Saturday, November 7, 2009

Conformed Into The Image Of His Son

sermon: We Shall Be God! (Part 1)

Human Potential
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 15-Feb-92; Tape #006; 73 minutes

Description: (show)

Topics: (show)

Adam, Angels, Archegos, Author of salvation, Choices, Clothing symbolism, Destination, Fullness of Christ, Glory of moon, Glory of sun, Goal, Image of God, Kind after kind, New covenant, Old covenant, Potter/clay analogy, Preparations, Process, Prototype, Righteousness, Sons of God, Spiritual creation
Listen Download
Click to listen to this sermon in RealAudio Click to listen to this sermon in MP3 Click to listen to this sermon in Windows Media Right click and select 'Save Target As...' to download file to hard drive Right click and select 'Save Target As...' to download file to hard drive Right click and select 'Save Target As...' to download file to hard drive
(To download, right-click on the icon for the format of your choice and select "Save target as...")


Have you ever taken a trip; let's say by automobile, in which you have no destination at all in mind? When I first began to prepare this sermon, I happened to think of a number of times that my wife and I have just gotten in our automobile, started the engine, and cruised the streets and roadways—seemingly with no place at all to go; just winding around, going here and there and everywhere!

As I began to think a little bit further, I realized that even though we were just kind of wandering around, I really did have a destination in mind! As the driver, I wanted to make sure I got us home again!

As I began to think even further, I began to realize that every single time that I have gotten into my automobile I have had a destination in mind! And, in addition to that, I have made preparations in order to reach that destination! Even if the preparations were nothing more significant than knowing an address, the route that I was going to be following, or whether or not I had the gasoline to reach that destination—I had some preparation to make!

The more I thought on this, the more I realized that the most significant element in regard to reaching a destination were the preparations that I was going to make in order to reach that destination! The destinations, or we might turn that word to the goal, determined almost all other preparations—what they were, as well as their intensity.

How far was it to where I wanted to go? What was the timing necessary to get there? What would the route have to be? Did I have enough gasoline? Were my tires okay? What clothing should I wear? How much money should I take? Would the weather be a factor? And on and on it goes.

This analogy, I believe, applies in spades in regards to the great goal that God has given for us for our lives. It's a goal that we haven't reached yet. And even though we are moving toward it, we are still making adjustments in our preparations as we go along, so that we can reach it!

Let's go back to the analogy for just a moment. I said it was the destination that determines the preparation. If we don't know where we are going, then the result is going to be that we are going to spend all our time aimlessly wandering.

The apostle Paul said that we already look through a glass darkly. That is, we only see things vaguely as it is. In addition to that, the apostle John said that it does not yet appear what we shall be.

But if we're given a clear understanding of the destination and then subtle changes are made as to the route that we are to follow or as to what the configuration of the destination itself is, then the destination is going to be at its best, vague! At its worst, absolutely confusing!

This is what I believe has happened to us. First we were told clearly, we were going to be very God. Now we are told we are going to be children of God.

In Luke 3:38, Adam, a mortal man without the Spirit of God, is called a son of God—that is a child of God. Nothing very special about that, is there? Angels, in Job 38:7, are also called sons of God—immortal spirit beings far more powerful than we are—and yet they are not God! They are sons of God! In Romans 8:14, human beings with the spirit of God are also called sons of God.

Is there anything special about you, other than the fact that you have God's Spirit? So we see already that just being a son of God, or saying that your destination is to be a child of God, does not give any particular sparkle or flavor or significance to what the destination could be! If we wanted to get a little bit crass we could say, "It's no big deal"! The reason I say that is because it has required nothing on our part to qualify to be a son of God; or to make any effort towards achieving that destination.

Now we are told that we are to be greater than angels, but less than God. Have you ever wondered why this change was made? It was made because the unconverted out in the world, mocked and cast scorn because the Bible doesn't directly say (in chapter and verse) that we're going to be God! And the scholars agreed.

