Monday, May 7, 2018

Book Review: In His Image

In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us To Reflect His Character. Jen Wilkin. 2018. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: If you’ve ever said, “I just want to know God’s will for my life,” this book is for you.

Premise/plot: In His Image isn't your typical what-is-God's-will-for-my-life 'self-help' book. I'm tempted to put in the exclamation: far from it! Wilkin writes:
God is always more concerned with the decision-maker than he is with the decision itself... For the believer wanting to know God’s will for her life, the first question to pose is not “What should I do?” but “Who should I be?” The Bible plainly answers the question “Who should I be?” with “Be like Jesus Christ, who perfectly images God in human form.”
We were created in the image of God, and we are called to reflect that image. Wilkin has selected ten characteristics of God that we are called--commanded--to reflect in our lives.

God is holy. We are called to be holy. God is love. We are called to love. God is good. We are called to be good. God is just. We are called to be just--to love justice, to hate injustice. God is merciful. We are called to show mercy. God is gracious. We are called to be gracious. God is faithful. We are called to be faithful. God is patient. We are called to be patient. God is truthful. In fact he is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. We are called to be truthful as well. We are to love truth--treasure it--and hate lies. We are to remember who is incapable of lying and who is the father of lies. God is wise. We are called to be wise. We are called to live with discernment.

The first chapter is of the utmost importance. She writes, "the Bible wants our first thought about God to be that he is holy." She warns, "If we emphasize any of his attributes above or apart from his holiness, we fashion him after our own imagining or for our own ends."
Holiness permeates the entire Christian profession. It lies at the very center of the gospel. We are not merely saved from depravity; we are saved to holiness. Conversion entails consecration. Growing in holiness means growing in our hatred of sin. But reflecting the character of God involves more than just casting off the garment of our old ways. It entails putting on the garment of our new inheritance. Growing in holiness means growing into being loving, just, good, merciful, gracious, faithful, truthful, patient, and wise.
My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. It's a GREAT book on the character of God. It's a great book on how to live the Christian life. Or if you want to get fancy--it is a great book about sanctification.

This book may appear to be just for women--especially for women. It is a book EVERY believer would benefit from reading. This book wisely keeps the Word of God front and center.

Favorite quotes:
Sin can cause us to love a version of God that is not accurate. This is the basic definition of idolatry, a disordered love. Ironically, one of the most common forms our idolatry takes is the disordered love of the love of God. The overemphasis of God’s love is even evident in non-Christians. They may know very little of the Bible, yet many know and are quick to quote the truism that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The statement “My God is a God of love” often has as its subtext the idea that his love precludes him ever acting in wrath or justice, or in any way that does not fit our human conceptions of love.
When we begin to follow Christ, we resolve to love God even if it costs us. And it does cost us—it costs us our pride, our comfort, our self-will, our self-sufficiency. At times, it costs us amicable relationships with family, our expectation of safety, and more. But in laying these aside, we learn the worthiness of the object of our love in a deeper way. We find increasing freedom, and as we mature, we resolve to love God no matter what it costs us.
When we begin to follow Christ, we resolve to love our neighbor even if it costs us. And it does cost us—it costs us our preferences, our time, our financial resources, our entitlement, our stereotypes. At times, it costs us our popularity, respect, and more. But in laying these aside, we learn the brokenness of the object of our love in a deeper way. We find increasing empathy, and as we mature, we resolve to love our neighbor no matter what it costs us.
There is no way to reach genuine repentance without striving to grasp the justice of God’s wrath. As long as I view his wrath as excessive or cruel, I labor under a limited understanding of the danger and depravity of sin. And I labor under a limited understanding of Calvary.
Justice is getting what we deserve. • Mercy is not getting what we deserve. • Grace is getting what we do not deserve.
Christians should not have a reputation for being merely fair. We should have a reputation for playing favorites with everyone except ourselves.
The Bible is our great Ebenezer, a memorial stone to the faithfulness of God, carefully recorded and preserved for his children. When we grow forgetful of God, or when we question whether God has forgotten us, we can turn there to gaze on his steadfast love to all generations. Unlike generations before us, we have unprecedented access to this priceless reminder. Bibles by the billions, literally. And every copy, from the dog-eared to the disregarded, is whispering, “Remember.” Remember the God who remembers you. Believers whose Bibles are worn have known their need of its message. To them, reading its pages is not just a dutiful practice but a delightful privilege. They know that between its covers a glorious truth is repeated for their great benefit: God is worthy of our trust. When we spend time in the Bible, our lives begin to bear witness to its faithful message. We ourselves become stones of remembrance for those around us, giving faithful testimony that God is worthy of our trust, no matter what.
To be human is to do battle daily with impatience. And battle it we must, because of the close connection between impatience and anger. In my experience, these two states are usually separated by about a nanosecond.
The world’s solution to the problem of impatience is not to develop patience, but to eliminate as many situations that require it as possible.
We simply cannot get away from the patience of God portrayed in the Bible. God is patient with his children with regard to their sin. He is patient to bear with us as we progress along the path of sanctification, forgiving our sins again and again. He is patient to work out our deliverance in good time. He is patient to await a harvest, and patient to bring in the sheaves in the fullness of time. Our God is “not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
Jesus Christ lived thirty-three years shoulder to shoulder with sinners, no doubt tempted constantly to sinful impatience and quick anger. Yet, the Bible records only two instances in which his anger manifested itself. Two.
Patience is not just the ability to wait, but to abide. It is not just gritting our teeth and waiting for a circumstance to change or a trial to resolve, crossing days off on a calendar. It is living daily in the awareness that God holds all things together, and that, in the grand scheme of things, whatever trouble we face during this life is light and momentary. Sin and suffering have an expiration date. They are not eternal. Those who wait patiently for the return of Christ do so with the assurance that all things will be made new and with the conviction that every day until that day counts toward eternity.
God is truth. He is its origin and its determiner. What he defines as true is eternally true, unchangingly true. Because he is truth, all of his actions reveal truth and all of his words declare it. As the fullness of truth itself, God is incapable of lying, though sometimes our limited perception may cause us to doubt that this is the case. Satan knows this, and tempts us just as he tempted Eve. He suggests that if we sin, we will not surely die, as God has said. Like Eve, we cross the line into sin, only to find ourselves still breathing in and out—not dead—and we mistakenly assume that the Serpent is the bearer of truth.
We need our gathering times to remind us that the truth we are staking our lives on is a truth we share with every believer in our congregation. Moreover, it is a truth we share with every believer who has ever lived. It is an ancient truth that suffers no loss of integrity with the passage of time. In fact, the longer it endures, the more its witness is confirmed.
It is not personal truths we need, but rather shared truth preserved and passed down from one believing generation to the next, personalized to us in our current day. That shared truth is available within the pages of God’s Word to me and to all who believe.
We can’t discern what’s false if we don’t train our eyes on what is true. The best weapon we have for discerning true teaching from false teaching and sin from righteousness is “the sword of the spirit, the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17). The Word of God is a weapon, forged to combat forgery. We must know how to handle the Bible rightly, and we must know it as comprehensibly as possible in our lifetime. If spiritual warfare is the purview of the Father of Lies, we must arm ourselves with truth. Truth is a book, and that book is a weapon.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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