Randall E. Ricker
December 5, 2015 (listen to audio)
It’s amazing how big the universe is. It was a major feat to send men to the moon. At the speed they traveled, it would take years to get to the other planets in the solar system. It would take generations to travel to other stars. Once they got there, they wouldn’t be too sure as to whether there would be a planet there that they could live on because astronomers cannot see planets orbiting other stars. They detect those planets by how the planets pull the star from side to side as the planets revolve around the star. Also astronomers are able to detect a planet by how it dims the light of a star as it passes around in front of it. Our own solar system would be like a little point of a pin in a photograph of our galaxy. This shows how puny we are compared to the God who created the universe! But God the Father created all things through Christ, and Christ sustains it!
About 3,000 years ago, King David of Israel looked up at the stars and realized the smallness of man compared to the universe and its Creator. He asked God the question, “What is man that You are mindful of him?”
What is man? Going along with that is, what is the purpose of life? In this study let’s see that the purpose of life is to inherit the universe and to become members of the God family.
INHERIT THE UNIVERSE
First let’s talk about inheriting the universe. Turn in your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 2. We are going to spend a fair amount of time in Hebrews. Hebrews chapter 2, verse 5: “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.”
The context to this portion of the Book of Hebrews is “the world to come,” that is, the kingdom of God. He is talking about angels. The world to come will not be in subjection to angels.
The first things the Word created were angels. These helpers would help Them accomplish Their great plan, not that God and the Word needed help. They were all powerful, all knowing, and capable in every way. This is just the way They chose to go about accomplishing the Plan of God.
The creation of many spirit beings called angels occurred. We do not know when it took place. We only know it was a long time ago. The angels grew to love God and worshipped Them for Their greatness. They had their perfection and Their love, but the angels were not part of the God family. It is true they were spirit beings like God and the Word, but they were not born of the God family. That was the ultimate goal of the Plan of God: to have children of God.
We do not know how many years went by after the creation of the angels. Next the Word created the universe with all the beauty we see when we look up into the night sky. This, of course, included the earth. The universe was not like the spiritual beings that we have been talking about because the universe was of physical matter that could be seen and touched. We can touch physical things but not spiritual things.
The earth is the planet that God would use for the special job of completing Their plan. When the earth was created, the angels shouted for joy! There was such excitement! The earth would be special, indeed, because it would be the home of every human being who would ever live!
As time went by, there would be special angels who were given special jobs. These very special angels were called archangels. There were only three archangels. One was Michael, one was Gabriel, and one was Lucifer. Lucifer’s name meant “light bringer”. Lucifer was the most beautiful of all the angels. He was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, but he was still under the charge of God and the Word. He was given the fantastic job of tending to the earth along with the other angels.
Eventually a very sad turn of events occurred. Lucifer’s character turned ugly. He chose to become unloving, hateful, selfish and mean. What Lucifer wanted, he could not have, and that was to sit in God’s place in the universe—to sit on God’s throne! Lucifer managed to lead one-third of the angels in a rebellion against God and the Word. Their spirit world became dark. If you could see them, you would see total sadness. There is no misery on earth to picture how they changed. But when we see a terrible thing happen on the earth, that is a little glimpse of how they became.
The role of Lucifer and the angels was to care for the earth, but instead a great war in heaven erupted. They fought God, the Word, and all the good angels. They were defeated and thrown to the earth. Because of their presence, all the spiritual beauty of the earth turned to darkness. The earth physically showed signs of what they had become spiritually. It still existed, but it was void of greatness.
God always calls things for what they are. Lucifer could no longer have a name that meant “light bringer,” for he had become just the opposite. God changed Lucifer’s name to Satan. Satan means “adversary” or enemy. The other angels who followed him were now called demons. But they still had charge of the earth. God did not change the plan, even though Satan and his cohorts had changed their reason for existing. They no longer were helpers but enemies of God and the Word. Yet the Plan of God marched onward amidst this spiritual waste covering the earth!
In verses 6, 7, and 8 of Hebrews chapter 2, the author quotes Psalm 8. We will read that. “But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’”
David then continued in Psalm 8, showing that God put the earth and all that is in it in subjection to man. In the rest of Hebrews 2:8, Paul, the author, leaves off quoting Psalm 8 and changes the emphasis because he says this: “For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.”
That term “all things” is translated “the universe” in one of the translations called the Moffat translation. This is telling us that humans are to inherit the whole universe! We will be able to travel among the distant galaxies, visiting planets if we choose to, but not yet. That will be in the world to come.
BECOME MEMBERS OF THE GOD FAMILY
Up to this point we have been talking about inheriting the universe as part of our potential—part of the purpose of our life. The other part, as I mentioned, is to become members of the God family. Let’s continue reading Hebrews chapter 2, verse 9. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
Jesus Christ was raised from the dead as a glorious Spirit Being. He is immortal. Other places say He shines like the sun.
Verse 10 of Hebrews 2: “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.”
It talks about “bringing many sons to glory.” This shows that we are to be sons of God, and we are to have the same glory that Christ has.
