How to Live the Divine Life - part 1


By Ray Foster

 

Outline:

1. An Essential Goal; Equivalent to the Fruit of the Tree of Life

2. How to Obtain the Divine Nature

A. Role of Bible Study

B. Role of Love

C. Role of Faith

D. Role of Holy Spirit

E. By Beholding Jesus

F. By Surrender of Will and Heart to Christ

G. By Obedience to God’s Law

H. By Repentance, Faith, and Acceptance of the Power of Christ

I. Through the Cross of Christ

J. New Ideas and New Impulses Must Control

K. Lay Hold on the Throne of God/ the Divinity of God

 

1. An Essential Goal; Equivalent to the Fruit of the Tree of Life

How the Mind Works

[What you believe to the point of action changes you. If you believe that it is impossible to live the Divine Life, that belief will make it impossible for you. If you believe that living the Divine Life is possible and necessary to please God, the promise is "according to your faith, be it unto you" Matt. 9:29]

Through belief in Satan's misrepresentation of God, man's character and destiny were changed, but if men will believe in the Word of God, they will be transformed in mind and character, and fitted for eternal life. To believe that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), will change the heart, and reproduce in man the image of God. {1SM 346.1}

 

As soon as your minds harmonize with the mind of God, you will be brought into touch with an intelligence that will communicate to you lessons that will be of invaluable help in your work of teaching. As you tell the children the story of the cross, your own souls will be lifted above gloom and despondency. In considering the Redeemer's infinite sacrifice, you will lose all desire for the things of this world. {CT 184.3}

More:

{GC88 377.3}

{CG 283.4}

John 1:12 , 13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

John 3:16 - 19 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, thatwhosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

 

Matthew 11:28 - 30 Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

{ST, June 17, 1897 par. 6}

{ST, June 17, 1897 par. 15,16}

Jude 1:24, 25 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.

Daily Partaking of the Divine Nature of Jesus is Eating of the Fruit of the Tree of Life

"Adam was a created being, dependent upon the tree of life for his existence.Through his disobedience, he forfeited the precious privilege of eating of this tree, which was to perpetuate the life breathed into him by God, and for which he was dependent on God. After disobeying God, the precious gifts and endowments which he derived from God were no more his. Adam's disobedience to God's commands brought the human family under the death penalty. "In Adam all die," and eternal death, not eternal life, is the final punishment of all who continue in transgression. {ST, June 17, 1897 par. 4}

Had he not been fully human, Christ could not have been our substitute. He could not have worked out in humanity that perfection of character which it is the privilege of all to reach. He was the light and the life of the world. He came to this earth to work in behalf of men, that they might no longer be under the control of Satanic agencies. But while bearing human nature, he was dependent upon the Omnipotent for his life. In his humanity, he laid hold of the divinity of God; and this every member of the human family has the privilege of doing. Christ did nothing that human nature may not do if it partakes of the divine nature. {ST, June 17, 1897 par. 8}

2. How to Obtain the Divine Nature

A. Role of Bible Study - By Reading and Believing God’s Promises in His Word

2 Peter 1:2 - 4 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Through belief in Satan's misrepresentation of God, man's character and destiny were changed, but if men will believe in the Word of God, they will be transformed in mind and character, and fitted for eternal life. To believe that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), will change the heart, and reproduce in man the image of God. {1SM 346.1}

As many are today, so (before his conversion) Paul was very confident in an hereditary piety; but his confidence was founded on falsehood. It was faith out of Christ, for he trusted in forms and ceremonies. His zeal for the law was disconnected from Christ and was valueless. His boast was that he was blameless in his performance of the deeds of the law; but the Christ who made the law of any value he refused. He was confident that he was right. He says: "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them" (Acts 26:9, 10). For a time Paul did a very cruel work, thinking that he was doing God service; for he says, "I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Tim. 1:13). But his sincerity did not justify his work, or make error truth. {1SM 346.2}

 