Then again, the Bible doesn't say that we shouldn't smoke—I mean chapter and verse. It doesn't say chapter and verse that we shouldn't vote, nor fight in a war as part of the armed forces either.

Now I want you to consider, what has ever happened to God's clear intent? Is that unreliable? What has happened to the faith and courage of the people of God?

Have you ever known or heard of anything having life, producing anything other than its own kind? Life comes from already existing life—that's the law of biogenesis. There must be life in order to produce life. In addition to that, there is a law that states: kind only reproduces after its own kind.

With those things in mind, we are going to begin this sermon in Genesis 1. I don't know that there's a better place to begin this subject.

The subject is, "What is our goal? Are we really going to be God?"

Does God's word say positively? Can we put our reliance and faith, and our hopes and dreams that this is going to be the destination for all of humanity? If that is not the destination, then we have to consider what kind of preparation we are going to make for what the destination is. And if it is the destination, then we need to consider, very deeply, whether or not the preparations that we are making to be a part of that great goal are a part of our life.

Genesis 1:21 "So God created great sea creatures, and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind: and God saw that it was good."

Genesis 1:24-25 "And then God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind, cattle, and creeping thing and beast of the earth each according to its kind: and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind: and God saw that it was good."

I think what you are going to see here is that God is clearly showing that mankind (which we have not yet read about) is different from what is previously stated—in regard to the kind-after-kind law; and also in regard to origin.

Notice in every one of those verses I read, it said, "let the earth bring forth". Of course, cattle didn't just spring out of the earth. Earth is being used as a reference for origin in terms of that which is physical. That is, He is pointing to a physical origin for those beasts of the field; those beasts that are inhabitants of the sea.

Now look, beginning in verse 26, and you are going to see that there is nothing in reference to the earth in regard to the origin of man, or the source of man's life, or in reference to kind-after-kind.

Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness..."

You can begin to see the distinctiveness already! Man is not out of the earth!

Genesis 1:26-27 "...let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And so God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

And then of course, He told them to reproduce and to replenish the earth.

The implication here is very clear! When man is compared to the animals, it is that man's image is not just of himself (let each reproduce after his kind), but rather man is in the image of God!

The inference is already there that man is reproducing after the God-kind! It is not something that is directly stated. But it is something that is very strongly implied—when the contrast is made between verses 26 and 27 in reference to man, and to the other verses in reference to the beasts of the field and of the sea and of the sky as well! Man is not just different, he is like God!

Man is after the God-kind! Not animal-kind! Not angel-kind!

Now how is man like God? It is not merely a matter of form and shape, though that is certainly included. It is more in terms of other more important things: in terms of intelligence; of having a broad emotional capacity; of having a self-and-other consciousness (to an extent unmatched in any other mortal being); of being able to think abstractly, spatially, and artistically; having awesome creative powers to bring plans to pass; and of having a spiritual content that has the desire for, and the capability to begin to grasp the possibilities of living forever. Man has mind!

That is the way that man is like the God-kind. Man has mind in which the character of God can be created!

Now it doesn't say all of that here. These are things that are gathered from other parts of the Bible, but I want to impress upon you that the ground work for that is laid right here—right at the very beginning as God shows that man, though physical and mortal is (even in that form) after the God-kind. Even physically and mortal, man is after the God-kind!

God is not hiding things like this by putting them in some obscure book—like the book of Obadiah—one chapter long, that hardly anybody ever reads! Almost everybody reads the first chapter of Genesis! And there it is! Right at the very beginning of the book! The very first strong implication that man is after the God-kind! Man is different! Man is distinctive from all other created beings!

Genesis 5:1 "This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God."

Here it is! Right in the genealogy for Adam! He is "in the likeness of God."

Genesis 5:2 "He created them; male and female and blessed them and called them mankind, in the day they were created."

Perhaps this might seem unimportant at first, these two verses. But here is the genealogy of Adam. Now I don't know whether you knew it, but this is the very first place in the Bible that the created man is actually named Adam. I don't mean that he was not before referred to as Adam. But here he is named Adam!

