Thursday, February 14, 2008

THE GRACELIFE
...the love of God come to man through Jesus Christ the Lord

Apart from our Lord’s name, the word grace is the sweetest utterance in all of Scripture. It signifies God's acceptance of the unacceptable; His relationship with those He was only at enmity with; and His peace being granted to those who deserve nothing but His tormenting justice in the fires of perdition for eternity.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor to man—granting us what we do not deserve… eternal life and granting us the forgiveness of sins from the curse of the Law. It is God’s free sovereign will in action; redeeming for Himself a remnant people for His own pleasure, purpose and praise.

The acronym G.R.A.C.E. could be defined as:
God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense.

It's Not About Us; It's All About Him
Grace robs man of any glory and boasting; grace crushes pride and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ; grace is a gift not based on anything of worth contained in man, but only in that what is worthy of a holy God and perfectly agrees with the council of His own will.

Left to myself, full of my own goodness, clothed with the rags of my own righteousness, I am only worthy of one thing—eternal punishment in an everlasting hell forever and ever; in unmitigated fury and gall; unrelenting, undiminishing; unforgiving. In short, I am worthy only of God’s wrath. But yet, instead of enmity, He gives us His unfailing love; instead of His justice, He gives us His inexhaustible mercy; instead of His wrath, He has without consideration for any goodness in any of His creatures, poured out upon His own that He knew before the foundations of the world His matchless, unfathomable grace. Oh what a Savior in response to sinners!

G.S. Bishop defines grace this way with these powerful words:
"GRACE IS A PROVISION for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures, so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, so dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them into resurrection."
That's grace... amen?

The One Triune God of Grace
God is the God of all grace (1 Pt. 5:10); and the giver of all grace (James 1:17). His throne is a throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) that we may approach to find help in time of need. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29). Grace was upon Christ (Luke 2:40); He spoke with grace (Luke 4:22); and was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Grace came by Christ (John 1:17), was given by Christ (1 Cor. 1:4) and even foretold by the prophets (1 Pt. 1:10). The riches of grace was demonstrated and manifested in God’s kindness through Christ (Eph. 2:7). We were “chosen by God before the foundations of the earth… to be adopted as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4-6).

The Divine Character of Grace
God’s grace is described in His Word as being: great (Acts 4:33); sovereign (Rom. 5:21); rich (Eph. 1:7); exceeding (2 Cor. 9:14); manifold (1 Pt. 4:10); all-sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9); all-abundant (Rom. 5:15, 17, 20); and glorious (Eph. 1:6). The very gospel itself is a declaration of grace (Acts 20:24, 32). God’s grace is the source for: election (Rom. 11:5); the call of God in ministry (Gal. 1:15); justification (Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7); faith (Acts 18:27); forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7); salvation (Eph. 2:5,8); consolation and hope (2 Thess. 2:16).

As His children and saints, we are heirs of His grace (1 Pt. 3:7); under His grace (Rom. 6:16); received grace from Christ Himself (John 1:16); abound in gifts of grace (Acts 4:33; 2 Cor. 9:8, 14)); established in grace (Heb. 13:9); strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus for ministry (2 Tim. 2:1); should be growing in grace (2 Pt. 3:18); and should speak with grace for the edifying of one another (Eph. 4:29). Most importantly God’s grace is not to be received in vain (2 Cor. 6:1); not to be abused (Rom. 3:8); is not a license for sin (Rom. 6:1, 15); and is not antinomian (against the law) (Jude 1:4).

