The Salvation-Garden—Getting the Lay of the Land


Genesis 1:26–27 (NIV)

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.


“I’m only human.”

Can we agree to never say that again? 

A human being is the most remarkable and glorious creature in all of creation. 

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. 

We are created in the image of God. It could be the single most extraordinary thing revealed to us in all of Scripture. And I’m afraid we mostly read right past it and fail to consider the extraordinary implications. We are created in the image of God. Do you see how absurd it is to make the lament-filled claim, “I’m only human.” What if instead we said,

I am a human being, a glorious image-bearer of the living God of heaven and earth! 

Look how the psalmist puts it only eight psalms in:

Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5 NLT)

A human being, practically speaking, is not God, but like unto a god. We are crowned with glory and honor. All creatures on earth breathe but only human beings are breathing the breath of life—indeed the breath of God. Dust and breath. A human being is the gloriously inverted apex of the union of heaven and earth. Herein is the glorious revelation of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. He is the image of God; the icon of glory; the living picture of all we were imagined and imaged to be and become. Say it with me:

“I am a human being, a glorious image-bearer of the living God of heaven and earth!” 

Our vision of humanity has been so ruined by the reality of original sin that it does not even remotely occur to us to revisit the vision of original glory. We are so bound in Genesis 3 that we have all but forgotten Genesis 1 and 2. Meanwhile, all the energy for the past three centuries has been spent on the question of whether Genesis 1 to 11 is myth or history. I believe it is history. Regardless of how you see it, the most critical revelation of these texts speaks to theology and anthropology. Who is God? What are human beings? What is the nature of the relationship between God and human beings? What is the earth? Where are the heavens? What is the meaning and purpose of life? How did we become so broken? What are the presenting issues? What is the wicked problem? What is the solution? How might we be saved and healed? How will this be resolved, and where? In Heaven? On Earth? 

Or could it be “on Earth as it is in Heaven?” Or could it be, “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; world without end, amen?” 

Are we getting the lay of the land now? Yes, this is the salvation-garden of God’s making and redeeming and remaking. Salvation is “the possibility of human life whose terms are Heaven’s and this earth’s.” Salvation is the redemption of human beings as the glorious image bearers of God and the restoration of the whole creation.

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:21 The Message)


Farmer God, thank you for imagining human beings and making us in your very own image. Wake me up to this astounding reality and all its implications. I am made in the spitting image of the living God of heaven and earth. I am crowned with glory and honor. I confess, too, I am a sinner and yet you have given us your Son to reveal to us all we were ever meant to be. And you call me son and daughter and even saint. Yes, Jesus, I belong to you. And you have sent your Spirit to make it real and possible and palpable, yes, glorious. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.


Are you getting the lay of the land? Are you, too, guilty of letting the reality of original sin eclipse the revelation of original glory?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.


  1. JD, thank you for this newest series of Biblical devotions. As to your questions, somewhere I read, it could’ve been here, I read a lot, that the Bible is bookmarked by two chapters on both ends where there is no sin. As I like to remind the folks I share Bible studies with, the last two chapters of scriptures are what Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story.” It’s a full circle, in the beginning, mankind created in God’s glory in order to reflect His glory through out all of creation, placed in a paradise of a garden, and given dominion over all creation as co-regents. And in the end, once again perfectly reflecting God’s glory, over a redeemed, restored New Heaven and New Earth in perfect harmony with God, fellow humanity, and the rest of all creation, in resurrected, glorified bodies.

  2. Amen, JD and Bob!
    Genesis is the history of humankind’s creation, their rise to rulership under God’s appointment, and their fall from the position of being above evil to below evil, where everyone born receives evil as the core of their spiritual DNA until they are born again.
    Evidence of humanity’s current state of “killing, stealing, and destroying” is evident when if one is not a believer. Believers are the evidence of a forgiving God.
    Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy and grace, which allow us the opportunity to be reconciled with You!
    Learning to become like the One.

  3. Back to the glory of being made in God’s image

    The Christian life is about letting God, your gardener, grow and prune you into what you were made to be — a Spirit-led and Christ-empowered model of the image of God, reflecting His will on earth as it is in Heaven. It’s about letting Christ’s redemption and restoration replace all the rebellion in your heart, mind, and lifestyle and return you to the “original glory” of being made in God’s image. Christianity is about going beyond a pittance of repentance to full, unconditional, and continual surrender of your will to the ever-living Jesus. It’s about raising your focus far beyond merely going to church to the ongoing moment-by-moment surrender of your all to the awareness and reality of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”