The Apple Of God's Eye

December 15, 2009

Human Reproduction Pictures Spiritual Birth

In the fifth chapter of Ephesians you find a husband-wife relationship pictured as corresponding to Christ and the Church. Scriptural teaching assures us that, at His coming, Christ is going to marry the Church. Also, the Scriptures teach that the Church will, at His coming, be born of God, by a resurrection of all who have died, and the instantaneous conversion from mortal to immortal of those then living (I Cor. 15:50-53).

Immediately the question arises: “If those in the Church are to be just then born of God, how can they marry Christ before they grow up?”

Let’s understand!

Why were we born in the first place? What is the real purpose of human life? God Almighty the Creator is reproducing Himself! As truly as we mortal humans have been given power to reproduce ourselves–to bring forth progeny in our own image, born with our very nature–even so the Great God is bringing forth sons in His image, born with His very divine nature! The very purpose of our existence is that we be begotten as God’s children, and become born of Him.

And human reproduction is the very type of spiritual reproduction. What God created at the time described in the first chapter of Genesis was a physical creation. You’ll find nothing spiritual there. In physical man, made of the dust of the ground, God created the material with which He may mold, shape, form, and create the spiritual being. He pictures us as the clay, Himself as the Potter–forming us into the spiritual image of His designing.

Now human reproduction pictures spiritual reproduction. Each human, since Adam and Eve, started from a tiny egg, called an ovum, the size of a pinpoint. It was produced in the body of the mother. The egg is incomplete, of itself. It has a life of only about 48 hours, according to some authorities. Unless fertilized by the life-giving sperm cell from the human father within that limited lifetime, it dies.

Each human, spiritually speaking, is like an egg. The average human lifetime is said to be 70-80 years. Adam was created incomplete, and each of us was born incomplete–that is, we were made to need the Holy Spirit of God. And unless, within our limited lifespan of some 70-80 years, we are begotten of God–by His Spirit which is His immortal divine LIFE, entering to impart eternal life to us–we shall die–and that shall be the end–except that God has appointed a resurrection of all who have lived, and, for those who reject His gift of eternal life, the final second death in the lake of fire.

But, in the case of the human ovum, once fertilized as a begotten human, the egg–now called an embryo–is kept within the body of the mother, and is nourished and fed material food through her and protected by her. And there it must grow, being fed physically through the mother, large enough to be born. After a number of weeks, the embryo is called a fetus, and at birth it is a human baby.

In like manner, the Bible calls the Church the “mother of us all.” That is, the mother of Christians–those begotten of God. It is the function of the Church to protect and feed, spiritually, on the spiritual food of God’s Word, those begotten children of God, so that we may grow spiritually, in the divine character, ready to be born.

Surely this is a wonderful comparison. Yet types and antitypes are not always alike in every detail.

When a physical baby is born, it is not ready for marriage. When the spiritual child of God is born he will be fully mature for the spiritual marriage. How can this be?

The unborn human fetus is only growing physically. At birth the human baby knows nothing. He is helpless. He must be taught. He must learn. He is born merely with a mind capable of learning, knowing, thinking. He is not yet of mature size physically or mentally. Many do marry who are still entirely immature spiritually and/or emotionally. But we do assume that one has reasonable maturity physically and mentally before marriage. In the human, this development takes place in the human state after the human birth.

Therefore, the human baby is not ready for marriage at birth.

But the spirit-born are different!

Just as the fertilized ovum–the embryo which becomes the fetus–must grow physically from material food, so the Spirit-begotten child of God must grow spiritually before he can be born. But there is a difference!

The fetus does not attain to complete physical maturity before birth, and has no mental maturity. But, in the spiritual rebirth, one must attain reasonable spiritual maturity before he is spirit-born.

Now what is spiritual growth? Just as the physical embryo-fetus must grow physically large enough to be born, so the Spirit-begotten Christian must grow spiritually or he will never be born of God. But spiritual growth is CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

The Spirit-begotten starts out with a MIND from the beginning. God is perfect character–divine, spiritual character. God is also love. And perfect spiritual character is the way of love! Such character is the attainment of the ability, in a separate independent entity of free moral agency, to be able to discern right from wrong–the true values from the false–truth from error–the right way from the wrong, and then to make the right choice or decision, even against self-desire, impulse or temptation; plus the will and self-discipline to resist the wrong and to do the right.

No human, with human nature, has the power–alone by himself–to do this. But God has made available the spiritual power and help man lacks. Man must desire to know–must hunger and thirst for truth; man must make his own decision, exercise his own will, even against the pulls of his nature. But without the help of God–without spiritual power from God–man is utterly unable.

