MANIFEST SONS, OVERCOMERS, and the MANCHILD
BY: JOHN R. GAVAZZONI
DECEMBER 1, 2008
There’s a hymn with the words: “Oh Love, that will not let me go… “As the Love, which God is, will not let any of us slip away from It’s embrace,” coming from that Love, there are proddings by the Spirit of Truth that will not let us go until we finally give voice to an issue that God has raised to high priority status.
In this case, the case of this article, the prodding of the Spirit has reached such a level of insistence in me, that I now realize the time has come to interject a word of adjustment with possibly greater clarity than I have heretofore sent forth into the stream of conviction within that loop of fellowship that, more than any other, has given this servant’s message a hearing – for which I am humbly grateful.
The adjustment concerns a certain presumption that is, admittedly, held within a generally blessed context, but, as has often been the case historically, a thesis, even of revelation-origin, can even from the earliest stages of its emergence in the minds and hearts of some of God’s people, contain a flawed feature that will eventually lead many to either, in disillusionment, abandon the larger, blessed context, or continue to stubbornly hold to the flawed feature, and be found stuck in a place that the Spirit has left behind.
One of the vulnerabilities of the restorationist spirit (I’m speaking of restorationism, in its larger sense of the desire to see a return to the purity of the gospel, which, of course, includes the message of universal salvation in Christ) is the always lurking-in-the-wings influence of an attitude of spiritual elitism; an attitude that takes root in our subconscious spiritual insecurity.
At the heart of this drifting tendency we will find a very fundamental error, that being, the presumption that there is a message, or messages, in scripture addressed to a minority within the Body of Christ, a message meant to distinguish that minority as a separated “company.”
Now let me hasten to say that there can be no doubt that the Spirit of grace does cause certain ones within the grand universal company of believers, to see things that others cannot see, and the lack of sight on the part of the latter can only be traced to God’s sovereignty. BUT WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYETH TO THE CHURCHES
is meant FOR the whole Body of Christ, yet designed to penetrate to the Body’s consciousness at the point of that entrance comprised of those chosen to hear the word first, who have been given an ear to hear.
I remember the day when I was reflecting on presumptions about “manifest sonship,” which led to a rethinking re: “him that overcometh,” and “the Manchild.” A very simple truth suddenly dawned upon me, as to where the apostolic writers, particularly Paul in his epistles, were coming from (and my awareness focused particularly upon Ephesians and Colossians at that moment) when they pronounced supernal blessedness in Christ.
Their words of blessing were always addressed to, and said to be applicable to the whole company of believers they were addressing. The whole community of faith, from the least mature, to the most, were pronounced to have been made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, raised up in Him even above all the heavens
There was nothing in the apostolic thought that was even suggestive of minority “companies” of one sort or another. To be sure, to repeat, there were those among the saints who were given ears to hear before others, but if they heard accurately, they understood that the word of blessing that first impacted them, was a word for all their brethren.
So, if in Christ, we have all been raised to sit with Him at the right hand of the majesty on high, who then, are we to understand, are overcomers, and who are those who comprise the Manchild, and manifest sons? This begs a clarification, before I proceed further, of how anyone comes to be “in Christ,” so that all that Christ is, and all that God has accomplished in His Son, is inclusive of those found in that place of blessedness.
There seems to be a serious misunderstanding, a serious flaw of perception re: this most fundamental issue. It must finally be settled whether one comes to be in Christ as a result of personal piety, of above-par discipleship, or have we all come to be in Christ as we were included in the eternal birthing of the Son of God?
I have a compulsion laid upon me to assert that our Heavenly Father, as imaged in father Abraham, did, by begetting the greater Isaac (Christ), bring forth One in whose loins was, and through whom would proceed all the children of God. As the Son was in the loins of His Father… so all the children of God originated out from His (the Son’s) loins.
To repeat, as Isaac had within him, the chosen line that led to Christ physically in the eons, so the eternally begotten of the Father had within His loins the entirety of all the children of God – all the human race from Adam onward in and out from eternity.
From our spiritual conception onward, the spiritual journey of a believer is one of believing (ongoingly) INTO Christ FROM WITHIN CHRIST. Christ is our abode, and we enter further and further into all that He is – all that He is to and for us – as one would proceed from a single room within a mansion where he was born, to search out, live in, and enjoy every room in the mansion.
Since we all came forth from the loins of the Father through His Son, and since the destiny of all of us is to share in the glory of the relationship between the Father and the Son, should we not be suspicious of any emphasis that erects fences within the family. For instance, I came onto a web site that specializes in “Bride Company” truth. This is so representative of what I’m addressing in this article.