Faith is the medium through which truth or error finds a lodging place in the mind. It is by the same act of mind that truth or error is received, but it makes a decided difference whether we believe the Word of God or the sayings of men. When Christ revealed Himself to Paul, and he was convinced that he was persecuting Jesus in the person of His saints, he accepted the truth as it is in Jesus. A transforming power was manifested on mind and character, and he became a new man in Christ Jesus. He received the truth so fully that neither earth nor hell could shake his faith. {1SM 346.3}

 

The great motive powers of the soul are faith, hope, and love; and it is to these that Bible study, rightly pursued, appeals. The outward beauty of the Bible, the beauty of imagery and expression, is but the setting, as it were, for its real treasure--the beauty of holiness. In its record of the men who walked with God, we may catch glimpses of His glory. In the One "altogether lovely" we behold Him, of whom all beauty of earth and heaven is but a dim reflection. "I, if I be lifted up," He said, "will draw all men unto Me." John 12:32. As the student of the Bible beholds the Redeemer, there is awakened in the soul the mysterious power of faith, adoration, and love. Upon the vision of Christ the gaze is fixed, and the beholder grows into the likeness of that which he adores. The words of the apostle Paul become the language of the soul: "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: . . . that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings." Philippians 3:8-10. 

{Ed 192.1}

No glory is to redound to man; all human help and glory lies in the dust; for the truth as it is in Jesus is the only available agent by which man may be saved. Man is privileged to connect with Christ, and then the divine and the human combine; and in this union the hope of man must rest alone; for it is as the Spirit of God touches the soul that the powers of the soul are quickened, and man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. He was manifested to bring life and immortality to light. He says, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." The psalmist declares, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."

{RH, November 22, 1892 par. 8}

B. Role of Love

1 John 5:1 - 3 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

 

2 Thessalonians 2:8 - 12 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

[Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

 

Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

The lower passions have their seat in the body and work through it. The words "flesh" or "fleshly" or "carnal lusts" embrace the lower, corrupt nature; the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God. We are commanded to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. How shall we do it? Shall we inflict pain on the body? No; but put to death the temptation to sin. The corrupt thought is to be expelled. Every thought is to be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. The love of God must reign supreme; Christ must occupy an undivided throne. Our bodies are to be regarded as His purchased possession. The members of the body are to become the instruments of righteousness. {AH 127.2}

It is the gospel of the grace of God alone that can uplift the soul. The contemplation of the love of God manifested in His Son will stir the heart and arouse the powers of the soul as nothing else can. Christ came that He might re-create the image of God in man; and whoever turns men away from Christ is turning them away from the source of true development; he is defrauding them of the hope and purpose and glory of life. He is a thief and a robber. {DA 478.2}

 

It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour's matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary's cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him. {DA 480.3}

[The way to get the love of and the love for God is three fold:

  1. Ask for it in prayer.
  2. Study the Scriptures to behold Jesus to be changed into His likeness.
  3. Keep Jesus in sight continually in our imagination and contemplation and do His will in all things to be changed into His character-likeness and have His love.]

C. Role of Faith

When Christ bowed his head and died, he bore the pillars of Satan's kingdom with him to the earth. He vanquished Satan in the same nature over which in Eden Satan obtained the victory. The enemy was overcome by Christ in his human nature. The power of the Saviour's Godhead was hidden. He overcame in human nature, relying upon God for power. This is the privilege of all. In proportion to our faith will be our victory. Mrs. E. G. White. {YI, April 25, 1901 par. 11}

1John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). Have we not proved this in the past as we have moved out in faith to produce the things now seen? . . . Faith is not only to look forward to things unseen; it is to be confirmed by looking at past experience, at tangible results, the verification of God's Word. . . . Pray, "Lord, increase my faith." Faith quickens the senses to work diligently to produce results. Faith elevates and ennobles the powers of the soul, enabling it to lay hold upon the unseen. . . . {UL 72.4}

 

     

    [The way to get the faith of and the faith in God is three fold:

  1. Ask for it in prayer.
  2. Study the Scriptures to behold Jesus to be changed into His likeness.
  3. Keep Jesus in sight continually in our imagination and contemplation and do His will in all things to be changed into His character-likeness and have His faith.]

