TREASURES OF TRUTH, VOLUME 1
GOD’S GREAT FAMILY OF SONS
BY: GEORGE R. HAWTIN
THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN
SONSHIP THE HOPE OF ALL CREATION
THE PREPARATION OF THE SONS OF GOD
THE SEALING OF THE SONS OF GOD
GOD SPEAKING BY HIS SON
THE ADOPTION OF SONS
The material contained in this book, GOD’S GREAT FAMILY OF SONS, has been in preparation over a period of some twenty years.
As we read the word of God, our minds begin to grasp what great importance our Lord has placed upon His intention to bring forth a vast family of sons of God. Paul, writing to the Romans, made this very significant statement: “Whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” Rom. 8:29
Great importance is added to this incredible statement by reading the translation of Weymouth, which, if possible, gives an even more forceful understanding of Paul’s inspired statement.
“Those whom He has foreknown He has also predestined to share the likeness of His Son, that He might be the eldest in a vast family of brothers; and those whom He has predestined He has also called; and those whom He has called He has also acquitted; and those whom He has acquitted He has also glorified.” Rom. 8:29, 30 (Weymouth)
As we read the pages of this book, we will see the purpose of God unfolding – a pre-determined plan by which He will govern the universe in the aions to come.
THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN
So many truths come pouring into the soul that there seems to be a lack both of time and of ability to write them. We must indeed be rushing rapidly to the close of this age that we call the Dispensation of Grace. The same glorious sun which set in turn upon the successive dispensational days of Innocence, Human Government, Conscience, Promise, and Law is now extending its lengthening shadows across the harvest fields of the dispensation of Grace.
There was a time when the Pharisees came to Jesus seeking a sign from Him that would prove that He was the Son of God. It is a surprising fact that this same question was repeated at least twice in the Gospel of Matthew. (Matt. 12:38, 39 and 16:1-4) Both times they asked for a sign and on each occasion He told them that the only sign that would be given was the sign of Himself, that as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale so also should He be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
It seems to me that for centuries our eyes have been kept holden to many of the great truths of the scripture. We have read and reread the Bible, usually taking for granted that we understood perfectly what was written, and frequently just reading over the passages and noticing little or nothing of their message. I do not think we should be overly concerned about this lack of understanding, but we should remember that God never reveals anything to anybody until He is ready to reveal it, and He is never ready to reveal anything until the time has come to prepare for that great event which He is about to accomplish.
For centuries Israel had looked for the coming of the Messiah until their eyes were dim with watching, but who among them all had even a hazy idea of how that coming would be accomplished. They did not expect a virgin birth; they did not ‘expect a lowly birth; they did not expect a despised and rejected man nor a man at variance with their established creeds. They did not expect a crucifixion, a resurrection, or an ascension to heaven. All these things were contrary to their expectations and their long established beliefs; consequently they rejected Him. I suppose that Mary was the first person in all Israel to have the wonder of the virgin birth explained to her and that less than a year before the great event was to transpire.
No, we need not worry about our ignorance of things. Our only concern should be that when God does send us light that we receive it, for, if we reject it, the light we have becomes darkness and we can understand nothing. My old instructor, Elmer Hoff, taught me a lesson I hope I shall never forget. He said, “The moment you say no, you close the door for the Spirit to teach you anything.” What a lesson that is! How badly we all need to learn it! The moment the Spirit of God begins to shed light on a truth, it is time to begin to ask Him to instruct us in it. Do not submit God’s revelation to the criticism of some dead church member or preacher, for they like the birds of the air will steal away the seed of the truth before it has a chance to sprout or take root within you.
We will never discover anything that God has hidden from us, but when by His grace He draws back the curtain and reveals the hidden treasure, it is time to grasp it, for if we tarry it will be covered again, and we will miss it. Do you remember that Jesus rejoiced in spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight?”
There can be no doubt we are living in an hour when the Lord is revealing many things that concern the coming age. I am certain, however, that even now we see them only darkly. We catch only faint and fleeting glimpses of these wonders of the golden age. We are looking for the unveiling of the sons of God. We are looking for the revelation of Jesus Christ. The revelation will reveal what is hidden. The unveiling will reveal what has been kept veiled. As the lightning flashes forth from inky clouds, so the manifestation will disclose that which has been hidden in darkness. “Let us therefore fear lest, a promise being left us of entering in to His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.”
One of the greatest truths ever kept hidden from the eyes of man is this: that Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, was from His birth to His resurrection the greatest sign that God has ever given to the world. Everything about His life and His ministry. His birth, His death, His resurrection was a clear distinct sign of things that are to come. We may have overlooked the fact that no less an authority than Jesus Christ Himself made the clear definite statement that “as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also shall the Son of man be to this generation.” (Luke 11:29, 30) This passage tells us that Jesus was a sign to this generation in the same way that Jonah was to his generation. When I meditate upon the experience of Jonah as he went into the whale’s belly and felt the bars of hell close about him, then to come forth from that hell to experience the glory of a resurrection, it seems small wonder that his preaching so mightily affected the Ninevites that in forty days one hundred twenty thousand souls turned to the Lord. Jonah’s experience was a sign to the Ninevites of wonderful things to come when Christ would go into death and hell and then lead forth in triumph an innumerable company of captives from the pit itself. (Eph. 4:7-10) But we dare not stop here. The glorious victory of Christ in descending to hell and leading forth a host of captives is in itself a sign of the day when the sons of God will unlock the gates of hell, for the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
So it was that God told King Ahaz, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and ye shall call his name Immanual (God with us).” (Isa. 7:14) It was not the virgin birth that was to be the sign. It was the Son that was born of the virgin that was the sign. Therefore when Simeon came by the Spirit into the temple after the birth of Jesus, he prophesied saying, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against.” (Luke 2:34)
The Lord Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God. He was a Son in a way that no other man has ever been a son of God. He was begotten by God. He came from the bosom of the Father. He was a Son before other men existed and when He partook of flesh and blood. He was born, not of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but of God. He was born through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit and even as a human being He was begotten of God.
Now that which is born of God is begotten of God as James says, “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (Jas. 1:18) We can therefore reverently say that the blessed Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, but that He was a first fruits and a sign that other men, thousands of other men, would through the miracle working power of the Holy Spirit become sons of God, begotten of God through the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit. These are they who are born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John. 1:13) Strange and glorious as this may seem, James in the verse quoted above shows that we who are being born of God are ourselves but firstfruits of all God’s creatures. Jas. 1:18. We are a sign therefore that all creatures shall be eventually born of God.
I wish with all my heart that Christians would stop believing that they are born again the moment they believe. This doctrine, taught almost universally among evangelical people, has been an enormous hindrance in the progress of Christians, for they, thinking they have reached sonship, fail to press toward the mark of full sonship in Him. If men could only see that “that which is born of God cannot sin, for His seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God,” (1 John 3:9) then they would not be in such a hurry to declare that they are born again and thus full sons of God. There is a universe of difference between being justified by faith and being born again. Both the thief on the cross and the Philippian jailor believed on Christ and were justified from their sins, but I think we would be very wrong to imagine that they had done any more than “receive Him” and, because they had received Him, power was given to them to become sons of God.
We shall yet see walking on this earth a great company of begotten sons who have been born of God even as Christ was born of God. These sons will be completely incapable of sin in any aspect or in any sense of the word. I am sorry to say that, though I have been a believer for many years, yet I am still capable of sin in thought, word, and deed. But I think I can truthfully testify that I am far less capable of sin now than I was when I first believed, and I see such a growing hatred within of all that pertains to sin’s realm that sin is rendered well nigh impossible. Those who thus walk are in the process of becoming sons of God and, when that birth is complete, they will have this testimony, “They cannot sin because they are born of God.” “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2, 3)
We speak too lightly about the deep and sacred things of God. We speak flippantly about such divine eternal wonders as the new birth, sonship, the fullness of the Spirit, transfiguration, and the manifestation of the sons of God. The light and frivolous way in which these truths are handled proves beyond a doubt that those who handle them understand them less than Belshazzar understood the sacredness of the vessels of the Lord from which he drank wine with his lords and ladies. If we are going to approach God at all, we are going to have to come in an attitude of wide-eyed awe. We shall have to approach with reverence and godly fear lest we blaspheme and take the name of the Lord in vain. I hate to hear any man use light, frivolous, and familiar terms when speaking of the things of God. Surely if Michael the archangel durst not bring a railing accusation against the devil because we are forbidden to speak evil of dignities, then I must approach all the sacred truths cleansed by the blood and having my mind renewed and hallowed by the Holy Spirit.
With this exhortation fresh upon our minds let us think briefly of what it will mean to be begotten of God. I could be wrong, but it seems perfectly clear to me that only three people were ever born sons of God. By this I mean that only three people ever came into this world who were sons of God at birth, body, soul, and spirit. The first son so born was Adam, who having no human parents was formed by the Spirit of God from the dust of the earth. He was a son of God. (Luke 3:38). He was clothed upon with the life and glory of the Lord. To him was given the power to live forever, but to him no power had been given to discern between good and evil. The second son of God born of the Holy Spirit was Eve. When the Lord had caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, he opened his bosom and from a rib of this son He formed a woman, a son of God in all the glory of Adam, made by the Spirit, begotten by the Spirit, and clothed upon by the life of God Himself. She was a true son of God even as Adam, for neither male nor female is known in that realm. No corrupt and dying blood flowed in the veins of these inhabitants of Paradise. No death-dealing carnal mind corrupted them to bring their members under the power of death and sin. They lived in a realm long since closed to the human race. They were clothed upon not with garments of wool and cotton or even seamless robes, but, because of their heavenly brightness and their blessed communion with God, they lived in a realm of transfiguration and were no more in need of earthly garments than an angel. All creatures of that perfumed, effulgent paradise were under their wise and loving control. No timid creature raced in terror from snarling ravenous beasts. The pitiful cry of a dying thing was never heard. Peace reigned supreme and love without alloy. Had this blessed son in his unfallen state walked the earth centuries later, he, too, would have stilled the waves, raised the dead, and healed diseases as did Christ, the last Adam. But this was not God’s plan.
The third person to be born of the Spirit of God was Jesus Christ. Christ had existed before the world was. Christ, who proceeded from the bosom of the Father, the One by whom and for whom all things were created, was born into this world by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, who had made Adam from the dust of the earth and who had formed Eve from the bone and flesh of Adam, now by the power of the Most High overshadowed a virgin and brought forth a Son from her womb. These and these alone were born sons of God, but God has given power to all members of the human family who receive Christ to become sons of God, for as many as received Him to them gave He power to become sons of God. Male and female will not be recognized in Christ. Both alike are sons.
My heart sings a thousand hallelujahs, for this earth in God’s good grace is yet to see a whole race of sons of God, begotten by the Holy Spirit in the extremity of the age. They are not to rise from the dust of the earth as Adam, but by the power of the Holy Spirit they will arise from the dust and ashes of their crucified selves. “I am crucified with Christ,” said Paul, “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” This is sonship, for in some miraculous way the “I” that was crucified and the “I” that lives are not the same, but from the ashes of our crucified selves God has brought forth a son of God.
There was a very great difference between the unfallen Adam clothed in glory and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who for our sin laid aside His glory. For He, though equal with God, did not grasp at equality, but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men (fallen men), and, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. This He did because man was fallen, and to lift him back to sonship He had to come into the condition in which man was that through the shedding of His everlasting incorruptible blood in which flowed eternal life He might give back to all men that eternal life which they lost through disobedience. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. “For if by one man’s offence, death reigned by one, much more! much more) much more! they who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many (i.e. all) were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many (i.e. all) be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:17-19) But when this glorious work of redemption had been completed by the shedding of His precious eternal blood. He rose from the dead because death had no power over Him and was highly exaltedand given a name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven and earth and under the earth. In my heart I hear Him pray, “And now, 0 Father, glorify Me with the glory that I had with Thee before the world began.” (John 17:5)
We might well fill the whole book with this glorious truth of sonship, but that is not our purpose now. Our purpose now is to show that this glorious Son of God, begotten of the Father by the Holy Ghost, was a sign son. He was a sign of a vast family of sons who would also be begotten and born of God through the centuries intervening between Bethlehem and the end of this age. This is the truth that inspired Paul’s heart as he exultantly wrote, “Whom He did foreknow He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He (Jesus Christ) might be the eldest in a vast family of brothers.”
There was a time when certain Greeks came to Philip and said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” When Philip and Andrew told Jesus of the request, Christ made this strange statement of truth. “The hour is come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:20-24) I am sure you must understand what He was telling them, for a spiritual mind could scarcely miss this truth. They wanted to see Jesus, but they did not know that if they wanted to see the complete Christ, the first and the last, they would have to wait until the harvest time at the end of this age when that single corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died would be a whole ear of wheat full of kernels, each one in the exact image of the one who fell into the ground and died, but rose again. This is the fullness of Christ. This is Christ with that vast family of sons in His own image.
I do not think we should build our faith on visions that men have seen, but I was once deeply impressed by one who told me he had seen a vision of Christ. In the vision Christ appeared as a huge man who seemed to fill all things. But closer observation showed that the huge form of Christ – head, body, hands, and feet – was composed of numberless thousands of little men, each in the exact image of each other and all in the image of Christ Himself. This is what Jesus wanted to teach us when in answer to the question, “We would see Jesus,” He pointed to a single kernel that fell into the ground and became a harvest of identical kernels at the end of the age. Oh, Lord, I shall certainly be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness.
There are three things in this vast world, and only three: – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; briefly, appetite, avarice, and ambition. I do not think you will be able to avoid the conclusion that all the inventions, creations, and contrivances of man are in existence to cater to these three things. It was with these three things that Eve was tempted. She saw the tree was good for food (the lust of the eyes), a tree to be desired (the lust of the flesh), a tree to make one wise (the pride of life), and though the temptation was not from within but from without, she yielded to it and partook. The temptation of Christ was on the same basis exactly. The first appeal was made to the flesh through appetite. “Command that these stones be made bread.” The second was made to the eyes to awaken covetous-ness and greed. “All this will I give you if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” The third was to the pride of life. “If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down from hence.”
I shall not attempt to develop the thought given above, for that is not the purpose in mind, but the truth that we must see here is that Jesus Christ overcame the world, the flesh, and the devil and all that is involved in them, and that He overcame so thoroughly and delivered such a crushing defeat to the wily tactics of Satan that it is actually recorded by the Holy Ghost that the devil left Him and angels came and ministered unto Him. (Matt. 4:11) Truly Jesus said, “The prince of this world cometh and findeth nothing in Me.” No wonder he left Him. I think we would be right to conclude that never again did Satan come to tempt the Lord, but his next efforts were to destroy Him.
In His great victory over the power of Satan He was a sign that pointed unerringly to another company of overcoming sons. In all the churches of Revelation there were two classes of people – those who were overcomers and those who were not. It is to the overcomers that the glorious promises are given, for they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, have partaken of His mind and of His will, and thus are equipped to reign in His kingdom.
Thus to them it is said: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7) “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Rev. 2:11) “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Rev. 2:17) “He that overcometh and keepeth My works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessel of the potter shall they be broken to shivers even as I received of My Father, and I will give him the morning star.” (Rev. 2:26-28) “He that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go no more out and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God which cometh down out of heaven from my God and I will write upon him my new name.” (Rev. 3:12, 13) “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne even as I overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne.” (Rev. 3:21) “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
When any man becomes a lover of the will of God, then he becomes a hater of the world and an overcomer of the world. Christ’s greatest secret was that He did always the things that pleased the Father. When any man lives in this manner, the world is overcome as a matter of course. No man will ever be an overcomer until the Christ within him is greater than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4) “Whosoever is born of God overcometh the world.” In the lives of most Christians the world is greater than Christ. They do not know it, perhaps, but it is certainly so and at times it is glaringly evident.
Every Christian should seek that God would open his eyes to show him that the world and all the things therein are but vanity and vexation of spirit. Everything that belongs to the world is of a passing nature. It fades as the green leaf. It is like the grass that today is green in the field and tomorrow is burned as if in an oven. It is like the mist that appeareth for a little time and is gone, or like a vision of the night that vanishes with the awakening. It is a bubble that bursts, a whiff of perfume that came from nowhere and disappeared into nothingness. “I said of laughter, it is mad, and of joy, what doeth it?” I love Phillips’ translation of (1 Jno. 2:15-17) “A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time, for the whole world system, based as it is on man’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions, and the glamour of all they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world with all its passionate desires will one day disappear, but the man who is following God’s will is part of the permanent and cannot die.” Who is he that overcometh but he that believeth that Jesus is the Christ? This glorious overcoming first Son of God is a sign and a herald of a vast company of completely overcoming sons who will stand in His likeness at the end of the age.
Whenever God requires anything of man, there is always a reason for it. The reason so many people fail to attain the great heights of the Spirit is because they are unable to see God’s purpose, and therefore they have no particular incentive to seek the great heights that are in Him. We have been far too taken up with theories about heaven and childish notions about mansions in the skies to be able to see the true purpose of God. I have positively no hesitation whatever in telling you that according to the scriptures God’s plan for man from the very foundation of the world was to make man the true lord of the universe and to bring all things into subjection to him. This is certainly Paul’s theme when in Heb. 2 he says, “For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come – but one in a certain place testified saying, What is man that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him (man) a little lower than the angels. Thou crownest him (man) with glory and honor and didst set him over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.” (Heb. 2:5-8) This is a very definite and glorious statement and shows in few words the true purpose God had in creating man. It shows the reason for the fall and all the intricate infinite preparations of man through the fall, through suffering, through tribulation, sickness, death, and a thousand other trials that man might eventually be fit and equipped for the rulership which God ordained for him in the very beginning. All this truth is found in the very first words God ever spoke about man. “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness and let us give him dominion…” (Gen. 1:26) If men and women could see this by the Spirit instead of the fairy tales we have been taught through the centuries about harps and mansions in the sky, they would have some incentive to partake of the glorious sonship God is looking for in His people.
Now, would it not seem to be divine sense, human sense, and common sense that, if the almighty God is preparing man to reign over His creation, if He is preparing him to rule the earth, if He is planning to put all things in subjection under his feet, then that man must be prepared for this lordly rulership? Could the wisdom of God set a man to be lord and ruler of the world if the world can overcome him? He who is to rule the world must be an overcomer of the world. Does not the scripture say, “Know ye not that ye shall judge angels”? Could we imagine God’s setting one to judge Satan who is continually overcome by Satan? Or can he be a judge of sin who is overcome by sin? Will he not have to be a complete overcomer before he can judge the world or angels? He who is overcome by thieving can scarcely be called upon to judge the sin of theft. Abraham said of God, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” What greater argument then can be presented than that he who is to rule all things must first of all have overcome all things] Even in the world as it is now no one can rule that which he has not overcome. Let all those therefore who hope to reign with Christ set their hearts and affections on overcoming the world and all things in it. It is our understanding of these precious truths that is the ground and foundation of our faith, and “this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” (John 5:4)
Let us turn away from our subject long enough for a word of exhortation. I do not see how a Christian is ever going to be an overcomer and enter into sonship by following the ordinary course of church activity. There is something about the continual vain repetitions of the church that keeps Christians in a state of spiritual infancy. When the Jewish offerings and sacrifices got to be nothing but a ritual which they performed every week, God turned His face away in disgust and said it was a weariness to Him and a stench in His nostrils. What more is there to the wearisome repetitions into which the churches have entered? Do they not go through the same ceremony every week as they sing their hymns, say their prayers, give their offerings, and wait for the preacher to pronounce the benediction? This is not the path that leads to sonship. Regardless of what your traditions may be, this is the path to spiritual stalemate and infancy.
Every man must come to know God personally, individually, and independently of all theories and traditions. He must through private communion with his Lord enter into such friendship, unity, and fellowship with Him that should earthly and spiritual dependencies vanish he would be completely undisturbed and unmoved, or should every Christian be removed from the earth and he left alone that he would feel no lonesomeness or lack in anything. David, the king of Israel, had entered this blessed abiding place when he took up his harp to sing, “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea.” (Psa. 46:1,2) And again the same knowledge must have filled his soul when he said, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psa. 91:1) There is a secret place for us in God where crowds can never come. There are gardens to which Jesus often resorts with His disciples. (Jno. 18:2) There are mountains of transfiguration where He leaves the clamoring crowds below while He takes a few up higher with Himself. The shout and song of revival meeting has been a method of God during the dispensation of grace, but to sit with Him in His throne will be the order of the kingdom. I have no hesitation in saying that the last sands of this imperfect age of grace are running through the hour-glass of time and the perfect kingdom morning is at hand.
When Jesus Christ, the sign son, was baptized with the Holy Ghost, He knew the fullness of God in a way that no other man has yet known it. God gave the Holy Spirit to Him without measure. “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.” (Jno. 3:34) However much other men have experienced the fullness of the Spirit or however glorious was their baptism in the Holy Ghost, I feel they are all terribly lacking when compared to Him. His life was under the complete dominion of the Holy Spirit. The words He spake, the deeds He did, the prayers He prayed, the miracles He performed, the places He went were all the result of that limitless fullness which God gave unto Him. His birth, His life, His works, His death. His resurrection, His ascension were all by the Holy Spirit. He made no mistakes in any word He spoke for He spake by the Holy Spirit. He made no errors in judgments for judgment was not His but God’s. He was never overcome by the arguments of clever men but silenced them all with a word of wisdom from God. When Aaron the priest was anointed with the holy oil, Moses poured it on his head until it ran down over his face and beard, over his body and down to the very skirts of his garments. This is typical of that measureless fullness of the Holy Spirit which Christ enjoyed – not just a drop of oil on the forehead applied by the finger, but oil in abundance for the whole man. Psa. 133:2.
All who read these lines must be able to give proof after proof and evidence upon evidence that Jesus Christ possessed the glorious fullness of the Holy Spirit, so we will refrain from going further to make proof of that. But let us consider that great company of sons who are to come in His image and in the same fullness that He, the sign Son, had.
Self-satisfaction is an enormous, blinding, deceiving evil. A man who thinks he is righteous never bothers to seek righteousness, but a man who knows he is unrighteous will seek the righteousness of Christ. While scribes and Pharisees prided themselves that they were the children of Abraham, they knew not that they were the children of the devil, and they hated Christ for telling them so. “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, had not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10:3) The same principle holds true regarding the fullness of the Spirit. It is a great indictment against us all that we have claimed the fullness of the Holy Spirit when indeed our lives showed little or no sign of the Holy Spirit at all, let alone His fullness. It is a pitiful misconception prevalent in the entire professing church that each division in it should imagine that the Holy Spirit is imparted by obedience to the form of baptism laid down in their particular creed.
I do not want to belittle or depreciate anything that God has done for any man. We should be extremely thankful for any experience we have had in Him, but let us abolish all opinions that would lead us to believe that our little thimbleful of water is God’s ocean, or that our little Pentecost was the Spirit without measure or all the fullness of God. Let us rather realize that at best we have partaken of a mere earnest of our inheritance and that the whole inheritance still lies out ahead of us. We have partaken of a few luscious grapes from Canaan, but just beyond us lies a whole realm flowing with milk and honey and wine. Why should men refuse the meal after they have tasted its goodness? Why do we refuse the inheritance because we have partaken of a few pennies ahead of time? Why be satisfied with a stagnant pool when a river of the water of life is flowing from the throne of God? Paul prayed that we might be filled with all the fullness of God. Jesus declared that those who believed on Him as the scriptures had said would find rivers of living water flowing from their beings. Let us then wake up to the fact that we know nothing as we ought to know, and we have received nothing as we ought to receive. Our confident assurance that we are filled with the Spirit has been a blindfold that has kept us from seeing the rivers and oceans that lie just beyond us. Do not cast away the good that God has given you, but do, I pray you, cast away all self-satisfied belief in your fullness, for this dams up the fountains of living water. If it is true that rivers of living water can flow from the innermost being of men who believe on Christ, then there is one thing of which I am certain. Before those rivers of living water can flow from our being, all obstructions will have to be removed that they might first flow into our being. Let us settle it in our hearts that there is an everlasting fullness that can only be ours as we become empty of self-righteousness and give up our proud belief in our own fullness.