Were some believers, for instance, in the church, part of the Body company, and others, part of the Bride company? There is a teaching abroad about the Bride company as a distinguished sorority among the larger community of faith. As I became aware of such teaching, it occurred to me that if there is a Bride company, there would have to be a complementary Body company.
Yet isn’t it evident beyond question, that when, for instance, in the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, that when Paul wrote of a Body identity and a Bride identity, that he meant it to be understood, that all those together in the fellowship of the saints were both. We all together are both the Body and Bride of Christ. We are both of these identity-qualities in respect to Christ among us, AND to Christ in one another.
By that, I mean that there is an interactive flow of giving and receiving in our relationship with one another, of impregnation and conception, of aggressive initiation and of submissive reception, and those roles are not exclusively held by individuals, or separate “companies,” but are always operative with a dynamic of exchange of roles.
God might masculinely (think Body of Christ), with great forcefulness, and penetration, speak a word of the life of Christ though you, to which I am called upon to be particularly in the role of submission (think Bride of Christ) to that word as He brings forth more of His Son into the world. Yet our roles may, on another occasion, be completely reversed. Christ is to all of us both the Head of the Body, and also our Bridegroom, and to repeat, He is that to us as the Christ in each of us.
Likewise, overcoming, manifest sonship and Manchild rulership are all glorious facets of being in Christ, and as such, belong to every person even before they are brought to realize their co-inheritance in Christ. Regarding “he that overcometh:” Have we forgotten the simplicity of what makes one an overcomer? John offered this – it seems incredible to many – simple identification: “Who is He that overcometh the world, but he that believeth (begins to believe, and continues to believe is the tense of the Greek) that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John. 5:5)
I have not found that verse to be the central reference point for much exhortation re: the qualification for becoming an overcomer. Nor have I found great emphasis upon Jesus’ comforting words pertaining to overcoming as in: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Much of pietistic exhortation calling for the saints to qualification as overcomers, tends to call us to Pharasee-style performance, rather than to the assurance that it is within the nature of the commonality of our faith, to be an overcomer. That is the coloring of the verses I have referenced, and I could add many more of like kind.
The subtle influence of spiritual elitism that is the vulnerable underbelly of a restorationist mentality, leads one, for instance, to assume that the woman and the Manchild of Rev. 12, are to be understood as two distinct companies. The woman is thought to be the church in general, found to be finally in the spiritual condition by which she is able to birth a company of overcomers – the Manchild; and this, I grant, is an easy conclusion to come to.
But there is another way to understand that part of the vision of John, a way that I believe is more consistent with a great underlying principle of God’s administration Both the woman and the Manchild are spiritual qualities that are found within the universal fellowship of the saints.
Rather than there being a quite distinguished company of ruling-qualified saints in contrast to the more general company of believers, what we need to understand is that the travail of the church always brings forth that quality of subduing that is inherent in the life of the church, which is the life of King Jesus.
We will always be disappointed if we seek to find some special, distinguished company of believers – even among those who have become un-institutionalized – who are separated from their brethren as possessed of Manchild qualities. BELIEVE ME, you will be disappointed, and your disappointment can easily lead to disillusionment, and even despair.
The manifestation of the sons of God is to be understood from the same perspective. Instead of looking forward to seeing a very separated company of sons, we ought to have our vision enlarged with a fresh expectation of seeing a work of God in this day along a broad spectrum of the church. We need to be in expectation of seeing true sonship quality emerging from quarters that we are prone to dismiss as disqualified.
Let us consider the story of the twelve spies sent ahead to spy out the land of Canaan, in preparation for the WHOLE company of Israelites to enter in and possess the promised–land. Two of the twelve had faith that Canaan was already theirs by virtue of God’s promise, and that, in spite of any and all resisting forces. The faith of the other ten, whatever there was of it, failed miserably upon being confronted by the apparent invincibility of the powers arrayed against them.
As pertaining to the allegorical application of that ancient situation to our present kingdom expectation, why has it not been clearly pointed out, and emphasized, that the superiority of the faith and courage of the two faithful spies, as inspirational as it is to us today, did not allow them, apart from the rest of the nation, to enter into and possess the land.
They had to wait for a generation to die off, and then WITH a new generation, their hope was finally existentially realized. I will not attempt to prove it scripturally, but I’m convinced that the generation that died off, through the dealing of God “on the other side,” partook of, and were, in spirit, contributors to the victorious invasion.
