Correspondence School - Series 2 - Lesson 3 - Man, The Image and Likeness of God

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I AM PERFECT

By Alva Romanes

At the dawn of the world's foundation
I was wrought for Your purpose, O Lord;
And perfection was mine in that morning divine
When I woke by the power of Your word.
With the ages my stature has risen,
As through forms without number I've ranged;
And though countless the creeds I have made for my needs,
I am perfect, and ever unchanged.

In the fires of a thousand aeons
I was tempered with woe and weal,
As the ore dull and crude, by the furnace subdued,
Grows at last to the burnished steel.
And today, through the mist of my senses,
I can vision the truth sublime:
With a faith sure and calm stands the man that I am,
As I was in the morning of time.

Through the indwelling Christ I am perfect;
For the years cannot change or mar
The immaculate man who was shaped in the plan
That makes perfect all things that are.
From the fetters of time's limitations,
From the seeming and false made free,
I go on unafraid, in perfection arrayed,
To the tasks of eternity.

What phase of creation is described in the first chapter of Genesis?

All religions have their scriptures or sacred writings. In the Christian religion we call these sacred writings the "Bible." The Bible came out of religion, not religion out of the Bible; it is the product of religion, not the beginning of it.

Man has ever been searching for the origin of himself; seeking to know why he is here and how he came to be here. In this search some men have gone beyond the field of human knowledge and have sought information in the realm of ideas. All that is known as religion is the work of the imaging faculty of man working in the realm of ideas. No man has ever seen God with his physical eyes, nor has he ever seen a soul or a spirit. The imaging faculty reads the symbols which are everywhere evident and interprets them as the outpicturing of ideas.

Our Scriptures came out of the East and reflect the literary customs and habits of Eastern people who are accustomed to parables and allegory. Men have gone into this unlimited realm of ideas and have brought back with them wonderful revelations, mysterious thoughts; and in the expression of these thoughts they have found it more convenient to use the symbology by means of which these ideas were communicated to them. From this it is evident that it is not the words that are inspired but the men who received the ideas and put them into words.

In transmitting these messages to the world it was necessary to use symbology. The intellect or reasoning mind (conscious phase of mind) in an unenlightened state can comprehand only the relative. So when the men who received the revelations undertook to interpret them, they couched them in a language that would show to what they might be likened, to what they might relate. The transmitters of the message knew that those who were seers would catch the idea that was back of the symbol, while those who were not so enlightened might get another meaning — a meaning that would fit in with their degree of knowledge; but Truth would remain undefiled.

Our Scriptures contain in symbols a most wonderful description of the creative action of Divine Mind. One who studies the Bible merely as an historical record or as an ethical guide fails to sound the depths of these ancient writings.

Paul was a Hebrew and a scholar, learned in the Scriptures, and he understood their allegorical character and value. Speaking of Abraham and his two sons, one born of a bondmaid and the other of a freewoman, Paul says, "Which things contain an allegory" (Gal. 4:24 A.V.). He explains that these two sons are symbolical of two covenants. Then he opens up a teaching rich in spiritual import, which is entirely lost on one who reads the story of Abraham merely as an historical narrative. Read carefully the 4th chapter of Galatians and see the spiritual import or idea that is back of the story as told in the Old Testament.

All Christians recognize, in a measure, that Bible history is something more than just history. They may see in the journey of the Israelites to the Promised Land a picture of man's progress from sense consciousness to spiritual consciousness or, as sometimes expressed, from earth to heaven. (It must, however, be kept in mind that "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21 A.V.).

We should seek to get back of the letter of the Scriptures and to discern the spiritual meaning of every passage we consider. In symbology, in allegory, in parable was the word transmitted, and in like manner must it be translated. The visions of the prophets were plainly allegorical. Jesus throughout His ministry taught in parables and allegories, reserving for His immediate followers the inner ideas or "spirit" of the teaching instead of just the "letter" of it.

