The Hunger for Significance: Seeing the Image of God in Man by R.C. Sproul

Here is the preface to the new edition of The Hunger for Significance: Seeing the Image of God in Man by R.C. Sproul, which is releasing March 4th.

PREFACE

A search can be fun—from hide-and-seek to hunting Easter eggs on the White House lawn; from looking for a hot spot where the fish are biting to the scavenger hunt at a Halloween party.

A search can be futile—from the ancient Diogenes examining the darkest corners of Athens with his lantern, looking in vain for an honest man, to the medieval knight pursuing the Holy Grail; from the quest for the Lost Dutchman mine to the lure of discovering Shangri-La.

A search can be tedious, yielding its reward after countless hours and lingering years of failure—Thomas Edison experimenting with a thousand substances before finding one suitable for use as a glowing filament; Jonas Salk peering through a thousand microscopes before finding a vaccine for polio.

A search can be quixotic—the alchemist seeking a formula to turn lead into gold; Ponce De León tracking down the Fountain of Youth. It is searching for gold at the end of the rainbow and chasing the will-o’-the-wisp with a butterfly net.

A search can be maniacal—Captain Ahab sailing his troubled soul into uncharted waters, risking his crew and his mission to gain revenge on his loathsome nemesis, the great white whale Moby Dick. It is the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk shouting, “Fee fi fo fum” while frantically chasing after his golden harp.

Man is by nature a hunter. He longs to discover the new frontier, the lost horizon, the magic formula, and the ultimate trophy. From Nimrod stalking the primordial lion to Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s relentless pursuit of Adolf Eichmann and Dr. Josef Mengele, the hunt is fierce. It is Columbus seeking a new world, Galileo a new moon around Jupiter, and Christian Dior a new flair for fashion.

We are the seekers. We hunt for animals and precious gems; for a cure for cancer and a way to solve the national debt. We look for jobs, for dates, for bargains, and for thrills. The pursuit of happiness is our inalienable right. We are like Dorothy, off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Ours is a new world, fraught with the peril of nuclear annihilation, torn by the violence of international terrorism, embittered by our failure to build the great society. The rigorous pursuit of our day is the search for dignity and personal worth. It is a mighty quest fueled by the flames of passion that burn in the souls of people who refuse to surrender to the voices that declare we are nothing.

The search for dignity is a titanic struggle, an epic adventure, prodded by a pain that will not go away. Modern man has an aching void. The emptiness we feel cannot be relieved by one more gourmet meal or another snort of cocaine. We carry water in a sieve when we try to fill the empty space with a better job or a bigger house.

Dignity is never found in plastic. We must search further and probe deeper if the haunting cries of indignity are to be silenced. Ours must be a transcendent quest—going beyond the trivial to the ultimate questions of our worth as human beings.

It was Saint Augustine who declared that within each of us is a vacuum that must be filled if the scourge of insignificance is to miss us in its vicious attack. We must seek our roots, our origin, and our destiny if we are to know our present value.

This book is written by a Christian for Christians and for anyone else who shares in the search. It explores the human cry for dignity, the deep desire for significance, the hallowed longing for love and respect. It touches the aching void in the home, the school, the hospital, the prison, the church, and the workplace. Wherever people come together, hunters meet in common cause—the discovery of worth, the assurance of our dignity.

At times the book is autobiographical—not as if I alone have felt the aching void but that I may speak from the most intimate chamber of my quest, my own heart. Some will identify and others will not. My pain is not always your pain. And my delight may leave you bored.

But my earnest hope is that at some point our kindred spirits will meet, and whatever else our differences, we will be cemented together in a renewed commitment to preserve and protect the dignity of the men, women, and children who surround us every day.

My gratitude must be expressed to Bob and Lillian Love for providing me with a place to work, far from the intrusions of ringing phones and administrative pressures, and to Leo and Todge Collins for helping me with support material. Special thanks go to Mrs. Lillian Rowe for allowing the tender moments of her husband’s death to be included in the book.

Thanks also to Karen Snellback for typing the manuscript, to Tim Couch and Dave Fox for running the ship of Ligonier Ministries in my absence, to my son R.C. Sproul Jr. for editorial assistance, and to my friends at Regal Books: William Greig, David Malme, and my patient editor Donald Pugh for prodding me to write the book, and for all their encouragement and assistance.

