What is God? (Part 2 – His light)

(Prior to reading this, please come before the Lord with a loving heart, seeking his mercy to give us understanding so our spiritual eyes will be opened. This is not light reading so please read this slowly.)

To “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27) is the most important element in our transformation into the same image of Christ. “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in the world.” (1 John 4:17) When love is perfected, realize we have confidence in the day of judgment because the Spirit has set a fire within our beings, so “as he is so also are we.” This fire, set within our temples, will renew our minds and motivate us to do the will of God.

In the Bible, after the great flood in Noah’s days, God promised to never use water to judge man again and, as a reminder, he used the sign of a rainbow in the clouds (Gen. 9:15-16). In his resurrection, when He is on the throne, “He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance” (Rev. 4:3), reminding God not to judge with water. Today, realize he uses fire. “Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peels of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” (Rev. 4:5) The number ‘seven’ in the Bible means completeness or fullness. The fullness of the Spirit of God means in its function, the Spirit has been intensified in its work within us. That is why it is “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.” His Spirit today is like seven lamps of fire burning within our spirit.

Fire has multiple effects. Firstly, the fire of his Spirit serves to cleanse and purify us. “Each day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement, and you shall purify the altar when you make atonement for it.” (Exo. 29:36) Not only did our Lord come to save us so we would be redeemed from the sins we have already committed, He is actively saving us from the sins we are about to commit. “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) Everyday we have to let the Spirit burn within us. “I will turn my hand against you and will burn away your dross completely; I will remove all your alloy.” (Isa. 1:25 – CSB. The NASB is “I will also turn My hand against you, and will smelt away your dross as with lye and will remove all your alloy.”) When the Lord inhabits our spirit with his Spirit, realize there is a fire burning within to remove all our impurities so we become like him. He is burning away our dross completely. “For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29) Because Christ was completely burnt as the burnt offering, realize we are like him in the same image. We also need to be completely burnt so all our impurities are burnt away.

Secondly, fire is a source of light. In fact, in the first century, light is fire. Wherever there is light, there is fire. This light now shines within our spirits to illuminate our minds. “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’” (John 8:12) “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone on our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6) This verse is one of the most important verses in the Bible because it relays the concept of how God is transforming us by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Please read this verse slowly, over and over again, with love in your heart for God, until the Spirit gives you understanding and renews your mind.

To the Jewish people in the first century, they were being told by Jesus, the God that they loved and cherished, and venerated and worshipped for generations, is now being expressed in the person of Jesus. This is radical thinking. All the stories that had been passed down throughout the centuries, transferred from one generation to the next, is about Jesus. All their religious practices, rules and laws that were given by God Himself and held sacred for all these years, were a shadow of the things to come. “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Heb. 10:1) “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Col. 2:17) The substance belongs to Christ. The true form of these realities, the true meaning of all their religious practices, is Christ Himself. Realize it is the same today.

Religion is not a practice. It is not a mode of behaviour. The substance must belong to Christ. Why are we separated? It is due to our different practices. We must head up all things in Christ (Eph. 1:9-10) so He can be our all in all (Col. 3:11; Rom. 11:36). We need to be the overcomers wherever we are meeting (Rev. 2-3), to build the house of God.

As the Light shines in our hearts, Christ is transforming us by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). His seven-fold intensified Spirit, as the lampstands of fire within our beings, will radically change us. Our minds will be renewed as he shines on our hearts. From being disgusted with the brother who slurps his soup too loudly, we will forebear and love him. From just practicing religious activities every weekend, we need to have the Spirit change us radically so the realities of Christ may be formed in us (Gal. 4:19). “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19) From sitting in the pews every Sunday being passive, we would realize we are his royal priesthood, needing to serve God actively in shepherding his flock. We need a heart that is continually being shone on so Christ can transform it into a new heart. “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them.” (Eze. 11:19-20) When the Spirit shines within, it renews our minds softening our hearts so we will keep his commandments and do them. We will finally be given the “one heart” (Eze. 11:19) unifying us to serve the living God.

Thirdly, the work that we do is powered by His fire. The seven-fold intensified Spirit is powering us today to give us the motivation and the drive to carry out God’s eternal purpose. “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) Jesus came to cast fire within us so we would not be “lagging behind in diligence, [but] fervent in Spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Tim. 1:6) We need to fan into flames the gift of God so we would be fervent in Spirit, serving the Lord. “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit…” (1 Cor. 12:11) Realize the Spirit empowers us today.

After we believed in God, we have only received the essential Spirit (John 20:22) that gives us the divine life. We have been brought into the Holy Place within the temple of our spirits. We still need to be transformed into the same image of Christ. Before Christ ascended he told his disciples to wait until they were clothed with power. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) To be clothed with power from on high is to put on Christ so others sees Christ in the disciples. “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like the mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4) When the Spirit of power entered into the disciples, they were given tongues as of fire. The Spirit filled them so they spoke only what the Spirit wanted. The Spirit gave them utterance. We are clothed with this power from on high so we have put on Christ expressing him with tongues of fire as the Spirit gives us utterance.

