CREATING THE IMAGE
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
God has determined to create His elect in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. This He shall do, thoroughly, perfectly. We have arrived at the point of the process of salvation at which the sinful nature in us is to be destroyed. As in all areas of the program of redemption, our faith, courage, and strict obedience are required if the work is to be accomplished.
CREATING THE IMAGE
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29)
I think it is quite difficult for most Christians to believe that the Lord actually would change us fully into the outer and image of Christ. This would be a stupendous undertaking indeed!
However, it is a good idea not to downplay the promises of the Scripture. We ought not to stagger in unbelief at anything the Bible states.
Is God able to bring forth sons in the image of the Firstborn? We know He can; and yet we tend to compromise in our mind.
Consider the blood atonement. Now there was an act of Divine majesty utterly beyond comprehension.
Who would have thought, from reading the fifty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah, that the God of Heaven would become flesh and permit Himself to be crucified to make an atonement for our sin? I’m sure the Jewish people would not have placed this interpretation on the famous chapter, and many Jews do not to the present hour.
Again, when the Lord Jesus promised He would send the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, who could have pictured in advance that which actually took place a short time later?
Enabling the visitors from various part of the Roman Empire to hear the Good News in their own languages was a reversal of the confusing of languages that occurred at the time of the building of the Tower of Babel.
The birth of the Christian Church in a fiery explosion of the Spirit of God was an awesome Divine intervention in the affairs of the world.
Now we come to the promise of changing us into the image of the Firstborn Son. The God of Calvary, and of the Pentecostal and subsequent outpourings, is able to do what He has promised.
Of course, as in the case of receiving the benefits of Calvary and of the Presence of the Holy Spirit, we have to exercise faith, courage, and strict obedience if we are be changed into the image of Christ.
Change into the image of Christ consists of a change in our outer image and also in our inner image, our character.
I have written previously concerning both of these changes, but let us consider them once again.
The change in our outer image is mentioned several places in the New Testament. The outer image of Christ can be found in the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, and also in the first chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The image of the Lord is colossal. On the highest throne of the universe sits a Man with nailprints in His hands and feet. He governs all things. To believe that we can be changed into such an image can strain our belief. But it is best to believe what the Bible states, and then, if we have overshot the mark, no harm has been done. We merely have believed God for more than He has promised.
I am sure He won’t mind. Why should He? We simply have believed what He has written and are overjoyed at the thought of being exactly like our Lord.
A relevant passage is as follows:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21)
Let’s think about the above verse. “By the power that enables him to bring everything under His control.” How much power does the Lord Jesus have? All power and authority in the heavens and upon the earth. He upholds the universe with the Word of His power.
The outer space that astronomers study is estimated at thirty billion light years across. Yet now we are told that our outer space is but a bubble on actual outer space, and that the universe continually is creating more universes.
If the Lord Jesus upholds all this with the Word of His power, and the Bible says He does, then I think it is safe to say He can do whatever it pleases Him to do.
The verse goes on to say, “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Now, you and I can’t even add eighteen inches to our height, as the Lord implied. But the Man who upholds the galaxies has promised that He will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like His glorious body.
“Lowly”! How lowly? How lowly is our present body! It is dust. Abraham referred to himself as “dust and ashes.” That’s about it.
We are in an animal body. What we are is intelligent dust.
Still, we must remember that our physical body is the temple of the Spirit of God.
“His glorious body.” How glorious?
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:26-28)
Is this glorious enough for you?
“Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
What do you think? Can He do it? Will He do it?
As for me, I choose to believe the Bible. The promises in the Bible are fantastic. So is God!
So, to whatever extent your faith, courage, and obedience will permit, God has predestined you to be conformed to the outer image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we come to the inner image.
There are six aspects involved in changing our inner image to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The removal of the sinful nature.
- The new birth.
- The transformation that occurs when we see His Glory.
- The addition to our new inner nature through eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
- The entering of the Holy Spirit into us.
