TRANSITIONING TO THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS

FAITH SONS AND THE HEAVENLY HOPE

February 13, 2013

  

   

    During this Memorial season, there is much confusion about the matter of sonship with God – who they are, what it means, how it is engendered.  Even as we, the authors of this site, continue to consider the topic, the Spirit of Truth continues to unveil more and more understanding.  It is not new information; it is an enhanced understanding.  

    Scriptures that we read in the Bible many times for many years are now taking on new and enhanced meaning, especially the latter part of the book of Hebrews.  In many ways, this new understanding from the Father warms the heart and soul.  It is so uplifting, yet so humbling at the same time because it has been there all this time.  We are confounded at how we could have missed such obvious references about sonship.  Therefore, we openly, humbly and unabashedly share these matters with you as you prepare for this most holy night, the Remembrance Supper on March 26, 2013, declaring the life and death of our Lord until he returns. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

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    Man is a wonderful creation of God.  When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were ‘good’ in every way. (Genesis 1:26-31) And though man was created in God’s image, we stand as representatives of the lowest order of intelligent and personal creation.  Nevertheless, there is no order of being lower than man who is capable of applying wisdom and communing with the Father in worship, or imitating and following the Christ.  Man indeed has a glory, but that glory is not the type of glory possessed by angelic or spirit beings. It is the glory of the sons of men. Man does not naturally partake of the spirit nature:

 

What is man that you keep him in mind, or [the] son of man that you take care of him? You made him a little lower than angels; with glory and honor you crowned him, and appointed him over the works of your hands.”

– Hebrews 2:6-7

 

    When Jesus lived on earth, he, too, humbled himself and took on the lesser glory of man: 

 

[B]ut we behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every [man].”

– Hebrews 2:9 

 

    The Apostle Paul emphasized this when he wrote:

 

Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men.”

 Philippians 2:5-7    

 

    Nevertheless, donning this lesser glory, Jesus had a work to do.  He came to uplift mankind to lead us to the greater glory – the glory of sons of God.

 

For it was fitting for the one for whose sake all things are and through whom all things are, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Chief Agent of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he who is sanctifying and those who are being sanctified all [stem] from one, and for this cause he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers,’ as he says: ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the middle of [the] congregation I will praise you with song.’ And again: ‘I will have my trust in him.’ And again: ‘Look! I and the young children, whom Jehovah gave me.’

– Hebrews 2:10-13

 

    While we are a divinely beloved creation, currently we are wholly mortal – flesh and blood, made of dust. (Genesis 3:19; Psalms 103:14) We are not yet by nature of the divine order, but each and every one of us may choose to accept the certain destiny of a glorious sonship, by adoption:   

                 

For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.”

– Romans 8:14-17

 

    Those of us who allow ourselves to be led by God’s spirit while on earth receive, not a true adoption; we first we receive ‘a spirit of adoption.’ It is a way of thinking and viewing ourselves.  No change in our physical make-up has yet occurred. We are still ‘sons of man’ bearing the lesser glory of men. Our status has not changed to that of true spirit sons who bear the nature and likeness of our spirit Father (John 4:24).  Instead, we are ‘faith sons’ and heirs by way of a promise:

 

You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one [person] in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”

 Galatians 3:26-29 

 

        The promise is that we will be given a new spirit body at which time we will become ‘true sons’ who partake of God’s actual divine nature:

 

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be dissolved, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. For in this dwelling house we do indeed groan, earnestly desiring to put on the one for us from heaven, so that, having really put it on, we shall not be found naked. In fact, we who are in this tent groan, being weighed down; because we want, not to put it off, but to put on the other, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:1-3

 

    And while we await our true adoption, we faithfully hold onto ‘our spirit of adoption’ guaranteed by the token of the spirit – our adoption papers, so to speak – the incorruptible seed of the Father that dwells in our hearts:

 

Now he that produced us for this very thing is God, who gave us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:5

 

For you have been given a new birth, not by corruptible, but by incorruptible [reproductive] seed, through the word of [the] living and enduring God.”