Verse 11: “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not shamed to call them brethren…”
We are called brethren of Christ. Brethren is an old fashioned word for brothers. One brother is of the same species as another brother. They are the same kind of thing. We Christians are brothers of Christ, so we are the same kind of being as Christ. Christ is a member of the God family, therefore we will be members of the God family.
The universe, including earth, had been created billions of years ago. Scientists can tell us that. We do know that six thousand years ago the Word set about furthering the Plan of God by bringing a little of their perfect beauty to a section of the spiritually darkened earth. This area of the earth where the Word “healed” the spiritual waters was called The Garden of Eden. It was in this area that the Word pushed back the ugliness of Satan and the demons. He gave renewed life to the plants, the animals and the sea creatures.
Twenty-four hour periods became known as days. Six twenty-four hour periods or days went by. During this time the Word went about the wonderful process of recreating the section of earth called the Garden of Eden for the first two human beings.
The presence of human beings in the garden was a point in God’s Plan that must have been a very moving moment. The first two human beings that were created marked the beginning of a very important step in the plan. Their names were Adam and Eve. We have to remember God’s goal was to increase God’s family from two to many god beings. God and the Word wanted these beings to love Them of their own free will. They could not force them. That would be the first of many events leading to that goal. Let’s read about that creation in Genesis 1.
Genesis chapter 1, verse 26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
Adam and Eve were created in the image and likeness of God. That means human beings look like God, if He was to show Himself to us. He has hands, a back, fingers, a face just like human beings do. Every human being also has a spirit. It is called the spirit in man. We can’t see it, but that’s what makes our brain different from the animal brains. We have complex thinking skills that animals do not possess. The spirit in man is what makes human life so precious over animal life. God in His supreme wisdom created the physical realm to help us understand the spiritual realm.
When we talk about being members of the God family in the future, there’s going to be a change in us. Go to Philippians chapter 3. It is the epistle to the Philippians where we read about a transformation. Philippians 3, verse 20: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
It is talking about being conformed to Christ’s glorious body. Conformed means to have the same form. Up to now I have been reading the New King James Version. If I read the King James Version we would see verse 21 as this: “…who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.”
The word “fashioned” is #4832 in the Strong’s Concordance (1995). It means jointly formed, similar, from a root meaning resemblance. We resemble God physically now. We will even be of the same composition as God is after our change!
Let’s go to John chapter 1. There are numerous places in the Bible where we are called children of God. Christians are called children of God. Let’s go to John chapter 1 for an example. John chapter 1, verse 11: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…”
Notice we are being called children of God. Another example is in Romans chapter 8. Romans chapter 8, verse 14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” It is talking about sons of God.
Continuing in verse 14 of Romans 8: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Notice, a few times here we are called sons of God, children of God, and heirs of God. Often in the Bible it talks about sons of God, but elsewhere you find that, as far as God is concerned, there is neither male nor female, so we could say sons and daughters of God. We would certainly be very accurate in the intent of these verses.
It talks about crying out “Abba, Father.” That’s a special relationship with God the Father. We can talk directly to God. We can pray directly to God the Father through Jesus Christ.
There is another place where we are called sons and heirs. Turn to Galatians chapter 4. We will start in verse 1. Galatians 4, verse 1: “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Verse 6 of Galatians 4: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
Here we are being called sons of God and heirs of God. There is something we are going to inherit. We have talked about that. We are going to inherit the universe!
Let’s go on to Ephesians 3. We even have a family name! Ephesians chapter 3, verse 14: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…”
God’s family is named after Him. His family in heaven consists of God the Father and Jesus Christ. His family on earth consists of the Father’s sons and daughters who are also Christ’s brothers and sisters.
Go on to verse 19 of Ephesians 3: “…to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
To be filled with all the fullness of God means that we are to literally be god! Like God we will be composed of Spirit and live forever. We will have the same holy righteous character that God has.
Some might think it is blasphemous to say that we are going to be god, but the Scriptures prove it. Of course we will be different from God in two very important ways. One is, we did not always exist as God did. There is a beginning point to our existence. The other is we will not be supreme in authority. God the Father will always be in charge with Jesus Christ immediately under Him in His government.
Why is it important to understand that we are to be members of the God family? The answer is in 1 John chapter 3. I John chapter 3, verse 1: “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 [God] is pure.”
Since we are physical beings, we can’t fully understand God, but we know that we will be like Him. If we have this hope of becoming members of God’s family, we will purify ourselves. We will strive to put the filth of sin out of our lives. It gives purpose and a daily goal to our lives.
We were in a church years ago where at first they taught us that we would be part of the God family or we would become god—whichever way you choose to put it. Then they said, well no, you are not going to be part of the God family. You might go to heaven, or something like that. That removed some of the motivation for people to keep their lives in order. And then later on that church said you don’t even need to keep the commandments. Then all kinds of bad behavior ensued. It is important to understand that. It gives us further motivation.
Let’s go to Job chapter 14. It is in the Old Testament, right before Psalms. It is talking about the change from physical to spiritual. This is Job speaking. In Job 14, verse 14 we read this: “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands.”