Grace “Rights”
It is clear to see that the Christian life is all of grace and nothing for which we can take credit for or find something of merit within ourselves to boast of. "Apart from Him we can do nothing" (John 15:5). Charles Spurgeon commenting on this wonderful reality says,
"Consider this, believer. You have no right to heaven in yourself: your right lies in Christ and His grace. If you are pardoned, it is through His blood; ifyou are justified, it is through His righteousness; if you are sanctified, it is because He is made of God unto you sanctification; if you shall be kept from falling, it will be because you are preserved in Christ Jesus; and if you are perfected at the last, it will be because you are complete in Him. Thus Jesus is magnified-for all is in Him and by Him; thus the inheritance is made certain to us-for it is obtained in Him; thus each blessing is the sweeter, and even heaven itself the brighter, because it is Jesus our Beloved "in whom" we have obtained all
And further he states,
"When Jesus gave himself for us, he gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is written, "Whither the Forerunner is for us entered" (Heb. 6:20). Does he stand in the presence of God?-"He appears in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24).
The Apostle Paul brings this tremendous grand truth of God’s grace to where we live every day in Titus 2:11-13. He describes to us three practical stages of grace: 1. Saved by Grace; 2. Sanctified by Grace; and, 3. Glorified by Grace. In other words, we’ve died once to the penalty of sin; we die daily to the power of sin; and one day, we will be free from the presence of sin.


Saved by Grace—
We’ve Died Once to the Penalty of Sin

Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” Here the Apostle Paul makes grace more than a theological concept or another attribute of God— he makes it embodied in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord. “The grace of God has appeared” after having been long hidden in the loving counsels of God (cf, Col 1:26; 2Ti 1:9,10). This is grace incarnate. The grace of God has now been embodied in Jesus, the brightness of the Father's glory," manifested as the "Sun of righteousness" (cp, Heb. 1:1-3). This is describing “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us” (John 1:14). This is God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, coming to earth; taking on the form of a bond-servant. This is Divine Love clothed in humility, God’s gracious gift condescending to fallen mankind (cp, Phil. 2:5-8).

It is He, Christ Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). As the Apostle John says, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The Greek word epiphainomai for “appeared” here, means to be made clear or manifest. The essential meaning of the word is "to appear suddenly upon a scene" and it is used particularly of divine interposition. It signifies the dawning of light upon darkness. Such was the incarnation of Jesus Christ—the Light of world. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5).

For what purpose did Christ humble Himself and put on flesh? For the purpose of “…bringing salvation to all men.” This is the saving and delivering of sinful man from the right reward of our transgression against a holy God—eternal punishment. Christ comes, grace incarnate, “bringing salvation to all men.” This does not mean that all men will be saved—that would be called universalism. On the contrary, “all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord did we not…depart from Me you who practice iniquity. The road is narrow that leads to eternal life and few are they that find it."

“All men” is not a numerical designator—but one of scope. The gospel is for all people of all races, all nations, all tongues and tribes of the earth. The gospel is to be proclaimed to the four corners of the world. We are to call all men to repentance. It simply is referring to mankind, not everyone in mankind. In other words, the gospel is not for a spiritually elite who are more gifted; more noble; more good; more civil; more moral; not as sinful, who God somehow looked down upon and thought, “they really are special and have lived a life better than most…I will save them.” Not so. It is referring to humanity in general; of all peoples of all lands. The Lord will call His own from among them. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient to cover and forgive every sin that would ever be committed, by every one that would ever believe. Paul describes this truth in his opening words in Titus 1:1-2, “Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.” Out of all humanity, it is only those whom God has chosen to believe that will be saved (Rom. 10:9-10).




Sanctified by Grace—
We Die Daily to the Power of Sin

The new life in Christ represents a new way of living in this world. Salvation is completely transforming. We have been not just "made over", we have been regenerated--born again.

We once were as Paul says we were:
“as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one." "Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving," "The poison of asps is under their lips"; "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; "Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace have they not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:10-18).
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:1-3).
"For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3).
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
It is so clear that we are totally depraved people. Sinners; not because we commit acts of sin; but sinners, because by nature we are sinful. And sinful by nature people always will commit acts of sin. Depraved doesn’t mean that we are doing bad things and only bad things that are in themselves entirely bad. It doesn't mean that we are as bad as we could be. For even "the rain falls on the just and the unjust." Unsaved people can be generous, doing acts of great humanity for others, showing love and kindness to their neighbor, having warm, rich meaningful families and relationships, being productive and philanthropic in their communities, etc. But rather depraved means that we are completely inable to satisfy God by our own good works in order to appease His wrath, meet the demands of His justice, and atone for our sins. But when the entrance of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ saves us, we are born again. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things are made new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Notice what Paul says, all things are new; all old things pass away. Complete life transformation by the gospel of grace. That is good news! And new lives in Christ demand a new way to live. We cannot say that we are new creatures in Him and live the same old life we used to live in the world. "A good tree produces good fruit" and the new life will evidence itself in Christlikeness.

