Follower of The Way


Imago Dei

Posted in Christian Theology,Eschatology,Imago Dei,Origins by sosipater on September 1, 2008

The question I asked in my recent sermon title was, Imago Dei: What does it mean that we are created in God’s Image and how does it affect your life?

I think a lot of Christians know that we are created in God’s Image but don’t spend much time thinking about how we are to image God on a day to day, hour to hour, or even minute to minute basis.

I spent a lot of time in my sermon laying out that we are created in God’s image and what that means, but didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked on how we are to image God daily. I guess that will have to wait for another time. I did get to it though, and the implications for Christian living are foundational and far reaching. Here are the notes for most of my sermon, for anyone who is interested.  Happy imaging!

Imago Dei

– What does it mean that we are human beings.

– Historical sketch:

1.Before Augustine – What group we belong to.

2. After Augustine’s cofessions – More individualistic outlook.

3. Rene Descarte – “I think therefor I am”

4. Jonathan Edwards – Mind plus God’s Grace

5. Jean Jacques Rousseau – “Love ourselves”

6. Abraham Maslow – Man’s “hierarchy of needs”

America’s God is a God of “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism”

Back in Gen 1:1, we see God/Elohim creating everything and through the rest of chapter God is creating, day by day.

God preexists, he makes everything and everyone.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

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

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 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.

In the 1st chapter of Genesis, God is showing us the uniqueness of the creation of mankind.

ONLY man is created in God’s Image and after God’s likeness.

– God counsels with or deliberates about man’s creation. “Let us”. With no other creation does God do this but man.

– (v. 26) The next, and very interesting thing we notice here is that God says “Let US” make man in “our” image. There have been 2 or 3 different interpretations of this but the way most Christians understand this is that God is speaking of the fact that he does not exist as a solitary being, but as a being in fellowship with others

– Though the word Trinity is not used here or explicitly taught, it is expressed here and is more clearly explained in the NT.
The word “man” in the Hebrew is the word “adam” and is referring to mankind in general, as opposed to the animals.

– (v.27). Here God says that mankind is made “in our image, after our likeness”. Even though these are 2 phrases, they are basically just two ways to say the same thing.

The Hebrew word from image has the root meaning of “to carve or to cut”, telling us that man images God, or represents him to the world.

The Hebrew for from likeness, means “to be like”. These two words combined are saying that man is a representation of God, who is also like God in certain ways.

We are given some specific ways in these verses that we resemble God:

1. Dominion v. 26 – In exercising Dominion man is like God because God has supreme and ultimate dominion over the Earth.

2. Male & Female v. 27 – complementarian relationship of the man and the woman, God exists as a social being in close fellowship within the Trinity, likewise, man is a social being who needs the companionship and community or fellowship that comes from marriage and family, friendships, and their church, where Christians are encouraged to live out their callings as God’s representatives. More on this calling later.

God Created Male and Female. What gender is God?
-God is spirit, so he does not have a gender..he is neither male nor female. God does reveal himself in a masculine form as Father, and Jesus was a man, but God is not an gendered being but as John say, God is a spirit.
-But male and female do both proceed from God are are made equal to each other in the image and likeness of God. Neither are more like God than the other.

3. v. 28, Men and Women are responsible beings who can be addressed by God & ultimately responsible to Him. By God blessing Adam and Eve He is also showing communication and relationship with them. Kindness and affection and a personal relationship.

4. v.31, Because man came directly from God, he was not corrupt, depraved, or sinful. He was in a state of integrity, innocence, and holiness. Whatever state we find ourselves in today, man, as originally created was, in God’s own word, very good.

Genesis 2:7-8, 15-16, 18, 20-24

7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

– Gen 2:7 – God spoke all of creation except for man, who he formed and breathed life into – giving of a soul and spirit.

– Gen 2:15-16 – God commanded – God is a moral being & so are we unlike the animals.

– Gen 2:18 – Now God makes Adam, the first man, the first woman, who is a helper fit for him. The implication here is that men need help! A helper is a good thing. The Holy Spirit is said to be the Christians helper here on Earth, so this is not a negative thing but a declaration of worth and value.

