Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTLIKENESS – PART 14
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“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.”
2 Corinthians 3: 18
LET US continue our discussion of the development of Christlikeness in Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power toward God. After God has brought individuals to tentative justification for the purpose of inviting them to consecration, He applies His providences toward each individual, adapted to the separate needs of each one, to bring him through successive experiences in justification to consecration. God’s Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power are especially active toward each individual in this process.
God’s Attitude Toward us after Consecration
After our consecration, God seeks to enable us to make our calling and election sure. His Wisdom works out in harmony with His general plan a special method adapted to our several needs and enables us to be developed into the character likeness of Christ. He sees to it that all elements of Wisdom are embodied in this plan and its operation (James 3: 17). His Justice operates toward us through certain earthly features of His Oath-Bound Covenant (Genesis 22: 16-18) (John 16: 27). He gives us all the experiences and assistances necessary for us to develop Christlikeness. As a Father, He trains His children in righteousness.
His Love, appreciating our willingness to submit to Him, to have His character developed in us, and our longing to be used by Him as His agents to help the world of mankind in His coming Kingdom, delights in giving us every help to develop Christlikeness. God’s Power operates in and on us through the holy spirit. He exercises all the self-control of Power necessary to continue His acting wisely, justly and lovingly toward us while developing Christlikeness. Whenever obstacles arise, He continues this glorious work in the patience of Power, until we have developed Christlikeness.
God’s four great attributes are also shown toward us in the untoward experiences through which we must pass. God’s Wisdom plans the trials through which we must pass and tactfully adapts them to our individual needs. He sees to it that all the ingredients of Wisdom are present in His dealings with us in bringing us into, preserving us amid, and delivering us out of them when they have worked in us their intended effect. Justice contributes to the same end, for God has voluntarily obligated Himself to us, in bringing about our development in Christlikeness.
God, in His Love, appreciates as He sees, amid these sufferings, us develop in Christlikeness. He therefore continues us in fiery trials until we have developed Christlikeness. His Love shows itself in spite of the sorrow of heart that His children suffer by continuing them in these sufferings in order to work out their development in Christlikeness. Because He rejoices that we will be His instruments in helping the world of mankind in His Kingdom, He bears with us in love amid these untoward experiences. His Power, in self-control and patience, continues acting in all His dealings with us while we are under the experiences of suffering until He has succeeded in developing us unto the making of our calling and election sure.
Developing Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power Toward God
By contemplating God’s character through His dealings with us we realize His marvelous character, and are thus enabled to imitate His glorious qualities. How may we develop wisdom, justice, love and power toward God in our relation to Him from the standpoint of sin and righteousness, when we fall into sin and it is brought to our attention? We should use the wisdom that He uses toward us, which is the way of repentance and faith. We will repent and mend our ways, approaching Him through the merit of Christ. How may we develop justice toward God in connection with our sins? As we see Him, in His Justice to Christ (1 John 1: 9), using Christ’s merit to satisfy justice for our forgiveness, we will by such contemplation gradually develop toward God the same justice that we owe Him. This, along with us amending our ways, we owe Him because of the good He has done us. Further, as we see how He receives us graciously for Christ’s sake, His noble character in this respect, resting on our minds, will draw out our appreciation.
But if some qualities of our hearts do not desire to submit themselves to this method of coming into harmony with Him, self-control, by our contemplating His great self-control in dealing with us in spite of our sin, will assert itself and regulate our faculties as to enable us to hold in our hearts such principles of justice, wisdom and love as will complete this step by imitating His characteristics. If obstacles come from within or without us, we will persevere in putting aside sin, in mourning for it, and in putting on righteousness for acceptableness, until we are finally in the proper attitude. Thus maintaining our justification before Him, we will develop these attributes of Christlikeness with respect to sin and justification.
How may we develop wisdom, justice, love and power toward God in consecration? Beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we see how God shows His Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power toward us in consecration, and thus we learn to imitate His attributes. We see that His Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power have accompanied us all through our course; therefore, in our dealings with Him, we will see to it that we demonstrate, in response to His application of Wisdom to us, the same Wisdom as far as possible. We will enter into the plan that He is working out for us, using wisdom’s ingredients (James 3: 17). As we contemplate His Justice, which has made and keeps His promise to preserve us to the end, if we are faithful, we will be helped in Justice to respond to what He is doing on our behalf. We will hold His kindness upon our minds in consecration until our duty love toward Him becomes love with all the heart, mind, soul and strength for the good that He has done us.
As we consider that all these favors have come to us out of His great love for good principles, we will develop such love toward Him, as we see how He has exemplified it in His dealings with us. As we contemplate His glorious characteristics, our hearts will more and more be changed by imitation into the same likeness. We will love Him because of the good that He is, manifested in the noble principles embodied in His character and in all His dealings, until this love fills our hearts. We may in consecration develop power toward Him by controlling the qualities of heart and mind so as to show forth these attributes. Should obstacles from within or without become hindersome, patience, cheerful perseverance in well doing amid them, marking our conduct, will enable us to become more Christlike in these.
Amid our various trials, by contemplating how God acts in Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power toward us amid them, we will be enabled to imitate the same qualities toward Him. Wisdom will teach us to recognize what He is seeking to do with us through these tests and will therefore help us to form a plan of adapting our conduct to the purpose He has in view. The result is that we will be able, amid trials, to display wisdom toward Him. As we meditate upon how His Justice has preserved Him faithful in keeping the promises that He has made to us in His duty love to us, and how He stands by us with every help amid these trials, our duty love to Him will increase, enabling us to love Him with every power of our hearts and minds even amid the troubles through which we may be passing.
As we see from God’s great love of good principles that He is even willing to permit us to suffer in order that He might work Christlikeness in us, our hearts will more and more be filled with appreciation for His nobility, until our every power of heart and mind goes out in delight in His glorious character. Seeing how God controls His qualities of heart and mind in dealing with us amid these sufferings, we will be enabled to apply our hearts to the same self-control amid sufferings. When the thoughts that God cheerfully perseveres in His dealing with us in our sufferings, it will more and more fill the heart with the patience that perseveres cheerfully in spite of obstacles. Thus, we learn by imitating the principles of God’s character to develop wisdom, justice, love and power toward Him and thereby become Christlike in these qualities.
(to be continued)