We have to ask the question: is this in reality the genealogy of Adam? Well, the answer to that is yes and no because the inference of verses 1 & 2 is that God is naming Adam. That is, as the father, He has taken His prerogative and named this man that He created in His likeness, Adam.

With God at the head—not Adam, but God—this makes this genealogy God's genealogy, which includes Adam and makes God, very clearly the father of all humanity. So this is both the genealogy of God the Creator as well as the man that He created and named Adam.

Follow this genealogy out and eventually you get to Noah. Noah had three sons—who married. Of course then, after the flood all of mankind has sprung from Noah. But Noah came from Adam's line; Noah came from God's line. Therefore, God is the father of all of humanity!

Why is this important? It is another step in showing that mankind has sprung from God! Man is essentially different from all other mortal beings that have been created.

Let's go to Genesis 9. We will continue to lay groundwork here to our awesome future!

The time is after the flood. People are moving away from the ark and societies are beginning to spring up. God is laying the groundwork here for something. It says in verse 1 that He blessed Noah. So this is something that was said to Noah—who is left as the patriarch ruling over all the progeny of Noah who came out the ark.

Genesis 9:5 "Surely for your lifeblood, I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man, [He is talking about murder here.] from the hand of every man's brother, I will require the life of man."

What is being established here? Specifically, a law regulating an aspect of society. That is, a law regulating murder.

Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed [Here is it again.], for in the image of God, He made man."

This context, though we only see a small, essential portion of what God instructed Noah in regard to life after the flood, is enough to know that God was providing a basis for the establishment of laws regulating social conduct.

Why is that necessary? The reason that is given is because man is in the image of God! Man is being prepared for something far exceeding that of any other aspect of Gods creation!

Man, like God, is a creature making choices. Man, unlike the rest of the physical creation, is not a creature of instinct reacting according to preset patterns, but a creature who must analyze and choose to do the right as stipulated by law.

Animals do not react according to law that has been analyzed and understood and then a choice is made. Yes they react to laws, but they are reacting to laws that are set within their brains; patterns according to which they will react.

Man does not do that. Because he has mind, he is free to do the wrong thing! But he has to be free to do the right thing (as stipulated according to law). That is why he is isolated there in Genesis 9 as God begins to lay the groundwork there.

In Acts 17:23, the apostle Paul is the one who is speaking here. He is in Athens. He is going to speak to those people assembled in the Areopagus, which was the marketplace for the city.

Acts 17:23-29 "For I was passing through, and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription, to the unknown god. Therefore the one whom you worship without knowing him, I proclaim to you God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men's hands as though He needed any thing, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things; And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their habitations; So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him, and find Him, though He's not very far from each one of us: For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as also some of your own poets have said, for we are also His offspring. Therefore since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divine nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising."

Brethren, I have gone through this at the beginning of this sermon because I wanted to clearly establish in our minds that our destiny to be God is directly tied to what we have sprung from—God! God has made that very clear!

These are not the only verses that show this. But He makes it very clear to you and me—both in the Old Testament and the New Testament—that man is different; he is distinctive; because man is the offspring of God! Even though he is mortal! Even though he is physical!

Unlike all the rest of the physical creation, man is the offspring of God! God is still following the kind-after-kind law.

At our change, we will not suddenly turn into angels (or some immortal spirit being other than angels) because we're not sprung from those. We are sprung from God. We will be changed into that from which we are sprung!

It has to be that way or there really is no kind-after-kind law! It won't be a law if it does not always work the same way, every time, without fail!

God is showing us in simple terminology that He is reproducing Himself! He is God! He is not reproducing somebody who is slightly greater than angels, but less than God. He is reproducing that which is the same as what He is, because He is our Father.

Notice how God (or I should say maybe Paul here), draws attention to the divine nature.

Acts 17:29 "...we ought not to think that the divine nature is like gold, or silver..."

