Living with God as Sons and Daughters
...our Adoption into the Family
AS WE PUT OUT THESE SIMPLE MASCHIL publications, I always find myself subject to what I'm presently hearing from the Holy Spirit. This generally means what I write reveals where the dealings of God are in my life. Well, right now, He's dealing with me about being a son. This means growing up. And, yes, it means embracing Romans Truth and Ephesians Truth--all the way.
Probably nothing could please our Heavenly Father more than that we all come on to the maturity to which He's called us, for which He redeemed us--and for which we, ourselves, yearn.
Many of us don't know how to relate to God as Father, or how to regard ourselves as a son or a daughter in His family. I don't even have a systematic way to write about this relationship. I simply know the Holy Spirit is drawing me into the warm bosom of the Father, to abide there in unbroken communion with Him. Here, we find the life released unto us through His Son, Jesus, flowing in us and through us. That's probably the greatest maturity there is. Amazingly, this maturity comes on as we become weaker in ourselves. It often seems our inability to perform what God wants will take us from His will. But, we're learning it can, instead, be an aid to us in performing it. Let those who are weak take heart.
If we allow it, our weakness can bring us to His strength--whether it be physical weakness, emotional weakness, mental weakness, or spiritual weakness. In a relationship with the Father we can find a release of Life--and Strength--to overcome our weakness in every dimension of life.
Now, we must see this: the beginning of strength from Him arrives in us as spiritual strength, even though our weakness may seem to be physical, or emotional, or mental. When we receive His strength in our spirit, all that is needed of emotional strength, mental strength, and even physical strength becomes ours to do what He wants.
I think we're beginning to find something of what Paul meant when he said, For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure--Philippians 2:13. Worketh is from the Greek energéo. It means "to be an energizing force working from within." To do is from the same Greek word. This verse means, "For it is God Who is the Energizing Force in you, both to release the knowledge of what He wants and then to supply the energy to perform what pleases Him most."
The above powerful statement from Paul comes after he said, …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. This doesn't mean, "Work to finally obtain your salvation." It means, "Realize the practical working power of your salvation, even as you are fearful and trembling over your own personal weakness.
Oh, what God offers us! Many of us are coming to our weakest moment only to find His call remaining upon us. The impossibility of our performing it remains upon us to press us on into performing it--with the strength He gives.
This is what maturity is. It comes out of a relationship with the Father, with the life of His only begotten Son moving through us.
IT WAS IN THE AREA OF RELATIONSHIP with the Father that Jesus got into trouble with religious people. If we enter into the same, we might expect the same kind of response. Take note of this.
16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
In other words: "What I am doing proceeds from what My Father is doing. Even though He is in the heavens, His work proceeds through me here."
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
Sadly, the religious training of the people around Jesus, coupled with their lack of spiritual understanding, caused them to reject Him. What natural thinking person could understand what Jesus was saying?
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
This is The Definitive Statement of sonship. Amazingly, it is this to which the Holy Spirit is drawing us. We'll see this as we go on.
This statement in the above verse 19 needs our closer look. The translation we've used here is rather weak when compared with the Greek. The words can do come from the Greek dúnatai, which basically means "to be able; to be strong enough to do something." It's related to that powerful word dúnamis which means power." This is what Jesus said, "The Son doesn't have power in Himself to do anything. He can only present Himself as a vessel through which the Father's work and power, from the heavens, can flow."
THE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE AROUND JESUS couldn't stand Him because He walked in a relationship with His heavenly Father. He didn't fit their concept of what a religious person should be. His life did not consist in adhering to rules and religious regulations like theirs did. They contended and hoped for the approval of God; the Lord Jesus lived with that approval--and acceptance--already upon Him.
Now--the amazing grace of it is that He has opened the way for us to come into the same acceptance and approval that He has. This is what Ephesians Truth is all about--and Philippians and Colossians, and Hebrews.
