Deification in God the Father’s Love for Us His Children

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).

Further Reading:

Witness Lee, Life-study of 1 John, Msgs. 25-26 (Nook, Kindle, iBooks, Print).

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.)

2 thoughts on “Deification in God the Father’s Love for Us His Children

  1. In 1643, the Westminster Confession of Faith was drawn up for the purpose of conveying specific doctrinal truths. Article 12 of the Reformed Confession mentions all those justified, enjoy the privileges of the children of God and have received the spirit of adoption. This Calvinistic view of adoption, as clearly defined here, pervades Christianity today. We do well to esteem the views passed down to us from our forefathers, but let us remember the foundational principle of sola scriptura. From this perspective, let us take a closer look at the Scriptures in hope of seeing a new vista of God’s Sonship in the holy word.
    Sonship, in the Bible, is prominently revealed as the issue of the eternal life of God. John’s gospel records, “as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His name, who were begotten…of God” (Jn. 1:12-13). In the church, our status goes beyond the relationship of a master and a slave or friendship, the connection is divine, God’s eternal life. Paul writes, “The Spirit Himself witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). Justification provides the objective “legal document” as proof, but there is still a subjective witness advocating our Sonship! How else could we dare proclaim our status as His many sons? Are we a senseless contradiction? No, the consciousness of God indwells all those who have received His eternal life (1 Pt. 2:19).
    Confessing this gospel of Sonship resounds most in a living that displays God’s eternal love. The virtues magnified in the believers have their beginning in the divine birth. Through the fellowship of the divine life and by the teaching of the anointing, we experience and enjoy these excellent virtues of Christ. Progression maintains its course by practicing righteousness habitually and spontaneously. From its beginning to its consummation, this process of deification is intimately conveyed through Sonship by the Father’s love. Eph. 1:4-5, “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love, predestinating us unto sonship…” The process is unto sonship, and its condition is in love.

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