“In His Image and Likeness, Part 4”

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“In His Image and Likeness, Part 4”

Post by Romans » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:59 am

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“In His Image and Likeness, Part 4” by Romans


We are continuing in the Series I began three weeks ago called, “In His Image and Likeness.” I had seen a Youtube video in which Evangelist Ravi Zacharias was on a College Tour fielding question from students. As a part of his answer to a question, he referred to the account of some of Jesus' detractors asking Him in Mathew 22:17: “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”

Virtually everyone who reads this account would say, “Okay. This cake is baked and frosted. Let's move on.” Not Ravi Zacharias. He suggested that there should have been a follow-up question: He said Jesus' detractor should have asked next, “And what belongs to God?” And he continued, “Jesus' response would have been: 'Whose image is on you?'” I base this Series on Ravi's brilliant insight into this account.

Tonight, we are continuing in the Series I began three weeks ago on our being, “In the Image and Likeness of God.” We were made in God's Image and after His likeness. So then, what are we supposed to look like? We read an account of a conversation which took place on the night before Jesus' crucifixion beginning in John 14:8: “Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”

Are we to understand from Jesus' response that God the Father looks like a Jewish man in His 30's? Ummm... no. So what did Jesus mean by that statement to Phillip, and to each of us?
The Sermon Bible tells us of this: “The Surprise Christ felt: I. To Christ, that He was the revealer and the image of the Father was the one foremost truth of His life. Ever since He had sense, He had felt that, and it had grown with His growth and been the one proclamation of His ministry. The blind and the deaf in heart might, He thought, see and hear it, so intense, so vivid, was it to Him. And now one of His hearers asks a question, which suddenly makes Him feel that what is to Him as the sun in heaven is not perceived at all. What wonder that we hear in the question the note of wondering surprise? 'Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me?'

At such a time our tendency is to be angry, or to turn aside with scornful silence, or to be filled with the sense of wrong; mark in contrast with his, the tenderness of Christ, a tenderness which we hear in every word of the reply. There is a faint touch of reproach in it; but it is the reproach of love, and it would not hurt the most sensitive heart. And this was said at a time when irritation might have been indeed excused, when His whole soul was darkened with pain and presentiment when He felt with exquisite surprise that all He had ever said had been mistaken.
II. The answer itself to Philip’s question comes before us now, and is a striking answer, astonishing, indeed, from its sublime boldness, and separated by that from the utterances of every other prophet, none of whom dared to say anything like this: "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Who knows Me, knows God; who hears Me, hears God. Nor is this an isolated saying; it is the constantly repeated thought of Christ, repeated in fifty different ways. That was Christ’s teaching concerning God and Himself, and therefore concerning God and man. All our life is God’s life.

We are in His hand and abide in Him, and no one can pluck us out of His hand... When all mankind shall have arrived at likeness to Christ, it will have arrived at likeness to God. He who shall see the perfected humanity shall say, "He who hath seen humanity, hath seen the Father."

S. A. Brooke, The Spirit of the Christian Life, p. 123.
References: Joh_14:9.—H. S. Holland, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, Nov. 22nd, 1883? A. Maclaren, A Year’s Ministry, 2nd series, p. 59; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 307; S. Green, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 261. Joh_14:10-14.—W. Roberts. Ibid., vol. ix., p. 250. Joh_14:10-28.—Contemporary Pulpit, vol. v., p. 309. Joh_14:11.—W. M. Taylor, The Gospel Miracles, p. 29. Joh_14:12.—C. Wilson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 241; J. Aldis, Ibid., vol. xi., p. 376; Homilist, vol. iii., p. 493. Joh_14:12, Joh_14:13.—A. Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, p. 140. Joh_14:13.—Ibid., p. 48; E. W. Shalders, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiv., p. 298. Joh_14:13-14.—Ibid., p. 180. Joh_16:14.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. x. p. 333. Joh_14:15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1932; G. Calthrop, Words Spoken to my Friends, p. 177; Parker, Christian Commonwealth, vol. vi., p. 347; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 199.”

We are created in the Image, and after the Likeness of God. When people see us there should be no compromising, much less ungodly, behavior. When people hear us, there should be no vulgarity, no judgmental or condemning speech. There should be no gossip, no disrespectful talk. We read in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." For many people, how we live our lives is the only Bible they will ever read. As followers of Christ, made in the Image of God, we are, collectively and individually, the light of the world.

