God's Own Literal Children

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God's Own Literal Children

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Scripture reveals that all people have descended from the first two human beings, Adam and Eve. We are their extended family. Through direct creation in God’s likeness, Adam was a son of God (Luke 3:38 Luke 3:38Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
American King James Version×
; compare Genesis 5:1-3 Genesis 5:1-3 1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; 2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. 3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:
American King James Version×
). Therefore, since we are descended from Adam, we are also children of God. God is our Father because He fathered our first human father. As Acts 17:28-29 Acts 17:28-29 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like to gold, or silver, or stone, graven by are and man’s device.
American King James Version×
tells us, “We are the offspring of God.”

But God’s purpose goes far beyond the creation of mortal, perishable human beings. He is in the process of fashioning and forming “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17 2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
American King James Version×
), fathering His own spiritual children—immortal and incorruptible children imbued with His very nature and character.

The more we understand just what that means, the more awestruck we will become—at not only the majesty of God’s purpose but at what this entails for each of us personally.

A family in God’s image

Paul explains this new creation by contrasting the “old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires,” with the “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24 Ephesians 4:22-24 22 That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Paul is describing a much-needed spiritual transformation in people. It first involves a change in a person’s nature and character. This is followed by theresurrection—a total metamorphosis into a spirit being with eternal life.

God is accomplishing this transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit. A biblical term for this spiritual transformation is salvation. Paul describes those who will receive salvation as the children of God: “The Spirit itself [that is, God’s Holy Spirit] beareth witness with our spirit [our individual human spirit], that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17 Romans 8:16-17 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
American King James Version×
, King James Version).

Can we start to grasp the significance of Paul’s inspired statement? It explains why we are here, the very reason for our existence, why we were born. It gives meaning to life itself. It explains why God wants all people to come to the knowledge of the truth. God, the Scriptures tell us, is creating a family— His own family. We have the priceless opportunity to be a part of that family, the family of God!

That family relationship—our becoming children of God the Father —is the heart and core of God’s incredible plan for humanity!

From the beginning this purpose has been clearly stated by God. Note again the words of Genesis 1: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness … So God created man in His own image; … male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27 Genesis 1:26-27 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
American King James Version×
). Men and women are created in God’s image and likeness, to be like Him.

This language concerns family. Consider that it was after creating plants and animals to reproduce each “according to its kind” that God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×
). This shows that man was created according to the “God kind.” Indeed, to help us understand the parallel with God creating man in His image and likeness, Genesis 5:3 Genesis 5:3And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:
American King James Version×
says that the first man Adam later “begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” So God was essentially reproducing Himself through humanity. We’ll see more about this shortly.

God makes it clear that His family includes people who are now physical men and women, both sons and daughters: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28 Galatians 3:26-28 26 For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
).

The Bible often collectively refers to physical children of both genders as “sons” because that was the custom at the time the Bible was written. That custom has continued in many languages over the centuries. In the Hebrew and Greek languages, in which the Bible was originally written, “sons” was used to refer to “descendants” generally. We similarly use the words mankind and brethren in a collective sense to include both sexes.

God also tells us, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×
). Just as both men and women are God’s children through physical creation, so both can be God’s children through spiritual means.

Truly God’s children?

But when God calls us His children and instructs us to call Him our Father, is this meant in a real sense? Is God actually engendering a family of others like Himself through a process of reproduction? Or is this meant in the same sense as God being a Father to the human race through creation?

By act of creation God is also a Father to the angels, calling them “sons of God” in Job 38:7 Job 38:7When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
American King James Version×
. But there is a more important sense in which He desires to be a Father to human beings—a privilege not bestowed on the angels.

We can start to see this in the book of Hebrews: “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’?” (Hebrews 1:5 Hebrews 1:5For to which of the angels said he at any time, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
American King James Version×
). In this passage, a comparison is being drawn between the status of the angels and that of Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God. Yet there is an application to human beings here as well.