I do not propose to discuss here the many promises that go to prove that we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, but the undeniable fact that Jesus Christ, the sign Son, was given the Holy Spirit without limitation or measure is also an undeniable’ proof that there is an experience of equal glory and magnitude awaiting all those who will enter into sonship. Indeed, every day I am convinced more and more that it is the ever increasing fullness of the Holy Spirit that produces sonship, for by it we are both born of God and brought to the maturity of full sonship. It is a most significant fact that, at the moment Jesus was filled with the Holy Ghost, there came a voice from heaven declaring Him to be God’s beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. Matt. 3:17
There is a fullness of the Spirit awaiting all those who long for sonship. It is a fullness that none but Christ has ever received. It is a fullness reserved for the time of the manifestation of the sons of God. It is a fullness that brings to a complete maturity. It is the early and latter rain in the first month. It was John the Baptist who said, “Of His fullness have we all received and grace for grace,” (John 1:16) and there is no doubt whatever that we have all received of His fullness, but we have by no means received His fullness. It was the beloved Paul who many years later bowed his knees before the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and prayed “that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:19) Have we ever even remotely understood what it would mean to be filled with such divine and almighty fullness – filled with all the fullness of God? For centuries we have groveled along imagining our little stagnant pool was His mighty ocean, so robbing ourselves of His fullness. We have wrestled with the demon at the foot of the mount, excusing ourselves because we could not cast him out, when just above us in the mount God was declaring, “This is my beloved Son,” (Matt. 17)
It is unfortunate that Christians in these latter days have always associated the fullness of the Holy Spirit with power for service. They grasp eagerly for the baptism of the Spirit in a vain and selfish hope that they will have superhuman power over sickness and disease, or that they will have a spectacular ministry, or be possessed with spiritual gifts. But there is something far more important than this that has been completely overlooked. There is something far more important than powerful preaching and working of miracles. That important thing is the purifying effect the Holy Spirit will have upon the individual and personal life.
The scripture declares that we are changed by His Spirit from glory to glory until we come into the image of the Lord. “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18) This is a truth Christians are missing. It is pitiful that we have overlooked it so long. We are like the disciples who sought who would be greatest, not knowing that he who would humble himself and become least would be the one who would be filled with the fullness of God.
I feel I cannot be too strong in my earnest exhortation to all who read that we would earnestly seek day by day to have an ever increasing fullness of the Holy Ghost. It is your God-given duty to seek the Spirit with far greater earnestness and sincerity than you would for silver or gold. I greatly fear that the god of this age is the dollar bill. It is called the almighty dollar and certainly that is the honor given it by most Christians today. Earthly and financial gain has become the prime and foremost requisite in most Christian lives while prayer, meditation, the reading of the Word, praise, kindness, love, the grace of giving, tithing, the leading of the Spirit, constant communion, repentance, and all such things that pertain to the fullness of the Spirit have been relegated to the realm of annoying nuisances that hinder us from going all out for the god of his age. How sorely we need to read and learn the lesson taught us by Peter when he wrote, “And beside all this, giving all diligence add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.” Now listen to the promise that follows this exhortation. “For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ… For if ye do these things, yet shall never fall; for, so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:5-8, 10, 11)
It is time to stop, look, and listen. It is time to see if our rush for gold is canceling out our progress toward the kingdom of God. We are living in very, very important times. We are continually hearing wonderful things. But I warn you that the heights of sonship, the kingdom, and all the fullness of God are not attained by merely hearing about them. They must be our heart-absorbing, soul-consuming quest. Otherwise we will be like those who have heard the pipe but have not danced, and those who have heard the voice of mourning and have not wept. It has always been a vicious trait of man to hear but not to do. Thousands love to hear and read new things and listen to spiritual revelation, but never raise a finger to attain. Don’t waste time telling me that we need do nothing about it. Don’t try to persuade me that all we need do is believe. I would rather far listen to Paul who knew what he was talking about when he said, “Forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forth unto the things that are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Again he says, “Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection.” (Heb. 6:1) This last exhortation plainly shows that constant adherence to elementary doctrines is as great a hindrance to spiritual progress as anything could ever be.
I firmly believe it is time to leave the shadowy imperfect things of the dispensation of grace and begin to lay hold on those more permanent things that belong to the kingdom. Let us therefore no longer be interested in laying the foundation of repentance from dead works and faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, but let us seek to go on to the perfection of sonship and the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
When I speak of the fullness of the Spirit, I am not speaking of an initial baptism of the Holy Spirit such as you may have received thirty or forty years ago, but I am speaking of an ever increasing fullness that gradually saturates and overwhelms your life, your being, and your walk until all your thinking, your walking, your talking, and your doing is done by the Holy Spirit Himself. Your whole life becomes a life lived in a realm that is strange and ethereal to all other men because almost all men live on a plane completely governed by the natural and the carnal mind.
It is difficult to illustrate what I mean because we have spent our lives interpreting scriptures as they seem to suit our experience regardless of how low the plane may be on which we dwell. But let us for a moment consider the pattern son, Jesus Christ, for He is the true pattern and sign of the sons who are to come. The life of Jesus Christ, the pattern Son, the apostle Son, the high priest Son, was a life completely swallowed up by the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Immediately following His baptism it is stated, “Then was Jesus led of the Spirit into the wilderness,” and I have no hesitation in saying that in His case from that very moment on there was never a thought or a word or a deed that was outside the realm of the Holy Spirit. The works that He did were in His Father’s name. John 10:25, 5:36. All His words were of the Father. “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28) And again: “I speak that which I have seen with My Father.” John 8:38. Nothing was ever done to please self in any way, but rather He said, “I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8:29) Empty laughing and joking had no place in His life, but He “rejoiced in the Spirit” (Luke 10:21), and for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross and despised the shame. He was born of the Spirit, was baptized in the Spirit, lived by the Spirit, worked by the Spirit, talked by the Spirit, died in the Spirit, rose by the Spirit, and ascended by the Spirit, and even now, though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God.
Perhaps it is beyond the scope of this message to speak much of that blessed person, the Holy Spirit. But that we may better see our vast need of Him as Lord of our lives, let me point out a few of the names and titles of the Holy Spirit, for each and every name given to Him in the word of God teaches us some new thing that points to our immense need of living and moving in Him. First, He is the Holy Spirit. That is His name. While men struggle for lives of holiness and righteousness, God is telling us that His glorious fullness will make us holy. He is the Spirit of Holiness. Angels are spirits and they are holy, but He is the very essence, the source, and the spring of all the holiness in the universe. He is the Spirit of Adoption (sonship). What a truth is here, for all those who long for sonship, for all who are led by Him and who are under His control are sons of God and cry from the Spirit within, “Abba Father” (our Father). He is the Spirit of Truth. All the truth of the universe eminates from Him and all who are under His control speak only the truth of the Lord.
He is the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 3:16)
He is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, council, and might. (Isa.11:2)
He is the Spirit of the Lord. (Isa. 11:2) He is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:19) He is the Spirit of Burning. (Isa. 4:4) He is the Spirit of Life. (Rom. 8:2) He is the Spirit of Grace. (Heb. 10:29) He is the Spirit of Glory. (1 Pet. 4:14) He is the Eternal Spirit. (Heb. 9:14)
Each one of these names is worthy of life-long thought and meditation. This is not a variety of names given to break the monotony of sameness. These names teach us that everything we could ever hope for, desire, or accomplish is found in the fullness of the blessed comforter, the Paraclete that proceeds from the Father and the Son. To those who seek for holiness He is the Spirit of holiness; to those who long for sonship He is the Spirit of adoption. He is the Spirit of truth to all who love truth and the Spirit of wisdom to those who would be wise. To him who longs for understanding He is the Spirit of understanding and where there is need of power He is the Spirit of might. To those who would be in the image of Christ He is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. For freedom from flesh and corruption He is the Spirit of burning and judgment. He is the Spirit of life to all who love life, the Spirit of glory for our transformation, the eternal Spirit bringing all those who are in unity with Him to the fullness of God’s life for ever and ever. In Him let us live and move and have our being. He was the all-embracing, all-controlling power in the wonderful life of that pattern Son, Jesus Christ, and He will also be Lord in the lives of all those who by the Spirit of glory are coming into Christ’s image.
My heart is filled with a burning longing as I think of those whom God is calling to share the image of His Son. Oh that we all might seek His fullness, that we might cast from us every unclean and hurtful thing, that base thoughts having their beginning in the corrupt fountains of the carnal mind might be swept away. Those who seek for glory and honor, immortality and eternal life will not find it in the flesh pots of Hollywood, but they will find it in the ever increasing fullness of the Holy Ghost, and every man who has this hope in him purifies himself even as He is pure.
SONSHIP THE HOPE OF ALL CREATION
The languages of earth do not contain words descriptive and meaningful enough to adequately describe the immensity and all-embracing scope of the work of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Human vocabularies were designed to fit human needs and are capable of nothing more. Once the heart of man reaches out to a realm beyond the natural, it finds itself lost for proper descriptions and hopelessly bound up in the phrases of human speech. For unnumbered centuries men have sought to extol and magnify the work of Jesus Christ, but their efforts and eloquence have been no more than the shining of a penny candle in the darkness of a world blinded by sin, full of human ways of looking at things, and with no power of perception beyond the darkness of the natural mind. In trying to honor Him, we have often brought Him dishonor and, in trying to magnify His work, we have dragged it in the dust and desolation of human reason and finite understanding.
If only men would open their hearts that they might behold the power and glory of the all-embracing purpose of the Father in that hour when He proclaimed the edict, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” If we could even begin to grasp the depths of meaning of those mighty words, “Let us give him dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and everything that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:26) Oh, that men might see that at that moment wisdom was rejoicing in the habitable part of God’s mountain, so that the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God filled the vastness of heaven with their shouts of joy and anticipation as they beheld what the end of the plan would be! There is always the possibility of our being wrong, for lacking in understanding we always are, but there is a chord deep in my heart that still echoes to that shout of joy. There is a faith to believe that in the long-forgotten past we were there with Him in spirit beholding with joy the unfolding of His marvelous plan. But as Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten his former glory when his brilliant mind was taken away and he was given the mind of a beast, so we, too, have forgotten the glorious things of the past ages, because for a purpose we were born into this world in sin and shapen in iniquity. This assurance I have that, if the “spirit returns to God who gave it”, then certainly it must have come from God in the first place. There is little possibility of our denying that.
For many centuries all creation has groaned and sighed under the thralldom of sin and decay, but our heavenly Father had a. purpose eternal and omniscient when in hope He subjected the whole creation to the desolation of the fall. “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.” (Rom. 8:20) Ever since that day the earnest expectation of the creature has waited for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Verse 19)
Every man needs the spirit of revelation from God. I do not refer to that silly spirit so often found among zealous Christians that is always clamoring to come up with some new idea that they can call a revelation. It is not a flurry of fantastic fancies that we need, but a great spirit of wisdom and understanding given by God that will unfold to us the immutable almighty omniscience of God’s eternal purpose. That spirit of wisdom and understanding from God gives the heart of man the ability to receive and understand the purpose of His divine mind that has been planned from time immemorial.
There is certainly no lack of fantastic notions among Christians which they imagine are revelations. Should I try to imbibe or believe even half the weird doctrines people propose to me, I would now be floundering in a sea of utter confusion and my frail bark would soon be wrecked upon the rocky reefs that encompass the island of oblivion. Paul once wailed out his complaint against the useless doctrines of the Galatian Christians in these words: “After ye have known God, or rather are known of Him, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you lest I have bestowed labor upon you in vain”. (Gal. 4:10, 11) Then to the legalistic Colossians he insisted, “Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.” (Col. 2:16, 17) All such doctrines are only noisemakers that are sent to attract our attention away from making Christ our supreme Lord and head. See (Col. 2:18, 19) Let us seek to abandon all such side issues and seek to concentrate on Christ. Those who will possess the mind of Christ will find in Him the end of all doctrine, the antitype of all types, the source of all rivers, the fullness of all love, and the culmination of all purpose. He is the head of us all, “and it is from the head alone that the body is nourished and built up and grows according to God’s laws of growth.” (Col. 1:19) (Phillips). Let us abandon then the doctrines that concern themselves with eating and drinking, touching, tasting, and handling, or of days, weeks, and years, and seek to become one with Christ, for all who have come unto unity with Him need instruction in none of these things. The complete will of God flows forth from their hearts as naturally as pure water gushes from a pure fountain.
Christ is the head of all principality and power; therefore, concern not yourself with principality and power, but with Him. “By Him all things consist”; therefore, concern not yourself with things, but with Him and all things will consist by Him. He is the end of all things; therefore, concern yourself with Him who is the end and all things will have their end in Him. He is the head of the body; therefore, seek to be joined to Him and your place in the body is assured. Christ is our wisdom and our righteousness; therefore, seek neither wisdom nor righteousness, but seek Him and both wisdom and righteousness shall be yours because He is yours. Christ is our life and our light; therefore, seek neither life nor light, but enthrone Him upon the candlestick within you and the bright shining of the candle shall give you the light of God. Oh what time and effort we waste in seeking things, things, things instead of knowing Him. In His presence is fullness of joy; therefore, seek not joy but His presence. “At His right hand are pleasures forevermore,” therefore, seek not pleasure but to stand at His right hand. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear. The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall be afraid?
CHRIST ON DAVID’S THRONE. Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for
Thou art with me.
Thy rod and
Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou prepares! a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We may have read that beautiful passage ten thousand times. Most of us know it by heart, but today it holds new meaning. I think I see today what David saw when inspiration gripped his soul and he sang those meaningful words. See how he makes the Lord the hub and center of everything – the shepherd, the leader, the feeder, the restorer, the anointer, the comforter, and the eternal abiding place.
We hear a great deal today about many wonderful things. As we draw nearer the end of this dispensation and the kingdom morning sends its first rays upon our waiting souls, there will be an ever increasing flood of light and revelation. This we must certainly expect and accept, for new days bring new things, and new dispensations are sent to flood the world with greater light and greater experience in God.
No truth has come with more soul-gripping force and power to the elect of the Lord than the hope of sonship. Well indeed may we lay hold upon that glorious eternal hope, for divine wisdom has ordained that that sonship should be the hope of all creation. It is for sonship that the whole creation groans in a sort of universal travail while it waits to see the glorious sight of the sons of God coming into their own. Rom. 8:22, 23.
Every man and woman who has even in the least partaken of revelation must learn that to love sonship is not a presumptuous infringement on the plan of God. To love and covet sonship is to love and covet the very purpose of God from timeless ages. When the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy, was it not because they were then beholding the final fulfillment of God’s plan for His sons and for the whole creation through them? Let us give ear to the inspired words of Paul as he shouts, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world (before the ages were formed) that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love; having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will.” (Eph. 1:3-5) I am afraid that we have all failed to grasp the true meaning of that scripture because of the rather weak expression “unto the adoption of children.” The true meaning is that He has predestined us to sonship or, as Moffat says, “designed us in His love to be His sons.”
It is hard to understand how the true purpose of sonship has been overlooked and missed for so many centuries. For many ages Christians have thought of sonship as a sort of sentimental thing that amounted to little more than a kind expression on God’s part that we should be patted on the head and called sons of God. To most people sonship means little more than material for another Sunday morning sermon or at best some title we will possess in the ages to come.
The truth is that our sonship is now and always was the hope of the entire creation of God. Sonship is dearer to God’s heart than any other thing. God the Father has carefully planned our sonship from timeless ages. Every detail of the process by which we were to attain the perfection of sonship was laid down in heaven’s blueprint before there was a world, an age, or a dispensation. In the hope of sonship He has subjected the entire creation to the thralldom and decay of ages and dispensations. He has caused men like Abraham to become wanderers and pilgrims on the earth throughout their lives in the hope of bringing them to the perfection of sonship He demands. He has sold men like Joseph into slavery and imprisonment to bring them to sonship. He sends His predestined sons to pass the night in lions’ dens and burning fiery furnaces and drops His Jeremiahs into muddy wells all in the hope of sonship. He sends His only begotten Son into the world to learn obedience by the things He suffered, to be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He afflicts His apostle, Paul, with a grievous thorn and causes him to cry with joy from the blackness of his grief, “These light afflictions which are but for a moment are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” And for our sakes who are often as sorely tried he names in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews a great cloud of witnesses that died in faith after a life of suffering to wait for that glorious resurrection when both they and us would in the mercy of God be made perfect together.
The sonship which God has planned cannot be attained lightly and with ease. All who bear this eternal hope within their breasts may as well resolve here and now that the only path that leads to sonship is the path of suffering. Along that path is lonesomeness, temptation, despair, trials, tribulations, misunderstanding, rejection, pain – a great variety of sufferings that come in one way to you, another way to me, and in still another way to our brother or sister traveler. It is unavoidable. It cannot be dodged. At the beginning of the road that leads to sonship stands the first Son of God, Jesus Christ the Lord, saying, “If any man would follow Me, let him deny himself (self) and take up his cross and follow Me.” It is still the way of the cross that leads us home, and be warned of this: Your associates will become fewer and fewer as you approach the agonies of Gethsemane, and when you reach your cross you will find yourself alone – alone except for Christ who has now formed within you.
It disgusts me to hear these breezy preachers proclaiming abundance for all and freedom from all sickness and pain and poverty. It has a wonderful appeal to the flesh and to the carnal mind, but it is a way that seemeth right unto a man and the end thereof are the ways of death. It is a gross untruth to tell a suffering man that his suffering is caused by some inconsistency or sin in his life. How often I have heard it proclaimed that the tribulations and distresses through which God’s people pass are caused through some sin in their lives and that if they were right with God they would have no trouble at all. It is a lie, I tell you. It is a lie. The opposite is the truth. I know that sin and profligacy have caused many forms of sickness and distress among wicked men, but that is another question altogether and certainly gives no license to condemn a righteous man who is living in good conscience before the Lord. Was Job sick because he was sinful? No! A thousand times No! He was sick because God wanted to bring him to sonship and to sonship He brought him. I often think of the nosey way the disciples asked Jesus about the blind man when they said, “Who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents, but that the glory of God should be manifested.” (John 9:2, 3) I do not ask you to glory in your sickness, your loss of business, or whatever other tribulation may come upon you, but glory in the fact that as you allow these things to work in you the lesson God intended the end will be sonship. Perhaps, if we enquired of God as Paul did, we might hear Him say to us, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness,” and then we could rejoice and say with him, “Most gladly therefore will I take pleasure in afflictions, in distresses, in persecutions, that the power of Christ may rest upon me, for when I am weak then am I strong.”
I thoroughly believe in divine healing and could write a book on the healings I have seen in my own ministry, but I greatly fear that healing has been taken over by unscrupulous men who, in spite of all their protestations to the contrary, make themselves rich by playing upon the sufferings of the people. The eyes of the people have been turned away from Christ while they run endless journeys to place their confidence in a human being – in a highly advertised man.
What hypocrites we have become as we blithely sing, “The way of the cross leads home,” yet senselessly smite the man who has a cross to bear! What inconsistent humbug is it that allows a man to read the words of the Lord, “We shall through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of heaven,” while with tongue in cheek we condemn those who are sweating blood as they wrestle in their Gethsemanes or struggle beneath their heavy cross on the way to their Golgotha! Such men and women, void of spiritual understanding, do not know that they themselves are adding their weight to our cross and are casting stumbling stones before our bleeding feet. Have you ever considered the scripture which says, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin that he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men but to the will of God.” (1 Pet. 4:1, 2) “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin!” There is something about suffering of any kind that brings the world and the flesh into its proper perspective. Suffering makes us understand things as they really are. By suffering we see the worthlessness of all the passing vanities of earth and by it we are weaned away from the vain deceits that concern a purely physical world. Suffering of any kind causes us to be done with the transient affairs of this present age and inspires us to anchor all our hopes within the veil whither the forerunner is for us entered.
Since heaven’s greatest desire for the sons of men is that they shall be sons of God, let us learn that God scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. For what son is there that receiveth not chastisement? Chastisement is sent that we might learn the will of the Father and come to cherish that will above all the glittering prizes of the world now present or the world which is to come. We are not asked to accept suffering for suffering’s sake, but we are asked to accept and endure suffering for sonship’s sake. This is the royal road that leads us to sonship. This is the burning cleansing fire that is to try us. It will not singe one hair of our head nor leave the smell of fire upon us, but it will bum off our bondages and shackles and leave us free to walk unharmed in the fire with One like the son of God.
I do not know how or why Christians came to the conclusion that sonship was to be declared and made manifest by mighty works. It pains my heart to hear of men who imagine they are manifested sons of God, because of their prominence in some field of ministry. I know of no man or woman on earth today who even remotely resembles a manifested son of God. We are at the very door of the great manifestation of the sons of God, but God hath reserved it for a time known only to Himself. Then the wonderful perfection of the sons of God will be manifested. There will be a resurrection of those sons who sleep to join those who still walk the earth. “They without us should not be made perfect”. Neither shall we without them be made perfect. There shall be a resurrection unto life that shall disclose the wonder of the ages. It was for this very reason that the Lord said to Daniel, “Go thy way, Daniel, for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” (Dan. 12:13) It is near, very near; even at the doors.
There is something about sonship that has a deep root in the hearts of all people. The families of earth anxiously await the arrival of a son. In ancient times it was thought a tragedy that any family should be without a son who would carry on the work and name of the father. This longing in the heart of all mankind had its origin in the heart of the eternal Father who, upon bringing His only begotten Son into the world, proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” It must have been a wonderful night for the shepherds of Israel who heard the heavenly choir of angels proclaiming the coming of the Son of God. It was a grand moment in John’s life when he saw the heavens proclaiming, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” God was delighted with His Son, His ‘only son. So delighted was He in that Son’s perfection that even before the worlds began He purposed to prepare a whole family of sons in His exact image and likeness and form of them one great body of sons which should rule the entire universe according to His divine will.
The languages of earth simply do not contain words that are able to express the vast importance of this family of God’s sons. There is not a doubt but that every one of us has failed to comprehend the universal purpose of God in bringing many sons to glory. Words utterly fail to explain the truth which revelation inspires, leaving us helplessly groping for expression. If the Spirit of God will come to my aid, I will try to state as best I can the wonderful purpose of God in sonship. Well do I know that my best efforts will fall far short of His glorious understanding, but, if His Spirit will stir the deep chord of revelation, then understand will come. Ear hath not heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things God hath prepared for them that love Him, but He hath revealed then to us by His Spirit.
