Scavenger Hunt Challenge

While a lot of us are cooped up, I thought I might issue a challenge to help pass some time. It’s a scavenger hunt of sorts for pastors, church leaders, church members, and/or anyone else interested in taking up the challenge.
 
In this scavenger hunt, you can look anywhere; the internet, books, videos, magazines, et cetera. Then just post what you find here in the comments section on Facebook.
 
But before I tell you what you are looking for; let me tell you why you are looking for them.
 
I have a theory as to why the church in America is struggling to accomplish Jesus’ commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
 
I believe it is because we are not teaching the Bible.
 
That is to say that I believe that even churches that claim to teach the Bible are not actually teaching some of the most important things that the Bible teaches.
 
Now, if you think I am wrong, I am going to give you every opportunity to prove me wrong. That’s where the scavenger hunt comes in.
 
But first, what exactly is it that the Bible clearly teaches that I believe our churches are not teaching?
 
Well, let’s look at some scripture:
 
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
 
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
 
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).
 
“You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).
 
Based on these verses (and a plethora of others), the first thing that I would argue that the Bible teaches that churches are not teaching is that…
 
The end goal of the Gospel is that men bring glory to God by being re-conformed to the image of God that they were originally created to be.
 
Interestingly, many church leaders throughout the 2000-year history of the church have taught this principle.
 
Ignatius wrote:
 
“For as there are two kinds of coins, the one of God, the other of the world, and each of these has its special character stamped upon it, [so is it also here.] The unbelieving are of this world; but the believing have, in love, the character of God the Father by Jesus Christ […}.”
 
Justin Martyr wrote:
 
“And we have been taught, and are convinced, and do believe, that He accepts those only who imitate the excellences which reside in Him, temperance, and justice, and philanthropy, and as many virtues as are peculiar to a God who is called by no proper name. And we have been taught that He in the beginning did of His goodness, for man’s sake, create all things out of unformed matter; and if men by their works show themselves worthy of this His design, they are deemed worthy, and so we have received — of reigning in company with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering.”
 
Irenaeus wrote:
 
“For in times long past, it was said that man was created after the image of God, but it was not shown; for the Word was as yet invisible, after whose image man was created. Wherefore also he did easily lose the similitude. When, however, the Word of God became flesh, He confirmed both these: for He both showed forth the image truly, since He became Himself what was His image; and He re-established the similitude after a sure manner, by assimilating man to the invisible Father through means of the visible Word.”
 
Clement wrote:
 
“The view I take is, that He Himself formed man of the dust, and regenerated him by water; and made him grow by his Spirit; and trained him by His word to adoption and salvation, directing him by sacred precepts; in order that, transforming earth-born man into a holy and heavenly being by His advent, He might fulfil to the utmost that divine utterance, ‘Let Us make man in Our own image and likeness.’ And, in truth, Christ became the perfect realization of what God spake; and the rest of humanity is conceived as being created merely in His image.”
 
Athanasius of Alexandria wrote:
 
“For as, when the likeness painted on a panel has been effaced by stains from without, he whose likeness it is must needs come once more to enable the portrait to be renewed on the same wood, for the sake of his picture, even the mere wood on which it is painted is not thrown away, but the outline renewed upon it; in the same way also the most holy Son of the Father, being the image of the Father, came to our region to renew man once made in his likeness, and find him, as one lost, by the remission of sins.”
 
Gregory of Nyssa wrote:
 
“The sky was not made in God’s image, not the moon, not the sun, not the beauty of the stars, no other things which appear in creation. Only you were made to be the image of nature that surpasses every  intellect, likeness of incorruptible beauty, mark of true divinity, vessel of blessed life, image of true light, that when you look upon it you become what He is, because through the reflected ray coming from  our purity you imitate He Who shines within you. Nothing that exists can measure up to your greatness. God is able to measure the whole heaven with his span. The earth and the sea are enclosed in the hollow of His hand. And although He is so great and holds all creation in the palm of His hand, you are able to hold Him, He dwells in you and moves within you without constraint, saying that ‘I shall live and walk for them’ (Lev. 26.2).”
 
John Chrysostom wrote:
 
“As the word ‘image’ indicated a similitude of command, so too ‘likeness,’ with the result that we become like God to the extent of our human power—that is to say, we resemble him in our gentleness and mildness and in regard to virtue.”
 
Augustine of Hippo wrote:
 
“To what hope the Lord has called us, what we now carry about with us, what we endure, what we look forward to, is well known […] We carry mortality about with us, we endure infirmity, we look forward to divinity. For God wishes not only to vivify, but also to deify us. When would human infirmity ever have dared to hope for this, unless divine truth had promised it?”
 
