"No one knows the Son, save the Father;
neither doth any know the Father, save the Son..." Matt. 11:27.
"No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom
of the Father, He has declared Him... And I have seen, and have borne witness
that this is the Son of God." John 1:18,34.
"He that believeth not has been judged already, because he has not believed
on the name of the only begotten Son of God... The Father loves the Son... he
that believeth on the Son has eternal life." John 3:18,35-36.
"The Father loves the Son... the Son also gives life to whom He will."
"Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" John 9:35-37.
"This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of
God may be glorified thereby." John 11:4.
"...Glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee." John 11:4.
"...That they may know the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden." Col. 2:2-3.
"Beloved, now are we children of God..." 1 John 3:1-2.
"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of
God ... delivered ... into the liberty of the glory of the children of God."
"...That ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God without
blemish..." Phil. 2:15.
"...Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto
himself..." Eph. 1:5.
Continuing in our meditations on Christ in the
glory as our sufficiency, we now come to another feature of His resources which
is related to sonship.
In the first place let us note that there is a
difference between the titles of our Lord Jesus Christ as Son of Man and Son of
God. They embrace two aspects of truth and work.
As Son of God the Lord Jesus represents that
side of truth in which God Himself was manifested in flesh. After the fall God
never again entrusted His work to man. "God was in Christ." Christ was
Immanuel, God is with us. The title Son of Man shows us another side of
Christ: God is recovering in the form of man and for man what he has lost. It
means God has come down to this earth as man; He has identified Himself with man
in order to redeem him. But that title 'Son of Man' goes far beyond the ordinary
human level. Our Lord Jesus Christ stands far above all other men in His nature.
He is the Son of Man from heaven, or, as the Scriptures say, "who is in
heaven". That could not be said of any other man. They all were from the
earth. Christ alone was from heaven as "the only begotten Son". It is important
to understand the meaning of this.
The Lord Jesus was not altogether the only
begotten Son. That expression has nothing to do with begetting, for the
Scriptures tell us that every believer is begotten of God. Now it does not mean
that. That expression has to do with the kind of birth. The Lord Jesus was
uniquely begotten; He was the only one of this kind. He stood alone as such. All
of us have been begotten through the Word of Christ and the Spirit. But all of
us are sinners by nature, because "that which is born of the flesh is
flesh". Therefore Paul says of us who are "in Christ" that "the body is
dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness". Over
against that the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in flesh was something unique.
There was no sin in Him who had come in the likeness of sinful flesh. The Son of
God was once for all and in a unique way born. That is the meaning of "the only
begotten Son". He is the Son of Man out from heaven. Both His titles are divine
and belong to heaven. As Son of Man and Son of God He is different from all
other men. We must not separate these two titles.
As to the practical application, a very great
deal is being bound up with the fact that the Lord Jesus was the Son of God.
Notice how often the Lord Jesus refers to His sonship, how much depended upon
that for Him. It meant everything to Him. If He had not known it He would have
been without the main strength which characterised His life. He lived
triumphantly and worked mightily and effectively, because He knew that He was in
that essential relationship with His Father.
Let us be diligent that we too derive our
strength from the living knowledge that we are, through our Lord Jesus Christ,
sons of God. The very fact that He was the Son of God brought to Him a wonderful
strength which made Him superior to all other men, in position as well as a
person. It was a right kind of superiority, and marked by deepest humility. He
could truly say of Himself: "I am meek and lowly in heart". Yet there was
a wonderful strength and dignity about Him. Despised of men, with no earthly
estate, He could lift up His head like a king. The consciousness that He
possessed what no man had was without any self-assertiveness. It saved Him from
an 'inferiority complex' which is never a sign of humility. He knew that He had
a mission from above. He had a perfect right to stand up among men. He could
meet them all, poor and rich, because He knew that God had sent Him. And men recognised that strength in Him. They were conscious of a dignity and a power
which was about Him that compelled them to say of Him that He was speaking "as
having authority and not as the scribes". He had perfect confidence in what
He said and the way He took. The explanation is found on the ground of who He
was. "I am come down from heaven." It was sonship which gave Him this
strength - that wonderful relationship He had with His Father.