“… The works that I do shall ye do also and greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12) This passage of scripture has been the subject of discussion for centuries. The discussion always involves the mighty works of Jesus and the practical impossibility of anyone’s doing any work greater than His work. We recount His mighty acts in healing every manner of sickness and disease. We tell with awe of His raising the dead back to life again. We repeat with wonder the story of the stilling of the sudden storm on the lake of Galilee and of His walking the stormy waves. We love to read the accounts of the devils that were cast out by His word and of the endless hosts of sad and afflicted who went away filled with joy and we tell of His words of wisdom and the teachings which none could gainsay nor resist. We speak of His undying love and mercy to all who needed Him. We glory in His death and resurrection and His ascension into heaven. So many marvels crowned His wonderful life that words fail us to tell or imagine how glorious He really was. Perhaps the beloved John most appropriately described it all by saying, “I suppose, if all the books were written that should be written, even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written.” (John 21:25)
What then are these mighty works of which He spoke when He who could not lie declared, “The works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works than these shall ye do because I go to My Father?” If we are going to understand what He said, we shall have to open our hearts to a completely new understanding of God’s eternal purposes. We will have to see that sonship is God’s masterpiece, and that in the manifestation of the sons of God the eternal purposes of God find their complete fulfillment.
The great soul-gripping truth is this. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, is the only begotten Son of God. Moreover He is the first begotten Son of God, but not the last begotten. He is the firstborn of a vast family of sons who through the wisdom and grace of God are to be born of God, not of water, not of blood, not of flesh, but born of God. Jno. 1:13. Thus it is that Paul by the wisdom of God given unto him did write, “Whom He did foreknow He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29) I love the translation of Weymouth which reads, “That He might be the eldest in a vast family of brothers.” Just how vast that family is I am not sure, but I am sure there will be 144,000 who have the name of God in their foreheads. These are sons of God. (Rev. 14) It is a small company in relation to the billions of earth, but for the sake of sonship and one body in the exact image of Jesus Christ it is indeed a vast family. This is the man–child company spoken of in Rev. 12. These are they who are to be caught up to God and to His throne and who will have the privilege of perfecting the woman in the wilderness and of bringing her forth purified, leaning on the arm of her beloved.
Before we speak further of greater works, let us open our hearts that God may speak to us and show us what a son of God really is, for the greater works of which Jesus spoke are not to be performed by ordinary believers, but by that vast family of sons who are now nearing the hour of manifestation. They are that chosen company, selected from many ages, who through fires and furnaces of affliction have been brought into that same glorious image of Jesus Christ. These sons of God are like Him. They are exactly like Him. They are in His image. (Rom. 8:29) They are in His image and after His likeness. They are so completely sons of God, so completely like Him, so completely born of Him, so completely of His mind and will and purpose that their one difference is that He (the blessed Jesus) is the eldest in that vast family of sons, Rom. 8:29. He is the head of the body of sons and they with Him are the bridegroom, the last Adam in all His completeness.
With the pen of inspiration Paul wrote, “It behooved Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory to make the captain (Jesus Christ) of our salvation perfect through suffering.” (Heb. 2:10) In like manner John, his soul aflame with inspiration, wrote, “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, and every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2) When He shall appear, we shall be like Him. Wonderfully like Him! Exactly like Him! In His Image! In His likeness! The omniscience of His wisdom, the purity of His truth, the omnipotence of His power, the immutability of His love, the faithfulness of His purpose! Full of His grace, His purpose. His kindness, and His unending mercy! The sons shall be like Him for He shall dwell in them all.
Oh, what glory divine it would have been to have stood with John that day on lonely Patmos to behold with him that complete Christ! The Christ of Nazareth complete with all His sons in the end of the age! The glorious head with eyes as lamps of fire all complete with the other sons of His body standing with His beautiful feet burning as though in a furnace of fire! And when the voice of that One like the Son of man rang out, it was not the voice of the lonely Galilean, but the voice as the sound of many waters. Many waters means many peoples, and the peoples here are the sons of God. The vision is recorded for our knowledge and inspiration thus: “On the Lord’s day I was inspired by the Spirit and I heard behind me a loud voice like the blast of a trumpet… I turned to see who it was who was speaking to me; and then I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the center of the lampstands One resembling the Son of man, clothed in a robe which reached to His feet and a girdle of gold across His breast. His head and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like silver bronze when it is white hot in a furnace; and His voice was as the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and a sharp two-edged sword was seen coming from His mouth, and His face was like the sun shining in its full power. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.” (Rev. 1:11-16) (Weymouth)
Before the glory of that vision John fell to the earth as dead. Never in all his long, eventful life, filled with the wonders of spiritual experience, had he ever once imagined the breath-taking glory of the Lord’s Christ. He had seen the Galilean subjugate to His control any force or power He desired. He had beheld the awe-inspiring view from the mount of the transfiguration. He had walked with Christ after the resurrection and had seen His glorified body. He had watched Him ascend to heaven and had experienced the glory divine of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. If any man on earth understood the purpose of God, it must have been John, but though he had seen the glory of Christ as He was at first, he was not prepared to see Him as He is at last. Before the effulgent glory of that vision he fell as dead. Years before he had heard the Savior say, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Now as his eyes beheld the harvest, Christ in fullness and completeness, he understood the meaning of those words. Many sons brought to glory! Every one in His image and likeness! Everyone with His nature, His mind, and His voice so that His speaking was as the voice of a multitude. Here for the first time we get a picture of what the body of Christ really is – not a hodge-podge of religious denominations, sects and organizations, but one like the Son of man with one vision, one voice and one likeness.
If by the grace of God the truth of this holy vision can burst upon you, all other loves will fade away from your heart. The activities of a visible Babylonish church system have tarnished and dimmed our vision so that we see nothing of the truth. In our desire to promote we have promoted things instead of Christ. We have loved programs and meetings instead of loving Him until we find ourselves in the end of the age with a sort of Christless Christianity. Oh, how we have lauded our systems, our education, our degrees, and our theology! But the more of worldly wisdom we know, the less we know of the wisdom of God, and the deeper we go into such systems, the farther away from God we get. How proud we have become of our titles and degrees that are supposed to commend us to the world as men of understanding in spiritual things when in reality we know nothing yet as we ought to know! Men love to be called Reverend and Doctor, Most Reverend and Very Reverend, Reverend Doctor, Father, and many other such titles. But this I know; any man who even glimpses the glory of God will be ashamed of his knowledge and repent that he ever thought himself to be someone of importance. Let us drop all these titles that commend us to men, but not to God, and humble ourselves in His sight that we may begin to partake of the wisdom that is from above, for we cannot partake of His wisdom which is from above until we abandon our wisdom which is of this world.
Let us return now to the thought of the greater works. When the beloved Luke wrote the book we call the Acts of the Apostles, he commenced his work with the enlightening statement, “The former treatise have I made, 0 Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day in which He was taken up…” (Acts 1:1, 2) The part of the verse of interest here is the statement “began to do and teach”, for this tells us as nothing else can that Jesus did not complete His work when He was on earth, but He only “began” His work.
In making the above statement, I am fully aware that such a thought runs contrary to long-established views of theology, but we are not concerned with the views of theology, for theology is not really the views of God but the ideas of men. I am concerned only with the purpose of God as it is revealed in His word in the light of inspiration and revelation.
When the Son of God came into the world, He came to do only one complete work and that was the work of redemption. The Son of man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45. Thus it was that, when He died, He uttered the three significant words, “It is finished.” Thus also He declared before the Father, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” (John 17:4) What people of all ages have failed to see is that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, did the work which God gave Him to do and no more than that. All the other wonderful things He did were only a beginning of a work that was to be carried out by the other sons who were to come into His glorious image as the ages passed. To them it is given to do greater works than He did and to bring to God’s universal creation the endless blessing of the redemption He purchased with His eternal blood, which He gave for the life of the world.
It seems to me that the wild creatures of creation together with the grass of the fields and the trees of the woods have more understanding of God’s plan for them than do the theologians of the church, for Paul by the word of inspiration wrote these words: “The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, and not they only, but ourselves also which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption (sonship), to wit, the redemption of the body.” (Rom. 8:19-23) Perhaps there is no other single passage of scripture which throws so much light on the great works which have been left for the sons of God to do. The whole of God’s creation is breathlessly waiting for the time of the manifestation of the sons of God. The whole creation has been subjected to a sort of universal travail. It has endured for centuries the terrible bondage of corruption, but God has placed a hope in all creation that it will eventually be delivered from its thralldom and decay by the ministry of the sons of God, who are now being formed in the very image of Christ and will be manifested in the glory of His resurrection at the end of this age and throughout the entire kingdom to come.
The mighty works which Jesus, the first Son, began will be completed by the other sons who are coming into His image. This is not presumption on the part of man. This is the plan and purpose of God. Failure to see this truth has caused men to create many hare-brained schemes to try to convert the world or to bring in some Utopia of their own choosing long before God’s time.
When Jesus said, “Greater works than these shall ye do,” He meant exactly that. As the Head Son of the body He demonstrated the mighty power and glory of manifested sonship and showed that all things, absolutely all things, come under the power and authority of the sons of God. While He was here, He with wonderful grace and power opened the eyes of blind men and caused some who were dumb to speak. But a greater day is at hand when under the rule of the sons of God all blindness and dumbness will flee from the earth, for “the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.” In His beginning of miracles He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, but the day is at hand when “the inhabitants shall not say, I am sick.” (Isa. 33:24) Jesus by His power of eternal life raised men from the dead, but the day is coming under the government of the sons of God when men shall not die at all, but live out the fullness of their days in reverence and godly fear. (Isa. 65:20)
It would be simple to go on and on with these comparisons. There are, however, other mighty works which Jesus during all His life never once began to do. I am absolutely certain that there was no sickness or disease known to mankind that He did not cure. There was no demon that did not flee at His order. Even death dropped the keys and fled at His command. Wind and water obeyed His will, and those who came to take Him went backward and fell to the ground when He spoke. But did this King of kings and Lord of lords ever attempt to set up a kingdom and govern the world? Did He ever call all the nations before Him and set up a judgment seat? Did He ever attempt to wipe inequity and inequality from the earth? Did He command men to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks? Did He ever command the demon of war to flee from the hearts of men and trouble the earth no more? Did He cause the desert to blossom as the rose or Jerusalem to be safely inhabited? No, He did not – not because He could not, but because God has reserved these greater works of universal magnitude and glory for those sons of God who are to share His image and who appear at the end of the age.
The work and scope of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth was amply described by Himself when He entered into the synagogue and read from the book of Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He hath anointed Me to preach (proclaim) the gospel to the poor. He hath sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18, 19) His whole life consisted of a proclamation and a demonstration of those all-embracing wonders that are to come during that coming kingdom age, which He here calls the acceptable year of the Lord.
There is yet another work that transcends by far anything that has ever been known. It has been so carefully hidden from our understanding that for the most part we do not even know of its existence. There is a realm beyond the natural realm where men with spiritual senses see, hear, taste, touch, and smell all spiritual realities. The transcending glory of that realm has been lost to man ever since the fall. Which do you think is greater? To restore a man’s natural hearing that he may hear the sounds of earth such as music and the voices of people or to restore that spiritual ear that listened to God’s voice in lovely Eden and heard the voice of Alpha and Omega on the Isle of Patmos? Which would you say was greater – to restore a man’s physical sense of taste that he might taste loaves and fishes or restore his spiritual taste that he might taste and see that the Lord is good? Again which do you think is the greater – to restore man’s physical sense of feeling that he might feel the hard substances of earth or to restore his spiritual sense of feeling that he might feel the moving of the breath of God? The physical sense of smell is a wonderful sense, indeed, but the fragrance of heaven’s perfume is greater far and will once again be enjoyed as it was in God’s Eden long ago. There is an unseen world all about us that the natural man does not comprehend. Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man. Yet it is there. We lost our spiritual sight in Eden. We lost our spiritual hearing. We lost our ability to smell and taste and feel all spiritual things. The Bible gives abundant examples of the existence and nearness of that glorious realm of spiritual reality and it is clear for anyone to see that all who have experienced the blessedness of even a momentary entrance into that realm have found that it alone is real, while we who are in this bondage of corruption live in a world of illusion and unreality.
There is coming a day when all the glories of the spiritual world will be opened to men and this glorious freedom, this greater work, is reserved for the sons of God to do. We are nearing the hour of the manifestation of the sons of God. The long, long awaited liberation from bondage, thralldom, and decay is near at hand. The greater works which Jesus, our elder brother, told us of are soon to begin on the earth. The hour is at hand when the government shall be upon His shoulder to order the whole world in justice and judgment, peace and equity for the glorious kingdom age. At this very moment the governments of earth are falling apart at the seams and collapsing, but God is preparing an enduring kingdom that shall never be destroyed. The sons shall reign with Him.
I have found even among good men that there is a tendency to imagine that the Son of God (Jesus Christ) and the sons of God who are to be manifested at the end of the age are two separate entities. This is not true. Such an idea comes from a lack of understanding as to what a son of God really is, and how such a son comes into being at all.
It is impossible to explain to the natural mind how two entirely separate things can, though separate, still be one. Men seem to be able to understand how a foot, a hand, and a head can, though separate and different, all be members of one and the same body. We are able to understand this because these members are joined together by flesh and sinew and blood, but when we are asked to believe that the Son of God at the right hand of the Father is one with the sons of God on earth, we flounder in the bogs of unbelief and trip over the stones of doubt and misunderstanding. If, however, we would ask God to reveal this mystery, we would easily see that, if physical members joined only by the weakness of flesh and blood can be one, how much more one are things joined by the Spirit of the living God! An arm that is severed from the body no longer belongs to the body because the bonds of flesh are broken, but time or place or space has nothing whatever to do with the unity of the Spirit, for the Spirit is omnipresent even as God is omnipresent. Therefore, whether a man’s abode is on earth or in heaven makes absolutely no difference to spiritual unity, for to spirit there is neither time nor place. Time, place, distance, and all such things belong to the bondage and corruption of the flesh. The Spirit is confined by none of these things. Some day we will realize what a world of truth lay in the words of Jesus when He said, “No man hath ascended up to heaven but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” John 3:13. He who lived as a Son of God and had His being in the Father and in the Spirit, even while standing upon the earth, was able to declare that He was in heaven, and so truly He was.
This should help us to see how we are one with Christ and how Christ is one with the Father. This should help us to understand the fathomless depths of meaning in the words of Jesus, “I in them and Thou in Me that they may be made perfect in one,” (John 17:23), and again in verse 21, “That they may be one as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us.” It is this unity with Him and this alone that makes a son of God.
With all emphasis we must declare that sons of God only exist because of their vital relationship to Jesus Christ. By this I mean that Jesus Christ dwells in you as God Almighty dwelt in Him. If He does not dwell in you, you are not a son. It is Christ in you that is the hope of glory. Not Christ in heaven! Not Christ in the Father! Not Christ in your brother! It is Christ in you!
Good works, giving of alms, preaching, signs, miracles, healings, and all the rest have nothing whatever to do with sonship. We can have all these things and yet never live a day as a son of God. There are far too many people in the world who have the mistaken idea that their mighty works are proof of their sonship. Actually these works are proof of nothing. The works may be good; they may be commendable; they may be beneficient; they may be worthy of reward, but they are not proof of sonship, and never will be. Surely Jesus made this fact abundantly plain when He said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and in Thy Name cast out devils and in Thy Name done many wonderful works? Then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’ “ (Mark 7:22, 23) I can truthfully say that I believe in prophecy, but prophecy is no proof of sonship. I thoroughly believe in the casting out of devils, but it is not proof of sonship. Certainly I believe in wonderful works. But though you fill the earth with them, they will not commend you to God nor prove your sonship.
Let us consider again for a moment Paul’s statement in (Col. 1:26, 27) “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but is now manifest to His saints… which is Christ in you the hope of glory.” The glory spoken of here is not heaven as has been generally supposed, but sonship. That is the highest and most glorious glory that God has ever given or ever will give. “The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them,” said Jesus. (John 17:22) “Whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate them He also called, and whom He called He also justified, and whom He justified He glorified.” (Rom. 8:29-30) This is glory; this is glorification; this is sonship. The only hope of sonship, the only hope of glory, is for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to dwell in you and control and order every step of your life. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Christ in you is the hope of glory. Christ in me is the hope of glory. Sonship is not what I am, but what He is. Sonship is not what Christ is apart from me, but what He is in me.
Jesus Christ Himself was the Son of God because in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Even He did not hesitate to declare, “I can do nothing of Myself; as I hear I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of the Father which sent Me.” (John 5:30) And again He said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do, for whatsoever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19) (If you would behold the glory and power of sonship, you should read John 5:18-32.) Both the words and the works of Jesus were the words and the works of the Father who dwelt in Him. “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself; but the Father that dwelleth in Me He doeth the works.” (John 14:10) It is the indwelling Christ that fills us with the very spirit of sonship. It is Christ within that causes the spirit to cry Abba Father. We can never be sons of God until that only begotten Son dwells in us. His indwelling presence will transform our lives until we are in His image and we can say with John, “As He is, so are we in this world.”
We should earnestly consider the following question with prayer for guidance and understanding. Why was it that Jesus boldly and truthfully declared, “If ye had known Me ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him and have seen Him!” (John 14:7) Why was it He said to Philip, “Have I been so long time with you and yet thou hast not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father!‘” (John 14:9) This passage would be without any hope of understanding were it not for the verse following which says, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?” Because the Father dwelt in fullness in Christ, therefore whoever had seen Christ had seen the Father. It is equally true that, when Christ lives in fullness in any human being, controlling and ordering his life, then whosoever has seen that man has also seen Christ. Paul the apostle saw that great truth by revelation when he declared, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.” The I that was crucified was himself, but the I which lived was Christ.
During the last few days these tremendous truths have flooded in upon my soul. If you would be holy, do not try to be holy. Christ is holy so let Him live in you. If you long for righteousness, do not try to be righteous. Christ is righteous, therefore let Him live in you. If you long for purity, do not seek to be pure. Seek to let Him live in you for He is pure. Do you long for sonship? Do not waste time seeking sonship. Let Him live in you. He is God’s Son. Your relationship to sects, denominations, people, or things means nothing at all. It is your relationship to Him that counts, for that means everything.
Did He not say, “He that hath the Son hath life, but he that hath not the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on Him?” Why is it that he who hath the Son hath life? Is it not because in Him is life? Is it not equally true then that He that hath the Son hath wisdom, for in Him dwelleth all the treasures of wisdom? Is it not true also that He who hath the Son hath the mind of Christ, and he that hath the Son hath purity, holiness, truth, longsuffering, love, gentleness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance, judgment, and government? Does not the word declare that God has made Him wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption? Oh! world of truth, in Him are all things! Christ is all and in all, and Christ in you is the hope of glory. Here and here alone is the glory of sonship.
A. B. Simpson must surely have grasped the truth when he wrote these immortal words:
Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, now it is His Word;
Once the gift I wanted, now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, now Himself alone.
All in all forever, Jesus, will I sing;
Everything in Jesus, and Jesus everythin
THE PREPARATION OF THE SONS OF GOD
We should approach all the great truths of God with a sense of reverence and godly fear. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and understanding, and all people who would approach unto God should come to Him with a sense of great awe, realizing that He is infinite in all wisdom and understanding but that we know nothing yet as we ought to know. It is much better to listen than to speak in God’s presence. It is wise on our part to wrap the mantle of humility about our heads and stand to listen to His blessed voice. If men and women can be found who are more anxious to hear God speak than to hear themselves speak, we will find men and women who know the purpose of God. Sadly and bitterly we must confess that we have stood up boldly to argue our causes both loud and long, but we have spent little time at His feet disowning our own wisdom, disclaiming our own knowledge, emptying ourselves of vain traditions, repenting of our vain doctrines taught to us by men, and beseeching Him that we might be partakers of His eternal wisdom, His infinite understanding, His counsel and His might. Oh, that men would seek to cast off their natural minds, their human ways of looking at things, and become partakers of the mind of Christ!
Perhaps few people will believe me, but there is a day coming when all the great sermons will fade into insignificance in the light of His greatness and all the doctrines will become utterly lacking before the glory of His fullness. The great man will bow his head before God in shame and repentance and confess that he knew nothing as he ought to have known.
My heart’s desire and prayer to God every waking hour of my life and in the night seasons as well is that I might be filled with the wisdom of Christ and be made one with His purpose and the knowledge of His will. For this to be accomplished, I find myself repenting constantly of the foolish things I have said, taught, and preached, and of the limited light and understanding I have had when I almost thought my little flickering candle to be as important as the sun and my tiny grain of sand to be the earth itself. Surely once again we need a Gamaliel to say to us, “Ye know nothing at all,” or a Paul to say, “If any man thinketh he knoweth aught, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know,” or Jesus to say to men who are so self-assured and confident in their knowledge of things, “Ye do greatly err, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God.”
I am saying these things here and now so that we might know before we start reading the following pages that there is a universe of truth which we have never touched, heard, seen, nor tasted, and that if we would bow our heads before God and admit our ignorance, He would open to us the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man.
One of the first things that Christians need to learn is that God is God. We need spiritual revelation to show us that God is almighty, that all the power and authority in the universe belongs to Him; that all things were made by Him, all things were made for Him, and all things consist and exist by His power; that thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, whether in heaven or earth or hell, were created and designed by Him as part of His plan and purpose. Nothing can breathe or exist a second without Him. Nothing has power that He has not given. Even Satan himself is helpless and powerless and has no strength except what has been given him in the purpose of God. God is omnipotent. God is almighty. All power in heaven and earth belongs to Him.
Christians need a revelation of God’s wisdom. It is not enough to say God is omniscient knowing the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. We must be able to see that a mind so infinitely wise as to contain all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in the universe would never allow anything of any description to sneak unknown into His purpose that He Himself had not planned. No mistakes were made in the Garden of Eden. Every detail was planned as part of an eternal purpose. “The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.” There were no mistakes in Eden. Neither were there any after thoughts about Calvary. All was planned before the foundation of the world. God is not making any mistakes today either. No enemy of any description is hindering His purpose even in the least, but all things are working together to triumphantly complete His purpose even as Paul once said, “We can do nothing against the truth.” 2 Cor. 13:8. No man can truly love God until he sees Him wise beyond the possibility of error, omnipotent beyond the possibility of defeat, immutable beyond the possibility of change, incorruptible beyond the possibility of decay, immortal beyond the possibility of death, loving beyond the possibility of loss, and eternal beyond the corroding influence of time.
Such a God as this leaves nothing to chance but includes all in His purpose. Only creatures of ignorance take chances. God never does. It was not chance that sold Joseph into Egypt. It was purpose. It was not chance that shipwrecked Paul on the Island of Melita. It was infinite purpose. It was not fate that confined him to jail. It was purpose. It is not bad fate that three quarters of the earth have not heard the gospel. It is purpose. The glory and the wonder of that infinite purpose will be made crystal clear in the ages yet unborn when all who sat in heathen darkness will see a great light. Once a man sees by the Holy Ghost that all things are working according to His purpose, then with confidence, abandonment, and dedication he can cast himself upon the almighty arms of the Father and submit himself to the direction of Him whose mind is infinite and His purpose immutable.
It is with knowledge of His glorious infinity and of the smallness of our own wisdom that we open our hearts to learn a little more about that purpose of purposes, the manifestation of the sons of God. You may have to change your mind a little or a lot as you read through these pages, but please remember that a change of mind is not a sign of stupidity, but of growth. It was not a backward step when man first began to believe that the earth was round and not flat. Mankind is forever discarding some clumsy old theory as new light is shed on the wonders of the universe. The puff of smoke on the ocean’s horizon is a sign that a ship is coming, and the cloud the size of a man’s hand was a sign to Elijah that many clouds were on the way, and the sound of abundance of rain.