The foreshadowing of the Spirit of power coming “like a mighty rushing wind” into the disciples filling them with the Holy Spirit (Act 2:1-4) occurred when the altar of sacrifice was first lid. When Moses and Aaron “came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” (Lev. 9:23-24) Realize Moses and Aaron didn’t light this fire on the altar, God did. The seven-fold intensified Spirit today is the fire that comes from on high to empower us to do his work. This fire is burning continuously through all the generations today. “Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out.” (Lev. 6:13) Realize it is burning within you as you are reading this. That is why the disciples have tongues of fire. When they spoke, it is the Spirit giving them utterance. They spoke like Christ in his resurrection with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27) “When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:30-32) When the Spirit gives us utterance to reveal Christ in the scriptures to others, it is never straightforward. It is in pictures and allegories and parables because the understanding requires the one who listens to use the Spirit that is in him. That is why Jesus spoke in parables. The Spirit has to reveal Christ to us so we can put on Christ. “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) Realize it is only through the Spirit that God reveals Himself today. That is why Christ was hidden to the two disciples and they did not recognize Him. When Christ broke bread with them, realized they were being fed in their spirits with the bread of life. The Spirit fed their spirits revealing Christ to them.

When Christ explained to the two disciples all the things concerning Himself in the Scriptures, their hearts were burning from within. When the Spirit gives us utterance, what proceeds from our mouths is tongues as of fire which will burn in people’s hearts. They will burn with the same Spirit, the same fire. That is how the Spirit works through us to build the church of God. “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Cor. 4:6-7) Realize the surpassing greatness of the power is Christ shining in our hearts. When we see the face of Christ, we will know the glory of God. When this happens the work we produce will not be of ourselves but of God.

Fourthly, the work that we do will be tested by fire. When we allow his Spirit to work in us in this way, the works that we do will be built on his foundation, on the foundation that is Jesus Christ. “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11) God has already tested the works we do on the foundation of Christ if we build according to our Spirit within. “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Cor. 3:12-15) By saying “he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire,” realize Paul is talking to Christians who have received His life essentially but build on a foundation other than Christ. To build on a foundation other than Christ is to uphold any principle or idea, simply anything today, more important or higher that Christ Himself. This was foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

“Now Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” (Lev. 10:1-2) These two sons of Aaron offered strange fire that was not of the one Spirit, not built on the foundation of Christ. Being priests serving as representatives of God, realize they put a different fire in their firepans. His holy consuming fire took them (Heb. 12:29). Today, if we build on a foundation other than Christ, because Jesus has now died on the cross to redeem us, his holy consuming fire will burn everything, but we ourselves will be saved, “yet so as through fire.” This is a dire warning for us today as we are all priests to God.

For those who see themselves as teachers in our Christian community, realize only the Spirit should give us utterance. If we all built on Christ and Christ alone, there would be no division and our work will be gold, silver and precious stones. Issues that are not Christ, that we fight for so adamantly, are superfluous to Him and will be burnt up in his consuming fire.

If we love Him, He is using fire within our temples today to cleanse and purify us through the seven-fold intensified Spirit. “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” (Heb. 12:5-6; Pro. 3:11-12) Realize those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines. His disciplining is to transform us. When we look towards Christ, his shining will be upon our hearts disciplining us. His Spirit is shining in our hearts, giving us the knowledge of the glory of God as revealed in the face of Christ. To see how the Lord is disciplining us today, realize we have to look towards the face of Christ. When we look inwardly towards the Spirit we will see the face of Christ. “His head and hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire…and out of His mouth was a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.” (Rev. 1:14-16) “…in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire.” (Rev. 19:11-12) Realize as Christ lives in us, He not only sees everything, the flame of fire from His eyes is judging everything. When we look at his face, the glory of God judges us as flames of fire coming from Christ’s eyes. This is how He judges those who love Him today to transform them, cleansing and purifying them. Job had to learn this lesson in a very hard way.

In the book of Job, realize Job was defending his own righteousness all the way through the entire book. God, in his holiness, loved him, so He disciplines Job. In turn, Job loved the Lord and unwaveringly tried to listen to God. However he argues how righteous he was. Only in the last chapter does Job realize the holiness of God. Job answers the Lord, “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:3-5) When we love the Lord in such an unwavering way, we will be disciplined by Him. All that we know of God maybe only “by the hearing of the ear.” Realize God disciplines us so we could say, “But now my eye sees You.” To see the glory of God, things too wonderful for us which we did not know, look unwaveringly towards the face of Christ within our spirits. God’s goal for us is not just to make us righteous, but to make us holy so we could become His bride, an equal partner to Him. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rom. 12:1) “…Let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29)

The Lord uses water to save us from the sins we have already committed. He uses fire to save us from the sins we are about to commit.

To “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27) is the most important element in our transformation into the same image of Christ. It teaches us how to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mat. 22:39)

“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” (John 1:4)

The next time you see a rainbow, remind yourself that God no longer judges us with water; He teaches, instructs and admonishes us by showing us the elements (or spectrum) of His Light.

What is to be “transformed into the same image” of Christ? (Part 3) or What is to put on Christ?

When we are transformed into the same image of Christ, we have put on Christ. God uses the analogy of putting on garments repeatedly throughout the Bible to signify our transformation.