Albert Barnes writes, “So long time - For more than three years Jesus had been with them. He had raised the dead, cast out devils, healed the sick, done those things which no one could have done who had not come from God. In that time they had had full opportunity to learn his character and his mission from God. Nor was it needful, after so many proofs of his divine mission, that God should “visibly manifest” himself to them in order that they might be convinced that he came from him.

He that hath seen me - He that has seen my works, heard my doctrines, and understood my character. He that has given “proper attention” to the proofs that I have afforded that I came from God.

Hath seen the Father - The word “Father” in these passages seems to be used with reference to the divine nature, or to God represented “as a Father,” and not particularly to the distinction in the Trinity of Father and Son. The idea is that God, as God, or as a Father, had been manifested in the incarnation, the works, and the teachings of Christ, so that they who had seen and heard him might be said to have had a real view of God. When Jesus says, “hath seen the Father,” this cannot refer to the essence or substance of God, for He is invisible, and in that respect no man has seen God at any time. All that is meant when it is said that God is seen, is that some manifestation of him has been made, or some such exhibition as that we may learn his character, his will, and his plans.”

Since we are made in God's Image and after His Likeness, we, too, should manifest His Character, Will, and Plans. We do not and cannot, as human beings, reflect His Essence. But we can and should reflect Him.

We are told that Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). He is yet serving us, His people, right now, right this second. He set aside the majesty and honor of the Throne Room of Heaven to become a human being but not to exalted by His creation. From the very moment of His arrival on earth, He embraced a life of humility: When He was born, He was placed in a manger. As a young boy being brought up in a large city, the word “manger” was not something that occurred outside of the story of the birth of Christ. I thought a manger was a primitive attempt at a crib for a baby. It was not until many years later that I learned that a manger was a feeding trough. Can there have been a more humble beginning for One Who was Born a King?

Jesus said in Mark 10:42-45: “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Matthew Henry writes, “Dominion was generally abused in the world; That they seemed to rule over the Gentiles, that have the name and title of rulers, they exercise lordship over them, that is all they study and aim at, not so much to protect them, and provide for their welfare, as to exercise authority upon them; they will be obeyed, aim to be arbitrary, and to have their will in every thing. Thus I will, thus I command; my good pleasure is my law. Their care is, what they shall get by their subjects to support their own pomp and grandeur, not what they shall do for them.

2. Therefore it ought not to be admitted into the church; “It shall not be so among you; those that shall be put under your charge, must be as sheep under the charge of the shepherd, who is to tend them and feed them, and be a servant to them, not as horses under the command of the driver, that works them and beats them, and gets his pennyworths out of them. He that affects to be great and chief, that thrusts himself into a secular dignity and dominion, he shall be servant of all, he shall be mean and contemptible in the eyes of all that are wise and good; he that exalteth himself shall be abased.”

Or rather, “He that would be truly great and chief, he must lay out himself to do good to all, must stoop to the meanest services, and labour in the hardest services. Those not only shall be most honoured hereafter, but are most honourable now, who are most useful.” To convince them of this, he sets before them his own example; “The Son of man submits first to the greatest hardships and hazards, and then enters into his glory, and can you expect to come to it any other way; or to have more ease and honour than he has?” (1.) He takes upon him the form of a servant, comes not to be ministered to, and waited upon, but to minister, and wait to be gracious. (2.) He comes obedient to death, and to its dominion, for he gives his life a ransom for many; did he die for the benefit of good people, and shall not we study to live for their benefit?”

This should be our priority: not for the grandeur, not for the recognition, not for the praise, not for the ability to lord it over people, but rather to serve. We are Christ-ians... Christ followers. His call to His disciples, “Follow Me,” is the same for us, today. Jesus says in John 12:26: “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” Isn't that US? Jesus says, “Follow Me” to us, also.
John Gill writes, “If any man serve, me,.... Or is willing to be a servant of Christ, and to be esteemed as such; let him follow me; as in the exercise of the graces of love, humility, patience, self-denial, and resignation of will to the will of God, and in the discharge of every duty, walking as he walked, so in a way of suffering; for as the master, so the servants, as the head, so the members, through many tribulations, must enter the kingdom...”

