First published in Catch the Fire Magazine – December 2007
Learning to walk in the revelation of sonship.
The great revelation that Jesus brought to mankind is that the God of the Jews, a.k.a YHWH, is in fact our Papa.
Jesus walked with his God as Son to Father, and this was the source of all that He was and did. He didn’t merely have ‘experiences’ of His Father’s presence or ‘moments’ when His Father used Him; instead, He lived in the Father’s bosom having the awareness of the Father’s love at all times.
Are you living in relationship with God as a son?
Jesus taught the disciples, when they asked Him to teach them how to pray, to focus on the Father. When you pray say, “Our Father …” When the woman at the well asked Him about where a person should worship, he told her that the true worshippers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth. He directed her to relationship with the Father.
“Sonship is about developing a relationship with Him as Father.”
Derek Prince once commented that when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John14:6 NKJV), He was revealing both the pathway and the destination. Jesus is the way, and the Father is the destination. The problem with many in the Church is that we have gotten stuck on the way and have never reached the destination.
We need a son’s heart to know this Papa
It is possible to have experiences of His fathering love for us and feel His closeness even quite deeply at times but developing a relationship with Him as Father requires that we possess the heart of a son.
Many people in this generation have lost their understanding of sonship because of broken relationships with their natural fathers and other authority figures, so they are not really sons at heart anymore.
“Jesus chose the word ‘Son’ to define himself.”
We know that God looks at the heart, not outward appearances. But what is he looking for? The same heart in us that was in Jesus toward His Father. Jesus was a son at heart and He wants us to become sons at heart both to God and again to our earthly fathers. In Christ, the last prophecy of the Old Testament in Malachi 4:6 is fulfilled, “And I will turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons and the hearts of the sons to the fathers.” (NKJV)
Jesus was the greatest teacher of all time. I wonder how many thousands of volumes have been written analyzing His words. He changed history. His values have shaped civilizations that exist today. And although He is renowned as the great Pastor and Shepherd of the sheep, the Prophet of prophets, Apostle of apostles and the epitome of all miracle workers, He took none of these titles to Himself.
Instead, Jesus chose the word “Son” to define Himself, and it is into that image that the Holy Spirit is now conforming you (Romans 8:29). The Apostle John wrote, “whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6 NIV). Jesus walked in the yoke of love with His Father, and He invites us into that yoke, too. He promises that in that yoke we will find rest for our souls.
Is this just another way of relating to people?
I have heard people describe sonship as relationship between pastors and congregational members. Some talk of it as relating to Christian ministry leaders and workers under them or to Christian employers and workers. However, I believe that sonship is primarily about our relationships with our natural fathers and mothers and our heavenly Father.
Enjoying sonship in relation to fathers and mothers in Christ and to employers, pastors and ministry leaders may be a blessing from God. But it is important to have a relationship with God the Father first, so that we may enjoy and reap the benefits from other relationships.
I believe that we are living in the “days of Elijah” which were prophesied in Malachi 4: 5-6. “And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (NKJV)
“With a soft heart, a son is open to reconciliation.”
When we are born into our parents’ home, our heart is naturally turned to them. It is only through hurt that we turn away from them. When someone turns to Christ, through repentance and grace, he once again becomes a son as a result of the new birth, this time a son of God.
Now with a soft heart, full of gratitude and repentance, the son is open to reconciliation with his earthly parents. Now we may truly honour our fathers and mothers because we have found the true purpose for which they brought us into the world, God’s purpose. It is important for you as a Christian to make every attempt to restore the relationship with your earthly parents, because it affects your relationship with God.
Father is the only source of love
Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35 NASB) When I first became a Christian, I was dismayed because I had few friends. It was difficult to make friends. I had very good friends in my non-Christian life who are still true friends today.
However, I still see the reticence in many Christians to have or become true friends. If you have been in church very long, you understand why the New Testament often rebukes Christians for continuing in sins such as jealousies, competitiveness, criticism, rejection, divisions and even hatred within congregations. All these things sometimes even exist between leaders and denominations and even in the River!
It makes me wonder how we can come to the place where unbelievers say about us, “Behold, how they love one another.” The wonder of rebirth hasn’t brought us to this love. Seeing displays of the Holy Spirit’s power among us hasn’t brought us to this love. Greater knowledge of the Word hasn’t brought us to it; in fact, maybe the opposite. Even experiencing historical revivals hasn’t brought us to it, either.
What will bring us to this love?
The Bible says that the Father is the source of love! John the apostle wrote, “For God (the Father) so loved the world that He sent His only Son…” (John 3:16 NIV). “God is love,” (1John 4:8-16), and nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). The love that was and is revealed in Jesus is the love His Father has for Him (Romans 8:35 and Ephesians 3:19).
When Jesus prayed, “I have declared to them your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26 NKJV), Jesus was asking the Father that we would also continuously experience Father loving us in the same way Father is loving Jesus. He wants us to live in the Father’s love as He did. Andrew Murray wrote, “What the Father’s love was to Jesus, His love will be to us.”
“Love is humbling”
We can’t live in this love of the Father if our basic revelation and walk with God is limited to Teacher and disciple, King and citizen, Master and servant or bond slave, or even Bridegroom and bride. These are life-changing revelations to comprehend, but they are not the basis of love. God the Father’s love sent Jesus to die for us. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” (I John 4:10 NKJV)
But how do I experience the love of my heavenly Father?
The entry fee
Jesus has already paid the entry fee, but in order to take advantage of what He has purchased for us, we need to enter the park! In order to learn, you must humble yourself. To be a disciple of Jesus takes the humility of publicly honoring the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as your teacher. It takes the humility of becoming a servant, laying down all your rights, in order to enter the reality of being a bondslave of Jesus.
It takes humility to enter into a relationship with the Holy Spirit and His power, because it will brand you as a believer in miracles. It takes the humility of love to become the Bride of Jesus Christ. Love is humbling because when we adore another, it makes us vulnerable as we open our hearts and give it as a gift to that other. Being able to experience any facet of God or dimension of relationship with Him always requires the entrance fee: humility.
So it is with the Father’s love. You must become a child again by admitting your need for parental love and becoming comfortable with continual weakness. Only with the innocent heart of a little child can we know His continual Father’s love pouring into our hearts. Jesus said that He could do nothing of himself, and this is the weakness and dependence we can walk in.
“Jesus gave his whole being to become a perfect revelation of His Father.”
When the Father’s love pours into you continuously, it changes your world perspective. It is the doorway for the church to live in agape love for all mankind. Here we become a resting soul in conversation with our Father, a heart at peace, a non-ambitious servant where success, failure and productivity are of little consequence and a joy-riddled soul is living free! I believe that it is possible to walk as Jesus walked, living personally in the continuous outpouring of the Father’s love.
Jesus gave His whole being to become a perfect revelation of what His Father is like. He is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15). He is “the brightness of His [the Father’s] glory and the express image of His person.” (Hebrews 1:3) Because Jesus was His Son, He looked like God, His Father. God wants you to have the same consecration as Jesus, to become a revelation of His nature to the world.
The one who walks in sonship cannot help but resemble the heavenly Father, because sons look like their fathers! No wonder that when Adam fell, the Father enacted a plan to re-create in His own image all who would believe in His Son. God is making you, spirit, soul and body, into the image of your Father who is in heaven, eternal, full of glory and love. Surrender to Him and let Him complete the work.
– James Jordan