When Christ died on the cross, he gave up his divinity so that he could die for us. Only through Christ, can we have this attitude, to give up everything we know, everything with experience, everything we feel that is righteous, godly or even divine, so that we can help our brothers and sisters to be saved into the house of God. That is how we would “be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes from faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phi. 3:9). That is how we “live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) Only when we are willing to give up everything that we have attained can the body of Christ be formed. We must “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phi. 2:3). “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Phi. 2:5-8)

When we “have this attitude in [ourselves] which was also in Christ” (Phi. 2:5), Christ will be able to change us. Our transformation so we are not only inwardly like Christ but outwardly like Christ is represented in the Bible as a change in our clothing. The analogy is putting on Christ as clothing so externally others see who we are internally. This analogy reaches all the way back to Adam as “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:21) This was to cover their nakedness as the things of the flesh, when exposed, is shameful, once we knew what good and evil is. Adam “said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.’” (Gen. 9:10) He did not want to be caught naked, so God made the first sacrifice. God sacrificed an animal and God clothed them.

Further along in the Old Testament, when the tabernacle was set up in the wilderness, Aaron and the priesthood were clothed in fine linen. Moses represented Christ as he was the savior of God’s people. He was the deliver who will free the children of Israel from bondage. Today, Christ is “The Deliverer [who] will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” (Rom. 11:26) Realize Moses was the one who washed and put on the priestly garments that Aaron and his sons, who form the priesthood, wore. “Then Moses had Aaron and his sons come near and wash them with water. He put the tunic on him and girded him with the sash, and close to him with the rope and put the ephod on him; and he girded him with the artistic band after ephod, with which he tied it to him.” (Lev. 8:6-7) “Moses then took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them.” (Lev. 8:10) “Next Moses had Aaron’s sons coming near and clothed them with tunics, and girded them with sashes and bound caps on them, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Lev. 8:13) Moses in fact dressed the entire priesthood. Today, we “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9) being dressed by Christ Himself. Realize how marvelous God is to tell us that every one of Aaron and his sons, all these grown men, were washed and dressed by Moses. In his last parable, Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:18) To be a part of the priesthood as we mature, realize we need to let Christ dress us. Dressing us means he becomes our clothing. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Gal. 3:27) Every one of us needs to be clothed with Christ. When Christ clothes us with Himself, “There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28) as our outward expression is no longer ourselves, but Christ. What we show to the world is no longer ourselves, but Christ so there is no longer any differences separating us. That is why we are all one in Christ Jesus. In our interactions with each other we must let Christ dress us so we put on Christ. That is how we resolve our personal relationships. That is how we unify the “churches” today to form his one body.

As we live Christ, “for to me to live is Christ…” (Phi. 1:21), Christ becomes our lives, “when Christ, who is our life…” (Col. 3:4), so as we mature in Christ, “…to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), Christ is formed in us, “…until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). This internal realization of Christ will allow us to let Christ dress us so we express him outwardly. We no longer will be young, dressing ourselves, but matured to let Christ dress us. Realize Christ has to dress us. When he dresses us, we would be dress in fine linen, dressed in the priestly garments to serve each other. As his priests, we would eat of the sin offering, which is Christ Himself, so we would be transformed to bear the iniquity of the people around us. Moses said to the priests, “Why did you not eat the sin offering at the holy place? For it is most holy, and He gave it to you to bear away the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord.” (Lev. 10:17) When we eat Christ, having put on Christ to become his priests, we express Christ outwardly by loving all his people, to bear away their sins. “Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:11) Realize love takes away the guilt of others so they could come before Christ. If we show Christ’s love for each other, we will bears away all our sins, making atonement for each other before the Lord. When we love others, embracing them even with all their iniquities, they will be constrained by Christ’s love expressed through us. This is how God showed his love for us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) “We love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died, and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15) As Christ is expressed through us, loving and forbearing others even in their sins, they will realize something is different about us. We are not trying to make people realize they are wrong according to the law or teach them how to be good. This simply does not work. Knowing the law and following the law did not work for us. Why do we expect it to work for others? Show them Christ. Show them the inner substance of who he is. Show them the love of God. When people see the love of Christ, they will love him. Just as “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19), they will love, because Christ first loved them. When we love, they will begin to love the Christ expressed from us and be controlled by his love, so they will be transformed and no longer live for themselves, but for Christ. In the “churches” today, if each of us will show this love of Christ towards each other, we will make atonement for each other before the Lord and form the body of Christ. That is how the bride of Christ will be made ready. When we express the love of Christ externally, we have been clothed with Christ living him outwardly. We have made ourselves ready as the bride of Christ. “…The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev. 19:7-8) When we love Christ, He lives through us so we are doing righteous acts in Christ. Loving and forgiving is now the righteous act to do, as the death of Christ has absolved all our sins, both for us and for others, if we turn to Christ. We just need to know how to turn others to Christ. This wisdom only comes from Christ. “Christ is the power and wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:24) “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” (Col 1:28) To admonish and teach every man in all wisdom is to present Christ to them so they may, in turn, be presented complete in Christ. Christ Himself is “the true knowledge of God’s mystery” (Col. 2:3). It is in “Christ Himself…[that] all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) of our mysterious God is hidden. Christ will supply us with the wisdom and the words to say to others. If we don’t love and forgive, realize we are not living in righteousness as Christ has redeemed us all if we turn to him. As we live Christ, we will express him in whatever we do. That is why, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:17) Loving and forgiving are the righteous acts that the world sees when we are clothed with Christ, “transformed into the same image.”

Realize Christ loves and forgives us righteously because He has died for us. As He lives out of us, we have to love and forgive each other showing Christ’s righteousness.

