The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 35
96. Question: What does God require in the second commandment?
Answer: We are not to make an image of God in any way, nor to worship Him in any other manner than He has commanded in His Word.
 Deut. 4:15-19; Is. 40:18-25; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:23.  Lev. 10:1-7; Deut. 12:30; I Sam. 15:22, 23; Matt. 15:9; John 4:23, 24.
97. Question: May we then not make any image at all?
Answer: God cannot and may not be visibly portrayed in any way. Creatures may be portrayed, but God forbids us to make or have any images of them in order to worship them or to serve God through them.
 Ex. 34:13, 14, 17; Num. 33:52; II Kings 18:4, 5; Is. 40:25.
98. Question: But may images not be tolerated in the churches as “books for the laity”?
Answer: No, for we should not be wiser than God. He wants His people to be taught not by means of dumb images but by the living preaching of His Word.
 Jer. 10:8; Hab. 2:18-20.  Rom. 10:14, 15, 17; II Tim. 3:16, 17; II Pet. 1:19.
Join us as we begin a series on why we ought to think Christianly and how to cultivate a Christian mind.
2 Corinthians 10:5 - We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Puzzle Pieces and Movie Scripts
Everyone has a worldview. It may be well thought-out, logical, and coherent or it may be loosely thrown together and disorganized, but everyone has one. Quite simply, a worldview is your philosophy or view of life – a way of looking at the world around you.
Think of the cover of a puzzle box. If you were to dump all the puzzle pieces on the ground without seeing what the picture on the cover looked like, you would have a pretty hard time putting the puzzle together. Similarly, life presents us with thousands of questions and issues which are like pieces to a puzzle. Without the right worldview to follow, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to know where and how all the pieces fit.
Or, think of a worldview as a movie script. The late Francis Schaeffer said that life is like entering a very long movie that has already started and then learning you have to leave before it ends. In such a situation we would be significantly lost without some outside help. Schaeffer suggested that the Bible gives us the script of the whole movie. Therefore, even if we have missed the first part of it, and even though we will have to leave before it is over, we can still see how we fit into the big picture. A faithful Christian will want to have a biblical worldview because that will be the view of life that will most closely correspond to reality.
Elements of a Worldview
What are the key components that comprise a person’s worldview? Let me briefly mention five of the most important elements that shape a person’s view of life.
1.) The first aspect of a worldview is one’s view of God: Does God exist? Is God personal or impersonal? Is there only one God or many? Does God require anything from us? What is the nature of God? It has been rightly observed that a person’s answers to these questions will be the greatest influence on the way a person thinks and lives.
2.) Secondly, a worldview focuses on the issues of purpose, value, and ultimate questions, such as: Are miracles possible? Is the universe all there is? What is the purpose of our existence? Why does something exist rather than nothing? Is there objective meaning to life?
3.) The third area a worldview addresses is the question of knowledge. It seeks to answer how we know what we know. What is the authority upon which a person should base his claim to truth or morality? Is each individual the measure for right and wrong or is there an objective standard? A person lives each day according to the way they view knowledge – whether they recognize it or not.
4.) Fourth is the issue of ethics. How do you make moral decisions? Are you bound by what God has revealed or by cultural convention or laws? Are some acts really wrong or merely based on personal preferences and issues of convenience?
5.) The last major element of a worldview has to do with the nature of humankind. How do you view human beings? Are we basically good? Are we basically sinful? Is there such a thing as sin? Are we grown-up germs caused by evolution or do we have real purpose and design? What happens when we die?
These are the significant elements which make up one’s worldview – and again – we all have a worldview whether or not we are conscious of it.
A Christian ought to prayerfully and intentionally put together a biblical world and life view. To live a life of love for God and neighbor will require a life that is lived in faithful accordance to that worldview. Furthermore, a follower of Christ will also want to pass that view of life on to the members of their family, as well as to those they are discipling.
I once read that a Christian’s worldview is as practical as potatoes. Far from being purely an academic or philosophical pursuit, a Christian’s view of life has a “real life” shaping effect. Only as a Christian interprets the world around them through the lens of their Christian worldview, will they be better able to see how they ought to live and bear a faithful witness to it. Writer George Barna has written for years on the sad news that there is virtually no difference between Christians and unbelievers in what they believe and how they live their lives. The one exception, he notes, are those believers who consciously hold a biblical worldview. Do you hold such a worldview?
All-wise and all-knowing God, you are the Lord of heaven and earth. Nothing truly makes sense apart from you. Forgive me when I try to live in your world as though you don’t exist. Whether it’s the way I view the universe and my place in it, the moral decisions I make every day, my values that I pass on to others, how I understand where I came from, why I’m here, and where I’m going after death, please help me have your true and eternal perspective on all such matters and not that of the world around me. Let my thinking, speaking, and living be radically out of step with the prevailing culture that surrounds me, but give me greater love for those who are a part of it, so I may reach them with the grace and truth of your Gospel. And Lord, I pray that the things I believe will make a genuine difference in the way I live my life, so that I may be holy, even as you are holy. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
Galatians 4:9 - But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
A Change of Address
When we lived in darkness – when we were of the world – it made perfect sense that we lived as the world lived. We were a part of its system. You might say it was the very air we breathed.