– Like we have said, the woman is an equal image bearer of God.

The next passage in Genesis that deals with man as the image of God is Genesis 5:1-3:

1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man (Hebrew adam), he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

– This section of scripture starts off with a reminder that God created man in His likeness, using the same Hebrew word as in 1:26.
– We haven’t mentioned the fall of man from Chapter 3 of Genesis, but we do learn there that Adam and Eve sinned against God which had the affect of plunging mankind into a slavery to sin/disobedience, and from then on this sin nature is passed on to every person who is ever born.
– Because of the catastrophic event, there a some who would say that man completely lost the likeness of God. But as we see here and for the rest of The Bible there is no mention of that here, on the contrary, this post fall reference to creation reminds of our image bearing role in creation.
– There is no doubt that God’s image has been tarnised/disfigured/warped by the fall, but as bad as the fall was, it was not even enough to completely erase our foundational nature as image bearers of God.
– To add strength to this argument, v.3 here tells us that Adam fathered a son, post fall, and this son Seth was born in the image and likeness of his father, Adam. Since Adam bore God’s image and Seth was made in Adam’s likeness, we can infer that Seth and (everyone else) is an image-bearer of God.

The next and final passage dealing with the image of God is Genesis 9:6:

6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.

– The context here is God giving instructions to mankind via Noah to preserve the Earth and its inhabitants
– The basic message here is that whoever murders another person is deserving of the same fate, which obviously is death.
– The reason for this is grounded in the fact that mankind is made in God’s image.
– Anthony Hoekema in his book “Created in God’s Image” has this to say about this passage:
” The reason that murder is here said to be such a heinious crime that it must be punished by death is that the man who has been murdered is someone who imaged God, reflected God, was like God, and represented God. Therefore when one kills a human being, not only does he take that person’s life, but he hurts God himself – the God who was reflected in that individual. To touch the image of God is to touch God himself; to kill the image of God is to do violence to God himself.”

What does the New Testament say about the Image of God?

One passage, James 3:9, pretty clearly tells us that fallen man still retains the Image of God. Speaking on the power and evil capacity of the tongue, James tells us this:

9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

James is here pointing out the evil inconsistency of both praising God and cursing others with the same tongue. But what is inconsistent about it? Because the other people that we curse are people made in the likeness of God. Again, on the verse Hoekema has this to say: “human beings as here described have at some time in the past been made according to the likeness of God and are still bearers of that likeness. For this reason it is inconsistent to praise God and curse men with the same tongue, since the human creatures whom we curse still bear the likeness of God. For this reason God is offended when we curse men.” And it is important to remind ourselves that James is talking about all people everywhere, not just Christians or those who look and act like ourselves, but all people everywhere

– Before we move on lets recap and throw out some other things that show how people are like God or made in His Image:

1. We can make moral decisions in our dominion of the Earth. We can have positive and negative affects on the Earth

2. we are social: write, communicate, speak

3. Emotions: we feel things deeply

4. We can think, learn, we have an intellect and can reason
5. We are immortal and have a spirit, live forever, our soul will go on
6. Creative ability – art, music, building things, technology
7. Appreciate beauty – aesthetics & the arts

All of these attributes of man flow from the Imago Dei – being made in the image of God.

Before we look at a few more NT verses, I want to transition our thinking a little bit. Up until now we have been thinking about the IOG as a noun, as it what it is. I want you to begin to think about it as verb as in, how can I, as an image bearer, Image God as I should be? I think this is the way that the NT shows us the importannce of the IOG, in that we not only are made in the IOG, but that we must live and act as an Image of God.

Ways we are like God – Communicable or shared attributes:

1. God is spirit – we have a spirit
2. God is Holy – by God’s grace we can live a Holy life
3. God loves and is good to others – We can love others and be good, and fair and just to others
4. God is truth – we don’t have to live with lies..we can tell the truth and receive the truth with gladness
5. God is just- we too can see after justice and righteousness
6. God is merciful and compassionate – we too should be merciful and compassionate to others
7. God is beauty and defines beauty – we too can creaty beauty and appreciate beautiful things – music, art, aestetics, architecture, food.
8. God is a God of order – through the Gospel God brings order to chaos and we too can bring order to the world around us

– These are things we share with God, not only Christians but all humans, and is a tremendous blessing that God gives to all humanity, to share in God’s very own attributes. None of these things were created by man, but were given to us by God, as blessings, to enjoy and share with him. As we know we have fallen into sin and can’t do these things like we should, but we can still pursue them to a degree as image bearers, but only with God’s help and common grace that he gives to all. If there was no sin we would reflect perfectly God’s image.

