March 29, 2015

In this issue: Partakers of the Divine Nature by Roger Lindsey

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There are three times in the Bible when it is said that we are made, being made, or will be made in the image of God. One time would have been sufficient to get our attention, but the promises and meaning of the other two are just hair-raising!

Created in His Image

The first, of course, is in the Creation, when it is said that God said “Let us make man in Our image, after our likeness” Genesis 1.26.

What exactly does this mean? Does God stand erect as He made us to do, unique among all His creation? It is interesting that the word “upright” is used in the Scriptures to denote righteousness, godliness. But God is spirit (John 4.24) and so any comparison of our God-given physical features with His own appearance, can only be based on the comparisons we read of in the Bible, and no more. We are told that God sits (Psalm 9.7;29.10), and He also stands (Amos 9.1). He is spoken of as having arms (Num 11.23), hands (Isa 59.1-2), fingers (Psalm 8.3) feet (Ex 24.10), face (Gen 4.14), hair (Dan 7.9) and other characteristics like those of man. In all of these, there is little to make us absolutely sure of God’s actual appearance, and so we must turn to other comparisons.

Surely this likeness to God’s image includes our mental capacities. Alone among all of God’s creation man can reason, deduce, conclude and even communicate about things that are concrete and abstract. Man’s power to use this capacity to build is recognized by the Lord Himself in His statement concerning the building of the Tower of Babel, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Gen 11:6). Language is man’s power alone; while animals may communicate in primitive ways, and even mimic the speech of man, they cannot communicate in a language as we do. Can any of the other creatures of the earth build as man builds, create as man creates, progress as man progresses in his use of material things? Surely man has been given “dominion” over the earth, and the mental powers to accomplish it.

What about spiritually? Are we in His image in that area? We are made “upright” (Ecc 7.29), that is, holy and pure, and come into this world possessing a spirit that is from God and which goes back to God (Ecc 12.7). It seems man is a uniquely spiritual being inhabiting a physical body. The body will eventually die, but the spirit lives on. So we can say that man’s spirit is “immortal” and “eternal,” beginning at a fixed point and continuing into eternity.

Made In His Image in Christ

We have been given the opportunity to be made in the image of God by hearing His words, believing and obeying them in this life. To be a disciple of Christ is to be conformed to His likeness in the here and now.

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” Mat 10:24-25

“...beholding the glory of the Lord, (we) are being transformed into the same image…” 2Co 3:18

We share the same type of physical body our Lord possessed while on earth. The difference, of course, is that we have used it to sin, but the Lord did not. He showed us that the temptations of the flesh can be overcome, and overcame them for us (compare Jn 16.33; 1 Jn 5.4). Every intention of the disciple of Christ should be that he “should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thess 4.4) and that we do not sin (1 Jn 2.1).

We are told to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2.5) and to “transformed by the renewing of” our mind (Rom 12.2) in order to use our minds to discern the good will of God. In these things then our minds are conformed to the likeness of the mind of Christ in the here and now.

Spiritually we are “born again,” having received the “washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3.5). This of course happens at our baptism when we are “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” and we “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38). From that point on, if we are faithful, we carry about within us a down payment of the Spirit of God which preserves us and marks us as belonging to Christ. This is the means by which we will eventually inherit the next promise of being made in the image of God.

Partakers of the Divine Nature

“ His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2Pe 1:3-4)

These words resound with the hope of the disciple of Christ, to eventually be made like our glorified Lord. Our bodies will be transformed into the likeness of His heavenly body.

“who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Phi 3:21)

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1Jo 3:1-3)

If ever there was an incentive to trust and obey the Lord, it is this!

Not only will our bodies be changed, but our minds will be able to rest as well from all the testing and trials of this life. The constant struggle against the flesh will be over, vigilance will no longer be necessary to escape the wiles of the Devil, for we will be free from the flesh and temptations of this world. This is the very definition of peace to a Christian.

Our spirits too will be made “perfect,” that is complete. No longer will we possess only the “down payment” but the entire promise of a spirit made new. This aspect of our coming change is not so clearly defined in Scripture as that of our bodily change, but whatever awaits us in the glory of the presence of the Lord forever, our spirits will rejoice in it with complete competence and ability to enjoy it all.

Let us keep before our eyes these great and precious promises by which we may be partakers of the Divine Nature.

“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1Co 2:9-10)

Having this hope then, let us persevere to the saving of our souls and to the transformation that awaits us. ~

Roger Lindsey

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