This is a change from the physical to the spiritual. We understand that there will be a change. Job understood this. He asked the question, and even answered it himself. He knew. There is something else we can learn from these verses. What we can learn is that we are the work of God’s hands. God is trying to accomplish something with us. We are the work of God’s hands. In Isaiah 64 it tells us that it is as if God is the potter, and we are the clay—the potter being one who makes clay pots.
Isaiah 64, verse 8: “But now, Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.”
Think of how the potter shapes the clay. He puts it on a wheel. He spins the wheel and forms the clay into a round pot or some other object. Both Job and Isaiah are writing that we are the work of God’s hand!
What is God forming in us, then, if we are the work of His hand? Go to Ephesians chapter 4. What is He trying to accomplish in us? In Ephesians chapter 4, verse 23 we read this: “…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
The King James Version of verse 24 is this: “…and that ye put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
A new person is being formed! He or she will be like God, or “after God” as the Old King James says. It says the new person will have righteousness as God does.
If you want to turn to Psalm 119:172 (which I won’t turn to), it says: “My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness.” God’s commandments are righteousness.
This new person being created will be keeping God’s commandments. They will have God’s perfect, holy righteous character, which is the way we like to say it.
Before time began the Father and the Word existed. They were so beautiful, it would take your breath away if you could look upon them. But you can’t, because they cannot be seen. They are very special beings. They were not human beings but spirit beings. Spirit beings are very real but cannot be seen. Then how could They be beautiful, you could ask?
If in your mind you could think perfect thoughts all the time, then you would have a little peek at their beauty. Their every thought was of sharing, giving, loving, kindness, cooperation, joy, peace and every good thing. In order for us to understand perfect beauty, we have beautiful things we can see. Beautiful physical things give us a small idea of how hugely awesome the perfection was of these two beautiful beings. Think of the highest, widest, most beautiful waterfall tumbling down on to the earth. Maybe we could just get a glimpse of their majestic beauty in a physical sense.
Because of Their perfection, They got along perfectly with each other. They never argued or got jealous of each other. They had perfectly beautiful thoughts. Part of Their beauty was perfect absolute cooperation. In order for us to understand perfect cooperation, we could look at a huge orchestra playing a beautiful symphony together. A beautiful piece of music being played by so many people putting so many musical instruments together can give us a small idea of how hugely awesome Their perfect cooperation was.
God and the Word wanted many more beings in Their family. They wanted children to love and who would love Them. They had the perfect unselfish desire to love and share love with others who would be just like Them. So these two Beings came up with a plan to do just that. We will call it the Plan of God.
They had the ability to create. They could create by using Their special power that came from Them called the Holy Spirit. By this great power, They could create anything except one thing. They could create a being, but They could not make it love Them. This is where the challenge was.
The Garden of Eden had many trees in it, including two trees that were symbols of two different ways of life. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was one of them, and it represented Satan’s way of life. The Tree of Life represented God’s way of life. The Tree of Life pictured love and giving, but the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil pictured hatred and getting—trying to get from other people.
But God was dealing with physical creatures now instead of spirit. Adam and Eve were flesh and blood. When the Word set Adam and Eve in the garden, they were told they could eat from any tree in the garden, but not from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were warned, but Satan presented himself to them in the form of a snake in the garden. He lied to Eve and convinced her to eat fruit from the tree that represented Satan’s way of life. She then encouraged her husband, Adam, and he ate, too.
Now they understood what evil was. Now they were faced with a life of pressure to go Satan’s way or choose God’s way instead. Had they of their own will taken from the Tree of Life, they would have had the Holy Spirit as their power to do good. But instead they had to be banished from the garden, so they could not eat from the Tree of Life as well and gain eternal life. If that happened, sadly they would have lived in the same state as Satan and the demons—living forever in a state of hatred. Every human being to come after them would have to make the same choices every day of their lives, which way are they going to live.
To pick Satan’s way always leads to unhappiness, selfishness, greed and hatred. These were the very same characteristics which embodied Satan. To choose God’s way brings happiness, love, harmony, joy, and peace. These were the same principles that embodied God and the Word. Every human being who would follow Adam and Eve would fight this struggle day in and day out because all humans have sinned.
Adam and Eve were flesh and blood, and they would eventually die. But part of God’s Plan was to allow them to become spirit beings and be part of the family of God by being born again as spirit beings. Then they could live forever in the God family! This would be possible for every human being ONLY after they had proven to God that they loved God’s way of love over Satan’s way of hate. To conquer good over evil of their own free will would have to be a requirement before the gift of eternal life could be shared with human beings.
To be part of God’s family means that we will be spirit beings who will live forever, and we will have holy righteous character. This is all summed up in Revelation chapter 21. Our potential and the purpose of our life is summed up in Revelation 21, verse 7: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”
“All things” is a good translation. Some versions say, he shall inherit “all this,” and that is an understatement. We can see in this one verse that our potential is to inherit the universe and to be true sons and daughters of God. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live for eternity in the kingdom of God with the Father and Jesus Christ and with billions of other people, changed to immortal spirit, all living God’s way of outgoing concern as expressed by His commandments!