There is nothing more important at this hour than the preparation of the sons of God for manifestation. The manifestation of the sons of God is God’s purpose for the end of this age, or, should I say, for that period between the ages of grace and the kingdom, in like manner as Jesus Christ, the first Son, was manifested between the ages of law and grace. It is the next great event in God’s order. There is an event for which the whole creation is groaning and travailing. That glorious event is the manifestation of the sons of God. For years we have been taught that the hope of the church is to be raptured out of the world to escape the tribulation. For years I went along with that belief, but I cannot help but feel that most of the hope for a rapture is built upon man’s human desire to escape suffering and tribulation, not knowing that it is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of God. While we have some statements that appear very definite about our being caught up, we must remember that Paul was caught up to the third heaven and yet remained right here on earth. John at Patmos was twice caught up to higher and higher realms in the Spirit in one and the same experience yet remained here to bear witness to it. Compare Rev. 1:10, Rev. 4:1. Then again the same truth is evident in Rev. 12 where the man child was caught up to God and His throne, yet was found feeding the woman in the wilderness even as Elijah did.
I have no great desire to change the mind of any man about these things, for we can safely leave this to the revelation of the Lord. However, the sons of God are not to be raptured out of the tribulation but will walk victoriously through it. They are not to be burned to a cinder by the fiery furnace of tribulation, but they are to walk as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with the Son of God, preserved in its sevenfold flame, to emerge liberated, unscathed, victorious, and without the smell of fire upon them. They are not to be eaten by the lions of the den, but to stand as Daniel unscathed and unharmed as the angel shut their mouths. They are not to perish of thirst in its wilderness, but to drink as Elijah of the brook of the living waters. They are not to die of hunger in its famine, but to supply the woman with meal and oil till judgment is sent forth unto glorious victory. They are not to be slain by its Jezebel (Babylon), but to defeat her prophets, destroy her altars, and race before the chariot of the king proclaiming rain upon the earth.
“I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him (God) who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children (sons) of God. For the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption (sonship), to wit, (which means), the redemption of our bodies.” (Rom. 8:18-23) This wonderful classic written by Paul on sonship shows what the true hope of mankind really is. May I further add that that hope is not confined to man but includes every creature and thing in the animal and vegetable world, and heaven itself is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.
We must now prepare to follow along into deeper waters. You will not be able to hear with natural ears nor understand with natural minds what I am now going to say. You must beg God to open the eyes of your understanding that you might know the hope and the purpose that lies before us, and I pray mightily that God will open your eyes and anoint them with eye salve that you may behold these wonders.
It is a source of wonder to me that very, very few Christians can see any difference at all between the church and the manifested sons of God. But there is a vast difference, and I pray God will give us all help as we think about it now, for without His help and revelation we cannot hope to understand. In any marriage there are two bodies. There is one body of the man or bridegroom and another body of the woman or bride. The body of the man is a complete body in itself without the woman, having head, shoulders, torso, legs, and feet with every ligament, bone, and muscle. That body has its own head, its own body, and its own feet. This same thing is also true of the woman. She has her own head, her own body, and her own feet. But when the man and the woman are united in marriage, the man, the whole man, becomes the head of the woman, and the woman, becomes the body of the man. Thus also it is with Christ and the church. We must understand that the sons of God and the church are two distinct companies, the sons of God being the body of the bridegroom and the true church being the body of the bride. When both are complete and perfect they will become one. It is about this very thing that Paul speaks in Ephesians 5. “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
At least twice in the Holy Scripture Jesus Christ is referred to as a sign. In that magnificent prophecy of Simeon recorded in Luke 2:25-35 things far beyond human understanding are spoken. Even Joseph and Mary were staggered and caused to marvel at his words. In verse 34 it is recorded that he turned to Mary and said, “Behold, this child is set for a sign!” A sign of what?
Again in Isa. 7:14 Jesus Christ is referred to as a sign. “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel.” While it is generally understood that the sign was the virgin birth, according to the words of Simeon “this child is for a sign.” It is clear therefore that the sign was not the virgin birth but the child that was born of the virgin. Again I ask, a sign of what? In exactly the same way as the little cloud the size of a man’s hand in the days of Elijah was the sign of a sky full of clouds and abundance of rain, so Jesus Christ, the first begotten Son of God, was the sign of a vast number of sons to come of which He is the eldest, the first born, and the head. But all the other sons are with Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. They are one with Him even as He is one with the Father. They are in His image: they are a part of Him; they form the complete Christ.
This is in exact accord with what Paul says in Rom. 8:28-29. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose, for whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” This passage does not make sense aside from what I am saying. I know the hope is beyond our wildest imaginations. It takes away our breath, but it is true. There is a company being formed whose members are members of Christ, and sons of God, begotten of God, perfected through suffering, cleansed by His blood, made in His image, and members of the bridegroom. I cannot help but pause again to pray that God will give you the Spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you might know what is the hope of His calling. Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, was formed in the womb of an imperfect virgin. So now in like manner the vast family of sons is coming to perfection in the womb of another imperfect virgin. That is the existing church, torn by strife and division and carnality, held captive in Babylon and taxed by the dominion of a foreign power.
Every healthy body must be possessed of all its organs and its limbs. It must have, not only a head but hands, body, and feet. It should certainly then be easily understood that if Jesus of Nazareth, the first begotten Son of God, is the head of the body of the bridegroom, which is the sons of God, then those of us who are becoming sons will be hands and feet of His spiritual body. Do not turn away in unbelief. My heart has been pounding with joy and anticipation of this glorious thing for weeks, for there are things said about the feet of Christ that are said of nothing else. Therefore let us boldly pursue this course and see at least in part what the glorious truth really is.
In a normal birth the first member to be born is the head, then the body, and finally the feet. Ah! What sublime truth is here! That head was born two thousand years ago and through the centuries the other members of the body of Christ have been forming and coming forth from the womb. We cannot speak in particular about that now, but note that the last members to come forth from the womb are the feet. It is here our interests rest, for we are the members of the sons of God, the body of the bridegroom.
Jacob had twelve sons of whom the youngest was Benjamin. Benjamin was so named because he was born when Jacob was old. But he is the completeness of the family of Jacob and his name means ‘son of my right hand, born in the extremity of the age’. That is where we come in. We are the feet of the body of the bridegroom born in the extremity of the age.
Just before the glorious triumph of Christ at Calvary we have on record in John 13 how Jesus poured water in a basin and, girding Himself with a towel, began to wash the disciples’ feet. At last He came to Peter, and Peter asked the Lord, “Dost Thou wash my feet?” Jesus with utmost significance replied, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shall know hereafter.” For many years I with many others have held foot-washing services, and while there was a certain amount of blessing in it, I always felt that we did not know nor understand what we were doing. There was some significance far beyond what we saw and far greater than the little ordinance we were following which seemed to be in accordance with the instructions of Christ. Peter did not know the significance of the thing Jesus was doing, John did not know, nor did any others. The great truth was to be known hereafter. “Thou shall know hereafter.” It was to become plain in our day when we, the feet of the body of Christ, would be washed and prepared and made beautiful to spread the glorious gospel of peace to the universe. The story proceeds thus: Peter declared, “Thou shall never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in Me.” Peter in his customary blundering way cried, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” The Lord bless him! He didn’t know what he was talking about. But Jesus corrected him with these words, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” This is the hour of the cleansing of the feet.
The head was born pure, the hands have been cleansed long ago, but the feet, the only members of the body defiled by the earth, are being washed now. They are coming out of Babylon. Those naked feet are being shod now with “the preparation of the gospel of peace.” (Eph. 6:15) They will never again be contaminated with the dirt and grime of the earth.
Oh, how my heart leaped within me today as I read the words of the prophet, “0 Zion, put on thy beautiful garments – shake thyself from the dust and sit down – therefore My people shall know My name; therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak; Behold, it is I.”
“How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth: – For they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” (Isa. 52:1-8)
It is the feet members of Christ who are to publish the tidings of the glory and peace of the kingdom according to Isaiah, and according to Paul it is the feet who are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. I cannot help but believe that the preparation is on right now, and the feet members are being washed and shod in readiness to proclaim the glad tidings of peace.
How gloriously do the prophets describe the ministry of the feet. Let your heart thrill to its truth as we read. “The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box (tree) together to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee and they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet, and they shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa. 60:13-15) “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.” (Nahum 1:15) (We should notice as we read these passages that it is not said the feet of them, but the feet of him.) Zechariah, describing the tribulation and the war and the upheaval among the nations, ends the struggle by saying, “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem.” (Zech. 14:4)
It is small wonder that Jesus said to Peter, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shall know hereafter.” Before we leave this part of our thought, I would like to point out one or two more outstanding things which show very clearly the infinite relationship between Christ, the firstborn Son, the first manifested Son, and that other glorious company of sons who come into His image and likeness and are the members of His body, members of His family, and members of the bridegroom.
John the beloved disciple had been with Jesus in the mount of transfiguration. He had seen the transcending wonders of things that were to come. Like the others he, too, had fallen down afraid, dumbfounded by the glory that was manifest, as he saw the face of Christ shining as the sun and heard the voice of God from the glory saying, “This is My beloved Son.” Sixty or sixty-five years had gone by since that wonder-filled day and now for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ this same John was exiled on the lonely island of Patmos. I do not think there was any place on earth that was lonely for John. He knew far too well how to fellowship with Christ in the Spirit to ever feel lonely, for the further he was from the earth the nearer he was to Him, and that is what he loved. Well John knew the Son of God and the sound of His voice was indelible in his ear. He had heard Him preach the sermon on the mount, had watched His gentle hand calm the fevered brow, raise the dead, and cast out the demons with His word. His wondering eyes had beheld Him on the mount of transfiguration; he had talked with Him after the resurrection; he had watched with awe as He rose from the earth and ascended into heaven. Yet he was not prepared for the excellent glory of the revelation that awaited him that distant day on Patmos, for the glory he was then to see was unlike any he had ever beheld before. In times past he had seen Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, the first born from the dead, the manifested Son, the Son of Mary, the Son of the living God, but now he was to see the Christ in all His glorious completeness, Jesus Christ the Head with all that vast family of sons, every one in His exact image and likeness. The mercy drops of God were falling upon him that day as the glory of the Lord encompassed him as a cloud and from out the glory he heard a voice speaking. How well he knew that. blessed voice, for oft its accents had fallen on his willing ear, and yet it was completely different, for he had known the voice of the lonely Galilean, Jesus Christ the Head of the Sons, but now that voice though unmistakable was not altogether identical. Now instead of one voice it thundered forth as the sound of many waters, many people, many sons; yet as many waters lose their identity in one ocean, so the voices of these many manifested sons lose their identity in the glory of Himself that in all things He might have the preeminence.
It was natural that John should turn around to look for the one who spoke, and looking he saw the Christ, the Son of the living God, but was it He? Was it the Christ of long ago? John declared it was “one like the Son of man.” Very, very like Him. The exact image of Him. There He stood at the end of the age in all His glorious completeness as if to say, “Here am I and the children which God has given Me,” (Heb. 2:13), Christ, the first Son, and all the younger sons now perfected in His image standing with Him, one glorious and perfect bridegroom. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and His feet, His glorious feet, like brass as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice was as the sound of many waters. Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword and His countenance was as the sun shining in its strength. And when John saw Him, he fell at His feet as dead. Oh, the glory of the message that came forth from the lips of the Christ as He took John by the hand to raise him up! “Fear not, I am the first and the last.” John had seen Him before and had known him as the first, but never had he seen the glorious end of the matter, Christ as He is at last. There before him stood the One who was dead and was now alive forevermore. The One with the keys of both death and hell. When the blessed Christ rose from the dead two thousand years ago. He led forth from hell a host of captives, but now at the end of the time He stands holding the keys that unlock the gates of both hell and death. No wonder He once said, “On this rock I build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Marvelous are the promises of God made to those members of the body of Christ which are called the feet. Indeed it is positively true and abundantly evident that the final crushing blow that will destroy everything belonging to the kingdom of Satan will be accomplished by the feet members of the body of Christ, the sons of God, who will be manifested at the end of the age.
It was in the sad evening of the same day man fell that the first promise to the feet members of Christ was made. God had come to the garden to talk to the children He loved only to find them hiding from Him among the trees He had made. They had sewn fig leaves together to hide their nakedness, for the glory of God that had covered them at the first was gone and they were desperately afraid. And God said, “Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me gave me of the tree and I did eat.” And the Lord said unto the woman, “What has thou done?” And the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” And the Lord said unto the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt go and dust shall thou eat all the days of thy life; and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:14, 15) Here the first promise of the coming of Christ, the seed of the woman, is made, but it is a promise not only of the coming of Jesus Christ who is the head but also of the coming of those sons in His image and in His likeness who are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, that complete Christ whom John saw and described as “one like the Son of Man.” Rev. 1:13, whose feet were like fine brass (for judgment) as if they had burned in a furnace. These are not idle words. They are words of transcending truth and revelation. The promise to Eve was that the seed of the woman should finally and irrevocably crush the head of the serpent under His heel, or under His feet. We can find greater confirmation of this elsewhere. In Heb. 2:8 Paul said, “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.” Paul must be referring to the same thing when he says in Rom. 16:20, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” David also speaking by the Spirit said, “Thou hast put all things under His feet.”
It is always a fatal mistake for any man regardless of who he is. That mistake will lead him into endless difficulty and make him bigoted in his ideas and so established in his ways that God can never give him any greater light. We should always remember that the revelation of the Lord is as the path of the just that shineth more and more until the day is full. Revelation grows from the frail flickering light of dawn to the glory and fullness of the noonday sun. Oh, so often people send me books and tracts on moldy old subjects that had their day sometimes several hundred years ago. They are still striving to prove things that need no proof. They are strumming harps that have no strings. They are like the Jews hanging on to the law of Moses after the Holy Ghost was outpoured and Paul had come with his marvelous gospel of the grace of God. But even while I write the shadows are lengthening on the day of the gospel of grace. The day of Paul’s gospel is drawing to a rapid close and the glorious new day of the kingdom is at hand. Let us not try to revive the age of grace with its flickering lights, its spiritual gifts, and all its imperfections, but let us follow the increasing light into the perfect day where everything in-part is done away. If you want to stay there, my brother, by all means stay, but don’t ask me to stay with you, for the Holy Spirit is urging me within to stand with His feet on Mount Zion and proclaim the glorious kingdom of eternal peace. Farewell to the age of imperfections. Farewell to things that are in part. Farewell to seeing through a glass darkly and good morning to that which is perfect; good morning to that which is complete; good morning to seeing face to face.
Face to face, 0 blissful moment,
Face to face, to see and know;
Face to face with my redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loved me so.
What rejoicing in His presence
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened
And the dark things shall be plain.
When God revealed to Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head, I am sure they saw the truth only in its embryo form. They saw the woman as Eve and the seed as Seth. Would we dare say they were wrong in so seeing the revelation? No! A thousand times no! They were perfectly right in what they saw, but they saw very, very little. They could not look through the vista of the years and see through the line of their son Seth that the glorious Christ in all His sinless purity would be born of a virgin mother, begotten of God, the seed of the Holy Ghost; and Joseph and Mary, rejoicing in the birth of the Christ-child, the only begotten Son of God, could not look down the corridors of the years to the culmination of the age of grace and see that the seed which fell into the ground and died had brought forth a whole harvest of begotten sons in His own image and in His exact likeness. They could not hear the words of revelation flowing from the anointed lips of Paul as he proclaimed, “Whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren,” Rom. 8:29, or as Weymouth translates it, “That He might be the eldest in a vast family of brothers!”
In my spirit I hear the weeping voice of Jeremiah come ringing down the centuries saying to us at the end of this age, “The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter.” Lam. 4:2. But the full glory of the revelation was left for John to see, and when he saw it, he fell down as dead at the feet of that glorious seed of the woman, that glorious Christ, that complete Christ, the head, the body, the hands, and the feet – the seed of the woman that was promised to Eve long ago now ready to fulfill all that was promised in destroying forever from the face of the universe every work of the serpent. It was left for the beloved John to witness the final phase of the complete birth of that Son who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Thus in Rev. 12 we read that he saw a spiritual virgin bringing forth a man child, not a male child as some say, but a wonder never before known; a child that is a fully developed man at birth. Even Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man because He was born of a human and an imperfect mother though He was the Son of God. But this child is born of a spiritual woman and so is born a man-child. This is the Son who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. This is the final company of the sons of God, the feet members of the body of Christ who are to rule all nations with a rod of iron and finally put their heel on Satan’s head to destroy his power in the whole universe.
The days of the preparation of the bridegroom are almost complete. The feet are coming forth from the womb of the virgin. Then the preparation of the sons of God will be accomplished. The feet are ready for the washing that they might be cleansed from the last particles of the dust of the earth and have their part in Him. “What I do thou knowest not now,” Jesus said to Peter, “but thou shall know hereafter.” Hallelujah! The glory of the truth is left for us, the feet, to know and I know for a surety that Christ is cleansing His feet from every trace of the world and its systems.
The story of the final coming forth of the sons of God is revealed in the twelfth chapter of Revelation in these words: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; and she being with child cried travailing in birth and in pain to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and, behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all the nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness where she hath a place prepared of God, that they (the sons of God) should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Rev. 12:1-6)
No one realizes better than I what difficulty is faced in declaring the things I have here taught. The difficulty arises because Christians have become literally filled with tradition and with stuffy old theories formed in the minds of men who imagine they are students of the word of God. I am a great lover of the Bible, but I am always afraid of any man who thinks he understands it. That man is a deceiver of himself and has closed his eyes to the shining light of the revelation of the Holy Spirit as it illumines His word. He will find himself possessing a stagnant pool and denying that rivers and oceans even exist. But those who can see the truth of these things will purify themselves even as He is pure.
We are in the closing hours of the dispensation of grace. The certain hope of the kingdom of God lies before us. Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl, together with every living thing that moves draw near to the moment of triumph. The whole creation, that has groaned in travail and pain throughout the night of every dispensation, is soon to hear the joyous song of the kingdom morning where justice and equity will spread like a mantle over the tired world, for the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters fill the seas.
Almost two milleniums ago God manifested His first Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the first born and the head of all the sons of God prepared of God throughout the ages, and when all those sons are complete, they will form one body, a sonship body in the exact image and likeness of that first Son who is Himself the image of the Father.
There are many things to learn from types and anti-types, for by them truth is taught with more force than any spoken word. In the plan of God two distinct systems are to rule in power over the entire earth. The first was Babylon, the image of which was vividly portrayed by the prophet Daniel. (Dan. 2:31-35) The second is to be the kingdom of Christ, the Lord and Ruler seen by the Apostle John at Patmos. (Rev. 1:10-18) See also Dan. 2:44. If we consider the image of Babylon with its head of gold, its breasts and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron and its feet part iron and part clay, we will learn this: The image of Babylon is one image, all the various parts of the image contributing together to make one image of the dread forms of Babylonish rule that would prevail over the entire earth. With this in mind we may readily see that, when John beheld the revelation of the fullness of Christ, Rev. 1:10-18, he saw that the head, the hair, the eyes, the hands, and the feet, though all particular parts, were but one body. This was the revelation of the fullness of the sonship company, the in-Christ company, of which He is the head and the first born. Nebuchadnezzar was the head of the image of Babylon. (Dan. 2:38) Christ is the Head of the sons. (Rom. 8:29) The feet of the image of Babylon were ready to fall apart in dust, but the feet of Christ, like unto brass eternally enduring, burned as in a furnace of fire. Just as the image of Babylon representing all dominions and empires was one image, so this image of Christ with its many members is but one body. As many soldiers form one army, so many sons make one body, and that body is the fullness of Christ. When Paul exhorted the Ephesians to come to the stature of the fullness of Christ, Eph. 4:13, he was speaking of the fullness John saw in Rev. 1:13-15.
This is the perfect man among the candlesticks (churches) in His image. And we may further say that could we look more closely we would certainly see that every nerve and fiber, every muscle and sinew of that mighty one like unto the Son of man, was itself a manifested son of God, each the image of the other and all the image of Jesus Christ, the Head of all the sons of God.
The sons of God who are coming to maturity at the end of the age are the feet of Him. (Isa. 52:7; 60:13, 14) The clay feet of the image of Babylon are about to be smitten and crumble to dust. (Dan. 2:34, 350) With them will crumble the whole system of Babylon with all its millenniums of confusion. But the feet of Christ are not of clay but as brass (judgment) burning in a furnace of fire; for judgment shall be given to the saints of the Most High and they shall reign unto the ages of the ages. (Dan. 7:26, 27)
Deep from the depths of my spirit there comes a longing for the purification of the saints of the Most High. Too long have these sons wasted their living with harlot churches. It is time to come out from among them and return to the Father. It is time for the washing of the feet, not in ceremony, but in reality. This is the hour when we are to know what only Jesus knew when He said to Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in Me.” (John 13: 6-8) This is the fulfillment of that blessed type so richly manifested when the woman washed His feet with tears of repentance and love and anointed them with the symbolic oil of the Spirit of God. (Luke 7:37, 38) We are those feet of Christ whom He is now washing (John 13:4, 5) that we might be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Eph. 6:14, 150) “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isa. 52:7) (Rom. 10:15) Long ago Jesus showed them His hands and His side, and then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord; but the hour is at hand when He will show unto all the world His blessed feet, for it is they who will publish to all the world the glad news, Thy God reigneth.
There are many today whose feet are defiled, for they are far too interested in the affairs of this passing age though they protest otherwise. I am convinced that no man who has any love left in him for this present evil age will ever attain to that glorious feet company of the sons of God, for those who are with Him are not only called, but chosen and faithful as well. (Rev. 17:14) He whose feet are as brass in a furnace of fire is portraying in parable, expressive beyond words, that those who are to judge the nations of the earth must certainly themselves be first judged in fire, for the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is, and all that is wood, hay, and stubble shall be destroyed. (1 Cor. 3:12-16)
Let us then now judge ourselves and thus cleanse ourselves of all that is wood and hay and stubble, for these things vividly portray the passing and not the permanent. Let all who are double-minded purify their hearts. Let us make a clean break with the harlot systems of earth. Let us recognize every denomination, every sect, and every religious system as being part and parcel of the Babylon system that is soon to crumble, bringing destruction not only to itself but to all who are found in her. (Rev. 18:28)
All who are members of Christ must suffer the pains of crucifixion. The Head was pierced with thorns; the hands were pierced with nails, the side was pierced with a spear. So also must the feet be pierced, for He who proudly displayed His hands and His side shall presently display with equal pride His wounded feet. He from whom all men fled that He might suffer alone amid the millions who swarmed around will also have us to share the cross of walking alone and misunderstood amid the millions of this crooked and perverse age. The hour of preparation of the feet company is at hand. It is the preparation of the final company of God’s sons. Is it too much that we should be asked to abandon the trifles in which other men are so engrossed? For he that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet and is clean every whit.
THE SEALING OF THE SONS OF GOD
It would be impossible to over-emphasize the importance of the hour in which we now live. It should be plain even to unregenerate minds that the end of the age is upon us. There is a tenseness and an expectancy in the air that causes all men to believe that we are rapidly approaching an unavoidable climax from which there is no escape nor any shadow of turning. Events are taking place in the world that are irresistible. Spiritual forces have been set in motion that are beyond human understanding. As a boat that has passed Redemption Point in the Niagara River is swept by the rushing relentless cataract toward its inevitable doom, so the world, which has long flirted with the river of destruction, has been caught in its rapids now to be hurled with ever increasing speed to dreadful tribulation and destruction.
