God’s Image (2 of 3 parts)

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God’s Image: “God created man in His own image.” This word “image” in common discourse is suggestive of something visual. A camera captures an image, for looking; for observation with the physical eye. Pictures or graphics in computer format are often called “images.” So the word is often used for something visual; something that becomes the object of sight. Not in Genesis 1:27.

In dealing with the word in this context, we must move beyond simple visual similarity. This “image” is real, but not necessarily or primarily visual. The word “image” in Gen. 1:27 means “likeness, resemblance.” The previous verse reports God’s declaration: “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

We were made like God; according to His likeness. Now this cannot be understood as duplication; we are not clones of Deity (see Deut. 4:35). We are like God; we are not God. He made us in His image. We must not attempt to make Him in our image.

Of all God made, He made man unique, like Him. We have the capacity to think, to make choices, to love – unlike plants and animals. We can be good; we can choose good character, do good things, be good people. God never said to a tree, rock or insect, “Be holy, for I am holy,” but He says that to us, according to 1 Pet. 1:16. We were made in the image of God.

Sin stifles that resemblance, “defacing” the image of God. Sin keeps us from personally realizing the full extent of our resemblance to God and living in fellowship with Him. But in your response to Christ, sin is forgiven. And in your continued life of response to Christ, sin is conquered. This was the basis of what Paul said to the saints in Colossae. They had “put on the new self, who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” Romans 8:29 defines this process in these terms: “for whom he foreknew, He also predestined (to become) conformed to the image of His Son.” We were created by God, made in His image. Through the choice to sin, we fall into the bondage and guilt of sin (defacing the image). But in obeying the gospel, we are renewed and conformed to the image of His Son.

Tomorrow, God’s Distinction

God’s Work, God’s Image, God’s Distinction Part 1 of 3

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God’s Work, God’s Image, God’s Distinction

(Genesis 1:27)

Three Part Study

 

A serious reading of the early chapters of Genesis is crucial to the development, maintenance, instruction and obedience of faith. J. Sidlow Baxter was right. “The major themes of Scripture may be compared to great rivers, ever deepening and broadening as they flow; and it is true to say that all these rivers have their rise in the watershed of Genesis,” (“Explore The Book,” p.#23). An example of the practical value of teachings in Genesis is this familiar statement:

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them,” (Gen. 1:27). Three things stand out and require our attention:

God’s Work: “God created man.” This is the truth about our origin. God called into existence that which had no previous existence and the highest act of this divine work was to create human life. When you read the claims of the Bible, consider the evidence and decide that the document is the Word of God – you are glad to read Genesis 1:27 and accept this truth of man’s origin: “God created man.” As you hold this conclusion in your heart, you are doing what is described in Hebrews 11. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen . . . by faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible,” (Heb. 11:1,3).

Charles Darwin was a British naturalist, who lived from 1809 until 1882, and in his work The Descent of Man he asserted: “Man is descended from some lower form.”

This is just where the confusion begins for Darwin and his disciples. He changed, revised and sometimes contradicted his own theory. And Darwin’s “theory of evolution” evolved. Today, there are interpreters of Darwin who debate their interpretations. Some begin with specific observations of Darwin and build a scientific creed. They apply their interpretation of Darwin and label their fellows as either Darwinian, anti-Darwinian or neo-Darwinian (what we sometimes call “drawing lines of fellowship”).

There is a growing number of highly esteemed scientists who argue vigorously against Darwinianism (Michael Behe, Robert Jastrow, Phillip Johnson). There are scientific journals published today devoted to the theme of “Intelligent Design,” responding to the old Darwinian models. Thus, there are many, conflicting evolutionary doctrines claiming authority in Darwin, and many non-Darwinian models and theories now gaining more attention. Not all that is called “science” is academic and objective. Modern science is sometimes encumbered by myth, prejudice, politics, arrogance and human competition (just like modern religion).

So what am I to do? What can I believe? What should I teach my children? “God created man!” Hebrews 3:4 teaches that “every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” When you study science, presented with validity and without human agenda, you are studying what God built. Good science yields agreement with the Genesis account, and in particular this affirmation: “God created man.”