– 1 Peter 1:23

 

    It is a solemn and supernal fact that we lowly and material creatures are the sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ.  

 

See what sort of love the Father has given us, so that we should be called children of God; and such we are. That is why the world does not have a knowledge of us, because it has not come to know him. Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.”

 1 John 3:1-2

 

The true light that gives light to every sort of man was about to come into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him, but the world did not know him. He came to his own home, but his own people did not take him in. However, as many as did receive him, to them he gave authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name; and they were born, not from blood or from a fleshly will or from man’s will, but from God.”

– John 1:9-13

 

    While the promise of sonship was openly preached and promoted by Jesus and his apostles in the first century, the Apostle Paul explained that many of the early Hebrews, prior to Moses and the Law Covenant, also looked forward to the heavenly hope.  This was news to us – an unveiling of sorts. We direct you to these words that have been in our Bibles for over 1900 years, yet have somehow been overlooked by us and, apparently, by so many others.     

 

    Paul began by defining faith:  

                     

Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld. For by means of this the men of old times had witness borne to them.”

– Hebrews 11:1-2

 

    Here, Paul explains that when we hope for something unseen and unrealized, we are expressing faith. To help his readers understand what faith is, he goes on to enumerate pre-Law Covenant men and women such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah, all who understood the value of faith. (Hebrews 11:4-7) But faith in what?  Notice what Paul writes about Abraham:

 

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed in going out into a place he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, although not knowing where he was going. By faith he resided as an alien in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, and dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise. For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which [city] is God.

- Hebrews 11:8-10

 

    Abraham was not looking forward to the promised land on earth.  He was already residing in that promised land, yet he considered himself a ‘foreigner’ and ‘alien in that land of promise.’ He and his family dwelt in tents because they were looking forward to a ‘city having real foundations’ – the heavenly city of God.  Yes, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were looking forward to living with God in the heavens!  Jesus confirmed that this was their hope when he said:

 

But I tell you that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens.”

 Matthew 8:11

 

        Paul goes on to explain that these faithful men of old were not expecting to live for an eternity on earth; they were seeking a residence in the heavens:

 

In faith all these died, although they did not get the [fulfillment of the] promises, but they saw them afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. For those who say such things give evidence that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. And yet, if they had indeed kept remembering that [place] from which they had gone forth, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they are reaching out for a better [place], that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.”

– Hebrews 11:13-16

 

    But not just Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Paul enumerates even more faithful men and women of old such as Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and so many others who were not expecting to live for an eternity on earth.  In faith, they endured a great deal, and gave up their earthly lives (Hebrews 11:22-38), not because they wanted a second chance to live on earth, but because they, too, were looking forward to the greater reward – the real life – by means of a better resurrection, the heavenly one:

 

Women received their dead by resurrection; but other [men] were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection.”

- Hebrews 11:35

 

        (For a further discussion of the ‘better resurrection,’ see The Promised Resurrection)

 

    The Apostle Paul made it clear that these men and women of old had witness borne to them ‘through their faith’ that they would attain to a better life, but they did not get the promised token of the spirit of sonship – the spirit that cries out ‘Abba! Father!’ (Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15)

 

And yet all these, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not get the [fulfillment of the] promise, as God foresaw something better for us, in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us.”

Hebrews 11:39-40

 

    They would have to wait until the Christ arrived as head of the congregation and laid down his life as the first one to be resurrected into the heavens:

 

Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist, and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he might become the one who is first in all things.”

 Colossians 1:17-18

 

        Thereafter, Jesus poured out holy spirit which bore witness of our sonship with God (Romans 8:16), and prepared a place for us in the heavens. (John 14:2).  No, the pre-Christian men and women would not ‘be made perfect apart from us.’      