The twelfth chapter of Revelation gives a wonderful description of the travail of a spiritual woman and of a man-child that was born of her travail who is without doubt a glorious company of sons who are to appear on earth in the last days. At the moment of his birth he was caught up to the throne of God away from the presence of the dragon who sought to destroy him. But at the moment the man-child was caught up into heaven, there was war in heaven, and the devil was cast down upon the earth. Knowing therefore that his time of authority over the minds of men and nations is very short, he has great and terrible wrath and goes forth in all his frustrated fury to utterly obliterate all that oppose his power. “And the dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: He was cast out into the earth and his angels with him.” (Rev. 12:7)
The words in this passage, “That deceiveth the whole earth”, are most significant. Satan’s masterpiece is not tribulation and bloodshed, but deception. He is a liar and a murderer. He murders souls through lies and deception today just as he did in the Garden of Eden long ago. We do not know all the truth contained in the twelfth chapter of Revelation. We admit rather that we understand little of the great events mentioned there which are, without doubt, ordained to transform the whole world. Let us remember, however, that while we have but dimly seen these truths afar off, yet we have caught a glimpse of them and the vision of their vast eternal truth has gripped our imagination impelling us relentlessly toward them that we may partake of them and know as we are also known. We have already known much of the travail of this heavenly woman who stands clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet. There has been an almost unbelievable travail in the hearts of countless thousands that the sons of God may come forth to join Christ in His kingdom and deliver the world from its bondage, its thraldrom and decay. Dare we think that this sore travail has gone unnoticed by God who gave it? Dare we say that the sons of God have not already been sealed in their foreheads and even now are ascending in the Spirit to cast Satan out of the heavens, his long possessed domain?
However far we have progressed in this direction only the Master knows, but it is clear that, at the time the manchild was caught up to heaven, Satan came down with great wrath to deceive the whole earth. (Rev. 12:1-9) Every day I become more convinced that a strong subtle spirit of delusion has come upon the earth during the last few years. There is something that is fogging up the minds of the people to make them believe a lie. What greater example of this do we need than is found in the almost universal acclaim given to the Pope of Rome by millions of Protestants all over the world? Not only are the religious denominations of professing Christendom openly flirting with the pretty harlot of religious unity as she waits at every corner, attired in her goodly Babylonish garment, but other religious systems are also casting admiring glances in her direction. We are seeing before our very eyes the reality of the parable of King Solomon when in the Spirit he wrote these words:
“Say unto wisdom, thou art my sister, and call understanding thy kinswoman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger that flattereth with her words. For at the window of my house I looked through my casement and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths a young man void of understanding passing through the street near her comer; and he went the way to her house. In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night; And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot and subtle of heart; She is loud and stubborn; and her feet abide not in her house. Now she is without, now in the streets and lieth in wait at every corner. So she caught him, and kissed him, and with impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day I have paid my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: Let us solace ourselves with loves. For the Goodman (Christ) is not at home, he is gone on a long journey. He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattery of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to a snare and knoweth not that it is for his life.” (Prov. 7:4-23) A careful analysis of this passage will show that it is a perfect description of the visible church systems of our day.
Yes, indeed! There is a strong delusion settling upon the earth. It is a delusion born of Satan that makes wrong look right and makes right look wrong. The words of Jesus, “That they all may be one,” are being proclaimed far and wide, but the unity carnal men see in these words is not the unity that He saw. He saw a unity that is born of the wisdom and fire of the one omniscient Spirit, but man sees a fraudulent, physical togetherness that demands unity at any price, where the minds of men are frozen together in the darkness and deception of the dismal valleys of tradition, where the sun of righteousness never shines nor living waters ever flow. This is the D-day and this is the H-hour when we must say to wisdom, “Thou art my sister,” and call understanding our kinswoman that they may keep us from the strange woman, from the stranger that flattereth with her lips. (Prov. 7:4, 5)
There is a sort of mass production, assembly line spirit in the world. We live in the day when countless thousands of items are mass-produced and individuality is forgotten. I recently watched an assembly line producing tin cans. Eight hundred cans per minute were racing off the end of the line, every one exactly the same size and shape, every one bearing exactly the same label, and each the duplicate of the other. This same spirit has invaded humanity until it tries to squeeze all Christians into one mould. It wants them all to look alike, think alike, believe alike, and be alike, but they must take their likeness from the stamp of tradition and not from the stamp of the Spirit of God. There is a vast impassable gulf between this kind of unity and the unity that is born of oneness with the Spirit of God. The former makes us slaves to a system. The other makes us sons of God, an individual in his own right yet bound by the invisible Spirit to the whole body of sons even as the hands and the feet, being individuals and specialists in their own realm, are united by joints and bands, spirit and blood and life.
In the economy of the antichrist, man is only a number. In the economy of God we are individuals with a name in our foreheads. The new name God will write upon His people will describe exactly what we are. It will describe our position, work, and glory in the ages to come. Our Christ was called Jesus because His ministry was to save His people from their sins. So also will the new name God will write upon His people describe perfectly what they are in God’s eternal economy ages without end. Amen!
Let us return for a moment to the thought of the strong delusion that is settling down upon the world and upon the professing church today. Paul the apostle, speaking of the end of the age, described the coming of strong delusion in these words: “And then shall that Wicked (antichrist) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming; even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that they might all be damned (condemned) who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess 2:8-12)
This scripture is not describing publicans and harlots and the general run of unregenerate men. This scripture adequately and perfectly describes the professing church of our day. If you think for even a moment that the professing church of our day loves the truth, then strong delusion has already overtaken you. The Jewish church of Jesus’ day did not love truth. That is why they rejected Christ. They did not love truth. They loved tradition, form, and ceremony. They loved tradition so much that they made the word of God of none effect by their traditions. Their priests did not love truth; they loved to be admired of men and called Rabbi. They loved to wear long robes and to make long prayers in public places to be seen and heard of men. Jesus told them they were hypocrites and whited sepulchers which appeared beautiful to men, but within were full of dead men’s bones. As it was in the end of the dispensation of the law, so also it is in the end of the dispensation of grace. Most Christians in spite of all their profession do not love truth. They love their programs, their buildings, their pet doctrines. They love to have their little “song and dance”. They love to get a wisp of blessing or a happy feeling, but that which crucifies the old life and the old world and the old nature, they reject. Show them what the flesh really is and they hate you for it and cast you out. Tell them what it means to walk in the Spirit and they have no idea what you are talking about. You become a proverb and a byword among them, and you are looked upon as some queer individual who has gone soft on religion.
All this is part of the mystery of iniquity. Godliness is a mystery, and great is the mystery of iniquity. Iniquity is really rebellion. It is born in man’s human nature to rebel against truth and love it not. Our age will end, not with innumerable multitudes rising to meet the Lord in the air, but with a vast professing church buried in strong delusion. As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the day of the coming of the Son of man. Certainly there will be a resurrection. But the company who will be raised and caught away will be the in-Christ company, not the people who love systems above Christ and traditions above truth. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
In the sixty-sixth chapter of Isaiah, verses one to five, there is an appalling description of the hypocrisy of Jewish worship. Isaiah saw them going on with their usual forms of worship. They were offering bullocks and lambs on the altar as they had been commanded. They were making their oblations as usual. They were burning incense unto God just as they had done for hundreds of years. But the whole thing was hateful in God’s sight and He abhorred it as only God can because they chose their own ways and delighted in abominations. Therefore God sent them strong delusion that they also might be damned. Therefore He said, “He that killeth an ox (for sacrifice) is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb as if he cut off a dog’s neck, (a dog is an unclean animal); he that offereth an oblation as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their abominations. I also will choose their delusions and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear; but they did evil before mine eyes and chose that in which I delighted not.” Verses 3-4. Now read verse two and you will see the kind of man God is calling in our day. “… but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembleth at My word.” But again in verse five we are told what will happen to a man who fears God’s word. He certainly will not last long nor be popular among the religious enthusiasts of his day for thus it says: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word: Your brethren that hated you cast you out for My name’s sake and said, Let the Lord be glorified; but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” (Isa. 66:5)
The above verse of scripture is just as true today as it was when it was written. Any man who receives a revelation from God will certainly be cast out of the church, and, when they cast him out, they will think they are doing God a service. They will thoroughly believe they are cleansing the temple of a great evil. They will quote these very words, “Let the Lord be glorified,” while they are shoving him out of the door. Twice during my life I have had the bitter experience of being cast out for truth’s sake. I can still hear the bitter speech of the superintendent of the denomination as he declared, “We felt before God something had to be done.” But thus it has ever been throughout all the ages from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias in the Old Testament, and from the blood of John the Baptist to the blood of the last martyr in our age.
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
But that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadows,
Keeping watch upon His own.
You will notice then from reading these passages that it is God who sends the delusion. The reason He sends it is because men do not love the truth but prefer to believe a lie. Men hate truth because it disturbs them and brings them under conviction. It demands action and repentance even in the oldest saint, for no man can advance even a step with God without repentance. No man can see God and live, for seeing God brings repentance and death to the old life, but a glorious walk in realms hitherto unknown. While no man can see God and live, neither can any man see God and die. He dies to the old but lives to the new even as the song-writer so beautifully said, “There is life for a look at the crucified One.” We are always dying on old levels and living on new ones as we are being changed by His Spirit from glory to glory.
Heaven is not reached by a single bound, But we build the ladder by which we rise from the lowly earth to the vaulted skies, And we mount its summit round by round.
The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. To the man who walks with God each day presents a new horizon, new realms to explore, new lands to conquer, new experiences to enjoy, and new heights to reach. The journey from infancy to maturity is a long one. The road that leads from childhood to sonship is lifelong. Maturity is not attained by traveling in endless circles nor by remaining just as we were when we were saved years ago. It is a straight and ever narrowing pathway that leads to the Elysian fields of God’s eternal glory where we become like Him, for we see Him as He is.
Christians have spent so much time preaching a rapture in which they would all rise to meet the Lord and all be changed in the twinkling of an eye, where they would put on incorruption and leave the world and its inhabitants to the antichrist, but they have completely ignored the parables of Jesus that show so clearly that the kingdom of heaven (the church age) is to be an age when wheat and tares should grow together, none knowing which was which. Matt. 13:28, 29. It is an age when sheep and goats roam the same pastures both bleating alike. It is an age when good and bad fish are caught in the same net, an age when the leaven of malice and wickedness invades the whole lump of dough. Why have we so willingly overlooked the teaching that at the end of this age there will be a great dividing of one from the other – that the goats will be separated from the sheep, the tares from the wheat, and the bad fish from the good? Why have we overlooked the terrible image of the Babylonish harlot with all her illegitimate daughters and the awful doom that is predicted upon her and all who follow her ways of confusion? Can you not see how Christians do not love truth, but hide from it? They don’t want to differentiate between wheat and tares. They don’t want to distinguish between sheep and goats. They prefer to go on believing that everything that names the name of Christ will be raptured regardless of whether he departs from evil or not.
Ezekiel in the eighth and ninth chapters of his prophecy unveils an obnoxious picture which has its parallel in our day. He saw the abominations in the temple of the Lord on one hand and the sealing of the true servants of God in their foreheads on the other. A very strong sense has flooded over my soul of late convincing me that the day of the sealing of the true sons of God is at hand.
Six is the number of man and six is the number of this present dispensation, for the dispensation of grace is the sixth dispensation and the sixth day. It is very significant, therefore, that Ezekiel says, “And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, and in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord fell upon me.” (Eze. 8:1) Six years, six months, and five days. The complete number would have been six years, six months, and six days. Therefore the sealing took place just one day before the judgment of God burst forth in awful wrath against all the abominations carried on in the name of the Lord.
Ezekiel was carried away captive to Babylon, and he was still in Babylon when God opened his eyes to see the true reason for Israel’s captivity and the judgment that was to follow. In the Spirit he was picked up by a lock of his hair and brought in visions of God to the temple at Jerusalem. (Eze. 8:3) He found himself standing at the north gate of the temple where the Spirit of God spoke to him, commanding him to behold all the abominations that were in the house of God. The words of Moffatt’s translation add to the simplicity and forcefulness of the meaning; therefore, we will quote from his text. (Eze. 8) “The Spirit lifted me between heaven and earth and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem to the door of the north gateway into the inner court where the idol stood that provoked the Eternal to resentment.” (Vs. 3) “Son of man. He said, ‘Do you see what they are doing? Do you see the horrible impieties that the Israelites are practicing here, forcing Me to leave My sanctuary? You will see worse than that.” (Vs. 6) Ezekiel was then taken through a door of the court and commanded to behold the idolatry that was going on inside in these words: “Go inside; look at the detestable impieties they are practicing here. So I went and looked; there pictured all round the wall were all kinds of vermin and reptiles, loathsome representations, and all the idols of Israel. In front of them stood the seventy elders of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, every man holding a censer from which rose the scent of incense in clouds. ‘Son of Man,’ He said, ‘do you see what the elders of Israel are doing? … You shall see still worse.’” (Vs 13-15) “And He took me to the outer door of the north gateway into the Eternal’s temple where I saw women wailing for Tammuz. (Tammuz was a hero of Babylonian mythology who supposedly was killed and resurrected.) ‘Son of man,’ He said, ‘do you see that? You shall see even worse.’“ (Vs. 13-15) “And He took me back into the inner court of the Eternal’s temple where at the very door of the temple of the Eternal between the porch and the altar I saw about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of the Eternal and their faces turned to the east worshipping the sun. (Vs. 16) ‘Do you see that. 0 Son of man?’ He asked, ‘and is it too slight a thing for Judah to practice these detestable impieties of theirs here? Must they also fill the land with violence and anger Me still further? They are filling My nostrils -with their stench! But I will take action in My fury. I will have neither mercy nor pity upon them. I will not listen to them, even if they call Me at the pitch of their voices.” (Vs. 17-18)
The abominations which Ezekiel saw were indeed terrible – the images that provoked God to wrath, the hero worship, the offering of incense to images and representations, the worshipping of the sun and the things which are created rather than the Creator Himself. All these things were detestable in the sight of God, and awful judgment upon them was certain. But the solemn fact is that in our day all these abominations exist. The worship of saints, the offering of incense to images, the adoration of heroes are almost as universal in the professing church as they are in show business. The ancient cathedrals of England and Europe are replete with grotesquely carved gargoyles which seem to depict evil looking creatures that could come from nowhere but the pit.
Let us remember that a man may be an idolater without having an idol of wood or stone or gold. Covetousness, for instance, is idolatry. Col. 3:5. And covetousness is rampant in the professing church, not confining itself to the pew or to members of the congregations, but clergymen of all sects greedily covet money, large congregations, prestige, worldly goods, luxury of goods, homes, clothing, and many other things. The racketeering in the church system has become so great that pulpits are invaded by unscrupulous characters who in hope of gain deceive the people, making themselves to be great ones and resorting to every trick and to attain their ends. It may seem to some that I speak too boldly on this point, but half a century of observation has revealed many bitter and unpleasant things, removing the veneer of outward show to reveal the true purposes of the heart.
The church system of our day is in a sorry state, and it, with the world, is rushing headlong for judgment. Strong delusion has settled down upon the people making them willing to believe a lie and grasp almost anything that will attract a crowd, bring a measure of excitement, or add to prestige and prominence. In all the vast church system today there is but a handful of people whose hearts are crying out for the will of God. There is but a tiny remnant who long to be filled with the wisdom of God and who make the mind of Christ their daily, hourly quest. Few there are who sigh and cry because of the abominations and injustices everywhere and who wait with longing spirits for the judgment of the Lord. But there is a tiny remnant, according to the election of grace, who can say, “At night upon my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth.” There are still a few who cry, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy love is better than wine,” (S. of S. 1:2) There is still a handful who pray, “Tell me, 0 thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon: For why should I be as one that tumeth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” (S. of S. 1:7, 8) “The voice of my beloved! behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart; Behold he standeth behind our wall; he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice. My beloved spake and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; and the time of singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land. The fig tree putteth forth her green figs and the vines with the grapes give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (S. of S. 2:8-13)
Not only has a spirit of delusion settled upon the world, but the spirit of confusion is rampant everywhere, manifesting itself in every aspect and walk of life. Confusion reigns daily in the governments of the world. Confusion stalks like an evil spectre among the nations, disrupting all their international agreements. Confusion and disorder reign in millions of homes where all authority has gone from the parents and all respect has vanished from the children. Art and music always reflect the temperament and disposition of the people of the day. Certainly music has returned to the jungle and art to the weird grotesqueness of the kindergarten. Juvenile delinquency has attained such proportions that the Attorney-General of the United States has declared that if it cannot be beaten in ten years it will be unbeatable. Confusion reigns among the races and colors of people, among the majorities and minorities. It reigns between labor and management and between nations that have and nations that have not. And by no means least is the confusion that reigns in the church system, which is spiritual Babylon. Babylon is confusion.
At the time when the vision of all the abominations in Israel appeared to Ezekiel, he saw the wonderful spectacle of the true elect sons of God being sealed or marked in their foreheads. This sealing event which was of so great importance to Israel is of no less importance to us who have come to the end of the age. Not only are we seeing a great separation between good and evil and wheat and tares, but our minds are being set apart and sealed unto God in preparation for the great day when the 144,000 sons shall stand upon Mount Zion, having their Father’s name in their foreheads.
The vision which Ezekiel saw in the Spirit vividly portrays the events which will shortly come to pass on a world wide scale. The world, that has so thoroughly rejected God, is coming into the judgment of tribulation, and the church systems, that have turned from God to every imaginable vanity, are going to know the full penalty of their wrong and pay the price of walking in their own ways.
Amid the scenes of evil and wickedness which Ezekiel saw he heard the voice of God calling forth the men who were to destroy the city. Thus it says: “He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, ‘Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.’ And behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed in linen with a writer’s inkhorn by his side, and they went in and stood beside the brazen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; and the Lord said unto him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.’ And to the others he said in mine hearing, ‘Go ye after him through the city and smite: Let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark, and begin at my sanctuary.’ Then they began at the ancient men that were before the house. And he said unto them, ‘Defile the house and fill the courts with slain: Go ye forth.’ And they went forth and slew in the city.” (Eze. 9:1-7)
You will notice especially that the people who received the mark in their foreheads were the people who sighed and cried because of the abominations in the house of the Lord. The reason the vast majority of people feel at home in the church systems is because their minds have become accustomed to their surroundings. The light of revelation never penetrates their hearts. They have become so accustomed to custom, ceremony, and tradition that they take it all for granted. Tradition says we must go to church; so we go. We are supposed to listen to a sermon; so we listen. We are supposed to sing songs; so we sing. We are supposed to give offerings; so we give them. It is custom to praise the Lord; so we praise. But truth and experience have fled from so many hearts, and serving God from an overflowing fullness of the Spirit is seldom known. The revival fire that burned in the fathers is but a fleeting tradition in the hearts of the children just as the miraculous wonders of Moses in the land of Egypt and at the Red Sea became little more than bed-time stories to the succeeding generations. The vision and reality was gone.
But never has God left Himself without a witness. Never has He been without His handful of elect who have not bowed down the knee to the prevailing systems of the day. The seven thousand of Israel who had not bowed down the knee to Baal in Elijah’s day were the harbingers of the elect of all ages who bowed not the knee to any but God. They cast from them as profane the authority of Baal, of Nebuchadnezzar, priest, Pope, or preacher, system or organization. There has always been a handful of people who are separate unto God, and there is also today a remnant according to the election of grace who are wholly the Lord’s. As Jonah was vomited from the belly of the sea monster, indigestible and indestructible, so these are vomited out of the sea of humanity. They bear the invisible mark of the Lord in their foreheads and the destroying hands of death and tribulation shall not overwhelm them.
The mark of God in the forehead is not a stamp or a brand. It will not be visible to man at all. It is that which God sees but which man overlooks altogether. These men and women who sigh and cry because of the abominations in the world and in the professing church are the people who have the mind of Christ. Their concern and grief over all iniquity is identical with that of the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have the mind of Christ are the ones who have the mark of God, the seal of the living God in their foreheads. Rev. 7:1-3. Furthermore those also who are said to have the Father’s name in their foreheads (Rev. 14:1) are those who possess the mind of Christ. To have the Father’s name is to have the Father’s mind, for none can use the Father’s name but those who have His mind.
When the apostle Paul said, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” the depths of his meaning reached far beyond all natural understanding. The mind that was in Christ Jesus was the Father’s mind. Let us never forget that. The Father’s mind dwelt in the Son. It was this above all else that made Him one with the Father. Their purposes were identical because their minds were identical. Their unity was perfect because they had the same mind. Not two different minds, each one alike, but one mind indwelling both, and that one mind was the mind of the Father. Man is never able to find true unity. He has sought it for centuries. He has tried to attain it through teaching, through instruction, through discipline, through dictatorship, through popery, through tolerance and charity. He has tried to find it by avoiding points of difference, but he never has found it because natural minds are never one. There are as many different minds as there are different people.
The only unity that is now and the only unity that ever will be comes when the carnal mind with all its enormities and divisions is crucified and the mind of God the Father comes to dwell in us, even as it dwelt in Jesus Christ. This is true unity. This is true sonship. This is the mark of God and the name of God in the forehead. The countless divisions in the professing church shout from the housetops that there is no unity in the carnal mind, and they likewise prove that millions of men, though believers, do not possess the mind of Christ, nor have they God’s name in their foreheads.
During the last few years there has come to many people an ever increasing and almost insatiable longing to be filled with the wisdom that is from above. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easily entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Such wisdom can never be attained by resolve, by endeavor, by teaching, or any such thing. This wisdom comes when the mind that dwelt in Christ Jesus comes to dwell in us. Then, and then alone, are we one with the Father. Then are we one with the Son. Then and then alone are we one with all people in whom that blessed mind doth dwell. Then will our lips truly repeat the words of Jesus, “I and My Father are one.” This is sonship indeed and everlasting life. Little earth-bound man pores over his books and his Bunsen burners in search of wisdom. He peers through his feeble telescope to search the heavens and his microscope to investigate the earth, knowing not that the mind which made the heavens and earth will dwell in us if we desire it more than rubies, and the wisdom that planned the eternal purposes will be ours if we covet it more than gold.
This is the mind that will govern the kingdom of God in the age that is at hand. The mind of God dwelling in the sons of God will be the source of everlasting peace when men, with confidence and assurance, will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks and shall learn war no more at all. “And there shall come forth a Rod out of the stem of Jesse (David’s father) and a branch shall grow out of His roots, (I am the vine, ye are the branches), and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge after the sight of the eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of the ears: But with righteousness shall He judge the poor and reprove with equity the meek of the earth: And He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of His reins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and them falling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:1-9) It is plain for anyone to see that all this blessedness comes from the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord which dwells eternally in the mind of Christ, for this blessedness reaches the earth when the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Perhaps we have been casual in reading Paul’s exhortation, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) But if we meditate upon the whole passage our minds become overwhelmed by the magnitude of what he says and the magnificent glory of the results attained by Christ because He had the Father’s mind dwelling in Him. And I suppose the result would be no less great for any man who through consecration to God crucified his own mind that he might be indwelt by the mind of Christ, which is the Father’s mind. So the apostle declares, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name: That at (in) the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:5-11)
It seems to me that to comment on this scripture would be to do it an injustice, for the fullness of its meaning transcends the eloquence of men. Its truth beggars description and the extent of its glory defies our understanding. Yet be it known that when all things in heaven and earth and under the earth bow to Christ, it will be because the mind of the Father dwelt in Him in divine fullness and completeness, bearing Him on its everlasting arms into all the will of God both for time and for ages eternal and without end.
Would God that we might see that to obey a command of God is one thing, but for a man to have the mind of God dwelling perpetually in him is another thing altogether. It is one thing to have the mind of God about a matter, but it is something different altogether to have the mind of God. Jonah had the mind of God about the matter of going to Nineveh, but he certainly did not have the mind of God dwelling in him, for if he had, he would have coveted God’s will just as Jesus did, who was able to say, “I do always those things which please the Father.” It is clear then that to momentarily have the mind of God about a thing is not the same as having the mind of God dwelling in us.
