This Sunday, our church begins a four-week series on biblical manhood and womanhood. That could raise dozens of questions to answer and a person’s understanding of manhood and womanhood is applied in many ways. There’s a lot we won’t get to cover, but we’ll consider what it means to be made in God’s image, what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like, and how that applies to singleness and roles in marriage. Our church holds to the theological position known as complementarianism, and this will show up throughout the series.
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.” Irenaeus
“Thus humans may be said to have a reflexive identity. In some sense they find meaning outside themselves by virtue of what they reflect.” Richard Lints
There are few questions more significant than what it means to be an image-bearer of God. It’s at the heart of what it means to be human. It governs our ethics, calling us to see every person (not just those like us or those we like) as valuable and treat every individual with dignity, respect, and honor. It helps us answer questions like these:
- Why do we exist? What is our purpose?
- What makes human life valuable?
- Where does our worth, dignity, and value as human beings come from?
- How should I talk to, treat, interact with, and relate to this person or group?
Identity has (rightfully) received more attention in recent years. We all want to know who we are. Every human person’s identity question (Who am I?) is fundamentally answered by what it means to be created in God’s image. We must factor in how sin scars, mars, and wrecks the image of God in us without eliminating it, and then how in Christ we’re remade into God’s great design for us as his image-bearers, but we can start with some simple thoughts on what it means to be an image-bearer.
I know, repentance isn’t your favorite word. It’s not mine either. No doubt it conjures up something like an angry turn-or-burn “preacher” (either pounding the pulpit or screaming in the streets) letting people have it or an ultra-fundamentalist family member unhappy with your choices of what’s right or wrong. Despite the bad taste that might be lingering in your mouth for words like “repent” and “repentance”, let’s together seek to move past those barriers and rediscover what God actually says about repentance. It might never be for your favorite word or your favorite part of being a Christian, but as we look into God’s Word I think we’ll see that repentance is meant to be a life-giving, sin-replacing, gospel-rooted posture of the Christian life. Easy? No. Good? Yes.
The Ascension of Jesus has become a forgotten doctrine in most churches. We think of Jesus in terms of his past work at the manger, cross, or empty tomb but neglect his ongoing work from the throne. Jesus has not kicked up his feet to enjoy the retired life until his return. Reclaiming our understanding of the ascension helps us answer what Jesus is doing right now, and why his reign gives us rest.
Yesterday’s post reminded us the decisive break with sin allowing us to fight our sin already happened at conversion. I stated that rather than this making sin excusable or causing us to be spiritually lazy, it should actually motivate us to live in the freedom from sin and the fellowship with God that we get in Christ through definitive sanctification. I thought it might be helpful to consider how 20th century theologian John Murray summarized our role versus God’s role.
Anxiety is overwhelming. It can affect our bodies. It wreaks havoc on our emotions. And it consumes our thoughts. They race like a runaway train or get caught in a vicious cycle of spinning round-and-round with “what if…”, “if only…”, or many other possibilities. Anxiety awakens us in the dark hours of the night. It can rob us of a day’s joy and suck the life right out of us.
Jesus’ sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection stand at the center of the “good news” Christians stake their lives upon. The Bible joins the bloody cross and empty tomb as two distinct but inseparable events. And yet, many of our gospel presentations and theological conversations refer to the cross as the place where salvation was fully accomplished and the deal was sealed. Christ’s resurrection is either left out or tacked on as the cherry on top. I’m thankful evangelicals have been “cross-centered” but it’s unfortunate we’ve moved the resurrection to the periphery.
“The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.” Charles Spurgeon
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)
The Problem: Life is Hard
Despite the way our culture values “authenticity,” most of us rarely feel comfortable enough to speak honestly and personally about the wounds and pains we carry, the weariness and weakness we feel, the dark thoughts we wrestle with, or the disappointment or frustration with life experienced. While it might be okay to admit generalities like “my life is a mess” or “I’m struggling along,” to say how and why we are fragile or broken, to confess our sins, or to share our burdens seems a bit too far. It can be an awkward moment of transparency in a world of surface-level dialogue.
John’s purpose for writing the gospel: “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31).
John’s background for his book: “the framework for Jesus’ understanding of his own mission is shaped by the Scriptures mediated by the Jews” (D. A. Carson).
John’s 2 questions for the reader to wrestle with: 1) Who is Jesus? 2) What do I do with his words/teachings?
A common approach to studying the Bible is the Inductive Method. The goal is to draw out and rightly interpret a passage, not read into it or force our own meaning into it. While people use various words or acronyms to explain steps in the Inductive Method, the most simple is Observation-Interpretation-Application. In this post, I’ll provide suggested questions for learning how to make observations in a passage of the Bible. The observation stage asks, “What do I see?”