God’s Image – Lost and Restored

“When man was created, he possessed the image of God in the structural and broader sense, and at the same time imaged God properly in the functional or narrower sense, since he lived in perfect obedience to God. After man had fallen into sin, however, he retained the image of God in the structural or broader sense but lost it in the functional or narrower sense.

That is to say, fallen human beings still possess the gifts and capacities with which God has endowed them, but they now use these gifts in sinful and disobedient ways. In the process of redemption God by his Spirit renews the image in fallen human beings–that is, enables them once again to use their God-reflecting gifts in such a way as to image God properly–at least in principle. After the resurrection of the body, on the new earth, redeemed humanity will once again be able to image God perfectly.

The image of God in man must therefore be seen as involving both the structure of man (his gifts, capacities, and endowments) and the functioning of man (his actions, his relationships to God and to others, and the way he uses his gifts). To stress either of these at the expense of the other is to be one-sided. We must see both, but we need to see the structure of man as secondary and his functioning as primary.

God has created us in his image so that we may carry out a task, fulfill a mission, pursue a calling. To enable us to perform that task, God has endowed us with many gifts–gifts that reflect something of his greatness and glory. To see man as the image of God is to see both the task and the gifts. But the task is primary; the gifts are secondary. The gifts are the means for fulfilling the task.”

-Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 72-73.

Jehovah Reigns—He Dwells in Light

Jehovah reigns—He dwells in light,
Girded with majesty and might:
The world, created by His hands,
Still on its first foundation stands.

But ere this spacious world was made,
Or had its first foundation laid,
Thy throne eternal ages stood,
Thyself the ever-living God.

Like floods, the angry nations rise,
And aim their rage against the skies;
Vain floods, that aim their rage so high!
At Thy rebuke the billows die.

For ever shall Thy throne endure;
Thy promise stands for ever sure;
And everlasting holiness
Becomes the dwellings of Thy grace.

-Isaac Watts, Psalm 93, The Psalms of David, 1719.

Man’s Reflection of God

“Man’s rational powers . . . reflect God’s reason, and enable man now, in a sense, to think God’s thoughts after him. Man’s moral sensitivity reflects something of the moral nature of God, who is the supreme determiner of right and wrong. Our capacity for fellowshipping with God in worship reflects the fellowship that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have with each other. Our ability to respond to God and to fellow human beings imitates God’s ability and willingness to respond to us when we pray to him. Our ability to make decisions reflects in a small way the supreme directing power of him “who works out everything in conformity to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:11). Our sense of beauty is a feeble reflection of the God who scatters beauty profusely over snow-crowned peaks, lake-jeweled valleys, and awe-inspiring sunsets. Our gift of speech is an imitation of him who constantly speaks to us, both in his world and in his word. And our gift of song echoes the God who rejoices over us with singing (Zeph. 3:17).”

-Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 71.

Man’s Body As God’s Image

“Man’s Body also belongs to the image of God…. The body is not a tomb but a wondrous masterpiece of God, constituting the essence of man as fully as the soul… it belongs so essentially to man that, though through sin it is violently torn away from the soul [in death], it is nevertheless again united with the soul in the resurrection.”

-Herman Bavinck, Dogmatiek, 2:601, translation by Anthony A. Hoekema in Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 68.

Book Review: Pulling Back the Shades

pulling-back-the-shadesby Erik Martin

When I was asked to review Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery’s new book, Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart, I must admit I had mixed feelings. I am not an experienced literary critic and this book–written by women, for women, about women–seemed outside my area of expertise. However, the noxious and pervasive nature of erotica today caused me to pause. The mainstream acceptance of E. L. James’ Fifty Shades series told me that Gresh and Slattery’s book was worth a review.

I must admit I’ve never read any of E.L. James’ works. After reading Pulling Back the Shades, I am even more confident in denouncing such literature. Gresh and Slattery expose the inescapable perils of reading 50 Shades of Grey.

I was able to easily read Pulling Back the Shades in about two hours. It’s graceful writing style and compact size makes it manageable for even the reticent reader.

True Satisfaction

Gresh and Slattery refuse to shrink back from hard answers, even those unpopular or politically incorrect. They hold up the Word of God as authoritative, even today, to speak into the lives of Christian women. This is not just a book attacking 50 Shades of Grey, but a guide for finding genuine satisfaction. Gresh and Slattery seek true sexual intimacy–within marriage–as a picture of a Christ-follower’s intimacy with his or her Master.

Gresh and Slattery call for revival. As they write, “this book is about the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of women.” They want women to treasure Christ alone. He is the consummation of all the desires of the female heart.

Practical Yet Prudent

Both Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery work diligently to be circumspect. They attempt to be as vague as possible about the details of erotica, while also trying to address the problems associated with the different facets of fornication fantasy. The nature of this subject requires them to delve into more detail than would be preferred, but detail which seems necessary.