Jesus, we must recognize, stands in a unique position as God’s “only begotten Son” (John 1:18 John 1:18No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
American King James Version×
; John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
; 1 John 4:9 1 John 4:9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
American King James Version×
). As the divine Word, He was God with the Father before His human conception (John 1:1-14 John 1:1-14 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
). Then, through God the Father exercising the power of the Holy Spirit, He was supernaturally conceived as the human being Jesus Christ in the womb of Mary while she was yet a virgin (Luke 1:35 Luke 1:35And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 1:20 Matthew 1:20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus had no immediate human father. Rather, God the Father was directly His Father in even a physical sense through the Holy Spirit. Simultaneously, Jesus was also begotten of the Father to spiritual life through the same Spirit (compare John 5:26 John 5:26For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself;
American King James Version×
; John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×
). And at His resurrection, following His death, Christ returned to His former glory with the Father, having prayed just before He died, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5 John 17:5And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
American King James Version×
).

While other human beings are not physically conceived the supernatural way Christ was, they can follow Him in being spiritually fathered by God—though later in their physical existence. Converted Christians are also referred to as “begotten” of God (1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
American King James Version×
; 1 John 5:1-18 1 John 5:1-18 1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loves him that begat loves him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he has testified of his Son. 10 He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. 13 These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not to death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not to death. There is a sin to death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not to death. 18 We know that whoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not.
American King James Version×
, KJV), as children of God (John 1:12 John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
American King James Version×
; Romans 8:16-21 Romans 8:16-21 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
American King James Version×
; 1 John 3:1-2 1 John 3:1-2 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
), as sons of God (Matthew 5:9 Matthew 5:9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
American King James Version×
; Romans 8:14-19 Romans 8:14-19 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
American King James Version×
; Galatians 3:26 Galatians 3:26For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
) and, as earlier stated, as God’s “sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×
).

Indeed, they are described in 1 Peter 1:23 1 Peter 1:23Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and stays for ever.
American King James Version×
as “having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed [Greek sperma —that is, not of a male sperm cell fertilizing a female egg to produce only mortal, perishable life], but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth” (American Standard Version).

This incorruptible, imperishable life to which they are led by Scripture comes by God implanting His Spirit within them, for “the Spirit alone gives eternal life” (John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the agency of spiritual conception. Note again Paul’s words in Romans 8:16 Romans 8:16The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
American King James Version×
: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (KJV). And through that Spirit it becomes possible for us to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
), the very nature of God.

Returning to the book of Hebrews, we should understand that the language of being begotten by God, while not applicable to the angels, is applicable not just to Jesus Christ but also to His followers. “Angels,” we are told, “are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14 Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
American King James Version×
, NLT).

These converted human beings are God’s children, Christ’s brothers who, like Him, are begotten of God. Christ, we are further told, is “bringing many sons to glory … For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one [that is, of the same Father or the same family, other translations note], for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:10-11 Hebrews 2:10-11 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
American King James Version×
).

Jesus is to be the “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
American King James Version×
). These must be “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6 John 3:6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
American King James Version×
) to become like Him, who now, as a “life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45 1 Corinthians 15:45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
American King James Version×
), sits “at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12 Hebrews 10:12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
American King James Version×
).

Indeed, they will yet join Him in glory as fellow “sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36 Luke 20:36Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
American King James Version×
)—Christ being the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18 Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 1:5 Revelation 1:5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
American King James Version×
).

Thus it should be plain that Spirit-converted Christians truly and literally become God’s children through spiritual regeneration —being begotten again through the Holy Spirit to new life. So God really is producing us according to His “kind,” as Genesis 1 implies—not just as physical models in the flesh but as spiritual entities like Himself (John 4:24 John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
American King James Version×
). A few verses have been read to say that Christians are adopted sons of God rather than His actual begotten sons, but this is based on a misunderstanding.

We will be like Jesus Christ

Recognizing that we’re made in God’s image and to follow in Christ’s footsteps into future glory, let’s give further thought to what this entails. How completely can we be like God when all is said and done?

God’s purpose is to make us fully like Jesus Christ! In Ephesians 4 Paul makes this clear. He explains that members of God’s Church are to “come … to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
American King James Version×
). Paul’s comment in Galatians 4:19 Galatians 4:19My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
American King James Version×
, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,” expresses the same concept in different words.

