People of The Living God

Psalms 150

 

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THE DIVINE FAMILY

Harry R. Miller

        The creation of the physical universe was no accident, and an unbiased study of the sciences proves that there are patterns and designs in all creation.  It naturally follows that where there is "design," there must also be intelligence, and where there is intelligence, there is being.  God is a being, not an essence, not an influence nor an indefinable force. 

        "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork" (Psm. 19:1).  Where there is "handiwork," there is also a craftsman, and what a Master of all craft the Creator has shown Himself to be.  One of the most thrilling studies of physical nature is that of design.  The arrangement of the minute crystals of the snowflake is an example of pattern and design, and is a most prodigal and lavish display of variety.  The beauty of outline is apparent to the human eye, but the microscope reveals a wealth of interior design of shadings and infinitesimal air tubes that appear as rods, dots and lines often arranged in a marvelously symmetrical manner and outlining geometrical forms.

        David said, "I meditate on all Thy works; I muse on the work of Thy hands" (Psm. 143:5).  In the study of any science, when we see the same pattern, the same governing laws and the same mysterious principles being carried out, the conviction is overwhelming that we have the same great Designer, the same Author; and we see the same hand, the same seal stamped upon all His works, and the same signature or autograph indelibly affixed to His product.  In the Scriptures, which are the work of His hands, we see His fingerprints, like the water-mark in the paper, so impressed upon and interwoven with it that no power on earth can blot it out.

        Law and order are the chief characteristics of all physical nature (man excepted).  The intricate details of the handiwork of the great Designer are as infinite as He; everything that His hands have touched shows PATTERN, and where there is design (pattern) there is also PURPOSE.  "The firmament SHEWETH His handiwork."  TO WHOM ?  and WHY ?

        The beings of heaven see Him (the Creator), and they know Him by His person, not by His creative abilities.  The enlightenment of man is the object of God's lessons contained in the firmament.  But what is the primary instruction that God is giving to the human race?

        "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow" (Matt. 6:28).  Here we have an object lesson from the plant kingdom: the leaves are arranged on the stems according to law, and this same law of arrangement classifies the nature and character of each species.  The design of the veins in the leaves of each kind of lily has its own pattern, or order; some are placed alternately, some oppositely, while others are arranged spirally.  But in each case all is in perfect order.  After a certain number of veins or leaves there will be a perfect repetition of the sequence: we here have order according to law. 

        However, the main teaching we derive from the lesson of the lilies is not just the fact that they are marked by infinite design, but that they were placed in the field for a PURPOSE: "THEY GROW."  Growth, development, is the prime object of creation.  In the first Psalm man is likened unto a tree.  In Matthew, chapter thirteen, a God-fearing man is likened unto "good seed."  Here, again, we see the Master teaching man that progress, growth, and development are the purposes of life.

        Jesus portrayed the world as a "field" and His Father as the "husbandman."  In the "field" the Father has planted "seed" which He expects to grow, mature and produce fruit: "The precious fruit of the earth" (James 5:7); and, again in Isaiah 4:2, "…the fruit of the earth shall be excellent."  In both of these Scriptures the symbol "fruit" refers to perfected mankind.  In these two verses of Holy Writ, we have a knowledge of what the Lord sought in the creation of this physical world.

        Philosophers of all ages have pondered the question concerning the ultimate end of human life: the why and the wherefore of our existence, here and now.  Only those who have faithfully sought the answer in the Holy Scriptures have arrived at a reasonable answer.  For those who have "ears to hear" the Lord has left indisputable evidence of HIS PLAN OF THE AGES.

        If we could roll back the misty eons of time, and look beyond the annals of the ages, we might enter into the council chambers of the Governor of the universe and see that He did have definite plans for His creation.  "Before the world began" is not a statement formed by human speculation, it is a divine utterance.

        In the "Good Book" God has recorded pertinent information for all who will lend an ear to hear His words. 'Way back there, through vast spaces of hoary time in the court of heaven, the express will and desire of the Father was made known. God had an object in view, and He formulated a plan for the achievement of that object; this He made known to those who had the pleasure of His presence. That object is "eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2).

        "Eternal life" then, is THE promise of the Father, and it is for the production of this particular quality of being that God designed the world.  The astounding thing about this characteristic is that it is attributed only to the Most High God.  Divinity, or the "divine nature," is characterized by perfection, incorruption and immortality.

        Think of it!  God wishes to share the glory of His own nature!  This is the greatest proof of the moral nature of the Most High.  Were He merely an all-knowing, all-powerful Sovereign, He would never wish to share His own nature.  "Like as a Father" our God deals with His children.  How unlike earthly tyrants is He.  At no time has He been a taskmaster to humanity; neither has He cared to rule over cringing slaves.  He could at any time strike men's hearts with awesome fear.  All He need do is pull back the curtain of heaven and reveal His throne, and the whole human race would wail and fall before His feet.

