Jottings – The Best Of Men Are At Best Just Men

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“The best of men are at best just men.”

Mike Attwood as quoted by Tim Bhatt at the 2013 Greenwood Hills Labor Day Conference.

 

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His Gospel’s Effect: Lesson 1

Scripture: Romans 1:16-18, Romans 3:19-26, Romans 5:1, Romans 6:1-14, Romans 7:5-6, Romans 7:18-8:4, Romans 8:31-39

In love God gave us the letter to the Romans in His Word. In this letter God teaches us His gospel and then teaches us how this gospel should affect our lives. Let’s review what God taught in chapters 1 to 8.

God’s gospel is His message of good news to man. God tells us what He thinks, and tells us what we need to hear. God shows us in Romans that all of us are unrighteous. All people have sinned. Not one is perfect. So all are under God’s judgment because God is a righteous judge. So no one will be called righteous by God by works.

But God has made it possible for anyone to be righteous by faith in what Jesus Christ did. Christ died for our sins. God is satisfied with the Lord Jesus’ blood. If I believe that I have sins and put my trust on Christ as my Savior, God will declare me to be righteous.

Have you ever realized you deserve to be judged by God and cast away from Him into the lake of fire forever? You need to see this is true. God told us so.

God also told us we can know we will be in heaven forever if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! That is good news! Christ was perfect, but He took all the judgment on Himself when He died on the cross. By faith in what Christ did, we have peace between us and God.

God also teaches us that we have another problem. The first problem was a legal problem with our sins. The second problem is an internal problem with sin. The nature we got from Adam (the first man) is no good! This nature is called the flesh. Sin came into the world by Adam’s sin, and sin now has control of the flesh in every person.

But God has made it possible for anyone to live a righteous life. It is by not trying to live by the flesh’s power. I need to consider myself dead, and now let Christ live in me. By the Spirit of Christ in me, my body has a new energy source. I do not look to the flesh any longer.

Have you ever realized there is nothing good in your flesh? God knows it is true. He condemned it as no good when Christ died. God’s good news is that when Christ died, all believers in Christ died. And when Christ rose again to new life, all believers rose again to newness of life.

So I need to be done with myself. I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. By letting Christ live in me, I can have peace in my walk, because I can actually do what pleases God!

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Continued in His Gospel’s Effect: Lesson 2

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Photo: flickr/Patchy Patch

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God’s Good News: Lesson 9 Part 1

Read Romans 8:1-14

The Spirit of Christ in me is a new source of power to live right (Romans 8:1-4)
We are not in Adam any more, so we are not in a condemned race. We were hopeless in Adam, but God has taken us out of Adam and put us in Christ (like we learned in chapter 5 and 6)!

We have learned (in chapter 7) that the flesh is not able to do what is right because sin rules it. When I try to live in Adam, I try to do good and I find I do evil. This shows I am under the law of sin. So, I am not able to get the members of my body to do what I want. This shows I am under the law of death. But, another law has set me free! The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus frees from both of these laws. How?

God made a way to set me free. God gave me new life in Christ rather than in Adam. God took me out of Adam and put me in Christ. When Christ died, I died (like we learned in chapter 6). He died as my representative, so the life of the risen Christ can live in me. So I need to fix my eyes on the risen Christ!

God decided that the flesh is no good. God gave up on the flesh. He decided to start a new race with a new kind of life. Christ died as a man and then rose again to start a new race of men. Christ died and rose to take us out of living in Adam and give us newness of life in Christ. In Christ, the flesh is not the power to do right. The Spirit is the power of our new life in Christ!

The law said to do right things; but it tried to tell the flesh to do right. The flesh could not do it. Now I can walk a whole new way. Instead of trying to do right through my flesh, I can let the Spirit of Christ in me do right. I need to walk “according to the Spirit” rather than “according to the flesh.” This way I am delivered from sin’s power.

Continued in Lesson 9 Part 2

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Entry Level Theological Truth [6]

‘Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ Genesis 1:26

Being created in God’s image invests mankind with tremendous value. In the divine plan, human life is not to be easily discarded. The Creator puts great value on people, and expects humans to treat one another with the appropriate respect due to being fashioned in His likeness. Of course, contemporary society balks at this notion; life is cheap in the brave new world of technological advancement and humanistic hedonism. Fallen man runs this world upon self-centered – that is to say, man-centered – principles. Therefore, human beings are abused and destroyed contrary to the intention of their Maker.

Fashioned for Significance

The modern tendency to devalue human life stems from the philosophies of the past few centuries. Evolutionary theory inspires many of these worldviews which, although different in their exact details, share a belief that man is here by accident with no overarching purpose. Nihilism denies that there is any meaning or purpose to human life. Its more optimistic cousin, existentialism, declares that humans themselves determine what meaning or significance life has. Atheism and agnosticism have no room for a personal Creator and therefore see no problem with abortion (or in extreme cases, euthanasia.)

