Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Family Likeness

"And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness" (Psalm 17:15).

The Westminster Larger Catechism, in its first inquiry asks, "What is the chief and highest end of man?" The answer comes, "Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever."

The Psalm speaks of satisfaction, the Catechism of enjoyment. Both documents ground the subject's experience to an external object, that being God.

To see the likeness of God is man's ultimate experience. But to be able to be in this experience, man must be endowed with His likeness, for without the "family resemblance" man is to be rejected and destroyed.

The Gospel is the proclamation that God has made a way for man to be "part of the family" and thus behold His beauty. Those chosen by God to be His sons and daughters attain the family name solely through Christ. By His atoning death on the cross, the children are counted as justified in God's forensic sight; and by His perfect life and obedience, the same are clothed in His righteousness, thereby gaining the status of "children of God."

In the present age, the likeness of God in His chosen ones is imperfect at best. But the Holy Spirit is not slack in His work of sanctification, bringing every facet of the child of God to conformity with the family likeness. It is an eschatological certainty that the present "Frankenstein-ish" state of the children will give way to the full expression of the family likeness, when we will then be able to see God face to face, to enjoy Him and be satisfied—forever.


  1. The doctrine of our adoption as sons (and daughters) is precious indeed.

  2. It's the essence of J.I. Packer's classic, "Knowing God."


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