The Meaning of Biblical Words and Deification
Commentary for February 1, 2004 — Newsletter and Article
This month you are receiving a sort of “double dose” of teaching. There is a large amount of material, available, much of it will be new to many of you. For others it will be a powerful review. “The February Newsletter” introduces the article by Dr. Ernest L. Martin “The Real Meaning of Biblical Words.”
In the Newsletter I remark that in the January 2004 article (“The History of the Revelation of the Mystery”) in footnote #4, there a booklet mentioned that Dr. Martin originally published in 1992. That article was titled “Salvation and the Biblical Doctrine of Deification.” This material is now available online. That significant doctrine of deification, which is the entire goal of salvation, both from God’s point of view and from a human point of view was, as Dr. Martin pointed out, a major doctrine of the early church fathers and the later Greek fathers of the church. They correctly understood the Scriptures regarding this most important subject.
In fact, in a book about Eastern Orthodoxy, The Complete Book of Orthodoxy: A comprehensive encyclopedia and glossary of orthodox terms, theology, history and facts from A to Z, compiled by George W. Grube (Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2001), the subject is defined:
“Deification — a doctrine of the Orthodox church based on Christ’s words found in St John 17:22–23 [verse cited] ... The true aim of Christian life is ”Deification,” or union with Almighty God by acquiring the Holy Spirit. Our call in living is not just to be ‘good,’ but to be perfect, to be ‘gods by grace.’ ... As St John Damascene writes, ‘Since the Creator bestowed on us His own image and Spirit, and we did not keep them secure, He Himself took a share of our poor and weak nature so that He might cleanse us, and make us incorruptible, while reinstating us as participants in His Divinity.’ St Maximos the Confessor says, ‘A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to the Deification of human nature is provided by the Incarnation of God, which makes man God, to the same degree as God Himself became man. For it is clear that He who became without sin will make human nature divine, and will raise it up for His own sake, and to the same degree as He lowered Himself for man’s sake.’”The Greek Orthodox church still adheres to this understanding in its older writings, if not in its modern doctrines. But what they believe is only important to the extent that they agree with the biblical revelation given by God. It is the same with you and me.
• Complete Book of Orthodoxy, pp. 102–103, underlining mine
Biblical Words and Deification
The real meaning and purpose of biblical words is to communicate this message of the deification of humankind to all people through the Living Word of God, Christ Jesus, and through the written Word of God, the Bible. In that sense this month’s article and the booklet go together.
Man becoming deified must be done God’s way, not man’s way. The idea of man becoming a god is not new. As related by Dr. Martin in a previous article, “The Secret of Ancient Religion Revealed – Part 1” and “The Secret of Ancient Religion Revealed – Part 2” most of the ancient gods of the pagans were in fact supposedly men who had been deified. Even men as late as Alexander the Great and those kings who followed him attempted to deify themselves in the minds of their subjects for the purpose of solidifying their power. The Roman emperors quickly did the same thing and as a result persecuted Christians for not recognizing that “fact.”
Of course, once Christianity became the majority religion within the Roman Empire the emperor could no longer be considered divine, but the stature of the emperor or king as appointed and receiving his authority from God remained.
This thinking devolved during the Middle Ages until the modern world through the so-called “divine right of kings.” Under this concept although kings were not divine, technically speaking, their right to rule came directly from God. While this was biblically true, people can just as properly choose not to have a king just as readily (and biblically) as they can choose to have a king (see Deuteronomy 17:14–15 and 1 Samuel chapter 8). That brings us to the present day where kings are fewer, but prophecy indicates they will be on the scene at the End of the Age.
Meanwhile, the deification of human beings has largely left Christian theology and now resides (perverted as in ancient times) in New Age thinking. The mantra “you are God” is a misidentification that all life comes from God. This thinking is not only wrong, it is idolatrous. True, the spirit in man, the spirit in the animals, the spirit in plants all comes from God, but it is part of His creation. It is not God and should not be worshipped. You are not God, or even a god. You are, at present, a little lower than the elohim (in the Hebrew, Psalm 8:4–5) or a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:6–7, angels are indeed elohim).
You will only become deified when God gives you that gift of His Holy Spirit and not before. And, you will not realize that deification until your resurrection. Dr. Martin explains that we will have a very fast learning curve to use properly the great powers of Elohim we will have at our disposal.
A proper understanding of deification can only come from God’s Word and that can come only from realizing why God put His words into a book in the first place. It was done so that many would have access to the words, as a witness to God’s provision to humankind, but only a few (like you), would realize what God was actually says to His children. Only a few at any period of history would learn the truth available to all.
How you use that knowledge, understanding and wisdom will determine the reward you receive in the resurrection. You accomplish that through how you treat people. God insists on righteousness in all your dealings. Righteousness does not mean perfection. It means doing what you know to be right.
Read and study all the contexts of John 13:34–35, 15:12, 17; Romans 8:13:8–13; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22–25; 1 John 3:11, 23, 4:7–16; 2 John 1:5–6. God’s love embraces you all. Be patient in whatever condition you find yourself.
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