Though justification and sanctification are two different realities spiritually, they are two inseparable truths as well. All those whom the Lord saves, He sanctifies (sets apart for His use and glory). If we claim to know Him there must be the fruit of the transformed life lived. To illustrate this point, when I was in Germany several years ago ministering at an Air Force base in Bitberg, a young man came up to me after one of the meetings and told me that he had been a Christian since he was ten years old—but there had been no change in him since then. He said, “Steve, I have my fire insurance, but I am still the same person I’ve always been. I said a sinners prayer, and if I really meant it, it’s OK, I am still a Christian and going to heaven one day. It doesn’t matter how I live; after all, we all struggle with sin, right?” Is that genuine Christianity? Live anyway you want and grace has got you covered? Of course not. Grace doesn’t wink at sin nor pacify sin. Grace drives us to further obedience in Christ. The root of our salvation is the grace of Christ; but the fruit of our salvation is the life of grace evidenced in the believer.

This is Paul’s point here. Grace is, “instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Notice here, when salvation comes, so comes the new life. We are saved by grace, and also sanctified by grace.

A Faithful Teacher
Grace is our daily teacher. This word instructing means to train by discipline; to train a child. It is a similar word for tutor found in Galatians 3:24. Grace is now our daily tutor, training us in righteousness and Christlikeness. It faithfully instructs us in two things: “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires.” Ungodliness here means the rejection of everything that is reverent and of all that has to do with God. This is lawlessness or premeditated disobedience against the Lord Himself. This a total disregard for the things of the Lord and His chaste ways for us.

Worldly desires is the passion behind the irreverence. It is the strong overpowering lustful desire of our hearts. Epithumeia is the Greek word here and signifies the dominating unrestrained passions of one’s life. Grace empowers us not to live a life of lust or unrestrained pleasure against the standard and holiness of God. Everyday, grace teaches us to surrender our lives to Christ as a living sacrifice, and not simply give in to the desires that would defy the Lord and His reverent standard for us, but to use the instruments of our flesh as weapons of righteousness. In other words, we can have victory over the desires and passions that would pull us away from being fruitful in service to the Lord and most effective as a witness and vessel for the Master's use.

Paul gives us great hope and surety in our walk in the Lord when he says in Romans 5:2, “we stand in grace.” This is our security in sanctification. Spurgeon, when commenting on this verse to his congregation in London said, “Our finite sins can never exhaust his infinite grace.” Isn't that good? That is real hope for us beloved. When we do sin, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1). Once again, grace doesn’t wink at sin, give license to sin, minimize what sin is, or underestimate its compromising influence and deceiving power; but grace teaches us not to sin; not to succumb to the lustful passions of our lives or that which would exalt itself against the reverence of God; grace instructs us daily to live for the Lord.

As brother Spurgeon once again so aptly encourages us,
“Yes, there is no safety like that which comes of dwelling near to God. For His best beloved the Lord can find no surer or safer place. O Lord, let me always abide under thy shadow, close to thy wounded side. Nearer and nearer would I come to thee, my Lord; and when once specially near thee, I would abide there for ever. What a covering is that which the Lord gives to His chosen! Not a fair roof shall cover him, nor a bombproof casement, nor even an angel's wing, but Jehovah Himself. Nothing can come at us when we are thus covered. This covering the Lord will grant us all the day long, however long the day. Lord, let me abide this day consciously beneath this canopy of love, this pavilion of sovereign power and grace.

Glorified by Grace—
We will One Day be Free from the Presence of Sin

This is our great hope and comfort—we shall be free from the very presence of sin when on that glorious day we shall see Him and we shall be like Him. “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;” (Titus 2:13). “Those whom He justified… He glorified” (Rom. 8:30). As we are making our way through this world struggling with being new creations incarcerated in unredeemed flesh; we are waiting for the return of our Lord and to serve and reign with Him forever in glory…amen?