 

 

What is to be “transformed into the same image” of Christ? (Part 2) or What motivates God?

What motivates God? Why did he do all that he did? Realize it was because of love. God’s love for man is immeasurable. It is hard for us to imagine what God has done for us. Here are only highlights.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” to us. What does this mean? God, the infinite God who created the universe, loved us so much that he confined himself into the form of a man. “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Phi. 2:6) The infinite God came down to be a bond-servant, made into the likeness of men. Before he started his ministry, realize God had humbled himself so he would be hungry. “He then became hungry.” (Mat. 4:2) Yet, he rejected the care for himself to care for God. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” (Mat. 4:4) He was tempted to show forth his inner power, which was trapped inside the body of Jesus. He refused so he would not test the Father. And finally he was tempted with power to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. He refused because he only wanted to serve God alone. As the Son of both God and Man, his motivation was to do his Father’s will alone. But as God, realize it was because he loved us so much.

In preparation for the cross, “They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.” (Mat. 27:18-31) Then at Golgotha, “At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. And those passing by were hurling abuse at him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, say Yourself! If You are at the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, ‘He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the king of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’’ The robbers who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.” (Mat. 28:44) Why did Jesus suffer this? Why did he not say anything? Why did he not exercise his divinity? On the one hand, it was because he was absolutely obedient to the Father’s will, but on the other hand, what motivated him was his love for us. As God, He sent Himself to save us. “For God so loved the world.” (John 3:16), he “showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) That is why “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Col. 1:15)

When he died, realize Jesus had to give up his divinity for us. He loved us so much that he gave up his divinity to die for us. That is the ultimate sacrifice. Imagine if you can, a being who could do anything, an omnipotent being who is God, sacrificing himself, giving up the divine part of his being, so he would be left only with the human part, just like his created creatures, so he could die for us. Realize even at his incarnation, he did this already, humbling himself to be a bond-servant. Though Jesus had freewill and possessed the power of the Father, he never exercised his own will, but the Father’s will. This is how much Jesus loved the Father. This is how much Jesus loves us. This is the reason the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father (John 14:11), and they now both live in us (John 14:20). This is God loving us. “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) This in why love is the inner substance of God.

Today, realize this very same God, in Christ, transmitted by the Spirit, lives inside of you. “Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5) “For the love of Christ controls us.” (2 Cor. 5:14) This love will perfect our behaviours as Christ lives out of us. That is why “You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mat. 5:48) None of us has fully realized that Jesus Christ is in us and be perfected, but that is why we are “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18) Christ lived out through us is from one stage of glory to the next stage of glory. As the Spirit makes us realize more and more that it is Jesus Christ living through us and not ourselves, we will grow to love him more, trust him more, and be “transformed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18) in “one Spirit with him” (1 Cor. 6:17). That is how we are growing to maturity in Christ.

God is building for Himself a bride who loves Him. That is why He loves us so dearly. “We love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.'” (Rev. 22:17)

What is to be “transformed into the same image” of Christ? (Part 1)

When Jesus was born, he had both the divine nature and the human nature. Although He was 100% God, he was also 100% human. Realize he was not only the Son of God, he was the Son of Man. As a man he humbled himself and always did the Father’s will. He submitted his will totally to the Father, so the Father could live through him. All his actions were to glorify the Father in heaven. He was the “image’ (Col. 1:15) or “exact representation” (Heb 1:3) of the Father. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38) All the miracles that Jesus did was to glorify the Father in heaven. In fact, it was the Father doing the miracles through Jesus. Jesus just submitted his will to the Father.

At the cross, Jesus, as the Son of Man, make the ultimate submission of his will to God the Father. In preparing Him for the cross, people spat on Him and stripped Him (Mat. 27:27-31) As he hung on the cross, people were hurling insults and mocking Him (Mat.27:39-44). Realize he was fully God, being mocked by men, submitting his will to the Father. He could have walked off that cross, he could have shown that he was the Son of God, but he didn’t. He was submitting his will to the Father’s will. Realize Jesus as the Son of God had the ability to get off the cross, to deal with men in the just way that they deserved. But he didn’t. Then, as a being who was fully God and fully man, he gave up his divinity. He gave up his divinity in order to die for us. If he didn’t give up his divinity, he couldn’t die for us. That is why, with his last breath, he said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mat. 27:46) The divine nature left him to die as a man. God the Father had to leave, otherwise he could not die. Jesus was no longer divine, he was human so he died. He gave up his divinity so he could die for us…This is how much He loved us…This is what it means by, “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phi. 2:10)

To be transformed into the same image of Christ means everything that we know, everything that we have gained, everything that we are, needs to be sacrificed to Him. Paul implores us to be this living sacrifice (Rom. 12:2). Not only do we surrender the things that are sinful, to be crucified with Christ means we surrender the things of our own righteousness to him. Everything has to come from Christ who has to become our all in all (Col. 3:11). We cannot overcome sin today because we are trying to be righteous. Only when Christ becomes our righteousness to us (Rom. 10:4) can we overcome sin. Only when we submit our will totally to him, can Christ live out of us fully. Only in our weakness can Christ be our strength. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9) If we want to be strong is Christ, realize we have to be weak in ourselves. We are finally feeding and living off the tree of life and not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All our practices, even the way we worship, needs to be surrendered to him. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him  must worship in spirit and truth (reality).” (John 4:24) All the good that we think we are doing, even if we think we are doing “divine” things or the most righteous things, needs to be surrendered to Him. Why? So Christ can live out of us. Everyone of us needs the reality of “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” The life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God. To live by faith in Christ is to make Christ our life.

