The Image and Likeness of Christ -- God's DNA
Lesson 1 of 4
God’ s purpose for the 12 elements of the gospel is to give you the language of the covenant of Jesus Christ, to give you eyes to see Christ, to give you the means to take on the likeness of Christ, to give you the foundation of your faith, to give you the power to be an overcomer.
The Pattern of Life
Think of the 12 elements of the gospel as God’ s DNA. What is that, you might ask? Well, we know what human DNA is. It is the pattern of life. DNA is the genetic instructions used to determine your eye color, hair color, height, the size of your nose, skin color, etc.
A simple way to explain genetics is to demonstrate it. We can understand that children resemble their parents. When you compare a picture of yourself to that of your parents, what likenesses do you see? Maybe you share your mother’ s eye color or your father’ s broad forehead. Maybe you share the same shape of face, or mouth. Perhaps your ears have no lobes. Why do you look like your parents?
God Planned to Return the Soul to the Likeness of Christ
Naturally speaking, DNA is the pattern that is passed on from parent to offspring that makes the offspring look like the parent. The purpose of this reflection is to teach you about inheritance. As you recognize similar characteristics between you and your parents begin to think about how God planned to accomplish this spiritually, how God planned to return the soul to the likeness of Christ through His spiritual DNA (Romans 8:29).
How many times have you found yourself in prayer saying, “I want to be just like Jesus.” God’ s plan is to make a way for Him to create in you the image of Christ by giving you a pattern of knowledge the Spirit will work with to form Christ in you.
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. “ ( 2 Corinthians 4:6)
God gave us the 12 Elements to show us Jesus
The 12 elements of the gospel are God' s genetic code. God gave us these 12 elements to show us Jesus. Jesus is this pattern of life that we follow. The pattern of knowledge is the pattern of life in Christ. The 12 Elements of the Gospel are: grace, faith, righteousness, justification, sanctification, holiness, peace, rest, charity, truth, regeneration, and the renewing of the mind.
A Pattern of Knowledge
By drawing these connections, you should start to see that just as physical DNA plays an important part in shaping your physical characteristics so also does God' s knowledge (His DNA) plays a vital role in shaping Christ in you. And just as the pattern needs to be there first before a resemblance can take place, it is the same with God’ s kingdom. A pattern of knowledge needs to be set in place first before you can take on the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4-5).
This pattern of knowledge that God placed in the elements of the gospel is the blueprint of the life of Christ. It is the foundation upon which life in Him is built. This pattern of knowledge is laid in the heart by the instruction of living apostles. Christians know that Jesus accomplished everything for them on the cross, and that through Him they are promised the ability to walk in victory over sin, yet they live in defeat. We can; hear them saying, “There must be a reason for our defeat!” Yes, there is a reason that most Christ do not experience the powerful life of Christ God promised.
The reason for their defeat is that the foundation of truth was never properly set in their hearts. As a result they do not have a firm foundation knowledge upon which to build their faith. Without this pattern of knowledge their faith does not resemble Jesus Christ.
I must stress to you the urgent need of every Christian to apply themselves to learn the 12 elements of the gospel. There is no other way for this New Covenant foundation to be built in you but by this knowledge.
By faith in Jesus Christ, we are God 's offspring. So, just as DNA is the pattern for life, the 12 elements of the gospel are God's pattern for life, the pattern of knowledge that makes it possible for you to reciprocate the likeness of Christ.
We see a common thread in each set of circumstances in the pictures above. The life begins with a pattern, be it an egg, a seed, or truth. The chicken is the result of the pattern present in the egg, the plant is the result of the pattern present in the seed, and the life of Christ in you is the result of the pattern of truth.
Just as the chicken develops in the perfect environment of the egg, and the plant germinates in the perfect environment of the soil, so the covenant of Jesus Christ is the perfect womb for faith to develop. Life springs forth from the pattern God gave it. And so it is with faith. It begins with a seed of truth.
There are many ways in which God teaches us the mystery of Christ that in turn helps us work with Him as the Spirit forms Christ within the heart.
Jesus compared His truth to a seed that is planted in the soul of man. Some seed fell upon hard soil because the people did not prepare their hearts to receive God's truth.
“And some seed fell upon good ground and it yielded the fruits of God’ s heavenly kingdom.” (Luke 8:5-15).
It is helpful for us to know that inside the seed of truth there are 12 elements that make up the pattern of Christ ‘s knowledge (2 Corinthians 4:4). That seed of truth is planted in your heart when you are instructed in the knowledge of Christ.
Life springs forth in your heart when Christ’ s knowledge begins to germinate and grow in you. From grace to faith, to sanctification, peace, rest, and holiness, the evidence of Christ is seen.