We were created to image God perfectly, but we failed. We sinned and tarred the image. We are like broken, warped mirrors, like the kind they have at fairs. you can still see your image, it is there, but it is broken and mis-shaped. So our job, what we were created to do is image God perfectly and we can’t anymore, so what did God do? He sends us someone who can image God perfectly. His name is Jesus.

-Jesus is the unserpassable, perfect example of what God wants each of us to be like. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:4:

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The greek word here is “eikon”, where we get our English work icon, and is the equivalent of the Hebrew word for image used in Genesis.
– So when we see Jesus, we see the glory and the image of God.

Colossians 1:15

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

So even though God is invisible, we can’t see him with our eyes, in Jesus Christ the invisible God becomes visible. The person who looks at Christ is actually looking at God.

– Hebrews 1:3 says that The Son, Jesus, is the “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”.
– Here in Hebrews we see an absolutely facinating relationship between the image of God and the incarnation (Jesus coming in flesh as a man).
-While the incarnation is a great mystery, God becoming flesh, we can presume or imagine that the very reason that Jesus, God, could come to Earth as a man is because man was made in God’s image. What other being could he come as, as no other being has a resemblance to God.
In John 14:8-9, Jesus tells Phillip if you see me you have seen the Father. IWO, I am the Fathers perfect image.
So now we have a benchmark, a measuring rod, and standard for what it means to be a normal human. Jesus is what normal should be like. He is normative. We are all abnormal. This means that in this life we are not to compare ourselves to others…Ever, but to Jesus, who perfectly Images or reflects God.
So the question before us is can we image (verb) God and if so how do we image (verb) God?
-Romans 8:29 says that ”
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,”.
There is our answer to the can we part. So how do we?
– Colossians 3:5-10 –
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
– John Calvin said that we image God by reflecting God’s image like a mirror (i.e. Moses’ face), we are to radiate God to the Earth/others. This looks like mirroring God’s patience, His love, being truthful, being compassionate, showing mercy, being just (not prejudiced and prideful), pursue holiness and righteousness… to be more and more like Jesus.
– So there is no better way to see the image of God than to look at Jesus.
– Unfortunately through sin our mirror is broken, but by the power of the Holy Spirit Christians can reflect God more & more and bring glory to Jesus.
– This is our key to a joyous life. What a great, joyful experience it is to mirror Jesus and focus on him instead of focusing on ourselves.
We exist to mirror Jesus and glorify God. This is our root source of joy, meaning, & significance, even in times of trouble.
– Living in a way that doesnt’ seek to mirror God, IOW living for sinful, selfish desires and sin, apart from you creator, is wasting your life and a giant wild goose chase of eternal consequences.
In closing I want to give you just a couple of implications of the Imago Dei.
1. Root of why we show justice, compassion, and equality.
2. Loving all people of all ethnic backgrounds becuase all people equally bear the image of God.
3. We are to respect all human life, no matter the age or condition.
– The only way you can do what you were created to do well, that is image God, is to be in relationship with Jesus.
– Be connected to God and His people and let the church come along side you and connect you to others. Its not good to be alone. God is not alone and you shouldn’t be either.
– The only way we can continue to mirror God well is by daily, progressive renewal of our hearts and minds through the Gospel and the Word.
– Our ultimate Goal and our promised end is that one day, as John wrote in 1 John 3:2, we will see Jesus as he really is, as God’s perfect image, and when that happens, we will be like Him, the perfect image bearers we were created to be.

Which Kingdom Are You Advancing?

