Not surprisingly, the Pharisees of old made the same accusation against Jesus Himself. During his mock trial, "the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands" (Matthew 26:63-67).
But this was not the first time that Jesus made a declaration equating Himself with God. On a previous occasion, Jesus had given sight to a man born blind. Skeptical of such a miracle, the religious leaders of the day questioned Jesus, asking him by what authority he performed such works. Jesus boldly declared that he was the "good shepherd" and that the works he did were a result of the commandments he had received from His Father, meaning God. Upon hearing these words, "many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad!" (John 10:20) and urged the others not to listen to Him.
But, intent on finding fault with Jesus, the Jewish leaders didn't let the subject drop. They followed Him to the temple and again questioned His authority. "Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly" (Verse 24). To this question, Jesus replied, "I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" (John 10:30-36).
In clear, unmistakable language, Jesus forcible declared that He and God were the same. And it was more for this doctrine than anything else that Jesus was reviled by the religious leaders of His day.
Today, the religious leaders of Christianity are just as outraged by the claim of the Latter-day Saints that we too are sons of God, and can someday become like God our Father. While they readily acknowledge that Jesus is God, they feel it is the height of disrespect to say we can become like Him. Therefore, it is important to look at what the Bible has to say concerning this subject to see if such a doctrine is indeed absurd or if it is consistent with what Christ taught.
When the Pharisees questioned the validity of His claim, Jesus asked, "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" This quote in found in Psalms 82:6. Jesus then further asked, "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" Jesus reminded his accusers that the very scriptures which they revered stated that they themselves were considered gods. And if that was the case, then why were they angry with Him because He said he was the Son of God?
David Guzik, a Christian commentator, explains this scripture this way: "The judges of Psalm 82 were called `gods' because in their office they determined the fate of other men. Also, in Exodus 22:8-9, God calls earthly judges `gods.' Jesus is saying `if God gives these unjust judges the title gods because of their office, why do you consider it blasphemy that I call Myself the Son of God in light of the testimony of Me and My works?' Jesus is not taking the `you are gods' of Psalm 82 and applying it to all humanity, or to all believers."
However, the Quest Study Bible, which is another contemporary Christian commentary explains "Jesus quotes Jewish Scriptures to show that we are all `gods' in the sense that we all have some sphere of influence over others... Jesus infers that whenever humans are rulers over others or in charge of others, they function like little `gods' over those areas" (p. 1484)
Both of these commentators offer conflicting opinions of what Jesus meant by who can be considered a "god." However, they do give some insight into what the current Christian thinking is on this subject. So let's look at their stated definition for why someone would be referred to as a "god."
One of the qualifications they give of being a god is to be a judge. If this is a valid definition of a god (as both of them agree), then we must remember that Paul reminded believing Christians that they too are judges and will someday judge both the world and angels (1 Corinthians 6:1-4). Also, within their sphere of influence, all Christians have a godly responsibility to help bring people to Christ. Therefore, by these commentator's own definition, the Bible teaches that all Christians are "gods."
But it goes even beyond that. Jesus said, "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" Jesus defined a "god" as someone "unto whom the word of God came." Do not all Christians claim to have received the word of God? Jesus further said that He was "sanctified" by the Father and "sent into the world." Christians likewise believe that they are "sanctified" (John 17:19, Acts 20:32, Romans 15:16, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:21, Jude 1:1), and have been sent into the world to proclaim the good news of salvation. So, by even modern Biblical interpretation, all Christians can be considered as "gods."
However, the real question isn't whether we are gods or not, but what kind of a "god" will we be? All Christians (Mormons included) believe there is only one true "God." This would seem to infer that all other "gods" must be far inferior to the one supreme God who lives in heaven. According to orthodox Christian teaching, this means that man can never attain the same status, glory, power, or dominion that God, our Father has. Therefore, in their view, it may be all right to think of ourselves in terms of being "minor gods" with extremely limited powers, but when someone claims that we can attain the same position as our heavenly Father, then most Christians object, saying that such a doctrine is not Biblical. However, as we have already seen, Jesus did not think it was robbery to be equal with God (Philippians 2:6). But can the same be said for man? To make this determination, we must first decide what makes God who He is. Therefore, let's examine some of His characteristics.
One of the attributes or qualities of God is that He is all knowing. As Christians, we believe that in the beginning man was created innocent. And to be innocent infers a certain lack of knowledge. However, after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, we read, "And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil" (Gen. 3:22). The biblical record states that as man's knowledge increased, they became more like God. Although it's true that we still don't know all things, yet the Bible clearly states that God is willing to impart His knowledge to man (Proverbs 2:6, 3:5-7, 2 Corinthians 2:7). Thus, the more God teaches us, the more of His knowledge we gain and therefore, the more we become like God, at least in the area of knowledge.
But can we ever be all-knowing as He is? Before we answer that question, let's look at some of the other attributes of God.
Jesus declare that He and His Father are one. Orthodox Christianity has interpreted this to mean that Jesus and the Father are both the same being. That is, they are numerically one person. Yet, just after eating His last supper in mortality, and before retiring to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word that they all may be one: as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: And the glory which thou hast given me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" (John 17:11,20-22).
Christ's fervent prayer for His followers was that all of them, collectively, would become "ONE" in the same way as He and His Father are one! If Jesus, who is God, is one with the Father, then so too Christians are also to become "one" with both Christ and God. Therefore, Christians are meant to become like God, by becoming one with Him in the same way Christ did with His Father. (for a more in-depth look at this subject, please read "Our God is One" )
The Bible tells us that another attribute of God is that He is perfect. Yet the Bible also tells us "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48, John 17.23, 2 Cor.13.11, Eph. 1:4, 4.13, Col 1:28, James 1:4, 3:2, Heb. 12.23, ).