Basil of Caesarea wrote:
 
“…for what is set before us is, so far as is possible with human nature, to be made like God.”
 
John Calvin wrote:
 
“Since the image of God had been destroyed in us by the fall, we may judge from its restoration what it originally had been. Paul says that we are transformed into the image of God by the gospel. And, according to him, spiritual regeneration is nothing else than the restoration of the same image.”
 
And:
 
“Hence, too, we learn, on the one hand, what is the end of our regeneration, that is, that we may be made like God, and that his glory may shine forth in us; and, on the other hand, what is the image of God, of which mention is made by Moses in Genesis 9:6, the rectitude and integrity of the whole soul, so that man reflects, like a mirror, the wisdom, righteousness, and goodness of God. He speaks somewhat differently in the Epistle to the Ephesians, but the meaning is the same. Paul, at the same time, teaches, that there is nothing more excellent at which the Colossians can aspire, inasmuch as this is our highest perfection and blessedness to bear the image of God.”
 
John Wesley preached:
 
“Man knows not that he is a fallen spirit, whose only business in the present world, is to recover from his fall, to regain that image of God wherein he was created.”
 
A.W. Tozer wrote:
 
The purpose of God is to save us and make us like Christ and to make us like God. God will never be done with us until the day we see His face, when His name is on our foreheads; and we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He is.”
 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
 
The image of God should be restored in us once again. This task encompasses our whole existence. The aim and objective is not to renew human thoughts about God so that they are correct, or that we would subject our individual deeds to the word of God again, but that we, with our whole existence and as living creatures, are the image of God. Body, soul, and spirit, that is, the form of being human in its totality, is to bear the image of God on earth. God is well pleased with nothing less than God’s own perfect image.”
 
What should also become obvious is the second idea that the Bible teaches that I believe the church is no longer teaching…
 
The goal of men being re-conformed to the image of God is accomplished by men imitating Jesus (who is the perfect image of God) as His disciples; through the supernatural empowerment and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
 
Again, this is clearly taught in the Bible:
 
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:28-29).
 
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
 
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
 
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
 
“You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
 
“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:5-6).
 
(These are the most explicit passages on conformity to the image of Jesus. Almost every book of the New Testament has either a direct reference or an allusion to being conformed to the image of God/Jesus through imitating Him as His disciple, through the power of the Holy Spirit).
 
C.S. Lewis wrote:
 
“Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has—by what I call ‘good infection.’ Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”
 
 
 
So, here is the Scavenger Hunt Challenge…
 
 
Find a modern church or discipleship organization that explicitly teaches these two important biblical principles…
 
The end goal of the Gospel is that men bring glory to God by being re-conformed to the image of God that they were originally created to be.
 
And…
 
The goal of men being re-conformed to the image of God is accomplished by men imitating Jesus (who is the perfect image of God) as His disciples; through the supernatural empowerment and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
 
 
Again, if you think I am wrong; here is a good opportunity to prove it.
 
Simply post a link to any source in the comments section of this post on Facebook. If you don’t want to post it there, email it to hwhwf1@outlook.com.
 
I know of a couple examples out there that teach these ideas implicitly or in passing, and you may find those; but I haven’t seen any that teach these two ideas explicitly. So I’ll be surprised if anyone finds anything.
 
But while you are looking, ask yourself some questions:
 
“Why am I having such a hard time finding a church or discipleship organization that explicitly teaches these principles that are so clearly taught in the Bible and throughout church history?”
 
“If my church doesn’t teach these two principles that are so clearly taught in the Bible; can we really claim to be teaching the Bible?”
 
“Might our failure to teach these biblical principles in the modern church actually be the reasons that we are struggling to be and make disciples of Jesus?”
 
Because, my theory is that these two principles answer the ultimate question of “why” we should make disciples of Jesus.
 
Therefore, if we are not teaching these two principles to the members of our churches, then we are telling them to make disciples of Jesus without telling them ultimate “why” they should do so.
 
As a result, they are confused and frustrated as to why it is so important that they should be willing to make drastic changes in their church in order to be and make disciples of Jesus.
 
Again, I could be wrong; and I’m willing to be proven so.
 
Let me know what you find…
 
 
Here’s the follow up article, Scavenger Hunt Challenge, Part 2…
 

 

For more information on why it is so important to imitate and obey Jesus as His disciple, start here and follow the links the end of each article:
 
 
 

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