Jesus said in John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:”

Albert Barnes writes, “Christians not only obey Christ, but they imitate him; they go where his Spirit and providence lead them; they yield themselves to his guidance, and seek to be led by him. When Jesus was upon earth many of his disciples followed or attended him from place to place. Hence, Christians are called his followers, and in Revelation 14:4 they are described as 'they that follow the Lamb.'”

Jesus' priorities, His compassion, His mercy, His patience, His willingness to serve, and His willingness to put Himself last in serving others should be what we are reflecting in our daily interactions with those who encounter us. Is it possible for us to achieve these ideals? It is... but only through the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit who Guides us and empowers us to be a part of the Body of Christ in the earth, today. The Apostle Paul boldly declared in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

The Sermon Bible tells us, “I. The context shows that it is more of bearing than of doing that St. Paul speaks. He has been initiated, he says, into the great mystery of contentment. He knows how to reconcile himself to every extreme, how to conduct himself in plenty and in hunger, in abundance and in need. It is true in every sense of a Christian, certainly it was true in every sense of St. Paul, that he can do all things through Christ strengthening him; but here we are especially called to notice that Christ enabled St. Paul, and can enable all who believe, to be contented with any condition and with any circumstances of life which the providence of God has been pleased to ordain.

Contentment is the ready acquiescence of the heart and will in that which is, and is for us; it is the not reaching forth to that which is forbidden or denied to us; it is the not looking with eager desire through the bars of our cage at a fancied liberty or an imagined paradise without; it is the saying, and saying because we feel it in the deep of our soul, This is God’s will, and therefore it is my will; it is the condition of one who is independent of all save God, of one whom neither riches nor poverty, neither affluence nor want, neither success nor failure, neither prosperity nor adversity, can so affect as to make the difference to him of being a happy man or a miserable.

II. Such contentment is, as Paul himself here writes, of the nature of a secret or mystery communicated only by special revelation to a selected few. I have been initiated, he writes, into it. Who tells the secret? who initiates into that Divine mystery? It must be a person. We do not hear secrets from the whispering winds; we are not initiated into mysteries by common rumour or by the passing changes and chances of mortal life. That contentment which is in one sense a mystery is in another equally true sense a grace and a strength.
C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on Philippians, p. 311.

We see here— I. Jesus Christ strengthening His disciple and Apostle Paul. Every man needs strength, but no man has within him strength equal to the demands that are made upon him. An Apostle is no exception to this rule. The apostleship did not assist Paul’s personal Christianity; but it rendered that Christianity more difficult and more arduous. Paul, the wonderful convert, the chief Apostle, was equal to all things only by Christ strengthening him.

II. Paul assured that all things were possible to him. He felt equal to all the labour and toil which duty could ever involve; he felt equal to all suffering which could become his portion. Not as a Jew, not as a child of Abraham, not as a disciple of Moses, but as a Christian, Paul said, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'”
S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Sermons, 1st series, p. 126.
References: Php_4:13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 346; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 268; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 107; Sermons on the Catechism, p. 1; F. Temple, Rugby Sermons, 1st series, p. 1.

Jesus came to serve, not to be served. The Image is also a part of out calling. We read in Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

John Gill writes, “Gospel liberty and the service of the saints are not at all inconsistent; as it becomes them to love one another, as the new command of Christ, their profession of religion, and their relation to each other, require, so they should show their love by their service; as by praying one with and for another, by bearing each other's burdens, sympathizing with and communicating to each other in things temporal and spiritual; in forbearing with and forgiving one another; by admonishing each other when there is occasion for it, in a meek, tender, and brotherly way; by instructing and building up one another on their most holy faith, and by stirring up one another to all the duties of religion, private and public.”

Albert Barnes tells us, For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty - Freedom from Jewish rites and ceremonies. The meaning here is, that Paul wished the false teachers removed because true Christians had been called unto liberty, and they were abridging and destroying that liberty. They were not in subjection to the Law of Moses, or to anything else that savored of bondage. They were free; free from the servitude of sin, and free from subjection to expensive and burdensome rites and customs. They were to remember this as a great and settled principle; and so vital a truth was this, and so important that it should be maintained, and so great the evil of forgetting it, that Paul says he earnestly wishes that all who would reduce them to that state of servitude were cut off from the Christian church.

