Sonship, part 25: When do we become “sons?”
In the previous post, we were learning about when believers become “sons” of God. The Scriptures are clear that it occurs “when he shall appear,” i.e., at the second “coming” or the second “appearing” of Christ.
Without getting too far from the sonship subject, I want to make a brief point concerning eschatology. Eschatology refers to the study of the last things; i.e., the so-called “end times,” which is not the “end of the world,” the Mayan calendar ending in a few days withstanding!J
Rather, the “end times” is simply the end of an age—and the subsequent beginning of a new age. The Bible very clearly teaches about various “ages.” I am a biblical “New Ager!”J See the end of this post for information on obtaining my two-part lecture, The Doctrine of the Ages.
There are three or four major schools of thought—depending upon whom you ask. I adhere to what is sometimes called the “progressive-historical” viewpoint—also called the “Historicist” school of prophecy interpretation.
I surmise that many of my readers are familiar with the Futurist view of eschatology. It is by far the most popular today, having been fed from the pulpits and in Sunday Schools to multiplied millions of baby Christians via the Scofield Reference Study Bible for the past century.
In recent years, Futurism has been given an even greater boost in popularity—almost to a saturation level—by the Left Behind series of novels and movies. As the name implies, Futurism is all about the future, with an always-just-around-the-corner, one world dictator ready to appear. He will be THE Antichrist. There will be a seven-year tribulation for those “left behind” after the rapture of all the true believers.
Then the unraptured population will have to decide whether or not to take the mark of the beast. There will 144,000 newly-saved “Jews” who will then evangelize the world. They will finally rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and much more. I understand all that—that’s what I was taught as a newly-“saved” fundamentalist back in the 1970s.
Much less widely known is the Preterist school of eschatology (sometimes spelled “Praeterist”) and, while there are variations among those holding it, they generally agree that most prophecies in the gospels and in the book of Revelation are already past, having been fulfilled in the first century A.D.!
There are some variations (as in all schools of eschatology), but it seems that a majority of the Preterists believe that the Second Coming of Christ—or the second Appearing—is the term they like to use for the Greek word parousia, that the Second Appearing has already taken place. He already returned, according to Preterism. They contend that this was actually fulfilled in or before 70 A.D.!
Over the years I have studied the Preterist position in great detail. I find a number of (to me) unanswerable problems with it. For example, I still, for the life of me, cannot understand how one can contend that Christ has already appeared in fulfillment of the so-called “second coming” prophecies when John says very clearly (1 John 3:2, which we quoted in part 24 of this series) that we will be like Him when He appears.
To me, that means we will have had these mortal bodies transfigured or resurrected into immortal and incorruptible bodies like His. I just checked mine a minute ago and I am still mortal from every indication.
Well, as I said, that was just a comment in passing. Eschatology is a vast subject and I am not intending at this time to embark upon it. Just food for thought.
Let us return now to Romans, chapter 8, and we will discover further confirmation of what John just told us, and what Paul himself told us in Philippians 2; namely, that the adoption into fully mature sonship occurs at the day of Christ, meaning at His second coming, which marks the resurrection into vivification for the overcomers.
This passage in Romans 8 is one of my very favorite portions of Scripture because to me it is the acme, the zenith, and the goal of God’s Plan for man. We read previously and discussed the adoption in verse 15, but let us begin again in verse 14 and read right on through now, because there is another place in this passage where Paul uses that term huiothesia. (See previous parts of this series for a full explanation of the term.)
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], whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
I said we were going to read on through, but I forgot to point out earlier that the word Abba is a Chaldean word which also means “father.” Some commentators say that it is more akin to our affectionate term “daddy” or “papa.” That makes sense, of course, if we look upon adoption from the conventional viewpoint of adopting a young child into a new family.
It even makes sense from our understanding of son-placing because we are still in an immature stage of sonship. There is another possibility of why the term “father” is repeated here and that is brought out by the Syriac translation which reads: “by which we call the Father, our 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; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
We mentioned the suffering principle previously, but it is one which bears repeating: that the suffering must precede the glory. In that sense, the body-workout kings and queens are correct in their motto: no pain, no gain… No suffering, no glory. Paul continues:
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation [the anxious longing] of the creation [KJV=creature] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons [huios, the mature sons] of God.
20 For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children [huios, better translated as “sons”]
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption [huiothesia], to wit, the redemption of our body.
So right there Paul makes clear that the son-placing, the adoption, does not actually take place until we receive our glorified body. Let us compare this with Ephesians 1:13-14 where we find the idea repeated.
Ephesians1: 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
As long as we are in the book of Ephesians, let us go back to verse 3:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children
[the whole phrase, “adoption of children,” is huiothesia; son placing. And again the word children there is a poor translation because it gives modern readers the impression of the immaturity of childhood, when it really means a son who has come into full maturity. That is what Paul says we have been predestinated for…]
by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
And what is the mystery of his will? It is this…
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Does that not that remind us of Romans 8:21?—which said: Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the “sons” of God. That is the gathering of all things in creation back into one; namely, Christ Jesus. Paul goes on…
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
Part of our inheritance is that we have a role to play in that process of restoring all creation back to its pristine perfection in Christ.
There is one further mention of the word “adoption” in the Scriptures which we have yet to discuss. (To be continued.)
NOTE: Are you a “New Ager?” I am—in the biblical sense.
The Bible encompasses God’s ultimate plan for man and it is displayed on a framework of “ages.” We are on the cusp of a new age. Learn about the biblical ages and much more in my two-part study called How Long Is “Forever?”—The Doctrine of the Ages. This pair of CDs (#263 & 264) can be obtained for $12 postpaid. You can order either of two ways:
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