Tomorrow – God’s Image

Five Ways To Solve A Problem

FIVE WAYS TO SOLVE A PROBLEM

Dee Bowman

1. Meet the problem head-on, but not too quickly. Remember, patience is a virtue (James 1:4).
2. Make sure you understand all the facts. Many a problem has been proliferated by someone who didn’t take the time to research the real reasons involved in the matter (John 8:32).
3. Keep a level head. Even right things, if they not said with a level head, can intensify the difficulty. Control is wisdom; wisdom is control (Proverbs 21:23).
4. Smile. Genuinely, I mean. It’s hard to be hateful when you are smiling. And it’s hard to retaliate against someone who is genuinely smiling (Proverbs 15:13).
5. Speak softly. I have a note on my desk I wrote years ago when I was about to be involved in a controversial situation. It says, “Think! God, please help me not so say more than need be said, and help me to say it softly.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Bowman, D. (1999). That’s Life. Christianity Magazine, 16(7), 24.

The Smoke Test

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The Smoke Test

{Looking for failure first}

Warren E. Berkley

Those who know me may remember I did my time in the service in the 1960’s as a musician in an Army band. You may think I got to get up everyday and blow my horn. Well I did. But in the military there are usually other things you have to do, by assignment, that may not be your primary specialty.

I was given the assignment of setting up recording equipment in the band hall for rehearsal purposes. We asked for an audio engineer but that requisition wasn’t fulfilled. We did receive a truckload of professional recording equipment. That consisted of a reel-to-reel tape deck, pre-amplifier, mixer, four mics, boom arms and pedestals, a couple of hundred feet of cable, an output amplifier and speakers. The shipment came in one afternoon. The old man assigned me and another soldier to assemble it all, to be ready for use the next day!

We stayed with the task all night long. I was a trumpet player. He was a flute player. There were no written instructions. That night we did something commonly called a “smoke test.”  We would plug a cable in and see if smoke appeared. If there was no smoke, we would congratulate ourselves and try another connection. The problem with that method was (and is), where there is smoke there is … That’s right. Once there is smoke, something has been damaged already. After burning through a fuse and a couple of connectors, we finally got the sound room equipped with the recording gear and all was well.

This brings to the surface a common approach that needs analysis.  When your first step is to see if something fails, you are already into risk territory. Our approach contained a high level of risk and revealed that we were (a) in a hurry and (b) were not well informed. While we didn’t burn up the equipment, our approach amounted to, “we don’t know if this will work, let’s see what happens.” That’s not high on any scale of wisdom or efficiency. But the “smoke test” lives on in many areas of life.

In marriage, singles may think and even say, “we don’t know if marriage will work for us, but let’s see how it works out.” In this case, smoke may mean divorce, with all the damage that ensues when that happens. This is a case like my experience with electronic equipment. The first step is to see if the relationship fails. There is a far better approach. Go way back to the beginning when marriage first started. Who instituted marriage? Shouldn’t He be consulted? Reading what God has said with humble submission to His superior will is far better than the smoke text. “We don’t know what will happen, let’s see if this works?” Let God tell you what ought to happen. (Matt. 19:1-9; Heb. 13:4)

In parenting, those who’ve not attended to wisdom may remark, “we don’t know how to do this, but we will rely on trial and error.” Such a “plan” demonstrates that the parents don’t really know what they are doing. And “trial and error” does not generate trust in the hearts of children. Thoughtful and deliberate approaches to parenting can be accessed by opening God’s book. (Eph. 6:1-4)

In social media, there isn’t any doubt the “smoke test” has gained traction. “I don’t know if this is true. I’ll just post or tweet it and see what happens.” That’s a high level of risk that you are spreading misinformation (error). Altered photos pass through fiber-optic cables millions of times per second, and while no visible smoke may appear, the fire of falsehood is distributed and re-distributed. (Col. 3:9; Prov. 23:23)

Trial and error can lead to more trial and error! Read the instructions. Get help. It can all work without the “smoke test.”

New Age Movement, now old?

Here’s a piece I wrote for CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE 32 years ago. This was current in 1988 and several years after. I’ll let you read it and see if you believe any of this continues in our time.