Gresh and Slattery’s book is fiercely practical. It disarms those who justify erotica. It is a great resource for those entrapped in sexual sin and seeking sexual healing. While the book is targeted towards women, many of the principles should be employed by men as they also seek sexual purity.

Pulling Back the Shades is filled with helpful discussion questions which make the book a practical devotional. It features an appendix with useful resources for accountability, online filtering, Christian therapy, and other helpful books. A second appendix is filled with valuable strategies for overcoming temptation.

Conclusions:

I would strongly recommend this book for those who entertain or endorse erotica. I also think it would be helpful for those tempted to read 50 Shades of Grey. I also recommend it for those who wish to counsel women who struggle in these areas.

I would definitely not recommend Pulling Back the Shades for everyone. It is not appropriate for children or those who are innocent about erotica. It would expose the naive to areas of sin they do not even realize exist.

If you struggle with sexual purity, frequent erotic literature, or struggle with Christ’s lordship over your sexuality, then you will find this book helpful. As with any book on sex, read carefully and prudently. Gresh and Slattery seek to help you navigate troubled waters. Don’t be cavalier, or you may fall even deeper into the bondage of sin.

May King Jesus be glorified in your mind and body!

The Image of God

“Man does not simply bear or have the image of God; he is the image of God.

From the doctrine that man has been created in the image of God flows the clear implication that that image extends to man in his entirety. Nothing in man is excluded from the image of God. All creatures reveal traces of God, but only man is in the image of God. And he is that image totally, in soul and body, in all faculties and power, in all conditions and relationships. Man is the image of God because and insofar as he is true man, and he is man, true and real man, because and insofar as he is in the image of God.”

-Herman Bavinck, Dogmatiek, 2:595-96, translation by Anthony A. Hoekema in Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 65.

Providence – Part 2 – Human Responsibility

by Erik Martin

-Continued from yesterday-

9. Human responsibility is compatible with divine sovereignty.

Despite God’s sovereignty, man and the fallen angels are responsible for sin and evil. God superintends evil, yet it is always performed by someone else.[1]

God hardened Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21) as Pharaoh hardened himself (Ex. 8:15, 32; 9:34). God ordained Pharaoh’s hardening but Pharaoh freely did the hardening. The Bible is clear that Pharaoh alone is responsible; the Scriptures leave no room for assessing God with culpability. In fact, God was incensed by Pharaoh’s rebellious hardening and God’s ethical purity reacted in searing judgment.

God decrees evil events without obliterating comprehensive human responsibility for those same events. Calvin argues: “We must not suppose that there is a violent compulsion, as if God dragged [the perpetrators of evil] against their will; but in a wonderful and inconceivable manner he regulates all the movements of men, so that they still have the exercise of their will.”[2] God does not determine the future by forcing people to act against their nature or in opposition to their wills. Calvin summarizes, “While God accomplishes through the wicked what He has decreed by His secret judgment, they are not excusable, as if they obeyed his precept which out of their own lust they deliberately break.” [3]

10. Example: Jesus’ Execution

The most horrific injustice of eternity is a prime example. It was God’s will to crush His Son (Isaiah 53:10), yet the Jews intrigued, Satan plotted, Pilate endorsed, and the Roman soldiers carried out Jesus’ crucifixion. All these irreverent actors are held responsible for their wicked, depraved, cowardly or mindless deeds (Matthew 26:24; Acts 2:23, 3:14; 4:27; 7:52; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Yet nothing happened except what “the hand and plan” of God had decreed (Acts 4:28). Even as Herod and Pilate conspired, God brought the fulfillment of His Word (Acts 3:18). Nevertheless, the human actors were condemned for their decisions and actions and God is only praised for His faithfulness and righteousness.

Part 1: https://modernpuritan.com/2014/03/18/providence1/


[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994),  323

[2] John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, 1.10.15.

[3] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.18.4.

Providence – Part 1 – God’s Interactions with Good and Evil

By Erik Martin

Thesis: God sovereignly ordains and governs all things even as man is fully responsible for his actions.       

1. God directly sends all that is good.

He is responsible for all blessings for He is the source of every good thing (Psalm 145:17; James 1:13-14). Nothing favorable comes apart from God (Psalm 16:2). All blessings originate in and then emanate from His nature. Goodness overflows from His essence. God cannot help but bless.

2. The Lord governs and controls evil.

God is sovereign over all things, even darkness and disaster (Isaiah 45:7). However, God does not analogously govern good and evil. Though God stands behind and causes good, D.A. Carson points out, “God is never presented as an accomplice of evil or as secretly malicious, or as standing behind evil in exactly the same way he stands behind good.”[1]

3. God’s perpetration of good and His dominion over evil are asymmetrical.

While God ordain evil, He does not desire evil. God does not permit evil in general, but every instance of evil that occurs, He allows and uses. No evil is gratuitous for God can limit evil’s extent and stop it completely.

