Have you “seen” God? – John tells us twice in 1 John – “No one has seen God at any time.” (1:18; 4:12) This is not only because God is a spirit and therefore hidden from human eyes, but also because even the best among us could not survive the manifestation of His full glory. God told Moses “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Ex. 33:20). We cannot begin to imagine what it would (or will) be like to actually see God.
I. God in Christ: John 14:6-11 – 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Jesus appears surprised that Philip (and possibly the others) do not know or had not seen the Father. He knew they had never physically viewed the glory of God. His expectation was they had had seen the Father in Him. They had been with Him. Those who had been with Him were expected to see God, the Father. Why would Jesus make such a bold claim? How could they see God, the Father in Him?
- It is difficult for us to know for sure what Philip was asking for when he said, “show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us”. He may have been anticipating a theophany, or a visible manifestation of God’s celestial glory (similar to Moses’ request in Ex. 33. – Moses, as a person of pure heart desired to know God more completely.) Coffman says that Philip wanted Jesus to “pull aside the veil separating the seen from the unseen – to disclose a great Father-figure.” But such a theophany is quite unnecessary. Philip had seen Jesus. Jesus was (and is) the full revelation of the Father. No one had to ask to see the Father again. (“from now on you know…”)
A. Jesus was the physical representation of divinity. Paul makes this same claim in Colossians 1:15 – 15 He is the image of the invisible God…
1. The word for image here is eikon, from which we get the word, icon. It means a picture or statue that is an exact replica of the original. (Heb. 10:1).
2. By using the term eikœn, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is both the representation and manifestation of God. He is the full, final, and complete revelation of God. He is God in human flesh. That was His claim.
3. Man is also called the eikon of God in that he was created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27), but man is not a perfect image of God. Like God we have rational personality, intellect, emotion, and will, and we can think, feel, and choose. We humans are not, however, in God’s image morally, because He is holy, and we are sinful. Nor are we created in His image essentially. We do not possess omniscience, omnipotence, immutability, or omnipresence. We are human, not divine.
4. We can only see the Father fully in the person of Jesus. Heb 1:1-3 – God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person,
B. Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Jesus (John 14:10, 11). Twice in this passage Jesus makes this claim. There is a mutual indwelling between Jesus and the Father. What does this indicate?
a. Jesus isn’t seeking to mystify the disciples with inexplicable language. (He had already claimed this oneness in John 10:38) He is simply indicating that the Father and Son are intimately close – as close as possible.
- Matt 11:27 – All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
b. The oneness of the Father and Son can be viewed in practical manifestations. His words and His works. vs. 10-11 – …the words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
- Jameson’ commentary says…”Observe here how in the expression of this Mutual Inbeing of the Father and the Son, our Lord passes insensibly so to speak, from the words He spake to the works He did-as the Father’s words uttered by His mouth and the Father’s works done by, His hand. What claim to essential equality with the Father could surges this?
- John 12:49 – 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” This was evidence of the oneness between the Father and the Son that Jesus offers. The disciples did not know that Jesus was divine because he had a halo around His head, or His face was shining. They were expected to see the Father in Jesus through the words that He spoke and the obedience he exhibited.
II. God in Us: In a lesser way, people should be able to see God in us as well. When Jesus came to the earth, He came for two primary purposes.
- One was to die for our sins. The angel told Joseph, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for it is He that shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). He “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6).
- The other purpose was to show men what God is like and how God would act as a man-thus showing us a perfect, ideal man. This point we have emphasized numerous times John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men”. John 1:18 “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
A. Partaking of Divine Nature: 2 Peter 1:4 “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Peter describes this latter purpose as a partaking of divine nature. How does the Christian partake of God’s nature?
1. The partaking of the divine nature does not occur suddenly. It is something which has to be taught and learned:
- John 6:44-45 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”
In the process the mind is renewed day by day.
- Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. The old, erroneous principles by which our conscience guided us are rooted out. They are replaced by the characteristics of life we see in Christ. Our will is gradually reformed until it becomes identical with the Father’s will.
B. We must pattern ourselves after Jesus, the perfect image of God. As this change takes place, at first, in every situation, we ask ourselves, What would Christ do here? For this practice to succeed in helping us to partake of the divine nature, there are three things that are required.
- First, we must obtain a broad knowledge of what Jesus did under various circumstances.