If we study the 1st chapter of Genesis in the light of Spirit, we find that it describes in symbol the creative action of universal Mind in the realm of ideas, and does not pertain to the manifest world any more than the inventor's idea pertains to the machine which he afterwards builds. Keeping in mind the trinity of mind, idea, and expression we know that creation takes place in the realm of mind and that we can understand the story of creation given in Genesis only by applying it to the realm in which it belongs.

All creation starts first with an idea. The idea is in Divine Mind. The idea begins to "press out" or "express" itself in mind; that is, it begins its development by drawing to itself from the mind substance thoughts that assist it in its growth toward its own completion or fulfillment in mind. The final step will be manifestation as mentioned in the second paragraph below.

The six days of creation described in the 1st chapter of Genesis represent six great, ideal projections from Divine Mind, six steps that are necessary in the working out in mind of any ideal. The starting point is like a seed, and this seed idea must unfold in all its details in mind, in much the same way as the details of his plan unfold in the inventor's or the architect's mind before he makes the drawing or blueprint. The assembling together of these ideal projections is climaxed in the creation of "ideal man." This ideal man is created in the image and after the likeness of God, and he is the lord of creation. To him is given dominion over every created thing. Dominion belongs to every man, but only he exercises it properly who understands himself to be essentially this "ideal man." So man is to take dominion and have authority over all the ideas that are included in his own divine nature, "ideal man," the image of God — God's idea of Himself. Man's dominion begins in the realm of ideas, and through inspiration from his source, Divine Mind, he is to familiarize himself with and learn the character and nature of all the ideas that make up the nature of God (which is his own true nature).

What evidence does the Bible give that this is an ideal and not a manifest creation?

That the creation outlined in the 1st chapter of Genesis is in the realm of ideas is shown in the 5th verse of the 2d chapter, where it is written that "no plant ... was yet in the earth and no herb of the field ... for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground" (Gen. 2:5). This statement is made after creation is described as complete. "Manifestation" is the result of the expression of ideas in mind. We may say that the inventor's machine that appears in physical form, or the house of brick and stone that the builder sets up, is the "manifestation" of ideas first expressed in the mind of these persons.

What is Jehovah, the Lord God of the Scriptures?

In the 1st chapter it is God Elohim who creates. God is the one source from which the character of everything proceeds; He is inwrapped in every living creature as its life and primal idea. In the 2d chapter, after the work of God is said to be finished, it is the Lord God (or Jehovah) who is named as Creator. This Lord God (or Jehovah) is the Christ, spiritual man; God immanent as the law of one's being; the divine idea as the creative power in all living forms.

Ideal man is I AM; manifest man is "I will." I AM is the Lord God (Jehovah) of the Scriptures, and "I will" is the Adam man. One represents the inner man, and the other the outer, or formed man. It is the I AM that forms and breathes into the "I will" man "the breath of life" (Gen. 2:7). In the realm of the ideal, we are I AM; when we are expressing and interpreting the ideas of Divine Mind in our thoughts and in our acts, we are "I will." The I AM is the archetype, the perfect pattern, the reproduction of God. It is that Spirit which is implanted in each human being and which is to unfold into the likeness of all that is God's nature. I AM is pure Being. (Charles Fillmore Christian Healing 33-34). Manifest man is in a state of becoming; he is unfolding according to his stage of enlightenment. Just to the extent that he awakens, or to the extent that he wills to receive these divine ideas, they are revealed or "breathed" into him. Man's part is to form them, or make them manifest in the physical realm.

I AM is the pre-existent spiritual idea of God in man; it is that which holds man together as an entity. The body is held together as an aggregation of ideas and forces by the power of the central I AM. I AM in expression is the will of man, and everything centers about the will. I AM moves itself forth into the "I will" through its innate power to express itself. Thoughts of life vitalize and energize both mind and body. Thoughts of power give mastery and dominion. Thoughts of intelligence impart the knowing quality. Thoughts of abundant substance give the consciousness of plenty. Thoughts of love and peace unify and harmonize all the forces of man and his relations to his fellows.