The New Age Movement

Warren E. Berkley

In every generation there is a variety of movements, fads, belief systems and philosophies offered to the public and pushed by its advocates. So it is fitting for the people of God to “search the Scriptures,” “test the spirits,” and be ready to “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 10:5). Our day is no exception, and one growing school of thought is known as The New Age Movement.
“New Age” has become a rather broad, “umbrella” term; not everything that bears the label is evil or wrong. But the primary concept, as advanced by the prominent actress, Shirley MacLaine, and others is: we are all divine beings with divine (supernatural) potentials. And, through knowledge, enlightenment and meditation, we can discover that we are divine. Then, in concert with other “enlightened ones,” we can create a new world, and usher in a new age. This, I believe, is not only an unrealistic dream; it is biblically incorrect and, therefore, spiritually destructive. The New Age religion is one of those high things of men that arrays itself against the knowledge of God. Here are some of the specific tenets that have been developed out of this core concept:
1. We are all divine. New Age people want to tell us that we don’t really know who we are; we are actually deity! Ramtha (the 35,000-year-old ascended master who is said to communicate through J. Z. Knight) says that “God has never been outside of you—IT IS YOU!” Dr. Beverly Galyean (who headed three federally funded projects in the L.A. public schools) has said: “… we all have the attributes of God …” The King of Tyre once said: “I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas!” Ezekiel said to him: “Thou art a man, and not God” (Ezekiel 28; see also Ecclesiastes 5:2; Romans 1:25–26; Deuteronomy 4:35).
2. We all have unlimited divine potentials. Once the New Age guru indoctrinates his disciple to the fact he or she is deity, the next step is to allege that there are new powers now available, previously unknown and unused. The influence of this idea has reached the realm of televangelism. Robert Schuller says: “You don’t know what kind of power you have within you … You make the world into anything you choose. Yes, you can make your world into whatever you want it to be.” Yet, the Bible tells us there are some things we cannot do (see Matthew 6:24; Titus 3:5; John 8:21; 13:33; Proverbs 3:5; Jeremiah 10:23).
3. There are no absolutes. This only follows. If we are all god (as the New Agers allege), with supernatural powers that need to be discovered and used; if there is no single, personal God (as in the Scriptures), there is no absolute standard. Do away with a personal, singular God—and you throw the concept of an absolute standard out the same door! Many New Age writers are absolutely sure that you can’t be absolutely sure of anything. Biblical Christianity—by definition—takes the Bible as its yardstick (Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 28:18; 2 John 9).
4. Reincarnation. Belief in reincarnation may be more widespread than you think. It might surprise and disappoint you to see a list of prominent people who believe in reincarnation (John Denver, Peter Sellers, Glenn Ford, Loretta Lynn, Gen. George S. Patton, and Sylvester Stallone). Reincarnation involves repeated death; dying as you leave one life, dying as you leave another, and so forth. But the Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once.” Case closed.
5. Pantheism. This is the belief that there is no single, personal God; but that everything is God. One of the “forefathers” of New Age thinking, Edgar Cayce, said: “Life isn’t a bit different today from what it was a million years ago. Life is one. God is life—whether in the oyster, the tree or in us …” We believe that “God alone is the Lord, the most high over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18; see also Isaiah 6:3; Romans 1:23).
In his refutation of the Shirley MacLaine book and ABC mini-series, Dr. Frank LaGard Smith has said: “New Age thinking can be faddish, chic, and trendy—something to talk about at cocktail parties. Yet the irony is that in many ways the New Age movement is only a return to ancient times—times of superstition, magic, and sorcery. When you think of the interest in astrology, tarot cards, psychic healers, and trance mediums, you can see the truth of what Solomon said: There is nothing new under the sun. Far from being progressive, the New Age movement is best characterized as mass societal regression” (Out on a Broken Limb, p. 184).
God was—long ago—displeased with His people, because they were “filled with eastern ways” (Isaiah 2:6) Let our message to this age be that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
Source: Berkley, W. E. (1988). The New Age Movement. Christianity Magazine, 5(9), 7.

1 Cor. 1:4-9

The Assurance & Motivation

Of True Fellowship

1 Cor. 1:4-9

Warren E. Berkley

4I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:4-9

These verses are from the opening words of Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth. Can you imagine hearing this read? You are a member of a church torn apart by division; destroyed by immaturity; confused by questions and questionable behavior, even with some who deny the resurrection of Christ – and you hear these words written by Paul: “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus?”