Only use not liberty ... - The word use here introduced by our translators, obscures the sense. The idea is, “You are called to liberty, but it is not liberty for an occasion to the flesh. It is not freedom from virtuous restraints, and from the laws of God. It is liberty from the servitude of sin, and religious rites and ceremonies, not freedom from the necessary restraints of virtue.” It was necessary to give this caution, because:

(1) There was a strong tendency in all converts from paganism to relapse again into their former habits. Licentiousness abounded, and where they had been addicted to it before their conversion, and where they were surrounded by it on every hand, they were in constant danger of falling into it again. A bare and naked declaration, therefore, that they had been called to liberty, to freedom from restraint, might have been misunderstood, and some might have supposed that they were free from all restraints.

(2) It is needful to guard the doctrine from abuse at all times. There has been a strong tendency, as the history of the church has shown, to abuse the doctrine of grace. The doctrine that Christians are “free;” that there is liberty to them from restraint, has been perverted always by Antinomians, and been made the occasion of their indulging freely in sin. And the result has shown that nothing was more important than to guard the doctrine of Christian liberty, and to show exactly what Christians are freed from, and what laws are still binding on them. Paul is, therefore, at great pains to show that the doctrines which he had maintained did not lead to licentiousness, and did not allow the indulgence of sinful and corrupt passions.

But by love serve one another - By the proper manifestation of love one to another strive to promote each other’s welfare. To do this will not be inconsistent with the freedom of the gospel. When there is love there is no servitude. Duty is pleasant, and offices of kindness agreeable. Paul does not consider them as freed from all law and all restraint; but they are to be governed by the law of love. They were not to feel that they were so free that they might lawfully give indulgence to the desires of the flesh, but they were to regard themselves as under the law to love one another; and thus they would fulfil the law of Christian freedom.”
Paul continues the thought in the next verse, echoing what Jesus, Himself, had said. We read in

Galatians 5:14: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour
as thyself.”

Albert Barnes writes, For all the law is fulfilled ... - That is, this expresses the substance of the whole law; it embraces and comprises all. The apostle of course here alludes to the Law in regard to our duty to our fellow-men, since that was the point which he particularly enforces. He is saying that this law would counteract all the evil workings of the flesh, and if this were fulfilled, all our duty to others would be discharged.”

A cross reference is provided at Romans 13:8: “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

Matthew Henry writes, “Whatever you owe to any relation, or to any with whom you have to do, it is eminently summed up and included in this debt of love. But to love one another, this is a debt that must be always in the paying, and yet always owing.” Love is a debt. The law of God and the interest of mankind make it so. It is not a thing which we are left at liberty about, but it is enjoined us, as the principle and summary of all duty owing one to another; for love is the fulfilling of the law; not perfectly, but it is a good step towards it. It is inclusive of all the duties of the second table {of the Law}, which he specifies, and these suppose the love of God. If the love be sincere, it is accepted as the fulfilling of the law. Surely we serve a good master, that has summed up all our duty in one word, and that a short word and a sweet word - love, the beauty and harmony of the universe.

Loving and being loved is all the pleasure, joy, and happiness, of an intelligent being. God is love (as we read in 1 John 4:16), and love is his image upon the soul: where it is, the soul is well moulded, and the heart fitted for every good work. Now, to prove that love is the fulfilling of the law, he gives us, 1. He specifies the last five of the ten commandments, which he observes to be all summed up in this royal law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself - with an as of quality, not of equality - “with the same sincerity that thou lovest thyself, though not in the same measure and degree.” He that loves his neighbour as himself will be desirous of the welfare of his neighbour's body, goods, and good name, as of his own. On this is built that golden rule of doing as we would be done by.

2. A general rule concerning the nature of brotherly love: Love worketh no ill (from Romans 13:10) - he that walks in love, that is actuated and governed by a principle of love, worketh no ill; he neither practises nor contrives any ill to his neighbour, to any one that he has any thing to do with. The projecting of evil is in effect the performing of it. Hence devising iniquity is called working evil. Love intends and designs no ill to any body, is utterly against the doing of that which may turn to the prejudice, offence, or grief of any. It worketh no ill; that is, it prohibits the working of any ill: more is implied than is expressed; it not only worketh no ill, but it worketh all the good that may be, deviseth liberal things.

