SEEING THE UNSEEN ETERNAL THINGS

Had you ever thought about involving yourself with things eternal, rather than temporary things? Are there things eternal that we can use to build in our lives?

Another similar consideration: Since God in his great wisdom made this world, did he have temporal vanities in mind, or did he have an eternal purpose for man?

The Lord considered that and declared that the things our eye can see are temporary, while the things the eye cannot see are eternal. Does God involve himself in vanities, or is his work in man eternal?

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Our Initial Decision and Its Consequence

Romans 1:18-23—For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

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XI. THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF GOD FOR MAN

It had never entered the heart of man that he would be a partaker in God’s divine nature by having God’s Son run the race ahead of us (1 Cor. 2:9). Yet the Lord has given us the complete scriptures, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature… (2 Pet. 1:4). These promises are exceeding great and precious for the Lord uses them to give us his divine nature. He shows the same pathway, hope and purpose of God in other words:

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,      May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Eph. 3:14-21).

His plan is that we will be filled with all the fullness of God. This is no small purpose, hope or goal.  If we follow Christ as his disciple and become as he is, we would have all the fullness of God for Christ “…is the image of the invisible God…” (Col. 1:15). “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This is the divine nature—not human love, but the divine love. Jesus said “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).  The only way we can love one another as Jesus loves us is to grow to have his same love. This is the hope of glory. “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

This hope of glory is what we are getting right now if we are growing in him. If we have the heart of Satan, and inherit all things, what glory would that be? We could never be trusted no matter how much we have. If we have the heart of Christ and inherit nothing, we have the divine nature and the hope of real glory. No matter what we have or don’t have, we will always be faithful to our Father.  The divine nature, the divine love and the heart of Christ are all unseen and therefore eternal.  The heart, mind and soul are eternal and will be filled with the divine nature forever and ever.  What could be a greater purpose of our eternal Father than to give us his own divine nature!

The blessedness of God’s purpose is that we are not the ones who form this nature in ourselves.  We have our small part and must accomplish it before God will do His part. But we are assured that God “…is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).  We can surely think about and ask to be formed in the image of Christ with the divine nature.  He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think. Do we dare to ask?  The power is not in us.  The power is in God who is able to work in us.

JESUS RAN THE RACE BEFORE US

Jesus went “on unto perfection” (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 6:1).  We noted before that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2).  How did Jesus run the race? Many imagine that Jesus continued to be 100% God on earth and 100% man at the same time. Jesus was God when he was on earth in the sense that he created all things (Col. 1:15-18); however, God has all wisdom.  When Jesus was born in the form of man he did not have all wisdom. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Jesus could not have had all wisdom when he was born as a man because he grew in wisdom after he was born physically.

Second, when he came to earth he was no longer in the form of God.  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:5-7). Jesus was not 100% God in the sense that he took on the form of man and was no longer equal to God in form.

God cannot be tempted with evil, while Jesus was tempted in all points as we are. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13). “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus was not 100% God in that God cannot be tempted but Jesus was tempted in every way.

Jesus was made our high priest because he was able to become like his brethren in all things. “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).  Jesus was made like his brethren in ‘all things.’  He had to be tempted so that he could run the race ahead of us.  Like his brethren, Jesus “…learned obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).

Jesus ran the race ahead of us. He attained perfection in the same pathway God has set out for us.

First, Jesus fulfilled the Father’s purpose by going on unto perfection. The Father was the one who made Jesus perfect. “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).

Jesus was made perfect by suffering all of the temptations that we must also endure (Heb. 2:18). That was the same way that Jesus learned to obey. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). The trying of our faith is our pathway and Jesus “…was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus did not suffer for us so that we don’t have to suffer. On the contrary, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

Jesus suffered for us so we would know how to run. This is the very mind that with which we are directed to be armed. “For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1). We are to have a mind that is determined to suffer when it is necessary to obey God the way Christ obeyed Him.

Not just any kind of suffering produces spiritual growth. The Lord designated certain kinds of suffering that lead to the perfect man. “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?” (1 Pet. 2:20). We do suffer when we are disciplined for doing wrong, but that is not the kind of suffering that causes spiritual growth. “…but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (1 Pet. 2:20).

It is only the suffering of Christ that makes us grow, not the suffering of diseases, physical maladies and ailments, etc. Paul testified that his suffering was the suffering of Christ. “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (2 Cor. 1:5).

Jesus’ suffering was of a special kind. Peter describes the suffering that comes when one had a froward employer (1 Pet. 2:18-9).  Suffering patiently when we deserve it does not help us grow. It is when we do well, and patiently suffer for it, that we can grow. Jesus left us an example that we should follow in his steps. When did Jesus ever suffer for his faults? He never did anything wrong to be worthy to suffer. Thus, when Jesus suffered, he suffered for righteousness sake. This is the kind of suffering that the prophets endured.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matt. 5:10-12).

This is the point that Peter made immediately after he described how we are to walk in Jesus steps. “…Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). If he did not sin and never had guile in his mouth, when did he deserve to suffer? He suffered when he did not deserve it.

He knew the pathway and was not pleased that his disciples did not recognize it. “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).

The prophets of old “…inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:10-11).

Yes, Jesus was made perfect by the things which he suffered through running the same race that is set before each of us (Heb. 2:10, 12:2-3) and is thus set forth as our example to follow (1 Pet. 2:21).

Jesus ran the race ahead of us!  He won.  Will we?

The Pathway of Spiritual Growth

Purification through temptation is the pathway that leads to the finish line. We have already seen the scriptures that direct us to be perfect (complete in love) as the Father and Son and saw that this is the goal for which Paul was aiming (Phil. 2:12). James describes the same pathway in very clear terms. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). We note the succession of steps on the pathway.

Temptation (trying of our faith) => Patience => perfect/entire/lacking nothing

Paul gives the same process saying that he glories in tribulation. Why would anyone glory in tribulation? No doubt it was the same reason that James commands us to count it all joy when we fall into various temptations. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:3-5).

Tribulation => Patience => Experience

The word ‘experience’ is the same word used by James (the trying of your faith) and Peter (that the trying of your faith) referring to the process of purifying metal (1 Pet. 1:6-7). Let it be said at the outset, that not just any suffering will cause spiritual growth. There is a certain kind of suffering which god has ordained for our spiritual growth. This brings us to a very confused subject in Christianity.

One of the great attacks on Christianity is the question of the existence of evil. Men ask whether a righteous God could create such a thing as evil. They cannot fathom a righteous God allowing all of the pain, suffering and evil in the world. Our God has a grand purpose for both suffering and evil. Consider some of the principles of God and the possibility of these standards if there were no evil on earth.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same (Matt. 5:43-46)?

We can be children of our heavenly Father. Jesus gives the definition of spiritual children when he informed the Jews “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39). If we are God’s children, we will do the works of God. God returns good for evil. If there were no evil we could not be God’s children. If we return good to those who do good to us, we have no reward and are no different than the tax collectors. Returning good for good is a far lower standard than returning good for evil. Without evil in the world we cannot grow to be God’s children.