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:3-4) Realize we have died. All that we do, all that we are, is dead in Christ. It is by “…the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14) Our life is now hidden with Christ in God. Only when we reach this point, can Christ become our life. Only when we tell Him we can do nothing apart from Him can Christ live out of us. “He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) For Christ to be “formed in [us]” (Gal. 4:19) so he can become our life, realize we have to die to ourselves. That is the only way.

How do we die to ourselves?…By loving Christ. The easiest way to die to ourselves is to love him. The love of God–whether it is our love or his love, a philia love or an agape love, it doesn’t matter (John 21:15-17)–is the easiest way to become “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1). When we love someone, we will give them our all. We will do whatever they ask. We will submit to them (Eph. 5:22). We will want to please them. We would want to meet their every wish. We will be patient and kind and endure all things (1 Cor. 13:4-11). For example, my wife is a very sound sleeper. When she was pregnant, I thought that I would have to wake up to care for the new baby at night and still manage a job during the day. I was looking forward to sleep-deprived days. However, when our child was born, she would always attend to him, even in the middle of night. He never had to cry. In the middle of the night when he woke up to feed, all he would do is make gurgling noises and my wife would wake up. In fact, if he turned over a little louder, she would get up to check on him. She did not do this grudgingly, she did not behave this way because of duty, she did it because of love. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Realize this is the type of love we need to have for Christ. We will begin to hear what Christ is saying to us. It will affect our behaviour and keep us in the Holies of Holy within our spirit, in communion with Him  “praying without ceasing” (1 The. 5:17), and be made into “a pillar in the temple of My God, and [we] will not go out from it anymore” (Rev. 3:12).

The agape love Christ had for us is immeasurable. He was willing to give up his divinity, his everlasting life, to die for us. That is Christ’s love for us.

If we let Christ live out of us, that is the type of love we would have for each other. That is why Paul says, “So death works in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor. 4:19) in reference to his care for the church. That is how Christ is building His church.

That is what it means to be “transformed into the same image” of Christ.

 

 

 

What is “being transformed into the same image”?

In our Christian journey, after we have been saved, we have entered into the Holy Place in the temple of our bodies (1 Cor. 3:16), within our spirits. From here many Christians feel that since God has forgiven them, they have an obligation to God and need to be good and do works to be “in the image of God.” These works can be as personal as living a righteous life according to the law, with some even secluding themselves to focus on God, to external things as spreading the gospel as the great commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mat. 28:19-20) Although this is highly honorable and admirable in our natural being, we need to realize it is still in the flesh. Our being struggles with it and it is often hypocritical. A true change in our nature has to be done in Christ with the Spirit of reality doing the works through us. “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” (Gal. 2:16) This is the young man in Christ. “When you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished” (John 21:18) Realize to ‘gird yourself’ is to restrain ourselves, and to ‘walk wherever you wished’ is to do works without Christ. As a young Christian, we can do many things for God, but not in God.

How do we do things in God? To do things in God, in the temple of our bodies, we have to enter through the second curtain. We have to enter into the Holy of Holies within our spirit to be in the presence of God. Only in the Holy of Holies can we be “transformed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18) of God so Christ can live out of us, so “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Gal. 2:20) For Christ not to die needlessly, realize we need him. When we are there in his presence, he will transform us. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, [the] Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18) The term Paul uses in not “change,” like a change of heart, or a change of mind. A change is not enough because it is still flesh. We are given a new heart (Eze. 36:26), and are renewed in our minds (Rom. 12:2). Paul uses “transform” because it is a change in our very substance – it is a change in our nature. We are transformed from the flesh, which we were born with, to be like Christ, a new creation made of the flesh, but containing the divine life. That is why when we believed, we have eternal life (John 3:16). “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) Having eternal life is altogether not something we do, we are simply passive in the matter, as it is a free gift of the Spirit entering into us. Realize when we are “being transformed into the same image” today, it is also a free gift of God. It is not something we can do to change our nature from the flesh to the divine—to the Lord Spirit. That is why it says we are “being transformed”—it is a purely passive activity. It is the same as growing.

Being transformed is like growing. You cannot force it. It does not rely on our activity, except everyday you have to eat. That is why Jesus told us, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48) You have to eat Him daily to be transformed. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:56) When we eat of Him, we are abiding in his temple in the presence of Christ, intimately having fellowship with Him. In turn, Christ is abiding in our spirit, transforming us into his image. “As the Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” (John 6:57) The reason for Christ’s living on this earth was because of the Father who sent Him, so also will we. When we eat Christ, the reason for our living on this earth and into eternity will be because of Him. Eating Him is the source of our daily nutrient in our spiritual growth to be like Him. Internalize his words so they become spirit and life to us (John 6:63). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16) to “renew the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). When we do, our minds will be renewed and we will be transformed. “….We have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) That is why, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2) When we are transformed by Christ, then will the works that we do be in his image. It will be genuine, it will be real, it will be good and acceptable and perfect, it will be an expression of his power and glory. It will be the “prove [of] what the will of God is.” (Rom. 12:2). It will be the expression of Christ Himself through us. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Eze. 36:27)

For centuries in the Old Testament, many pious people tried, with their own strength to obey the Laws of God, but they failed. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.” (Mat. 23:25) Realize robbery and self-indulgence are both to feed the flesh. Jesus called them hypocrites because man can only clean on the outside; God cleans on the inside. God crucifies our flesh and places the divine element of the Spirit within us. For Christians today, who have entered the first curtain into the Holy Place, the flesh is still ever present with us. Our cups are not immediately cleaned. The second step of our salvation is to clean our cups. It is a gradual process that takes a life-time. We have to feed on the Lord as our daily bread. Realize as Christians, we still can become hypocrites. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.” (1 John 4:20) How can we love everyone?