For it is a sin not only to devise evil against thy neighbour, but to withhold good from those to whom it is due; both are forbidden together. This proves that love is the fulfilling of the law, answers all the end of it; for what else is that but to restrain us from evil-doing, and to constrain us to well-doing? Love is a living active principle of obedience to the whole law. The whole law is written in the heart, if the law of love be there.”

From the very beginning, the idea of love and service permeated the original Church. Notice how its members are described in the opening chapters of the Book of Acts. We read beginning in Acts 2:41: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

Matthew Henry comments on the love manifested by the early Church with and for each other: “We often speak of the primitive church, and appeal to it, and to the history of it; in these verses we have the history of the truly primitive church, of the first days of it, its state of infancy indeed, but, like that, the state of its greatest innocence. I. They kept close to holy ordinances, and abounded in all instances of piety and devotion, for Christianity, admitted in the power of it, will dispose the soul to communion with God in all those ways wherein he has appointed us to meet him and promised to meet us.

1. They were diligent and constant in their attendance upon the preaching of the word. They continued in the apostles' doctrine, and never disowned nor deserted it; or, as it may be read, they continued constant to the apostles' teaching or instruction; by baptism they were discipled to be taught, and they were willing to be taught. Note, Those who have given up their names to Christ must make conscience of hearing his word; for thereby we give honour to him, and build up ourselves in our most holy faith.

2. They kept up the communion of saints. They continued in fellowship, and continued daily with one accord in the temple. They not only had a mutual affection to each other, but a great deal of mutual conversation with each other; they were much together. When they withdrew from the untoward generation, they did not turn hermits, but were very intimate with one another, and took all occasions to meet; wherever you saw one disciple, you would see more, like birds of a feather. See how these Christians love one another. They were concerned for one another, sympathized with one another, and heartily espoused one another's interests. They had fellowship with one another in religious worship.

They met in the temple: there was their rendezvous; for joint-fellowship with God is the best fellowship we can have with one another. Observe, (1.) They were daily in the temple, not only on the days of the sabbaths and solemn feasts, but on other days, every day. Worshipping God is to be our daily work, and, where there is opportunity, the oftener it is done publicly the better. God loves the gates of Zion, and so must we. (2.) They were with one accord; not only no discord nor strife, but a great deal of holy love among them; and they heartily joined in their public services. Though they met with the Jews in the courts of the temple, yet the Christians kept together by themselves, and were unanimous in their separate devotions.

3. They frequently joined in the ordinance of the Lord's supper. They continued in the breaking of bread, in celebrating that memorial of their Master's death, as those that were not ashamed to own their relation to, and their dependence upon, Christ and him crucified. They could not forget the death of Christ, yet they kept up this memorial of it, and made it their constant practice, because it was an institution of Christ, to be transmitted to the succeeding ages of the church. They broke bread from house to house, choosing such houses of the converted Christians as were convenient, to which the neighbours resorted; and they went from one to another of these little synagogues or domestic chapels, houses that had churches in them, and there celebrated the eucharist with those that usually met there to worship God.

4. They continued in prayers. After the Spirit was poured out, as well as before, while they were waiting for him, they continued instant in prayer; for prayer will never be superseded till it comes to be swallowed up in everlasting praise. Breaking of bread comes in between the work and prayer, for it has reference to both, and is a help to both. The Lord's supper is a sermon to the eye, and a confirmation of God's word to us; and it is an encouragement to our prayers, and a solemn expression of the ascent of our souls to God.

5. They abounded in thanksgiving; were continually praising God, Act_2:47. This should have a part in every prayer, and not be crowded into a corner. Those that have received the gift of the Holy Ghost will be much in praise.

II. They were loving one to another, and very kind; their charity was as eminent as their piety, and their joining together in holy ordinances knit their hearts to each other, and very much endeared them to one another. 1. They had frequent meetings for Christian converse. All that believed were together; not all those thousands in one place (this was impracticable); but, as Dr. Lightfoot explains it, they kept together in several companies or congregations, according as their languages, nations, or other associations, brought them and kept them together. And thus joining together, because it was apart from those that believed not, and because it was in the same profession and practice of the duties of religion, they are said to be together, They associated together, and so both expressed and increased their mutual love

2. They had all things common; perhaps they had common tables (as the Spartans of old), for familiarity, temperance and freedom of conversation; they ate together, that those who had much might have the less, and so be kept from the temptations of abundance; and they who had little might have the more, and so be kept from the temptations of want and poverty. Or, There was such a concern for one another, and such a readiness to help one another as there was occasion, that it might be said, They had all things common, according to the law of friendship; one wanted not what another had; for he might have it for the asking.