- Second, we must be very honest with ourselves so that there will be no delay in doing what we know Jesus would do nor any attempt to rationalize a refusal to follow His example.
- Third, these reactions must become automatic so that there will be no decision to make when we confront the need to act.
C. Scriptures describe this partaking of divine nature as a mutual indwelling of God in us and us in God. The Bible clearly teaches that all three Persons of Deity indwell the child of God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9), the indwelling of God the Father (2 Cor. 6:16), and the indwelling of Christ (Eph. 3:17) all describe the same reality.
1. There are not three indwellings, but three Persons dwelling in the Christian through one Spirit. In fact in Romans 8:9-16 Paul identifies the Spirit of God as the “Spirit of Christ” (v. 9), the “Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead” (v. 11), and the “Spirit Himself” (v. 16).
2. Interestingly, some of the same passages that teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwell in the Christian also affirm that the Christian abides or dwells in Them. Carefully consider 1 John 4:12-16 and notice the mutual aspect of the abiding that is mentioned. In John 15:4-6 Jesus teaches that we are to abide in Him, as a branch is to abide in the vine, and that He will abide in us. Paul proclaims that those in whom the Spirit of God dwells are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, describing as well a mutual indwelling (Rom. 8:9).
1. When viewed together, the scriptures that speak about a mutual indwelling or abiding convey a common image. When one person lives in another it portrays a close, intimate relationship, where there is singleness of purpose and activity.
III. Every Man Perfect in Christ: This leads us to Paul’s statements in Colossians and Ephesians about the perfection of the Christian. Colossians 1:28 “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” This process of perfection is viewed in the book of Ephesians by Paul as the acquiring of spiritual blessings available through Christ. Paul catalogues these blessings in chapter 1 and says that these blessings are in order that we might be to the praise of God’s glory. Eph 1:4-7 “..that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
A. Eph. 3:14-21 – Paul then shows what depths we were rescued from at the time we received those blessings and how our present state is so different from the one we were in (chap. 2). Then he says: “God has a whole storeroom of spiritual treasures. Now go in and gather all you can carry.”
1. But too many Christians want no more than they can get by with. God wants us to have all His spiritual blessings. “For this cause I bow my knee unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen” ().
IV. The Garden of the Spirit: To close this lesson, let us consider the garden of the Spirit. Jesus said a branch that would not bear fruit would be taken away (John 15:2). Fruit bearing is essential to our continuing relationship with Christ. Anything you do because of God’s influence is fruit. Our obedience in anything related to our service to God is fruit.
A. The Bible speaks of the fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control (Gal. 5:22). How is this fruit produced? The Spirit produces it.
B. The Spirit is He who exerts the influence of God upon His creation and upon us. The word Spirit means “breath or wind.” When God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, He animated him and gave him life. (Gen. 2:7). When the wind blows upon the sail of a ship, it activates that ship and moves it along just as the Spirit “moved” holy men of old (2 Pet. 1:21).
1. All that Jesus has done for us would accomplish nothing if it were not made known unto us. The Spirit has made known the will of God, the revelation of God through inspired apostles and prophets (Eph. 3:3-5). That revelation is the gospel, God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16).
2. It is through the word that the Spirit exerts the influence of God upon us. When we receive the word the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11) falls upon our hearts. Our hearts are the seedbed. When the seed falls and takes root then our hearts become the garden of the Spirit and produce the fruit of the Spirit.
3. It is through this fruit that the world can see God in us because they can see a divine nature (love,joy ,peace, longuffering, etc) living in us. The light of God reflects off of us into a dark world.
Conclusion: Thus the knowledge of Christ, multitudes of good principles, healthy thoughts are planted in our minds. Our hearts are saturated with the good things of the word. What impulses will we have? Good impulses, good thoughts will rise up. We might awaken in the morning and feel an urge to pray. The Spirit did not miraculously act upon us to make us want to pray. But, in a way, it was the work of the Spirit because it is His revelation that has filled our minds with good things. It is only natural then that such a mind would want to pray. Or, the good impulse is to call a sick brother or sister or neighbor. Out of a heart conformed to the mind of Christ our good impulses come. Do not quench these things! As time and opportunity afford, do them. These good things that come from the heart filled with love and knowledge of God are the fruit of the Spirit.