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Sonship, Part 24: Already sons? Or not?

Dec 12, 2012

How many of us have ever said something like this, or have heard someone else say something like: “Well, I just felt led by the Spirit to do such and such?”

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons [huios] of God.

Here again, Paul is seemingly declaring that Christians already are sons of God. Have you ever felt led by the Spirit to pray for somebody? I ran into a guy in the locker room a few weeks ago who said the Lord had kept bringing this guy named Frank into his mind. And he said, I hadn’t seen Frank for many years, and we really weren’t all that close, but for about three days in a row, I just felt like the Spirit was leading me to pray for him, and so I did.

Then, he said, I ran into this other friend of mine who said he had taken Frank out on an overnight hike up on Mt. Mitchell, NC (which is the tallest peak east of the Rockies) and he said that there on Mt. Mitchell Frank—who had been a severe drug and alcohol abuser—had given his life over to the Lord.

Well, brothers and sisters, we know that these kinds of events are marvelous testimonies of the working of the Holy Spirit, both in the life of the new Christian and in the life of the Christian who had been led by the Spirit to pray for Frank. We are led by the Spirit often. The question is: does that make us fully mature sons? I think not. It does make us sons-in-training though, and we will see this more clearly as we go on.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons [huios] of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption [huiothesia son-placing], whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children [teknon=offspring] of God:

17 And if children [teknon], then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; [and here’s the kicker, if you will] if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

You see, our sonship is not a fully-completed present reality yet in the life of any Christian. Our growth into mature sons is our sanctification process. We are only interested in the timing aspect at this point, so we will come back to this passage later.

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Contrary to much of the shallow teaching emanating from many Christian pulpits, we do not become sons of God the moment we are converted to faith in Christ. It is a lifelong process which culminates at a point in time which is described in some passages we will come to shortly. Let us now look at Philippians 2.

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

As I taught in my Tabernacle in the Wilderness series of lectures, this working out our own salvation is our sanctification phase of salvation. But even as we work, we always recognize that it is Christ being formed in us, and that it is His Holy Spirit working in us, or as the next verse says:

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:


15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke,

In my view, the verb “may be” meaning “may become” applies equally to the phrase “sons of God.” That ye may become the sons of God, without rebuke,…

in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

When is Paul going to rejoice? There’s a hint: “In the day of Christ.” We simply need to identify what day or, more accurately, to what period of time that is referring. When does adoption take place?

1 John 2:28 And now, little children,

Notice how John is addressing them: little children.

abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

KJV 1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons [teknon] of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

2 Beloved, now are we the sons [teknon] of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Besides the fact that John does not even use the word huios there for “sons,” but rather teknon, which usually indicates the offspring in general, but when contrasted with huios, then teknon definitely indicates one who is less than a mature son.

But here John says that on the one hand we are the teknon, the offspring of God, and then he immediately makes it clear that we are not there yet, because that fullness of sonship does not happen until the second coming of Christ, when we shall be like Him and see Him as He is, and see Him face to face. While we await His second coming, John exhorts his followers to practice holiness—which is sanctification.

3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

(To be continued.)

Category: Teaching