Do you glimpse the significance of what Paul is saying in explaining that we will have the fullness of Christ? We can become fully and completely like Jesus Christ, with His character formed in us. But that’s not all!

As we’ve seen, Jesus, the Son of God, is also God the Son. He is God along with God the Father—two divine Beings united in profound oneness.

As Jesus is God’s Son, our destiny is also to be the immortal children of God. Of course, Jesus is God’s Son in a unique way, as we’ve seen. Unlike us, He was the divine Word of God from eternity with the Father (John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
American King James Version×
). Nevertheless, the New Testament declares that Jesus is, as we’ve also seen, “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
American King James Version×
) and makes clear that His followers are also the sons of God.

The apostle John explains what this ultimately means: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! … Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-3 1 John 3:1-3 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
American King James Version×
).

Human beings inducted into the family God is creating will ultimately be glorified spirit beings like the resurrected Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20-21 Philippians 3:20-21 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
American King James Version×
), who reigns over the universe in His glorified state at the right hand of God the Father. This is what is meant by Daniel’s description of righteous people in the future “shin[ing] … like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3 Daniel 12:2-3 2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
American King James Version×
, NRSV). Human beings resurrected to eternal life will be like the glorified Jesus Christ!

But what does this really mean? Consider that human children are like their parents and like their brothers and sisters. They are all the same kind of beings— human beings. In the same way, ultimately God’s children will be like Him and like Jesus Christ their divine Brother.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, is like God the Father—with the same kind of glory and power. These passages of Scripture tell us that God’s other children, glorified when resurrected, will be like the Father and Christ! They will be the same kind of beings the Father and Christ are— divine beings, as hard as that may be to believe!

The awesome potential of any person, as it is presented to us in God’s Word, seems so incredible that most people cannot grasp this biblical truth when they first read it. Although it is plainly stated in the Bible, people usually read right over it. In fact, this awesome future is the whole purpose and reason that God made mankind. It is why we were born, why we exist!

You are gods?

Let’s get to the heart of this matter. The Jews of Jesus’ day accused Him of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God: “Because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33 John 10:33The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone you not; but for blasphemy; and because that you, being a man, make yourself God.
American King James Version×
).

Notice His intriguing response: “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law [in Psalms 82:6 Psalms 82:6I have said, You are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
American King James Version×
], “I said, ‘You are gods’ ”? If He [God] 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”?’” (John 10:34-36 John 10:34-36 34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, You are gods? 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say you of him, whom the Father has sanctified, and sent into the world, You blaspheme; because I said, I am the Son of God?
American King James Version×
).

In other words, said Christ, “if Scripture outright called human beings gods, why are you upset when I merely state that I am God’s Son?”

Yet are human beings actually gods? What did He mean?

In Psalms 82:6 Psalms 82:6I have said, You are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
American King James Version×
, from which Jesus quoted, God says to human beings, “I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.’” The key here is the word children, just as we’ve seen in other verses. We must understand that God is a family—a divine family of more than one person. There is one God (the God family ) comprising more than one God Being.

As noted earlier, the God family from the beginning comprised two divine Beings—God and the Word, the latter becoming flesh 2,000 years ago as the Son of God, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14 John 1:1-14 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
). After Jesus’ human life and death, He was resurrected to divine spirit existence as the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18 Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
American King James Version×
) and “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
American King James Version×
). Thus Jesus was spiritually born in the resurrection as the first of many “brethren” or children to follow later.

Again, as pointed out at the beginning of this chapter, Acts 17:28-29 Acts 17:28-29 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like to gold, or silver, or stone, graven by are and man’s device.
American King James Version×
states that human beings are God’s “offspring” (the Greek word genos here meaning “kindred,” “race, “kind,” “stock” or “family”). And as we saw from Genesis 1, God’s purpose in creating man in His own image and likeness was to make him according to the “God kind”—to thus reproduce Himself through mankind.

Psalm 82 is much easier to understand in this light. In Psalms 82:6 Psalms 82:6I have said, You are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
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the word gods is equated with “children of the Most High.” That makes perfect sense. When any entity bears offspring, its offspring are the same kind of entity. The offspring of cats are cats. The offspring of dogs are dogs. The offspring of human beings are human beings. The offspring of God are, in Christ’s own words, “gods.”

