Friday, September 7, 2018

Christ in You - The Hope of Glory - Part 2

The God Who is a Father

Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees. Sometimes things are so much in our face that we cannot discern what it is we are looking at. One of the most common appellations used by Christians in referring to God is “Father.” Calling God “Father” is both proper, and scriptural.

Matthew 6:9
"Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.’”

Galatians 4:6
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’

Referring to God as “Father” is something that Christians often take for granted. Most have not taken time to deeply consider the ramifications of God being our Father. It will serve us well to take a penetrating look into this matter. In approximately 270 occurrences the word “Father” is used in reference to God’s relationship to mankind. We find the first occurrence in what is referred to as “The Song of Moses.”

Deuteronomy 32:6
Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you.

Beyond this, there are hundreds of additional instances where men and women are called the sons, daughters, children, seed, and offspring of God. It is apparent that fatherhood is very important to the heart of God.

We can learn something about Yahweh’s purpose for man as we look at the creation account in Genesis. Notice in the following verses the repetition of the phrase “after their kind.”

Genesis 1:11-12
Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them, on the earth"; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind.

Genesis 1:24-25
Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Every living thing God created upon the earth had the ability to reproduce after its kind. Sheep give birth to sheep. Oak trees produce other oak trees. Salmon produce salmon. Everything brings forth after its own kind. Having demonstrated this principle the Lord then declared:

Genesis 1:26-28
"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him...

Yahweh brought forth something after His kind. Does it not follow logically that man is a god, even as his Father is God? Man is not merely a beast. Man is not the evolutionary equivalent of a glorified ape. The original thought of Elohim, the triune God, was to create a being fashioned in His own image, after His own likeness, bearing such a likeness to Himself in all aspects that He could say, “This is My son!”

Satan, the great deceiver, has done such a profound work in diminishing mankind’s understanding of the intent of God in forming man, that many Christians who have sat in churches and studied the Scriptures all of their lives recoil at such a straightforward declaration of God’s design for man. Some hearing the words that man is a god, would cry “blasphemy!” They would pick up stones to cast at the one who would make such an assertion. The Jews did so when Christ suggested the same, and the Christian religious mentality does so today.

I have come across many Christians on Internet websites who proclaim that the message of sonship is heresy. They warn other Christians to stay away from those who proclaim a message of sonship. I do not doubt that some who have taught on this topic have entered into error. There is leaven present everywhere, for “we know in part and we prophesy in part” (I Corinthians 13:9). Some in their exuberance in understanding a truth they had not previously seen, run with such enthusiasm to share the message that their words outstrip their actual revelation.

Despite this tendency, it is very ill advised to cast out a doctrine that is pervasive throughout the Scriptures. Just because most have not understood it, or because the orthodox teaching of the day does not include it, is no reason to decry it as heresy. If God says something is so, and He declares it repeatedly, then it must be so.

Psalms 82:6
I said, "You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.”

Who is in view here? Some have declared that it must be the angels, for the suggestion that it is a reference to mankind is offensive to them. To say that man is a god goes against their understanding of the word humility. Humility, however, is not thinking lowly of oneself. Humility is agreeing with God’s thoughts. It is seeing things as God sees them. The man who understands that all things were created by God, and nothing of value in man’s makeup was arrived at by his own power and effort, will refrain from boasting before God.

James 1:17
Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights...

Man does not need to see himself as a worm in order to be humble. Man can discern that he was created in the image and likeness of God, and confess it to be so, and be humble. As long as the man understands that he has nothing personally to boast in, that he did not fashion himself, nor did his own thought lead to his creation, then a man is not made more humble by denying the grandness of his design. In truth, to deny what God has done is an act of pride. Some men glory in their abasement. Wisdom and humility is simply agreeing with the mind and thought of God.

It was not angels God had in mind when He had the psalmist pen the words “You are gods.” Who are the “sons of the Most High”? Yahshua the Messiah, the firstborn Son of God, reveals their identity.

Luke 6:35
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.”

It is man who is spoken of in Psalm 82:6. It is therefore man who is in view in the statement “You are gods.” Why is this difficult to comprehend? Why does it strike so many as blasphemy? If man was created in the image and likeness of God, then does it not follow that man was created like God, and he will one day be revealed in similar glory and power as a son of God? Yahshua quoted the verse above when the Jews charged him with blasphemy for calling Himself the Son of God.

John 10:33-37
The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." Yahshua answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world,' You are blaspheming,' because I said,' I am the Son of God'?”

If a person were to carefully study the passage above they could discern many things. I have read numerous commentaries on this passage declaring that Yahshua was speaking of the angels, suggesting the angels were the ones who delivered the word of God to mankind. A plain and careful reading of this passage reveals that it was not Yahshua’s intent to declare that the angels are gods, but that mankind are as gods. Yahshua was telling the Jews, “If your own law says that man is a god, then why do you charge me with blasphemy for saying I am the Son of God?” If one believes the angels were being referred to as gods, then the argument loses its force. It becomes a meaningless argument.