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Government & Politics by sosipater on May 3, 2008

Conservative religious people involved in kingdom-of-the-world thinking often believe that their enemies are the liberals, the gay activists, the ACLU, the pro-choice advocates, the evolutionists, and so on. On the opposite side, liberal religious people often thing that their enemies are the fundamentalists, the gay bashers, the Christian Coalition, the antiabortionists, and so on. Demonizing one’s enemies is part of the tit-for-tat game of Babylon, for only by doing so can we justify our animosity, if not violence, toward them. What we have here are two different religious versions of the kingdom of the world going at each other. If we were thinking along the lines of the kingdom of God, however, we would realize that none of the people mentioned in the above lists are people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight for.

Our battle is “not against flesh and blood”, whether they are right wing or left wing, gay or straight, pro-choice or pro-life, liberal or conservative, democratic or communist, American or Iraqi. Our battle is against the “cosmic powers” that hold these people, and all people, in bondage. Whatever our opinions about how the kingdom of the world should run, whatever political or ethical views we may happen to embrace, our one task of kingdom-of-God disciples is to fight for people, and the way we do it is by doing exactly what Jesus did. He defeated the cosmic powers of darkness by living a countercultural life characterized by outrageous love and by laying down his life for his enemies. So too, we contribute to the demise of the “power over” principalities that hold people in bondage when we refrain from judgment of others and rather extend grace to them, when we let go of anger toward others and instead “come under” them in loving service.

A person may win by kingdom-of-the-world standards but lose by the standards that eternally count-the standards of the kingdom of God. We can posses all the right kingdom-of-the-world opinions on the planet and stand for all the right kingdom-of-the-world causes, but if we don’t look like Jesus Christ carrying his cross to Golgotha-sacrificing our time, energy, and resources for others-our rightness is merely religious noise. Jesus taught that there will be many who seem to believe the right things and do religious deeds in his name whom He will renounce, for they didn’t love him by loving the homeless, the hungry, the poor, and the prisoner (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:41-46; cf. Luck 6:46-49). However right we may be, without love we are simply displaying a religious version of the world, not the Kingdom of God. – Author Anonymous (for now).

I am going to let the author of the above quote from a book I am reading remain anonymous for now. If you know the answer, feel free to guess. I may give you a prize, or a copy of the book if you want it. The author up to this point has decribed what he sees as the differences between the Kingdom of God, which Jesus initiated at his first coming, and the kingdom of the world, which is ruled primarily by the forces of evil and is characterized by the exact opposite traits as God’s kingdom. It has been an interesting read and I am looking forward to finishing.

More to come.

Is Jesus the true Israel?

Posted in Christian Theology,Eschatology by sosipater on April 3, 2008

For my eschatologically minded friends I recommend this blog post by Kim Riddlebarger.  Very short but good look at verses from Isaiah, the Gospels, and Acts that can be understood quite literally as showing that some Israel focused prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ Himself, the true and kingly offspring of Abraham.

7 Characteristics of an Ingrown Church

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on March 28, 2008

7 Characteristics of an Ingrown Church.

Via Joe Thorn.net

FYI – Being ingrown is neither good nor healthy.

The Decalogue

Posted in Christian Theology by sosipater on November 30, 2007

As promised in my previous post, better late than never.

I. Calvin and the Deccaloge : 1) Its Importance.

I agree with the commenter on this post, any government who tries to enforce the first 5 commandments makes me beyond nervous. To me this is problematic because God is the only one capable of enforcing or judging the 1st tablet. A government run by sinful men is not capable of that. This is the great problem of modern day evangelical politics in my opinion.

II. Calvin and the Decalogue: 2) Its Primacy.

For Calvin, the Decalogue was both the fundamental law of the Old Covenant and the fundamental law of all of biblical ethics. This latter assertion can be illustrated in Calvin’s view of the sum of the law. Hesselink says, “…[I]t can be said that Calvin’s high esteem for the law, as summarized in the two tables of the decalog, is nothing other than an attempt to give meaning and content to that which lies at the heart of the Christian ethic, namely, love” (Ibid.). In the Decalogue, Calvin saw a distinct form of the law revealed with reference to its publication in redemptive history, but a normative function of the law with reference to its perpetual utility. “The form of the law is relative to time and circumstance, but the truth of the law ever remains the same” (Hesselink, Calvin …Law, 35).