Thought is a magnet working in accordance with the law of attraction, so that each idea, desire, or feeling exerts its attractive power to draw to itself everything of its own nature or character in order to develop itself. All thoughts of strength are attracted to one another, and make in consciousness a strength center which builds cells of like character in the body, and we say the man is strong and muscular.

An aggregation of ideas in mind is metaphysically termed a "thought center." The center of anything is the point in the middle or at the core of it. A "thought center" is the nucleus or central idea around which revolve or cluster other thoughts, which cause desires and feelings and make states of mind corresponding to the central idea. As the thought centers group ideas of a kindred nature, they build up cells in the body by which the ideas may become manifest; the cells in turn group themselves together and thus organs are formed in the body for the purpose of bringing into manifestation the particular idea that is at the center. We think of love as expressing itself through a center in the body that we call "the heart." The head is symbolic of the intelligence center, the back represents the strength center, and the throat is thought of as the center of the expression of power. We manifest in our body and affairs all the dominant states of mind that we have built up in consciousness through acceptance, consciously or unconsciously. Should we at any time manifest a lack of any of the qualities of Divine Mind in our body, we can build them into our consciousness through our affirmations until they come into manifestation in the physical body. I AM is the creative power and "I will" is the executive power that brings these divine qualities into manifestation.

How does man lose his consciousness of divine harmony?

When the will gets so absorbed in the realm of manifestation (or the effect side of life) that it loses sight of the ideal and centers its attention wholly upon the external, it is Adam (unenlightened) listening to the voice of the serpent and hiding from the Lord God. This breaks, in consciousness, the connection between Spirit and manifestation, and thus man fails to experience the harmony which is his under divine law.

To maintain conscious contact with the physical (the manifest), man has developed the organs of sense, so that he may be able to function in the realm of manifestation. When not functioning consciously under the direction of the I AM, the "will" may be led away from a consciousness of the spiritual. In this state of mind, man is no longer consciously in touch with the source of wisdom and power, the Lord God. In Mysteries of Genesis 57, Charles Fillmore interprets Gen. 3:22-24 as follows: "Will became independent of wisdom, and an unbalanced condition in both mind and body was set up." We find man in this adverse state of mind being temporarily cut off in his thoughts and feelings from the real source of his supply, the life principle, the "tree of life." Man is thus described as being driven from the Garden of Eden, or paradise.

This is what man has termed the "fall of man." It means that man has separated himself in his own consciousness from the "tree of life," from I AM, Lord God, the divine in man. This leaves man with only a knowledge of the manifest realm. Because man believes that he is separated from the unlimited source of divine ideas, he may misinterpret the evidence of his senses. When man lets his senses rule him and indulges their demands, he is misusing his powers, thus limiting the expression of his life substance. This reacts on his consciousness in the form of pain, fear infests his mind, and inharmony results in all phases of his existence. When man leaves God out of his calculation, when he feels that he is quite sufficient in himself and does not need any divine help or guidance, he naturally loses his conscious connection with infinite and eternal life and depends on what he thinks is his own power. Man must draw from Divine Mind day by day, through prayer, the ideas that will enable him to live abundantly.

Adam is the name we give to the "type man."

"Adam is perfectly legitimate in his right place, and that place is the consciousness of the omnipresence of the Father; here he is back again in the Garden of Eden" (Talks on Truth 15).

What and where is the "tree of life" as spoken of in the Scriptures?

Man's real problem is to become aware that he belongs in the "Garden of Eden" (Gen. 2:8). The "garden" represents mind substance, which man is to cultivate as he would a garden. It has in it infinite possibilities, and it is the true sphere of man. Through this "Garden of Eden" (harmony) man is to live in the consciousness of universal Spirit or Mind, in which there are unlimited ideas. He is to carefully plant and care for these ideas in his consciousness, so that he may eternally progress to greater and greater satisfaction. The "way back" in consciousness is through the knowledge of Truth.

"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth ... He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13, 14).