3. They were very cheerful, and very generous in the use of what they had. Besides the religion that was in their sacred feasts (their breaking bread from house to house) a great deal of it appeared in their common meals; they did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. They brought the comforts of God's table along with them to their own, which had two good effects upon them: - (1.) It made them very pleasant, and enlarged their hearts with holy joy; they did eat their bread with joy, and drank their wine with a merry heart, as knowing that God now accepted their works. None have such cause to be cheerful as good Christians have; it is a pity but that they should always have hearts to be so.

(2.) It made them very liberal to their poor brethren, and enlarged their hearts in charity. They did eat their meat with singleness of heart - with liberality of heart; so some: they did not eat their morsels alone, but bade the poor welcome to their table, not grudgingly, but with all the hearty freedom imaginable. (3). Note, It becomes Christians to be open-hearted and open-handed, and in every good work to sow plentifully, as those on whom God hath sown plentifully, and who hope to reap so.

(4.) They raised a fund for charity: They sold their possessions and goods; some sold their lands and houses, others their stocks and the furniture of their houses, and parted the money to their brethren, as every man had need. This was to destroy, not property, but selfishness. Herein, probably, they had an eye to the command which Christ gave to the rich man, as a test of his sincerity, Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor. Not that this was intended for an example to be a constant binding rule, as if all Christians in all places and ages were bound to sell their estates, and give away the money in charity. For St. Paul's epistles, after this, often speak of the distinction of rich and poor, and Christ hath said that the poor we always have with us, and shall have, and the rich must be always doing them good out of the rents, issues, and profits, of their estates, which they disable themselves to do, if they sell them, and give all away at once. But here the case was extraordinary:

(1.) They were under no obligation of a divine command to do this, as appears by what Peter said to Ananias (in Acts 5:4): Was it not in thine own power? But it was a very commendable instance of their raisedness above the world, their contempt of it, their assurance of another world, their love to their brethren, their compassion to the poor, and their great zeal for the encouraging of Christianity, and the nursing of it in its infancy. The apostles left all to follow Christ, and were to give themselves wholly to the word and prayer, and something must be done for their maintenance; so that this extraordinary liberality was like that of Israel in the wilderness towards the building of the tabernacle, which needed to be restrained. Our rule is, to give according as God has blessed us; yet, in such an extraordinary case as this, those are to be praised who give beyond their power. God owned them, and gave them signal tokens of his presence with them...”

God had given them more than signal tokens. God had given them His Son. His Son gave them His Life. Jesus' death on the cross removed the hostile barriers that separated them – and us – from God. We, in response, should strive to reflect Jesus' Life... a Life of love and selfless service to all whom He encountered. The early Church experienced a level of love and devotion and unity that, for the most part, is no longer practiced in the local Congregations. In too many cases, individual denominations have disowned all who do not believe or practice or serve God exactly as they do. This, as Paul defined it in 1 Corinthians 1:10 is divisive and offensive, and should not be a part of the Christian landscape.

As physical beings, man was been created in the Image and after the Likeness of God. As Christians, we are new creatures in Christ. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Matthew Henry writes of this: “In these verses the apostle mentions two things that are necessary in order to our living to Christ, both of which are the consequences of Christ's dying for us; namely, regeneration and reconciliation. I. Regeneration, which consists of two things; namely, 1. Weanedness from the world: “We do not own nor affect any person or thing in this world for carnal ends and outward advantage: we are enabled, by divine grace, not to mind nor regard this world, nor the things of this world, but to live above it.

The love of Christ is in our hearts, and the world is under our feet. In Reconciliation, we must live upon his spiritual presence {with} a thorough change of the heart: For if any man be in Christ, if any man be a Christian indeed, and will approve himself such, he is, or he must be, a new creature. This ought to be the care of all who profess the Christian faith, that they be new creatures; not only that they have a new name, and wear a new livery, but that they have a new heart and new nature.”

This concludes this Evening's Discussion: “In the Image and Likeness of God, Part 4.”

This Discussion was originally presented “live” on March 21st, 2018.

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