But we must be careful here. Human beings are not literally gods—not yet, at any rate. Indeed, people initially are not literally even God’s children, except in the sense that He created humanity and did so in His image and likeness.

God is eternal spirit. Human beings are mortal flesh, albeit with a spiritual component, as noted earlier—the human spirit that gives us understanding. This is an important distinction.

In Psalm 82, when human beings are referred to as gods— in the sense of being God’s offspring intended to represent Him in authority and judgment throughout the earth—they are still declared imperfect and subject to corruption and death. So they are of the divine family in only a restricted sense.

One aspect of this is that man has been created in God’s image and likeness on a physical, mortal level with limited dominion, resembling God but without His divine character and glory. Another aspect of this is that man has the ultimate potential of becoming the same kind of beings the Father and Christ now are.

In fact, God often “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17 Romans 4:17(As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who vivifies the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were.
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, KJV)—looking on His purpose as already accomplished. Amazingly, God’s purpose is to exalt human beings from this fleshly existence to the same level of divine spirit existence that He has, as we will see.

Toward the ultimate outcome—divine glory

This involves the process mentioned earlier of spiritual reproduction in which God fathers us as His children. Indeed, with a fuller picture now of what God is doing, let’s revisit that for a moment. The spiritual reproductive process starts with God’s Spirit joining with our human spirit. Again: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16 Romans 8:16The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
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, KJV). Through this miraculous union, we become “partakers of the divine nature”
(2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
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).

Thus the Spirit-begotten Christian is a child of God, an actual member of the God family—but not yet in an ultimate sense. As children, we must still go through a development process in this life—a period of building godly character, becoming more and more like God in the way we think and behave. And at the end of this life, in the resurrection at Christ’s return, true Christians will be changed into divine spirit beings like the Father and Christ.

Look once again at this amazing truth recorded by the apostle John: “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
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).

In fact, to expand on this, we are told in numerous passages of Scripture that we will receive the divine glory of the Father and Christ: “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 5:10 1 Peter 5:10But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
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, NLT; see also Romans 5:2 Romans 5:2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
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; 2 Corinthians 3:18 2 Corinthians 3:18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.
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; 1 Thessalonians 2:12 1 Thessalonians 2:12That you would walk worthy of God, who has called you to his kingdom and glory.
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; 2 Thessalonians 2:14 2 Thessalonians 2:14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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; Colossians 1:27 Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
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; Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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).

Moreover, as coinheritors with Christ, we will receive dominion over all things, including the entire vast universe—dominion just as Christ has (compare Romans 8:17 Romans 8:17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
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; Hebrews 1:1-3 Hebrews 1:1-3 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
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; Hebrews 2:5-9 Hebrews 2:5-9 5 For to the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that you are mindful of him? or the son of man that you visit him? 7 You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands: 8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
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; Revelation 21:7 Revelation 21:7He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
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). To truly exercise dominion over all things—including the raging thermonuclear furnaces of 50 billion trillion suns and every subatomic particle of every atom of every molecule in the cosmic expanse— requires the omnipotent power of God.

And what about our minds? As human beings, we couldn’t count all the individual stars of the universe, at one per second, in a trillion lifetimes. But God, in a passing remark, says He knows all the stars by name (Psalms 147:4 Psalms 147:4He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names.
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). Amazingly, Paul states, “Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known [that is, by God]” (1 Corinthians 13:12 1 Corinthians 13:12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
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), showing that we will possess the omniscience of God. And why not, for we will have the Holy Spirit, the mind of God, in full!

Consider this: Converted human beings are to one day possess divine nature, divine glory and total power over the creation, sharing God’s infinite knowledge. All of this requires nothing less than divinity!

Indeed, at that time, like Jesus, we will at last be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19 Ephesians 3:19And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
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; compare Colossians 1:19 Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;
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; Colossians 2:9 Colossians 2:9 For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
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). How can someone be filled with all the fullness of God and be anything less than what God is? Therefore, at our ultimate change, we too will be divine —though the Father and Christ will forever be greater than us.