Man must know the truth about himself and not rest in the false belief that he is only what he appears to be. He must consciously know himself as he is in Divine Mind. As he discovers the truth of his being, he will in like degree throw off the limitations that he has accumulated through turning his attention away from his true source.

How is man restored to divine harmony?

There is but one man, one divine Idea: the only begotten, the Christ; the real of every man which is to come forth through "manifest man" in his thinking, feeling, speaking, acting, and reacting. When we understand this truth and conform all our thinking to it, order and harmony will characterize all our manifestations in mind, body, and affairs. Through man God is bringing into outward manifestation that which exists in the ideal. To measure up to his possibilities, man must understand divine law and his relation to it.

Jesus Christ understood God and man. He not only recognized man's relation to God as son but He knew what man's true work is in expressing that sonship. When "manifest man" looks at the universe in which he lives, he often discounts his own value to the Creator. He thinks he is only here for a brief span in which time he must strive for material possessions, must "make a living." When enlightenment comes, man sees that life is eternal; that he need not strive for material possessions and position for they are the "added things" that come from seeking God's kingdom (realm of divine ideas) and His righteousness (right use of the ideas). He realizes that he is not here to "make a living"; as Charles Fillmore once expressed it, "Man is here to live his making and his making will make his living."

Having established the truth that divine ideas are his inheritance, man comes to appreciate material things as the manifest forms of those ideas. Only as he takes hold of the ideas that are the spiritual patterns for all form will man find the satisfaction he sought in the search for things of themselves.

With the new viewpoint of his own purpose in life, man sees other people in a new light. Especially does he see children as belonging to God, and not personal possessions. He no longer makes idols of his children or of his possessions.

What is the object of man's existence?

Jesus taught that man is here to express God. The spiritual conception, then, is regeneration, which is the reproduction of God's perfect ideas, the making of God manifest. Regeneration also includes the restoration of the earth to the glory that it has as a creation of the one perfect Mind, that God may be known in the manifest as well as in the ideal realm. All men should be about the Father's business even as was Jesus, and they will be when they realize Truth. All work for personal gain alone becomes meaningless beside the great universal work of bringing about the restoration of all things "that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old" (Acts 3:21).

Give the phases of man as a threefold being

This work of restoration must be done by each individual; that is, each one must first awaken to the knowledge that he is a spiritual being. Studying the complete, perfect man that is the real of each individual we find that man is a trinity, a triune being: spirit, soul, body (Lessons In Truth Lesson 3 Annotation 4).

Man's spirit is God immanent in him; the Seed of God, the Word (Logos) of God, the image of God, Christ, the Son of God, Lord God (Jehovah), law of God, I AM, spiritual man. Man's spirit is Divine Mind individuated as spiritual man, unchangeable, eternal, infinite, without limitation of any kind. It is the composite Idea of Divine Mind, in which are infolded all the ideas of God Mind awaiting conscious recognition and use by each person. It is the Superconscious or Christ Mind.

Man's soul is his self-consciousness, that phase of his being in which he thinks and feels and knows himself to be I am I or I will, the individual, thus producing a consciousness of himself as a spiritual being. Man's soul is the second emanation of the creative law of God, the second movement toward expression and manifestation of the life, substance, and intelligence of Divine Mind. In man's soul are the conscious phase of mind, where thinking and reasoning are done, and the subconscious phase of mind, or realm of feeling.

Man's body is primarily the "temple of God" (I Cor. 3:16). It is life, substance, and intelligence in form and shape. It is formed spiritual substance, but in its appearance it manifests or shows forth in the visible realm as a physical body according to the stage of consciousness that the soul has reached.

Explain the result if he fails to recognize this unity of his being

As the soul of man develops a consciousness of the powers and abilities that are within it, and unfolds in the understanding and use of them, his body or physical organism shows forth this development in health and wholeness. If man in his soul nature (i.e., his mind) fails to recognize and accept the Truth about himself as a spiritual being and lets his thinking (conscious phase of mind) and feeling (subconscious phase of mind) be governed by appearances of lack and limitation, then his physical organism will fail to show forth the health and wholeness that are really his by divine right as a son of God. The body of man is the obedient servant of the soul and it takes the form or appearance that the soul images for it. It shows forth in manifestation whatever state of consciousness the soul forms through thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting.

