Divine Nature

divine transformation

Partaking of the Divine Nature

Partakers of the Divine Nature

 

What does it mean to be partakers of the divine nature?  In what way is fallen and fallible man able to be said to share the perfect and infallible?  Does the Christian merge with the divine being becoming ontologically equivalent with God or is the Christian changed from the inside out while retaining their creaturehood? These are the cruxes of the issue when discussing the matter of theosis as it relates to 2 Peter 1:4.

According to Douglas Harink, “we must seek a definition governed by Biblical teaching and orthodox doctrine regarding the Triune God, the uncompromised ontological distinction of creator and creature, humankind as created in the image and likeness of God, union with Christ, and the life-giving presence and power of the Holy Spirit.” (Harink, 246)

What are some of the things the Bible says of the Triune God and the ontological distinction of creator and creature?  The Godhead, consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are uncreated, eternal, infinite in being and perfection, immutable, and each person of the Godhead has life in themselves not contingent upon any outside phenomenon (John 5:26, Job 11:7, James 1:17, 1 John 5:7, 2 Cor. 13:14).  Man, on the other hand, is created (Genesis 1-2), mutable (Genesis 3), and contingent (Ps. 54:4).  Therefore, there is an obvious distinction between God and man per the Scriptures that must be resolved in order to understand how a believer partakes of the divine nature.

Conversion and Divine Nature

What of the conversion of the fallen and dead sinner into a new a living creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)?  The key word there is “creation” as man is now and will forever be a creature in God’s creation.  However, the Christian is indeed new, being conformed to the very image of Christ (Romans 8:29).  The very concept of being conformed stands in contradistinction to the doctrine of the immutability of God.  The mystery of theosis is found in human nature’s perfection in Christ, not its alteration or destruction (Harink, 247).

Since Christians do not now and never will become little God-humans, what exactly does partaking of the divine nature consist of? Partakers is often translated as “fellowship” or “sharers” and believers are in fellowship with the very life that belongs to God (MacArthur, 30-31).  This is seen in such well known passages as John 1:11-13, Ephesians 2:4-6, and Titus 3:5 that speak directly to the new birth and regeneration/quickening.  The Christian receives life in Christ (John 5:21) and through this life we have fellowship with both Christ and the Father (1 John 1:3).  The life in Christ is also through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit as seen in passages such as Romans 8:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:45, and Galatians 6:8.

Contextually, the reader must look at verse three for some clues in how to decipher the concept of being partakers in the divine nature that Peter wrote about in verse four.  This passage includes the statement that God has given the believer all things that pertain to life and godliness and it should be noted that life is only obtained in and through the workings of the Godhead.  Peter also speaks to God’s glory, which is His alone, and that the believer is called to it, not sharers of that glory.

The believer is called to Christ and united with Him without the creature being subsumed into the creator.  Those who are alive in Christ reflect His glory into creation (Isaiah 60:1-3) without becoming part of it.  To become part of God, part of glory, and receiving attributes that only belong to God would lend itself to a pantheistic worldview that is contrary to the orthodox teachings of the Christian Church.

It is also worth noting that being partakers of the divine nature is in direct accord with the promises made by God.  The redeemed become participants of the God-man, members of the totus Christus (Harink, 247) and receive all the promises made in and to Christ.  This includes the inheritance (Ephesians 1:11, Hebrews 9:15) as fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:22-23), and eternal life (1 Peter 1:4), and likeness to Christ (1 John 3:2).

Food for Thought

It is also interesting to consider the hypostatic union when considering this passage of Scripture.  Christ, being the God-man, had both the divine nature and the human nature while neither nature was mingled or confused.  The eternal Son of God, in the Incarnation, joined the divine to the human in one person while neither confounding or diminishing either.  In being united to Christ, the believer’s human nature being conformed and renewed in Christ, can be joined to Him without becoming divine in and of itself.  The joining of the two does not necessitate the mixing, the subsuming of the one of the other, or the confusion of what either ontologically are.

In conclusion, the believer does indeed partake of the divine nature, but in this sharing of that nature the creature does not lose its humanity.  Rather than becoming less human, those who are in Christ become all that humanity was intended to be, that is in perfect fellowship with their Creator.  The Christian does not become a little god but an eternal reflection of the faithfulness and glory of God.

 

To be Like Jesus

There are multiple questions that must be discussed in answering the question, “Can we be the moral equivalent of Jesus?”  These include who is Jesus, what indeed is He like, what is the natural state of man, and what can one expect after conversion and union with Christ, but first one must understand what it means to be “the moral equivalent” of someone.  Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary can be used to define both moral and equivalent arriving at, “having the same value or meaning in regards to what is right and wrong with human behavior.” (Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary, July 16,2016)

Who is Jesus?  John, in the gospel bearing his name, begins the introduction of Jesus like this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Jhn 1:1–2.)  This bespeaks his existence, not only before his incarnation, but before all time, His co-existence with the Father, His agency in making the world. (Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1916.)  Jesus, as the pre-incarnate Son, was with the Father from the beginning, He took part in creation, and is identified as the ontological equivalent of the Father.  Jesus Himself states that He and the Father are one (John 10:30) and uses the statement “before Abraham was I AM” (John 8:58) to reveal to His Audience His divine nature.  God the Father, and therefore Jesus, is perfect in His divine being.

It is not only in His divinity that Christ was and is the epitome of moral perfection, but also in His humanity. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that, “in Him was no sin” and Jesus tells His hearers that He did not come to abolish the Law and prophets, but to fulfill them. (Mt. 5:17).  In perfectly fulfilling the Law of God, Jesus was morally and ceremonially perfect in all His ways.

Humanity, created in the image and likeness of God, fell from their first estate, and plunged all their posterity under the curse of sin.  Paul informs the Roman Christians that by one-man sin entered the world (Romans 5:12) and that one trespass lead to condemnation for all men. (Romans 5:18) David wrote in Psalm 51 that he was born in sin and conceived in iniquity, God said that the heart of man was continually wicked (Genesis 6:5), and Paul said in Ephesians 2:3 that all are by nature children of wrath.  In light of this one should surmise that apart from Christ there is no hope for humanity to reach moral perfection.

However, what about the believer?  Is there hope for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ?  Yes, there is.  For those justified by faith (Romans 5:1), saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and united to Jesus and the Father (John 14:20) there is hope to be the moral equivalent of Christ, but not in this life.

This is best explained by looking at sanctification as both positional and practical realities.  Positionally those who trust in Christ are now the children of God (1 John 3:2), are now in Christ, and they have been baptized into His death and raised in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6).  1 Corinthians 1:2 states that the believers are now sanctified (perfect tense) in Christ and positionally holy before God.

Practically, however, there are the remnants of sin that indwells the believer.  Paul speaks of this in Romans 7.  This should be viewed as his post conversion experience as he switches to the present tense in the latter part of the chapter, says he delights in the law of God, and recognizes that thanks should be made to Jesus.  He also acknowledges that when he wants to do good that sin is present with him revealing a law that exists between the flesh and the spirit.  John also reminds us that there is a mediator between God and man and that if we sin He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Therefore, in this life, the believer can expect to see sin rear its ugly head.

There is hope in Christ, however.  Though we are children of God now, one day, when He (Jesus) appears, we shall see Him as He is for we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2).  Paul also gives the believer hope, “but we shall all be changed—52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).

So yes, we can and will one day be the moral equivalent of Jesus, just not in this present world.

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

A happy marriage

I have been happily married for nearly fourteen years and I can honestly say that time flies when you are having fun. Now, I must admit that we have had our ups, our downs, our sideways, and the in between but God has blessed me with a wonderful wife that I thank Him for everyday.

There are hundreds if not thousands of marriage self-help books around, seminars, webinars, retreats, and pamphlets but I have found the magic elixir to having a happy marriage guys: your wife is usually right. Seriously, she is.  Well, at least mine is.  By the grace of God I found an intelligent God-fearing woman who just happens to be a great cook and mother as well. If I have ever thought that she was wrong she quickly told me otherwise. Just ask her…..

But Seriously

Ok, joking aside I am not sure there is an all fire sure secret to a happy marriage. A great marriage often consists of hard work from both husband and wife with no overtime pay.  You will find yourself in a rut, in a hurry, or in an overall funk that affects that quality time between spouses.  The cares of the world will creep in and that heartfelt intimacy that you once shared will slowly fade into the background leaving both of you wondering what exactly happened.

Well, like I have said, there are no cookie cutter marriages, no one size fits all, and no fix-a-flat for the blowouts of life, but there are some biblical principles that we can and must follow to have a healthy and happy marriage.

  1. Husband love your wife.

 This is not a suggestion. This is not something that the Apostle said in passing just to mollify the perturbed women at church. Here is exactly what he said:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, – Ephesians 5:25

That is not something easy to do at all times is it?  Sacrificially.  Unconditionally.  LIKE HE LOVED THE CHURCH.  He loved us and gave Himself for us while we were yet sinners, wretched, at enmity with Him, and by nature children of wrath.  When we all were at our worst He loved the church and gave Himself for it. So gentleman, are we loving our wives like that?  When they are grumpy do we love them like Christ loved the church?  When they disappoint us, let us down, or forget to hang the towel back up and the toothpaste cap gets lost do we love them unconditionally?

Our relationship with our wife is compared to Christ and the Church.  I mean come on,  Jesus was a carpenter.  He could have used that analogy so we could shape our wives into what we want them to be instead of what and who they are in Christ, but He didn’t.  Just as the Church is not in and of itself perfect, neither are we, our wives, or our relationships, but we are being conformed to His image and sanctified daily in our walk with Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here is something that I found in my marriage, ( I know, I know…..anecdotal evidence ) the more that I have submitted ( see guys submission is not just for the women folk ) to my Head, which is Christ, and loved my wife the way I am supposed to, the easier things are.  Not always but usually.  And ladies……you are supposed to respect and submit to your husbands just as He submits to Christ.  Now ponder this for a second, is it easier for the wives to respect and submit to a husband who is loving her like Christ loved the church or one who tries to lord it over her?  I think the answer is self-evident.

No secret formula

Husbands, I want you to realize something very, very important.  Even if you love your wife perfectly ( which you won’t ) your marriage will not be without some difficulty at times.  After all, you are both humans living in a fallen world.  You will mess up, she will mess up, and you will both mess up together…. But that is where love, communication, repentance, and forgiveness comes in…..on both your parts.  We all must swallow our pride and admit we are wrong, and trust me, that is something difficult for me to do.  We must ask for forgiveness, serve our spouse, and lead them as we are called by Christ to do.  Give a soft and kind answer wherever possible as a harsh word stirs up wrath.  Remember that Love covers a multitude of sins ( sure am glad my wife loves me ) and that he who finds a wife finds a good thing.

 

2. Wives respect your husbands

I know it is hard to do at times ladies, with our smells, noises, and often caveman like behavior……but it is possible.  We men long for respect and to tell you the truth I would gladly walk on nails for my wife when she respects me ( guys don’t forget point #1 here ).  I feel ten feet tall when she tells me I have done a good job, worked hard, accomplished a goal, did a good job with kids, or that I successfully  didn’t burn dinner to a crisp.

Ladies, when he tries encourage him. When he fails encourage him. Do we men need instructions?  Why of course, as we often do not read them anyway, but wives give them in love without berating him. Nagging does nothing but engender bitterness and strife ( guys sometimes if we did things when we were supposed to she wouldn’t have to ask twice ).  Wives, please remember to ask at an appropriate time and husbands give a prompt response.

Wives, respect that he most likely does not think like you.  When you tell him of a problem he, especially at first, will most likely try and fix that problem when all you wanted was for him to listen.  Wives remember that he most likely will not express his feelings the same way as you or in as many words as you.  Remember that he is bombarded all day long with false notions of what it means to be a man: he is told that he must be stoic and distant or that he must embrace his feminine side and wear a dress with his work boots.  Neither are true of course but sometimes it is hard to stay focused, so wives respect the efforts he does make to be a Godly husband and father.

 

No Secret to a happy Marriage

Well, there you have it.  There is no cure all for what ails your marriage.  No magic pill or elixir that makes every problem and hurt go away, but we have something much better: Christ and His word.

So remember husbands to love your wives as Christ loved the church and to submit to Christ as He is the head of the church.

Wives, love and respect your husbands, submitting to them in the Lord .

Pray together, study the Word together, fellowship with other believers, put Christ first, and forgive as you have been forgiven

 

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