The problem is that most Christians are completely unaware of how life takes place. They can quote the Bible chapter and verse about righteousness and holiness and sanctification, but they didn’t’ t know how to identify their life with Christ through the elements of the gospel. They had good intentions, they were sincere in their search for God, but did not know about the process God designed into each element.
The Covenant is the Womb of your Faith
God gave us many examples to show us how life takes place: inside an egg, under the soil, and in our hearts. When we say “ in our hearts”, we need to understand that the covenant is the womb God designed for our development in Christ.
Many Christians say that the covenant is now in the heart, but not being instructed in the terms of the covenant, not seeing Christ in the elements of the gospel, development does not take place, and the new man in Christ does not form.
Christ is Developed in us While in the Womb of the Covenant
The Bible says that the new man in Christ is renewed in knowledge (Colossians 3:10). That tells us the environment that is rich for our development in Christ- His knowledge. The 12 elements are the blueprint of life in Jesus Christ. This life takes place in the womb of the New Covenant, also known as the Second Covenant. The covenant is the environment in which the new man in Christ is developed and formed.
What happens when a person says that the New Covenant is in the heart, but the understanding of the covenant is absent from their faith? What happens is that the person loves God in word only and not in deed. Has that happened to you? You love God, but you are unsure of how God expects you to express your love, how God expects you to worship Him.
For example, knowing that God expects you to be holy and righteous does not tell you how this takes place. When you don’ t have the information you need about how things work, how righteousness works, how holiness works, your faith is in word only, not in deed. You might say things like, “I strive for integrity in all things,” thinking that is what God wants, and really not understand how to identify with the true virtue of Christ.
You might say, “I believe in holiness and righteousness because it is in the Bible.” But did you know that just as there are processes that take place in the development of a butterfly inside a cocoon, and processes that take place in the development of honey inside the hive, there are processes that take place in the development of Christ in the soul of man.
Why Faith is Called a Mechanism
Faith is not an automatic thing, it happens as you apply yourself to the knowledge of Christ as spelled out by the 12 elements of the gospel. That’ s why faith is called a “mechanism” . Faith describes the process of Christ being formed in the inner man, how it works.
DNA is a Way for You to Identify Yourself
DNA is a way for you to identify yourself. How you function: how your heart beats, how hearing works, how sight works - How things work! DNA is a solid foundation for your body to function.
God’ s DNA is a Way for You To Identify Christ
God’ s DNA is a way for you to identify Christ. How you function in Him: how grace works, how faith works, how righteousness works, how holiness works, how charity works - How things work! God’ s DNA is a solid foundation for your faith to function in Christ. [The 12 Foundation Stones build a solid foundation for faith]
God wants you to understand that just as He designed instructions for the body to follow so that you would know how your heart works, how hearing works and how sight works, He designed instructions in each of the 12 elements of the gospel so that you would know how righteousness works, how grace works, and how justification works.
Now we can understand what the solid foundation is. It is the knowledge of the 12 elements that allows us to identify with Christ.
In the past, all Christians knew was that Jesus loved them. They read the scriptures about God’s love in the Bible, but couldn’t’ t make the connection between God’ s love for them and their function at the altar of Christ with His knowledge.
When love (charity) is separated from the altar of Christ it does not identify Jesus Christ, it is used to identify yourself.
So we need to know how God planned for you to be instructed in the 12 elements and how these elements are to be placed in an altar for you to serve God.
The Elements of the Gospel is the Foundation of our Faith
Understanding DNA gives you a foundation of understanding who you are: why your eyes are green instead of blue, how your ears hear, why your hair is straight instead of curly. Even so, the elements of the gospel give you the necessary foundation of understanding who Christ is and who you are in Him.
I bet you have a lot of questions about which you have not been able to find the answers: What is God’ s will for me, how can I be a better person, why do I suffer, how can I hear God speak to me, how am I to love my neighbor in the true love of Jesus Christ, how am I to discern truth from error, and what is an overcomer in Christ, how am I to minister to God, how do I serve God?
Perhaps the most important question is, how does the virtue of Christ become a living part of me? Contrary to what one might think, this is not a question of morality, it is a question of processes, just as much as the question, how does the ear hear, or how does a bee make honey is a question of processes. How does this happen? How does this take place? If you want to know how Jesus Christ becomes a real and living part of you then it is important to study the 12 elements of the gospel.
The elements of the gospel are the instruction manual to know God. God made a way to share His mind so that we would take on His perspective (Colossians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 2:16).
The elements of the gospel are the directions for building a strong faith, showing us how faith functions. Each element of the gospel is needed to give us the instructions for how to fellowship with God to reciprocate the likeness of Christ that He may heal, deliver, and save us.
The 12 Elements of the Gospel are the 12 Foundation Stones. They are the Foundation and Altar of the Faith. All 12 foundation stones are needed to build a solid foundation of faith.