The teaching of deification

This biblical truth will surely come as quite a shock to those who have heard only the traditional view of mainstream Christianity regarding the ultimate reward of the righteous. Yet those who might be quick to assail this teaching will perhaps be even more surprised to learn that many early “church fathers” of mainstream tradition—not so far removed from early apostolic teaching— did understand this incredible truth, at least in part. And hints of this are sometimes seen even today.

Notice paragraphs 398 and 460 of the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (1995), footnoted sources in brackets:

“Created in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully ‘divinized’ by God in glory [but sinned] …

“The Word [Jesus Christ] became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’ [2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
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]: ‘For this is why the Word [Christ] became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God’ [Irenaeus (2nd century), Against Heresies Book 3, chap. 19, sec. 1].

“ ‘For the Son of God became man so that we might become God’ [Athanasius (4th century), On the Incarnation of the Word, chap. 54, sec. 3]. ‘The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us share in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods’ [Thomas Aquinas (13th century), Opusculum 57, lectures 1-4]” (pp. 112, 128-129, emphasis added).

This teaching is even more prevalent in Eastern Orthodox tradition, where it is known by the Greek term theosis, meaning “divinization” or “deification.” It is wholly unlike the New Age concept of absorption into universal consciousness or seeing oneself as inherently and presently divine. Notice the remarkable explanation of the early Catholic theologian Tertullian, writing around A.D. 200:

“It would be impossible that another God could be admitted, when it is permitted to no other being to possess anything of God. Well, then, you say, at that rate we ourselves possess nothing of God. But indeed we do, and will continue to do so. Only it is from Him that we receive it, and not from ourselves. For we will be even gods, if we deserve to be among those of whom He declared, ‘I have said, “You are gods,”’ and ‘God stands in the congregation of the gods.’ But this comes of His own grace, not from any property in us. For it is He alone who can make gods” ( Against Hermogenes, chap. 5, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p. 480, quoted in “Deification of Man,” David Bercot, editor, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, 1998, p. 200).

Indeed, this was the standard view during the early Christian centuries.

More recent authors have also glimpsed this biblical truth. C.S. Lewis, perhaps the most popular Christian writer of the last century, wrote: “The command Be ye perfect [Matthew 5:48 Matthew 5:48Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
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] is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words.

“If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said” ( Mere Christianity, 1996, p. 176).

The ultimate family relationship

Of course, this matter requires some important clarification. The Bible’s teaching is not that we will somehow mystically become a singular being with God, losing our individual identities. The reality is that God is a family. And just as individual members of a human family are distinct entities with unique identities, so will it be in the God family.

Yet through the Holy Spirit the members of the God family will share a special oneness of mind, purpose and nature that goes far beyond the common identity and union that is possible within the human family.

Indeed, there is only one God, but that God is a family. The term gods in reference to our destiny is really meant to distinguish multiple God beings constituting the one God—the one God meaning the one God family. As mentioned before, there are at present two fully divine members of the God family—two distinct Beings—God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ. And, as incredible as it sounds, there will be more to come.

God has declared, as we earlier saw, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
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). And He means it. The Father intends to bring us forth as His full children, to transform us into the very kind of beings that He and Christ now are—though, again, forever subject to Their loving authority and leadership.

Indeed, even though saved human beings truly will be elevated to existence at the divine level as real children of God and full members of the God family, they will never challenge, individually or collectively, the preeminence of the Father and Christ as leaders of the family. Truly, all will be subject to Jesus, except the Father, and Christ will Himself be subject to the Father (see 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 24 Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he has put all things under his feet. But when he said all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued to him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
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). The Father and Christ will remain at the top of the family forever, reigning supreme even with the addition of billions of divine children.

This, then, is why you and I were born! It is the ultimate potential destiny of all mankind. It is the awe-inspiring purpose for which we were created. As Jesus quoted, foreseeing our destiny reached, “I said, ‘You are gods.’” Our future can’t get any higher or better than that!

Next we will see how you can become part of the immortal family of God and examine further details about the wonderful life that lies in store for us.