This is our hope. This is our joy. This is our unfading motivation in living for Him. This will prove the antidote to worldly lusts, and the stimulus to "live in this present world" conformably to this expectation. One day we will be with Him and we will be like Him; so we press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4). Notice that Paul calls this a blessed hope (cf, Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 John 3:2-3). This should produce in us great joy in the journey as we find comfort in the great promise of the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.

In JF&B’s great commentary on the Bible, they insightfully say,
“Blessed… bringing blessedness (Rom.4:7-8). Hope, that is, the object of hope (Rom. 8:24; Gal. 5:5; Col 1:5). The glorious appearing, there is but one Greek article to both "hope" and "appearing," which marks their close connection (the hope being about to be realized only at the appearing of Christ). Translate, "The blessed hope and manifestation (compare Note, see on Tit 2:11) of the glory." The Greek for "manifestation" is translated "brightness" in 2 Thess. 2:8. As His "coming" (Greek, "parousia") expresses the fact; so "brightness, appearing," or "manifestation" (epiphaneia) expresses His personal visibility when He shall come.” That really conveys this great truth.

Here Paul gives us one of the great verses on the deity of Christ found anywhere in the N.T. – “our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” He is our Savior, the very meaning of His name, Jesus. But only a great God can save; and He is both—fully man and fully God. He is the Son of Man made flesh; but He is eternally, God the Son. He is Jesus our Savior; but He is the Lord, our Sovereign. There is but one Greek article to "God" and "Saviour," which shows that both are predicated of one and the same Being. Of Him who is at once the great God and our Saviour.

This is the theme of one of the great doxologies of Scripture: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

May our hearts rejoice in His grace today as we look towards the blessed return of our King for His people. And in the meantime, may we submit to our loving disciplinarian—our faithful instructor and teacher of grace, as we learn to walk faithfully and humbly with the Lord each day saying no to worldliness and ungodliness.

And beloved, may we keep fresh on our lips this wonderful benediction for the “gracelife” pleasing to the Lord: “For me to live is Christ; and to die is gain.”

From the crucible of grace...
Steve
Romans 5:2

11 comments:

Terry Rayburn said...

Wonderful!

This precious Grace is the most prominent thing that separates Christianity from the other [false] religions of the world, with the possible exception of the minor detail that our Savior happens to be alive :)

How horrible to be beholden to dead prophets and religious leaders who, even from their graves, demand one's own personal good works or righteousness for "salvation", while all one has to give is filthy rags.

Terry

Mike Ratliff said...

I heard John Piper this morning on his daily Podcast say that Grace is what our Holy and Just God used to create the means of salvation for sinful Man. Without Grace there is no way any of us can be saved or after salvation do any good work other than the filthy rags Terry is talking about.

This is what amazes me about people who attempt to add works to grace for salvation. How can any of us, outside of God's grace, do any good work that would be an acceptable sacrifice? Not going to happen. I believe that this exactly what the "Free Will" bunch are doing. John Owen said, "To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect." --Amen. I'll take grace.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Puritan Belief said...

I liked this:
"Grace robs man of any glory."
For it is written:
"..and this not of yourselves less any man should boast"

Grace is found wholly and completely in Jesus Christ who is the firstborn of the many:
Jesus said:
"Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in 3 days" (John 2:19)
And Kept his word:
"... Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father" Rom 6:4

When we come to Christ we are coming to the God of Grace who draws us unto Himself into eternal life. (2 Cor 5:19) For Jesus conquered death despising its shame and so have we who are Born of God from His gift which is irrevocable.

donsands said...

Very fine teaching. Enjoyed reading and pondering these truths about God's glorious grace.

Grace, grace, God's grace. How sweet the sound.

John D. Chitty said...

Thought I'd share my revised definition of GRACE: "God's Righteousness at Christ's Expense"

Douglas said...

Steve,

are these people correct?

Seeing Jesus

Pictures Of Jesus

Pictures Of Jesus And The Adequacy Of Scripture

The Truth About Images of Jesus

Are pictures/images of the LORD Jesus Christ sinful? Do they transgress the second commandment?

