Monday, April 28, 2008

We Love God But Not Like We Love Our Freedom

The 1689 LBC has this to say about the Fall:

Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
( Genesis 2:16, 17; Genesis 3:12,13; 2 Corinthians 11:3 )

Along with this I will include the 1689 statement on the will.

One of the things that is often breezed by is the nature of the fall, pre and post condition of man. It will take some development to establish what I am going to say later about a notable Southern Baptist whose influence must be widely credited with the establishment of the SBC majoritarian party's doctrinal position, today. Right now I have to establish a framework.

First, we need to discover what the estate of man was prior to the fall. The 1689 states:

After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, rendering them fit unto that life to God for which they were created; being made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change...Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which whilst they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

Things that need to be noticed here are: image, fit, immortality, knowledge, righteousness, true holiness. There is much more to the likeness. Let's take a look at these, but briefly, since what I want to establish is that man was created after the image of God. He was not created, god, but after the image of God. Like all things in creation, man shows forth God's glory, Romans 1 and elsewhere. To sum it up man was made perfectly perfect as a expression of God's creation.

The character and attributes of God are developed throughout Scripture, and here we see some as expressed in the make up of man. This immediately throws us upon a dilemma. We know from the commandments that we are not to make images of the likeness of God. We are told that God is not a man. Therefore we need a definition of image that is compatible. The descriptors actually give us that definition, with some qualifications. The qualifications can be summed up in the fact that man is a creature, a product of creation and by definition cannot be what created it. He can be like the maker, but not the maker.


Immortality is not inherent in man. Eternal life is inherent only in God; 1 John 5:11; 1 John 5:20. In him alone is life. Man is made, and being made is mortal. The continuance of the soul of man is established, not in man, but in the power of God to sustain it. In other words if God so chose, he could destroy the soul. And, I for one believe that he does, for believers in the new birth. But I digress.

Knowledge again is not something that is inherent in man. God alone is the ground of all knowledge. What man does know is what God has given him; Job 21:22. That too can be taken or added according to God's good pleasure.

Righteousness and true holiness are again not inherent in man, they have their beginning and terminus in God. The One who alone is good; Luke 18:19, is also the One who alone is righteous; Isaiah 45:24. But here we must pause and question the difference between righteousness and holiness. If we want we might capture the sense of difference as that which Jesus said,

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Holiness we might say is that which does, and righteousness, that which is done. Holiness and righteousness are not without each other. Again, though, what we have is man created who is not inherently these things, but he is made to be this image or likeness.

The beginning quote contains this incredible statement:
God created man upright and perfect
As I have tried to emphasize, what is inherent in God is not inherent in man. But there is an image, or likeness, that was perfect. It was perfect in the reflection of the communicable attributes of God, it was perfectly made, suited, "fit" the word used in the confession, to glorify God in his creation. As the apex, all that was made had been perfected in man, to be the summation of all that God wanted to communicate with man about Himself. We find him upright. Later though we will find him fallen. The NT term for resurrection, anastasis means to stand one again upon his feet. Though man was meant to worship his God in the humility of heart that is fitting a creature of his creator, God had created man to stand in his presence.

That is enough to get us started. We will look next at the nature of God so that we might learn more about man and what really took place and what was the tragedy and extent of the fall.


Mike Hardin said...

Looks like you are going to have to arrange a sit-down with the folks at YouTube. Both your videos are sleeping with the fishes.

Gordan Runyan said...

Hey, Thomas, I very much look forward to your exploration of these issues. I did something like this (only less so) at my blog a couple years ago and found it fruitful to really dig into the question, "What is the image of God in man?" Especially, answering the question, how does that image remain in fallen man? That was a difficult thing for me at least.

So, in the immortal words of Oliver Twist, "More, please."

Rev. said...

So, you're gonna tackle Hobbs soon, eh? :) I doubt he'd appreciate your 70s culture.

Strong Tower said...

Rev- How do you do that? I figure if I am going to start a fire, I might as well use the family antiques for kindling ;o) What? You think he was a sixties kinda guy? We all had hair back then...

Gordan- show me your stuff so that I know what I am talking 'bout.

Mike- neither of the videos are videos, really, the links worked fine a minute ago ...shshshshhshshshhs... maybe they're of air? There it is now, hear it? It was the titles I was after any tahoots. Thanks for your comment though, ya'll come back now, hear...

Rev. said...

NO, he's pure 50s...minus the doo-wop.