To love everyone, realize we must express Christ. We have to express God Himself as God is love. He expresses an unconditional, self-sacrificial agape love for us. It is something we cannot do ourselves. (John 21:10-17) That is why Christ came.

…When we think of “being transformed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18), we think of how we as sinners were freed from our sins by Christ’s death on the cross so we could now be righteous and be able, at last, to follow at least most of his commandments. This is to gird ourselves and to work for God. This is learning principles of behaviour to deal with the flesh. It cleans the cup only from the outside. Realize this is at best only a partial image of who God is…

To be transformed into the same image of God means to be transformed into the image of Christ. In the beginning, God was alone, by Himself, as the Almighty. In time, God went through the process of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. He is no longer alone. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Gen. 2:18) Realize God was talking about Himself. He was making a helper suitable for Himself. That is why we collectively, in our transformed form becomes a suitable bride for Him. “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2) In Genesis, God was alone as the great “I am.” Through the process of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, he became the firstborn of all creation. In time, God is now in Christ. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Col. 1:15) “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” (Heb. 1:3) “Who, being the effulgence of His glory and the impress of His substance.” (Heb. 1:3 – Recovery Version) Realize we are being transformed not only to the image of God the Father, but we are being transformed into the image of God the Son. In fact, outside of time, God the Son is the image of the invisible God. We are being transformed to be just like God the Son, internally, as the children of God, we were “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13) – just like Jesus, the “firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). We have been made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4) – just as Jesus, born of God with his divine nature – so we could face all temptations and finally overcome sin, just as Jesus did. Realize we have been “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8 29) When we finally realize that it is Christ living in us, and we have been crucified with Him, we will do only the Father’s will. “…The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19) Whatever we do will be with the Father. “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Even at the imminent loss of his life, Christ wanted to do the Father’s will. That same attitude will be in us when we no longer live but let Christ live in us. The only way that will happen is if we remain within the temple, in the Spirit today and never go out again. By loving God to the utmost, we will remain in the temple. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mat. 5:48) We shall be “made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2)

As such, we are to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy inwardly. When the inward reality of Christ matures within our spirit, the outwardly expression in our works in dealing with the world will be like Christ. Like Christ, we will learn to forgive and disciple people to Himself. Christ’s love i(1 Cor. 13:4-7) is not a permissive love, it is to disciple us to bring us back to the Father by pouring Himself out to us. We will learn to express the same love that Christ has for us to our brothers and sisters. In fact, it is the Christ living out of us that will manifest his agape love. This is how we mature in Christ. “But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:18) These are the elders of “the church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2) who are the “pillar[s] in the temple of My God, and [they] will not go out from it anymore.” (Rev. 3:12) When we are praying without ceasing, staying in the Holy of Holies, feeding on Christ as our daily bread, dwelling inside our spirits to be one Spirit with Him, we will be transformed closer and closer to his image, “from glory to glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18) The “knowledge-surpassing love of Christ” (Eph. 3:19) will exude from our beings as Christ Himself. Christ, “Who, being the effulgence of His glory and the impress of his substance,” (Heb. 1:3) will express the inner substance of God, his unconditional self-sacrificial love, through us. That is why we are patient and kind, and able to bear all things, to believe all things, to hope all things, and to endure all things (1 Cor. 13:4-7). This is to grow into maturity in Christ. The impress of his substance is being expressed from us.

 

What is to be “transformed into the same image”?…We are being transformed into the image of Christ…holy and righteous on the inside…and loving and forgiving on the outside…

What is “to be filled up with all the fullness of God?”

In Eph. 3:19, Paul prayed that we “may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:19) What does this mean? What is the fullness of God that and how are we to be filled with it?

The fullness of God is everything that God is as the great “I am.” (Exo. 3:14) “[His] right hand is full of righteousness.” (Psa. 48:10) We are to “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.” (Psa. 96:9) Yet he shows us the “immeasurable riches of his grace…in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7) so we could know the “unfathomable riches of Christ.” (Eph. 3:8) The fullness of God is “Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col.2:2-3) “For in Him all the fullness of Diety dwells in bodily form.” (Col. 2:9) Christ is the fullness of Diety dwelling in bodily form. When we observe what Jesus did on this earth, in what he said, in his attitude towards the Father, in how he loved us, realize we are seeing “the fullness of Diety dwelling in bodily form.” His behaviour is God’s behavior. The way He lived out his life on this earth was an expression of who God is. The love that he has for us when he went willingly to the cross was an expression of the divine being’s love for us. That is why, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38) The way that Christ lived was the expression of God Himself. That is why “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Col. 1:15) That is why God is three…yet one. That is why, “for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” (Rom. 11:36)