He is saying that from knowing what man—God's offspring—is like, we can know then that God will be a living, communicating, creating, emotional being but of perfect character. Now that was only replicated one time—in Jesus of Nazareth. He had what we lack. The divine nature complete with all of the perfect character to go with it!

Ephesians 4:7-10 "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Wherefore He says, When He ascended on high and led captivity captive, He gave gifts to men. Now this He ascended, what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is also the one who ascended..."

I want you to pay attention to this because we are going to reach a conclusion that is going to include what he says here.

Ephesians 4:10 "...He who descended [Christ], is also the one who ascended [Christ]..."

The difference was that when He ascended, He was resurrected. He was very God. He was an immortal spirit being once again!

Ephesians 4:10-12 "...He who descended is also the one who ascended all above all the heavens that He might fill all things. He himself made some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers; for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."

Here is the point! Here is the goal! Here is the focus! Here is the reason the church exists! Here is the reason we have been impregnated by the spirit of God!

Ephesians 4:13 "Till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God..."

Can you imagine having His knowledge?

What is he talking about here? He's talking about something that is not going to occur while we are yet physical beings. Yet he is pointing to the great goal that lies beyond the resurrection of the dead!

Ephesians 4:13 " a perfect man, being complete in every respect to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ!"

Now that ought to be very clear!

There is our hope! There is our goal! Now all we have to do (we won't do it right here at this moment) is begin to expand on what Jesus Christ is now—because that is what the apostle Paul is pointing to.

Not Jesus merely as a man before He was crucified and resurrected, but he is talking that the great goal is as Jesus Christ is—as He is ascended.

We're still mortal and physical, but we are in the image of God. Now I am not referring to form and shape but again that certainly is included. The image of God that God is concerned about is the fact that we have the power of mind. And we are, with the help of the gifts of God, to come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Colossians 2:8 "Beware lest anyone cheat you..."

Saying, keep a watchful eye open all the time! Cheat actually means to plunder, to carry off, as a pirate would do, to steal you away!

Colossians 2:8 "...through philosophies and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world..."

Why was this doctrine changed ever so slightly and subtly? Because people in the world, the unconverted, complained! And the scholars agreed.

Colossians 2:8 "...and not according to Christ..."

We're reading according to Christ, out of His word!

Colossians 2:9-10 "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

All the fullness of the Godhead is in Him, in bodily form, and we are complete in Him.

Now it doesn't mean that we are complete yet. What Paul is saying here, is that all the resources for completion and spiritual fulfillment are there! In Christ! And that He is able to bring us to completion! It is available!

We just read in Ephesians 4 that He gives gifts to men. The purpose of those gifts is in order that we might be equipped to have the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ! And so if we are in Christ, then all the resources for completion and spiritual fulfillment are available.

We know from other places that the completion is a process. That we must grow into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Turn to Colossians 3:10 and we will see a very familiar phrase in a little bit different context that is directly tied to the theme that we have been bringing along here.

Colossians 3:9-10 "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created Him."

Here it is. We are in the image of Him who created Him!

Now we're approaching this at a slightly different angle, but nonetheless it fits and adds another idea that we can illustrate here. In fact, drawing upon the apostle's illustration, it makes something very clear. The idea here is that the Christian has had a radical life changing experience in which he has put off the old man and is putting on a new self. The apostle illustrates this through the changing of clothes.

Now think about that for just a second. One does not become naked in the blink of an eye! The taking off of one's clothes is done one at a time, one piece at a time! In the same manner, one does not become fully clothed all at once! But rather, each piece of clothing is put on in the order that you establish—that you select. One piece at a time! There is a process that is going on here!

You've heard the expression, 'the clothes make the man'. I read in a book, something to do with the different impression or the different conclusion that people make whenever they see the same person dressed in different clothing.

Take a man. Leave his beard a little bit scraggly. Put him on a street corner in raggedy clothes—he looks kind of dirty and raggedy. Now this illustration that I read went something like this: The experimenters were trying to see how much a person's appearance affected other people. So this scraggly-looking man, in the dirty raggedy clothes, marched across the street against the "don't walk" sign. When he did that, nobody followed him.

