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Pictures Of Jesus And The Adequacy Of Scripture

Category Articles
Date January 12, 2005

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

In conservative circles, there was a time when men had thoughtful discussions concerning the continuing application of the Sabbath Commandment. But now there are men who claim to be Reformed and yet have set aside the most obvious applications of the Second Commandment.

Completely lost for the vast majority of professing Christians are the deeper implications of images and pictures with regard to the very nature of God and the adequacy of the written word to reveal that nature.

In Hebrews 4:12 the writer comments upon the efficiency of both the written and the Living Word. That one verse is sufficient to illustrate the power of the written word to reveal the character and work of Christ and to apply those elements to the hearts of His people.

For those of us who see a continuing application of the law in the hearts of God’s people, it is easy to see the use of images as a violation of the Second Commandment. However, much of the present atmosphere is a hostile environment for any discussion of the law. True, we Americans do have the whole Judge Moore situation with the Ten Commandments, but in that situation the monument of the commandments became more of an evangelical icon rather than the expression of the will of a righteous and holy God. The proof of the matter is that the majority of the people who lobby for the public display of the Ten Commandments will also lobby for the public display of nativity scenes which is a violation of the Second Commandment.

For the moment, there remains a common ground for Reformed and conservative Evangelical folks, but we must move quickly and decisively, for even that ground is crumbling beneath us. That common ground is the authority of the written word. That is as broad a description as can be given for common ground. For we cannot say that consistently Reformed and broadly evangelical folks share a view of the adequacy of the written word.

Adequacy does not imply a fullness or completeness. For instance, our call and regeneration were, and our sanctification is the result of the revelation of Christ through the word (Matt. 11:27; 2 Pet. 1:2-4, etc.). There is coming, however, a time when we will be glorified by the revelation of Christ at His appearing (1 Cor. 13:12; Col. 3:4; 1 John 3:2). But even then it is not the physical appearance of Christ which will transform us. Of Christ’s earthly ministry Isaiah prophesied: 1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him (Isa. 53:1-2).

The glory and power of Christ were not in His physical appearance. Christ’s transfiguration and His post-resurrection appearance on the Isle of Patmos ensure us that when we see Christ His appearance will be markedly different than His appearance as He walked among the masses here on earth.

But still, it is not His physical appearance which will finally and completely change us. We will be changed, not because we will see what He looks like; we will be changed because we will see Him “as He is.” Images and pictures, on the other hand, are neither an accurate representation of the way Christ looked on earth, nor are they in any way a representation of the invisible attributes of God.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Rom. 1:20).

God’s invisible attributes are His eternal power and divine nature. In no possible way can invisible attributes be revealed by pictures or images. Even in our glorification, we will be changed by the mysterious revelation of Christ’s invisible attributes – His eternal power and divine nature. “We will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” We will see Him in the fullness of His eternal, sovereign power and in the perfection of His divine, moral nature. Now how can that possibly have any relationship to plaster of Paris, stone, wood, or paint on canvas? The revelation we shall one day receive will far surpass any revelation we have received thus far.

Nevertheless, the revelation of the word has been inerrant and adequate to affect great changes in us. But the use of images and pictures discounts the adequacy of the revelation which we have thus far received, and it blasphemes the revelation which is to come.

George W. Seevers, Jr.

1204 Wild Rd.
Van Alstyne, TX 75495

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