Book Review: In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character

Our inclination is to discern God’s will by asking, “What should I do?” But God’s will concerns itself primarily with who we are, and only secondarily with what we do. By changing the question and asking, “Who should I be?” we see that God’s will is not concealed from us in his Word, but is plainly revealed. Jen Wilkin, In His Image, p. 20

I’m grateful for the opportunity to read another book from Jen Wilkin.  I was challenged and encouraged by None Like Him, which was one of my favorite books from 2017.  Wilkin has done it again with In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character.  Diving deep into Scripture, Wilkin walks us through 10 attributes of God: Holy, Loving, Good, Just, Merciful, Gracious, Faithful, Patient, Truthful, and Wise.  Her heart for helping the reader comprehend the concept of Imago Dei (created in the image of God) is so helpful and intentional.  I feel confident that this is a book that I’ll be purchasing to give away…and will certainly read this again for my own edification!

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…
  • If we focus on our actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self. p. 13
  • God created humankind and stamped us with his mark. He created us to bear his image, to be his representatives in our working and playing and worship. Form and function in harmony. Even after the shattering catastrophe of Genesis 3, we still bear his image, though we no longer work, play, or worship as we were intended. We still hold value to him—every human life. We are cracked vessels, designed to display beauty but leaking at every fissure. But God redeems his image bearers by sending his Son to be the perfect image bearer. Christ is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). p. 15
  • Our inclination is to discern God’s will by asking, “What should I do?” But God’s will concerns itself primarily with who we are, and only secondarily with what we do. By changing the question and asking, “Who should I be?” we see that God’s will is not concealed from us in his Word, but is plainly revealed. p. 20
  • Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders. (Ex. 15:11) p. 23
  • There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. (1 Sam. 2:2) p. 23
  • “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8; cf. Isa. 6:3) p. 24
  • R. C. Sproul writes, “Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory.” The Holiness of God p. 24
  • When we apprehend his holiness, we are changed by the revelation. The knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand. We see ourselves differently because we have seen God as he is. And we understand our calling, to reflect God as Christ did, in a new way. p. 25
  • Holiness permeates the entire Christian calling. It lies at the very center of the gospel. We are not merely saved from depravity; we are saved to holiness. Conversion entails consecration. p. 25
  • Because our conversion affects our consecration, those who receive positional holiness will be compelled to pursue practical holiness. As theologian Jerry Bridges notes, “True salvation brings with it a desire to be made holy.” p. 27
  • 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. It means learning to think, speak, and act like Christ every hour of every day that God grants us to walk this earth as the redeemed. p. 28
  • “The love of God is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell; It goes beyond the highest star, And reaches to the lowest hell.” Frederick M. Lehman, 1917 p. 31
  • Eros is the word used to describe romantic love. Philia is the word used to describe brother-sisterly love shared between peers. Storge is the word used to describe a parent’s love for a child. Agape is the word used to describe the love of God. p. 34
  • According to Jesus, every call to obey hangs on the foundational command to love God and others. Any righteousness not firmly hung on love is filthiness and rags, just so many sodden garments on the floor of a flooded closet. If I refrain from murder, but do not do so out of love for God and others, I have not practiced true holiness. If I refrain from slander or covetousness, but do not do so out of love for God and others, I still sin. Or, as we hear it said at weddings, If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1–3) If I seek to be holy without agape, I add nothing, I am nothing, I gain nothing. p. 37
  • As with the Ten Commandments, the Great Commandment begins with the vertical relationship and moves to horizontal relationships. Unless we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will love ourselves and our neighbors inadequately. Right love of God is what enables right love of self and others. p. 38
  • God is the origin of all good. He is infinitely good, so that even what we see of him in the very good of the visible creation, even what we read of him in the very good words of the Scriptures, is a fractional representation of his goodness. Both the creation and the Scriptures are limited mirrors, albeit accurate ones, and our ability to understand what they reflect is also limited. The infinite goodness of God could fill an infinite number of universes and an infinite number of books. Yet, the sliver we see of it is still a bounty, an abundance. Not only is God infinitely good, but he is immutably good, unchangingly good. His goodness undergoes no increase or decline, nor does it waver. In him there is no darkness at all, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be. He is good and he does good. There is no better version of him to come, no progress from good to better to best for him. God’s goodness is his utter benevolence, the complete absence of malice. God does not, cannot, and need not improve with age. He is as good as he ever has been or will ever be. Perfectly good. Utterly good. p. 47
  • Those who do not cast themselves upon the perfect sacrifice of Christ will spend their lives attempting to make atonement by offering their own good works to a God of their own imagining. They will seek to justify themselves by whatever means they can. They will live lives of striving and futility. p. 61
  • God’s discipline is his justice without wrath, for the purpose of training us in godliness. p. 64
  • Do you understand the poverty of your spirit? You are blessed. Do you grieve over your sin? You are blessed. Have you learned to submit your will to God and to crave what is true? You are blessed beyond measure. Poverty, grief, meekness, and famine usher us into the life of abundance as surely as they did the Israelites fresh from Egypt’s grasp. Mercy, purity, peace, and persecution mark the daily life of abundance as surely as they marked the life of our Savior. p. 90
  • Christians should not have a reputation for being merely fair. We should have a reputation for playing favorites with everyone except ourselves. As those who have received abundant grace, we do good in abundance: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). p. 94
  • 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. p. 101
  • 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. p. 118
  • God, as the source and possessor of all knowledge, cannot be less than truthful. He defines reality because he is its origin. In making the claim that our God defines an objective reality, Christianity flatly denies the notion of moral relativism, that we decide what is right and wrong for ourselves. What God declares as good is truly good, and what God declares as bad is truly bad. p. 124
  • Like every belief system, Christianity asks and answers the existential questions all humans face: Origin: Where did I come from? Purpose: Why am I here? Problem: What’s wrong? Solution: What fixes what’s wrong? p. 125
  • 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. p. 130
  • Though wisdom is a sign of maturity in humans, it is a simple fact in God. He does not grow in wisdom—he is infinitely wise and his wisdom never waxes or wanes. God understands everything exactly the right way and does everything exactly the right way. He always has, and he always will. His wisdom transcends human wisdom by an infinite distance: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor. 1:25 NIV). p. 137
  • “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). p. 147

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