Yahshua was very clear, however. He speaks to the Jews in this way, “Has it not been written in YOUR Law, ‘ I said, YOU ARE GODS’?” The Your and the YOU are references to the same entities. Christ is speaking of mankind. Christ then continues with the words, “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came....” To whom did the word of God come?

I Kings 12:22
But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God...

Chronicles 17:3
And it came about the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan...

Luke 3:2
The word of God came to John (the baptist), the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.

The word of God came to men of God anointed by God. This is what Yahshua is referring to. As the apostle Peter declared:

II Peter 1:21
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Let us be very specific, lest there should be any doubt in identifying those who are being called gods. Christ’s reference of those to whom the word of God came was in this particular instance a reference to those the prophet Asaph was speaking unto. Asaph was the author of Psalm 82, so when the Lord declares, ““If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came...,” He is referring generally to all those who received the words of the Law and the prophets. Yet He is also referring specifically to those who received the specific words he was quoting from Psalms 82. Asaph was a priest and prophet, and he is the author of this Psalm. To whom was Asaph writing? Was he writing to men or to angels? We know he was writing to men, and we are among those to whom he wrote.

Some might still hesitate to believe. They may say, “If you call man a god, then you are setting up man to be worshiped.” Let me be very plain. I am not saying that man is the original God, whose name is Yawheh (I AM that I AM). I am saying that man is the offspring of the original God. Man is the offspring of Yahweh even as an acorn falls from an oak tree and produces something in the exact image of the original.

Malachi 2:10
"Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us?”

I Corinthians 8:5-6
For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Yahshua Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

There are many gods, but there is only one Father of all. As sons of God, we are as gods, but “we exist for Him.” Though these sons of God are also to rule as lords, there is one who is “Lord of lords” and “we exist through Him.” Therefore, mankind is to worship the One for whom we exist, and the One through whom we exist. Does it diminish God the Father in any way to say that He is the Father of gods? No! Just the opposite. Yahweh is magnified by this fact.

Before we leave the discussion of the identification of who is being spoken of in Psalms 82:6, let me cite the following verse.

Hebrews 1:5
For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You"? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son"?

Yet regarding men the following is written:

Romans 8:15-17
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

It is man who was created to be a joint heir with Yahshua the Messiah, the firstborn Son of God. God has appointed men to be fellow heirs with His Son. We are not only heirs, but brothers.

Romans 8:29
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren...

The reason men call the teaching of sonship heresy is that we now see Yahshua as ascended to glory, seated at the right hand of God. We see man at present not clothed in this same glory. Our image in contrast with the glorious image of the firstborn Son of God is very humble. We do not yet appear as gods.

I John 3:2
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

At this time it has not yet appeared what we shall be. We are merely in the womb of our formation. We have not yet emerged as that mature image and reflection of God for which we are destined. But the Scriptures declare repeatedly that we will be altogether different than our present appearance. The transformation will be so awesome, so enormous, so incredible, that it defies description. “It has not appeared as yet what we shall be.” But we shall be like unto the firstborn Son of God in glory!

Romans 8:29-31
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

What shall we say to these things? If our minds could get a glimpse of what awaits the saints we would sit in stunned silence. It has been Yahweh’s intention from the beginning that man should be a perfect copy of His image and likeness. Yet before God can bestow upon mankind His glory and power, He must form in mankind His Spirit and character. This is the work of this present age of man. God is seeking to form an image of His own holy and righteous character within mankind that these men might be resurrected in glory.

Our current humble existence upon this fallen earth, struggling against the bonds of this sinful flesh that encapsulates us, has been designed with perfect wisdom to provide the fertile ground out of which a life in the image and likeness of God might emerge. Only those who wage war against the passions and desires of the flesh, crucifying the body of sin that enshrouds them, will find a new spiritual creature emerging when this body is left behind. Like the eaglet struggling to emerge from the shell of the egg, and the butterfly struggling to escape the cocoon, we must strive to overcome all that binds us within this body of death, this sinful flesh. Only as we successfully wage this war will we find ourselves fitted for the glory of the ages to come.

I John 3:2-3
We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

To those who would argue that they do not see the value of such a teaching as that found here, I would point them to the words of the apostle above. He spoke of the future hope of sharing in the glory of the Son of God as a glorified son of god. He then declared that “everyone who has this hope... purifies himself.” Everyone. Perhaps the reason for so much low living among Christians today is that they do not have a vision of the glorious destiny set before them. Perhaps this is why so many are content to glory in the flesh, as vile and wicked as it is. Having a hope for nothing beyond the mortal frame they now possess, they become satisfied with a pursuit of carnal pleasure, living for the moment. These do not see the far surpassing glory which God intends for them.

God is a Father. Fatherhood is central to His nature. He will not rest content until He has sons who share His image and likeness in all aspects. These will share His Spirit. These will be conformed to His righteous character. These will receive glory and power in long ages to come. They will truly be as gods!

Raise your vision. Elevate your sights. God has far higher things planned for you than you have previously imagined.

I Corinthians 2:9
Just as it is written, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him."

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