Sonship, part 10: Progression—A Way (Method) of God
We are continuing our examination of the subject of biblical sonship. Previously, we spent a substantial amount of time looking at the definitions of the various words which are translated as son, child, offspring, etc. in both the Old and New Testaments.
I want to refresh your memory concerning a very important principle; namely, that in order to understand the concept of sonship and its related topics we need to understand them in the context of how the ancient peoples looked upon these concepts.
Furthermore, it is not merely the concept of sons, but also the concept of firstborn, adoption, birthright and inheritance. These are all intertwined ideas. Veteran students of God’s Word often find the concept of progression occurring in various places. One could conclude that it is a modus operandi of our Father. It is one of the ways of God. We distinguish between the acts of God and the ways of God.
Psalm 103:7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
The children of Israel saw the mighty acts of God as he sent the plagues, opened the Red Sea, provided manna, came down on Mt. Sinai in thunder and smoke and fire—they saw the acts and deeds of God, but apparently only Moses was shown God’s ways at that time.
Progression seems to be one of His ways. He always seems to progress from the specific to the general, or we could say, from the particular to the universal, from the individual to the many. It is the idea that I set forth in my Bible lecture called God’s Universalism and God’s Particularism. [See below for ordering].
It is a progression. God chooses one man, then one family, then one nation, etc. He chooses a small group to minister to a larger group, which in turn ministers to an even larger group, which in turn ministers to a much larger group, until ultimately the whole cosmos is restored.
God begins with Himself in the form of His son, Jesus as an individual, and progresses to His corporate body. It then progresses to the bride, and ultimately to the rest of creation. Jesus is the center of everything. Everything originates from Him.
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist
As we consider sonship, we are examining this progression beginning with our Lord Jesus Christ. A father can have many sons, but only one firstborn son. Therefore, for now, we are going to narrow our focus from the general class of sons to the specific and particular class of one, the firstborn son.
But having just said we will narrow it down to one, we also realize that the concept of the single firstborn son can itself be broken down into general and specific, because there is the unique firstborn son, Jesus Christ, and then there is the company of firstborn sons.
How do we know there is a company or group of firstborn sons?… Well, that can be derived from many Scripture passages, but it is indisputably clear in the epistle to the Hebrews, where it refers…
Hebrew 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn,…
Those are not synonyms. They refer to two different groups of “saved” persons. The Greek word for church means the “assembly of the called-out ones.” Here it is clear that there is a called-out group of firstborn. This distinguishes them from other Christians, i.e., from other called-out ones who are later-born, as it were.
In my understanding, this company of firstborn sons is synonymous with the high calling that Paul referred to, the great privilege for which he was striving: to be in the first resurrection. (See Philippians 3:14.) The firstborn are those who are raised in the first resurrection. This is not all Christians, mind you, but only the company of firstborn sons which is synonymous with the overcomers, aka, the barley company. (To be continued.)
[God’s Universalism and God’s Particularism is a two-part Bible lecture (about two hours). It is available as a pair of CDs (#367 & 368), $12 postpaid; or it is available on one DVD (recommended over the audio version because of the graphics used in the lecture), DVD #D-155, $20 postpaid.]