III. Calvin and the Dacalogue: 3) The Two Tables.

IV. Calvin and the Dacalogue: 4) Interpretive Principles and 5) Abrogation.

Barcellos on Calvin on the Law

Posted in Christian Theology by sosipater on November 27, 2007

Over at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies blog Rich Barcellos has been enlightening us on Calvin’s thoughts on the Law, particularly the Three-Fold Use and the Decalogue. Awesome stuff. Here are the links. I’ll link to the Decalogue posts next time.

I. Calvin on the Three-Fold Division of the Law.

It is important to understand that, for Calvin, the three-fold division of the law is hermeneutically and theologically necessary because of the first advent of Christ and the redemptive-historical implications of the New Covenant for biblical law. Since the coming of Christ the whole Old Testament Law still functions, though not in the same way as before. The abrogation of certain functions of the law does not abrogate all uses of the law. In the words of Wendel, “…the Law was not in itself abrogated by the Christ, but only the slavery and malediction attaching to it under the ancient Covenant. Christians therefore remain subject to the Law, but not in the same way as the Jews used to be” (Ibid., 203).

II. Calvin on the Three-Fold use of the Law (I).

III. Calvin on the Three-Fold use of the Law (II).

IV. Calvin on the Three-Fold use of the Law (III).

V. Calvin on the Three-Fold use of the Law (IV).

VI. Calvin on the Three-Fold use of the Law (IV-Part II).

It is vital to understand that Calvin clearly taught a doctrine of abrogation or fulfillment of law under the New Covenant. However, his view of abrogation was qualified very carefully to protect the normative use of the Moral Law for believers. Niesel says:

…Calvin does not teach in the strict sense an abolition of the law. In this regard he is at one with the New Testament witness. …while we are free from the curse and compulsion of the law, from its ceremonies and political ordinances, we remain bound to its inner content. (Niesel, Theology, 100)

VII. Calvin on the Three-Fold use of the Law (IV – Part III).

Consequently Paul, to prove their observance not only superfluous but also harmful, teaches that they are shadows whose substance exists for us in Christ [Col. 2:17]. Thus we see that in their abolition the truth shines forth better than if they, still far off and as if veiled, figured the Christ, who was already plainly revealed himself. …Let it be regarded as a fact that, although the rights of the law have ceased to be observed, by their termination one may better recognize how useful they were before the coming of Christ, who in abrogating their use has by his death sealed their force and effect. (Calvin, Institutes, 364, 365)

We may say that for Calvin, the Ceremonial Law has been abrogated in use but not in effect and the Moral Law has been abrogated in effect but not in use.

Redemption as Drama

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on November 24, 2007

Drama. The word brings a few meanings to mind. To the youth culture a person or relationship that is defined by emotional instability or overreaction can generally be referred to as drama. We are all familiar with the term drama queen for someone who reflects this behavior. My wife and I on occasion have referred to our 1 year old daughter as a “drama queen” for her inconsolable outbursts when one of us takes the incorrect spot on her bed to lay down with her. And finally for the purpose of this endeavor, drama is the word we use for stories that touch us on deep levels and have mature and thoughtful themes and plotlines, sometimes even of epic proportions. Movies that have these characteristics are referred to as dramas.

Dramas can be found in all genres. I remember my first taste of drama as a 7 year old. It started when Darth Vader’s Super Destroyer was relentlessly pursuing Princess Leia’s starship over the desert planet Tatooine. Yes, it was Star Wars the epic science fiction fantasy story that tells the tale of heroes, heroines, and really bad guys a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

But was that really my first taste of a grand story that grabbed my imagination and my attention and uplifted my soul in a way that left me longing for more? No, on second thought I remember a much grander, much more robust, much more meaningful, and much truer story than the one I saw on the big screen that day.

I remember reading and hearing this long before I saw Star Wars. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:1, 31). This story didn’t end there though. “The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15) This story didn’t waste a lot of time setting the stage for the bad thing that happens in the beginning! Talk about drama, what in the world would the human race do? How could Adam and Eve do that? What were they thinking? And who is this one who will bruise the head of the evil serpent? These are cliffhanger questions if I ever saw one.