Finally, my heartfelt thanks to my wife, Vesta, without whose help this book would be far more abstract and far less readable.

R.C. Sproul

Altamonte Springs, Florida

July 1991


Introduction to This Is Love: Tracing The Love of God throughout the Biblical Story by Neil Tolsma

Here is the Introduction to This Is Love: Tracing The Love of God throughout the Biblical Story by Neil Tolsma.

“Interacts satisfyingly with how God’s love is expressed throughout Scripture—even on the most difficult subjects.” —John M. Frame

DO YOU KNOW WHAT LOVE IS? We all know what love is—or so we think. I thought I did too. After all, our world has much to say about love. The biologist might suggest that it is a chemical reaction. A love spot in the brain needs to be satisfied—like the hunger spot. Feed me, feed me. Love me, love me.

Then there is the psychologist, who sees love as a form of manipulation, a self-centered thing: “You need to earn my love.” The divorcing spouse complains, “I don’t love him anymore. He doesn’t do anything for me.”

The TV sitcoms have reduced the idea of love to sexual passion: “Let’s make love.” Has Freud triumphed? When I mentioned that I was writing a book about love in the Bible, there were those who automatically assumed that I was writing about sex.

Are we left with the plaintive cry, “It’s love’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know love at all”?1

It is not in some dictionary definition of love that we will learn what true love is all about. Rather, true love is found in the unfolding history of God’s ways with mankind. Our lives have to be understood against the background of the history of redemption. That history has been characterized by significant expressions of divine love that define true love. God is love, and the best definition of love is found in him. This book develops an understanding of love as it has come alive in what our Lord has said and done.

Are you looking for true love? We will begin our journey of discovery in the eternal house of God. There the three persons of the Trinity dwell in complete harmony. Within the Godhead, the shape and scope of perfect love can be found, and from this fountainhead it coursed through human history, from creation, through the fall into sin, to the triumph of salvation in the person of the Son of God. It will climax in eternity, when the redeemed will swim in an ocean of God’s love (as Jonathan Edwards put it).

We will study the great epochs of salvation history that lead us forward in our knowledge and understanding of this glorious concept. And not only lead us forward but also reveal with growing insight how wide and long and high and deep is the love of God in finally taking us to Christ, who loves to the ultimate. To open the Bible is to enter a world of love: Adam communes with the Creator, who loves him; Noah finds grace in the eyes of the Lord; Abraham meets with his divine Friend; Moses proclaims the law of the love of God; Israel is the beloved bride of the heavenly King; Christians are brought to eternal life through the love of the One who laid down his life for them; and believers are enabled to love others with the same sacred love. Having explored these manifestations of love, we ought to be able to say, “This is love.”

While I emphasize certain aspects of God’s love in each chapter, this does not mean the specific characteristic of God’s love I selected for each chapter is isolated to one time or event. Each aspect was there from the beginning. For instance, the Lord’s condescending love did not begin with his covenant with Abraham; God stooped to engage with his creation from day one. Further, his mercy and grace shaped his relationship with man from earliest times, and his love is marked by faithfulness throughout all generations.

Each chapter ends with questions to help prompt discussion and personal reflection. Use them as they are helpful to you. I trust you will come up with some of your own. While I find myself in hearty agreement with most of the authors I quote, there are some I refer to, especially in the discussion questions, with whom I do not agree.

In his day, Paul repeatedly prayed that the churches of Christ might abound in love more and more. May the Lord be gracious and use this book to cause love to grow in the hearts of many Christians and their churches in our day.

I pray that this book will enrich your understanding of the love of the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I pray that you will be fired up to read your Bible and read it with a new appreciation. After all, there you will find the best account of what true love is all about. And I pray that the love of Christ will be reproduced in your own life. Jesus loved us to the uttermost and calls on us to love one another as he has loved us. If you are a stranger to the grace and glory of the love of God, I pray that, by means of this book, God will open your heart to receive that love, so that you too may come to love him, and your neighbor, as Jesus loves you.


1. Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now” (Siquomb Publishing, 1967).