Obviously Paul is not thanking God for their misbehavior. He is expressing his reverent gratitude to God “for the grace of God,” which was given to these people “by Christ Jesus.” Though flawed and fallen Paul didn’t just mark them off. He was still thankful they had heard the gospel and had responded. It was the grace of God in Christ that rescued them the first time. By that same grace they could be re-rescued.

This speaks directly to Paul’s character. He would need to write to them strongly about their errors, even shame them for their sin. Nevertheless, he was constantly thankful to God for people who had obeyed the gospel. They were God’s people, not his own (4:14-21).

Paul’s attitude toward these people presents a model for us to follow. Even when brethren are torn apart and acting like children, we should be thankful to God for their initial reception of His grace and prayerful there will be a fresh response to Deity. All our attitudes and deeds toward them should serve that high purpose.

Consider their advantage (imparted by God’s grace): “that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge.” The problem in Corinth was not any level of excusable ignorance. It wasn’t that they didn’t know how to act right. They had been taught and “enriched in everything,” and this enrichment was from God: “By Him,” and it was adequate: “in all utterance and all knowledge.” The advantage of knowledge they enjoyed was one expression of God’s grace they now needed to return to.

And “even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,” means – the instruction they had received was confirmed as to origin (see 2 Cor. 12:12).

So the people in this troubled church had responded to God’s grace, being advantaged participants in knowledge and testimony from heaven, confirmed as having that origin. “So that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This reaffirms the adequacy of their instruction. Spirit-inspired teachers guided them into all the truth, putting them in position to entertain the full measure of hope: “eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” They could expect such adequacy of spiritual resources to continue: “who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” They suffered no inferiority and would experience no lack as long as they lived.

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

One of the reassuring truths to keep in mind when face to face with any human unfaithfulness is, the absolute faithfulness of God. This simply means, you can count on Him to carry out every promise, to provide every resource, to help in every way that is in keeping with His will. Christians live “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,” (Titus 1:2). In this fact there is a combination of reassurance and motivation, to be what we ought to be – individually and collectively. (1 Thess. 5:24)

The members of the church at Corinth had been “called into the fellowship of” Jesus Christ. The work of gospel preaching should be thought of in terms of being called. When you hear the gospel of Christ, you are being called out of sin into fellowship with God (2 Thess. 2:14). When you are baptized, you are accepting that call, thus entering “into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ.” The old man of sin was living in relation to the world and the devil. The new man (washed by the blood of Christ) is living in relation to Deity and others who share that fellowship. This also affords reassurance and motivation. As faithful Christians, our reality is, “the fellowship of His Son.” It is our present possession “which will be more fully enjoyed in heaven,” (Mike Willis). That is both comforting and motivating.

Writing to a church torn up by men, the apostle Paul supplies assurance and motivation still needed today. “God is faithful,” and by Him (through preaching, 2 Thess. 2:14), we are “called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Everything about that should influence everything about us, to a refreshed perspective of what we have and what we can keep.

Resources:

Truth Commentaries, 1 Cor., Mike Willis

The First Epistle To The Corinthians, Gordon Fee

Unity: Action, Attitude, Aim, Agreement

Ephesians 4:1-6
United in Action, Attitude,
Aim & Agreement

Warren E. Berkley

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the
calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with
longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit,
just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith,
one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all,
and in you all.”

The above passage can be studied in terms of four essential directions of
unity. Christians need to be united in action, united in attitude, united in
aim and united in agreement. In the local church, if every member is united
in these things, there will be a bond of peace that pleases God and that
advances the work in the right direction.

First, united in action: “…walk worthy of the calling with which you were
called.”
When the gospel is preached, God is calling sinners out of sin.

