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Partakers of the Divine Nature

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Partakers of the Divine Nature

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Partakers of the Divine Nature

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Those who are in Christ at His return will be raised to a state of glory and are brought into the family of God as the bride of the Son. At that point human beings may become partakers of the divine nature.

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Partakers of the Divine Nature

The United Church of God believes and teaches that human beings are created in the image of God... and that human beings have the potential to become partakers of the divine nature [to share in/to participate in the properties and/or characteristics of God].

Based on what is found in scripture we teach that God made humanity of flesh, which is material substance... atoms/molecules etc.  Also, flesh and blood beings are alive because God has breathed life into them. However, flesh and blood beings are mortal, they die, their flesh decays and returns to the dust [another way of saying it breaks down into atoms/molecules].

The immortal life which religious people assume they already have is not a built in feature. God's word tells us that everlasting life may be given to human beings by God, through His grace and benevolence, but only under God's terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are explained and expressed in the bible.

  1. Scripture shows that God placed before Adam & Eve [and therefore all humanity] a choice of either: eternal life which comes through obedience to God, receipt of the holy spirit…OR…
  2.  to go from temporary life to nothing through disobedience.

That everlasting life comes through the receiving of the holy spirit... which God gives to those who obey [Acts 5:32 Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.
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].

The first man and woman gave in to temptation to disobey God. As a result they were... and all subsequent humanity has been, cut off from unrestricted access to eternal life [the tree of life which was also located in the garden of Eden, which is the receipt of the holy spirit of God].

And so, because of bad choices, flesh and blood life inevitably winds down, stops, and returns to lifeless material. It does not inevitably move on to some form of life on a spiritual plane... unless God intervenes.

What Is Possible For Human Beings

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.
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tells us that human beings are created in the image of God [see also Genesis 5:2 Genesis 5:2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
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]. This is of paramount importance.  It’s placed right up front... in the first chapter of God's word for emphasis!

The OT writings established the foundation of what human beings are --> The NT writings  build on that foundation with teaching about what human beings have the potential to become, and what must happen to make that possibility a reality.

1 John 2:28 - 3:2 it is common for folks to say "we are all children of God"... meaning we are brought into existence by God who is Creator. But scripture tells us more than that.

  1. "the one who does what is right is the one who is born of God'... so there is a separation there. Some are therefore "not born of God"
  2. all that the children born of God will become has not been realized in this flesh and blood life
  3. we will become like Him
  4. only when Christ returns will we experience and understand the fullness of what it means to be a child of God
  5. This should lead us to pursue good moral behavior based on biblical directives

Romans 8:29-30 Romans 8:29-30 [29] For 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. [30] Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
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 [reword verse 9] it has always been God's purpose and plan to move human beings from what they are now to a form of being that is like the resurrected Jesus Christ... including a means to pay the penalty for their sins so they might be justified [declared innocent]. Salvation through atonement is not a tactical decision God made on the fly based on changing conditions; such as humanity's unexpected  choice to disobey. God always knew in advance how it would play out.

Hebrews 2:6-11 the resurrected Jesus Christ gives us a demonstration of human life resurrected from dead flesh to a glorious state of being. We human beings have the potential to share this glory with Him.

John 17:1-5 John 17:1-5 [1] These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: [2] As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. [3] And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. [4] I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do. [5] And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
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 the resurrection glory of Jesus Christ is a return to the glory He had from eternity              John 1:1-2 John 1:1-2 [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.
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,14
.

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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 the glory that we shall have together with Christ can also be expressed as “partakers of the divine nature”... [the innate properties of God, what makes God what He is].

At this point critics say the Church of God has taken this too far... your teaching of scripture make your selves equals to God. You are blasphemers and heretics!

I ask you to consider this:

We Are Still Subject to God's Authority

Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
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11 Jesus had all the qualities of God, or "Godness"... Yet here is what He does:

  1. He moves from His divine glory to live among us in the flesh... then He moves back into His divine glory. He does this to show us the pattern for human potential [in this way He is the author and pioneer of our salvation, first born among many]
  2. He voluntarily puts Himself in subjection to the Father, taking the form of a servant.

We have read a number of scriptures that say we will be like God and share the glory of the resurrected Christ... but this verse and many more tell us  that we will also be in subjection... to Christ... who is in turn subject to the Father.

At that time when Christ returns... and we are made like Him... we are brought into the family as the bride of Christ and subject to His authority. We gain insight into this truth through our human marriage:

  1. Just as God has decreed that in the flesh... a woman is under the authority of her husband which is a living lesson for us.
  2. A man does not marry a horse, or a bird... he marries one who is of the same kind/nature as he is... "bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh".

The family model explains our submission the the authority of Christ [husband/wife]… The family model explains Christ’s own submission to the Father [Son/Father].