When one possesses the mind of Christ, He has a re-newed mind. His mind is transformed after the image of Him who created him. Such a man presents his body to the Lord as well as his soul and spirit, and he is the Lord’s, spirit, soul, and flesh. Because he is renewed in the spirit of His mind, his body begins to be transformed as well. For this reason then Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, and be not conformed to the world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. …” (Rom. 12:1-2)
In the depths of my spirit I am certain that of all truth being brought to light today none is of greater importance than the truth concerning the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is the mind of God. The mind of Christ is the mind of eternal, immutable, omniscient wisdom. It is the mind of Christ that will govern the world in wisdom in the glorious age into which we shall soon enter. This is the mind that will bring order out of the fearful chaos that now exists. This mind will empty the arsenals of the nations and fill the stomachs instead. It is His mind of wisdom that will fill the whole earth with the knowledge of the Lord even as the oceans are filled with water. Justice and judgment and equity will be everywhere, the reaper will overtake the sower, and none shall ever be afraid. The mind of Christ is a priceless gem, rich and rare above all the treasures of earth. From its eternal wisdom universes roll forth in their orbits and nations dwell in peace.
The carnal mind is the mind which is possessed by all natural men. It is the mind which is concerned only with the carnal, which is the body made of flesh. People hate this truth and cast it from them as profane, but it was given to me by a revelation and proven by many infallible proofs. The carnal mind is an enemy of God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, so that they who are in the flesh cannot please God. The carnal mind is concerned only with the physical realm. That is why so many Christians are far more interested in physical healing than they are in spiritual progress. The carnal mind is the mind that is concerned with the literal and physical realm. It can never lift itself higher than this.
To be carnally minded is death. That is why all men die. But to be spiritually minded is life and peace. The very moment men begin to have the mind of Christ dwelling in them, there will be an end of death, for the renewed mind will also renew the physical body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.
The carnal mind was never designed to reign. It wrecks every kingdom it possesses, because it is centered in self, concerning itself only in the physical realm. It always becomes corrupted because it makes self the center and not God. It manifests itself in men like Nebuchadnezzar who commands all men to worship his image, or in Pharaoh or Herod, who sought to crush everything that might oppose them. It must try to exterminate all that is Godly as did Haman, Jezebel, Hitler, and many religious leaders. It sets itself up as a god so that he as God sits in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. It desecrates the vessels of the Lord as did Belshazzar and offers swine on the altar of the Lord as did Antiochus.
When the heart first cries, “Thy will be done” the mind of Christ begins to form in man. This is the beginning of the sealing of the mind. When God’s people become fed up and sick to death with all the abominations about them in the world and in the professing church, then and then only do their hearts begin to reach out for the will of God and the mind of Christ. When the heart of any man becomes filled with an insatiable longing for the fullness of the will of God, he discovers that all other wills are at an end. He finds that there is no trace of his own will yet remaining. There is nothing he wants to do to please himself, nowhere he has ambitions to go, no great purpose he wants to accomplish. He has one desire, one love, one hope, and that is to have God’s will revealed to Him that he may do it in all its completeness, for it has become his very life. The will of God is his food and drink. This is his joy and crown. This is his love and only aspiration. His soul continually sings, “I delight to do Thy will, 0 my God; yea, Thy law is within my heart.”
You will not reach this blessed goal without a struggle, neither will you reach it without a revelation of the will of God. You will find yourself becoming empty of the plans and schemes you cherished to advance the kingdom of God. You will find yourself kneeling in prayer with all requests gone from your lips. But in their place your heart will groan forth the irresistible request. Thy will be done! Thy will be done! And when you have reached the glorious place where your soul at last reposes in God’s will, you will find you have become a stranger and a foreigner to all your acquaintances, for your words and speech will seem to them as idle tales because they do not understand you. My greatest and most heart-breaking surprise after entering into this rest was to find that scarcely a soul understood me, but to all my friends my words were but idle tales. That is why I declare that the will of God must be a personal revelation to the believer’s heart.
To enter fully into the freedom and liberty of the will of God is the beginning of the sealing of the mind. It is the beginning of the mark of God in the forehead.
In Ezekiel’s vision there was deplorable abomination in the house of the Lord. But did you notice as you read that all the abominations had to do with worship”! God is not half so concerned about the sins of publicans, harlots, and drunkards as we may think, but His fury is rising every day against the disorder, confusion, and abominations in the professing church. Amid all the abominations that Ezekiel beheld his eye did not miss the fact that there was a small number who sighed and cried because of the abominations on every hand. And those who sighed were the ones who were marked and sealed unto God that they might escape the dread destruction that was to come.
The dreadful scene of destruction which Ezekiel saw following the sealing of the elect is going to be re-enacted at the end of this age, and that will be very, very soon. I am one who believes that the sealing is now taking place. In John’s vision on the Isle of Patmos the events of the closing years of time passed vividly in panorama before his wondering eyes. Amid the dread horrors of that tribulation day he beheld four angels of God holding back the winds and all destruction from the earth until the sealing of the servants of God in the forehead had been completed. Thus it reads: “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four comers of the earth, holding the four winds of earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads:” (Rev. 7:10-3)
How can we ever possibly over-estimate the importance of this sealing? Certainly there is destruction coming upon the earth as the book of Revelation clearly shows, but not until the sealing is complete. Certainly there will be slaughter as Ezekiel saw in his vision, but not until the servants of God are marked in their foreheads. This sealing of the mind is now in progress. People are being separated unto God in a manner hitherto unknown. I do not think that there has ever been a time when the truth concerning the mind of Christ has been made more clear, and neither has there ever been a people more desirous to understand what the will of the Lord is. Never has there been more spiritual insight concerning the condition of organized religion, and never has Mystery Babylon loomed so large nor been so ripe for destruction.
The hour of the sealing of the mind is here. The hour of judgment and destruction is at hand. The priceless prize of the mind of Christ is available to all who sigh and long for it above all earth’s treasures. He who has the mind of Christ will have God’s name in his forehead. “And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on Mount Zion and with Him an hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers, harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne and before the four beasts (living creatures) and the elders, and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women (the harlot daughters of Babylon) for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” (Rev. 14:1-5)
The Spirit of God has warned us of another mark that is coming. It will not be the mark of Christ, but the mark of antichrist. A system of world government will be set up in which no man will be able to buy or sell until he has received the mark of the Beast or the number of his name either in his right hand or in his forehead. Rev. 13:16-18. Men have long talked of a world government and a world church. There are signs even now that some have already thought of the possibility of numbering all men for the sake of convenience and identification. An article appeared in the August, 1963, Reader’s Digest under the title, Call Me 552. The article, though intended to be amusing, is a hint of the way the wind is blowing even as a small straw upon the water indicates the direction the stream is moving. “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the Beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.” People have tried for centuries to discover what the 666 indicates. The truth is it is the number of a man, and the man will be very evident when the time comes.
Let us not concern ourselves or waste any time worrying about the mark of the beast. That will come in its time and none can stop it. But let us mightily concern ourselves with the other mark, the mark of God, the sealing of the sons of God in the forehead. Let us search for it as for hidden treasure, for the great day of the sealing of the servants of God in their foreheads is at hand and none can hinder nor prolong it.
GOD SPEAKING BY HIS SON
The journey through time from the cradle of humanity in Eden to the manger of Bethlehem was long indeed. Ages waxed and waned; suns rose and set on millenniums; dispensations dawned with their present truths only to give place to the clearer light of a coming day. No age was without its truth, no millennium without its message, no dispensation without its revelation from the Almighty.
Through the changing scenes of time God was speaking. Never did he leave the world without a witness. Never was the voice of truth silent. The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world were clearly seen by the things which He had made, manifesting His eternal power and Godhead. The heavens declared the glory of God and the firmament showed His handiwork. Day unto day they uttered their speech and night unto night they showed His knowledge. No speech or language was bereft of His voice, for like the rays of the sun, itself, His truth was always present in the earth.
If you will but listen, His voice is always speaking, telling of His eternal goodness, omniscience, and power. The marvels of the starry heavens, the day that follows night, the rain that gives life to the earth, the ship that sunders the sea, the bird that flies, the horse that gallops, the motionless rose and the still stone, the winds, the clouds, the fire, the water, the glance of a woman, the smile of a child, the palm tree that bends in the winds, the date that ripens – these all speak of His goodness and wisdom. The trees sing of His power; the flowers waft their perfume toward Him. He is Lord of the pink morning, the white noon, and the blue evening.
You do not have to shout your faith;
Thrice eloquent are the quiet trees,
And the green listening sod.
Hushed are the stars,
Whose power is never spent;
The hills are mute,
But how they speak of God.
Yes, God is always speaking. But there is a secret to hearing His voice. It will not be heard above the excited babble and din of the throng. He will not shout to drown other voices that clamor to be heard. He waits till all other voices are stilled and you have put away from your heart and mind all your own striving, and the din of the multitude who shouts for your attention has completely died away. You must become insensible to the sound of all other voices and hear only the voice of His Spirit speaking to your spirit.
There is a wonderful peace in silence. When your brain is wracked to a turmoil and you have examined every avenue for a solution to the exasperating problems that confront you, only to find that your search leads you to greater confusion, it is time for silence, repentance, and listening to the voice of Christ. He will speak and give His wisdom, but not until all other voices are silent and all other wisdom has become foolishness. “Be still and know that I am God.” Then He breaketh the bow, maketh war to cease, cutteth the spear in sunder, burneth the chariot in the fire, and is exalted among the heathen in all the earth. Psa. 46. It was after the earthquake, the fire, and the terrific wind that Elijah wrapped his head in his mantle and listened to the still small voice of God. “He leadeth me beside still waters,” said David. “Be still and know that I am God.”
When God speaks to your heart He will not simply help you to decide between two or more opinions already in your mind. When He speaks it is revolutionary and the opinions of men are discarded for they are always contrary to His will. We will never find God building on the old foundations we have laid. He will throw down every stone and build a temple after His own order.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake unto our fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” God is always speaking. In the perfumed magnificence of Eden He walked and talked with man face to face until man, through his shame and sin, hid himself from the presence of God and from His voice. But, though man is cast out from His hallowed presence, still He seeks and still He speaks. Even the blood of murdered Abel, shed upon the ground and crying for vengeance, spoke of the wrath and judgment of God, and the skins of slain beasts covering man’s nakedness spoke of a sacrifice to be made at Calvary, when once again their nakedness would be covered by His presence and they would see His face and His name would be in their foreheads.
At sundry times and in divers manners He sent His prophets among them, inspiring their words with exactness, proclaiming with wisdom and verbal inspiration the very word of God. They came from divers places, they spoke in divers manners, but all spoke the message of God by verbal (word) inspiration. Moses, the Levite, was rescued from the reeds of the river to speak face to face with his God, and to do all things according to the pattern that was showed him in the mount. Elijah the Tishbite appeared suddenly before Ahab, speaking the word of the Lord. Where he came from is a mystery. His origin matters not at all. The important thing is that he spoke the word of God. Elisha left his oxen to receive a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. David was taken from following the sheep and Amos from among the herdsmen of Tekoa. Shepherds came from their sheepfolds, farmers from their farms. Rugged men came from the wilderness. Kings came from their palaces. Some wore girdles of skin and ate locusts and wild honey; others were arrayed in royal apparel and sat at the table with kings. Others were fed by ravens and widows. Many were destitute, tormented and despised. Singlehanded they put armies to flight, and silenced the wrath of kings. They fed the poor and raised the dead, fled before enemies and prayed for death to take them, but the word of the Lord was in their mouths, burning like an unquenchable fire. They did not speak their own ideas but the Spirit spoke by them, and His word was in their tongues. The prophecy by which God spake in ancient times was not a sermon nor a comforting exhortation. It was the exact word of the Lord, and the prophet was completely incapable of making an error of any kind.
Four hundred years had gone by since Malachi had proclaimed the word of the Lord in Israel. No other prophet had appeared on the scene and there was a great dearth of the word of God in the land. The order was changing. God was removing the old way of speaking and bringing in a better way. In times past He had spoken by the prophets. Now He would speak by His Son, the Son by whom and for whom the world and all things in it were created, the Son who was the brightness of God’s glory and the express of His person.
When they heard Him speak, the soldiers said, “Never man spake like this man.” The Jews marveled that He spake with authority and not as the scribes who could only quote what others had said. The sermon on the mount excelled all other sermons either written or spoken as light excels the darkness. No words of truth and comfort ever thrilled a human heart as did His words to weeping Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life.” No man had ever opened the gates to the kingdom as He did when He explained the new birth to Nicodemus. No words of forgiveness were ever uttered before as were spoken to the trembling woman, “Neither do I condemn thee.” He knew the answer to every question, but when He questioned there was none to reply. By His matchless skill the lame were made whole. By the touch of His hand fevers vanished and by the word of His lips dead men rose to life again. At His rebuke demons fled, fierce winds stilled and raging seas whimpered like babes at His word of peace, and fell asleep. God was speaking by His Son, setting an eternal pattern for a vast family of sons who were soon to follow His steps.
The voice of the Galilean has been silent for almost two thousand years, but all through the centuries God has been speaking by the life of His Son. Consider carefully the thoughts that follow and you will see that God is speaking in these last days by what that Son is even more than He spoke by the words which fell from His lips in the long ago.
Nothing is dearer to the heart of God than sonship. It would be futile vanity for me to presume to argue for the sonship of Jesus Christ, for that must be accepted by us all. That holy thing that was born of Mary was the Son of God. He became a partaker of the human nature, though He was very God, that we who are men might once again be partakers of the divine nature.
There is need of the spirit of revelation here to save us from the gaping cavern of human theology. The driest theologian in the apostate church will admit that God wants us to be sons, and we must avoid that wretched passive admission at all costs. When the truth dawns by revelation to the waiting heart, convincing us that God not only wants sons, but that He has provided a way whereby we can enter into that sonship, then all earthly gain becomes loss in anticipation of the hope of sonship and the whole realm of nature becomes too small a tribute for the prize that is before us.
“Beloved, now are we the children of God (thus says the original) and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.” What we are is children. What we shall be is sons. Jesus Christ is the first born son of a vast family of sons. As He possessed the fullness of the divine nature, so also every son will be a partaker of the fullness of the divine nature. What is mortal in them will be swallowed up by His immortality and what is natural swallowed up in the greatness of His divinity. God is speaking by His Son. As He is so we also shall be.
I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We must never belittle, minimize, or disparage that fundamental truth. Yet the birth of Christ is wrapped in a garment of even greater importance. I mean the method by which that birth was accomplished.
The mighty angel Gabriel vouchsafed to Mary the method by which sons of God are to be begotten. Setting aside her virginity and all natural processes of birth as a thing belonging to a natural realm, He declared that the birth of the Son would be on this wise: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you, and the holy thing that shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.” God is speaking by His Son. There is no other way to sonship than this.
The overshadowing power and presence of the Holy Spirit will bring forth the son of God within us as surely as it brought forth the Son of God in Mary. There is no other road to sonship. Christ in you is the hope of Glory. Though Christ was separated from Mary, He will not be separated from you, for what is mortal must be swallowed by His life.
Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom. He who dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Sonship comes about by dwelling and abiding in the overshadowing presence of the Holy Spirit, walking, living, and breathing in Him. It cannot come to those who persist in show or those who crowd in for a few minutes of praise, prophecy and signs only to go away and fill their ears and eyes and hearts with the sounds and sights of earth for the rest of the day. God is speaking by His Son. Our sonship, like His, is accomplished by the overshadowing power of His Holy Spirit continually touching our lives, our hearts, our thoughts, and our minds. All else beside this is vanity and loss. As He was begotten by the overshadowing power of the Spirit, so also are we.
A teacup cannot contain the ocean, neither can the world contain the books that should be written about Him, yet I fear that for all our learning about Him we have missed one of the most essential things. We learn of His doctrine. Word by word, we study His sermons and dissertations. We preach about His miracles and healings. We talk of His love and mercy. We marvel at His answers and wisdom. Our hearts are made strong by His promises and we are brought to penitence by His rebukes. But have we forgotten that all these glories came from what He inherently was? He gave life because He was life. He spoke wisdom because He was wisdom, and all its universal treasures dwelt in Him. He healed the sick, not because of a gift of healing, but because of the overwhelming presence of life which swallowed up every degree of death that entered His presence. In Him was life. The words of wisdom falling from His lips had no origin in the schools of men, nor yet were they the inspiration of a gift from above. They dropped from a mind from which universal wisdom has come. He is wisdom. God has made Him so. Apart from Him there is neither wisdom nor knowledge. No secret was hidden from Him, not because of learning, but because of what He was.
God is speaking by His Son. Let us pass beyond the realm of doing to the realm of being. Spiritual gifts are an excellent way, but they must cease to make way for the more excellent way. The more excellent way is the way of sonship where everything is God and God is everything. Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not love, I am as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Now please tell me, what is love? Have we not learned that God is love! He who dwells in love dwelleth in God and God in him. But if I speak with tongues, perform mighty miracles and have the gifts of healing, prophesy a great deal, and give many gifts to the poor, yet I am not moving in Him, I will be like those deluded ones who will come saying: “Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out demons, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And He will reply, “I know you not.” Cease crying for a return of gifts. Gifts are always compassed with the dread infirmities of those who possess them. Seek rather to go on to that more excellent way, for that is the way of sonship and the kingdom. If God is removing the spiritual gifts, it is for a reason. He definitely has been removing them for some years. Jesus did His mighty works, not because of gifts but because of what He was and still is. That is the more excellent way. He showed love because He was love. He showed mercy because He was mercy. He spoke truth because He was truth. “What is truth,” Pilate asked, and had he waited for the reply, he would have learned this: “I am the truth, the life and the way.” He does not just give life. He is life. When He shows us the way, He shows us Himself, for He is the way.
God is speaking by His Son. Let us come beyond the realm of doing to the realm of being. Let us leave off our imitation of Christ, which at best is hypocrisy, and give Him place to live within that He, from within these temples, may be the truth, the way, the life, the health, the wisdom, the omnipotence, that as He is, so we should also be, in this present world. This is the more excellent way.
“Inasmuch as He has suffered being tempted. He is able to succor them that are tempted.” What a revelation this passage really is. It throws into clear light the eternal mystery of suffering and temptation. The age old question, “Why do the righteous suffer,” is forever answered by His life of suffering and temptation. The unsympathizing, cynical, and cocky are always found among those who have not suffered temptation’s ravaging power. They cannot shed a sympathizing tear, for they have never faced that trial which manifests their infirmity. Those who brag of their boldness are usually the biggest cowards, and those who boast of the greatest strength manifest the greatest weakness under the stress of temptation. “We have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmity but one who was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin.” He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. Therefore, like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. God is speaking by the temptation of His Son.
Let us take a different attitude toward temptation and suffering. Let us see by the revelation of the Spirit that the enduring of it and the victory over it are as completely necessary to our sonship, as it was also necessary to His. Though we are tried by fire, we will find the trial of our faith is more precious than gold, that at the appearing of Christ within us, we should be found unto glory and honor and praise. God is speaking by His Son.
The life of Christ was pure and sinless because of what He was. Though we were born in sin and conceived in iniquity, yet we have started on the road to sonship. I know little good is gained by a system of laws consisting of do’s and don’ts. I have never taught that there is merit in such a system. But of a truth I declare that those whose hearts are restless and yearning for sonship can never be satisfied with the trivial vanities of this earth, and in our quest for sonship we will have to refuse to let our eyes be turned aside to the profane and earthly things. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee,” were the words of wisdom from Solomon. There must be a resolution and a resolve in all our seeking. We must lay aside every hindering weight and the sin which does so easily beset us, while we run with patience the race set before us. Races are not won by turning aside to view the landscape, but through straining every nerve to reach the goal. Whatever cynical scoffers may say, it is nevertheless true that all the world’s fleeting joys tend to dull our spiritual appetite, dim our vision, render us insensible to the voice of the Spirit, and, in general, turn our hearts away from God. I strongly advocate to all who patiently wait for the promises of God that they turn aside from all worldly pleasure and refuse the fleeting satisfaction that comes from excitement and amusement. “Flee also youthful lusts, which war against the soul, but follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” If you do this faithfully, your time will be fully occupied. No hours will hang heavily on your hands, nor will you need the world’s trash to fill out your day.
Do not seek to be rich, for riches only add a snare and many hurtful lusts that drown men in perdition. Leave hockey and baseball and all kindred amusement to those who belong to that realm. God is speaking by His Son. He spent His life in touch with God and never once did we find Him obtaining satisfaction in pleasurable amusement and excitement. All the games and vain amusements of this earth are for those who belong to this earth, but if your treasures are in heaven then seek the things that belong to heaven. “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. Neither is our kingdom from hence, so let us fully turn from it and seek our lasting joys from above. God is speaking by His Son.
Nay, world, I turn away, though thou seem fair and good.
Thy friendly outstretched hand is stained with Jesus’ blood.
If in the least device I stoop to take a part,
All unawares thine influence steals God’s presence from my heart.
I miss my Savior’s smile, when’er I walk thy ways;
Thy laughter drowns the Spirit’s voice,
And chokes the songs of praise.
When e’er I turn aside to join thee for an hour,
The face of Christ grows blurred and dim,
And prayer has lost its power.
No mark of sonship was more outstanding in the life of Christ than His constant walk in the will of God. To please self or to please men never entered His divine mind. He had one thought and one only – to do the will of God that sent Him. The fact of His unswerving devotion to God’s will is clearly seen in that Jesus said, “I honor my Father and ye dishonor me.” (John 5:30) “For I come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.” (John 6:38) The temptation, the tears, the strong crying, the agony and the bloody sweat of lonely Gethsemane were the final crucial test of His complete devotion and abandonment to the whole will of God. Neither shame, desertion, nor the prospect of the cross could move Him from the thorny but blessed path of the will of God. He was prepared to endure the cross, despise shame, and be utterly forsaken and alone that He might fulfill the will of the Father. The desperate aloneness of the Son of God in His final hours is amazing to behold, but this is the path that leads not merely to Gethsemane but to His kingdom as well.
God is speaking by His Son, telling us that none can reign with Him but those who embrace His will, become utterly forsaken of carnal men, and lay down their lives that He might live. While tens of thousands of Christians claim to be doing God’s will, in reality they know nothing about God’s will or God’s mind. They are confused, imagining that the purposes they are moving heaven and earth to accomplish, are God’s will. In reality these things are their own will and God has not spoken at all. Let us settle it in our minds, however, that none will reign with Christ but those who are one with His will. That blessed company who have God’s name written in their foreheads, are those who have the mind of Christ, and I am sure that the mind of Christ and the will of God are one and the same thing. God is speaking by His Son.
“God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto Me and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14) How can a man read those words and still lightly make himself a friend of the fleeting joys of earth? Turn away from these vanities, for there can be no resurrection or glory except it comes by the way of the cross. The way of the cross is the way of death to all the old life and leads us to the resurrection which lies beyond the veil whither Jesus has for us entered.
Stand with me for a moment with bowed head and reverent heart, while we hear Paul speak again, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal. 1:20) Without the spirit of revelation this passage is devoid of sense, for how could one be dead and still alive? But when seen in the light of the cross it is full of meaning. The “I” that was crucified is not the same “I” that now lives, but the new “I” is none other than Christ Himself. Read it again with this in mind and you will see why the cross is necessary for you. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in Me. The old “I” that was crucified is my old self, the new “I” that lives is none other than the risen Christ. There is a cross waiting for your crucifixion, that you may be crucified with Him and that Christ may live within you. Herein lies the secret of the resurrection, for the death of the cross is followed by the glory of the resurrection. God is speaking by His Son.
