February 26, 2016 Brethren Letter
As most of you know by now, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Hatter are very pleased to announce the birth of their son, Luke. It’s always exciting for any parent when a new son or daughter is born into the family. Being a parent is a big responsibility, and I know the Hatters take it seriously. They will continue working very hard at being the best parents that any humans could possibly be.
Just think of it brethren, our God is a parent too, and He’s waiting for His Spirit begotten children to be born into His Family. Tonight, I’m sending a condensed version of a “Personal from the Editor,” written Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong in the Tomorrow’s World magazine of November-December, 1970. He discusses our future spiritual birth in this article.
Please have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,
The Good News of Tomorrow’s World
Personal from the Editor (Herbert W. Armstrong)
Several years ago I wrote an article, now available in booklet form, “What Do You Mean — Born Again?” In the fifth chapter of Ephesians you find a husband-wife relationship pictured as corresponding to Christ and the Church. Scriptural teaching assures us that, at His coming, Christ is going to MARRY the Church. Also, the Scriptures teach that the Church will, at His coming, be BORN of God, by a resurrection of all who have died, and the instantaneous conversion from mortal to immortal of those then living (I Corinthians 15:50-53).
WHY were we born, in the first place? What is the real PURPOSE of human life? God Almighty the Creator is reproducing Himself! As truly as we mortal humans have been given power to reproduce ourselves — to bring forth progeny in our own image, born with our very nature — even so the Great God is bringing forth sons in HIS image, born with His very divine nature!
The very PURPOSE of our existence is that we be begotten as God’s children, and become BORN of Him.
And human reproduction is the very type of spiritual reproduction. What God created at the time described in the first chapter of Genesis was a PHYSICAL creation. You’ll find nothing spiritual there. In physical man, made of the dust of the ground, God created the MATERIAL WITH WHICH He may mold, shape, form, and create the SPIRITUAL being. He pictures us as the clay, Himself as the Potter — forming us into the spiritual image of HIS designing.
Now human reproduction, I say, pictures spiritual reproduction. Each human, since Adam and Eve, started from a tiny egg, called an ovum, the size of a pinpoint. It was produced in the body of the mother. The egg is INCOMPLETE, of itself. It has a life of only about 48 hours, according to some authorities.
Unless fertilized by the life-giving sperm cell from the human father within that limited lifetime, it dies.
Each human, spiritually speaking, is like an egg. The average human lifetime is said to be 70 years. Adam was created INCOMPLETE, and each of us was BORN INCOMPLETE — that is, we were made to NEED the Holy Spirit of God. And unless, within our limited lifespan of some 70 years, we are begotten of God — by His Spirit which is HIS IMMORTAL DIVINE LIFE, entering to impart eternal life to us — we shall die — and that shall be the end — except that God has appointed a resurrection of all who have lived, and, for those who reject His gift of eternal life, the final second death in the lake of fire.
But, in the case of the human ovum, once fertilized as a begotten human, the egg — now called an embryo — is kept within the body of the mother, and is nourished and fed material food through her and protected by her. And there it must grow, being fed physically through the mother, large enough to be born. After a number of weeks, the embryo is called a fetus, and at birth it is a human baby.
In like manner, the Bible calls the CHURCH the “mother of us all.” That is, the mother of Christians — those begotten of God. It is the function of the Church to protect and feed, spiritually, on the spiritual food of GOD’S WORD, those begotten children of God, so that we may GROW SPIRITUALLY, in the divine character, ready to be born.
Surely this is a wonderful comparison. Yet types and antitypes are not always alike in every detail. When a physical baby is born, it is not ready for marriage. When the spiritual child of GOD is BORN he will be fully mature for the spiritual marriage. How can this be? This is what one thinking man could not see.
The unborn human fetus is only growing PHYSICALLY. At birth, the human baby knows nothing. He is helpless. He must be taught. He must learn. He is born merely with a mind CAPABLE of learning, knowing, thinking. He is not yet of mature size physically OR mentally. Many do marry who are still entirely immature spiritually and/or emotionally. But we do assume that one has reasonable maturity physically and mentally before marriage. In the human, this development takes place in the human state AFTER the human birth.
Therefore, the human baby is not ready for marriage at birth. But the spirit-born are different!
Just as the fertilized ovum — the embryo which becomes the fetus — must grow PHYSICALLY from material food, so the spirit-begotten child of God must grow SPIRITUALLY before he can be born. BUT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!
The fetus does not attain to complete physical MATURITY before birth, and has no mental maturity. But, in the spiritual rebirth, one must attain reasonable spiritual maturity BEFORE he is spirit-born.
Now what IS spiritual growth? Just as the physical embryo-fetus must GROW physically large enough to be BORN, so the Spirit-begotten Christian must grow SPIRITUALLY or he will never be BORN of God. But spiritual growth is CHARACTER-DEVELOPMENT.
When we are born again — born of God — resurrected in spirit bodies, those bodies will not be small, like a human physical infant which must GROW to full physical size. We shall LOOK as we do now, so far as form and shape and features are concerned. But the resurrected body will be a DIFFERENT body — composed of SPIRIT instead of flesh and blood (I Cor. 15:35-44).
The original twelve apostles were Christ’s WITNESSES. That is, they were actual eye-witnesses that Jesus rose from the dead — that the living resurrected Christ was the SAME Jesus who had been crucified. They were with Him forty days after His resurrection. But nobody will be foolish enough to suggest that when Christ was BORN very Son of God by the resurrection (Romans 1:4) that He was resurrected in a tiny infant’s body composed of spirit. He was resurrected FULL GROWN, as He had been when crucified. How did the apostles KNOW He was the SAME Jesus?
Because they knew what Jesus had looked like — and in His born-again resurrected body HE LOOKED THE SAME, except He now was composed of SPIRIT instead of matter!
The resurrected Christ was PERFECT — He was very God! But He did not grow up into perfection AFTER He was resurrected. It was during His human lifetime, setting us the example, that He WAS MADE PERFECT, as you read in Hebrews 2:10 and 5:8-9.
Thus it is plain that we must develop spiritual character, growing to spiritual adulthood, DURING THIS LIFE — not after our resurrection in GLORY! THIS is the SPIRITUAL growth, of which the PHYSICAL growth of the unborn child, from tiny embryo to a size and weight of some six to eight pounds at birth, is a type. The physical growth of the unborn human is a growth of physical size and weight. The SPIRITUAL growth of the begotten but yet unborn SPIRITUAL child of God is a growth in spiritual CHARACTER, not of physical volume, size or weight. The human baby merely grows large enough to be born prior to birth — NOT TO PHYSICAL OR MENTAL MATURITY. But he DOES GROW. And this physical growth is the TYPE of the spiritual growth by feeding on the Word of God, and prayer, and Christian fellowship, and participation in the Work of God in the life of the begotten child of God.
The DIFFERENCE is merely the difference between matter and spirit. One is a material growth. Material growth is measured by volume, size, weight. The other is spiritual growth, measured by character development.
Jesus was BORN very Son of God by His resurrection (Romans 1:4). He was born fully MATURE. He was born in a spirit body, which was manifested to His apostles in the same apparent size and shape as when He died. When He appears on earth the second time, in His spirit glorified body, we shall be resurrected, or instantaneously changed, to a body that will be LIKE HIM (I John 3:2) — FULL GROWN — ADULT!