Jesus did things contrary to the religious law of His day--not immoral things, but ceremonial things. This is because He lived on so high a plain that those laws had already come to fulfillment in Him. For instance, they thought He broke the Sabbath when, in fact, He lived in a perpetual sabbath. He was at rest with His Father, watching Him work, then performing what He saw Him doing with the strength that came from Him.
What a mystery Jesus was to those religious people! He lived out of the heavens whose resources were replete with fullness. With Him, there was no lack of provision, for the natural man or for the spiritual. What rest! What a Sabbath! Even in storms He could lay down and sleep. Even in conflict with the greatest enemy, He rose again, a greater Victor. Doesn't Hebrews 4 point us likewise to this?
This is the secret of those who are described in Daniel 11:32b. ...but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
We take note that "exploits" is not in the original of this verse. It simply says, .... .but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do."
Do anything necessary for the carrying on of life when all the forces of hell have determined to prevent it.
Know in the above verse means to know intimately, in a warm and abiding relationship. It is not a word describing someone who hopes He might know God one day, or who knows Him by reciting a creed. It is a word describing those whose knowledge of Him is a settled thing.
Shall be strong, in the above Daniel verse, needs a closer look. To understand it, we need to look back at Daniel 10:19. This same word came to Daniel when he was eighty-nine years old, had been fasting three weeks, and was being visited by the angel Gabriel. These are three reasons for awful weakness! What old man who hasn't eaten for so long could perform anything, especially in the fearsome presence of an archangel?
Take note how Gabriel spoke to Daniel. O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.
A word from an angel hardly compares with a word from the Holy Spirit, or from the Father, or from the Lord Jesus. But we see the force of the word be strong. It means, "Enter into strength, you who are weak." Thus, the word in Daniel 11:32b has this force of meaning: "The people that do know their God intimately shall be made strong out of their weaknesses, and shall carry on with life even when all the power of hell says they cannot."
NOW, THERE 1S A WONDERFUL thing about all this. That same relationship in which Jesus lived with His Father is open for us--that same wisdom, that same power, that same provision for living out of the resources of the heavens. Jesus came to bring us into a relationship with His Father that, according to Paul, makes us joint-heirs with Him--Romans 8:17. (We'll look at this momentarily.)
Jesus laid out the foundation for us to understand this in John 14:6. He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. He was talking, not about our getting into heaven, but, about our coming unto the Father. If we listen to Him, we see this is the salvation He offers us. If we get this matter settled, all of life can become settled. There is no place so secure and rich as in the warm relationship that can be ours--here and now--with our heavenly Father. And, of course, this settles where we spend eternity.
I grew up with a lack in knowing what a father should be. By observing my natural dad, I gained little appreciation for that relationship. With his lacks and personal hurts--along with his inability to be all I needed as a son--he was still the father God gave me. I'm thankful for him and the family we had.
When I came to know the Lord Jesus as my Savior, the first thing He did was introduce me to His Father. It's as though He said, "Father, here's Ed. Please receive him into Our family."
A song I knew then expressed what became a reality for me. My God and I walk in the fields together. We walk and talk as good friends should and do. In those early days I walked through the woods and fields with Him. I found I could talk with Him about anything. I even learned to listen. He became my Father-Friend--and has remained that. I'm coming to see this relationship has eternity in it. It never ceases.
Recently, when talking with someone about the Father, I noticed him weeping. It was a new concept. Actually, this has happened more than once lately. The Father isn't Someone to Whom some people can easily relate. All too many have had so poor a relationship with their father that it confuses them about their heavenly Father.
That's the reason we have a Savior. He's come to bring us to His Father. And, marvel of marvels, the Holy Spirit has come to make this relationship very real.
PAUL LAID OUT THE WONDERFUL THEOLOGY of what happens when we come to know God. He made a powerful statement in Romans 8, and again in Galatians 4. Seeing these will help stabilize us in this grandest of all relationships. We look at the Galatians passage first because it lays open the foundation of what Paul said in Romans 8.