And Jesus when He had cried with a loud voice gave up the Ghost. The earth quaked, the rocks rent, and the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom. At the precise moment of the physical death of Christ, which is the death of the flesh, the veil of the temple was rent asunder, and the way into the holiest of all, which is the realm of the Spirit, was made open for the first time. Beautiful as the veil was, it had to be rent asunder before the way to the holiest was opened. In like manner also we must die to the flesh, or be crucified with Him, that we may enter into the realm of the Spirit and be sons of God. There is no other way to sonship. The rending of the veil was the opening of the way. There must come an end of all flesh and a new life in the Spirit must begin. It is not enough to know that Christ was raised from the dead. You must be raised with Him. Neither is it enough that His flesh was rent in death. You must be crucified with Him. God is speaking by His Son.
Away with pride! Away with plans! Away with ambitions! Away with every scheming human device to forcefully bring the kingdom. God is speaking by His Son. Let us follow His path in every detail and we will enter in with Him. Time and space would fail me to enumerate all He speaks by His divinely beautiful life, but if in every circumstance of your life you behold Him, you will find the answer, the truth and the way. God is in these last days speaking by His Son.
ADOPTION OF SONS
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts, but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned. Who, then, can hear Thy voice but he whose ears the Spirit has opened? What heart can understand Thy precepts but that which Thy wisdom hath enlightened? Open therefore my eyes that I may behold wonderful things out of Thy law. Open my eyes as the eyes of Jacob were opened when he saw a ladder reaching from earth into heaven with angels ascending and descending. Open my eyes as the servant’s eyes were opened when Elisha prayed that I may see beyond the grime and warfare of earth to behold those chariots of fire and myriads of ministering spirits. Open my eyes as Stephen’s eyes were opened to see the Son of God seated at the right hand of His Father, henceforth expecting till all the earth shall be His footstool. Open my eyes as Jesus told Nathaniel it would be, saying, “Henceforth thou shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. Open my eyes, oh Lord that I may understand and enter into the things that are written here. Amen.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit …” (1 Cor. 2:9, 10) I am inclined to believe that the sincere and humble man fain would flee away and beg to be excused from speaking of the sacred things, mysterious and holy, which God has prepared for those who love Him. The man who would approach even the outer court of God’s eternal purpose, which He purposed for all creation in Christ Jesus, with a light heart or a glib tongue has never yet, I fear, been awed by the awful glory of the infinite purpose which was conceived in the heart of God ages ago in the distant eternities.
The man whose spirit has not been overwhelmed by the indisputable knowledge that before all things, behind all things, in all things, and through all things standeth God, all-wise, all-understanding, all-powerful, and forever unchanging, has failed to know as God would have him know and has fallen short of that most rudimentary principle of sonship, the knowledge of His will. It is not until we begin to comprehend the purpose of God for the ages that we begin truly to love God. It is well nigh impossible to love God while our minds remain in bondage to those purposeless teachings laid down by the misnamed theologians of man-made systems that masquerade as the church of the living God. The God they proclaim is a God without a purpose, a God who, according to their gospel, was tricked and outwitted in the garden of Eden by a vastly inferior creature who by his sinister cunning laid waste eternal design. Theirs is a God who was forced by the imagined disaster and tragedy of the fall to produce a plan by which He could salvage some tiny remnant of His creation while Satan dragged off to perdition ninety-nine percent of the spoils. Is it any wonder that the hearts of men are turned away and unbelievers are multiplied by millions! Not only do I abhor and disbelieve it, but I think it is Satan’s second lie.
It is not until our hearts are turned away from the endless caviling of men and our ears become deaf to their fruitless doctrines and meaningless traditions that we begin to turn our listening ear to the voice of the Spirit. It is then we hear Him speaking from His throne in eternity, long before ever an age, I was formed and before cosmos began to be formed from the wastes of chaos. There in the glory and wonder of His presence, from out the depths of His omniscient mind, His purpose for the ages, the dispensations, the worlds, and for eternity itself was laid down upon the infinite blue-print, plan by plan, purpose by purpose, age by age in order, controlled by the might and glory of an immutable will and the power and majesty of an omnipotent arm. Like as the billion celestials are held in their orbits by His omnipotence, so each eternal purpose and every divine decree shall be sustained by His almighty guiding hand to grow and mature from glory to glory until His vast family of beloved sons shall deliver up to Him all things in perfection that God Himself shall be all and in all.
It was while poor disconsolate Job, full of misunderstandings and human reasonings, sat desolate in his dust and ashes that the Spirit of the all-wise God arrested him, and, bidding his human reasonings to cease. He turned the eyes of the sufferer to the glory of a scene that took place long before ever the ages began. I may be wrong, but an inner witness tells me that I had my beginnings long ages before that winter morning, Feb. 27th, 1909, when I first saw the light of earth’s day. That was but the day when my spirit came forth from God to inhabit this chamel house of death, this flesh we call the body, there to walk and await the day when the spirit would return to God who gave it. Eccles. 12:7. When the spirit partakes of flesh and blood, the glory of the ages past is forgotten because of the bondage of corruption and the darkness and death of the fleshly mind. Our blessed Lord, when but hours away from His crucifixion, lifted His voice in prayer, saying, “And now, 0 Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was.” (John 17:5) Our kind Father in heaven awakened the memory of Job to things of eternity past, saying, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” I suppose Job could not then remember that he, too, had joined the heavenly anthems in that blest day when the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy. Rolled out as a scroll before their wondering eyes lay God’s blue-print of the ages, the dispensations, the age of the ages, and the limitless eternity. Replete was every minute detail which God purposed through His beloved Son. There their wondering eyes beheld the purpose of the fall, the purpose of suffering and pain, the purpose of war and tribulation, the purpose of bondage and corruption, the purpose of death, the purpose of life, the glory of the plan of redemption and purification, the purpose of grace and the kingdom, and the glory of the ages to follow. So glorious stood the array of infinite purpose that the morning stars lifted their voices in a choral harmony that filled the universe and, as the angels swept their harp strings and trumpets echoed among the eternal hills, the sons of God, both who were and were to be, shouted the glory and praise of God until from mountain peak to mountain peak the chorus swelled and all the great sidereal of God was filled with the harmony of the ages forevermore.
I may be wrong, but a beautiful tenderness fills my spirit when the precious thought thrills my soul that I, with Job, was there among that heavenly host, rejoicing and shouting together with them as my spirit embraced the glory of His purpose and beheld with rapture the part that would be mine in the plan of Him who disclosed this secret: “Whom He did foreknow He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son…” (Rom. 8:29) If the inhabitants of this world who now sit in darkness and the shadow of death could but hear the Spirit say that they, too, are the objects of God’s eternal purpose, there would be an immediate and unbelievable change in them, for their faith would reach out at once to lay hold on the hope that is before them. Few things have saddened and appalled my heart so much as the knowledge that my fellow Christians all over the world walk blindly on in the darkness of the absurd and worthless traditions of an apostate church system, completely devoid of any true knowledge of the eternal purpose laid down by God for them before the worlds began. Times without number I have noticed the look of utter incredulity on the faces of God’s people when in their ears I unfolded the outlines of God’s matchless plan which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
When I was a young man nineteen years of age, my brother Philip and I sat side by side listening to a man of God unfold the mysteries of the word of truth. As he spoke, he made a statement which to our young Christian minds seemed to be radical and completely incorrect, to which we quickly and unwisely expressed our dissent. The brother stopped in his talk. Tears filled his kindly eyes and with an emotion in his voice that remains with me until this day he made this unforgettable observation: “The moment you say ‘no'”, he said, “you close your heart, and the Spirit of God can teach you nothing.” I have never forgotten that word of wisdom. How good it would be for us all if in this final hour of the age we would open our hearts to eternal understanding that we might embrace the wisdom which God displayed in His purpose before the world began. Let us not then judge after the paltry understanding of men nor critically peer through the spectacles of human tradition to cull out and lay aside everything that does not conform to the tradition of the elders. Be not like those unwise Pharisees and doctors of the law to whom our Master said, “Ye make the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” (Matt. 15:6) And again, “Ye strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” What greater promise was ever given to unlearned and ignorant men, blinded by the wisdom of this world, than the promise given by Jesus that “when He, the Spirit of truth shall come, He will guide you into all truth; For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak, and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:13-14)
Let us now acquaint ourselves with the following important fact. When we learn the truth I now affirm, many things which have hitherto been an insurmountable mystery, will begin to come clear to our understanding. The fact is simply this: Every purpose God ever devised and every plan God ever made He has planned to fulfill through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. When the apostle Paul wrote of these breath-taking truths and unfolded before our wondering minds the unsearchable riches of Christ, he made this remarkable statement from the storehouse of his own enlightened mind: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from beginning of the world (the ages) hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph. 3:8-11)
Let us then stand assured of this marvelous fact: When God formed the ages and planned the dispensations, He did it in and through His Son, Jesus Christ. When He made the worlds, He did it by and for and through His Son. When He conceived the plan of the ages, He did it through His Son. When He laid the plan of redemption and all the unspeakable wonders of it, He planned that it should be accomplished through His beloved Son. The purpose of God for the government of the universe in the ages to come is committed to His Son, for “He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.” (1 Cor. 15:25) When God planned to abolish death, 2 Tim. 1:10, He planned to do it through His Son of whom He said, “In Him was life.” And when all things have been subdued unto Christ, then will the Son Himself be subject to Him (the Father) who has put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:26-28)
It is completely impossible for me or for any man who ever lived to explain, or even begin to explain, the abounding, unsearchable, unfathomable love which God has for His Son. God has placed the entire hope of all creation in Him. So unspeakable is His admiration for His only begotten Son that He purposed to create in Him a whole new family of sons who would share the exact image and likeness of Jesus Christ that He might be the firstborn among many brethren, or the eldest in a vast family of sons. (Rom. 8:29) It was Christ Jesus, God’s Son, who paid the satisfying ransom of His own blood that we might be redeemed from sin and death. The life is in the blood. (Lev. 17:11; Deut. 12:23) In Him is life, and the life is the light of men. For this reason His better blood, Heb. 12:24, was given that by its power all men once slain by sin should receive life in Him. The Spirit of life was in Christ Jesus. God decreed that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus should make all men free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:1, 2) The law of sin and death is simply this: “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) Now we stand in Him on the ground of no condemnation, for there is now, therefore, no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:1. Ah, blessed and wonderful mystery of redemption.
There is scarcely a man on earth who has not secretly or openly desired to become the father of a son, and I am not overstepping reason when I say that this desire, inherent in the heart of every human being, was derived from our Creator, the everlasting Father Himself, whose eternal heart conceived the glory of sonship in those realms before ever the world was or time was formed within the bosom of eternity. It was of that hour the apostle wrote, saying, “In the beginning was the Word.” John 1:1. “In the beginning!” Why would the eternal God consent to use such an expression as that for that which is eternal – has neither beginning nor ending? Because man is a creature of time, he is completely incapable of understanding that which is timeless. When we humans think of the omnipotent God, we are capable only of imagining Him to be a man like ourselves, only much wiser and more powerful than we are. When we think of eternity, we can imagine it to be only an extension of time. We cannot understand a realm that is not marked off by the rising and setting of the sun, and by months and seasons and years, and by growing old and dying and all such things so familiar to us. Yet it is true that God lives in a realm of timelessness which He knows to be eternity. Thus to accommodate the timelessness of the eternal God to the limited understanding of men the Holy Spirit allowed the phrase to be written, “In the beginning God …”, Gen. 1:1, and “In the beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1)
There is nothing dearer to the heart of God than His sons. It was God the Father, almighty, all-wise, unchanging and eternal who first conceived the God-like thought of sonship, His purpose being that they, every one of them, should be begotten of God, perfected through the refining fires of suffering, tribulation, pain, disappointment, injustice, inequity, war, sorrow, bereavement and death, that they might come into the fullness of the mind of God. As the darkness of the night shows us the stars, so sorrow shows us truth. The eyes of our understanding are washed bright by our tears until we are to behold the reality of that which is invisible and real. Richter once said, “To love all mankind, a cheerful state of being is required; but to see into mankind, into life, and still more into ourselves, suffering is a requisite.” “The happiest, sweetest, tenderest homes are not those where there has been no sorrow, but those which have been overshadowed with grief, and where Christ’s comfort was accepted. The very memory of the sorrow is a gentle benediction that broods over the household like the silence that comes after prayer. There is a blessing sent from God in every burden of sorrow.” (J. R. Miller). Phillips Brooks, speaking of sorrow, left this wise and beautiful statement. “Wherever souls are being tried and ripened, in whatever commonplace and homely way, there God is hewing out the pillars of His temple.” Sorrow is not the handmaid of Satan, but the handmaid of God. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. By the sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken, Prov. 15:13. It is pitiful to find that in this frivolous and selfish age even God’s people have forgotten that they are perfected through suffering and not by delights. Even the blessed Christ had His humanity perfected by the things He suffered.
Then when our perfection in His image and likeness is complete, we shall be given the reins of government – first the government of the world in the dispensation of the kingdom of God; second the government and restoration of all things in heaven and earth in the dispensation of the fullness of times, Eph. 1:10; then, the government of the new heaven and the new earth in the dispensation which we can only call the ages of the ages. Ah, glorious mystery of sonship that we should share the image of God and the exact likeness of that first begotten Son, the firstborn of many sons to come. Of Him we will now speak particularly. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons (children) of God, (Greek teknon, meaning adolescent or youth), and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him: for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)
That we might better comprehend, at least in part, the all embracing purpose of sonship, we must leave the customary paths, often carelessly trodden to explore the realms hitherto kept secret and walk in the avenues where man’s faith has seldom moved. If we now insist that all revelation and illumination of truth must be judged by the narrowness of our past tradition, better far it is that we turn our back now on all illumination and light and join those tradition-ridden Pharisees who could never believe that Jesus spoke aught but blasphemy when He declared in the certainty of divine wisdom, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58)
The book of the prophecy of Ezekiel is a book that defies the wisdom of man. The natural man never can understand the things of God. How much less when they are hidden! Awe-inspiring truth fills the pages of the book and it is certain none could ever understand them but by the Holy Spirit. But we will discover, I am sure, as the ages pass by that this strange prophecy of Ezekiel is among the most revealing and deeply spiritual of all verbal inspirations because the Holy Spirit permitted this son of man through fiery visions to draw back the darkling veil that our wondering eyes might behold the glory of the infinite purpose of sonship that had its beginning in the glorious flaming whirlwind of fire and light which God the Father is.
The prophecy of Ezekiel begins in this wise: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” (Ezek. 1:1) “I saw visions of God!” The visions Ezekiel saw on this occasion were not visions from God nor visions concerning things God intended to do, but the vision that unfolded before the eyes of this prophet and caused him to fall on his face (verse 28) was a vision of God Himself. And lest I should weary you with explanations and statements hard to understand, I shall tell you plainly that which should cause you to be awed as Ezekiel was and to worship Him who liveth forever and ever.
I wish now to show you, as best I can in human terms, that the dreadfully awe-inspiring vision which Ezekiel saw was that omnipotent act of God bringing forth from the fiery glory of Himself His first and only begotten Son before ever the world was formed. I am perfectly aware that such a statement as the above will stagger the imagination of most who read these lines. Indeed, if it does not, I think it should do. Dare we think that a hope so eternal as sonship must from its very genesis be completely hidden from our eyes since it is the hope of all creation and we ourselves with every created thing in heaven and earth unceasingly groan for its fullness? Are we to imagine that He whom God proclaimed to be His only begotten Son was in fact not begotten at all? Or shall we think that He who, as it is written, was in the beginning with God (John 1:2) had in fact no beginning at all before the manger of Bethlehem? Let us then approach this mighty truth in reverence and godly fear, because I am led to believe that the eternal Father is here acquainting His elect ones with the very beginning of all sonship as the almighty Father Himself brought forth from the fire and glory of His omnipotent self the first of all begotten sons, even the head of that vast family of sons which in a dispensation yet unborn will become the body of the bridegroom – every member a begotten son of God, every member joined inseparably by one Spirit to each other and to the eldest Son, who is the supreme head of that vast and glorious family of sons.
Long ago King Solomon wrote of the glory of the Son of God in the limitless eternity before the world was. He told of His rejoicing in the Father’s presence as He shared with Him as the architect and builder of this fantastically wonderful universe and laid plans for the boundless glories that were to follow. Divine inspiration demands that the words and phrases of the eighth chapter of Proverbs extend far beyond the mere attribute of wisdom as they reach out to embrace the personality and being of the Son of God Himself. None but Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. None but He is the power of God, and none but He was in the beginning with God. He is the wisdom and the power of God and by Him who was with the Father in the beginning were all things created and made. Thus Solomon beheld His glory and wrote of Him, saying, “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, John 1:1, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth, while as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: when He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: when He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: Then was I by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and My delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto Me, 0 ye children: for blessed are they that keep My ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors. For whoso findeth Me findeth life, John 1:4, 8:12, 10:38, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. But he that sinneth against Me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate Me love death.”
Thus in confirmation wrote Ezekiel, saying, “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire enfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass. (Rev. 1:15) …As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle… As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.” (Ezek. 1:4-14)
It is completely impossible to portray a divine image in the mirror of human words. Earthly tongues can but dimly describe things that belong to heavenly realms. We quickly reach the place where things “hard to be understood”, 2 Pet. 3:16, are also “not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Cor. 12:4) Need we wonder then at the stammering lips of the prophet Ezekiel as with human words he struggles to describe the magnificent glory revealed to him with such expressions as, “The likeness of the firmament upon their heads was as the color of terrible crystal.” Verse 22. The fire enfolding itself or the color of amber out of the midst of the fire. Verse 4. See also verses 13 and 16. I am sure, however, that the fire enfolding itself, the whirlwind, the amber and the terrible crystal were descriptions of God the Father and of the coming forth of the only begotten Son from the very person of the Father in the eternity, and this we shall now describe as God may give us help and understanding.
“And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire enfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.” These are the words of verse 4. This is a vision of God, Chapter 1, verse 1, and all that Ezekiel saw – the whirlwind, the north, the cloud, the fire, and even the color of the fire, amber, are all descriptive of God. All are elsewhere associated with God and all are symbolic and typical of God. In scripture symbols are used to emphasize the many sided aspect of a truth. Types, though only shadows, emphasize the anti-types. For instance, the word of God has many symbols, each of which in its own beauty serves to portray the greatness, the glory and power of that living word which is Jesus Christ. If we simply speak of the word, we have no more understanding than the phrase expressed. But, when the Lord uses symbols to describe His word, then the mind is filled with the glory of the reality of what the word really is. Thus in symbol the word of God is a lamp, Psa. 119:105; a critic (discerner), Heb. 4:12; a mirror, Jas. 1:25; a cleansing laver, Eph. 5:26; food. Job 23:12; milk for babes, Heb. 5:12, 13; strong meat for the full grown, 1 Cor. 3:2; bread, the staff of life, Isa. 55:10; honey, the perfect sweetness, Psa. 19:10; gold to enrich, Psa. 19:10; fire to purify, Jer. 20:9; a sword, Eph. 6:17; a hammer, Jer. 23:29; seed, Luke 8:2; sun, Psa. 19:1-6; rain and snow, Isa. 55:10, 11; and many more. And then, of course, the word of God becomes much more than the beauties expressed by each of these symbols. It becomes the living Word, the Logos, and finally Christ Himself, who was in the beginning with the Father.
With these thoughts in mind we can better understand how the whirlwind, the clouds, the fire, the brightness as lightning portray the mysterious wonder and glory of Him who is the eternal God and the glory of that wonderful Son who came forth from the fiery bosom of the Father. The reader has probably noticed how frequently God associates Himself with the symbolic whirlwind. There is something about a whirlwind, a cyclone or tornado, that we are quite powerless to understand. Even the smallest whirlwind attracts our immediate attention as it catches up into its peculiar folds anything which may be in its path. All winds are whirlwinds in a sense whether they be little whirlwinds that we see almost daily, or whether they be a cyclone, a tornado, or a hurricane, or even the common wind. All are moving in a circle enfolding in themselves all things that can be moved. God manifests Himself in the whirlwind when there is a sense of urgency either real or implied. Thus twice out of the whirlwind the Lord spoke to the distressed and disconsolate Job, as it is written, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge…?” (Job 38:1, 2) And again. “Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Gird up thy loins now like a man; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.” (Job 40:6, 7) Isaiah, speaking of the coming of the Lord, associated the fire, the chariots, and the whirlwind, saying, “Behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots like a whirlwind to render anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.” (Isa. 66:15) See also Zech 9:14. And was not this also the scene at the translation of Elijah? “For it came to pass, as they (Elijah and Elisha) still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11)
Reading each of these passages, we notice that, when the Lord manifested Himself in the whirlwind, there was some strange sense of urgency as, for instance, the coming of the Lord with fire, the translation of Elijah, or the events concerning the perfection of Job. How beautifully appropriate it is that the translation of Elijah and the coming of the Lord, Isa. 66:15, should be associated with the whirlwind!
We need not elaborate to any great extent concerning the fire enfolding itself. The almighty God has often manifested Himself as fire or in fire. Indeed, the word of God has plainly said, “For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29; Deut. 4:24) When the law was given to Israel, the whole of Mount Sinai was smoking in the manner described by Paul in Heb. 12:18. “For ye are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words.” See also Exodus 20:18 where it is said, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking…” The fire, the smoke, and the lightning indicated the fearful and wonderful presence of God. Each and every one of these phenomena was a clear indication of the presence of the almighty God of Israel, and each was a manifestation of Himself. If a whirlwind is peculiar and awe-inspiring, how much more is fire and lightning! Common as is the sight of ordinary fire and the vivid illuminating flashing of lightning, yet not a man living is truly capable of explaining either. They are as peculiar as life itself is peculiar. The more we gaze upon them the more mysterious and awe-inspiring they become. Consuming fire, illuminating lightning, and enfolding, uplifting whirlwinds are manifestations of the very character and nature of God.
I will not take further space in an attempt to discuss the phenomenon of the color of amber, or the clouds, or the brightness seen by the prophet Ezekiel. All were representations of God. All were manifestations of the Father in this vision of God. The darker the cloud, the brighter the lightning. The greater the dross, the more consuming the fire. The greater the company to be gathered in, the more enfolding the whirlwind.
As Ezekiel stood dumbfounded, fascinated and awed by the splendor of the vision, he beheld a living creature coming forth from out the rolling enfolding fire of God, out of the whirlwind, out of the clouds, out of the amber, out of the north, and out of God. (Ezek. 1:4) “And out of the midst thereof,” he said, “came the likeness of four living creatures, and this was their appearance; they had the likeness of man.” Verse 5. Then in verse 10 the prophet continues, “As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.”