Contrary to these inventions of the human mind, Genesis declares that there is a personal Creator who designed and built human beings, investing them with value and significance by making them in His image and likeness. Though these aspects of man’s nature have been marred by the fall, God still sees the vestigial beauty of with which He originally invested man.

That humans have meaning and value is underscored by the fact that rather than consign them to eternal destruction, God delivered up His Son as a sacrifice to redeem them (Romans 8:32.) God the Son Himself became a man, thereby eternally associating Himself with mankind (Hebrews 2:10-18.) He did not leave His human body in a tomb indefinitely, but physically raised it to a new order of deathless life (Hebrews 7:16.) Forty days later He ascended to heaven, taking resurrected and glorified humanity into the presence of God the Father.

On Pentecost, in keeping with His own promise, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell regenerated human beings.* In this way He has given redeemed mankind even more dignity than they possessed in the world before the fall. They are now indwelt by God Himself through His Spirit and are destined to be conformed to the Son’s own image at the redemption of the body (see Romans 8.)

No Planned Obsolescence Here

Given the first creation which made man in God’s image and likeness, followed by the new creation which destines him to be conformed to the image of the risen Christ, man must value the lives of others as well as his own life. Children in the womb must be protected – especially since God interacted with numerous people during their gestation (e.g. Samson, David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Paul.) The modern world devalues the elderly and disabled, but God would have us show them love and respect. Finally, it behooves individuals to not waste their lives as if they had no meaning or purpose. Rather, they must realize they are created to know and serve God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of His Holy Spirit. Anything less than conversion and service towards their Creator is a desecration of the significance and value of human life.

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*One is regenerated by receiving Christ as Lord and Savior through faith – see John 3 & Titus 3.

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Read the next installment of Entry Level Theological Truth here.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [5]

Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ Genesis 1:26

God is neither distant from His creation (as in Deism), nor is He identical to it or co-extensive with it (as in Pantheism.) He is closely involved with the universe’s maintenance and destiny (Hebrews 1:3; 2 Peter 3:10-13.) What is more, God is most interested in relating to the capstone of His work: mankind. Humans, meanwhile, are prone to either overestimate or else underestimate themselves. Either they are the measure of all things or they are worthless collections of atoms randomly thrown together by chance, matter, and unthinking forces. The Almighty sanctions neither of these extremes; instead He recognizes mankind’s true position in the universe. Created in the Creator’s image, man is made to be His ruling representative on earth, and is below Him in might, glory, wisdom, and position.

Higher Beast Or Representative of God?

It is common today for people to equate the value of humans and lower life forms. The needs of pets and endangered species are championed by celebrities and the news media, while millions of people starve to death per year in grim anonymity. It is true that as a created being, man possesses some commonality with the animal creation. Yet to think that humans are merely higher forms of primates – naked apes, so to speak – would fall short of reality. One commentator explains the connection between animals and mankind:

As the last and highest of the animate creatures, man is created. His creation is indeed thrown together with that of the land animals into one day, and in this way a certain connection between the two is acknowledged. But much more does the account aim at making prominent his dissimilarity and his high dignity, as contrasted with these and all other beings. This is indicated by the place assigned him at the end of the whole series, and it is expressly stated by the assertion of his divine likeness and rank as ruler.*

Another scholar adds: “…man is set apart by his office (1:26b, 28b; 2:19; cf. Psalm 8:4–8; James 3:7) and still more by his nature (2:20); but his crowning glory is his relation to God.”**

Image-Bearing And Its Benefits

In this likeness to our Maker, humans must use their intellect and creativity for God’s glory. Most importantly, they must come to know Him and interact with Him through their spirits (that aspect of human nature that is unique to mankind and not shared with other earthly creatures.) Of course, Genesis 3 tells the sad tale of how sin marred God’s image in humans and continues to alienate them from our Creator.

Nonetheless, in Christ believers regain the status that Adam lost (they have actually gained much more than Adam lost, but that is another blog post as they say.) Man’s spiritual deadness is reversed by the new birth through the Last Adam who is “a life giving Spirit” (John 3:3-21; Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Corinthians 15:45.) They are destined to share in the administration of the future renewed planet earth under the perfect Man, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-30; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26-27.)

In light of the implications of mankind being God’s stewards on earth, Christians must lead the way in acting as those who are created to know, worship, and serve God. This will affect every aspect of their lives: their ethics, job performance, family life, work-ethic in school, choice of entertainment, selection of friends, and many more issues. Recognizing one’s image-bearing responsibility even has implications for our behavior on the web. The image one projects on social media sites, the way one uses e-mail, the amount of time one spends amusing oneself online must be evaluated in light of mankind’s creation in God’s image.

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*August Dillmann, Genesis Critically and Exegetically Expounded, Vol. 1. Translated by Wm. B. Stevenson. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1897, pp. 77f [Emphasis mine.]

**Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967, p. 55.

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