Jesus, living as the Son of man, demonstrated the intense love that God had for us all. In dying for us on the cross, he followed the Father’s will to reconcile us to Himself so we could become one with Him. When we first believed, he gave us the eternal life so we would not perish (John 3:16). This was a great threshold which we have passed. We were born again of the Spirit. (John 3:6) However we are not perfected. We need to grow up to be full-grown in Christ. “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.” (Eph. 4:13) That is why there are two steps to our reconciliation to God. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:18-20) The first step occurred when “Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Cor. 5:18). We believed in God but are not fully reconciled to God. So Paul “implore[s us] on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). This second step is continuous. It will last us our whole lifetime. It is our realization of the fullness of the unfathomable riches of Christ that is already within us. It is the maturity of the divine life that we have been born with giving us the power to eat solid food as a mature man (Heb. 5:14), to fully express the Christ that is living within us (Phi. 1:21), to be one Spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). That is why Christ in resurrection demonstrated this two-step process to his disciples. When he first met them in the closed room, “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). Through this reception, the disciples were born again and had the Spirit, the divine life, dwelling within them. Yet they had no power, they were not filled with the Spirit. So they waited for the day of Pentecost when they “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon [them]” (Acts1:8). On that day, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). Being filled with the Holy Spirit gives us the power. That was what Paul prayed for in regards to the Christians in Ephesus, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man.” (Eph. 3:16) What Christ showed to his disciples externally when he first resurrected, is happening in us internally today through the two-step process of receiving the Spirit. The second step requires our feeding on Him as our daily bread.

Today to be fully reconciled to God, to “be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19), requires us to enter into the Holy of Holies. That is why the temple was constructed with two inner chambers, a Holy Place and the Holies of Holy. When we first believed, we have entered through the first curtain into the Holy Place in the temple of our bodies. We have been born of God and can even serve as his “priests” (1 Pet. 2:9) having been “given the message of reconciliation” (1 Cor. 5:18). We might have the eagerness to tell others about God and may do things we think are righteous and for God. However, many of us are still doing things in our flesh and not according to our spirit because we have not been transformed into his image. To be transformed into his image means we are changed in the inner man to the inner substance of who God is. We are changed when the Christ that lives in us, takes control of us, so our spirit and soul and body expresses him (Rom. 8:1-11; 2 Cor. 4:11). To do this, we must enter through the second curtain. We must come into his presence, within the Holies of Holy, for his glory to transform us into his image (2 Cor. 3:18). When we begin to pray unceasingly (1 The. 5:17), staying in the Holies of Holy within our spirits, in the temple of God within our bodies, we are transformed, day-by-day, into his image. “Our inner man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16) We are transformed so the inner substance of God, the reality of who he is, begins to be expressed out of us.

The inner substance of God is his agape love. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8,16) This is a self-sacrificial unconditional love that we can only express with the reality of Christ dwelling within our spirits, having transformed us so we are one Spirit with him. When we love God with the reality of Christ’s love for us, we are one with God. “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15) The love of Christ controls us, so that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him. We live “not in the flesh, but in the Spirit” (Rom. 8:9). “[We] no longer live, but Christ lives in [us]” (Gal. 2:20). That is why in this second step of our reconciliation, as we become more fully “reconciled to God…we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5 20-21). We not only live in this world righteously, but we become the very righteousness of God in Him because the love of Christ controls us.

The love of God qualifies us to shepherd the Lord’s flock. Realize we are all called to shepherd the Lord’s flock. God’s people were supposed to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exo. 19:6). We “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9). We are “all sons of God” (Gal. 3:26; John 1:12). That is why we are to shepherd the Lord’s flock. To “Shepherd My sheep” (John 21:15-17), the qualification is “Do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15). To tend to his lambs, make sure we first love him more than these. Then we won’t live or work according to ourselves. When we love Christ so intensely so he transforms us and lives out of us, whatever we think or say, however we behave, will be in all righteousness, while our attitude towards others will be in love, forbearance, and forgiveness. The Christ in us makes us holy as we forgive others for their sins. Realize “We have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) Let him live through you.

Although we may not have an agape love for God, and only have a philia love for Him, realize we are just young. The Lord asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15-17). As a young man who has just received the essential spirit (taken the first step), having just entered into the Holy Place, he could only reply with the philia love. So the third time, Christ asked with the philia love. “When you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go” ((John 21:18). Peter was young, and he had only entered into the Holy Place. He had not realized yet the power of the Spirit that was in him. To grow in Christ, we need to enter into the Holy of Holies to remain in his presence. As we grow in Christ, his love, an agape love, will flow from us. As we love one another we will put aside the things of the law that separate us. Our hearts will be enlarged so we would be kind and not jealous, not exonerate ourselves by bragging or being arrogant, not acting unbecomingly, not seeking our own things, not easily provoked, rejoicing is righteousness, forbearing all things, believing all things, having hope in all things, and enduring all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7). We will lay aside all our differences, when we finally realize Christ Himself and his one body. “Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange-I speak as to children-open wide to us also.” (2 Cor. 6:11-13) Realize the differences we have are because of the narrowness of our own affections. Our hearts need to be enlarged, opened wide, to encompass all God’s children. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). Realize this is what God has done for us in loving us. This is the expression of God Himself. We will finally be ”stand[ing] firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Phi. 1:27) We all need to let Christ live out of us. As we grow old, maturing in Christ, He will gird us and bring us where we do not wish to go. Realize to “be filled up to all the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 3:19) is passive, and not active. This is how we grow up into maturity in Christ.

