tactics.

I’m not spending my time meeting just to meet and say we are together. We have global partners depending on us, we’ve got local government depending on us to legitimately make a difference in our town. We don’t have spiritual play time to give out. I know that sounds offensive, but we have to spend mission centric time doing mission centric things. That’s the only way. I know there are many items one could bring up and ask about such as particular spiritual disciplines exercised with others etc. Know that those things are the hidden power behind the mission centric work and collaboration. They are a must but they are a must to drive visionary leadership that determines ministry tactics.

Most people and tribal type thinkers try to start with their organizational affiliation and work toward some common vision. That simply does not work.

You can’t simply get together and hope common vision happens. Vision is a result of following Jesus and him giving a task that fits within his vision for his glory among all nations. Too many ministry people focus on tactics as a vision rather than letting God’s vision dictate their tactics. 

What we say in our family is this: Vision – Relationship – Collaboration – Organization (family)

If one is to collaborate effectively, they must not sacrifice the vision that carries a very specific DNA which then determines how they function (their tactics). One has to have shared vision with those they collaborate with.

That shared vision then leads to relationship.

Visionary relationship leads to collaboration that is full-bodied in that neither entity has to sacrifice tactical plans but rather receives more help in executing plans because there is a nuanced tactic that will actually help achieve the vision.

This kind of relationship creates an organizational family. This is exactly what we have at GlocalNet.

At GlocalNet we have all been birthed from the same vision and we manifest that in a multitude of ways, yet we share relationship and collaborate on visionary distinctives, and we are a family that gathers together. I get on a plane to spend days with these guys more often than I do people in my own tribe in my own town. Why? Because we are a family birthed from vision.

The kingdom creates family that transcends tribes because we have one King and one kingdom with one vision that dictates how we function.

Often I’ve heard that people won’t allow me to talk because we are doctrinally reformed, practically mission heavy, spend time with Muslims (actually talking about Jesus and his kingdom and inviting them to church), go to hard places in the world, send our people to hard places, may expect others to go to hard places, might ask ministry seeking people to work a real job and do ministry for a while so they can learn to be good evangelists and do church and work like the rest of the people, and might actually ask folks to align themselves with that kind of vision and it simply messes things up. Can’t let that in the house!


If we focus on salvation without the kingdom there are just too many competing visions with too many tactical distinctives that prevent real collaboration and family growth. If we focus on the gospel of the kingdom we can build trans-cultural family that looks like Jesus wants it to and directly impacts the whole world through every domain of society.

Final thought…clear vision and clearly aligned tactics will make one effective but narrow the focus of where and with who they can work. This is not bad. This is good and deepening. Give it a try.