Now over the course of the next couple of thousand years God, through the writers of the Bible, spun a most excellent tale of towers, floods, kings, armies, battles, love stories, and love letters. All the while, building up to one great moment in storytelling history.

But is the Bible a drama? “When we look a bit more closely at the Bible, we find that the majority of its content is narrative in character. It is a storied revelation. This fact suggests that the unifying, insight-producing feature that gives the Bible its coherence as revelation is the story it tells. Indeed, the Bible as a whole is best understood as a story or drama. To be sure the Bible does more than tell a story. Scripture includes psalms and proverbs, songs and prayers, moral instruction and doctrinal reflection. But what holds all of it together, what makes it a unified revelation is the storyline, what theologians often call the drama of redemption. The nonnarrative pieces fit into and make sense only within their appropriate contexts in the biblical storyline” (“Far as the Curse is Found” by Michael D. Williams, Pg x).

And who is the Luke Skywalker, or Indiana Jones, or Optimus Prime of this grand story? The central figure of the Bible who holds the whole thing together and who every verse speaks about is none other than our own high priest and savior Jesus Christ. “Biblical religion holds that the central event in all human history was the execution of a wandering first-century Palestinian preacher and his rising from the dead two days later in fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. This is the Gospel…What was promised to Adam and Eve in the midst of their guilt and shame, what was prefigured over and over again throughout the Old Testament story of Israel…came to pass in a Judean backwater town where God “became flesh and made his dwelling with us””. (“Ibid, Pg. xiii)

So the next time you read your Bible, remember that the story is true and that it finds its fulfillment in Christ. This is why you are drawn to stories, because the very God who made you is the most excellent storyteller in existence. And the next time you are entranced by a drama or story, you don’t have to wonder why. It is because you are already part of the greatest story ever told. If you know and follow Jesus and have turned to him for salvation, then you are a central character in this great redemption story. You have been “grafted” into this never ending, eternal story of redemption and not as a mere extra, but a co-heir with Christ, the lead character, and will benefit from His gracious extension of his mercy. And if you don’t know Him and have refused his call, then you still have the opportunity to enter His story, but time is indeed running out. Your very love for the drama in life bears out this very fact.

Baptism Debate Tomorrow Night (11/8/07)

Posted in Christian Theology by sosipater on November 7, 2007

Dr. White vs. Gregg Strawbridge.  Click here for info.

Engaging Culture

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Imago Dei by sosipater on November 3, 2007

Pastor Joe Thorn has a great article over at his blog on cultural engagement.  Go check it out.  Here’s the intro.

What do people mean when they say “cultural engagement?” That phrase is often spurned as if it means thoughtless syncretism between the church and culture. In my reading it rarely means that. It is certainly not what I mean. I am a fan of that three-fold approach to engaging culture: reject what is evil, receive what is good, and redeem what is broken/lost. I think this is a healthy way of thinking about how we should respond to our culture, because our culture(s) is not one thing. It is made up of hundreds of things, bad and good, that demand our attention. I recently spent some time going over this three-fold approach with the folks at Redeemer, but wanted to emphasize that agreeing that we will need to respond by rejecting, receiving, and redeeming actually requires a lot of us.

The Elder and His Work (Con’t)

Posted in Books,Christian Theology by sosipater on October 14, 2007

“The usefullness of an elder will depend in the long run more on his character than on his gifts and knowledge.  Quiet Christian consistency will give wieght to his words and advice and be a daily lesson to all around.  His walk and conversation, his style of living, his companions and friends, his geniality, his amusements will all have an important influence , not only on his own family, but on the people of his district and congregation.  Young people especially notice,  and get good or evil from, much that they do not speak about to others.  They should learn from us what a Christian is like, not by the frequent use of certain pious expressions, but by the clear, transparent outflow of a life “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).  Brethren, ,”what manner of persons ought we elders to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11).”  David Dickson, “The Elder and His Work”, Page 34. 