Now the spiritual value of that divine sonship
is ours. This does not mean that there has to be any pride or conceit. We have
to be like He was, meek among men, lowly in heart and unassuming. There has to
be no self-assertiveness, yet we must have the strength of the Son of God. We
ought never to have anything apologetic about our testimony. We are sons of God.
John says: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that
we should be called children of God; and we are." It is the affirmation of a
fact. "Now we are the children of God". Let us stand upon that fact. What
a strength would be ours if we truly recognised the position we have as sons
before God through our Lord Jesus Christ! "The Father loves the Son."
That holds true for all the children of God. Sonship is based upon the Father's
special love. "The Father knows the Son." We too are known of Him. The
world knows us not. It may look at us as a very poor specimen, but it knew Him
not. But the Father knows and loves His children. That is our strength.
Then again let us note that sonship is basic to
resurrection (Rom. 1:4). The whole creation is waiting for the revealing of the
sons of God, because it was created for them. But it is now subject to vanity
and put into severe limitation. For when Adam (who was the crown of God's
creation) fell, the whole creation fell with him and sonship was suspended.
Consequently the whole creation suffers. It is groaning and in travail until
now, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. But when the sons of God
are revealed, then the creation too will be delivered from the curse of sin and
of death, and brought into glory. Thus there are high privileges bound up with
sonship. The whole creation is depending upon us. The whole universe is waiting
for the manifestation of the sons of God. How could we overlook the tremendous
meaning and vocation of our sonship? Whatever we are among men, there are
tremendous possibilities bound up with us for the world. It is unspeakably great
and has nothing to do with self-importance. For God has willed it so that
everything in this universe should depend upon us and our sonship. We are born
of God in order to be conformed into the likeness of the Son of God. Growing up
into Him we are allowed to enter into the high position of a heavenly calling
which is appointed for the sons of God.
Now sonship is the basis of God's activity. The
position and vocation of sonship has nothing to do with an 'official'
appointment. God's dealings with us are not on an official ground; it is not
because we have taken up some Christian work, or go by a certain name which
represents a special office, that God is interested in us. To be ministers or
Christian workers does not imply that God is especially working through us.
God's dealings with us are based upon our relationship with Him as children of
God. He is dealing with us as with sons. It is a spiritual thing not an official
matter. Ministry, therefore, results from a special relationship to God. The
real work of God depends on our spiritual relationship with Him, and the value
of our service is in proportion to our union with God.
Only those who are
absolutely one with God can take responsibilities for Him. Whatever we may call
ourselves, however great may be our activity for the Lord, God does not take
account of that. It is no use coming to Him and saying: "Now Lord, You know that
I am engaged in this work, and therefore I want You to help me in this." That is
no reason why He should help us. God stands by His children and only works with
them on the basis of an inward relationship. Some person who is not in an
'official' position may be far more useful to the Lord than many who have an
official ministry and position. What matters is not our spiritual knowledge or
official ministry, but our secret relationship with God. God fits us spiritually
for His service and upholds our sonship, not our office. He will see to our
position if we see to our relationship with Him.
God called Israel His
firstborn. He stood by His people on the basis of that sonship. Therefore Israel
could take an important and significant position among the nations. It was the
chosen vessel of God's testimony in the earth. But the day came when it ceased
to go on with God as His firstborn. Its inward relationship to God became merely
an outward form and God had to withdraw from His people and send them into
captivity. It would have been useless if Israel had turned to the Lord with this
complaint "Why are You dealing with us in such a way? Are we not Your
representative among the nations?" God's answer would have been: "The official
position is nothing to Me. I cannot help you as long as your relationship to Me
is not right, as long as you are not in that which your sonship means and
demands." You see our position and vocation is in relation to sonship. For that very reason the Lord Jesus put the
emphasis upon sonship. He never said that the Father loved the ministry He had
come to fulfil on this earth. But He said: "The Father loves the Son".
Position and vocation have to be based upon sonship. Without sonship they are
worthless before God.
