One of the most profound truths in the Bible is deification, namely that based on Christ’s redemption and through the process of God’s organic salvation—regeneration, sanctification, renewing, transformation, conformation, and glorification (1 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 6:22; 12:2; 8:29-30)—God’s children, the believers in Christ, are being made the same as God in life, nature, and expression but not in the Godhead (Rom. 8:10, 6, 11; 2 Pet. 1:4; 2 Cor. 5:21; 2 Cor. 3:18; Matt 5:48). This profound truth, deification, can be seen in many portions of the Holy Word, but both its reality and its effect on our daily living become clear when we consider the simple fact that the Father loves us as His genuine children. First John 3:1 says, ”Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and we are.”
Love expressed by one person for another can fall into several categories. This is highlighted in the Bible by the Lord’s discussion with Peter in John’s gospel. In the English rendering of John 21:15-17 a reader will understand that three times the Lord Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, and three times Peter responded by assuring the Lord that he loved Him. However, in the original Greek text, the Lord used the word αγαπαω for love the first two times He questioned Peter, to which Peter responded with a different word φιλεω, also translated love (vv. 15-16). The final time, the Lord used φιλεω as well (v. 17). This indicates that there can be varying levels of love from us toward God. However, when it comes to God the Father’s love for us, it goes beyond that of Creator and creature, Master and slave, or even mutual friends—God’s love for us is that of a genuine Father to His child (1 John 3:1). The implication of such love is that we are God’s genuine children, the same as He is in life and nature (John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:16). Thus, the truth of deification can be seen in the Father’s love toward us.
In addition, the fact that we are children of God implies that we can live as the Lord Jesus did (Heb 2:10-11; 1 John 2:29). While in our failure we may feel fallen or hopeless, we are in fact eternally children of God, having His very life and nature (John 10:28-29). We can live by the divine life and nature and we can express God (2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Cor. 14:25). We are not merely fallen human beings attempting to imitate a life lived by the Lord Jesus on the earth. We are in truth His many brothers, the many sons of God. By virtue of our divine birth, we are not only being deified in the abstract, but can spontaneously live out the life of the Lord Jesus simply by abiding in Him (1 John 2:28).
Witness Lee, The Practical Way to Live a Life According to the High Peak of the Divine Revelation in the Holy Scriptures, Ch. 5 (Print).
(Most references in the Further Reading can also be viewed on www.ministrybooks.org.)