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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, February 01 2024

Your down payment on divinity

God has promised eternal life in the Kingdom of God to those who submit to Him, and He gives us a down payment on divinity, His Holy Spirit, during this physical life. But this downpayment, or promise of eternal life in His Kingdom, comes with certain conditions.

From Genesis to Revelation, the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead is revealed as the only path to eternal life. The Apostle Paul's instruction on the resurrection is indisputable in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. (See also our free Bible study aid Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?).

The patriarch Job also understood God intends to change human beings into divine beings: "If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes [resurrection from the dead]. You shall call, and I will answer You…" (Job 14:14-15).

Jesus, who was sinless, bore the penalty for the sins of humanity in His terrible suffering and death (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8-10; Galatians 3:13). God the Father then resurrected Him and through the Holy Spirit would also transform human beings into spiritually begotten sons and daughters of God (Galatians 2:20; 1 Peter 4:12-13; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:18).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was essential for the resurrection of other human beings. If Jesus Christ had not been resurrected, there could be no resurrection to immortality for others who have died (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:13-18 and Hebrews 6:17-20). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:47 and 49: "The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man [Jesus Christ—by whom spiritual life would come to humanity] is the Lord from heaven… And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man."

The resurrection from the dead is the culminating miracle of God in our lives, changing us from human beings to divine beings, but this requires a transformation to God's way of life in the here and now (Romans 12:2). In John 16:13, Jesus explained what God's Spirit would provide: "… when the Spirit of truth, has come, [it] will guide you into all truth…and will tell you things to come" (To learn the truth about the nature of Holy Spirit and how it operates, read our Bible study aid The Power Of The Holy Spirit).

Understanding this wonderful truth, we human beings should walk humbly in this life, acknowledging our physical weakness while looking to God for His strength, through His Holy Spirit. Some believe God demands nothing of them except to verbally receive Jesus as their Savior. Jesus, however, taught, "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). This does not earn salvation, but it is a condition for salvation, which requires God's help and His forgiveness through Christ when we fall short.

Following are five conditions God sets for us to receive His down payment on divinity, the Holy Spirit, and ultimately receive eternal life.

God calls and we must heed

Jesus said we cannot come to Him unless the Father calls us. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). He repeats this truth a little later: "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father" (verse 65). God's calling is His prerogative. Our duty is to respond to His calling.

Second, we must change

The Apostle Peter ended his sermon on Pentecost by telling those who asked him what they should do: “'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call'" (Acts 2:38-39).

This first step of repentance and change from our old way of life is an ongoing process as we strive to become more like Jesus Christ.

Third, we must have faith toward God

After "repentance from dead works," Hebrews 6:1 lists "faith toward God”. The book of Hebrews shows just how vital faith is in our relationship with God: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

Fourth, we must be buried in water baptism

Water baptism is the next vital step after repentance and faith in God (Hebrews 6:2. Peter said in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, we should repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). The word ‘baptism’ comes from a Greek word meaning total immersion, not merely having water sprinkled or poured on one's head. Baptism symbolizes our sinful self dying and being buried with Christ, who bore the penalty of our sins (Romans 6:3-4). His shed blood washes away our sins (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:14), and when we come out of the watery grave, we are viewed by God as a new person (Romans 6:4-8), ready to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Fifth, we must have the laying on of hands

Hebrews 6:2 lists the next step as the "laying on of hands" by a minister of Jesus Christ. This is the point at which God gives us our down payment on divinity, the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17-19). As we yield to God's Spirit, which entails obedience to His commandments (1 John 5:3) we become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), and more like God in our character.

The Apostle Paul confirms the gift of the Holy Spirit is our down payment on divinity, or eternal life: "...having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, [which] is the guarantee of our inheritance…." (Ephesians 1:13-14). And in 1 John 3:2 he writes: "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" (1 John 3:2).

The Bible is clear—Christian disciples must have God's Spirit in order to be given a divine body and existence (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:5; 1 John 3:2-3). If we do not have God's Spirit in us, Paul writes, we are "not His" (Romans 8:9). God allowed Jesus to suffer to enable all human beings to become divine sons of God: "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10).