4 New Releases Today!

We are excited to release 4 new titles today!

  1. Jazz, Blues, and Spirituals: The Origins and Spirituality of Black Music in the United States, New Edition
  2. Respect the Image: Reflecting Human Worth in How We Listen and Talk
  3. Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability, Revised and Updated
  4. The Song of Songs


Jazz, Blues, and Spirituals: The Origins and Spirituality of Black Music in the United States, New Edition by Hans Rookmaaker

248 pages | $19.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Mobi: $9.99 | ePub: $9.99

About

At a time when many white Europeans and Americans dismissed the artistry of African-American music, Dutch art professor Hans Rookmaaker wrote in praise of its merits. This musical history explores the development of jazz, blues, spirituals, and gospel music from its earliest days until the 1950s—describing, as Dr. Rookmaaker understood them, the origins, rationale, and interplay of diverse new genres.

This new edition features a preface by William Edgar, an accomplished jazz pianist and a professor at Westminster Seminary.

Endorsements

“The fundamental admiration of African American creativity shining through oppression is Rookmaaker’s view woven through every paragraph of this research. Though written in 1960, this is an example that the twenty-first-century educated musician should follow.”

—James Ward, Recording Artist, Singer-Songwriter

“A robust and diverse contribution to the world of music comes out of the Black experience in America. . . . Hans Rookmaaker gives us this American story through the lens of God’s work among a people. We are brought into the beauty that springs out of joy and sorrow intimately tied to a hope rooted in God.”

—Irwyn L. Ince, Director, GraceDC Institute for Cross-Cultural Mission

“Hans Rookmaker is a fascinating man who played an important role in the development of a neo-Calvinist vision of the arts. Now that it is available once again, may this volume remind a generation of Christians that no musical form is neutral or without meaning. May it stimulate further work across a variety of musical genres.”

—Mark P. Ryan, Director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute, Adjunct Professor of Religion and Culture, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis


Respect the Image: Reflecting Human Worth in How We Listen and Talk by Timothy M. Shorey

208 pages | $15.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Mobi: $9.99 | ePub: $9.99

About

We humans talk a lot, so you’d think we’d be good at communicating with one another. But . . . well, we’re not. And the result is hurt, misunderstandings, frustration, division, and sometimes all-out war.

Yet whether we’re trying to repair a relationship, interact on social media, or understand someone whose beliefs differ from our own, there is hope! The people around us bear God’s image. As we learn to treat them accordingly, our communication will become a powerful means of showing God’s love to them.

Laying out eleven key principles for loving conversation, Pastor Tim Shorey guides us to a memorable, scriptural approach to communication that can transform our relationships.

Endorsements

“A focused and helpful plea for greater listening and learning in all our relationships.”

—Ruth Naomi Floyd, Vocalist; Lecturer on African-American Spirituals and Resident Artist, Temple University

“Expertly crafted, this rich biblical treatment of relational and racial unity is a blessing and an encouragement.”

—Diane Hunt, Counselor; Editor and Coauthor, Crossing the Jordan

“Helps us all precisely because Tim aims to make every truth transformative and every story connect to the truth.”

—Jeffrey S. Black, Professor and Chair of the Department of Counseling and Psychology, Cairn University


Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability, Revised and Updated by Stephanie O. Hubach

272 pages | $16.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Mobi: $9.99 | ePub: $9.99

About

In a fallen world, we all experience brokenness. In our humanity, we all experience limited ability. We’re in the same lake, sharing a common story—but because our experiences differ from person to person, we’re not in the same boat.

When it comes to people with disability, however, we often act like we’re in different lakes. Disability can seem frightening, abnormal—or even irrelevant to those who do not experience it. But Stephanie Hubach argues that there is a better way to think of disability, a better way to understand the challenges facing those touched by disability, and a better way to understand the role of the church in the lives of people with differing abilities. She pinpoints what is true about disability, in contrast to common secular views, and what we need to rethink and relearn in order to support one another and make God’s kingdom truly accessible to all.

This revised and updated edition includes new chapters on growing in grace and journeying into maturity.

Endorsements

“Whether you are someone who is navigating the challenges of dealing with disability in your own family or someone who can’t imagine . . . the difficulties faced by families touched by disability, this book is for you.”

