Deification As Children of God

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Deification As Children of God

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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.

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" (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p. 480, quoted in "Deification of Man," David Bercot, editor, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, 1998, p. 200).

(Many other examples of this early teaching, known as deification or divinization, can be found in our online Bible study aid What Is Your Destiny?)

C.S. Lewis, perhaps the most popular Christian writer of the last century, stated this truth clearly in his well-known book Mere Christianity. Notice: "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" (1996, p. 176).

Of course, this matter requires some important clarification. There is only one God. The term gods 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.

In fact, there are many more whom Scripture counts as already being members of the God family (Ephesians 3:14-15 Ephesians 3:14-15 [14] For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, [15] Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
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; 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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). Now having a small measure of the divine through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, they are in the process of deification—though not yet truly divine. But one day, if they remain faithful, they will be. And ultimately all of mankind—that is, those who are willing—will follow in the same course.

[ Read the article: The Mystery of Human Existence: Why Are You Here? ]