The Elder and His Work

Posted in Books,Christian Theology by sosipater on October 10, 2007

Weekend before last my family and I took a weekend trip down to Orlando, Fl to visit Sea World.  On Sunday we visited with some friends, one of which is the pastor of a PCA church there.  He was gracious enough to give me a couple of books, and I have found them to be excellent.  The current one I am reading is “The Elder and His Work” by 19th century Scottish Presbyterian David Dickson.  The small book has been edited, the spelling and grammar brought up to date (thankfully!), and explanatory notes added by George MacFarland and Philip Graham Ryken.  For such a small book, I have so far found several quotes that have struck me as profound and useful.  Here is one that I thought was magnifigant and The Lord has used to work in my heart.  I hope you enjoy it.

“Elders should be men of common sense, knowing when to speak and when to hold their tongues.  Even grace does not give common sense, a little of which would settle many controversies and heresies in the church of Christ.  Men of points and pugnacity are very annoying in a session or congregation, and they may rise to be the terror of presbyteries and other church courts.  They may love the truth at heart – and we believe they often do-but they love fighting too.  For such men the grave and quite duties of the eldership have little or no charm.  A carping, censorious spirit is to be watched and prayed against in all of us:  it is often the precursor or companion of backsliding in doctrine or life.  An uneasy conscience likes to find faults in others.  Having many different characteristics  and tempers to deal with, we need as elders to be men of a meek and quiet spirit, not going from one extreme to another-men of practical wisdom and sanctified common sense, and thus able to judge matters calmly and not as partisans.” – David Dickson, “The Elder and His Work”, Page 32-33.

Stay tuned for more quotes.

History of Christology

Posted in Books,Christian Theology by sosipater on October 7, 2007

For those of you who don’t regularly check in at the Desiring God Blog, check out this post from a few days ago entitled “A Call to Christology”.  From my vantage point it seems evangelical Christianity needs a good dose of the history of the Theology of Christology.  Don’t cults and heretics seem to just reuse the same errors and completely whacked out beliefs about Jesus.  Isn’t that really the most direct and frontal assault on the Christian faith, the attempt to undermine and twist the Biblical understanding of the central figure and person with whom our faith is built on?

So the main point of the blog is to bring to our attention a new book by Stephen Nichols, “For Us and For Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church”.  Looks excellent.  You can buy it by clicking on the link for the book.  Guess I need to add it to the wish list (see at the right side of the blog).  (By the way, my birthday is coming up and and its not too late for gift giving enthusiasts to peruse my Amazon wish list and click away!)

Driscoll Going Off (Deservedly So)

Posted in Christian Theology by sosipater on September 25, 2007

Latest CT Article on Mark Driscoll

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on September 22, 2007

Collin Hansen of Christianity Today has a new article out about Mark Driscoll titled “Pastor Provocateur”.  I’ve read both of Driscoll’s books but this article has some new things that are interesting.  Among the negative stuff is John MacArthur’s criticism of Driscoll’s cultural sensitivity which Pastor Mac calls his “infatuation with the vulgar aspects of contemporary society”.  Although this is not surprising coming from what I would consider a mild fundatmentalist mindset,  I would still like to know exactly what MacArthur is referencing.  Also MacArthur likes to throw around a lot of guarantees and certaintees these days about things that don’t seem that clear cut.  (re: this and his lecture on eschatology earlier this year)  I think Driscoll makes a good point in that he would gladly sit down and take advice from MacArthur, but the offer was never extended.  That is unfortunate.  Here is the conclusion of the article.

“Fundamentalism is really losing the war, and I think it is in part responsible for the rise of what we know as the more liberal end of the emerging church,” Driscoll says. “Because a lot of what is fueling the left end of the emerging church is fatigue with hardcore fundamentalism that throws rocks at culture. But culture is the house that people live in, and it just seems really mean to keep throwing rocks at somebody’s house.”

Few but Driscoll’s friends come to his defense, because no one else can peg him. That’s fine with Driscoll, so long as his band of acculturated missionaries sticks to their tasks. Hundreds of young ministers planting churches around the world, they understand him. They cut him slack as he searches for the balance between provocative and sensitive.