I am sorry to have to bring this up again, but images/pictures/paintings/drawings of Jesus bother me and I think they are wrong. I did not like them when I was in the Roman Catholic Organization when I was young, and I do not like them now, even more so. Especially after reading the above book, quotes and articles. I believe the Bible clearly forbids man made images/pictures of God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

SJ Camp said...

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,"

The thrust of the second commandment is worship; which when given to a carved image is nothing short of idolatry.

If you take this verse that no image can be made about anything, then you must deny all paintings of sunsets, animals, fish, trees, flowers, the sky, etc. Exodus 20:4 does not in specific address an image of God. But any image that supplants or replaces worship of the One Triune God is forbidden.

Therefore, I don't think that showing images of nature, creation, or aspects of the Lord's life is a violation of the second commandment.

It is idolatry that the commandment prohibits. And if anyone comes to this blog to worship the images I post here, then I want to strongly encourage you to repent and come to Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Terry Rayburn said...

The simplest proof that the 2nd Commandment is referring to idols and not images per se, graven or otherwise, is the carvings and images actually commanded to Israel from God.

For example, the cherabim above the mercy seat, and the images woven into the curtains around the tabernacle.

It's clearly idolatry that God is dealing with, not literal images.

SJ Camp said...

Terry:
Excellent point. Thank you brother.

Douglas said...

R. C. Sproul was once asked this question:

Dr. James Packer, in his book Knowing God, criticizes the use of the crucifix and pictures of Jesus as symbols of Christianity, saying that it breaks God's second commandment. How do you feel about this?

"I will preface my answer by saying that Jim Packer is a very close friend of mine and we've done a lot of work together in theological conferences. I know him to be one of the finest Christian scholars in the world today. He's an Anglican theologian and has his personal roots deep in the Protestant Reformation.

You may be aware that in the sixteenth century, one of the burning issues of conflict between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant reaction to it was precisely over the use of images and pictures in the church. There was the great iconoclast controversy, and even in Luther's Germany the people went so far as to break into Roman Catholic churches and destroy some of the art pieces there because they felt they were in violation of the second commandment. There is a long Protestant tradition of concern about that because the second commandment says, "You shall not make for your self a carved image-any likeness of anything..." (Exod. 20:4). That's not a complete prohibition against art, as even the most ardent Reformers understood. There's a tremendous use of the various art forms in the Bible-the tabernacle and the temple of Israel being primary examples. What was prohibited were human likeness of God.

There was a clear agreement among Reformers that there should be no imagery that tried to depict the nature of God. The paintings in the Sistine Chapel, for example, depicting the hand and finger of God creating Adam, would have been objectionable to the Reformers. Historically, the Roman Catholic Church has taken a very strong stand, saying that while people may serve the image, they are not to worship the idol or crosses or any other such things. They have defined idolatry, the word comes from idola latria, which literally means "the worship of idols." They make a distinction between serving the image and worshiping it; men such as Packer say that it is a distinction without a difference. Serving idols is worshiping idols, and the Reformers weren't satisfied with the Roman Catholic answer.

Now you raise the question of a depiction of Christ and the use of the cross. There are Protestants who won't have any symbols in the church, including a cross, with or without a Christ figure on it. Packer is questioning pictures of Jesus and crosses. I have a problem with them from a practical standpoint. I can't say for sure that to depict the human nature of Jesus is a violation of the second commandment. But I'm not sure this is wise because it could communicate an image to people that is inaccurate. The Solomon's head of Christ, as beautiful as it is, has communicated to generations of people an effeminate Jesus who is somehow less than strong. I would rather communicate nothing artistically about how Jesus looked than put wrong images in peoples minds." pages 356-358 Now That's a Good Question

"Also, pictures of our Lord perpetuate the false, premillennial doctrine that the Messiah is not presently reigning as king at the right hand of God. Many evangelicals believe that the Lord does not really rule over the earth until the Second Coming. Theologically, they view Jesus much the same way as He was in His state of humiliation. The apostle Paul rejects such thinking. He says, “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer” (2 Cor. 5:16). We live in the post resurrection era. The Messiah is no longer the meek, mild, suffering servant. Now He is the white horse rider, the victorious king, who is glorified, who has all power in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:19). The whole Bible and nothing but the Bible is to inform our understanding of Christ. Every aspect of His person and work is the object of our faith. Anything that places a fantasy, a human invention or a false image of our Lord before our eyes or into our minds does not strengthen biblical faith but corrupts and degrades it. If you want to see the Savior then study, meditate on, and memorize Scripture, for therein the Messiah is revealed in all His glory." - Are Pictures of Christ Unbiblical? By: Brian Schwertley

I have read several essays by Brian Schwertly in the past and have always found them very instructive, is he wrong here?