You see, it is obvious that the same faith that assured Caleb and Joshua that the land was theirs, at the first visit, was strengthened to believe that God would raise up a whole new generation with which they could lay hold of the promise of God. Until then, THEY WERE NOT PERMITTED an entrance, apart from the whole nation.
They were only distinguished from others in the joy their assurance gave them, in their sharing of the passion of God for His people, and in the influence they wielded as a new generation arose. Though not yet physically in the land, their faith was the substance of that hoped-for destiny.
We’re on dangerous ground when we put an exclusivist spin on the promises of God. For Caleb and Joshua to presumptuously try to claim the land without a whole new generation, would have found them as seriously faulted as the other ten spies. As we enjoy the revelation of the place of sonship in the economy of God, let us raise the eyes of our hearts, in faith, to see an army of brethren far greater than our “company,” appearing on the eschatological horizon. And know that we are dependent upon Christ in them to realize our sonship, destiny.
When God selects out a man, a woman, or a collective minority from within, and out from mankind in general, if that selection is not understood in the larger context of the economy of God, as clearly outlined in scripture, inferences can be, and most often are drawn forth that effectively so distort an understanding of the motive and meaning of that selection, as to leave one with a religious mindset hopelessly misaligned with that of God… that is, until He intervenes by sovereign grace, to set our thinking straight.
We see dramatic representations of divine selection all through the Bible record: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Deborah, Ruth, Gideon, Israel, Mary and Joseph, the church, the Twelve, Paul, and so many others – and let’s not forget the likes of Pharaoh. Properly understood, in every case when God, to the exclusion of others, chooses out one individual, or a grouping of individuals, toward the fulfillment of His purpose, that selection, that choice, that election is secondary to the one all-inclusive delineation that gives all the others meaning.
What might that one be? Why none other than the oft-maligned progenitor of our race, Adam. He, inclusive of Eve, was chosen by God, formed of/out from the dust of the earth, out from all God’s creation and creatures, most essentially to be God’s fullest self-providing expression, by the only means whereby one can fully express God – by being made a full participant in the Divine Nature.
If you have some insight into that truth, maybe, as I have, you’ve asked yourself, “to whom was/is the Lord so intent upon expressing Himself?” Since no man can see God and live; since only God Himself can survive the expression of Himself, we are left with the Lord expressing Himself to His own Humanity.
He brings forth the magnificence of Himself out of the depths of Himself, and then causes That which He has brought forth… to be deprived of the light of His glory, so that His own need calls forth out of Himself the full radiance of that glory. Provision and deprivation are the perfect mutual complements by which God gets the best of Himself out of Himself. Enter stage right: Adam, the man who is the glory of God, inclusive of all who were in his loins, who existentially is, more than anything else, the personification and embodiment of God’s deprivation.
Only Adam, in collective oneness, and in collective, consummate neediness, is the all-inclusive choice of God for the fulfillment of the Divine passion. All of God’s secondary selections have only the purpose of restoring us all to that primal election. It is in God’s commission to Adam, and the whole race that sprang from him – “Be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth, and conquer it” – that we see God’s choice that gives meaning to, and makes relevant all secondary callings-out from among men.
This explains why “the Son of Man” (=Son of Adam) so effortlessly rolled off the tongue of Jesus as His favored self-identification. It is man, mankind, Adam, from beginning to end; Adam as first (the Beginning), and Adam as Last, (the End). It is by man, in his first presentation as one with, and capstone of all creation, and by Man in His second presentation, as Lord of all creation, that God will do all His good pleasure.
So, dear brethren, be careful of how you perceive whatever has been your particular experience of election. As I once blurted out in a message on this subject, “you have no idea how connected to, and how you are dependent upon that man hunched down in an alley in Skid Row, sucking on a bottle of Muscatel. You, without him, dear one, shall not be made perfect. He, as much as you, is a member of that elect “company” which is Adam/humanity.
It is our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom this humanity, and its destiny is gathered together. The best of Himself, as the Son of God, came forth, born of a woman, as the Son of Man. This is why there have been occasions when I have questioned whether or not to continue studying the Bible, for it has been my experience with that blessed Book, that at every turn of its pages, at every turn in its record, there is only one message:
God’s desire is for the One New Man. There is no purpose outside of himself, for which man was created. Man, in Christ, is the purpose, the goal, the satisfaction of God. Man, out from the loins of God, by His One Seed, the Christ, is God’s very destiny.
MANIFEST SONS, OVERCOMERS and the MANCHILD [John R. Gavazzoni] 12-1-08 1