The matured Christian is an elder in the body of Christ…someone matured in Christ. These servants of God will possess the 18 characteristics listed in 2 Cor. 6:4-10. Realize these characteristics are just Christ lived out of us. When “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:7). As we mature in Christ, realize we “are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor. 4:11) “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder in witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God, and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1Pet. 5:1-3) As we mature in Christ, we must become examples to the flock as Christ is lived out of us, just as we are “imitators of God, as dear children” (Eph. 5:1). His flock is his church today. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders, and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (1 Pet. 5:4-5) realizing “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal.2:20)

To “be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19), means we have died to ourselves, and now live out the Christ dwelling in us, so that in maturity, Christ can fully express Himself…the essence of who He is…as love and caring for his flock.

What is God? (Part 1 – His love)

(Please read this slowly.)

The question, “What is God?” is an unfathomable and mysterious question for humans to ask. But can we use the Bible, which is the word of God, to tease out the major characteristics of what his substance is. What is God composed of?

God is the sum total of all the positive things. The expressed nature of God consists of these positive things. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23) The fruit of the Spirit is the expressed nature of God, so his expressed nature comprises of all these positive things. “For you were formerly darkness, now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists of all goodness and righteousness and truth).” (Eph. 5:8-9) The fruit of the Light consists of all goodness and righteousness and truth (reality). The Father’s nature is in all goodness (Mat. 19:17); the Son’s way towards the Father and his living on this earth was in all righteousness (Rom. 5:17-19); and the Spirit imputes all the truth as the Spirit of reality (John 14:16-17) into us. This is the Triune God himself. The fruit of the Light is the expression of the Triune God himself. It is all goodness, all righteousness, and all truth. That is why “Christ is all, and in all.” (Col. 3:13) That is why God is the sum total of all positive things.

As children of Light, we are the expressed element of what God is. (Eph. 5:8 – Footnote 1 – Recovery Version) We “are Light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8) because we express his essence. As creatures on this earth, we were created to express the essence of who God is. That is why we were created in God’s image. As the Spirit of reality that we have all received (John 14:16-17; 1:16), we are to express the divine being, the essence of who God is himself. That is why, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” (John 1:4) When the divine life, as the Spirit of reality, comes into us, it not only shines to illuminate our inner darkness, but it shines out from us for all to see. That is why, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5). The world will not understand the children of Light, they may just appreciate the fruits produced by the Spirit in us. This is the Light shining is darkness.

Light is the expressed element of what God is, but what is the essence of who God is? The inner substance of God is love (Eph. 5:8 – Footnote 1 – Recovery Version). In the Old Testament, it says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps his covenant and his lovingkindness for a thousandth generation with those who love him and keep his commandments;” (Deu. 7:9) He has a steadfast love (Exo. 34:6; Num. 14:18; Lam. 3:22; Psa. 86:5,15; Joel 2:13) and an abounding love (Psa. 145:8). His love towards us was so intense that he gave his only begotten Son to us, so that we would not perish, but would live, saving us. (John 3:16) In the New Testament, it says, ”We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) God is composed of love. His inner parts are constituted with love. The fabric of his being is love. His inner substance is love. The love that he has for us is so intense, so thorough and complete, that he was willing to sacrifice his Son for us, to give up his own life to save us. He was willing to be led, as “a lamb to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7), to die on the cross for us – though he was the creator of this universe. This was the depth of his love for us. This is the inner substance of who God is.

This love is so absolute, so ultimate, so divine in nature. This love is incorruptible. It is not a natural love that we feel, it is the expression of God himself. When we love God, it is with this same self-sacrificial love of God living out of us. “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” (Eph. 6:24) The love we have for the Lord is with this same self-sacrificial incorruptible love. That is why Paul implores us, “by the mercies of God, to present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1). Our love for him will not be to preserve our natural life in the flesh, but to live the spiritual life that is wholly and absolutely separated to him. This is our “spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).

As we do this/as the Spirit expresses God’s incorruptible love through us, realize we have “become one Spirit with him” (1 Cor. 6:17). As the Spirit takes over our thoughts of what is right and wrong, we begin to only know love for the people of this world with God’s incorruptible love. “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16) – so we also love unconditionally with an incorruptible love that is of God. When we “know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ” (Eph. 3:19 – Recovery Version), we will know what it is to “be filled unto all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:19) When we abide in love, we abide in God. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) We are fully saturated and mingled in one Spirit with God himself who is the very substance of love. That is how love is perfected in us. “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17) As he is so also are we. Realize this, “as he is so also are we…in this world,” we are to treat our brothers, in fact, all the images of God, like Christ did, with the same self-sacrificial incorruptible love of God. That in why we are “one Spirit with him” (1 Cor. 6:17).

When we love God with his incorruptible love, becoming one Spirit with him, we will love our brothers. That is why, “If anyone says, ’I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) To love God means the inner substance of God, his incorruptible love, is shining forth from us. Who he is, emanates from us. The expressed element, his light, of the inner divine substance of God, his love, emanates from us. The light of his life shines forth from us as love in this world. That is how the church is built. That is how we “are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22) That is why Christ is “head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:22-23)

 

What is God?…God is love…and we are to be the expressed part of who he is…