That is why truly converted Christians sometimes actually do sin. They are like the apostle Paul, as he describes himself in Romans 7. With his mind he wanted to go the way of Gods law, yet he found himself unable. Another law warred within him against the good resolutions of his mind. But the sequel to Romans 7 is Romans 8–the Holy Spirit chapter. Who, Paul cried out, could save him from this body of death he struggled against in vain? The answer is, God, through His Holy Spirit.

A true Christian doesn’t want to sin–should not. But sometimes he finds himself caught in the vise of habit, or overwhelmed by temptation or by circumstances from which he is unable to free himself. Surely, had such a one been continually praying, keeping himself close to God, and detached from the world or its lures or the temptations of the flesh, he probably would have had sufficient divine help to have prevented the sinning. But only Jesus Christ ever did keep that close to God!

God looks on the heart. In such a case, the Christian does not sin maliciously, with malice aforethought. He is merely caught in the vortex of a temptation which sucks him helplessly down into the sin. Then he is terribly sorry. He is disgusted with himself. He repents. He goes to work to overcome. He may not succeed, due to human weakness, at once. But he remains determined and finally does, with God’s help, overcome completely. Many a true Christian has had such a struggle over a particular human weakness and temptation, and after even several setbacks, finally, through God’s power, won the victory and fought his way free.

God looks on the heart. God forgives in such cases. The living Christ, our High Priest, has compassion, is filled with mercy–as long as the attitude is right, the desire of the inner man is to conquer the flesh and overcome the temptation and be free from it entirely. In the end, it is God who gives the victory. But, in such a struggle, the Christian develops character.

Now character, I have said many times, is something God does not create automatically. It is developed through experience. The development of that character is the very purpose of our being alive. Also the development of that character, unlike the purely physical growth of the unborn baby, actually is growing toward spiritual maturity, right now in the begettal stage prior to spirit birth–in this present mortal human life.

Notice how the “mother of us all,” the Church, is to protect and feed those in it, until they reach spiritual maturity. In I Corinthians 12 you’ll read how God gives spiritual gifts for various administrations, or functions of service. In Ephesians 4:11-14, Christ has given special spiritual abilities or talents to certain ones in a chain of authority under Him in the Church–and notice for what purpose:

“And his [Christ’s] gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ [the Church], UNTIL we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (RSV).

In other words, to full spiritual maturity!

Now why should we count the troubles and problems and temptations that beset us as all joy?

Simply because we cannot hurdle these obstacles successfully in our own power. They drive us to seek help from God. To go to God for the wisdom to know what to do, and the power to be able to do it, requires faith. This is a living faith. It is alive. It is active.

When we meet such trials, we often do not know what to do. We lack the wisdom to make the right decision. So open your Bible to the first chapter of James. Notice verse 5.

If you lack wisdom, in such trials, go to God for it! But ask in faith–no wavering–no doubting. Be sure God will not fail, but will give you this wisdom. Depend upon Him for it. If you waver, you are like a wave in the ocean–tossed back and forth–going nowhere! So, instead of wavering, be steadfast. And if you don’t get the answer immediately from God, have patience. Don’t give up. Trust Him.

Now notice verses 2-3: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (Revised Standard Version). These trials force you to your knees. You must have faith to meet them. They test your faith. They develop spiritual character!

In the King James Version, it says the trying of your faith produces patience. It produces that kind of patience that is steadfastness. That is character!

Sure, it may be unpleasant for a while. But, Paul assures us that if we suffer with Christ, we shall reign with Him–and the glory to be revealed in us is so incomparably greater than anything we now are, that this promised future for eternity is something to rejoice over!

Yes, count it all joy! Even if unpleasant. It is maturing you, now, for the marriage to Christ. The Church of God shall be born into the Kingdom of God! The Kingdom of God will not be composed of spiritual know-nothings and infants.

When we are born again–born of God–resurrected in spirit bodies, those bodies will not be small, like a human physical infant which must grow to full physical size. We shall look as we do now, so far as form and shape and features are concerned. But the resurrected body will be a different body–composed of spirit instead of flesh and blood (I Cor. 15:35-44).

The original twelve apostles were Christ’s witnesses. That is, they were actual eyewitnesses that Jesus rose from the dead–that the living resurrected Christ was the same Jesus who had been crucified. They were with Him forty days after His resurrection. But nobody will be foolish enough to suggest that when Christ was born very Son of God by the resurrection (Romans 1:4) that He was resurrected in a tiny infant’s body composed of spirit. He was resurrected full grown, as He had been when crucified. How did the apostles know He was the same Jesus? Because they knew what Jesus had looked like–and in His born-again, resurrected body He looked the same, except He now was composed of spirit instead of matter!

The resurrected Christ was perfect–He was very God! But He did not grow up into perfection after He was resurrected. It was during His human lifetime, setting us the example, that He was made perfect, as you read in Hebrews 2:10 and 5:8-9.