They took the same man, cleaned him up, put a nice business suit on him, and put him on the same street corner. He did the same thing—he walked across the street against the red light, against the "don't walk" sign—and everybody on the corner followed him! Nothing was changed on the inside of the man; only that which was on the outside of the man was changed!

God uses clothing in the Bible as a symbol of righteousness. Fine linen, clean and white, is symbolic of the righteousness of the saints. Dirty, filthy clothing on the other hand, is the symbol of unrighteousness of iniquity.

Notice clothing is put on one piece at a time! It is part of a process! Here in Colossians 3, the clothing is just an illustration.

What is being put on are the elements of a new nature that exhibits itself in the person's conduct.

It's very important to understand what is involved here because we will conform to somebody else. Clothing fashions tend to illustrate this. The designers change the design of clothing somewhat. They get people who are in the public eye to wear this clothing. Then, because others want to conform to what is 'in', they then buy the clothing that others are wearing. Thus, they are conforming to an image.

We are dealing here with something that is exceedingly more important; and it involves eternal life! Forget about the clothing. What we are interested in here are the elements of a new nature that are illustrated by clothing; pieces of clothing that are being put on one piece at a time.

It is important to understand this because even as we have a tendency to copy what other people wear, we also have a tendency to copy what other people are. Man will conform to something. He will conform to an image!

The important thing is what or who are we going to conform to? I think that it begins to become very clear that man as created (shown in Genesis 1), was a perfect physical specimen—but still incomplete in terms of God's overall purpose.

Now that purpose required man to make choices; i.e. what to wear, things in reference to his nature, to his conduct. Remember that the major difference between the man and the other aspects of the physical creation is that the man is not a creature of instinct, but of mind! Man can explore. He can observe. He can collect facts. He analyses. He deduces. He understands. From this, he makes choices.

It is from this process that character is formed for good or bad. The question is: what image is he being formed after? Is the image of character after the image of God, or of this world? That is the question that each human being has to make a choice about.

God does not give us the option of deciding what is right and wrong! But He compels us to make choices! And it is in the making of the choices that the character is established.

Let's go to II Corinthians 3:10. I'm going to read this from the Revised English Bible.

II Corinthians 3:10-15 (REB) "Indeed, the glory that once was is now no glory at all. It is outshone by a still greater glory. For if what was to fade away had its glory, how much greater is the glory which endures. With such a hope as this, we speak out boldly. It is not for us to do as Moses did. He put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at the end of what was fading away. In any case, their minds had become closed. For that same veil is there to this very day when the lesson is read from the old covenant and it is never lifted because only in Christ is it taken away. Indeed to this very day every time the Law of Moses is read, a veil lies over the mind of the hearer..."

Mind, minds—remember that!

II Corinthians 3:16-18 "But as the scripture says, whenever he turns to the Lord [That is the individual.], the veil is removed. Now the Lord of whom this passage speaks, is the spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty and because for us, there is no veil over the face, we all see as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, and we are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory through the power of the Lord who is the Spirit."

Did you get that last verse? We are being transformed into the glory of His likeness!

The subject here is a comparison between the two covenants.

Let me illustrate this. When you are out at night on a cloudless night, and the moon is full, it is reflecting the glory of the sun. It's very likely that it is going to be light enough so that you're going to be able to see fairly clearly to make your way, even though it's nighttime. But once the sun is up, there is absolutely no comparison between the glory of the sun and the glory of the moon! As glorious as the moon looked, shining in its full glory during a full moon, it is nothing at all even beginning to compare to the glory of the sun!

I hope that illustrates the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Old Covenant is the moon. It was bright enough to shine and there was enough reflective glory there so that whenever Moses was in the presence of God, he came away with his face reflecting that glory. But that glory faded; the reflective glory that was in Moses' face faded away! And pretty soon his face was just like every other Israelite's face.

