A CHALLENGE TO EXERCISE
GOD-GIVEN LIKENESS AND
MAN IS DISTINGUISHED from animals
and the lower creation by the fact that he is made in the image and likeness
of God (Genesis 1:26,27). Aside from being an eternal spirit (Hebrews 12:9;
Ecclesiastes 3:21; 12:7; Matthew 25:46), a part of what constitutes this
image and likeness is man’s ability to think and reason. Blessed as he
has been with this superior ability and capacity, man for the most part
has not lived up to his potential and possibilities. With the fall of man,
sin has mired the picture. With the deception of Eve (Genesis 3:1-6), and
consequently with the acquired depravity (not inherited) of mankind thereafter
(Hebrews 3:12-14; Romans 3:23), the thinking process of man has been corrupted
and altered (at least in greater or lesser degrees in reference to God,
and the things of God).
Notice these Scriptures that bear heavily upon this subject. Paul said
that when men departed from God, especially with the Gentile world of his
day in mind, they "became vain [empty] in their imaginations [thoughts],
and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise,
they became fools" (Romans 1:21,22), and consequently went into idolatry,
perverted homosexual practices, and all kinds of sins. In Ephesians 4:17-19
he further speaks of this when he says that "Gentiles walk, in the vanity
[emptiness] of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated
from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of
the blindness [hardness] of their heart: Who being past feeling have given
themselves over unto lasciviousness [sensuality], to work all uncleanness
with greediness." (And he is quick to say, "But ye have not so learned
Christ"). Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. Here Paul asserts that when "the
world by wisdom [philosophy, humanism] knew not God, it pleased God by
the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (verse 21). But
we must continually confront the problem that "the god of this world [the
devil] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light
of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine
unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:4). This must be overcome in becoming a Christian.
That is the overall picture of a world lost in sin, but there are more
specific things that hinder or limit the thinking process today. It may
simply be the multi-culture in which we live with the many and various
philosophies that permeate it. It may be the denominational religious traditions
that have been accepted without question through the years. Too many are
on the broad way, following their "Pied Piper" without even thinking. Certainly
no man is an island, and no one is exempt from influences of which he may
not even be aware. Colossians 2:8 warns, "Beware lest any man spoil you
through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after
the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." We live in a world where
most of the universities and schools of the land seem to be under the influence
and control of humanistic "thinking" people (although lip service is superficially
given to "God" by some). Man is no more than an evolving animal. With God
officially barred from the public schools and no absolute code of morals
permitted, one gets the impression that sex and materialism are the only
things that really matter. With the media daily bombarding our minds from
this perspective, and with their obvious "in your face" agenda of promoting
sodomy and dismantling Christian values, if a person is not alert and on
his toes, he can become brainwashed and victimized. And with so little
knowledge of God’s Word, even among professed Christians, one can fall
in line without even thinking. The influence of professing Christians is
neutralized and so many of our young people become casualties to the cause
Then the religious scene per se today is muddled with a lot of conflicting
and fuzzy concepts. And to add to the confusion, encouraged by our multi-cultural
sociologists, more and more non-Christian religions are becoming part of
the picture. There are few that independently have studied out their convictions,
and most consider it an affront to suggest that we should. Who has the
time, or will take the time, to really do this? "Don’t we have our religious
leaders who have done this and can tell us what to believe? We have always
believed this way, and that’s good enough for me." But, if you profess
to believe the Bible, this creates a problem. You must believe that only
truth and Christ are acceptable (John 8:31,32; 12:48; 14:6; Acts 4:12;
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Galatians 1:8,9), and truth does not contradict
itself. Narrowing it down, the doctrines and traditions of men are unacceptable
(Matthew 15:1-9). The apostle Paul admonished, "Prove all things; hold
fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Word of God is the
final and only authority in religion (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Of the Bereans,
we read, "These were more noble than those at Thessalonica, in that they
received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures
daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). But modern man would
"cop out," and in essence say, "It really doesn’t matter what you believe,
just so you are sincere."
We could list a number of important religious questions, like 1, 2, 3 or
a half-dozen or more, just like that. Man with the mental capacity that
God has given him, reflecting the likeness of Deity, should be able to
handle them, searching out the truth and examining these subjects in the
light of the Word of God. But would this happen? Would most do this? No.
Response to the questions would be so filled with emotion that they wouldn’t
even be considered, let alone talked about. A mindset locked in tradition
and cluttered and entangled by the cobwebs of disuse, is painfully disrupted
and disturbed. The old traditional and well-beaten paths, although perhaps
crooked and erroneous, are preferred.
Let us challenge you to be an independent student of God’s Word. Be more
than just a second hand Christian, if that. Lay aside the philosophies,
the creeds, the doctrines and traditions of men. Forget them totally when
you approach the Bible. The fresh, new and invigorating truths that you
learn will be simply amazing. Study the Bible like you have never studied
it before, and you will learn truths like you have never learned before.
This writer years ago cut all ties with denominationalism and traditionalism
after telling the local preacher in the denomination of which he (this
writer) was a member, that he could not be a preacher in that denomination.
The preacher wanted to know why. This-to-be writer’s reply: I pointed out
that Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal
life…" (John 5:39). I had been doing this, and that I could not find sprinkling
or the "baptism" of infants anywhere in the Scriptures. Therefore, I told
him, I could not be a "minister" in that denomination and practice such
things. I was really taken aback by his unhesitating reply. "Would you
put your life between the covers of a book?" I was really shocked. He was
relegating the Bible to "a book." Human tradition was on a par with the
Bible, just another book. I therewith was determined to follow the Bible
wherever it would lead me, regardless, and that has been my objective until
this day, believing it will lead to heaven. It has led me out of denominationalism
to be identified simply with Christ and the church of the New Testament,
and that alone (and with everyone else who has done this). It is a thrilling
experience and journey. We challenge you to exercise your God-given prerogative.
You are made in the image and likeness of God.
For some entertaining and provocative thoughts complimenting the challenge
of this article, read the "The Calf Path Poem" that follows. "Think on
these things" (Philippians 4:8)
The Calf Path Poem
One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as calves all do.
Since then three hundred years have fled
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way.
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep.
And drew the flock behind him, too
As good bellwethers always do.
And from that day o’er hill and glade,
Through these old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ‘twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed...do not laugh,
The first migrations of that calf.
This forest path became a lane,
That bent and turned and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet;
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis.
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf three centuries dead.
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf path of the mind
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track
And out and in, and forth and back
And still their devious course pursue
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove
Along which all their lives they move,
But now much wiser (?) we just laugh
About that first primeval calf. ?
—Sam Walter Foss
* Some words of last two lines changed from original