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Nature of Reality, Nature of Man, 5) In the Image of God
Sunset in Statia
All men seek their own happiness at all times.
All men seek their own happiness at all times.
Even the man who murdered his family several weeks ago must have thought that he was better off dead than living because of the circumstances he found himself in. Would that more who are like him would see fit to start with themselves first, but nonetheless, he must have felt it better to be dead than to go on in his circumstances.
We all seek our own happiness, this is universal.
I have found, as many have, that helping others brings us the greatest happiness. Being polite and courteous to others helps other people, shows them respect and a little of the love of God, and it the proper role for people in their responses to other people.
We properly call people who are polite to others, refined. What is refined or fined or filtered and cleaned out? Rudeness to others, which is often the result of our own hurt, combined with a strange rule we have all heard, misery loves company. That is to say that hurting people often hurt others. This is something that takes great thought, grace, and mercy to filter out, to refine out of our system of thinking.
This is self control or self restraint and is kindness toward others showing them the very compassion God feels, felt, and acted on toward us to save us both for eternity and also for now, for our life here on earth.
Salvation is dual in nature having both eternal and temporary consequence as we seek to set aside our base, fallen humanness and polish the rough diamond (the word polite is derived from the word polish) to simply be refined in our behavior.
This word being ‘to fine’ or filter a fluid which is hot, such as glass, or a cold fluid, such as milk. To fine glass is to allow it to rest at high temperature until impurities and gasses rise to the top or drop to the bottom.
Many of these things can be done quite well by any human being. I can learn not to put my elbows on the table, not to speak rudely, not to make rude noises in public.
The Author in Statia (Sint Eustatius)
Everyone is still hoping I can learn these things, but that is a different story.
I can learn to be kind, because it makes even fallen people feel better to help others.
Even the crude Scottish Highlander of 1750 who might kill a neighbor for a minor indiscretion felt better when he helped a friend.
This is an internal struggle that helps us reach others with kindness, something everyone needs more of and something most people, except angry hateful people will respond to.
Many bad habits of man that resulted from man’s fall Read Genesis 1-3).
Here I am going to get into Calvinists face: I can do all by myself. I can choose of my own volition, my morally significant free will to do good, not good enough for heaven because that is a broken relationship that only God can mend, but I am not forced to do bad.
I can choose to be kind, to help my neighbor mow his lawn, or get up from a fall.
I can choose, as almost all of us do every day, say, not to murder or rob a bank or not to drive drunk.
I choose every day not to cheat on my spouse, not to kick the dog, or not to yell at the kids making too much noise.
We are free moral agents and the courts treat us this way when we are held responsible for those things we choose to do. This is called justice and it is accomplished to some degree in every society, quite without external input from God. Why? Because he built in inherent concepts of morality, of right and wrong into man’s mind.
Here is evidence that this is true: Most people are not Christian. Most of those people do not rob banks. Most people do not drive drunk. Most people do not steel.
Yet the Calvinist has this despicable habit of calling these good people depraved, the “T” in the five points or “TULIP” doctrine, “Total Depravity.”
What did Jesus, God himself, say about the Roman Centurion (read Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10)? (Matt. 8:10, KJV) “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” ~Jesus.
I would argue the more we “sanctify” ourselves to use an old English phrase, the more we set aside our baser nature, our fallen man, that is the more refined and polished we become the better off everyone is and the happier we will be having conquered that part of us that came as an inheritance from a fallen race and overcoming those outward things that divide us from others and separate us from ourselves (how often have you said something rude then hated yourself for doing so) and separate us from our fellow man (the attacked person in this case).
Francis Schaeffer adroitly pointed out that at the fall of man (see Genesis 1-3) man broke his relationship with God, fell in his relationship with other men and fell in his relationship to himself. (Sorry, this from memory of reading some twenty years past.)
It is that fall, that breaking of the relationship with God which is more or less the subject herein but I would be bereft of character not to mention that we need first to be justified in our relationship to God and rid our self of actual guilt (as opposed to guilt feelings), then sanctify our lives that is work on our relationship with God by obedience to his word, then master the old man, that is, in old English ‘sanctify’ our self by the power of the Holy Spirit and by our own effort and choices we make on a daily basis to discipline (become a disciple) our self spiritually, and physically, and train our mind to be kind to other reflecting the kindness and mercy God shows us, to refine our self, to polish our self with the help of God in order to reach others with the whole gospel of God.
