SanctiFusion

Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

The Image

with 10 comments

There are several ways that God uses to communicate with people, and several ways that people use to keep from hearing His voice. Why is that? Maybe there’s something deep inside the human soul that wants to throw a tantrum over any suggestion that it might not actually be God after all. We’ve all known people like that, and maybe we could even say we’ve been people like that at some time.

The first thing created, says Genesis, was light. Jesus gives light to everyone born in this world. God wants us to be enlightened. We can’t enlighten ourselves, but He wants to enlighten our hearts with His own presence.

At the Creation, we understand that God made mankind, both genders, in the image of God. Through sin, that Image is damaged, but we still long to create, and to love, and we love to see things of beauty, and deep down we know things that are true when nothing we learn in school supports them. There is such a thing as goodness, and marriage is respectable, and stealing is bad form regardless. Not just because there are laws, but there are laws because.

People with that “thing” in their souls, that thing called “sin” that is all about thinking it’s in charge of it all, want to suppress that Image of a God beside themselves to the degree that the sin claims first place. It’s interesting that, no matter how far we are separated from the One who is, ultimately, our Father, we always carry a picture of Him in our hearts.

Since we are, to the extent of being made in Him image, His children, He loves us and delights to see His good points develop in us. Unlike an earthly dad, this Father has no bad points, so there’s none of that “Do as I say and not as I do” bit. But He loves us, and wants to see good in us for our own sakes, and to better communicate that likeness to the rest of us. When people talk about human dignity, or the sanctity of life, this is exactly the reason. We (ought to) respect one another far more than Da Vinci’s heirs respect the Mona Lisa, or the most fervent patriots their flag. Because of the image of God upon the soul of every human being we respect their life and dignity, and because of that image upon us we think, and live, in ways that allow that likeness to develop in us.

If this is new to you, then it is first of all a matter of a child-Father relationship with God. This is the reason that Jesus came, to take away our sins and restore that relationship in all that are willing to become His children by a spiritual birth and not just from being of the human species. Those who come into that relationship begin to realise that it is the one reason for their (our) existence, as everything else does not just “pale in comparison” as a poet might say of some human devotion, but everything else actually fits together makes sense as it never could before. We can enjoy relationships with others on a whole new level, and also with thought, science, and the Universe in general. Like the old bit of Christian liturgy, “All things come from Thee, O God, and from thine own have we given Thee!”

By the way, here’s a grabber for you!

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Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 5 May, 2008 at 7:14

10 Responses

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  1. Interesting photo. Without God’s guidance we are spiritual stooges of sin.

    On my latest I discuss with question 3 a philosophy of blogging.

    My PhD is handed in and so I am waiting for the invite to the defence.

    Cheers, Robert.

    thekingpin68

    Thursday, 8 May, 2008 at 0:13

  2. When I first read this I misunderstood the first paragraph. But now I understand.
    You are saying that there is something inside of us that doesn’t want us to believe that we can communicate with God. That something inside of us wants to be a god, and therefore, doesn’t want us talking to the real God.

    Perpetua

    Thursday, 8 May, 2008 at 17:38

  3. Welcome back, Sister! You are using the name of a chillingly brave woman. There is a warped nature within us that is continually curving inward, drawing us to focus only on our interests and desires. Of course, all an ingrown heart can do is to strangle itself in itself, and such is the folly of sin. When, by the liberating grace of God we look to Christ then we “shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set (us) free!”

    Robert

    Thursday, 8 May, 2008 at 17:47

  4. Sorry to miss you here, tho I did get you on your blog- The thing that struck me with the Stooges picture was that sin would have our “heart turned inward” as we become so entangled with our inner conflicts as to be oblivious to God. Those Howard Brothers were masters at oblivion, weren’t they?

    Robert

    Thursday, 8 May, 2008 at 20:19

  5. Not to cut hares (Ohhh Wabbit!), nbut I become a little more than uneasy when I see something like, “the reason that Jesus came, to take away our sins and restore that relationship in all that are willing to become His children by a spiritual birth and not just from being of the human species.” It almost sounds like I choose God – which can come of as appearing to be some absurd human pride thing. I really do not believe I have the capacity to choose Him. He chose me. Any reason for my coming to Him came from Him. my will has very little to do with it.

    Anonymous

    Friday, 16 May, 2008 at 15:40

  6. I appreciate your doctrinal loyalty, but you leave some questions unanswered. The first two to cross my mind are are,

    1. Whether there was some point in time in which you gave your assent to God’s Lordship, and

    2. Whether you have any sense of assurance of a saving relationship with God.

    You identify with a curious stage of the development of our understanding of the Gospel, specifically with one T. Beza who attempted to crystallize his father-in-law’s theology as the final word, not realising that there was still a lot of work to be done.