- The entering of the Father and the Son into us.
- Living in the Life of God.
The removal of the sinful nature.
Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)
“Revealed in the last time”! “At the end of the age”!
It is my point of view that we have come to a significant move forward, an event of epochal significance. I am referring to the long-awaited removal of the sinful nature from those who are following Jesus.
Notice this Divine act in the following passage:
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41)
“At the end of the age.”
“Weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin.” It is the sinful nature of the Christians that causes sin in the Kingdom of God. The Lord told us that at the end of the age His messengers will weed out of His Kingdom the sinful nature of His people.
I believe the end of the age is here, and we must cooperate with the Spirit of God as God’s preachers urge us to confess our sins and turn away from them.
We never before thought we could get final victory over our sinful nature, but now we know we can. We know we can because the Bible says “everything that causes sin.”
We have possessed other promises of God by energetic faith. We have to do the same with the promise in Matthew.
The saints in the Church at Corinth revealed in their behavior the kinds of practices that must be removed from us if we are to receive a body like the body of the Lord Jesus:
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (II Corinthians 12:21)
- Outbursts of anger.
- Sexual sin.
The inner image of the Lord Jesus Christ contains no instance of these behaviors. In order for us to be changed into the inner image of Christ, every one of these sins must be removed from us.
Matthew tells us the removal will occur at the end of the age. After these sins are removed the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
The point is, the righteous will not shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father until these sinful behaviors have been removed from them. Nor will they be clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus.
If God were to clothe quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance disorder, impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in an all-powerful body like that of the Lord Jesus, you can imagine the chaos that would result.
Therefore, talk about an any-moment rapture is ill-advised indeed! The above description of the church at Corinth is only too true of the churches in America at this time.
First, the messengers of God must remove the sinful nature from the Christians.
Second, the Christians will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. They will shine like the sun because the sinful nature has been removed from them and they now have a character in the image of the Lord Jesus.
There are other sinful practices in addition to the ones we have listed, such as lying and stealing. However, we need to understand that our personality contains only a limited number of these bondages. One of Satan’s deceptions is to convince us that the sinful nature never can be destroyed; that we are bound with an infinite number of bondages.
This is not true. We have only so many sinful compulsions in us. When these are gone they are gone. If we then follow the Lord through the remaining parts of the program of change into His image, the acts of the sinful nature will not return.
There is total victory ahead for those who care enough to obey the Lord.
The new birth.
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:23)
We may not give enough thought to what is involved in the new birth.
The new birth has to do with the planting in us of Seed which is from God. The Seed from God is Divine. It contains in itself all that God is, just as the seed of any organism on earth contains in itself all that the organism is.
This is a great miracle, to say the least.
We need to understand that God is not saving our old personality. He has planted in us the Seed of a new personality. The Seed is supernatural. It has nothing to do with our former personality.
Just as the seed from an apple tree when planted in Tokyo does not produce Japanese apples, so it is true that the product of the Seed planted in us does not bring forth any part of our former personality. The Seed has come from God. It will bring forth only that which is present in the Father from whom it came.
Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:13)
When we speak of change into the inner image of Christ, the reader may despair. This is because you are thinking of changing your present personality into the image of Christ. This is not possible. All God asks you to do is to tend to the Seed that has been planted in you. The Seed will do the rest.
The Seed in us will not bring forth an imitation of Christ, it will bring forth the very Substance and Nature of Christ. During the process all of the old will pass away. In its place will come the image and Life of God Himself.
We are being made true brothers of Jesus Christ, not little imitations. We are His brothers because we have been born from the same Father.
The Lord Jesus Christ always will be our Lord. But we, His brothers, are destined to be just like Him outwardly and inwardly. Christ takes the greatest joy in the prospect that one day He will have brothers and friends who are exactly like Him and who can share His joy with Him.
The Divine Nature has been born in us. It is only because of the new Nature that we can come into Christ’s very image.