        A Sovereign who seeks to share, not only the bounties of His estate, but the glory of His divine nature, is a most glorious moral being – such is our God.

        The desire of our heavenly Father is that He might have a FAMILY.  He seeks children like unto Himself.  The attribute of love in the nature of God, causes Him to seek companionship, for love is fraternal, and requires that those loved be sharers and partakers of the abundant resources of the Great Lover.  Pure love is completely unselfish; it also is a "drive" that has rest only in imparting benefits to the object of its affections.  "God so loved that He GAVE"; the love of God is benevolent.  His disposition is to share, give and impart to those who will receive His affections.

        A tyrant craves no companionship, but his inner drives require that he have others over whom he may tower and dominate.  His joy is sadistic, and he relishes the suffering of those whom he despises.  Such a character hates his fellow creatures, yet he can't get along without them.  The character of a miser is quite different from that of a tyrant: the miser can get along without his fellow man; as a matter of fact, he prefers to be separated from all others.  Both of these beggarly states are extreme opposites to that of the Creator.  He has unlimited resources, but unlike the miser He does not care to hoard them; rather, He anxiously seeks others to whom He may impart the wealth which is in His keeping.  He, unlike the tyrant, is not dependent upon others, yet, again unlike the tyrant, He seeks companions with whom He may fellowship and share the bounty of His possessions and the beauty of His person.

        Let this major premise be firmly established in the mind of every professing Christian: The object of all of earth's activities is the creation of a DIVINE FAMILY.  With this premise in view we are better able to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit, and thus assist the angels of the Lord in accomplishing the will of the Father.

        From the Scriptures we can get somewhat of an idea concerning the size of the "family" that God intends to have: "I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands" (Rev. 7:9).  The Creator works upon such a lavish scale that poor mortal minds become staggered with incomprehensibility.  Abraham, who is called "the father of the faithful," was told that his "seed" should be in number as the stars of heaven and as the sands of the sea; this staggers the imagination of finite man.  Little wonder that "no man could number" this "family."

        But let us go back again into that misty period of eternity of which it is written: "In the beginning God."  How big, or rather how small, was the "family" at that time?  In regard to this question, Jesus said to the unbelieving churchmen, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58).  The Savior's beginning was not in Bethlehem as many have believed, for as He said: "I came down from heaven" (John 6:38).  Later He told the faithful, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" (John 16:28).

        As far as the Scriptural records are concerned, the Father and His Son had no beginning, they always were:  "In the beginning WAS the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3).

        It may astonish some folks to learn that Jesus Christ "is the beginning," and the creator of the divine family: "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible… all things were created by Him and for Him… and by Him all things consist…For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell" (Col. 1:15-19).

        God, the Father, is the Designer, the architect.  His Son is His engineer who carries out the divine plan and will: "God, who created all things BY Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:9).  "God…Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son…by whom also He made the worlds" (Heb. 1:1,2).

        We have now traced the family of God back to its beginning:  The Father and His Son.  For man to attempt to accurately describe the person of God the Father would be the height of presumption.  "God is not a man," so we are at a loss when we contemplate Him relatively.  The only likeness we know is that of His "image", Jesus Christ His Son, for of Him it is said, He was "The express image" of the heavenly Father.  He was God's pattern.  It was planned that the divine family should be formed, molded, shaped and made like the Son; "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26).

        There are a few schools of philosophy which claim that God is an indefinable substance that finds expression in humanity. In other words, He comes to consciousness in man  This is certainly a very stupid deduction.  Just as the afternoon sun casts a shadow on the far side of a building, and that shadow is a replica of the outer contours of the building, so is man a shadow of the Infinite.  Even the physical body is but a shadow of the "heavenly body"; it is a likeness only in a limited way, NOT AN EXACT COPY.

        The "image" that each son of God shall bear is not a physical representation of Jesus Christ, but will be a moral replica.  "He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" (Eph. 1:4).  Holiness and love are qualities of moral character.  It is these attributes that the Lord is creating in the divine nobility.

        "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48)  Here we have a sacred COMMAND, an ORDER from the lips of the Son of God for Christian believers to attain PERFECTION.  The context plainly shows that He intends that this state of perfection be reached in THIS LIFE.  It is not only possible that we now acquire this holy attribute – but we are under OBLIGATION to apply ourselves to the work of attaining it: "Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example (of the faithless Israelites) of unbelief" (Heb. 4:11).