    Robert

    Friday, 16 May, 2008 at 16:41

  7. Romans 9:9-24 is one of the most intriguing and thought provoking passages in the Bible. Yet, it is often not given the serious consideration that it needs when dealing with the issue of God’s sovereignty and our salvation. This short but powerful section asks some pointed and powerful questions often raised in the argument against predestination. . . and then answers them. In addition, there is a simple theological test that you can take. The test is not by my devising; rather, it is imbedded in the passage and is authored by God. Let’s begin. (Note: all scripture quotations are from the NASB.)

    “For this is a word of promise: ‘At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.’ 10And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ 13Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'” (NASB)

    In verse 10 Paul speaks about Rebekah having Jacob and Esau. Historically speaking, Esau was born first, then Jacob. Through a series of interesting events (Gen. 25:19-34), the older served the younger, an unusual arrangement in those days. Paul then adds, “Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’” This was by God’s choice as is stated in verse 11.
    Some might quickly assume that God loving Jacob and hating Esau had something to do with their behavior, that one was good and the other bad, and that God looked into the future and saw what they would do and then showed favor based on that foreknowledge. This is incorrect for several reasons.
    First, this position would mean that God looked upon them and saw what they would do and loved/hated them based on something in them. This is unscriptural. There is nothing in us that merits any favor with God. We are, after all, by nature, children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), do not seek God (Rom. 3:10-11), and are slaves of sin (Rom. 6:16). Also, God shows no partiality (Rom. 2:11).
    Second, it circumvents the cross. The only reason that God would look favorably upon us is because of what has been done by Jesus on the cross. It is only though Jesus, and by Jesus, and because of Jesus, that any of us have any standing before God at all.
    Third, it doesn’t fit the context. If you look at verse 11, it says “for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I love, But Esau I hated.’” Both, the older serving the younger and Jacob and Esau are put together under verse 11 which states ” . . . in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls . . . ” In other words, God’s choice is the deciding factor, not man’s, on who serves who and who God loves.
    This section of scripture clearly shows that God is sovereign. Sovereignty means that God is supreme in authority and power, that He is independent of all others, and that He does as He wishes. He can love whom He chooses and He can hate whom He chooses. His sovereignty means that has the right to be merciful or not based on His own will. The question is, “Is that what He is doing?”
    Verse 11 says, “for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, ir order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand . . . ” Clearly, it should be seen that God is not basing his love or hate upon the two based upon anything that either of them had done. The text refutes that clearly.
    Paul anticipates the reader’s concerns in the next verse and asks the question, “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!” Paul asks this because of what he has just written down in the previous verses. His question is logical only if you understand what he is saying. We need to ask it, too. “Is God unjust in loving one and hating another?” The obvious answer is “No!”
    Then Paul goes on to answer the question in verse 15. “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” Notice that Paul does not answer with a feeling. He answers with scripture. Are we understanding what Paul is saying here? Is he saying that God is merciful and compassionate to whom He wishes? It would seem so. Remember verse 11? “…in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls . . . ” It is God who calls according to His purpose. Also, consider Ephesians 1:5, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”
    You see, God’s choice of predestination, mercy, and compassion are “according to the kind intention of His will,” “because of Him who calls.”
    Paul draws a conclusion that needs to be taken very seriously. Verse 16 says, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” What does not depend on the man who wills? The answer is, God’s mercy. God does not look at a person to see what or who he is and then decide to show mercy, love, or save that person based on what He sees in that person. To say so would be say that we are somehow worthy of something before God on our own. This is unbiblical.
    But some will say that God looks into the future to see who would pick him based on the calling of the Holy Spirit that is working through Jesus, and ultimately, the cross. But this passage is refuting that precisely. Just go over it again.
    Paul then quotes Exodus 9:16 about the Lord raising up Pharaoh for the very purpose of having God’s “name proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” Then Paul says in verse 18, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” We are forced to a conclusion about God’s mercy. Is God sovereign to whom He shows His mercy, or is it based upon something in man? This raises an important issue about the greatness of God and the sinfulness of man. Are we capable of meriting mercy? Are we able to see that we need God? Are we somehow free enough to be able to want God? Or does our sinful nature make that impossible? We must ask and answer the question, “Is God, the “only sovereign” (1 Tim. 6:15) the One who chooses how and upon whom His mercy is bestowed?
    Again Paul anticipates the possible objections to his teaching about God’s sovereign mercy and grace. He says in verse 19, “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault, for who resists His will?’” In other words, if God is merciful to whom He wishes, He hardens whom He desires, and it does not depend on anything in man, then how can He judge anyone? How can we still be held responsible for our sins?
    Paul’s answer to this question is an appeal to the direct sovereignty of God. He says in verses 20 – 21, “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? 21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?” God has the right to do as He wishes with His creation. God is sovereign. Paul is saying here that God makes one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use. He is differentiating between the vessels and their use…all based on God’s sovereign right to do as He wishes.
    Paul doesn’t stop there. He makes sure that we understand what he is saying. So he continues in verse 22, “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among the Gentiles.” Does God prepare vessels for destruction? Would God actually do such a thing? The answer is, “Yes.” Isn’t this what sovereignty is?
    But some have said that this is a hypothetical situation, that even though God has the right make some vessels for mercy and others for destruction, He would never do so because it would mean that he was not loving. Some have said that, but it is not a satisfactory reply. The reason is because Paul says in verse 23, “And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among the Gentiles.” Did you catch the beginning of that verse? It says that God did it.
    As you can see, this is a difficult passage. It can be a powerful shock to some and a confirmation of God’s character and sovereignty to others. Still, some will simply respond with denial. But if I am wrong, then please show me from the passage where and how.