Thus it is plain that we must develop spiritual character, growing to spiritual adulthood, during this life–not after our resurrection in glory! This is the spiritual growth, of which the physical growth of the unborn child, from tiny embryo to a size and weight of some six to eight pounds at birth, is a type. The physical growth of the unborn human is a growth of physical size and weight. The spiritual growth of the begotten but yet unborn spiritual child of God is a growth in spiritual character, not of physical volume, size or weight. The human baby merely grows large enough to be born prior to birth–not to physical or mental maturity. But he does grow. And this physical growth is the type of the spiritual growth by feeding on the Word of God, and prayer, and Christian fellowship, and participation in the Work of God in the life of the begotten child of God.

The difference is merely the difference between matter and spirit. One is a material growth. Material growth is measured by volume, size, weight. The other is spiritual growth, measured by character development.

Jesus was born very Son of God by His resurrection (Romans 1:4). He was born fully mature. He was born in a spirit body, which was manifested to His apostles in the same apparent size and shape as when He died. When He appears on earth the second time, in His spirit glorified body, we shall be resurrected, or instantaneously changed, to a body that will be like Him (1 John 3:2)–full grown–adult!

Source: Plain Truth, 1978

August 27, 2009

Why Does God Get The Blame, But Never The Credit?

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We live in a funny world. When things go wrong, God is to blame, but when they go right, we will not give due credit. Take for example the innocent deaths of children dying the world over: It must the fault of God, because he created us and now has deserted mankind, right?

Or what about when a devastating tornado or hurricane hits a small town and wipes it off the map, or the 9-11 disaster: “Where is He when we need Him,” is the oft repeated cry, or “it’s an act of God,” putting God in the position of being accused. Airlines also invoke God when weather causes flight delays or accidents – it’s not the fault of the airline – blame God.

Then there’s insurance policy clauses, contracts or wildfire’s, earthquakes, floods and avalanches. Some people scream at the heavens, or bury their head in their hands and cry, “Why, God?”  Others seek to cast blame, even for those things which are not of human origin.  In legal and insurance realms the reference is made to Acts of God, which may or may not be insurable. Someone’s got to be blamed, even if no fault is found!

Conversely though, when we find ourselves in a life threatening bind, a big financial constraint or when we are emotionally distressed, we invoke God’s name for help. At this time, we may have no other recourse – no one is watching so what harm can a small prayer do, right. If He exists, then perhaps he will help us, because we’re essentially good aren’t we?

Process theology to the rescue

Now comes the school of religious thought called process theology. These modern theologians say that the question of why God allows these tragedies, or why God is not apparently powerful enough to stop them, has vexed religious counselors for centuries. And well it may. Because people simply do not understand that question!

If God is all good, if God is love, he wouldn’t want humanity to suffer, would he? And if God is all powerful, as the Bible says he is, why doesn’t he stop suffering? Why doesn’t he prevent it?

The credibility of God is now at stake, say the theologians. The world, they contend, has grown weary of religious spokesmen trying to defend God and explain why God allows these things – and at the same time saying that God is all love, God is all good, God is all powerful and he could stop it, yet he doesn’t. So modern theologians now have come up with this new theology called process theology in an attempt to explain this apparent paradox.  God, they say, is entirely loving, but is lacking in power.

They say nothing of the real purpose of life. They say nothing about the restoration of the kingdom of God, the only gospel that Jesus Christ preached.

The Origin and Purpose of Life

But what is the real trouble with this question? What is the reason that God has not stopped all this violence, all this human suffering?

In all the religions of this world – the many different religions we call non-Christian, and even the religion of Christianity – not one religion knows who and what God is. What is God? Is he a trinity? Is God one person? They just don’t understand.  Not one religion on earth fully knows what and why man is. Why are we here? What is the purpose, if any?

Notice what God says about all this in Isaiah chapter 40, beginning with verse 17:

“All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?… It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers [that is to God]; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

“… To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might [there it speaks of God’s might, his power], for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (verses 17, 22, 25-26).

The earth turns on its axis. The different seasons regularly come. It is the power of God that is causing all of that. And that is mighty power.

And God formed man after the God kind, not after an animal kind, but in form and likeness of God. There is a very special purpose for man on earth and when you understand that, you begin to understand why God is allowing all the suffering on the earth today.

Notice, now, Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God [Lord there is the name of the one that became Christ] formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man [made of the dust of the ground] became a living soul.”

Man Must Choose

The man that God created now had to make a choice.

Character is the ability of some separately created entity to come to a knowledge of right as from wrong, of truth as from error, of good as from evil. To choose the right, or the good, and to reject the evil – even though he might want to do the evil – to have the will to do the good, that is character.