Paul is using that kind of an illustration to help us understand the greatness, the magnitude, of the difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant! The Old Covenant had a glory, but it was a fading glory! It was never intended by God to last! But the New Covenant is so exceedingly great—it is like the difference between the sun in all of its strength, and the moon in all of its strength! The glory of the sun does not fade away!

Let's look at some differences now. Under the Old Covenant, Moses reflected the glory of God. That was wonderful, but it was external; it was temporary, and it faded!

Under the New Covenant, it isn't just one person reflecting the glory of God—but all Christians!

It is not displayed outwardly on the face, but inwardly—in terms of nature and character. It is a progressive transformation that increases until the Christian's body is transformed to be like the Lord's glorious body!

Man is not going to be a greater man. He is not going to be an angel. He is going to be God!

That is the image into which those of us having the spirit of God are being transformed! For the Christian, it is the image of God after which he is being created! It is what we are going through this process for! We are moving through this process—through the creative power of God and our own choicesfrom the glory of man, to the glory of God! From glory to glory!

Now what is it that God creates in this process? We understand that His purpose in creating is to create the character of God. But how is this done? What does God create that produces the character? (Character is actually the fruit of what God creates).

God creates circumstances—circumstances in which we receive the experience of being confronted with making choices according to the will of God.

God wants us to react according to His will, according to His law! He wants us to experience. He wants us to analyze. He wants us to get knowledge. He wants us to deduce. He wants us to understand. He wants us to decide. So He puts us in circumstances in order to force the issues—to make us choose!

God's spiritual creation is still going on!

Let's go to Philippians 3:20 and tie this to the end of II Corinthians 3:17-18.

Philippians 3:20-21 "For our citizenship is in heaven; from which we also eagerly await for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who will transform our lowly body, that is may be conformed to His glorious body..."

He is God! He's not a greater angel! He is not something between an angel and God! He is God and we are to:

Philippians 3:21 " conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."

The essential idea here is that Christ, at His return, will transform the outward appearance so that it will conform to His resurrected body—and match the essential character of the person as well—the character of God that has been created within the person. A glorious body to match glorious character—the character of God!

Let's continue to pursue this creative work of God.

Job 14:14 "If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service, I will wait till my change comes."

Job knew what was going on. He knew that God was creating in him. He knew that there was going to be a transformation to come into his life after he had died. You see—if a man dies.

Job 14:15 "You shall call, and I will answer you: you shall desire the work of your hands."

God has a desire to be reunited with those who have died, with those in whom He has been working as well. He has a desire to finish His work!

As long as the person is in the grave, God's creative powers and creative efforts are not yet concluded! What He wants to do is to match the spiritual character that He has created within the person while they were alive as a human being, with a spiritual body, a glorious spiritual body, that He will give them upon resurrecting them from the dead!

Job understood this. Thousands of years ago, he knew it! I hope that we know it today as well as Job did then!

Isaiah 64:8 "But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and all we are the work of Your hands."

Putting this together then with Job 14:14-15: The work will not be finished (the molding, the shaping of the potter), until the resurrection of the dead. In the meantime, as we yield He continues to reform and shape us, from what we have been in this world, into the image of His Son.

The illustrations of this are throughout the entirety of the Bible. All that is required of any honest, truth-seeking individual is to put these scriptures together and honestly conclude that God is reproducing Himself!

God's creation continues to go on! The purpose of that creation is to bring us into the image of His Son and Himself.

Let's go back to Ephesians 2. We won't spend a lot of time here, but again to confirm the things that we have already said; to show to you and me that these things are scattered all through the Bible!

Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Doesn't this perfectly agree with Isaiah 64:8 and Job 14:14-15? That God has a desire for the work of His hand? God is a potter; we are the clay. Here it is in the New Testament. We are His workmanship. God is creating usin Christ Jesus.

The Creator is still creating. He is molding, fashioning, changing us; transforming us into His own noble, righteous, holy, spiritual character. Salvation then is actually a process of character creating.

Let's continue to carry this out a little bit further again.

II Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ..."