        An examination of the mechanics for the creation of the divine nature is most profitable:  God is the supreme artificer of divinity; He is "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2).  It is "He that began a good work within you" (Phil. 1:6), and it is He also that "will perfect it" (R.V. Phil.1:6).  "We are His workmanship" (Eph. 2:10).  He is the Master Leader who is "bringing many sons unto glory" (Heb. 2:10), and it will be He that shall "Present you faultless before the Presence of His glory" (Jude 24).  Let us not conclude from these Scriptures that the Lord molds the lives of men irrespective of their wills.  God is not working with inanimate nature that would flex like putty in His strong hands.  Many times the will of man stands in stubborn rebellion against the sweet influence of its Creator, and the Lord never violates the creature's will.  This law of free moral agency makes possible the creation of moral worth.

        This creative work of the Lord is only done with the full cooperation of the creature.  He forces no man's will, but limits the extent of His work to the desire of the individual.  Moral character, like love, cannot be created by force.  The Lord often brings about certain circumstances that are favorable to the development of saintly worth.  The forces of heaven leave no stone unturned in their search for ways and means to invite, entice and persuade man to will to do the will of God.  The love and mercy of the Father are certainly manifest by His infinite patience in continually pleading with man to fully surrender his stubborn, perverted will to the will of Him who offers life everlasting.

        The patience of God is never exhausted.  This is evidenced by the fact that "many are called, but few are chosen."  Heaven knows that the "many" who travel the "broad way" will never accept the chastening of the Lord, yet God calls to all of them.  When the secrets of the hearts of all men are revealed in the day of judgment, then the infinite mercy and patience of the Lord will be universally known.  He has said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man," but let us not conclude that He ceases to strive because He has grown weary with His fruitless efforts.  As long as there is a ray of hope, a possibility of turning man, the Spirit of the Lord will work; however, when man determinedly shuts the door against the Spirit of God, then He ceases to strive with him.  In this life the Lord will not violate the privacy of the human will.

        The Creator is a free moral being and is master of His own will; he made man in the same image: free and master of his own will.  Indisputable evidence of the power and person of God can overwhelm the will of any man, but this will not CONVERT His soul.  On mount Sinai God revealed Himself, and every stubborn rebel in the camp suddenly learned the "fear of the Lord.'  However, since their souls were not converted by hearing and seeing, they soon forgot God and again turned to their rebellious ways.  Unbelieving Thomas said he would believe in the resurrection of Christ when he saw Him and touched the nail prints in His hands; Jesus told him, "Blessed is he that hath not seen, and yet believed."

        "The law of the Lord" is the instrument which God has chosen to "convert the soul."  It is the will of God that His Word express His law – these three are one: His will, His Word, His law.  It is impossible to separate the will of the Lord from His law, for all of His laws are the expression of His will; this is why the law is "holy, and just, and good" (Rom. 7:12).

        In the estimation of the rebels of our day, nothing has fallen so low and in such ill repute as the law of the Lord.  Instead of it being "holy, just and good," it is labeled a "curse" and "bondage," and if a person practices obedience to God's law he is considered "fallen from grace."  Such is the doctrine of the antinomians (anti- means against; "Nomos" is Greek for law).  This generation has fathered a host of law haters, and all who hate God's law actually HATE HIM.

        Jesus Christ is the personification of THE WILL OF GOD.  He was so subject to the Father that He is called the WORD.  Let us put it in these words: Jesus Christ is the WALKING COMMANDMENT OF THE FATHER.  Again we put it this way: God's commandments were embodied in human flesh and they walked among men.  "Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4) was incorporated in Jesus Christ.  Only by complete obedience to Him shall men live: "EVERY WORD."

        It is past time that all members of professing Christendom be made to realize that if they are to make heaven their home they must obey the commandments of Jesus.  These commands of our Lord were specifically designed to cure the warped nature of man.  Obedience to the words of Jesus brings about conditions that remold character: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these (His Word) ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4).  Christians become partakers of the divine nature by means of the Word working within them.  "PRECIOUS PROMISES" are not all glamourous and exciting gifts of the Spirit.  Take for example the baptism of Christ with "…the Holy Ghost AND FIRE" (Luke 3:16).  Multitudes of holiness people have neglected to consider the FIRE of the Spirit baptism.

        Consider this "precious promise" of God: "I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me" (Ezek. 20:38).  Surely every saint should rejoice in the knowledge that God has promised to clean out the evil from among His people: "When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of BURNING" (Isa. 4:4).  The object of the GIFT and "precious promise" of FIRE is to burn out the dross: "I will make a man more precious than fine gold" (Isa. 13:12).  And "He is like a refiner's fire…and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold" (Mal. 3:2,3).