D. The Role of the Holy Spirit

With many the powers of the soul have become palsied, they are blinded with sin, their spiritual powers are incapable of appropriating and assimilating the elements of divine life. Satan exercises his ingenuity in perverting every God-given capacity. He works in such a way as to cause the recipient of God's blessing to use his powers against the Lord who created him for his own glory, and against him who paid an infinite price for his redemption. But the Lord will work through human agencies, if they will give themselves to him to be worked by the Holy Spirit. Christ will use every consecrated ability. {RH, November 12, 1895 par. 6}

Having given Jesus, the great Gift, God gave all heaven with Him. He would bless immeasurably the great groundwork of the redemption of a lost world; He would surround the world with favours; He would heap gift on gift; and He opens for all who, through faith in Christ, will receive His gift, the treasures of eternal life. He established His throne on earth by the Holy Spirit's power, to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; that Christ, through His Holy Spirit, might live in all the powers of the soul, sending through it a perpetual current of joy and blessedness in obedience to all of God's commandments. These commandments are given to counter-work the working of Satan, who impels the human family to disobedience of God's plainly expressed will.{BEcho, June 17, 1895 par. 4}

[We receive Holy Spirit by asking for Him and inviting Him into our minds and consciousness and above all by yielding our will to His will in obedience]

The Holy Spirit is an effective helper in restoring the image of God in the human soul, but Its efficiency and power have not been appreciated in our schools. It came into the schools of the prophets, bringing even the thoughts into harmony with the will of God. There was a living connection between heaven and these schools; and the joy and thanksgiving of loving hearts found expression in songs of praise in which angels joined. {CT 67.3}

E. By Beholding Jesus

[It is in Scripture, in nature, in the experiences of daily life and by the direct ministration of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is seen by faith.]

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

F. By Surrender of Will and Heart to Christ

 

The only condition upon which the freedom of man is possible is that of becoming one with Christ. "The truth shall make you free;" and Christ is the truth. Sin can triumph only by enfeebling the mind, and destroying the liberty of the soul. Subjection to God is restoration to one's self,--to the true glory and dignity of man. The divine law, to which we are brought into subjection, is "the law of liberty." James 2:12. {DA 466.5}

In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan's control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God. {DA 466.4}

While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above.The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God. {DA 173.1}

The Lord accepts no halfhearted service. He demands the whole man. Religion is to be brought into every phase of life, carried into labor of every kind. The whole being is to be under God's control. We must not think that we can take supervision of our own thoughts. They must be brought into captivity to Christ. Self cannot manage self; it is not sufficient for the work. . . . God alone can make and keep us loyal. {OHC 215.4}

G. By Obedience to God’s Law

Psalms 19:7 - 11 The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether.

More to be desired [are they] than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward. 

 

Psalm 119:9 - 11 BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed [thereto] according to thy word.

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

It greatly dishonors God for anyone in any way to disregard the great salvation brought to mankind at so great a cost, even the life of the only begotten Son of God. Men and women have no right to refuse the invitation of Him who has died for their redemption. Christ offers life eternal to those who choose to be obedient and submissive to God's will in this life.By bearing the yoke of willing obedience, they testify to worlds unfallen, to angels, and to men, that they have accepted Christ as their Ruler, and are conforming their lives in accordance with His will. The Lord calls souls to repent and be converted. {18MR 163.1}

 

Those who refuse to accept Christ's invitation to wear His yoke of obedience and to learn of Him His meekness and lowliness, will not form characters that fit them to become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. Before the universe such persons bear a direct testimony against Christ. They do their Saviour a great wrong. By their choice they reveal that they despise the great salvation which the heavenly Father has placed within their reach. They do not properly estimate the value that Christ has placed upon them. They fail of realizing that Christ has purchased them at an infinite cost. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." {18MR 163.2}

Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. Ps. 40:7, 8. {HP 38.1}

In the councils of heaven it was determined that there must be given to mankind a living exemplification of the law. Having decided to make this great sacrifice, God left nothing obscure, nothing indefinite, in regard to the salvation of the human race. He gave to mankind a standard by which to form character. With an audible voice and in awful grandeur He spoke His law from Mount Sinai. Distinctly He stated what we must do in order to render acceptable obedience to Him and . . . remain loyal to His law. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40). {HP 38.2}