Remember we are created in Christ Jesus...if you are in Christ:

II Corinthians 5:17 "...he is a new creation..."

A new lump of clay—being molded and shaped by a master potter! We're already physical. We're already mortal. Something else is being created in the image of God!

So God's creative efforts did not end in Genesis 1. He merely reached a stage, a platform, from which is going (or did spring) the most important aspect of the creation that is shown there in Genesis 1.

The new creation is the creation of a new order. It is a family that is in His image. Not just physically, but also spiritually as well—where the mind, where the heart is in the image of the creator God.

Ephesians 4:13 says that we to grow to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:22-23 "That you put off [Again the clothing analogy is being used], concerning your former conduct the old man, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind..."

That is, the heart changed. Remember the way that man is like God does not have so much to do with form and shape, as it does with the qualities of mind!

It is while we were in the world that the mind became corrupted because we tried—we probably didn't try, we just absorbed—we conformed to the image of this world; which is the image of Satan the devil—in its multitude of forms.

We have to be renewed. We have to be created in the image of His Son. And so we have to be renewed in the spirit of our mind.

Ephesians 5:24 "And that you put on the new man which was created according to God..."

Isn't that clear? Not according to this world. But formed and shaped in the image of God.

Ephesians 5:24 " righteousness and true holiness."

That is, the holiness of God!

In another place, in I Peter, we are told to become holy because god is holy! And that's the very thing that is being created in us. The holiness of God.

Now let's review what we have covered here:

1. Man was created after the God-kind, and kind reproduces after kind. Man is not just different. He did not spring from animals or angels, but God! And when we are changed, we will be changed into what we have sprung from.

2. The way that we are different from the rest of the physical creation is that we have mind, not instinct. Unlike animals who merely react according to preset patterns, we must gather knowledge, analyze, understand, and choose to do the right as stipulated by law. This is what sets character in the mind, for good or bad.

3. Character sets in the mind according to the image the person is conforming to i.e. making choices to be like. Now in the world, we really don't have a choice. We just conform to the world that is around us. We're all in the world; it is to be conformed or like the world.

For the Christian though, it is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Which means that all the while that we were in the world we were slaves of this conformity urge; we had no real choice in the matter, only slight variations. However, when God intervened in our lives and He called us and opened our minds, now we have the choice about whom we are going to be the image of.

4. Being brought to the image of Christ is a creative effort by God. The converted person is viewed as a new creation, created in Christ Jesus, unto the righteousness and true holiness of God. That's a choice the converted person makes. That's our part in the creative process.

Is the character of God being created in us so that we might merely become something greater than angels, but less than God?

Hebrews 2:10-11 "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one: for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,"

This is a very important set of verses. I don't think that its primary intent is to prove that we are going to be God, but it adds information that certainly points in that direction.

A key word in these verses is translated in my Bible, "author". That's a Greek word—archegos. Archegos is translated variously: "captain, author, pioneer, trail-blazer, and founder".

There is one basic concept that threads its way through all of the uses of this word that this word can be put to. An archegos is one who begins something in order that others may enter into it. Now remember that! An archegos is someone who begins something in order that others may enter into it.

An archegos can found a school that others may follow him into truth. An archegos can begin a city that others may dwell in it. An archegos can blaze a trail that others may follow. An archegos can begin a family that others may be born into it.

If a ship is foundering on the rocks and the only way for safety is for someone to swim ashore with a line, and then secure that line on a tree or a rock (something that is solid there on shore) so that others may follow him to safety, the one who swims ashore is the archegos. He did something in order that others may follow.

Jesus is the archegos of our salvation! He blazed the trail! He set the pattern! He entered into a family that others may follow! And in the process of blazing the trail, of setting the pattern, of entering into—He too was perfect! That's what the verse says.

The author of their salvation was made perfect through suffering! He was made complete as our Savior and our High Priest. He is fully able to be the pioneer of our salvation, to ensure that we also will enter salvation—the same thing that He is.

According to this verse this was done in order to bring many sons to glory! The same glory as that trailblazer, the pioneer, the author, the captain has.