The transformation that occurs when we see His Glory.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
Paul spoke of our having God’s Glory in an earthen vessel so the excellency of the power would be of God and not of us.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (II Corinthians 4:6,7)
Then Paul proceeds to explain that because of this “all-surpassing” power that dwelled in his heart, the numerous pressures and afflictions that came upon him were not able to destroy him. In fact, when the pressures and afflictions came, the inner power of Christ raised him up.
The power within Paul that raised him up accomplished two purposes.
First, it brought the life of Jesus to those to whom Paul ministered.
Second, it created in Paul an eternal weight of glory. That weight of glory is the preparation God has made in us so we will be prepared to be clothed on with a body like that of the Lord.
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 5:5)
God has created us for the purpose of being clothed with a body from Heaven. The Holy Spirit we have now is a guarantee that we indeed will be clothed with a body from Heaven. We are not doomed to continue into the next age with our present physical limitations.
We don’t always think of it this way, but our body, both as we have it now and after it has been changed into Christ’s image, is the dwelling place of God and Christ. They stand to gain if we can manage to endure the program of change. They will have a glorious eternal dwelling place in our body, and we along with them.
Some wise person commented that to have a friend is to have one person in two bodies. In God’s plan there will be four persons in one body: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and us. All of us will be ruling the universe from our transformed body.
As each day we see the Glory of God working in us as He raises us up, something eternal is created in us. We are transformed internally. We are changed into the image of that which we are seeing.
We contribute to this process by keeping ourselves in the condition where we can gain the strength, wisdom, and willingness necessary if we are to be able to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He enables us to emerge victoriously from the fight of faith.
This is why we must pray every day, meditate in the Scriptures, engage in fellowship with like-minded saints, receive ministry, and minister with the gifts God gives us. We must count ourselves crucified with Christ, take up our personal cross, and follow Jesus every day. When we do this, the pressures and afflictions that come upon us result in our seeing the Glory of Christ as He raises us up. Thus we see His Personality more clearly each day and are transformed into that same image.
The addition to our new inner nature through eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53)
Eve was created from the substance of Adam. The Wife of the Lamb is created from the body and blood of the Lamb.
The Lamb must be united with someone of His Kind. He is the Son of God. She must be the offspring of God. He is the Son of Man. She must be the offspring of humans.
He is fully Divine and fully Human. She must be fully Divine and fully human if she is to be suitable as a wife, the Wife of the Lamb, the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
We always compromise the fullness of this vision because we do not want to be sacrilegious. Indeed, if God had not said we are to be the Wife of the Lamb and born of God, we would be sacrilegious in believing that we are to be changed into the express image of the Lord Jesus. But we are not sacrilegious when we lay hold on what God has stated in writing!
Through eating the very flesh of Christ and drinking the very blood of Christ we partake of Divinity. That is right—Divinity! We are being made partakers of the Divine Nature. Until we accept this truth in its fullness, we forever will be attempting to imitate the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing the creation of God. It is one Entity. The members of the Wife of the Lamb are one with each other and one in Christ in God in the same manner and to the same extent that God and Christ are One. This is what the Bible says; this is what the Bible means.
And why should we stumble over this? If God wants to make us part of Himself through the birth of our inner nature and the adoption of our outer form, what is wrong with that?
If Christ were to marry, to come into total union, with the descendants of Adam, it would be a case of God marrying animals. That is what we are—intelligent animals.
But when we feed continually on the body and blood of Christ we receive Divinity into ourselves.
Christ is the Word of God—the very Word of Almighty God—made flesh. This flesh and its accompanying blood is the Kingdom of God. This is why we must be born again to see and enter the Kingdom of God.
That which is born of water, of amniotic fluid, is flesh. It cannot enter the Kingdom.
That which is born of Spirit is Spirit. It is of the Kingdom of God, and sees as well as enters the Kingdom.
The sooner we accept the fact that when God says He is going to change us into the image of His Son, we are not to draw back in some kind of traditional “reverence” and say it can’t be. Why don’t we believe God and accept His welcome into His family?