—Nancy Guthrie, Author, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow

“Steph Hubach is an exceptional Christian leader whose honest, wise, and hope-filled book has helped Christians worldwide. . . . It remains the first resource I recommend to anyone who wishes to demonstrate the love of Christ in response to human disability.”

—Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College

“Delightfully engaging. Personal and poignant. Same Lake, Different Boat is a must-read for anyone who wants to make the church as God has designed it to be . . . beautiful.”

—Emily Colson, Author, Dancing with Max

“Hubach reminds us of God’s clear call to become communities of belonging for individuals with disabilities and their families. And she equips us with the perspectives and practices needed to move in this direction.”

—Erik Carter, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

“Stephanie Hubach’s book shines the light of biblical truth on many of the disability-related conversations and current words and trends to give us a well-articulated place where Christians can plant their feet.”

—Barbara J. Newman, Director of Church Services, All Belong


The Song of Songs by G.I. Williamson

112 pages | $9.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Mobi: $6.99 | ePub: $6.99

About

These eight sermons became a landmark in Rev. Williamson’s preaching ministry to his congregation and are presented here as a source of blessing to others.

“In my early ministry, I said one time that the whole Bible is the Word of God, and we should not be afraid to preach on any part of it, and I’m willing to do it. And what do you think happened then? Right away somebody said, ‘Okay, preach on the Song of Solomon.’ I can understand why preachers tend to shy away from it—because it’s not easy to preach on a book about sex and marriage. It’s especially difficult when you face a whole congregation of people of different ages. But I had to keep my word, and I’m glad I did!

In my half-century of experience in the ministry I still look back on that series of sermons as unique. Through the entire series the eyes of the people were riveted on their preacher. You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium. And everyone—from eight to eighty—was there to hear these sermons. I cannot adequately express the sense of wonder that I felt in preaching these messages.” — G. I. Williamson


 

Author Interview with Timothy Shorey

This week’s author interview is with Tim Shorey. He is the author of Respect the Image: Reflecting Human Worth in How We Listen and Talk, which is releasing February 5th. Read a sample chapter of his book HERE.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a missionary and preacher’s kid who was wondrously rescued from spiritual rebellion in my mid-teen years. I was going in a seriously wrong direction when God got ahold of me and drew me to Christ at age 15. But that isn’t where God’s work in me began. As I rummage around in my memory files, I can go back to age 5, when I already aspired to be three things: I wanted to be a husband, a father, and a pastor. I’m sure that says something about how much I admired my father who was all three in faithfulness till death took him home.

But it turned out to be much more than a son’s admiring desire to be like his dad when he grows up; it was the early hint of a three-fold calling. As a simple matter of fact, I was a husband (to Gayline) at 19, a father at 20, and a pastor at 23. I’m now 61 so you can do the math and see that grace has been pretty amazing to me. It makes me think of words that I’m guessing most have heard somewhere before: “Through many dangers toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

Along the way the family has grown to six kids and 13 grand-kids—and a world of brothers and sisters in Jesus. Writing has become ministry and hobby to me—even as pastoral life continues. And as for rest and replenishment, food and walks and grand-kids and music and laughter and sushi and a very occasional round of golf are all consistent restoratives and interests of mine—so long as, at least 90% of the time, I get to do them with Gayline.

 

  • When did you first want to write a book?

In my twenties, but family and church didn’t leave enough left-over time to pursue it. So that made all those years of marriage and parenting and pastoring the prep time for writing; which I’m getting to do now. I think that’s called, “having your cake and eating it, too”.

 

  • Have you always enjoyed writing?

Yes I have; all the way back to junior high.

 

  • What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

I’ve self-published a couple of smaller books that function mostly as testimonials and devotionals—and they were a pure joy to write. Inspired as they were by a spirit of worship and delight in Jesus, they were very personal offerings of praise to my Savior, by which more than a few seem to have been blessed.[1]

But my February 5, 2020-released P&R-published Respect the Image: Reflecting Human Worth in How We Listen and Talk is different. While still an offering of praise, it’s also a result of decades of life, ministry, and study.  And it’s born out of a longing ache that families and churches and classes and diverse ethnicities would lay down their weapons of warfare and form a mutually binding pact to take up and apply the Word of God and all it has to say about respect, love, careful listening, and a sanctified tongue.