16 Verses: Genesis 1:31

16 Verses The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses

Genesis 1:31: God creates a kingdom and he is the king
Our journey for the next 16 weeks will be an introduction to what is called “biblical theology”. 
Systematic theology takes the broad topics revealed in Scripture and teaches what the whole bible has to say about that topic. (Example: What does the whole bible say about the Holy Spirit?)
Biblical theology is much less neat. Biblical theology is concerned with how the narrative connects from story to story with the common thread of the gospel of the kingdom. How does each person, story, pattern and type point us to the redemptive work of God in Jesus Christ? This is the quest of biblical theology. 
Because Jesus Christ is the fixed point of reference for biblical theology, we are concerned with how the text relates to Christ and how we relate to Christ.蜉
Example: How in the world does the account of the Levite who allows his concubine to be abused, as a result dies, then he cuts her up in 12 pieces and sends those parts to the 12 tribes, therefore inciting a civil war, lead us to Jesus? (See Judges 19-21) It must. 
There are two ways. One, in the overall theme of the book, Judges 21:25 tells us that in those days there was no king and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. If we look at this story inside the theme of the book (there was no central and godly leadership and therefore there was ethical chaos) we see the author pointing to the need for a king, and as the next book Ruth reminds us, that king would be David. 
However, as good as David was, he couldn’t cure the people of the heart problem of sin because even David will commit adultery and murder. So who will be a perfect king and bring a perfectly ethical kingdom?
Enter the better David, the one who is from the line of David (one of the reasons God gives us genealogies in the beginnings of the gospels to show us Jesus’ connection to David) who would come and establish an unshakable kingdom, Jesus. Jesus is not only the standard of right from wrong but can work on the person at the heart level. This gospel promise brings obedience from a transformed heart. 
There is another way. You see in Judges 19 a man who will sacrifice his own wife to save his own skin, which makes him a bad husband. How can we not think about, by contrast, a good husband who will sacrifice his own life to save and purify his wife? Ephesians 5:22ff…Jesus is that good husband who will not sacrifice us for himself rather he will sacrifice himself for us. 
This is what we mean to do for the next 16 weeks. We want to help find our way through the biblical narrative to Jesus. 
To illustrate: You know the saying “can’t see the forest for the trees”? What that saying means is that we can’t see the entirety of something’s shape and meaning because it’s so large that what makes it large prevents us from seeing it’s largeness. 
Well, in our study of “16 verses” we are going to focus on 16 “trees” that will help us navigate our way through the forest of God’s work in history (all history is God’s designed work) and will help us understand other “trees” (stories and people) that climaxes at and centers on the cross and comes to resolution and complete restoration at Christ’s return. 
The bible is one book that tells one story, containing 66 chapters and one divine author mediated through human scribes in multiple genres through different times in history that all point us to Jesus, his work and his kingdom. 
TREE 1: Genesis 1:31: God creates a kingdom and he is the king

Genesis 1:31 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Genesis 1 and 2 give us a glimpse of what will be when Revelation 21-22 come to pass. 


God sets the stage for what is normal, right and very good in the first two chapters of Scripture. 
We would all do well to note that when the New Testament authors lay out rules for church order they do so from created order in Genesis 1 and 2 as what is right and normal. 
Therefore, “Our view of the world begins with our view of God.”蜉 Therefore, our view of the world and how it should be begins with how God designed in the beginning and where he is taking it back to. 
What do we see? What does it mean?
1. God speaks his word and matter comes into existence and obeys.

“…everything that he had made…”

1a. God’s word is powerful. 

1a. God’s word is effective. 
It is not our job to make God’s revelation bend and flex to other explanations of what is in existence particularly when those explanations are derived from a view of God that believes there is no such person as God. 
2. God’s power and authority extend to every part of the universe.

“…everything that he had made…”

1a. God set up a kingdom in which he is the Sovereign King. 

1b. This is why kings and kingdoms are key themes in the bible. 

***Not to get too far ahead, but the rebellion is an establishment of a Satanic counter kingdom with mankind as its pawns.***
1c. God has complete authority such that when he speaks things happen. 
God is the king and ruler and has the right to rule over his creation. 
3. God’s entire work is pronounced as “very good”.

“…and behold, it was very good…”
“Very good” is what God makes. This speaks to the quality of God’s work. 
4. God is the one who pronounces his own work “very good”. 

God is the determiner of what is good. This speaks to who is the determiner of what is good and what is not. 
There is no one else here patting God on the back and affirming his work. He is the Creator and determiner of what is good. 
4a. God does not need or ask for affirmation regarding his work. He’s the determiner of what is good and what is not. 
5. “Very good” carries the idea that God’s creation was doing what it was supposed to do…what he created it to do…what he wanted it to do. 

Very = exceeding; greatly

Good = orderly; pleasant; efficient
6 times God pronounced his work “good”. But in verse 31 God pronounces all of it “very good”. 
This is amazing because it’s one of the rare times the Hebrew language uses one of its closest words to a superlative it has, and it is God who uses it. 
Moses records for us God’s view of the quality of his creative work. God uses a superlative in a language devoid of superlatives to describe his work. It was greatly good!
5a. God’s handiwork and order is never less than. It is always “very good”. 

5b. Everything God creates is “good” but the sum total of all his “good” work is “very good”. 

5c. God’s creation was doing exactly what it was created to do. It was perfect. 
Conclusion: Gospel observations and applications

Key Biblical Theological Themes: Creation and Kingdom
1. God created a kingdom over which he is the king.

