5. Be Just Like Your Father
A believer who is mature, according to the New Testament, is one out of whose belly flow rivers of living water, he is one who contains all the fullness of God, a mature believer is one who defeats the accuser of the brethren and casts him down out of the heavens. One who is mature walks just as Jesus walked, conformed to the measure of the stature of all the fullness of Christ.
5. Be Just Like Your Father
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3
When Jesus said, You must be born again, He used the Greek word gennao, which means "conception" rather than the English word "born." In a sense, our experience as Christians is that of the development of the child in the womb of the mother. We look forward to being "born" into the full light of day.
The apostle John speaks of this difference between the conception and the birthing. Right now we are conceived of God. However, what we really are has not yet appeared. When a child is in the womb, you know only that the child will be like its mother and father. However, only when the child comes out of the womb is it revealed who the child really is.
In the same way we are children of God. We are in the process of development inside the womb. God uses this picture throughout the New Covenant. In Galatians 4, Paul talks about our mother.
For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the free woman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar - for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jesusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children - but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all . . . Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
The natural child, the natural Jew trying to relate to God by the Old Covenant, that corresponds to the physical city of Jerusalem, are children of bondage. They are represented by Hagar and Ishmael. Ishmael represents the natural Jews in today's world, trying to seize their carnal definition of the inheritance by violence.
But we who are born of God are the children of promise, the children of faith. Our mother is the Jerusalem that is above, not the Jerusalem on this earth. The Jerusalem on this earth is a city of bondage. We are the children of the Jerusalem which is above, the heavenly woman.
With that in mind, lets go to Revelation 12. This is one of the most important chapters in the New Testament. Yet because it is understood in wrongful ways, it has not enjoyed its place of importance in the thinking of Christianity.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth… And she brought forth a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Revelation 12:1-5
In the history of Christianity, most Bible teachers say that this woman is either Israel or Mary. Jesus is the child and the woman is either Mary or Israel. However, this is a heavenly woman. We just read Paul's testimony concerning these two women, and we read elsewhere that this New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God is the bride of Jesus Christ, the church.
Israel, according to Paul, was an earthly woman, a woman of bondage who pertains to the earth. Mary, in her earthly role as the mother of Jesus, was a part of that earthly woman. Later, Mary herself became a part of the heavenly woman.
This woman in Revelation 12 is a heavenly woman. There is only one heavenly woman in the Bible and that is the Jerusalem which is from above, the church of Jesus Christ, who is our mother.
In Revelation 12:5 we find the Greek word tikto that corresponds to the English word "born." Tikto refers to the child coming out of the womb into the full light of day. She bore, she brought forth, she tikto-ed, a male child. This child is to rule all nations with a rod of iron and is caught up to God and to His throne.
Most of Christianity wants to limit this verse to Jesus only. But we know that Jesus lives in us, His life is in us. Christ is our life; we have no other life.
He who overcomes (he is talking to Christians) and keeps My works until the end, to him will I give power over the nations… He shall rule them with a rod of iron. . . Revelation 2:26 - This is the overcoming Christian.
So yes, this is speaking of Jesus, and it is speaking of Christ in us. Everything Jesus is He shares fully with us because He is our life, we have no other life. And we need not think that Jesus shares Himself with us only after returning in some outward way. No, His full return is when we come forth in the full light of day.
This is speaking of him who overcomes.
To him (the Christian believer) who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21
We know that the woman in Revelation 12 is not Israel because Israel was an earthly woman in bondage, nor was it Mary because Mary was part of Israel. Since the woman of Revelation 12 is a heavenly woman, we know that there is only one heavenly woman that is of God and that is the church, the bride of Christ.
Therefore we are talking about a child that right now is being carried in the womb of the church. And this child, as we read in Revelation 2 and 3, shares in the throne of Jesus and His authority over the nations.
Right now we are children of God. The seed that conceived us the second time came from God. God is our Father.
God gives us this picture of the conception and of the birthing. We have been conceived; we have not yet been birthed. We have not come out of the womb. We are in the process of development.
We understand that the seed of the father contains all the genes of the father and the seed of the mother contains all the genes of the mother. As they combine, they form a new life, putting emphasis on certain genes of each. Each child is different. Each child, though they have the same mother and father, is surprisingly different from its siblings born of the same genes. And yet, they are also very similar because they share the same parents. Each child draws on the genetic traits of its parents. The genes of both parents are in each child.
In the same way, the seed that birthed us the second time contains the genes of the Father, the genes of God. So we see ourselves in this way. We are in a dark place; we are in a place of development. John said that we do not see what we shall be. We are not birthed yet into the full light of day.