The Nature of God [Divine Nature]

If we are to be "like Him"..."to share His glory"..."be partakers of the divine nature" what does that mean? If we say it means we are to be loving, merciful, just etc. that seems easy enough to mentally process. But doesn't being "like Him"... partaking of the divine nature" also imply other aspects of existence,  such as: 1) not being limited in space or time 2) knowing all things 3) limitless is what we are able to do.

That last bit starts sounding a lot like saying we are equal to God. But, if I am limitless in what I can do, I am still subject to Christ... who is in turn subject to the Father. That means I will not do anything that is not accordance with the will of the Father.

Note: whether or not I am willing to work within those parameters is what God is assessing right now.

1 Corinthians 15:35 1 Corinthians 15:35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
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 Paul answers "that's a silly question, you'll be composed of spirit just as God is spirit".

1 Corinthians 15:44-49 1 Corinthians 15:44-49 [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. [45] And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. [46] However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. [47] The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. [48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. [49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
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 using the analogy of a seed… we start in the flesh... which is temporary, we move on to the spirit which is permanent. We are raised to life in the likeness, kind, the nature of Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:50-5 1 Corinthians 15:50-5
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4 with this change the we receive the fullness of our salvation from death.

The Process is Not Automatic

Most religious people [and most religious traditions] believe that human beings automatically pass from this temporary physical state to an ongoing spiritual state which is without end. After death the spirit simply carries on without being trapped in a flesh and blood body. Then what each person experiences in that spiritual state is conditional. Based upon how you lived in the flesh: some will experience only bliss, some will experience only misery.

The scriptures teach that human beings do not automatically pass from this temporary state to a spiritual state without end. Your resurrection to spirit life is based on conditions, or based on God's judgment of how you lived in the flesh.

God's word also teaches there is nothing you can do make this happen... or make it automatic. Resurrection to eternal spirit life will be given to you based solely upon the God's willingness to make it happen.

Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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 eternal life is something God must choose to give us

Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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 that willingness to deal with us in mercy, forgiveness, and good will is: grace. Salvation from death is the gift He gives.

Matthew 7:14 not automatic... not everyone gets eternal life... It’s a restricted path

Terms & Conditions of Salvation

God does tell you the criteria He uses to make His judgment upon your life. Those terms and conditions are found in the bible.

Matthew 19:16-17 Matthew 19:16-17 [16] And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? [17] And he said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.
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 the terms and conditions of how God judges your life, begin with the commandments.  How you respond to His commandments influence His willingness to give you the gift of salvation from death.

Hebrews 5:9 Hebrews 5:9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him;
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 eternal life is linked to obedience. Note: some like to argue that obedience to Christ is different from obedience to the commandments.That is a deceptive argument that roughly says "Jesus nullified all the OT commandments of the Father and replaced them all with His own simple command to love one another".

In His own words Jesus adamantly stated He did not come to do away with the law [Matthew 5:19 Matthew 5:19Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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]. Jesus taught from the OT scriptures and said of Himself "I am not bringing you some new thing of my own... I bring you the words of the Father who sent me".

Teaching that  the OT law is the harsh law of the stern Father... whereas Jesus comes as the loving and forgiving brother is false. Remember, Jesus Christ was the rock who was with Israel in the wilderness... He is the one who delivered the commandments in the first place!  

1 John 2:3-8 John 2:3-8 [3] And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine. [4] Jesus said to her, Woman, what have I to do with you? my hour is not yet come. [5] His mother said to the servants, Whatever he said to you, do it. [6] And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. [7] Jesus said to them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. [8] And he said to them, Draw out now, and bear to the governor of the feast. And they bore it.
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 the command to love is not a new command... it was part of the commandments from the beginning. However, the NT writings do emphasize the motive of love in addition to the necessary obedience demanded in the OT writings.  But they are the same commandments… not something new or alien to the old.

The Choice

We believe that God placed before Adam & Eve [and therefore all humanity] the choice of eternal life through obedience OR death through disobedience. They chose disobedience and sin entered the world.

Because of sin, all humanity has become cut off from God, cutoff from the tree of life. Now, the only inevitable or automatic outcome for flesh and blood human beings  is death, a return back to lifeless molecules and atoms, and non-existence. But there is a way to set matters straight, to be forgiven of sin, to receive the spirit of eternal life... 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.
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-17.

The terms and conditions of that salvation are also spelled out in God's word. Through instruction we come to a realization of what sin is… we become convicted of our need to repent from that sin… we become baptized in the death of Christ… we receive the holy spirit within us as the seed, or beginning of eternal life… we spend a life of overcoming and living under the judgment of God, we die in the flesh... those who are in Christ are then raised to spirit born life at His return.

At that point we are raised to a state of glory and are brought into the family of God as the bride of the Son. We become partakers of the divine nature.

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