It is His business whom He makes part of Himself, isn’t it?
The entering of the Holy Spirit into us.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16,17)
When Jesus was with the disciples, the Holy Spirit was living with them.
When Jesus poured out His Spirit on His disciples the Spirit was upon them and also came to dwell in them as the Spirit of Truth.
We Christians have the Spirit of God dwelling eternally within us. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
It is the Spirit of Truth dwelling in us that is greater than Antichrist and will overcome the lie that is named Antichrist.
If through this same Spirit we choose to put to death the acts of our sinful nature, the Spirit, the eternal Life of God, dwelling in us will increase. In the Day of Resurrection, when the Lord returns, this same Spirit will make alive our mortal body, filling and clothing it with eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.
However, if we as a Christian, having been forgiven our sins, having tasted of the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, continue to live in the sinful nature and do not, through the Spirit, put to death the works of our sinful nature, the Life of God will be withdrawn from us. Then, in the Day of Resurrection, we will reap only corruption. Our body will not be redeemed because our inner nature has not been redeemed.
There is great confusion today over the unscriptural, so-called “eternal security” doctrine, and much destructive teaching is presented to the believers. Be warned! The Bible means what it says! If we as a Christian do not put to death the deeds of our sinful nature we will reap corruption, not eternal life, in our inner nature and in our body.
Those who are teaching that once we accept Christ we cannot be destroyed by yielding to the sinful nature are leading their listeners to disaster!
The entering of the Father and the Son into us.
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:16-20)
We may not have thought of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as being unique Persons, but they are. They are one in Substance. But the Father is the Father, the Son is the Son, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit.
The Father is not the Lamb. The Holy Spirit was not crucified for us.
When John says the Father will love us, and Christ and the Father will come to us, he means in addition to the Holy Spirit who is preparing us for the coming of the Father and the Son.
When the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are dwelling in us we are filled with all the fullness of God.
Can you see the power of the Divine intervention that is working to bring us into the inner image of Christ?
Living in the Life of God.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
To be fully in the image of Christ, both outer and inner, we must live, move, and have our being as He does.
The Lord Jesus Christ lives, moves, and has His being in the Father. He does nothing of Himself. He does not speak of Himself. He is totally One with the Father.
This is why He can say in all truth: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
It is toward this merging of life that we are heading. When we have been created fully in the outer and inner image of Christ, we then will live, move, and have our being in and of Christ. Just as He lives by the Father, so we are to live by Christ. It is one Divine Entity, one Divine family.
This is the royal priesthood, the Kingdom of God that shall govern the creation of God, and all its inhabitants, for eternity.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
It is to this end that the foreknown elect have been predestined. It is that we might be fully in the outer image of Jesus Christ, and fully in the inner image of Jesus Christ.
But more than this, we must live by the life of Christ. It must become true, although it may be for a while yet, that the person who sees us sees Christ.
You know, the Lord Jesus does nothing except what He sees the Father do. I believe this was true when Christ created the heavens and the earth. I think even at that time Christ was doing nothing of Himself, but was responding to the Father.
This is how we are to live, although, as I stated, we may be a while attaining to this maturity which indeed is the stature of the fullness of Christ. But I believe we are to come to the place where we say nothing of ourselves and do nothing of ourselves. We watch the Lord Jesus carefully, and what we see Him do, that we do. This is how He always lives and this is how we are being trained to live.
Thus we give over our life so that we live for God and for others. We are a conduit, so to speak. We become channels for God’s love as it is directed toward others to whom God leads us. There absolutely is no greater joy than this.
We are not going to arrive at this sublime position overnight. But it is to this majesty that we have been called. We shall get there is we do not give up. All the power of God is available to bring us to the desired haven. Only our own unbelief and disobedience can prevent us from grasping all of that for which we have been grasped by the Lord Jesus.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
(“Creating the Image”, 3789-1)