When a sinner hears the gospel, believes in Christ, repents and obeys the
Lord in baptism, the call of the gospel is being answered. If I have
answered that call, how should I live after baptism? How should I act? I
should walk worthy of the calling with which I was called. I must live as
one should live, who has obeyed the gospel. If I live that way, and you live
that way – – and all the other members of the local church live this way,
the result will be unity. We are united in action. We are acting according
to the teachings of the Word of God. “Only let your conduct be worthy of the
gospel of Christ…,” (Phil. 1:27).
Second, united in attitude. “… [W]ith all lowliness and gentleness,
with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.”
This all falls in the

category we commonly name “attitude.” Attitude is about your state of mind;
your mental and emotional position – and the expression of that in your
daily dealings with events, with people and with God. Christians ought to
have the kind of attitude that’s described in Ephesians 4:2. Lowly means –
you do not esteem yourself above others; you maintain a mature and honest
view of yourself (see Rom. 12:3; Phil. 2:3). Gentleness is a mature
calmness; a self-controlled manner in dealing with things, people and
events. Jesus was gentle (Matt. 11:29). Paul was Gentle (1 Thess. 2:7).
Preachers are commanded to be gentle (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Longsuffering has to
do with patience under provocation; the opposite of being quick-tempered or
impulsive in your negative reactions to others (see this in God, 2 Pet.
3:9). If you maintain a longsuffering disposition, you will bear “with one
another in love,” thus letting your patience find a practical place in your
dealings with people. Think about the great potential when every member of a
church develops and grow in these attitudes (see also, Phil. 2:1-5).

Third, united in aim: “…[E]ndeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace.”
Unity in the local church is something that requires effort.

You have to see the value of it, understand that God desires it, want it
yourself and do the personal work to advance it. From time to time through
50 years of preaching, I have observed people in local churches who simply
did not care about the welfare, needs or unity of the congregation. They
would divide the church over their feelings, opinions, preferences or false
doctrines; or their favoritism for a man or group. Like those in Corinth,
they place human wisdom above divine. We must shun that, take the resources
provided by the Holy Spirit in the Word and do the work, with each
individual devoted to the unity of the Spirit (see also, Eph. 4:16).

Fourth, united in agreement. In every local church there are different
personality types; different levels of growth; a variety of opinions in
matters of individual liberty; various economic levels and very different
backgrounds (culture, environment, experience). Unity does not mean we must
all become exactly alike! Our variety gives richness to our work and our
existence. But, as Christians, there are certain basic, fundamental things
we share; we agree on. These things tie us together in the activity of our
faith toward God: “there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called
in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and
Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in you all.” However
different we may be in a variety of secular ways, there is a spiritual and
practical unity we enjoy – based on this common bond.

If every member of the local church will learn this passage, accept it as
written in the context and put it into practice – the local church becomes a
beautiful place of peace, where God’s work can be done in God’s way.

A Changed Life

From Mark Roberts new book on Romans, comments on Romans 6

Salvation isn’t something you stick in your pocket never to need or think about until the Final Judgment comes. It changes everything about you now—how you live, how you see sin, the choices you make, and what you want to do. The Christian is changed because God has operated on him through baptism to kill the old man of sin. The Christian is a new creature in Christ. Being a Christian means you’ll live differently, think differently, and act differently—because you are different. You’re changed. Thus, for Paul, the idea of a Christian continuing in sin is absurd.

Roberts, Mark. Romans for Everyone (Coffee and the Bible Series Book 1) (p. 74). Lower Lights Publications. Kindle Edition.

What I lost in a foolish trade

“Buy The Truth And Do Not Sell It”

Can’t believe I lost my marbles

Prov. 23:23

Warren E. Berkley

In the neighborhood of my childhood there were two commodities of exchange: marbles and baseball cards. We were also fortunate to have crawdads, sock balls and various other treasures. But when you needed to do some serious trading, you had to have either marbles or baseball cards.

Sometime after 1953, I came into possession of about four Mickey Mantle baseball cards. Now the primary purpose of having baseball cards in the 1950’s was bragging and trading. (On rare occasions, baseball cards might also be useful to bribe a bully. As a last resort, before being beaten to a pulp, you could offer the bully a popular baseball card. It usually worked if he didn’t have the offered card.)

Back to these ’53 Mantle cards I owned. In a moment of juvenile whim, I traded those four cards to Charles Pruitt for a bag of marbles. I don’t even have the bag of marbles today (I lost my marbles). Those four Mickey Mantle cards sell today for about $7,000 each! If I had them today I would be driving a new truck.

Nobody told me in 1953 to hold on to those cards. I didn’t appreciate the value of what I had so I lost it.

Do you have a Bible? Have you learned the truth about Jesus Christ and what the individual response should be? Hold on to that truth, comply with it, share it. Do not sell it. You’ll be setting yourself up for eternal regret.