But when we were delivered from that bondage, ignorance, and darkness, we were made into something new. Paul described us as new creations. To paraphrase the Apostle elsewhere,
“When I was a worldling, I talked like a worldling, I thought like a worldling, I reasoned like a worldling. When I became a new creature in Christ, I put worldish ways behind me.”
It is therefore sad to observe how the Apostle had to address the Galatian believers and ask them why they were turning back to their old, dead ways.
It’s difficult to admit how shortsighted we can be on a daily basis. If we don’t keep Christ daily before us, pursuing him with all God’s grace and our might, we inevitably find ourselves drifting back to the world and its ways of thinking. And such worldish thinking will soon lead to worldish living. What’s so frightening about this process is that even as it happens, we don’t seem aware that we are becoming enslaved to those “weak and miserable principles” all over again.
Why Do We Do This?
The question is indicting: Why would we ever want to go back to such thinking and living once we have been freed from it? Why do we seem to prefer bondage to freedom at times? It’s almost comical how we, like the Israelites, begin romanticizing how great the leeks and onions were in Egypt and forget about the fact that we were slaves there. Why do we do this?
There are probably many good answers. No believer, I hope, truly thinks the world is preferable to the things of God. I don’t think being out of shape is preferable to being healthy. But one skipped workout at a time – over a period of undisciplined living – and a person will find himself struggling to walk up a flight of stairs. That was never the intention, but it was the consequence.
Similarly, a little disobedience and sloth here and there and one day a person will wake up terribly out of shape for the Kingdom. In truth, they will be downright unfit for it.
I’ve discovered in my own life that I tend to do the things I want to do. It’s no more complicated than that. I may dress it up in elaborate excuses and rationalizations, but at the end of the day that’s all they are. Can you relate to that?
Don’t Ignore God’s Means of Grace
Thankfully, those who are genuinely in Christ will not be able to return to their old ways without feeling the disciplinary rod of the Holy Spirit. God is not content to watch his children become remolded in the world’s image.
By God’s magnificent grace, the smoke detector goes off long before the fire blazes out of control. God awakens and disciplines those who are his own and gets them/us back on track again. But even here he does not “do” all the work for us. We can still choose to sleep in instead of pray and study. We can play instead of worship on Sunday mornings. Fill in the blank with those temptations that continue to call you back to your old life. We will have those choices ever before us.
But if you cry out to your loving Father for help, his grace will abound once more to rescue you from your chains. And if you rely on him daily and practice those things he promised will make you spiritually healthy, you may find you have to be rescued less often.
Loving Father, you have redeemed me and adopted me into your family. You desire that I imitate you in my daily life. But all too often I feel the pull of my old life, the lure of sinful desire. Those weak and miserable principles seemingly cast a spell on me. Show me how awful, ugly, and untrue they really are and how they will only entrap and enslave me to a horrible bondage. Please let me see how wicked they really are before I give myself to them. Enable me by your grace to grow in grace. Control me with your Spirit so that I will both desire to, and be able to, live fully for you. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
Peter Makes a Point
Five times in the first chapter of 2 Peter, we find a form of the word knowledge. Five times! That alone should at least grab our attention.
More than likely, Peter’s letter was a response to the “secret knowledge cults” and the Gnostic heresies of his day. For them, knowledge wasn’t available to all, but only to those who had “the inward spark” of divinity and who attended the secret and sacred initiation rites.
Knowledge for Christians, however, is public knowledge. Specifically, it is knowledge of God and his Son Jesus Christ, which is eternal life (John 17:3). It is in Christ that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden (Col. 2:3). This is how we gain grace and peace. Peter writes,
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2)
It is by God, through God, and for God that we are given everything we need for life and godliness. Our access to this comes through knowing him (v. 3). Peter encourages us to add knowledge to our faith (v. 5). Furthermore, he beckons us to seek godly qualities in increasing measure because they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But Not Just Any Knowledge
What all of this means is, knowledge matters. But not just any knowledge.
It is true Paul cautions us about knowledge which puffs us up with pride. But that’s only if we value knowledge as an end in itself. Instead, knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us eternal life, grace and peace, and affects the way we live. In short, knowing God influences every sphere of life.
It is in and through the revealed Word of God that true, life-giving, life-transforming knowledge resides. Let us rejoice that our Lord has not left us alone to grope in the dark but has given us the light of knowledge – the light of his Word – which impacts every sphere of a godly person’s life. This is surely why Peter closes his letter with these words,
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
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Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: (Proverbs 23:19)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.