Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | September 5, 2008

Picturing God

Those of you who’ve read the September issue of The Adopted Life have already seen this picture of God (on page 9).

It’s based on something John Stonecypher wrote on page 1 of the July issue. John said:

The gospel is that this God has taken you up and placed you on the lap of the One sitting in the ‘Son’ chair. Now and forever, if anyone wants to draw a true picture of God, that picture must have YOU in it.

That’s the gospel right there. That’s what God has said to humanity in Jesus and that is the message Jesus has asked us to share with the world (Eph. 1:5, Rom. 5:18, Col. 1:20). It’s the news that Jesus is the union of God and humanity (1 Tim. 2:5) and therefore, when Jesus died, rose, and ascended to heaven, he took humanity with him (2 Cor. 5:14, Eph. 2:6).

As soon as I read John’s words in the July issue I realized I had to have a picture of this. I got in touch with my friend Steve Leaver and asked him to go to work on it. In this illustration we see:

The Father, Son, and Spirit seated in heaven at a great banquet.

The Son remains forever incarnate (Luke 24:39, Heb. 7:24) so he is pictured in a t-shirt and ball cap to symbolize his humanity.

Because the Son is forever incarnate as the man Jesus, it means that humanity is seated with him and in him beside the Father (Eph. 2:6).

That’s you and me and everyone we know and love, seated there at the “grown-up” table, joined into the life of the Triune God through the gracious work of Jesus!

P.S. If you are interested in having a copy of this picture please contact me or Steve to arrange a usage fee. Steve is a professional artist and deserves our support as he uses his gift to share the gospel.

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Responses

  1. Thanks Jonathan for reminding us or our inclusion with Jesus at God’s “table.”

    And thanks Steve for your wonderful artwork illustrating this inclusion. I’m using some of Steve’s wonderful work in presentations I make to folks who help children understand their connection to Jesus (Steve, a check is on the way to secure my license for this use).

    I’m making one such presentation this weekend to the WCG congregation located in Winnipeg, Canada. They have a thriving children’s ministry and are seeking to take it to the next step.

    If any of you reading this are interested in holding a seminar that discusses the Trinitarian basis of ministry to children and teens, check with me about my *Connection* seminar. You can reach me at Ted.Johnston@wcg.org

  2. I thought I recognized those faces! Can’t wait to see what Jesus really looks like!

    Jonathan, I looked around the blog looking for something pertaining to those children who reject or do not believe that they are included in God’s family. I pulled this from a website and have even heard this message preached at a church on Christmas Eve. (which made me shiver)- The one who physically dies in his sins without accepting Christ is hopelessly and eternally lost in the lake of fire and, therefore, has no further opportunity
    of hearing the Gospel or repenting.

    I’ve often thought about this knowing the Loving Father does not want anyone to perish. The story of doubting Thomas comes to mind where he couldn’t believe until he saw Jesus and touched Him. I have many a family members who do not believe in God at all and I would like to believe our Father would give them a chance to believe by seeing.

    The story of the sheep and the goats come to mind also. Can you help with this with some backup from scripture?

  3. Hi Margaret,

    Good to hear from you!

    Whenever we think about anything, including hell, we have to start by thinking about who Jesus is and basing our thoughts on him.

    Too much of Christian writing and preaching about hell simply takes a verse or two and constructs a theology that contradicts the person of Christ.

    He is the one in whom all humanity exists (Col. 1:17), in whom all humanity is adopted into the Triune Life (Eph 1:5, 2:15), and in whom all humanity is reconciled to the Father (Col. 1:20). In him all humanity is forgiven and given life (Rom. 5:18).

    So, whatever we say about hell it has to take into account the fact that if any one experiences hell they do so as adopted, reconciled, forgiven children of the Father in Christ. If we say that those who experience hell experience it because they are not children of the Father or because they are forgiven or the Father has not given them life in Christ then we are in direct contradiction to the Word of God (Jesus) and the Bible.

    So, how could adopted, forgiven children ever experience hell? By believing lies about themselves (e.g. “God doesn’t love me” or “there is no God”) instead of believing the truth.

    How can adopted, forgiven children stop experiencing hell and start experiencing the life they have in Christ as the heaven it is meant to be? By believing the truth that they are loved by the Father and included in the Son’s relationship with him.

    There is no reason that people cannot stop believing the lie and start believing the truth after they die. Many of the Church Fathers taught that this was not only possible but likely. There is no verse in the Bible that says “after you die and meet Jesus you can’t believe the truth about yourself.”

    In fact, to say that we cannot repent after death is to deny the very reality of the gospel of Jesus’ resurrection! By rising from the dead Jesus proved that he has power over death and the grave and that nothing can prevent him from accomplishing the Father’s plan of adoption – not even death! If we have a theology that says death can stop Jesus, that death can interpose itself between the Father and his children, then we have a theology where death is the one thing Jesus can’t overcome.

    Sometimes people quote the verse from Acts that says “it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment” as an evidence that you can’t repent after death. But that verse doesn’t describe how we are or are not permitted to respond to the judgment, it just says judgment will take place.

    If we die and stand before Jesus then we are standing before the one who loves us more than he loves himself, the one who shares his relationship with his Dad with us, and the one who prays for us constantly. If we have believed a lie about him we will be judged in that moment to be liars. If we believed we are not included it will be revealed that we are included. If we have believed that we were not loved it will be revealed that we are loved. If we have believed that we are not children of the Father it will be revealed that we are his children, adopted in Jesus.

    When I think of my loved ones who have not known or believed in Jesus and have died in that doubt I think of them standing before Jesus and Jesus says:

    “You thought you weren’t loved, and weren’t included, and weren’t forgiven and my judgment is that you were wrong. In me you have always been loved, included, and forgiven. You have always been my brother because I have made you my brother. Now, will change your mind and enter into the joy of our Dad’s kingdom?”

    For my take on the sheep and the goats you can read the article I wrote in the August, 2007, issue of The Adopted Life. It starts on page 5. Here’s a link to that issue:
    http://www.theadoptedlife.org/newsletters/issue-1-0807.pdf

  4. i like this because of the god who is in the sky loves everyone


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