The Bible also tells us, "For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44, see Genesis 17:1, Leviticus 11:45, 1 Peter 1.15). God is not only perfect, but He is also holy. As believers in God, we are commanded to become both perfect and holy just as God is.
Many believe that such a commandment is impossible for us to achieve. But, if that is true, then why would God require us to do something we are not capable of doing? The Bible further tells us, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). And, indeed, the very purpose of the gospel is to help us become "a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13), so that every man may be presented perfect before Christ (Colossians 1:28). The apostle Paul admitted that he had not attained perfection yet, but that he was striving to lay hold of it (Philippians 3.12).
Speaking of Jesus, the Bible tells us "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:9). God is striving to make us perfect just as Christ is perfect. And the more perfect we become, the more like God we become. And this process continues until we can measure up to the full stature of Christ. And when we are fully perfected, then we too will possess another quality which God also possesses.
The Bible tells us, "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels" (Matthew 16:27). From this we learn that Jesus has the same glory which His Father has. Before His death, Jesus prayed to Father, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one" (John17:22,23). Again, the Bible tells us that the glory of the Son is the same as that of the Father. Therefore, another attribute of God is His glory. Because Jesus was given the same glory His Father had, He was able to be one with God. And this oneness, is a result of them both sharing, or having in common, the same glory.
However, notice that Jesus also gave this same glory to His followers. That is, Christians also can share or have in common, the same glory which God has, thereby making us one with them. And then He furthered prayed that "they may be made perfect in one." But does Jesus really mean that we can actually become like God by sharing in His glory and becoming perfect like God is? The Bible counsels us, "That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory... Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:12,14).
Paul wrote that "if so be that we suffer with him [Jesus], that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:14-17, Gal. 4.7, Revelation 21:7). "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phil. 3:21). "And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Cor. 15:49, see 2 Cor. 3:18). John wrote, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2).
The scriptures clearly tell us that God and Christ dwell in a kingdom of glory and it also tells us that those who inherit the kingdom of God will likewise "obtain... the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ," and all of us will "be also glorified together." Our mortal bodies will be changed to become like the glorious heavenly body which Christ has and we will look like He does. That is, we will have same glory which God has. Therefore, we see that the believers in Christ are promised to obtain still yet another attribute of God - His glory.
However, one of the greatest attributes of God is His power. From His throne in heaven, He governs the entire universe, from the most distant galaxy to the smallest living creature here on earth. Yet, the Bible tells us "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Revelation 3:21), "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10).
The Bible tells us that after Jesus rose to heaven, He took His place on the right hand side of His Father's throne, and rules with Him. The Bible also tells us that those who are saved will likewise sit with Jesus in His throne and will be made kings and priests to reign on the earth, in the same way that Jesus sat down in His Father's throne. Therefore, we too will rule with Christ and God, meaning that we will share the same power that He has!
But can that really mean what it says, or is there another interpretation to these scriptures?
The Bible explains "He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son" (Revelation 21:7, emphasis added) "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God... And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:14,17). "Wherefore, thou are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Galatians. 4.7).
The promise made to all who accept and follow Jesus Christ is that they will not only be "heirs of God," inheriting all that the Father has, but more importantly they will be "joint-heirs with Christ." To be a joint-heir means that we will jointly inherit, or share in all that Christ has inherited. And what has Christ inherited? The Bible tells us, "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:11-12)
Since the Father has given all things to the Son (John 3:35, 16:15), and if we are joint-heirs with Christ, and will inherit all that He has, that means we will receive the same "power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" which Christ has.
If that is true, then what will make us different from God? Will God's knowledge be different than ours? Will God's glory be different from ours? Will God's power be different from ours? Will we look different than God? Will God have greater riches, wisdom, and strength than us? Will God be more perfect and Holier than us? If we answer "yes" to any of these questions, then how can it be said that we will "inherit all things" and be joint-heirs with Christ when, if in reality, we won't?
Either the Bible means what it says or it doesn't. The Bible clearly and repeatedly tells us that when Christ comes again, we who are Christ's at his coming shall be like Him. But if we cannot do what He can do or have what He has, or be one with the Father as He is one, then it cannot truly be said that we will be like him. But if we inherit all that Christ has, then we too must become a god like He is, possessing all the attributes, qualities, and characteristics which He Himself has. And indeed, the Bible specifically tells us that the promise we have been given is that we will become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). To partake of something means we participate in it, or share in it or join with it. In other words, if we partake of God's divine nature, that means our nature, or character will become like His divine nature.
However, to inherit all that God has doesn't mean that we will cease to honor, respect, and praise Him as our Father in heaven. Just because we can do all that He can do doesn't diminish our need to express our gratitude for what He has already done in saving us and exalting us. Just because we become "one with the Father" as Christ has become, doesn't mean that we can consider ourselves to be His equal in status and importance. Indeed, throughout all of eternity, He will forever occupy the most preeminent position among all the gods. As such, no matter how many other gods there may be, He will always be the head God of the gods, the Lord over all other lords, and the King of all heavenly kings.
The promise of salvation which the gospel of Jesus Christ offers mankind can be summed up in these verses of scripture which says: "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). "Humble yourselves therefore under the almighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:6)
Christ offers us all that He has. And just as Christ is God, so He likewise bids us to, "Come and be ye gods."
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