What is the purpose of sonship? It is to
bring us into a place of spiritual responsibility. God never puts
responsibilities upon 'official people', but upon sons. Therefore He has to
train us as children in order to develop sonship in us, to bring us there where
we can take responsibilities for God. He seeks to bring us to a state of
spiritual maturity, to full growth. This cannot be done in some Bible school, or
by putting people 'into the ministry'. God never works on an official side. Oh
yes, God does take us into His school. He can also take us into His school in
some training institute. And it is a blessed thing if He does it. But God's
school is something very different from mere scholarly activity. His Word says:
"My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou
art reproved of Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son
whom He receives." Note this word "whom He receives". The exact meaning in
the Greek is not 'receives', but "whom He positions" or places. It is a matter
of position. God is seeking to develop a state in us where He can trust us. When
God is dealing with us, there is behind it a wonderful assurance that He is
going to put His trust in us. He is bringing us into a position of trust. We do
not just want to be servants, bits of a machine, but sons who have become one
with the Father, and in whose hands He can put spiritual responsibilities. When
we truly recognise this, we begin to understand why God is dealing with us as He
does. But because God is in it we know that the end is sure. He will bring His
The fact of His sonship gave to the Lord
Jesus perfect assurance as to the ultimate issue and accomplishment of
His life. It carried Him far, although He knew that the Cross was immediately
ahead, and He was going to be killed. He ministered here for three and a half
years, and then all His earthly life came to an end. How did He face it? He
regarded it as something to come and to pass, but it made no difference to Him
and His relationship to the Father. His sufferings were just a tunnel to go
through, and then to come out into the light to go on for all eternity, because
He was the Son of God. Death was a mere incident for Him, for His sonship was
indestructible, eternal. He knew that His work did not finish on the Cross, but
was going on, on the ground of resurrection for all eternity. He was not just
living for this little space of time. Thus He derived His strength from the fact
Are we saying this is the end of all? Do
we take the trials of this earthly life as something incidental which are
passing, and which make no difference to us and our inward state? We should be
aware that if we go through the grave (if the Lord tarries), it is but a passing
through into enlargement. We shall have a service and a glorious future in the
ages to come. "His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face."
This knowledge of sonship carried the Lord Jesus through the darkness of the
Cross in triumph. His last word was "Father". It would have been otherwise if
the Cross had been the end of all. His disciples thought that all had come to an
end. But later they understood that it meant something more than that. It was
the beginning of a new thing - sonship was in view. In the case of the Lord
Jesus that position of sonship brought a mighty assurance to Him as to the issue
of things. Behind it was the strength of a death-conquering eternal life.
That assurance holds good for us too. If we
look at our Lord Jesus in the glory our questions will be solved. What God is
after is the consummation of sonship. Sonship is the basis upon which the Father
gives all His fulness, which makes all things possible for us. "For the
Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things, that He does Himself." The
Lord Jesus knew that "the Father had given all things into His hands, and
that He came forth from God".
Look again at the letter to the Hebrews where
we are told that the whole inheritance is given in relation to sonship. The
Father's fulness is included in sonship. It may be that we have not much here on
earth. Certainly the Lord Jesus had not much in the way of earthly goods, but He
could say: "In my Father's house are many mansions". And what a house of
fulness this is! He knew that He was heir of all things. What is included in
this inheritance? Paul writes to the Colossians that "in Him dwells all the
fulness of the Godhead bodily". What does that mean for us? Just this, that
"in Him we are made full".
In Colossians chapter 1 we read that all the
fulness of the universe was created in Christ and unto Christ, the Son of God's
love. And in chapter 2 we see the place we have in Him. The sons are sharing the
fulness of the Son. Now there is given us a foretaste of this, for we have
received of His fulness grace upon grace. "Though now ye see Him not, yet
believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." What is that
glory? It is the day of His appearing. Something of the coming glory is shining
into our hearts now, for we believe in Him. Faith brings the future glory into
present enjoyment. Faith in Christ in heaven brings joy to our hearts. We derive
our strength from that union with Christ in the glory, in being one with Him, as
He is one with the Father. Out from Him and our fellowship with Him flows His
fulness to us.
What a privilege and joy to know that we are
sons of God through Jesus Christ our Lord; that we have become fellow-heirs of
the glory which the Father has given to His Son! There is a fulness of strength
in the knowledge of sonship. Let us seek to live continually in the
consciousness of that fact that we are sons of God.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has
bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and we are."