Then he says that those who have this hope in them purify themselves just as He is pure. The time of His appearing is right now upon us. We are children of God. We have the right to become children of God. We have the right to be fully developed as sons in the womb of the church, and we have the right to come forth in the full light of day as sons in the triumph of Jesus Christ inside of us.
But right now we are in the place of development. It is critical for us to understand the nature and reality of our development in the womb of the church.
Paul says that we are being transformed into the image of Christ by the renewing of our minds. This is a development in this in-between place. As believers, walking through our life in this world, the birthing is the goal. We set our focus and press toward the goal of the believer, that birthing into the full light of day as a son of God, just like Jesus. We don't really know what we shall be, we don't see it clearly, but we know that we shall be just like Him. God determined we would be like Him from the very beginning.
We understand these two words, gennao and tikto, conceived and birthed; we are in between these two words, in between the gennao when we were born again, and the tikto when we stand in the full light of day, revealed to all creation as those who are just like Jesus, conformed to the image of His Son. In between these two words stands most of the New Testament.
This is how we must view the New Testament. Most of the New Testament regards our development between the conception and the birthing. It speaks to our development as a child in the womb of the church.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles… till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11
God gives us here the measurement by which we are measured. Everyone of us is measured by the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, not measured by any other standard. The stature of the fullness of Christ. Just like Jesus.
That we should no longer be children . . . but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ. Eph. 4:14
This is speaking of our present place in the womb of the church. We are growing up in all things into Him, being conformed to His image.
From whom the whole body joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.Ephesians 4:16
This is a corporate growth, the body of Christ. We develop in the same way that the development of a child takes place in the womb. Week by week, step by step, the child is fully formed until it comes out into the world to be seen by all as the son of the father and the son of the mother.
We are going through a similar process, developing step by step, not just as individuals, but as members of the body of Christ. Both/and. This process describes each of us individually as well as all of us as a body of believers as we build one another up in love.
We are being transformed from glory to glory as we keep our eyes on the measurement, the goal, the stature of all the fullness of Christ.
The Spirit of God uses many illustrations and metaphors in the Bible to teach us we are being made like Christ. All of these illustrations ought to be taught to the church of Jesus Christ over and over. We need to understand! This process we are going through right now is so important to God that He has given us innumerable ways to describe it.
Later in this volume, I will look at the role of the body. Paul describes the role of our physical, mortal bodies that is critical and central to this process. But right now, I want to look at the "just as" verses. There are quite a number, over a dozen "just as" verses.
Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.Matthew 5:48
This is the first of the "just as" verses. This word in the Greek translated "just as" has a specific meaning. It means "just exactly as." It means what it says.Just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Through my years as a Christian, I have heard plenty of argument as to why this verse does not mean what it says. However, God does not give us His words in the New Covenant to debate, to analyze, to rationalize, or to define one way or the other. He gives us His words in the New Testament only to believe them, that they might find a lodging place inside our faith, so that the Word God speaks can bring forth the life that is in it inside of us.
It is not my place to fit this verse into acceptable doctrine. It is my place only to believe it. If I cannot believe what God says, then God did not speak it to me. The only thing we can say, when God speaks a word like this, is to say with Mary, I am Your servant, let it be to me according to Your Word.
The word comes out of the very bosom of God into our spirits that we might receive it by faith, that the power and the life inside that word would work in our lives and bring forth the life that is in it. Our part is to believe. The power and responsibility of fulfilment is inside the word. The word itself has plenty of power inside it to fulfil itself in our lives. What we do is believe.
When God brings forth the desire of His heart, He looks at the end. Then with His eyes fixed on that finished product, He calls it into existence. He calls those things that be not as though they are, with the final reality ever in mind.
John says we will be just like Jesus; the goal is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. God sees me standing before Him, conformed to the image of His Son. That is who I am. Then God speaks that word into time and into the earth. The question is, will I believe what He says? Will the Word that God speaks find its resting place inside of faith inside of me?
When God says You shall be perfect - whatever it means, it means Jesus AND my being conformed to His image. The very Word is Christ Himself.
Without faith, we cannot please God. Faith is not performance. We will never see the fulfilment of what Jesus says by gritting our teeth and doing it. There is a process by which we will see the fulfilment of the Word God speaks.
The first step is to hear and to believe. The next step is in Romans 10.
What does it say? "The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved - (you will be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Every time we see the word "saved," we see it pointing directly to the fulfilment of God's purpose in our lives.) For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
As Jesus spoke in the parable of the sower, the birds come and snatch the word away so that those who receive it don't even know what it means. With those who define this word "to salvation" as meaning "go to heaven when you die," Satan snatches the word God speaks out of their earth and they do not bring forth its fruit. The teaching that salvation means "going to" heaven, removes the word God speaks more effectively than any other device.
