Tag Archives: salvation

Image-bearers

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen. 1:27)

Sometimes I use this blog as an opportunity to jot down an idea while it is mulling. It is sort of an invitation to mull right along with me.

I have over the past few months been meditating on the doctrine of eternal generation. This is the doctrine that God the Father is begetting the Son in an unfathomable, eternal act. This act of begetting does not have a before, after, or future, but takes place in eternity without any change in the nature of God.

Simply, this means that it is of God’s essence to fellowship, to love, and to overflow with goodness. This goodness flows into creation and God created man to share in the love and fellowship of the Trinity. It was fitting, then, that men and women be created in the image of God, to share in that fellowship as much as creatures are able to.

So…mull on that a bit…

Of course, man fell. And that corrupted everything. Jesus came into the world to restore what was destroyed in the fall.

In other words, he came to bring us back into the fellowship of love that we were created to take a part in.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (Jn. 17:25-26)

OK. Moving on.

Let’s take this to the next step. If the essence of God is eternal communion and love (which the doctrine of eternal generation teaches), then sin is far greater than we can imagine, for it breaks the fellowship with God. We are born alienated and strangers to that fellowship.

This is what the church meant when it taught the “T” in “TULIP” – total depravity. Man cannot climb back into God’s graces because man is fallen in the totality of his being.

But according to scripture, even though it teaches that “all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God”, sin is not the essence of who men and women are. Essentially, they are image-bearers of God. Therefore, they are redeemable, for when sin is taken away, the image of God remains and is restored.

So here is what I am mulling – what if we viewed human beings as essentially image-bearers of God rather than essentially as sinners?

Think about that. How much would change in your thinking?

Even in the law, a criminal was not to be tortured and beaten to a pulp because of the image-bearing that was essentially there. He was not to be despised (Deut. 25:3)

When we view people as primarily sinners, we cannot see anything worth redeeming in them.

We must then shun music and art and fashion and poetry for fear that we will somehow be tainted by “sinners”.

And, worse, we cannot see beyond our senses, to the inherent dignity and worth of every man, woman and child as reflecting their heavenly Father, whether they remain in their sins or are redeemed by Christ.

And so we must ask ourselves, “How much is a little girl worth?”

“How much is a little boy worth?”

And if we view children as “vipers in diapers”, and as essentially sinners, we have to answer, “Not much…” and our actions reflect that answer.

But as Christians we believe the bible. We believe that men and women are not essentially sinners. Sin came later, a corruption of what was essentially there, which is what makes it so heinous. But it also makes men and women redeemable, which is what Christ’s mission was. To redeem his people from their sins and misery.

If we truly believe that, then the question “How much is a child worth?” has a clear answer.

Worth fighting for. Worth protecting. Worth all of your treasures and gifts to love and protect. Worth your love and your joy and your cherishing.

If we truly believed that, would churches continue to condone and overlook violence against women?

If we truly believed that, would slavery and racism have ever been a thing?

If we believed that, would there have been a genocide of California Indians?

The history of the United States, for all of the good that was there, forgot quite frequently that men and women are essentially image-bearers of God, and God takes how we treat them quite seriously, whether they are still in their sins or not.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.”

You were all created in honor. Fallen in sin, yes. Unable to free yourselves. Yes.

Sinking in the mud of death and misery? Yes.

But because essentially you are an image-bearer of God, you are worth redemption.

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, (Jn. 1:12)

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Filed under Image of God, redemption

Cain and Abel

In my sermon The Dark Places, I wrote the following:

If Abel can be saved, there is no point in striving to be Cain, and that is unacceptable to Pharisees of every age.

A kind reader suggested that I turned the names around. It happens. Sometimes I turn the names around, especially if I am going too fast.

But in this case I have the names correct. When Cain was born, Eve called him Cain – saying, I have gotten a man from the Lord.

Cain was something. The heir apparent, the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent – in Eve’s mind.

Our natural religion is that God is bound to be impressed with our religious services. Cain was the first Pharisee – no faith in the promise, because he didn’t need it. He was something. He was the man from the Lord.

When Abel was born, Eve called his name Abel – which means vapor, wind, vanity – nothing. He was a nobody. He wasn’t a somebody like Cain. He was the other, he was “whatev’s”

The only thing he had was the he believed the promise – that God would provide a sacrifice for sins.

So when Abel was accepted and Cain was rejected, natural order was overturned, Cain’s religion was proven faulty.

God put Abel over Cain because Abel had something that Cain would never have. The righteousness of Christ imputed to him.

This is why Cain killed him. This is why the cross is an offense. This is why Jesus was crucified.

Cain is the Jew of Romans 10 seeking to establish their own righteousness and not accepting the righteousness which is by faith.

Cain is the Pharisee of Luke 18:

I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
  12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
  (Lk. 18:11-12)

I can see Cain saying the same thing, over his offering of the fruit of the ground:

I thank thee, Lord, that I am not like this nobody over here. I thank thee that I can bring this great offering, this astounding offering, this offering that is the greatest, most wonderful, most supreme offering of all. And that I am not like the loser that is my brother “Nobody”

But God rejected Cain and his offering.

Cain was something, but salvation is only for the nobodies. Christ came only for those who take up their crosses – reckon themselves dead, nobody, poor.

Jesus died for the nobodies.

They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mk. 2:17)

Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. (Lk. 18:22)

So I had the names right. I should have explained it better, I guess.

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Filed under Gospel