Have you actually read Justin Griffin's book "The Truth About Images of Jesus" that I linked to in the above post? Is he wrong? Did you read the other articles? Are they right or wrong?

I think there are some very valid points made in the discussion here against images of God/Jesus: Idolatry???

This, from the above link, sums it up very clearly for me:

"I also initially had a difficult time seeing how the second commandment referred to the very making of divine images. One helpful thing some people pointed out to me was that if it were only speaking against the worshiping of such images, it would not be saying anything beyond the first commandment, and thus it would make no sense even having it as a separate command. But since it is considered a separate commandment (except by the Roman Catholic Church, which actually views it as part of the first commandment, and splits up the forbidding of coveting into two commandments), it clearly has something further to say beyond simply forbidding the explicit worship of idols.

But even more than that, what convinced me was Deuteronomy 4:15-18, which sheds some very helpful light on the meaning of the second commandment: "Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth."

I used to wonder where people got the idea that the second commandment was specifically talking about images of God, since it nowhere says that explicitly. But here in this Deuteronomy passage, the specific ground given for not making physical images is that the Israelites "saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to [them]." That makes it abundantly more clear that the second commandment relates specifically to coming up with a physical form to represent God in any way, since we have seen no such form.
"

After all that I have studied to date, I am convinced more than ever that man made images of Jesus, the Father or the Holy Spirit, are sinful. I believe man made images of Deity are sinful and do violate the second commandment. It is not only the bowing down and worshiping of images or idols that is sinful it is the making of them in the first place that is sinful as well.

What does Jerry Bridges believe about man made images of the LORD Jesus Christ? What does James White believe about man made images of the LORD Jesus Christ? I thought Reformed Baptists believe any man made images of God, God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, are sinful?

Muslims go rioting and deadly rampages when someone draws a cartoon of Muhammad and they do not tolerate any art work depicting their Allah or of Muhammed yet Christians seem to have become so blasé over images of Jesus, of God.

The Protestant Church seems to have returned to Rome on this issue.

Where, in all of Scripture, are we given permission by God to produce, reproduce, make images of God the Father, graven or otherwise? Images of Jesus? Images of the Holy Spirit?

"Are you persuaded you see more clearly than me? It is not unlikely that you may. Then treat me as you would desire to treated yourself upon a change of circumstances. Point me out a better way than I have yet known. Show me it is so by plain proof of Scripture. And if I linger in the path that I have been accustomed to tread, and am therefore unwilling to leave, labour with me a little, take me by the hand and lead me as I am able to bear. But be not displeased if I entreat you not to beat me down in order to quicken my pace. I can go but feebly and slowly at best - then I should not be able to go at all. May I not request of you, farther, not to give me hard names in order to bring me into the right way? Suppose I was ever so much in the wrong, I doubt this would not set me right. Rather it would make me run so much the farther from you - and so get more and more out of the way." - John Wesley (1703-1791)

gigantor1231 said...

Douglas

If there is doubt in your heart regarding this issue then it is sin for you. Is it sin for another if they have a image that is not Christ but portrays him is some way, how about the image drawn from Is. 53, I have often wondered what that would look like, not for worship or idolatry but for a greater appreciation of Christ. No, I do not need that but if I hired out to have someone paint what they felt was described of Christ in Is. 53 it would not be sin for me. The question is will I cause you to stumble? If so then I do not do it. The other question is, should I allow you to impose on me your lack of faith? My answer is no to that as well, what you do not know will not cause you to sin.
So, here it is, if in doubt do not do it but if you have faith that the image is just a image to be viewed an not worshiped or served then carry out what you desire and do not sin or cause another to stumble. While to some this may be a major issue, it seems trivial to me... but then again I am not you!