We believe in our hearts what God says, and then we speak with our mouths. By speaking that word we are saved, we are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. God spoke it; I believe it. I then speak what God says. We are transformed by the renewing of our mind, by changing the way we think. And we change the way we think by the words of our mouth. The word is near you, the word of faith which we speak in our mouth and in our heart.
Jesus said Be perfect - I look at my finished state. That is who I am. Then, I confess with my mouth, "I am perfect, just as my Father in heaven is perfect." I see myself as God sees me. Then, my eyes are opened to see that word working itself out in my life. I am not going to accomplish obedience to this word by performance, by "trying" to fulfil it. I see its fulfilment in my life by believing it and speaking it, knowing that the Spirit of Christ in me is always accomplishing the power and the life of that word inside of me.
But since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak. Knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 2 Corinthians 4:13-14
We confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus; we speak what we believe.
We believe and speak because we know that the purpose of God in our lives is fulfilled as we believe. We are perfect just as our Father in heaven is perfect. This is who we are, this is who Christ is in us.
What does it mean to be perfect in this context? Many say it means to be "mature." But the operative word here is neither "perfect" nor "mature." The operative word is "just as." Whatever it means, it's just like the Father. If it means a maturity, the Father is mature. He is what He is, He does what He is, and every part of Him is in full agreement with who and what He is.
A believer who is mature, according to the New Testament, is one out of whose belly flow rivers of living water; he is one who contains all the fullness of God. A mature believer is one who defeats the accuser of the brethren and casts him down out of the heavens. One who is mature walks just as Jesus walked, conformed to the measure of the stature of all the fullness of Christ.
But the context of this verse in Matthew 5 is the Sermon on the Mount.
You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies. . . be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
When it says, "Be just like your Father," the context is loving your enemies.
We do find this word "perfect" always associated with love. Love is the bond of perfection. We are made perfect in love. To be like God is to love.
Many Christians shy away from this thought of being like God even though we are commanded to be like God, because of a passage in the Old Testament that talks about Lucifer.
Many Christians believe that Lucifer fell because he wanted to be like God. But Isaiah did not say that Lucifer wanted to be like God. If Lucifer had wanted to be like God, God would have been pleased. If Lucifer had come to Him and said, "God, I admire You, You are awesome and glorious. I would like to learn Your ways. I would like to be like You, to love as You love, to show mercy in the way that You show mercy, to be kind in the way that You are kind." God would have been thrilled. God would have said, "Let Me live through you."
Rather, Isaiah says that Lucifer said in his heart, "I will be like God." Lucifer did not go to the Father and say "Live in me." More than that, he had his own definition of God on his mind. Lucifer did not want to be like God, he wanted to be what he imagined God to be. Lucifer imagined that God was like himself.
That is the problem with this word "perfect." We have a conception of God that is satanic - a satanic view of God. We see God as the controller, as the one in power who can do whatever He wants, who always gets His way. In movies about someone who comes as God, it is someone who by the flash of his hands makes things happen according to his present desires and lusts and wants.
This is a satanic view of what it means to be like God. This is not our Father.
Jesus said, Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest . . . for I am meek and lowly of heart.
To be like God is to be meek and lowly of heart. God does not think highly of Himself. He is lowly of heart. God never brags about Himself. He brags about His Son, but He never brags about Himself.
God does not control, neither can He do anything that He wants. God is bound by His own word. He does not control or manipulate. Why is there evil in the universe? Because God does not control or manipulate. God does not force anyone to do what He wants them to do. Everyone is free from God.
Not so with Satan. Satan binds people with chains and turns them into slaves. With God everyone is always free. God only accepts an equality of respect and regard that comes out of love. God does not push, nor does He accept performance. And so this maturity, this being perfect like God, is rooted in love, in tenderness, in kindness.
One who is like God is one who is like Jesus because Jesus shows us what God is like. To be like God, to be perfect as God is perfect, that is to love, even our enemies, is to be the kind of person that is always thinking about other people. Always seeking to bless, always seeking to lift up, always seeking to encourage. Always seeking to meet other people's needs, whatever those needs might be. In gentleness, in kindness, with a lowly heart, not thinking themselves to be anything of themselves and yet resting in the certainty of who they are in Christ. This is one who is like God.
And this is just the beginning of the "just as" verses.
Be just like the Father. Be just like the Father.
Please don't be confused about the statement "Be just like God," as if I am saying something different from the truth that Christ is our life. We are created by God to contain His life. He is Himself. We are just like Him as He is free to live as us and to show Himself to others through us. God is Himself; we are His image.
That means that God Himself shines forth through us. We are His "skin," His temple, His dwelling place. Since God Himself reveals Himself through us, we are "like God" in the sense that we appear as Him. Yet it is always He, yet we ourselves are never absent. He reveals Himself through us.