God is the supreme, holy, righteous, perfect, spiritual character. And He is reproducing that character in man. How is that divine character going to get into something made out of the ground? God placed a human spirit in the first man. That human spirit could have a relationship with God, who is spirit.

But God placed before that man two choices, symbolized by two trees in the garden of Eden. The one tree was the tree of life. How does God give that life? It comes through the Holy Spirit. The person that has the Spirit of God has life, and he that has not the Spirit of God does not have life. If the Spirit of Christ is in you, you are his (I John 5:11-12).

If the Spirit of God is not in you, you are “none of his” (Rom. 8:9, last part). And, verse 11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make immortal] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

God made us mortal, but he made us to become immortal. And God required that the man had to make a choice, because character had to be built in the man! Character is built through choice.

The other tree, the other choice before man, symbolized the way of man’s taking to himself – deciding altogether by himself – the knowledge of good and evil. How do we come to know the truth of God? In I Corinthians 2:9 we read, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart [mind] of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” – in other words, spiritual knowledge.

God reveals these things to us only by his Spirit. The Spirit of God reveals God’s knowledge – spiritual knowledge and spiritual character. But man decided to take the basis of that kind of character to himself, to decide right from wrong, truth from error, by himself.

So, in punishment, God at that time closed up the tree of life. In other words, he shut up the Holy Spirit from man.

God had set out a 7,000-year plan and purpose in which to develop the godlike character in man, made from the dust of the ground. God’s purpose is to make us immortal like God, until we become God as he is God. That has got to come through human experience, but it has to come from God, with our consent, our desire, our decision and our wills.

I John 3:1-2 says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us [here is the fact that God loves us], that we should be called the sons of God [ultimately to be born of God, though now begotten of God; for God is reproducing himself, and we’re called the sons of God]:… now [even right now] are we the sons of God [but only begotten, not yet born], and it doth not yet appear what we shall be [in other words, what we shall be one can’t see yet]: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

Man is clay to be molded

The purpose of God is character building. That is why he made man of matter. We could be molded spiritually, in a body of earthly clay, into divine character. We read in Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

Even Job asked, “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait [meaning in the grave], till my change come. Thou [God] shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (Job 14:14-15).

Job knew he was the work of God’s hands. We all are the clay. God is the potter. A potter molds and fashions clay into the form and shape he wants. Now God will – if we put ourselves in his hands, if we surrender to him, and to his will – take us and mold and shape us into the godlike character of love.

God is love. God will put his divine love in us, a love with which we were not born. It is a gift of God through his Holy Spirit.

We sow what we reap

Notice Isaiah 45:9, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!… Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?… ”

What about the theologians reasoning that today’s divided Christianity is God’s religion, that this is God’s world, and God isn’t powerful enough to stop all of evil?

God is allowing man to make his own decisions. And if man makes the wrong decision, God has said whatever we sow we shall reap. God has told his people that ever since the beginning. He told Adam that. He told ancient Israel that. And Jesus Christ told us that. If we sin we will have to reap the consequences. God allows it. He allows suffering and the pain of sin for a good purpose.

God has given man a mind to think with. He gives man revealed knowledge in the Bible. Man can take that knowledge and learn to go God’s way. That is necessary for the development of character so we can become like God.

In Matthew 24:4-5 Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name [Jesus said], saying, [that] I am [the] Christ; and shall deceive many.”

How can they do that? Jesus said in Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” They make the commandments of God of no effect by their tradition (verse 3).

The commandments of God are the right way to live; they reveal God’s way of life. Human beings have not kept the commandments of God. They have said, and many preachers are saying today, that the commandments of God are done away.

The commandments of God are the way of love, of love to God and love to neighbor. The first four of the Ten Commandments tell you how to love God, the last six how to love your neighbor. That is the way God lives and the way Christ lived while on earth.

But in Jeremiah 50:6 God says that the shepherds, the ministers of this world, lead his people astray and deceive them. That is exactly what has happened. The world has been deceived, and the deceived theologians can’t seem to understand why God allows all this suffering from disobedience till we learn our ways are wrong.

God allows it to teach us lessons. God allows it because we ourselves have brought it on ourselves, and because we have failed to develop the kind of character needed to become his children, to be glorified, to be given the gift of eternal life so as to live in happiness and peace and joy. There’s no other way for peace.

Man has brought all this on himself, in defiance of God! Man has been shaking his fist at God, telling God he won’t obey God and going his own way, the way that has seemed right to a man. It’s all a matter of cause and effect. It’s the way we have lived that has brought all these troubles on us, not God.

But God will show man whether he has power. God will finally deliver man from the evils of today’s civilization by his divine powers and establish his kingdom of peace over all the earth.

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