I put the core of this teaching together over 20 years ago and have taught it in summer Bible camps, marriage retreats, churches; even in public schools. The burden to get it into writing has grown over the years, and has been ignited further by my recent experiences as a pastor of a very multi-cultured church in a polarized world; a context where listening and talking are being tested like never before—much to our delight! In short: people are far too precious to damage or abuse through the wretched communication sins we all too often commit. It is time for change.

 

  • What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Given that this is my first formally published work—and that it’s just being released—means that the critiques are still mostly to come; which produces, I must say, a bit of a vulnerable sensation. I do like to craft words, but have been warned not to do too much of it. Readers will have to decide whether or not it’s overboard in Respect the Image. On the other hand, I think that the best compliment I’ve heard—apart from comments of how the writing has blessed people and is pastorally helpful—is one I’ve received quite often; that my writing is winsome. I like that. I think that people who know me will know that I take life, the gospel, theology, Scriptural authority, and the glory of God very seriously; which is pretty clear in my book (I hope!). But along with that, I seriously hope that I take joy, grace, whimsy, light-hearted fun, and smiles seriously, too. Enough so that people can feel them though the words on the page, as well.

 

  • What is your favorite food?

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes swimming in butter, fresh green peas (swimming in the potatoes’ overflow butter), and a nice sized bowl of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

 

  • The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia?

When I am reading for pleasure alone, The Lord of the Rings, which I happen to be reading for the fourth time right now. LOTRs stirs me to courage, endurance, and friendship; reminding me to seize the time I’m given to do the tasks I’m given. But if I am reading to children, The Chronicles of Narnia. Seeing the faces of kids as they go further up and further in to Narnia’s wonders is a sight to delight!

 

  • If you have a favorite book of the Bible, what is it and why?

I’m not sure about “favorite” but I love the book of Ecclesiastes. It has rescued my soul time and again when the seemingly random and endless sorrows of a broken world have threatened my faith. I thrill over its simple powerful message in the midst of all that is crazy and unexplained; a message simply stated: “Remember God. Do what he says. And enjoy life.” But hey; that may be focus for another book.


How can readers discover more about you and your work?


[1] Worship Worthy: Alliterative Adoration and 30/30 Hindsight: 30 Reflections on a 30-Year Headache


 

Daily Excerpt — Come to the Waters by James Montgomery Boice

 January 1

Good Creation

Genesis 1:1–26

And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21

The value of creation, declared good by God, brings us to a natural conclusion: if God finds the universe good in its parts and as a whole, then we must find it good also. This does not mean that we will refuse to see that nature has been marred by sin. But even in its marred state, it has value, just as fallen man also has value.

First, we should be thankful for the world God has made and praise him for it. In some expressions of Christian thought only the soul has value. But this is not right, nor is it truly Christian. The Christian view is that God has made all that is and that the material world therefore has value and should be valued by us because of this origin.

Second, we should delight in creation. This is closely related to being thankful but is a step beyond it. It is a step that many Christians have never taken. Frequently, Christians look on nature only as one of the classic proofs of God’s existence. But instead of this, the Christian should really enjoy what he sees. He should appreciate its beauty. He should exult in creation even more than the non-Christian, because in the Christian’s case there is a corresponding knowledge of the God who stands behind it.

Third, we should demonstrate a responsibility toward nature, meaning that we should not destroy it simply for the sake of destroying it but rather should seek to elevate it to its fullest potential. Men and women together should seek to sanctify and cleanse the earth in order that it might be more as God created it, in anticipation of its ultimate redemption.

Finally, after he has contemplated nature and has come to value it, the Christian should turn once again to the God who made it and sustains it moment by moment and should learn to trust him. God cares for nature, in spite of its abuse through man’s sin. But if he cares for nature, then he also obviously cares for us and may be trusted to do so. This argument occurs in the midst of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in which he draws our attention to God’s care of the birds (animal life) and lilies (plant life) and then asks, “Are you not of more value than they? . . . But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 6:26, 30).


This excerpt was taken from Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment by James Montgomery Boice.