 

    After enumerating the types of trials and tribulations the pre-Christian men and women had to endure, Paul indicates that they, too, were reckoned by God as his sons along with us who must also endure trials:

 

In carrying on your contest against that sin you have never yet resisted as far as blood, but you have entirely forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons: “My son, do not belittle [the] discipline from Jehovah, neither give out when you are corrected by him; for whom Jehovah loves he disciplines; in fact, he scourges every one whom he receives as a son.’ It is for discipline you are enduring. God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is he that a father does not discipline? But if you are without the discipline of which all have become partakers, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons.”

 Hebrews 12:4-8

 

    We note that these words of sonship are also referring to the pre-Christian era, because Paul is quoting from Proverbs:

 

The discipline of Jehovah, O my son, do not reject; and do not abhor his reproof, because the one whom Jehovah loves he reproves, even as a father does a son in whom he finds pleasure.”

– Proverbs 3:11-12

 

    Though the early Hebrews did not appear to understand their sonship with God, nor did their prophets openly declare it as a goal for which they should strive, we can see that many, especially the pre-Mosaic men and women, did indeed look forward to a heavenly inheritance.  But they had to wait for clarification as Paul explained to the Romans:

 

For the eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now. Not only that, but we ourselves also who have the firstfruits, namely, the spirit, yes, we ourselves groan within ourselves, while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom.”

Romans 8:19-23

 

        With Christ Jesus, the true relationship of man to God was revealed.  We are ‘faith sons’ of God while sojourning in these earthly tabernacles, earnestly waiting for the adoption as ‘true sons’ in the heavens!  We will attain to this goal of being divine spirit sons, if we do not tire out.

     

Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit. So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”

Galatians 6:7-9

 

    Until we attain to the status of true sons of God and receive our heavenly adoption whereupon we will put on glorious bodies, we are entitled to regard ourselves as being the sons of God through faith because:

 

  • We are sons of spiritual promise, faith sons; we have accepted the status of sonship. We believe in the reality of our sonship, and thus does our sonship with God become eternally real. (Ephesians 1:13)

 

  • Jesus Christ, a true Son of God became one of us. He is our elder brother in fact. And if in spirit we become truly related brothers of Christ, then in spirit must we also be sons of the Father which we have in common — even the Universal Father of all. (Romans 8:17)

 

  • We are sons because the spirit of a Son has been poured out upon us, has been freely and certainly bestowed upon all mankind.  This spirit ever draws us toward the divine Son, who is its source, and toward the Father, who is the source of that divine Son. (Acts 10:44-45)

 

  • Of his divine free-willness, the Father of All has given us our individual  personalities.  We have been endowed with a measure of that divine spontaneity of freewill which God shares with all who may become his sons. (Genesis 1:26; Colossians 3:9-11)

 

  • And there dwells within us a fragment of the Father of All, the incorruptible seed, and we are thus directly related to the divine Father of every Son of God. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Peter 1:25)

 

    For these reasons, we refer to ourselves as ‘faith sons’ now since we are still dwelling in these earthly tabernacles.  But when we have been released from our bodies, we will attain the glorious freedom of true sons of God. (Romans 8:21)     

 

    Yes, brothers, we belong to Christ as his brothers, and we are also, and foremostly so, sons of the Father of All.  Thus, we can courageously proclaim our hope and demonstrate our faith in Jesus’ promise of a better resurrection, a better hope, and a better residence in the heavenly abodes he has prepared for all of us by sharing in the symbolic Remembrance Supper on March 26, 2013.      

 

    Let us not shrink back from openly confessing the Christ and publicly declaring the death of our Lord until he arrives. (1 Corinthians 11:26) Remember:

 

Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”

– Hebrews 10:39

    
    And let us all rejoice in one body in union with Jesus Christ because the kingdom of the heavens belongs to us.  Amen.  

    We welcome your comments.


 

“Elaia Luchnia”
 

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