This is why Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom. 
This is why the church preached the gospel of the kingdom. 
God created a kingdom and he is that kingdom’s king. Through Jesus’ coming, dying and rising he has invaded to return all things back to Christ, it’s creator and rightful king. 
The kingdom is the supernatural activity of God in which he saves people and restores all things back to their created beauty under Jesus’ rule. 
The good news makes a clear boundary between the Kingdom of God and the false kingdom of Satan
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God (Jesus rule and salvation) and his righteousness (hearing and obeying God’s word), and all these things will be added to you.”
1a. Make sure you have been reconciled to the King and are subject to his kingdom rule through faith and evidence this through hearing his word and obeying it. 
2. God created a kingdom and he is king, and he created man in his image and put him in charge of managing his kingdom. So, God does not intend to be a dictator but a king with managers of his property. 
God declares this arrangement “very good.”
2a. Man is manager/steward not owner, and therefore responsible for giving an account of how he has managed created order in every way. 
This includes:

Male/Female relationships


Human to creation relationships

Use of God’s resources (the biblical basis for giving is that everything is God’s so we give not a percentage but according to generosity birthed from the correct view of whose everything is).
3. Based on our current experience of life, there is clearly a problem. 
Not from the text of Genesis 1-2, but our experience tells us that something went horribly wrong. 
God makes everything to function and work right and it did, but our total experience is that everything does not work right. 
The good we have can be tarnished and broken either physically or by attitude. 
3a. The brokenness of life is a gospel opportunity to point people to God’s solution in Christ and his kingdom.
Everyone is looking for something to assuage the anguish of life. They either find solace in dismissing all meaning in life through naturalism and atheism or by finding meaning in escaping the pain of this life through transcendental thought. Everyone is looking for some form of salvation. 
Let us be offering the only solution. 
4. Since God’s creation is very good then we understand that the law God is going to give, which to some gives the appearance that certain things are not good, is not a statement on the quality of God’s creation, but rather a “tutor” or “teacher” to lead us to Jesus to be saved. 
God does not make everything “very good”, then suddenly declare it bad. 
The law (the exposition of how to live out the 10 commandments) would become for a time God’s people’s expression of loving obedience to God because they are his people. It was never a way to make us his people. (See Exodus 20:2; Galatians)
1 Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV) “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God (God’s pronouncement that all he made is good) and prayer.”
The law was to teach them and us that no matter how hard we tried, the love of God and love of neighbor was not possible without a new and living heart that delighted in God. 
4a. This new and living heart is only made possible through Jesus’ death in our place and his resurrection to defeat Satan, sin, and dead hearts and make new living hearts possible through faith and repentance. 
5. God is good and makes good, therefore, anything that is evil and bad did not come from God but from evil’s source.
We will tackle the source of evil in a couple of weeks. 
What we have to note now at this “tree” in our journey is that God is good and all of his creation is good and something has gone terribly wrong and needs to be made right again.
5a. We must have new gospel bathed eyes to see what is God’s good and delight in him and the truth that he is good come what may. 
This is a work of grace that God does in salvation. Without that work we will call good evil and evil good. 
Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
5b. The inability to properly attribute good to good and evil to evil is a result of the curse and is only properly restored in salvation that gives new eyes, new ears, a new heart and a new set of desires that delight to obey God’s word and thus know the difference between good and evil.
6. God is sovereign and powerful. 

When God decrees there is no such thing as resistance. God’s word is powerful. 
When Aslan determined it was time for Narnia to thaw, it thawed because it’s creator told it to. 
God speaks and creation obeys. 
When the eternal Word, Jesus, spoke and decreed “it is finished”, the veil of the temple tore in two, the earth shook and the restoration of all things started moving toward Revelation 21 and 22 because the decree came. 
The curse was broken and all hell could not stop it. 
In Christ you have new hearts that delight in responding to the word of God. 
If we don’t respond to the word we don’t have new hearts from God’s salvation. 
6a. Hear God’s word of the gospel to salvation for the non-Christian. Hear God’s word of instruction on kingdom life for the Christian. 


6b. Obey God’s word to repent and believe for the non-Christian. Obey God’s word that we may have his results in his power not our own.