The consciousness of this trinity of man's being should never be broken in his thinking, feeling, word, action or reaction. Man should consciously hold fast to the spiritual ideal of himself. By recognizing the spirit within as the Real, the unchanging, eternal Self, he will live in a constant and continuous realization of the Source of his good and of his oneness with it. By recognizing the soul as an integral phase of his threefold nature (life, substance, and intelligence in expression) he grows more refined in his thinking and feeling, thus bringing forth the "likeness" of the perfect image within. By recognizing the body as the "temple of God" as life, substance, and intelligence in manifestation, or form, he no longer thinks of the body as separate from its source. He consciously identifies it with Spirit, by which it is sustained with spiritual food (divine ideas) in a condition of health and wholeness in the manifest realm.

What is the way to build a consciousness of life eternal?

Salvation (the innate divinity within each of us) makes us safe and sound in both soul and body when we believe ourself to be the son of God and respond to the activity of the Spirit within us. (Lesons in Truth Lesson 9 Annotation 10 and How I Used Truth Lesson 1 Annotation 10 on "salvation.") We must believe in God's indwelling Presence and Power and in our oneness (sameness) with Him; that is, we must understand that the real and eternal Self of each of us is the Christ, the Son, the I AM, the image-likeness of God, and we must continually identify ourself with this eternal Self, our only salvation. To "identify" is to make to be the same, to coalesce or grow together in interest, purpose, use, effect. We consciously identify ourself with the I AM, our own spiritual nature, as we use the power of I AM to direct our thoughts, feelings, words, based on the divine ideas inhering in Christ (I AM).

When the human consciousness is unenlightened we take on limited beliefs of what we really are. There is a great truth in the scriptural statement of Jesus: "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt. 12:37). We condemn ourself to sickness, weakness, and poverty when we speak such words as "I am sick," "I am weak," "I am poor," because we identify ourself with the beliefs that produce these adverse conditions. What we believe acts as a mental law for us, a law that we make for ourself only. The law is that whatever the belief may be with which we identify ourself, we will manifest in mind, body, and affairs a like condition either "condemned" or "justified." This is the mental law of cause and effect at work.

The privilege and responsibility of consciously establishing this at-one-ment and right identification rests with each of us. If we would manifest divine perfection, we must affirm and accept the Truth embodied in the following statements:

  • I am the offspring of God.
  • I am the Son of God.
  • I am perfect even as my Father in heaven is perfect.
  • I have the Christ Mind.
  • I am one with the Father.
  • I am life.
  • I am intelligence.
  • I am power.
  • I am substance.
  • I am love.
  • I am strength.

What is Christ? Explain fully how Christ is man's salvation. (See Colossians 1:27)

This is recognizing the Son, the perfect-man ideal, Christ 'the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). We further acknowledge this Son of God by acting on the faith that these affirmations are true; by manifesting our divine nature in all departments of our being. There is no purpose in affirming our strength and then being weak and fearful when a seemingly hard task confronts us; no use in declaring that we are substance, and then feeling limited in our consciousness. Whoever really acknowledges the Son will be acknowledged by the Father. Man will come into his divine inheritance only by laying hold of his heritage (divine ideas) in thought, in word, and in deed.

In the Scriptures the word man is used sometimes to refer to him in his true state as a spiritual being, the "Son of God," and sometimes it refers to him as the "son of man," the unfolding and growing man that is known as a human being. Paul charged Timothy in this wise: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15). When we read such passages as "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7) and "As for man, his days are like grass" (Psalms 103:15), we need to follow Paul's counsel and "divide" and apply Scripture texts aright, thus avoiding the confusion that arises from apparent contradictions in the Bible.

