WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM
Joining God’s divine family is inextricably linked to the New Testament concept of becoming like Jesus—becoming divine. The academic term describing this point of biblical theology is “theosis.” As one evangelical theologian laments:
The idea of divinization, of redeemed human nature somehow participating in the very life of God, is found to a surprising extent throughout Christian history, although it is practically unknown to the majority of Christians (and even many theologians) in the west.
The concept of “theosis” has strong biblical roots, and extends from the divine council worldview, specifically the aspect of the original Edenic goal of having humans join the divine family. In the beginning, God made humans to image him, to be like him, to dwell with him. He made us like his heavenly imagers and came to earth to unite his families, elevating humanity to share in divine life in a new world.
The message of “theosis” is that, in Christ, we are being transformed into his likeness—the perfect imager of God. The Spirit—who, as we saw earlier in our study, “is but isn’t” Jesus—conforms us to Jesus’ own image. Scripture is clear that immortality as a divinized human is the destiny of the believer, and that our present lives in Christ are a process of becoming what we are:
Those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29).
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory into glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (2 Cor 3:17–18).
We know that whenever he is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is (1 John 3:2).
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 because his divine power has bestowed on us all things that are necessary for life and godliness, through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence of character, 4 through which things he has bestowed on us his precious and very great promises, so that through these you may become sharers of the divine nature after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire (2 Pet 1:2–4).
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, made of earth; the second man is from heaven. 48 As the one who is made of earth, so also are those who are made of earth, and as the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the one who is made of earth, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 But I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood is not able to inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruptibility. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: we will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For it is necessary for this perishable body to put on incorruptibility, and this mortal body to put on immortality (1 Cor 15:44–54).
As so it is that when God’s original plan was ruined by rebellion, God did not destroy humanity but promised that, one day, a human being would reverse the fall. When he had to disinherit humanity at Babel, he did not abandon the human race. Instead, he was so “concerned with the descendants of Abraham” (Heb 2:16) that he became a man.
Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (First Edition). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 8:04 PM December 8, 2019.