        Only a person of faith can appreciate the fiery work of the Holy Spirit which burns the dross from his life: "The trial of your FAITH, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire" (I Pet. 1:7).  James puts it this way, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (testings); Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:2,3).  "Patience" is one of the fruits of the Spirit; it is a quality of character of great moral worth.  Men of the world little appreciate the true values of life; so many human beings are overcome with the mad craving to acquire THINGS, or earthly acclaim or even fame.  But all of these things are so temporal, so fleeting, that in relation to things eternal they can be classed with dreams, fantasies, illusions and imaginations.  That which is real and eternal is that which we can carry with us across the line into eternity.

        The acts of love and obedience to God are not without great reward; however, the greatest treasure that man can acquire in this life is that which is created in his own soul by the Holy Spirit.

        The apostle to the Gentiles expressed it this way: "That I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended" (Phil. 3:12).  This man's mad rush down the road to destruction had been stopped by the intervention of heaven: he was apprehended.  He recognized that this divine favor was for a reason far greater than the saving of a soul from death.  Heaven had designs for this man's life; here in the bosom of a fanatic was great potential – if directed properly and encouraged in the right direction. 

        "I press toward the mark for the PRIZE of the high calling" (verse 14).  A goal has been set before every man that is called to the Christian profession.  This converted Jew, from the city of Tarsus, was not resting upon a doctrine of "eternal security" from hell's fire, he was "reaching forth" and was "pressing toward" the prize.  And listen to these words: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after" (verse 12).

        The apostle knew that the sole object of God's work among men in this world was that they might be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29).  He also said that we "…beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory" ( II Cor. 3:18). 

        The work of divine creation has been going on for many centuries, and the end is now near at hand.  "The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it" (James 5:7).  Even the elements and other animated parts of creation are concerned with the events of this latter day; "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together…waiting for the adoption" (Rom. 8:22,23).

        The most glorious event of "the last days" will be "the manifestation of the sons of God."  Every entity in the universe will be astonished at the unveiling of the finished product: THE FAMILY OF GOD.

        The impact of Jesus Christ's testimony upon the human race was limited, in that He was but one individual.  Though He spoke as no other man, yet His testimony carried but the force of one.  But Christ in the FAMILY will shake heaven and earth.  This time His testimony will be collective and it will carry tremendous power.

        This divine company of the Father's children will not be mere "followers" of Jesus, identified only by His name, but they will possess His heavenly nature and manifest His character.  It might be well to clarify this point regarding the glorious state of redeemed men:  No man will ever be equal with God the Father or the Son in their infinity; God's powers are without measure or limitation.  No matter how glorious man becomes, he will still be limited; he is a creature of creation, not a creator.

        The divine "family" made manifest will be the triumph of the ages.  Nothing in the history of time is worthy to compare with the glorious manifestation of the virtues of the Body of Christ as they will be made known to the eyes of the whole world: "And in that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely" (Isa. 4:2).

        Let no man get the idea that God is about to glorify all professing Christendom; such an idea can easily be disproved by these few words: "A CONSUMPTION is determined upon the whole earth" (Isa. 28:22);  "The inhabitants of the earth are burned, and FEW MEN LEFT" (Isa. 24:6). 

        The human race is about to be decimated.  The greater part of mankind is going to be destroyed.  These are irrefutable and unchangeable statements of prophecy.  God has spoken and no man can change the order of the day.  However, each man has the privilege of determining his own part in this program.  If we neglect the salvation offered to us we become as wood, hay and stubble, and we will surely burn.  On the other hand, if we set our affections on things above, take up our daily cross and follow the leading of the Spirit of Christ, we will be among that small number known as the "REMNANT."

        No powers of "fate" determine our status before God.  We are not victims of circumstances over which we have no control.  God has vested in each individual the power to choose whom he will serve.  God has so arranged things that men of high estate or those of low estate have equal opportunities of obtaining the glory.  God is no respecter of persons, and in the day of judgment, His justice and mercy will be vindicated in the eyes of all His creatures.

        No man can justly claim inability to do the will of God: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"(Phil. 4:13).  The strength of Christ is available to all who care to have it used in their behalf.  The believer is under obligation to be an overcomer; he is to put forth effort.  God supplies the means to him who wills to overcome.

        Each and every member of the divine FAMILY will be among that number because he has personally wanted to be there.  He will be a saint because he has applied himself to all of the demands of the law relative to sainthood.  A musician studies all of the rules of his profession, and then applies himself to perfecting his art; so also is it with the CHRISTIAN CALLING.  Saintliness is the highest of arts; it is the ultimate in human accomplishment, and let no man think he will "win Christ" by being slack and indifferent to the demands of this sacred profession.  It is an honor to be called of God to prepare for the "Family," so let every man put forth a supreme effort to make his calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10).