This "rightly handling" is important, because many read passages about man as a sinner condemned to die for his sin, and overlook the passages that call man righteous and heir to eternal life through the indwelling Christ. Their way of "rightly handling" (or "rightly dividing" as the Authorized Version reads) the word of Truth is to see man helplessly and hopelessly a sinner until he dies, and then perfect and eternal after death.

This "division" will not hold good, as we shall find when we follow the revelations of the spirit of Truth. Here and now is salvation, but we must believe in it, accept it, lay hold of it. Death is the wages of sin, the result of sin, and cannot open the way to glory and to eternal life.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).

"For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes him should have eternal life" (John 6:40).

"He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life" (I John 5:12).

"For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself" (John 5:26).

Man must consciously abide in the knowledge that he is a spiritual being, that there is but one life, and that through his Christ self he is that eternal life. This consciousness can only be attained by €Fe practice of withdrawing oneself from externalities and by frequent periods of meditation and prayer in which one fixes one's attention on this divine Indweller until the Christ becomes an actuality as well as an ideal.

Ability to discern the Son, the indwelling Christ, comes from God, Spirit. When Peter confessed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16), Jesus answered "Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17).

In seeking to bring forth the perfect man, "the Christ of God" (Luke 9:20), we must keep before us the true standard, the one ideal man, the image of God, the Divine Indweller that was created "In the beginning" (Gen. 1:1). We are not to look to anything outside of ourself as our guide but to take the same image that Jesus took. By constantly beholding this indwelling pattern, God's idea of Himself, we identify ourself with it until we become in manifestation that which God is. We will grow in consciousness until, like Jesus, we can say, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9); "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). It is this Christ within us that is to be brought forth into the flesh, and nothing outside our own consciousness can do this.

In reading the Scriptures we find the expression "Son of man." In the Old Testament it occurs in the prophecies of Ezekiel some eighty-nine times; it also appears in the Book of Daniel. In the New Testament we find the same expression used in connection with Jesus some eighty times. In some instances the Old Testament, in writing the phrase "son of man," used a small "s". In the New Testament we find it written "Son of man," the capital letter being used invariably in the word "Son". "The son of man" indicates that which is essentially human in man's character or consciousness.

To whom do we refer when we say: "Son of God"; "Son of man"; "son of man"?

The "Son of God is spiritual man, the Spirit, I AM, Christ, the image of God, God immanent.

The "Son of man" is the soul of man as a human being awakened and illumined to the divine nature andxf character of man, consciously showing forth the "likeness" of God, by seeking to conform his thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting to the divine standard. It is the highest concept of the human or moral man blending into the divine by expressing the divine nature in thought, word, deed.

The "son of man" is also the soul or the human being, but one who is not awakened and illumined to his innate divinity and is not yet conscious of the powers and abilities within him. It is to such a soul that Paul said, "Awake O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light" (Eph. 5:14).

We need to bear in mind that even though each individual may not always be aware of it, it is the aim and purpose of the son of man to be awakened to Truth; Paul knew this when he said "Awake, O sleeper"; when awakened the son of man (the soul or human mind) begins to learn and live the Truth and in the unfolding becomes the Son of man, seeking to express consciously the divine ideal or Son of God so that He may come forth in manifestation -— "the Word made flesh."

"HIS LIKENESS"

How does God look?" said my little lass.
At her questions I often smiled;
But this time I offered a prayer, instead,
For guidance to help my child.

"God's face is seen in the heart of a rose,
In the bud of a lily white,
In the brightness of sunshine after rain,
And the charm of a moonlight night;
In the beauty of everlasting hills,
The trees with their leafy shade,
In the sky above and the earth beneath,
And all things He has made.
But the dearest picture I ever saw,
The clearest and finest too.
Is His likeness in hearts that hallow His name
And seek His works to do."

"Now I know how God looks," said my little lass—
Her sweet words dropped like dew,
And left a song in my weary heart—"I think God looks like you."

Nettie Cole King.


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