4. Even Satan requires God’s permission to bring suffering.

The devil was unable to inflict Job without God’s authorization and was limited to the boundaries set by God (Job 1:12). When Satan desired to escalate his abuse, He was forced to first petition God (Job 2:6). In the New Testament, the demons in Mark 5 required Jesus’ permission to enter a herd of swine (Mark 5:12-13).

5. God even uses evil to defeat itself.

He hardened the hearts of the abominable Canaanites to destroy them (Deuteronomy 2:30). God prevented the pagans from suing for peace so He could pour out His retributive justice (Joshua 11:20). He handles the nations like men manipulate tools (Isaiah 10:5).

6. God’s irreproachable sovereignty over evil is displayed throughout scripture.

David credits God for punishing him through Shimei’s sin (2 Samuel 16:10-11). God killed Eli’s sons (1 Samuel 2:34) and brought the defection of the northern ten tribes (1 Kings 11:31). God ordained the destruction of the first temple and Jerusalem because of Israel’s idolatry (Isaiah 28:21). Isaiah writes that God whistles or trumpets the wicked to war (Isaiah 5:26; 7:18).

It is the Lord’s authority that rouses the nations from their slumber (Hosea 8:1; Zephaniah 2:1). The Assyrians are the rod of God’s just wrath (Isaiah 10:5) and He wields the peoples as His judgment ax (Matthew 3:10). God turns the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1) and the hearts of all men (Psalm 105:23). He makes the truthful dumb, the old imprudent and princes cowardly. God overtakes with dread, overcomes with sleep, blinds men’s minds, smites with dizziness, makes drunk with drowsiness, inflicts with madness, hardens hearts, brings blindness and insanity.[2]

7. God manages Satan

The Scriptures show God managing Satan, who cannot act outside of God’s jurisdiction. God does more than just permit Satan’s machinations; He wields Satan as a tool for His purposes. When Satan “presents himself before God” (Job 1:6; 2:1) he comes “to receive His commands” although He implements God’s will in wickedness and for destruction. Job himself recognizes that God ordained his sufferings. He testifies, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). In 1 Kings, God decrees that Ahab be deceived for purposes of judgment, and the devil volunteers for the assignment (1 Kings 22:22). It would be ludicrous for God to permit what He wills and not also decree it and command its execution by his creatures.

8. Nevertheless, God is blameless. 

God cannot be cursed or censured. He is not the source of evil, God never commits evil and He is never responsible for evil.

Part 2: https://modernpuritan.com/2014/03/19/providence2/


[1] D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil. 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2006), 203.

[2] (Ezek 7:26; Job. 12:24, Ps. 107:40; 106:40; Lev. 26:36; 1 Sam. 26:12; Isa. 29:14; Deut. 28:28, Zech. 12:4; Isaiah 29:10; Rom 1:28; Ex. 14:17; Rom. 1:20-14; Ex. 9:12; 10:1, 10:20, 27: 11:10; 14:8).

I’ll Speak the Honors of My King

I’ll speak the honors of my King,
His form divinely fair;
None of His sons of mortal race
May with the Lord compare.

Sweet is Thy speech, and heav’nly grace
Upon Thy lips is shed;
Thy God, with blessings infinite,
Hath crowned Thy sacred head.

Gird on Thy sword, victorious Prince,
Ride with majestic sway;
Thy terrors shall strike through Thy foes,
And make the world obey.

Thy throne, O God, for ever stands;
Thy word of grace shall prove
A peaceful scepter in Thy hands,
To rule the saints by love.

Justice and truth attend Thee still,
But mercy is Thy choice;
And God, Thy God, Thy soul shall fill
With most peculiar joys.

-Isaac Watts, Psalm 45, The Psalms of David, 1719.

How Beauteous Are the Feet

How beauteous are their feet
Who stand on Zion’s hill!
Who bring salvation on their tongues,
And words of peace reveal!

How charming is their voice!
How sweet the tidings are!
“Zion, behold thy Savior King;
He reigns and triumphs here.”

How happy are our ears
That hear this joyful sound,
Which kings and prophets waited for,
And sought, but never found!

How blessèd are our eyes
That see this heav’nly light
Prophets and kings desired it long,
But died without the sight.

The watchmen join their voice,
And tuneful notes employ;
Jerusalem breaks forth in songs,
And deserts learn the joy.

The Lord makes bare His arm
Through all the earth abroad;
Let every nation now behold
Their Savior and their God!

-Isaac Watts, Isaiah 52:7-9, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707.