Is that the glory of a greater man? The glory of an angel? Or the glory of God?

Romans 8:28-29 "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called, according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined..."

I want you to take note of a process that is moving from stage to stage. The goal of that process is to be conformed to the image of His Son!

Romans 8:29-30 "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called: whom He called, these He also justified: and whom He justified, these He also glorified."

Conformed, you see, to the image of His Son! There it is again. Another different context. Nonetheless, this one really nails it right down, doesn't it? The first-born is God! Others are to be conformed to His image; they are to be God as well!

When a baby is born, is it any less human than its parents? Well, certainly it doesn't have the age. Certainly it doesn't have the experience. It has less authority than the parents. It's less developed. Its skills are not honed. It doesn't have the knowledge the parents have. But is it any less human? No, it's not.

The Greek word for 'firstborn' is prototokos. The Greek prefix in this word, proto, means: first; earliest; in front; beyond; ahead. In every case, it indicates others are following. The proto is out in front and others are following. (We use this same Greek prefix in an English word—'prototype'. The prototype is the model after which everything that follows it is formed.)

Jesus Christ is the prototokos, the firstborn. (The only difference between the words is that the suffix in the Greek word prototype is 'type'; and in prototokos means 'born'—firstborn.) He is out in front of others who are going to be born; conformed to the image of the one who was firstborn. We can tie to this Colossians 1:18. Jesus was:

Colossians 1:18 "... the firstborn..."

Same word.

Colossians 1:18 "...from the dead..."

By a resurrection.

The others who follow are going to follow exactly the same pattern as the One who went first. The archegos who passed through all the trials of life, died, and was resurrected as the firstborn into God, into the family of God. Behind Him are many sons who are going to follow exactly the same pattern and be born, by means of a resurrection, into the exact same family that the firstborn was born into.

So Christ was then transformed; renewed. He was glorified by the resurrection.

The thought here (we have to tie this with Hebrews 2 because it makes a great deal of sense once you tie this series of verses in Romans 8 with what it says in Hebrews 2, especially verses 11-12, and 17) shows that Jesus Christ, as a human being, fully shared in our human lot.

What we see in Romans 8 is the obverse side of the coin. The other side of the coin is that even as Jesus shared our human lot, we are going to share his Godly lot. And even as He was human, we are going to be God! It's a beautiful, clear, awesome, picture!

Back to Hebrews and we will conclude this sermon here. What we see here is a description of this one who was born into the family of God; the firstborn by means of a resurrection.

Hebrews 1:1 "God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past of the fathers by the prophets,"

God has spoken to man in many ways—in dreams, in visions. He did it through the prophets as well. Sometimes He revealed himself personally, in Jesus Christ, to someone like Abraham.

Hebrews 1:2-3 "But in these last days, he has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds...

Look at this description.

Hebrews 1:3 "...who being, the brightness of His glory [This is what we are going to be transformed into as well!], the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power..."

Incidentally, this is not a picture of Christ holding the world on His shoulders like Atlas, but rather it is a picture far more dynamic than that! This is a picture of Christ carrying everything by His power! Not just the earth. But all of the awesome creation is subject to His power!

It shows Him dynamically at work governing, reigning, and ruling over it! Upholding all things by the word of His power!

Hebrews 1:3-4 "...when He had by Himself purged our sins and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a much more excellent name than they."

Not just a name by which He is called, but a name that means what He is! He is God and everything that name implies!

The proof for that is in verse 5:

Hebrews 1:5 "For to which of the angels did He ever say, [no angel has God ever called, My begotten son! My born son!]..."

Jesus is God! The firstborn of many brethren. And that is what we are going to be conformed into. That is what we are being conformed into.

Hebrews 1:5 "...You are my son. Today have I fathered you [Or given birth to you.], and again, I will be to Him a father and He shall be to me a son."

Brethren, this is what we are being formed into—greater than angels, fully God! This is what we are going to share, as His brethren.


No comments: