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 Greatness of the Scriptures

The necessity of the scriptures

Do you agree with C.H. Spurgeon?  How do you handle situations where the supremacy of the Scriptures are doubted within the Church?

This indifference to Scripture is the great curse of the church at this hour. We can be tolerant of divergent opinions, so long as we perceive an honest intent to follow the Statute-book. But if it comes to this, that the Book itself is of small authority to you, then we have no need of further parley: we are in different camps, and the sooner we recognize this, the better for all parties concerned. If we are to have a church of God at all in the land, Scripture must be regarded as holy, and to be had in reverence.
Spurgeon

Live Day by Day

Frustration live day by day

Daily living

The alarm goes off, we drink our coffee, eat our breakfast of curds and whey, and go about the days business living with a carefree exuberance all the while having great expectations of what the future holds. We laugh, we joke, we have not a worry in the world as we live day by day watching the bluebirds flit to and fro amongst the cherry blossoms.

 

Yeah, I didn’t think so.  The sun comes up,  the sun goes down, night follows day, and day follows night.  The alarm goes off, we drink our coffee, protein shake, eat our granola bars with a side of porridge that is never just right….it is always to hot or to cold.  We go to work, go to school, clean the house, do the laundry, run the kids to practice, recitals, help with homework, feed the dogs; cats; or gerbils, fix supper, mow the yard, mend the fence, pay the bills……it goes on and on and on.  The never ending litany of the things that compose the American Dream, or the Australian dream, or the Canadian dream though to be honest I have no first hand experience as to what others dream about.

However, we all have fears, dreams, hopes, and expectations that swirl around inside our head as we go about life living day by day.  How often has a good mood on a bright sunshiny day been ruined by bad news?  Or an ill timed word that didn’t just set right.  How long did you ponder that last conversation, that slight at work, the bad grade on that all important test, or the burned toast left on the counter this morning?  How high are our highs and how low are our lows?  How often we dwell on the past, fear the future, and in the meantime forgetting some important truths.

Live day by day

We so often think our situation  is unique though there is nothing new under the sun ( Ecclesiastes 1:9 ).  We should never minimize the hurt of others, love them through their grief, help calm their fears, and support them through their trials ( after all it will someday be you or I who needs help) while reminding ourselves and them of some important truths.

We all need the gospel and to share what we all need we must know what it is.  The Gospel, at its very core is the good news that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of sins and all who believe in Him will never perish but have everlasting life (  1 Corinthians 15:3-4 john 3:16 ).  For unbelievers confronted with this truth it entails a command to repent and believe for the forgiveness of sins ( acts 2:38 john 1:12 1 Peter 2:6 ) and for those who already confess Christ it serves as a reminder in whom they have believed ( 2 Timothy 1:12 Ephesians 1:19 john 1).

We must remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our lord, that through grace by faith we are saved, that we are sons of Abraham by faith, that our sins are forgiven, that we are members of His household adopted as sons and daughters, that we are being conformed to His image, that He is preparing a place for us, and that He will return to receive us unto Himself.

Now will this make your coffee taste better or your porridge the right temp?  Nope sure won’t as you probably will have to enroll in some culinary classes to remedy that, but the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17.

Will this knowledge make all your troubles vanish? Most likely not, but

3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5

As we do live day by day we should give thanks in all things, cast our cares upon Him for He cares for us, and make our requests to Him through prayer. It is hard…..trust me I know.  I am writing this as much for myself as for the two or three of you out there that may read this.  Trusting in the Lord with all your heart is not always the easiest thing our weak flesh wants to do as we want to fix it ourselves, but that is exactly what we must do.  We must pray that His will be done, that He will provide our daily bread, and that we can come before Him to receive mercy in times of need.

My prayer today is, ” Lord, I believe, help my unbelief ” and most likely will be my prayer tomorrow also. I am going to try and pray a little more, read His word a little more, love my neighbor a little more, love my wife as Christ loved the church a little more, and try to live daily before His face a little more.  Not that this will make me any more saved or that He will love me any more because of it, but because I want to avail myself of the means He has provided for my benefit and in loving Him I want to keep His commandments.

So yeah, my coffee will still be bad, my toast will probably be burned, bills will still be on the counter, and tomorrow still holds the unknown but I can remind myself Who holds me in His hands and that He will never let me go regardless of what tomorrow brings. I pray you will do the same.

 

 

The Walk of the Living Dead

Walking Dead

And as it is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment:
Hebrews 9:27

This is our lot in life as sons of Adam: Birth and the walk of the Living Dead. The span of years offers both good and evil, the sublime and horrific as all things pertaining to life are found between those two little words. A Mother’s kiss, a Father’s stern rebuke, hurts by friends or the simple joy of a warm spring day with the clouds drifting lazily by in a deep sea of blue. The loss of loved ones and the birth of new ones are woven into this tapestry that we call life.
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