4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
The adoption of sons is a marvelous term from the Greek huiothésia. It means "placement in a household as a mature son." Amazingly, it describes one who is mature and ready to receive his or her inheritance. Note how it is associated with redemption. God has redeemed us that we might receive "son-placement" in His household. The Redemption leads to this.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Abba is a term of endearment for one's father. It's kind of like saying "Daddy" or "Papa." Jesus used this word when He prayed in Gethsemane, while He was exceeding sorrowful unto death, before He went to the Cross (Mark 14:36). In that dark hour, because They had that intimate relationship, He was able to submit to what His Father wanted. Now the Holy Spirit has come into our hearts crying the same, enabling us to submit to what God wants. Oh! But we can trust Him!
Now, note this: Because we have been weakened in our spirits--by sin, by trouble, by pain, by betrayal, by all kinds of failure--the Holy Spirit undertakes to accomplish what God wants for us by coming in us and acknowledging the Father for us. Actually, He is the Spirit of His Son, the same Spirit Who moved in Jesus, now ready to effect in you and me the same powerful Father-Son relationship They had.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
A servant is aloof; a son is close. Servant is from the Greek doúlos, a "bond slave," one sold out to his master, but not a natural heir in the household. In Christ Jesus, we are elevated to become an heir of God--to receive His strength, His wisdom, His energy with all the resources of His Kingdom. Little mites that we are, all His strength; wisdom, and energy come to us for the performance of His will. So great a power it is, yet it does not come to overwhelm or destroy us but, rather, to release the exact amount of strength, wisdom, and enabling grace needed to carry us through any trial--and to do anything the Father wants.
THE PASSAGE IN ROMANS relating to this is full of wonder. For many years I've looked at it only to have it still elude me. I've read it in the Original, seen the depth of it, explained it, and even grasped a measure of its light. But for too long I've failed to receive its substance into my inner man.
Let's look at it closely. Then, together, we'll open ourselves to its power and grace.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
The exact way Paul made this statement in the Greek is significant. He placed no Definite Article with sons. Greek Nouns with no Definite Article have a qualitative emphasis. This means the emphasis is upon the quality of what they name, not on the definiteness. Those to whom this statement applies receive in themselves the quality of being a son in God's family.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Here we see those wonderful words adoption and Abba Father again. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of adoption--"the Spirit of son-placement." It's by His effectual work in us that we can know the Father intimately. He helps us crawl up on God's lap and say, "Daddy."
Then everything becomes all right.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Besides enabling us to know God, the Holy Spirit communicates with our human spirits. He releases in us things only our spirits can know. This leads to so intimate and clean a knowledge that our minds sometimes can't lay hold on it. It's a knowing so deep in our spirits that it becomes like a foundation to all else that we see, experience, think, or believe.
17 And if children, 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.
All this means, no matter what comes, I'm a child born into God's household, through His Son, Jesus. All the inheritance Jesus has He shares with me.
The word children is interesting. It's from tékna and means "one birthed into a family." The adoption goes beyond a mere legal transaction and does actually make the adopted one into one born into the family. This is the miracle of The New Birth--John 3:3-8.
Now, being born into the family puts us in line as an heir. An "heir" is one who obtains a portion as decreed by a will, or a testament. The reception and size of the portion depends on the wealth and wish of the one who made the will, not on the needs or wish of the heir.
But not only is there an inheritance, there is a joint inheritance. In the household of God, we become joint-heirs with Christ. What He received, we receive. Of all His wealth, the most precious is the relationship with His heavenly Father that He shares with us.
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.
Just as with Jesus, this relationship with the Father will bring on sufferings. But, oh, what purpose these sufferings afford! If we let any sufferings or afflictions drive us toward Him--into deeper relationship, closer communion--we will find them instruments to bring us into greater realization of the wealth He extends to us from the heavens.
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