    A Test:

    As I said before, there is a test in this passage. If you did not ask the same basic questions that Paul did throughout this passage, then that means that you did not understand what he was saying. But, if you did ask the same basic questions that he did, then that means you did understand what he was saying. Let me ask you, did you understand what Paul was saying? If so, do you believe it? If not, why not?

    Objections:

    This passage is not speaking of individuals but a class of people.
    This cannot be true because specific people are mentioned: Jacob, Esau, and Pharaoh. Also, vessels are people.
    The word ‘vessel’ in Greek is “skeuos.” It is used in different senses and means utensils and containers of ordinary household use. But when it is used of people it means individuals.
    Acts 9:15, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument (skeuos) of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.”
    1 Thess. 4:4, “that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor.” This usage means either ‘own body’ or possibly ‘wife.’ Again, it is speaking of individuals.
    2 Tim. 2:21, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” You can see here too, that the usage is of an individual. Not a class of people.
    1 Pet. 3:7, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman…” Even though husbands is plural, vessel is singular.
    God’s election is not for a class or type of people, but of individuals. That is why Jesus said in John 6:39, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus was not given a class or group of people but a the elect, the ones chosen, the individuals. If you think about it, it couldn’t be any other way. After all, is God only guessing at who will be saved and, therefore, prophesied a ‘group’ of people? Not at all. He is omniscient. He knows exactly who are His.

    This doctrine of sovereign predestination makes God unloving.
    On the contrary. Because of man’s sinful nature, no one would ever come to God. Remember, it is man who cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14); is full of evil (Mark 7:21-23); does not seek for God (Rom. 3:11); is lawless, rebellious, unholy, and profane (1 Tim. 1:9); and is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). If it were left up to man, no one would ever be saved. God, in His loving predestination, assured to Himself His people, the ones who He called and predestined: “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” By God’s own words, predestination is a loving doctrine.

    Anonymous

    Saturday, 17 May, 2008 at 21:35

  8. Anonymous, I appreciate your effort, but realistically for me to answer a post of that length would take one much longer, as there are quite a few statements you made there that can only be agreed with by someone who already agrees to start with. One of the weak points of a priori reasoning.

    Do you think we can get back to the questions I raised? I think that might lead to discovering a greater similarity in our positions than you expect, and a more constructive way of working out the differences.

    Robert

    Saturday, 17 May, 2008 at 22:38

  9. Your Questions:

    1. Whether there was some point in time in which you gave your assent to God’s Lordship, and

    I feel like I need to walk carefully through a mine field of strategically placed words – little beartraps if you will.

    A time I gave “assent” to God’s Lordship. Assent – “to agree to something especially after thoughtful consideration.”

    Yes something like that. It is more a recognition of a fact – like seeing the sunset and calling it so.

    2. Whether you have any sense of assurance of a saving relationship with God.

    Yes, I have the assurance that God’s Holy Word declares and I have the affirmation of His Spirit within me drawing me ever closer to Him.

    Anonymous

    Thursday, 22 May, 2008 at 15:36

  10. No beartraps at all, Nonny, but the point here is that, as far as I know, neither Calvin no Beza offered any room for (1.) any cooperation with God’s grace by giving assent or not, or especially (2.) any sense of assurance. In terms of Protestant theological history the very idea of one knowing they were justified owes heavily to John Wesley. In his day for one to claim to know they were saved was the height of presumption if not outright blasphemy. The Calvinists did not presume to know the “predeterminate counsels of God,” and the more “catholic” Anglicans believed that one had to labor through a life of good works and sacraments to be found worthy of God’s grace. Praying in faith for salvation, and the inner witness of the Spirit were, to Protestants up til the 18th Century, rather a foreign concept if I’m not entirely mistaken. That, of course, is entirely possible.

    Robert

    Thursday, 29 May, 2008 at 6:28


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