So deep was the Lord's interest in the beings He had created, so great His love for the world, that He "gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Christ came to bring moral power to man, to elevate, ennoble, and strengthen him, enabling him to be a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. He proved to the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds and to human beings that the law can be kept. While possessing the nature of man, He obeyed the law of God, vindicating God's justice in demanding that it be obeyed. In the judgment His life will be an unanswerable argument in favor of God's law.{HP 38.3}

All who possess the faculty of reason may learn the measure of their duty. Christ is our pattern. In humanity He lived a spotless life. He was merciful, compassionate, obedient--full of goodness and truth. By His life of obedience He gave a true representation of the law. By uniting with Christ, fallen, sinful human beings may conform the life to the divine precepts.By keeping the commandments of God, they become laborers together with Him who came to the world to represent the Father by keeping all His commandments. {HP 38.4}

H. By Repentance and Faith and Acceptance of the Power of Christ

"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He who repents of his sin and accepts the gift of the life of the Son of God, can not be overcome. Laying hold by faith of the divine nature, he becomes a child of God. He prays, he believes. When tempted and tried, he claims the power that Christ died to give, and overcomes through his grace. This every sinner needs to understand. He must repent of his sin, he must believe in the power of Christ, and accept that power to save and to keep him from sin. How thankful ought we to be for the gift of Christ's example! {RH, January 28, 1909 par. 13}

I. Through the Cross of Christ

Let no one seek to evade the cross. It is through the cross that we are enabled to overcome. It is through affliction and trial that divine agencies can carry on a work in our lives that will result in the love and peace and kindness of Christ. {RH, January 28, 1909 par. 15}

A great work is to be accomplished daily in the human heart by the study of the Word. We need to learn the simplicity of true faith. This will bring its returns. Let us seek for decided advancement in spiritual understanding. Let us make the precious Word the man of our counsel. We need to walk carefully every moment, keeping close to the side of Christ. The spirit and grace of Christ are needed in the life, and the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. {RH, January 28, 1909 par. 16}

We need to understand clearly the divine requirements that God makes of his people. The law, which is the transcript of his character, no one need fail to understand. The words written by the finger of God on tables of stone so perfectly reveal his will concerning his people that none need make any mistake. The laws of his kingdom were definitely made known, to be afterward revealed to the people of all nations and tongues as the principles of his government. We would do well to study those laws recorded in Exodus 20 and in the thirty-first chapter, verses 12-18. {RH, January 28, 1909 par. 17}

J. New Ideas and New Impulses Must Control

Looking upon his disciples with divine love and the tenderest sympathy, Christ said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him." Christ was striving to gain the confidence of his disciples; for he had important disclosures to make to them. Addressing them by the endearing term "little children," he said, "Yet a little while am I with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." {YI, December 16, 1897 par. 1}

In one sense this commandment is not new, and in another sense it is. The same principle is seen in the first four and the last six commandments. But to the disciples it was new; for they had not loved one another as Christ had loved them. Christ saw that new ideas and new impulses must control them, that new principles must be practised by them. {YI, December 16, 1897 par. 2}

K. Lay Hold on the Throne of God/ the Divinity of God

He withstood the temptation, through the power that man may command. He laid hold on the throne of God, and there is not a man or woman who may not have access to the same help through faith in God. Man may become a partaker of the divine nature; not a soul lives who may not summon the aid of Heaven in temptation and trial. Christ came to reveal the source of His power, that man might never rely on his unaided human capabilities. {1SM 408.2}

Had he not been fully human, Christ could not have been our substitute. He could not have worked out in humanity that perfection of character which it is the privilege of all to reach. He was the light and the life of the world. He came to this earth to work in behalf of men, that they might no longer be under the control of Satanic agencies. But while bearing human nature, he was dependent upon the Omnipotent for his life. In his humanity, he laid hold of the divinity of God; and this every member of the human family has the privilege of doing. Christ did nothing that human nature may not do if it partakes of the divine nature. {ST, June 17, 1897 par. 8}

L. The Role of Self-examination

Continued in part 2