Why is it that the world sees our kindness, our giving our humanity in the humane things the church does and responds by returning love, but sees our stuffiness or superiority of attitude, our self-righteousness or condemnation of an already condemned race and, rightly, reacts quite negatively? It is because this is not the right message?
Do we really need to extent condemning attitudes to people already destined for hell, already feeling condemned and guilty because that is the natural state of fallen men?
These are fallen image bearers of God but this means only that the relationship has changed, man has not become nothing, or idiotic (self destructive) rather still bears his image, a tripartite rational moral being who is fallen and needs forgiveness but remains in his image.
Perhaps this is why we have done so poorly a job of reaching the lost, why we have in fact lost western culture by pounding pulpits and shouting angrily at sin instead of loving the sinner, extending to these bearers of the image of God the very thing we sing about each Christmas, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will toward men. Instead, we all too often treat the lost as if they are not image bearers of God, and only animals, but Jesus did not sacrifice himself for less that men who had the highest value to God, one that cost him dearly to redeem.
Animals have value, but not a value so costly the God would provide a valuable sacrifice to redeem, which is what he did for us.
We need to illustrate to those around us that God thinks they have his image, a reflection of his goodness that is resident in their mind, their being, their humanity that needs to be loved into the Kingdom of God.
Forgive the digression, but we need to treat our fellow men, especially Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ with more respect and love and be more attentive to their thinking when they read the Bible.
Certainly point out the Scriptures are on no private interpretation, that is, it means exactly one thing, not whatever you want it to mean. Rational man can come to correct conclusions when reading it without seeking the advise of their pastors who, quite frankly are trained to interpret it privately in convention with their denomination, which is why if you take a passage to tree different pastors and two priests you are likely to get five opinions of what it means, five different private interpretations which conform to their particular denominational bents.
We need to reengage the dialogue and consider what the Word of God actually tells us and remove the presuppositions that divide each of us into different denominations.
We still will not fully agree, especially we Scots, we fight about everything, however, simple reading of the Word of God without the denominational filters then considering what the words mean (not “what it means to me,” that is a private interpretation and specifically disallowed by scripture), and then derive specific implications from the text and not from Calvin and Beza or Augustine and Plato, and not their interpretations either for these too are private interpretations.
Work out the differences by rational argument common to common man and, not through denominational refinements, which is the norm.
Do not think me either against denominations per se nor against the assemblage thereof. I attend church every week and even hold classes from time to time. That is not the point. The point is simply as stated: Common man using his rational mind, unconditioned by church doctrines, but accepting the inerrancy of the scriptures can come to understand God and himself through the study of scripture and study of the nature God created.
Yes, the one condition is that he must rationally understand the Biblical inerrancy issue whether through explanation, argumentation, or study, and that is, perhaps the most important point of attending a good Biblically based church, the apologetic of Biblical defense, that is, why ought we believe it?
However, this is a rational exercise and not simply a teaching to accept blindly. We believe the Bible is the Word of God and inerrant in its original text and that belief comes with a powerful apologetic to back up that belief, it need not be blind belief or a leap of faith of any kind. Belief is a word that indicates conviction about a specific rational claim, that that claim is true and not false. This is not a spiritual exercise such as accepting Christ as savior, rather, a mental one. How can they believe if they have not heard a rational defense? How can they hear unless someone tell them, or they read? How can they understand if not with the rational mind the creator designed us with?
The Christian is the whole person who, rather than denying the spiritual aspect of the universe and man, and not just the natural man living unattached but adrift in the natural world, rather, the whole man, the natural and supernatural aspects of his being forming a complete man as he was meant to be, united in Christ, the man-God who died to pay the penalty for our sin but was raised again, on our calendar April 6, 33AD. I would posit that raising yourself from the grave proves his credentials. This is not that apologetic, because there are apologetic books dealing with that event incorporated here by reference.
So now we are whole mankind reunited with our God, justified and called to live a holy life, and that holiness is his standard, not our own. We show we love him by obedience to his word; we should our fealty, our fidelity to our lover, our spouse by being faithful.
We show our love to God by obedience to his commands, and those commands are written in two convenient locations, in the heart of man (i.e. universal moral principals), and in the Word of God.
It is that word that informs us that we are created in his image. The question herein is, what does that mean?