A friend of mine recently sent me an article by John Piper called, “Did Jesus say we are gods?” that I found interesting. Though I honor John Piper and his amazing teaching and pastoral ministry, I wrestled with the conclusion he makes in the article from the Scripture in John 10 that is being referenced. This podcast is not a rebuttal, it is merely another perspective from the same text.
As with any topic that can be debated, I try to approach it with humility, knowing that we all see in part. My desire (as I know is the case with Piper and other Bible teachers) is that people come to know God intimately through his Word and by His Spirit and that that knowledge of God converts into a life of holiness and fruitful kingdom work.
The problem I have seen with accepting dual nature teaching (we are simultaneously both sinners and saints) is that it creates double-mindedness within the believer. When we are feeling sinful thoughts or desires we just assume it is because our sinful nature is at work. When we have a moment of inspiration and see some fruit of the spirit in our lives we assume that God was able to break through. So for many believers we have become comfortable identifying with the first Adam, but uncomfortable identifying with the last Adam.
Here is the text we are discussing in John 10:30-39
30 I and the Father are one.”
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
Jesus was accused of blasphemy for claiming that he and the Father are one. However, in John 17, Jesus prays for us that we would also be included in this spiritual union!
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
And why does Jesus pray that we are included in this divine union? So that the world may BELIEVE! Our union with God is necessary in order for the world to know and to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that his work of reconciling humanity back to the Father is more than just belonging to some religious organization. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is to become a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1), to be born of God (John 1:12-13), to no longer be stuck in sin (1 John 3:9), to be one flesh with Jesus (Ephesians 5:29-32) and to be one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17). It is to possess the righteousness, holiness and beauty of his character.
And should we take this precious union with Jesus Christ and use it for our own gain? Should we use our freedom as a cover up for evil? Should we serve our carnal nature with this gift of God?! NEVER!
On the contrary, as Paul says in Philippians 2, we should have this mind in ourselves, which belongs to us in Christ.
“…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Can you see it? God has given us the RIGHT to become children of God (John 1:12-13). He has given us permission to no longer identify with our fallen nature but to identify with our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. To become little gods, little image bearers of the One true God of all the earth. And in doing so, we would follow in his steps by not thinking that this divine nature means that we are equal with God…NO! We are to follow Jesus by taking on the form of servants, by humbling ourselves in love and using this surpassing power entrusted to us in jars of clay to serve and bless a dying world.