“You can’t escape your upbringing,” says Darrin Patrick, vice president of Acts 29. “Mark is a street fighter.”

And even the Good Shepherd had to fight off wolves.

Interview with Steve Wellum

Posted in Books,Christian Theology by sosipater on September 11, 2007

A while back I recommended the Book “Believers’ Baptism:  Sign of the New Covenant in Christ”. (At least I think I did, I can’t find the post right now).  Well, Justin Taylor has an informative interview with Steven Wellum, the author of one of the best chapters in the book.  The chapter is on Baptism and the Relationships Between the Covenants and can be read here for free.

Forgotten Henry

Posted in Books,Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Government & Politics,History by sosipater on September 6, 2007

Check out Timmy Brister’s post on Carl Henry here.

Francis Schaeffer and the Pro-Life Movement

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,History by sosipater on September 6, 2007

Christ is the Center of the Scriptures

Posted in Books,Christian Theology by sosipater on September 2, 2007

Check out this excellent review at the Walking Together blog on Graeme Goldworthy’s book Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture. 

I am excited at the very premise.  All the scriptures point to Christ.  Any Christian theology without Christ at the center isn’t any Christian theology.  And preaching should expose this Christ centeredness that every part of the Bible contains.

 Note:  You can purchase this book here.

John Farese Testimony

Posted in Christian Theology,Miscellaneous by sosipater on August 23, 2007

 [THFP: Provocations and Pantings]

Luther on Diapers

Posted in Christian Theology,Miscellaneous by sosipater on August 18, 2007

I like this post over at Gospel Prism.  Check it out.

Are You GLAAD?

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Government & Politics by sosipater on August 9, 2007

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Are U.S. television networks gay enough? Not yet, but ABC is getting close, according to a gay-rights group.The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has given the Walt Disney Co.-owned network the highest marks of any of the five major broadcast networks in the group’s first-ever report rating depictions of gay, lesbian and transgender characters and issues on prime-time TV.

Move over Neilson ratings, make room for the GLADD rating system.  You can read the whole article here.  This isn’t such a crazy idea, at least from the homosexual person’s point of view.  We Christians do the same thing with TV stations.  The question is, how do we as Christians communicate our disagreement with homosexuality without seeming like hatemongers who want to stone every gay person in sight?

I have been thinking about this and wonder if the politicization of personal sins like homosexuality has really hurt our witness and hurt our ability to love and be salt and light to those who have given into to the sin of homosexuality.  It is so hard to minister to this group of people when we spend all day getting so worked up over banning gay this and banning gay that.  I mean think about it.  Doesn’t that mindset and goal just make you really mad and angry all the time?

Now, I am not necessarily saying it is wrong to want to see sinful actions illegal, but considering the type of government we have, should we allow the government to make this decision for people?  Isn’t it the Churchs’ job to pronounce what is right and wrong for individuals to do in their bedrooms, not the government?  I’m just thinking out loud here.  This is really two major questions.  Number one, how do we hate the sin but love the sinner enough to be salt and light, and two, what are the spheres of responsibility for the church and the government in this issue.  I’m open to hear your ideas on this.

Mark Driscoll on “The Good Soldier”

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on July 21, 2007

Anybody out there want to plant a church?  Grab your gun and watch this video first.

Live Bloggin Founders Conference

Posted in Christian Theology by sosipater on June 27, 2007

Just in case anyone out there was not aware, Timmy Brister is live blogging the 2007 Annual National Founders Conference.

Also, Joe Thorn is providing some “Founders Fresh” insights here.

Pastors and their family

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on June 22, 2007

Scott Thomas over at Acts29 has a great post about the value of the Pastor’s family life.  I hope all Christians, regardless of their status within Christ’s church, endeavors for a family life that is upright, honorable, and faithful.

Qualifications for Overseers

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.  Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

New 9Marks Blog

Posted in Christian Theology by sosipater on June 20, 2007

I just got an email about the new 9Marks Ministries blog.  You can find it at http://blog.9marks.org/.

I anticipate a continuation of the rich and biblical content on the local church that has been coming from Mark Dever and the 9Mark’s guys for quite a while now. 

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