With all humility of mind and with complete understanding of my own human ignorance and limitations, I want to affirm that Ezekiel in this vision of God was actually beholding the God-like, omnipotent act in eternity of God the Father bringing forth from the glory of Himself His only begotten Son – Spirit of His Spirit, mind of His mind, image of His image, likeness of His likeness, power of His power. This is He of whom it is written that He was in the beginning with God. This is the Son of God who came from the bosom of the Father. This is the Son who countless ages before the scene in Bethlehem was “with God in the beginning”, “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” (Heb. 1:3) This is the only begotten Son of whom John wrote, saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) This is He of whom it is written, “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” (Col. 1:19) He is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature; for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” (Col. 1:15-17)
This is indeed God’s only begotten Son, begotten of God in the heart of eternity itself. This is the Son of God by whom and for whom all things are made, and this is He who in council with His Father said, “Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) This is the pre-existent Son of God who was ordained to be the first Son in a vast family of God-like sons who, having partaken of His redemption, would be changed into His likeness as the ages roll by. God has predestinated Him to be the oldest and first Son in that vast family of sons who are beginning even now to form His mystical body, and who are being prepared by God to reign with Him over all the earth and over all the universe in the ages yet to come. This body of sons with Christ as its head will become the fullness of Him who filleth all in all, or, as Weymouth has so wisely translated the passage, “the fullness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself.” (Eph. 1:23) Oh glorious mystery of the ages! Oh wonderful unfolding of truth! “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he should instruct Him? Or who hath been His counselor? For from Him everything comes, by Him everything exists, and in Him everything ends. Glory to Him unto the ages of the ages!” Amen! (Rom. 11:36) (Goodspeed)
Now that this living creature coming forth from the whirlwind, the fire, the clouds, and the brightness of God the Father was indeed the pre-existent and eternal Son of God we shall immediately see. These are the words of Ezekiel: “As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; and they four also had the face of an eagle.” (Ezek. 1:10) It should not be necessary to go to any great length to demonstrate or prove to any lover of the Bible that the four men who wrote the four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – were moved by the Holy Spirit to present the Son of God to the world in exactly the same manner after which Ezekiel saw that strange, wonderful fourfold appearance with faces resembling a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle.
The gospel of LUKE more than the other three gospels presents Jesus Christ as the Son of man. This, I think is clear, first, by the fact that he addressed his gospel to a man, the governor Theophilus. Luke 1:3, Acts 1:1. Secondly, and much more important, he took almost infinite care, after describing the birth of Jesus Christ, to trace His genealogy from Heli, who was Mary’s father and Joseph’s father-in-law, Luke 3:23, back over four thousand years of time to show that Jesus descended from Adam and that He was, therefore, indeed the Son of man as truly a man as any living. Thirdly, I would say that, since the term Son of man is repeated in the Gospel of Luke some twenty times, this in itself should surely prove that the main burden of Luke’s gospel was to show beyond doubt that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, begotten in the heart of eternity, did indeed become a man with a human mother on the same basis as ourselves. It is well to remember that it was as a man that He was made perfect through suffering – not as God.
Ezekiel saw Him not only as a man but as having the face of a lion as well. The lion is the king of beasts; and I am sure I am not in error when I say that the theme of the gospel of MATTHEW is Jesus Christ, the King. It is with the thought of kingship in mind that the very first verse of the book of Matthew was written. It reads thus: “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Mat. 1:1) It was to David, the king, that the royal promise was given: “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee. Thy throne shall be established forever.” (2 Sam. 7:16) And Peter in his sermon at Pentecost confirmed the truth that Jesus Christ was indeed the King of the house of David who was to be raised up to reign. “Therefore,” said Peter, “being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.” (Acts 2:20) Therefore MATTHEW, who presents Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the promised King, took great care, first, to prove that He was the direct heir of David, to whom the royal promise was given, and, secondly, to prove that He was the son of Abraham, to whom the promise was given that in Him “shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3)
The theme of the gospel of MARK is Christ the ministering servant and sacrifice, both typified by the ox. No one but God could include an ocean of truth in a glass of inspiration, but this the Lord did when He included the whole of the gospel of Mark in that one beautiful statement of truth, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44, 45) The entire book of Mark presents Christ as God’s servant and ends with His sacrificial death. That side of His character, servant and sacrifice, which Ezekiel saw as the face of the ox, is brought to its fullness in the gospel of Mark. The ox, the servant and sacrifice, is the theme of the entire gospel.
The particular theme of the gospel of JOHN is Christ, the Son of God. The eagle, that strange creature of the heavens, signifies that Jesus Christ was from above. The way of an eagle in the air was one of the wonders which the wisdom of Solomon was quite unable to explain. (Prov. 30:19) While Luke sets forth Jesus Christ as the Son of man by giving His long human genealogy, John sets forth Jesus Christ as the Son of God with this one mighty edict which only the wisdom and glory of God could proclaim: “In the beginning was the Word (the Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4) Many are the passages in this gospel which plainly set forth Christ as the Son of God, begotten of the Father before ever the world was. This is He who was in the bosom of the Father, who both came forth from God and returned to God. (John 13:3)
Space will not permit us to show in detail that the four standards of the house of Israel as they camped about the tabernacle in the wilderness presented this same great truth. The standard of the camp of Rueben to the south of the tabernacle was a man. The standard of the camp of Judah to the east was a lion. The standard of the camp of Ephraim to the west was an ox. And the standard of the camp of Dan to the north was an eagle. Truly it is written that the angel of the Lord (Christ) encampeth round those that fear Him.
My sincere purpose in writing of these mysteries is that all who read might see how dear to the heart of the eternal Father is the hope and purpose of sonship. If I err not, the events of Ezekiel 1:1 took place ages before the events of Gen. 1:1. The latter belongs to time, the former to eternity. How gracious is our blessed Father that He would open the heavens, and draw aside the veil that we who have the spirit of sonship might clearly see that sonship was the very beginning of His purpose and that in the very heart of eternity itself He brought forth from the fiery brightness, the clouds, and the wind of Himself His first begotten Son. God, the eternal Father, has ordained that the Son who was begotten of Himself before ever the world was, should, when the time was ripe, take upon Himself the form of man, and, after becoming a perfect man through suffering and atoning death, should become the first, the oldest, and the Head of that mysterious body of sons who, being redeemed by His better blood, are now coming forth from the fire, the cloud, the whirlwind, and the brightness of Himself into that same image and that same mind, even the mind and image of God’s first begotten Son. He who once was called the only begotten Son is no longer the only begotten Son, but the first begotten of a vast family. Rom. 8:29; Heb. 2:11. And that vast family, of which He is the Head, is becoming one body and is itself the only begotten of the Father. “Who hath known the mind of the Lord that he should instruct Him?” Oh, how great is the mystery of godliness!
“When the fullness of time was come,” says the scripture, “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal. 4:4, 5) Oh that the darkling veils of tradition might be torn from our eyes that we might see beyond the mists and theories of time and tradition right into the very heart of the eternal! How useless and blinding have become the theories of a church system that has wandered far away from the eternal purposes of God to build their own doctrines and teach their own traditions, which are cisterns that can hold no water and bags that are empty and full of holes! Oh, that men might know that before all things stands God, infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, and omnipotent! He who cannot understand that such a God and Lord as He is completely incapable of errors, mistakes, and blunders knows nothing of God nor understands any of his ways. And yet I tell you plainly that the childish notion that Satan by his cunning foiled God’s plan in the Garden of Eden is preached in assemblies, taught in schools, and religiously believed by preacher, priest, and people alike. Abandon such inconsistent blasphemy now. Could He who is omnipresent be absent that Satan should thwart His purpose? Can He who is all-wise be guilty of foolishness? Shall He who is almighty be charged with weakness? Oh that all men everywhere would awaken to see that before all things stands God, directing His eternal purpose ceaselessly after the counsel of His will! Oh, that men might see the plan of the ages. Preachers are forever preaching about the fall of man, but they never see the plan of the fall nor the purpose of the fall. They speak with fervor of the plan of redemption without seeing that the plan of redemption was but part and parcel of the plan of the ages. Seeing these things as we do in the light of tradition, we make God to be such a one as ourselves, full of blunders, prone to error, and subject to mistakes. When will our hearts rejoice in the confidence that “in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?” (Col. 2:3)
Therefore when Paul wrote, “When the fullness of time was come. God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”, he showed us three blessed parts of God’s plan. First, there was an appointed time for the incarnation (the enfleshment) of the pre-existent Son of God. Second, the Son of God thus sent into the world to be born of a woman was that same only begotten Son whom Ezekiel saw come from the bosom of God Himself in the very heart of eternity, the pre-existent Son, the only begotten of the Father. Thirdly, the passage shows that the great purpose of His coming was that we who are redeemed might receive adoption.
It should not be necessary here to speak of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. That fact is familiar to us all. But, when the Son of God, equal to the Father in all the attributes of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, holiness, power, and every divine essence, came forth from God to enter this world through the womb of Mary, He divested Himself of the glory, laid it aside, and made Himself of no reputation that He might become a man in the fullest sense of the word. “He stripped Himself of His glory, and took on Him the nature of a bond-servant by becoming a man like other men, and, being recognized as truly human. He humbled Himself and even stooped to die, and that to a death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:6, 7) (Weymouth)
It may stagger your imagination to hear what I now say, but, once you see the truth, you will be mightily helped by it. The cross of Calvary was not all the cross that Jesus was called upon to suffer. His whole life from Bethlehem to Calvary was not all the death He suffered. Jesus partook of death and entered into death the moment He laid aside His glory and entered into Mary’s womb to be formed as a man. His entire life from the cradle of Bethlehem to the cross of Calvary was death, death, death, and cross, cross, cross. Calvary was but the termination of both death and the cross. For this very reason, facing the cross, He prayed, saying, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, 0 Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory I had with Thee before the world was.” (John 17:4, 5) When Jesus left His home beyond the skies, He laid aside all His glory. He laid aside even His pre-existent life, the life of the ages, that He might taste all the fullness of death, a lifetime of death, even as we also are called upon to do.
It will be a great blessing to your heart to understand that the life you now live in the body and which all men now live is not life at all, but death. When men are placed in a coffin and buried in the ground, we say they are dead, and, indeed, they are dead, but the real truth is that the existence here on earth which we call life is, in fact, death. We experience death from the cradle to the grave and the grave is but the termination of that death. God was deceiving no one when He said to Adam, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Adam did not wait nine hundred and sixty years to die. He entered death right there, and the grave in which he sleeps is but a climax of that death. It is small wonder that so few people can understand the second death since practically none understands the first death. This whole life we live in the flesh is death. Paul called our physical bodies the body of this death. Rom. 7:24. And he wrote saying, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead, while she liveth,” 1 Tim. 5:6. Again, “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. 0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory?” I Cor. 15:53-55. Two questions are here – 0 death and 0 grave – and the answer to them both is the resurrection unto life through Christ. How blessed is the Lord our Savior that He partook of our death in all its fullness, abiding for thirty-three years in its power, that we might be made partakers with Him of the life of the ages! Blessed be the name of the Lord!
If the reader will earnestly consider the truth I have stated in saying that the life we now live in the body is in reality not life at all, but death, then his whole attitude to all that surrounds him will be instantly changed. He will cease to lay hold on this present transient thing we call life, knowing that it is as a mist that the wind drives away. It is as the grass that is green in the field today and tomorrow is withered with the heat of the summer. He will know that riches corrupt, garments are eaten by moths, youth fades away and every pleasure that earth offers is nothing but vanity. And I will say further that, once he sees that his present existence is not life, but death, his whole attitude to the things he suffers will immediately change, for he will have learned that tribulation, suffering, bereavement, disappointment, pain, misunderstanding, and every distress are blessings sent forth from the loving hand of the Father in heaven to bring about in him the perfection of full sonship.
When Jesus came to this world. He laid aside His pre-existent life and became obedient unto death, thirty-three years of it, the cross of Calvary included. He became a man in the fullest sense of the word, and, because He did, as a man – not as God – had to be perfected by the things He suffered. “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation (Jesus Christ) perfect through sufferings.” (Heb. 22:10) If you have wondered why Jesus, who was God manifested in the flesh, should need to be perfected, you must remember that it was as a man that He was perfected through suffering that He might become the first perfect man in the image of God as God had planned when He said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” God the Father did not save this captain of salvation from any affliction or suffering known to men that He might both save us and lead us to the glory of full sonship in Him.
Seeing the vast benefits of suffering as a pathway to our sonship, we can better understand why Paul wrote, saying, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10) You and I together will also take pleasure in all suffering and affliction when we will clearly understand that every stormy blast and every sting of pain and affliction is a stepping stone to our blessed sonship in Him. As it is written, “He that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” (1 Pet. 4:1)
Now as this article is being written to show how God’s delight is in His sons, I have pointed out that Jesus was a true man, subject to all the sinless infirmities of the human nature that He, being made a perfect man through suffering, might show us the path and lead us to perfection and full sonship in Him. Paul, writing to the Galatians, clearly showed the purpose for which God sent forth His own Son in these words: “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal. 4:4, 5) The great truth of adoption is not understood properly at all. Very seldom do we ever hear even a feeble explanation of its profound truth. To those of us who live in the western hemisphere adoption means something entirely different from the meaning it has in the eastern hemisphere. The eastern meaning is, of course, the Bible meaning. When we in the west speak of adoption, we think of an orphan or a homeless child being adopted by benevolent foster parents. But this is not the Bible meaning nor the meaning understood by eastern people. In Israel and in the near East adoption is a public ceremony in which a young man who had proved his responsibility and faithfulness was proclaimed as a son. This ceremony is called adoption.
At the ceremony of adoption, with friends, neighbors, and relatives present, the father publicly proclaimed his hitherto adolescent boy as his son. This proclamation gave the son certain privileges not enjoyed by him before this time. These privileges are very important and will teach us much if we think upon them. First, the son at the adoption ceremony was given the right to use his father’s name. He could buy or sell or do business in his father’s name. In short, he had the power of attorney. Secondly, at the adoption ceremony the son was given his inheritance, and thus was able to use the wealth that his father had provided for him. It was his from then on and he needed not to ask any questions about its distribution. Thirdly, at the adoption ceremony the son was given equality with the father.
In consideration of these facts which I have briefly stated, it should be easy to understand the reason for so much failure among us. Men and women are forever trying to use the name of Jesus who have absolutely no authority to do so, because they have not come to the maturity of sons and have not been proclaimed as sons by the Father. Consequently their attempts to use the name of Jesus by the power of attorney are false. They become deceivers of their own selves, pretending to be the sons of God by adoption when, because of their immaturity, God has not proclaimed them so. This we will readily see is a most serious matter and we should not use the name of Jesus so lightly before having received authority from Him.
Paul had evidently received this proclamation of adoption and had been given the authority of a son of God, at least to some degree. Thus he was able to heal the sick and cast out demons in the name of Jesus. But when the seven sons of Sceva took upon themselves to use the name of Jesus, saying, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth, …” the evil spirit answered, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped upon them and prevailed against them so that they fled naked and wounded. See Acts 19:13-16. The spirit knew Jesus and Paul because they had received the adoption as sons and had been given authority to work in the Father’s name, but these sons of Sceva and other exorcists had received no such adoption and no such authority, and so they miserably failed. How often I have seen men struggle and pray and adjure, commanding sickness and devils to depart in Jesus’ name, but nothing happened. The solution is perfectly simple. That man, no doubt, was a Christian, having every good intention, yet he had not received the privileges of adoption. The Father had not proclaimed him as a son with power. Consequently he failed. Better far it would be to spend long years in faithfulness, tuition, and fiery trial as adolescent children that God may at last call the world to witness our adoption and hear Him proclaim our full sonship and authority
I make no profession whatever of being a Greek scholar, but any good Greek-English lexicon can give us much help as to the true meaning of original words. Young’s Analytical Concordance lists three words in the Greek New Testament which clearly indicate three stages in our progression toward full sonship. These words are:
1. Teknion. This is the equivalent of our English word infant. An example of this word can be found in Matt. 18:2.
2. Teknon. This word means an adolescent or youth. An example of this word is found in 1 John 3:2 where in the King James version the reading is: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” The word sons gives the wrong understanding. We are not now the sons; we are adolescents, youths, children, and it should read, “Beloved, now are we the children of God.” So the writer goes on: “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him.” That is where full adoption or sonship begins. So let us understand this as we should, for it is very wrong for little children to imagine they have reached the adoption.
3. Huios. The Greek word Huios means a son, that is, a mature son, a son who has received the rite of adoption. An example of this word is found in Heb. 1:2, 5 where Paul says that God has spoken to us by His Son whom He hath appointed heir of all things. And again, “To which of the angels said He at any time. ‘Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee.’ “ Verse 5. If you will look closely at the life of Jesus, you will plainly see that His life and experience progressed from infancy through adolescence to full adoption, or from teknion (infancy) to teknon (youth) to huios (full sonship or adoption). There should be no story more vivid in our minds than the story of the manger of Bethlehem and of the Virgin who brought forth her baby, wrapping Him in swaddling clothes, laid Him in a manger. Here we have the appearance of the infant, the little child, the teknion, as helpless and dependent as any other baby, a baby who was to smile and gurgle and play and grow like all others. It is true He came from God, but He as all other true men must pass from infancy through youth to sonship. When Jesus reached the age of twelve years. He was no longer a baby, but had come to the time of adolescence. He was a youth now and could properly be described by the Greek word teknon, and thus as a boy maturing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man He was found in the temple, sitting among the learned doctors, the lawyers and priests, both hearing them and asking them questions; and all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. When His mother said, “Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us?” the word is teknon, signifying a child, (so it is translated by Rotherham, Weymouth, Diaglott, and others), not huios, a mature son. And Jesus, being fully aware of His youth, remained subject to His parents and returned with them to Nazareth. Compare Luke 2:41-52.
The years in the life of Jesus between the ages of twelve and thirty are often called the silent years. During that time we read nothing of Him, but there is no doubt that He continued holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, increasing in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. But at last the long awaited day arrived, the day for which even Jesus must often have groaned as He with all creation longed for adoption, the day when He would receive full sonship and be publicly proclaimed as the Son of God.
John the Baptist, full of the Holy Spirit from birth, was heralding the kingdom message across the land. “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he proclaimed, while whole cities and towns emptied themselves of their inhabitants and departed to the wilderness to hear John’s message and to be baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance,” shouted John, “but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the gamer; but He will bum the chaff with unquenchable fire. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straight way out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him. And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3)
This, my beloved friends, was the hour of adoption. This was the public ceremony at which the eternal Father openly proclaimed Jesus as His huios, His beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased. (Matt. 3:17) And John, bearing witness of these things, said, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me. Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record, that this is the Son of God (the huios).” (John 1:32-34) Up to this time the Bible gives no record of any miracle or sign or wonder performed by Jesus, but now, as He stood in Jordan fulfilling all things required in sons, His Father publicly proclaimed Him as “My beloved Son”. And with that proclamation came all the authority sons receive at the ceremony of adoption – the right to use the Father’s name, the right to use the limitless resources of the wealth of Him who is all in all. Jesus was only speaking truth when He said, “All power in heaven and earth is given unto Me.” That is what adoption means. That is what adoption is for. This is a fact of adoption and full sonship. Thus from His adoption in the waters of Jordan He went forth in full sonship, no longer an infant at the breast, no more a youth, but a beloved Son, equal to His Father in authority, riches, and power.
We may not spend time here rehearsing the events of His remarkable ministry, telling in detail of the display of authority and power that were truly His by His rite of adoption, but we will say with utmost confidence that He manifested the God-given authority of His adoption in all things. Nothing was His master, yet He moved so completely in the mind of His Father that He was able to say, “I do only those things which I have seen of My Father, and I do always those things that please Him.” Thus this blessed Son was master of every sickness, every demon, and every disease. Death fled before His word. Stormy winds fulfilled His word. Raging seas whimpered like babes and fell asleep at His command; and even those who came to arrest Him and lead Him off to judgment sprawled helplessly on their backs at His simple question, “Whom seek ye?” (John 18:4-6) When He stood before the cross, power was in His word to call to His side twelve legions of angels, but this He would not do that the scripture might be fulfilled.
I am sure the reader has often noticed how John in his epistle leads our minds through the three stages of experience – little children, young men, and fathers. “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12) “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.” (1 John 2:13) “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning.” (1 John 2:14) Little children, teknion; young men, teknon; fathers, mature sons, equal with the father by adoption, huios. You may always recognize little children because of their great interest and excitement over the things they can receive, forgiveness of sins, gifts of the Spirit, healings, baptisms, blessings and anointings. All these things are evidences – not of mature sonship – but of spiritual childhood. You may not be pleased to hear it, but it is indisputably true that, whenever you find people curious to see signs and wonders, anxious to receive and full of excitement about the things they have received from God, then you may know immediately that they are still little children in Christ though they will certainly imagine themselves to be very mature. The real truth is they are still babes at the breast, delighting over gifts as children on Christmas morning.
Young men are prone to rejoice, not in receiving gifts, but in their strength and in the wonderful fact that through Christ they are living overcoming lives, rejoicing as a strong man to run a race amid a world of men groveling in sin. Thus it was that John wrote to them in these words: “I write unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” This is a very great advance from childhood. How precious and wonderful it is that in our day spiritual young men and young women, teknon, should be found who have overcome the world, being strong and full of the Word of God, which is Christ Himself!
Then comes the huios, the adoption. Says John, “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning.” I tell you with all sincerity, soberness, and truth that there is nothing higher in all Christian experience than knowing the Father. To become acquainted with Him and to know His ways, being filled with His mind, His will and understanding, is the highest of all Christian experience. No man can ever receive the adoption until he comes to know the Father. None can receive the adoption until God’s will consumes his own and God’s mind is his mind. Disaster would follow at once if one could receive the rite of adoption who was still bedevilled with a carnal mind. So, John wrote to these mature sons whom here he calls fathers, saying, “I have written unto you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.”
How precious and dear to the heart of God is full sonship! That which Ezekiel saw in his vision was the very genesis of sonship as from the fire, the brightness, and the whirlwind the Son of God came forth. And so delighted was the Father in that Son that He proclaimed the edict, “Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness, and let Us give him dominion.” So this Son of God from eternity became the Son of man, and, being proclaimed at the river Jordan as “My beloved Son,” He became the captain and has led the way whereby we who were the sons of men could be proclaimed the sons of God. Oh Lord God omnipotent! How wonderful are Thy purposes and Thy ways past finding out!
Even while I write, all who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan within themselves while we wait for the adoption in Him. Though we have not yet received the adoption, we have already received the Spirit of adoption. Therefore our spirits loudly cry, “Abba, Father.” “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children (teknon) of God; 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.” (Rom. 8:17)
Abba, Father! the Spirit of sonship cries.
‘Tis deep calling unto deep.
Far, far beyond the scope of natural man lies
The sons’ great eternal realms.
Naught but the spirit of sonship can take the veil away.
Naught but deep calling unto deep will bring in God’s new day.
Night and day must the cry go forth from deep down within,
Cleansing, purifying, changing till I’m fashioned just like Him.
Then in all His glorious fullness I shall come.
Deep will call to deep, “Abba, Father, I am Thy son.”
Father! I am Thy son!
Mrs. Frances Quantz.
Hear now in conclusion these illuminating words from Romans 8:18-30. Phillips translation.
“In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited – yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God!
“It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present all created life groans in a sort of universal travail. And it is plain, too, that we who have a foretaste of the Spirit are in a state of painful tension, while we wait for that redemption of our bodies which will mean that at last we have realized our full sonship in Him. We were saved by this hope, but in our moments of impatience let us remember that hope always means waiting for something we haven’t yet got. But if we hope for something we cannot see, then we must settle down to wait for it in patience.
“The Spirit of God not only maintains this hope within us, but helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily as sons of God, but His Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which never find words. And God who knows the heart’s secrets understands, of course, the Spirit’s intention as He prays for those who love God.
“Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to His plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. God, in His foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of His Son, that He might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came He called them, He made them righteous in His sight, and then lifted them to the splendor of life as His own sons.”
TREASURES OF TRUTH, Volume 1, God’s Great Family of Sons [George R. Hawtin] ~ BOOK 1