Valuing the image of God

19 10 2006

How does the reality of the image of God in mankind effect my view of other people? I know that as I read in Genesis 9.6 God imposed capital punishment upon those who committed murder. This was not done so much to comfort the grieving family as it was to vinidicate the insulted Creator, who’s very image had been insulted through the cold blooded selfish disregard.

Conversely, how does the fact that all people, whether believer or unbeliever, are created in the image of God, effect my relations with them? The image of God, perverted and distorted as it was in Genesis 9 is still valuable to God and so therefore should be to me as well.

The very fact that every human being is created in the image of God must motivate me to treat them with kindness and love. John Calvin put this quite well in The Institutes:

We are not to consider that men merit of themselves but to look upon the image of God in all men, to which we owe all honor and love….Therefore, whatever man you meet who needs your aid, you have no reason to refuse him….Say, ‘he is contemptible and worthless’; but the Lord shows him to be one to whom he as deigned to give the beauty of his image. Say that he des not deserve even your least effort for his sake; but the image of God, which recommends him to you, is worthy of your giving yourself and all your possessions.

The worldview and ability to do such things are really at the heart of the Christian message. The Christian, having a fallen, diseased, marred, perverted, retarded, etc… image is progressively being renewed into the image of God, even through conformity to Jesus (Rom. 8.29; Eph. 4.24).

So we are able to love our enemies because now we can rightly love God. Our love to our fellow image bearers, whether the image is being renewed or insulted, is primarily love towards the God who’s image we bear and who’s glory we value.

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Diligent Christianity

12 10 2006

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I remember being in Basic Training for the Air Force and upon hearing the Training Instructor (TI) bark out the infamous “Attention!” everyone snapped to the position of attention, with their eyes peeled, head forward and just waiting to get busy zealously doing whatever it was the TI was about to command. Upon giving his instructions he would always tell us to work diligently and pay attention to detail.

In our Bibles we find the word ‘diligent’ attached to important commands as well. God is concerned with his children’s spiritual work ethic as well as what is accomplished. The word translated ‘diligent’ is the Greek word spoudazo (another Gk. word that is fun to say). It has the basic meaning of earnest and eager exertion.

God calls his children to be diligent in many areas. I want to highlight three here.

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Knowing Liberty

5 10 2006

The perfect law the law of liberty…::James 1.25a

I am struck by this phrase in the midst of the divine assault through James upon the pretentious religion of hypocrites. The law spoken of here is not the Mosaic Law for this law enslaved and was imperfect. Instead we have the life giving and transforming word of God as applied through the Holy Spirit and embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures were all pointing forward to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the imperfect Mosaic law was no different.

While personal bondage to sin prevented all from the perfect fulfillment of the Mosaic Law we have here the law of liberty that is given through Christ to those who have been redeemed from such bondage.

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2006 Omaha Bible Church Conference

26 09 2006

Omaha Bible Church’s annual conference is on October 14. Author Kris Lungaard will be the featured speaker. Kris is the author of the helpful book entitled The Enemy Within. This book is a contemporary update of John Owen’s landmark works Indwelling Sin in the Believer and The Mortification of Sin.

If you read this blog you are invited! For more information and registration click here.

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How LOST encourages me to be more impressed with Jesus

7 09 2006

lost.jpgMy wife and I have recently been enjoying the television show LOST. We finished up season one last week and are now working our way through season two. One of the more compelling themes that the writers are continually emphasizing is the selfless personal sacrifice that is not motivated by greed but rather love and friendship.

The castaways are not related and are in reality strangers until the plane goes down. This common experience has bonded the group together into what is now resembling a fairly functional family (at least as far as I am in the viewing).

There is a bit of an unwritten expectation on the show that the castaways are going to have one another’s back, even being willing to suffer and die for them.

This theme has caused me to better appreciate and esteem my Savior.

With Jesus there is no expectation or obligation to intervene, protect or rescue sinners from their peril. In fact, the picture that the gospel portrays for us is not one of family but of enemies. Being unregenerate I am not on Jesus’ team but against him, I am his opponent. To use the LOST terminology as an unbeliever I am one of the “others”.

Jesus did not come to save friends and family but rebels and enemies. As Ephesians 2 tells us we were “children of wrath”. My family tree goes back to the garden and I am an offspring of sin sitting under the stern and justified anger of holy omnipotence. We were actively seeking to steal God’s glory, defame his character and userp his will. Sinners are not lovely but ugly. But note this Christian, your ugliness magnifies your Savior’s beauty. Listen to Romans 5.6:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus is a better Savior than we believe him to be. He does not sacrifice for and save friends but enemies. Our Father’s love is demonstrated and amplified by our own sinfulness.

When I watch LOST I am caught up in the drama that surrounds castaways and their subsequent sacrifice for one another in the name of brotherly fidelity and survival. But when I listen to the words of the gospel I am confronted with my sin and rebellion along with the justice, holiness, grace, mercy and love of my Savior. It is this truth that is to captivate the heart of those born of heaven more than any story on television.

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More of Jesus & Less of us

25 08 2006

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1 Timothy 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

It is good to remind ourselves of these verses everyday. For it is in the truth of these verses that our praise is fueled and sustained. The reality of an able Savior and his willingness to save unable sinners such as you and me is praise amplifying.

But what happens when our praise for God is flat, our delight for Jesus is decreased and our meditation on divine truth is minimal? Simply, we have flipped this thing on its head!! Too often we have loved ourselves and become too impressed with ourselves that we have totally marginalized Jesus. When we are so impressed with ourselves we don’t really need a Savior so then we really have no need to praise and delight in him.

This is why it is pivotal to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. Remember that you are the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1.15) and that Jesus is the able Savior! (Heb. 7.25)

To put it another way, remember that you are more of a sinner than you think you are and that Jesus is a better Savior than you think him to be! And don’t just remember it but be convinced of it, for it is true!! Join the Father in delighting in the rescue and recovery of sinners to the praise and glory of Jesus, our Savior.

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The conversation of Jesus

24 08 2006

What did Jesus talk about following his resurrection?

I find it compelling and convicting that the prevailing topic of his conversation was his coming kingdom. We read in the first chapter of Acts that during the 40 days following his resurrection Jesus was “speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God”.

Jesus, having just been raised from the dead gave “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1.3) and continually spoke of the kingdom. Now we of course do not know everything that he spoke of but we do know this, the Holy Spirit wants you and I to know that kingdom talk was characteristic of Jesus’ conversation.

How about you? Think about the last 40 days. How much have you talked about the kingdom? How much do you think about the kingdom? Do you anticipate it? Do you long for it? Can you really pray like Jesus instructs his followers to: “Your kingdom come..” (Matt. 6.10).

This is convicting to me because I find myself not as Christ-centered as Jesus.

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