Evidences of Divine Sonship
By Fred O. Blakely
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Cor. 13:5; cf. Col. 1:27).
The matter of our acceptance by God is the most important consideration that can confront the minds and hearts of men and women. It is made clear by Scripture that all adults who are not in right relationship to Him through Jesus Christ, His Son, are under His condemnation.
Let us, therefore, as we are urged by Scripture to do, examine ourselves, to determine our standing before the Most High and the Most Holy (II Cor. 13:5). The representations and tests on the subject contained in the Scriptures, of course, are those by which we are to make the examination.
The Relationship to Christ. As the text printed above asserts, the spiritual Presence of Christ in us is the determining factor, as regards the Father’s acceptance of us. Apart from the Son, we are “not a people,” being “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12; cf. I Pet. 2:10).
Thus, the Savior’s declaration, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3, 5). “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” He declared. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (Jn. 14:6). He that would seek to come to God “some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (Jn. 10:1).
There, thus, is but “one God, and one Mediator between God and man.” That is “the Man Jesus Christ” (I Tim. 2:5), who is also the Lord and Savior. But by and through Jesus— praise His Name!—“we have access into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” yet to be revealed and conferred upon us (Rom. 5:1-2).
Possession of the Spirit. “Because ye are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Father, Father,” as evidence of your sonship (Gal. 4:6). So is fulfilled the promise to obedient believers, recorded in Acts 2:38: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, ASV). Hence, as is elsewhere remarked, is the Spirit given to those who obey God (Acts 5:32).
“Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). That, obviously, is because God’s bestowal of the Spirit constitutes His ratification of divine sonship. From that nature of the case, Paul, when he was at Ephesus, asked the question of those who were converted under the preaching of Apollos. “Have you received the Holy Spirit since ye believed?” was his query (Acts 19:1-2).
It is common among pseudo-Pentecostals of our time to ask, “Have you received the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, since you believed?” Inasmuch as the miraculous gift of tongues is no longer extant in the church, we suggest a better question with reference to Holy Spirit possession. It is, Have you by the Spirit received increasing grace and ability to mortify the sinful flesh, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live righteously and godly since you believed? It needs to be recognized that such is the Holy Spirit’s present function in the lives of believers. As well, of course, as to give them Christ in their hearts, in a life-sanctifying measure.
Love of the Brethren. Another, and very practical, certification of Holy Spirit possession by those taking the Name of Jesus regards their attitude toward the brethren of like precious faith. We must recognize that our attitude towards the saints cannot be dissociated from our claim of love for and devotion to the Father and the Son. Hence, the command, “That he who loveth God love his brother also” (I Jn. 4:21).
John goes further on that subject. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (I Jn. 4:20). If we find it difficult to do that, we need to seek grace from God to enable us to keep His commandment.
“By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples,” said Jesus, “if ye have love one to another” (Jn. 13:35). The measure of that love which we are to have for the brethren is set forth in verse 34. It is “as I have loved you.” “Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God,” well concludes the Apostle. “For God is love” (I Jn. 4:17). “He that loveth not knoweth not God,” it is continued (v. 8).
Warfare with the World. Continual warfare with the world is also characteristic of those who have the Mind of Christ, they being spiritually identified with Him. “My kingdom is not of this world,” He said. “If it were,” He continued, “then would My servants” do as the children of this world do (Jn. 8:36). The divine kingdom is a heavenly one, and so is directly contrary to this evil world’s order, and those who rule it.
That situation places the heavenly kingdom’s citizens in conflict with the present world. “Marvel not if the world hate you,” the Master warned. “Ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (Jn. 15:18-19).
Thus, the timely observation of James: “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4). That is a circumstance that needs to be duly noted today, when many who profess to be identified with Christ are more distinguished by their love of and devotion to this world than to Christ.
Hence, John’s counsel to us: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world,” he said, “the love of the Father is not in him” (I Jn. 2:15). That is because “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (I Jn. 2:15-17). The present world is appointed by God for destruction. Due recognition of that fact should wean our hearts from devotion to it.
The Heavenly Hope. The constraining and empowering “hope of salvation” yet to come is the means by which we are saved, or sanctified from the pollutions of the world (I Th. 5:8). Possession of that hope in its sanctifying efficacy is characteristic of the genuine sonship of God. A professed relationship to the risen and glorified Christ not accompanied by that hope is substantially faulty in its nature.
Jesus, when He had completed His earthly assignment, was “received up into glory,” where He now sits enthroned at the Father’s right hand (I Tim. 3:16). It follows that those who are now spiritually united with Him are basically heavenly-minded. So are they exhorted to “seek those things which are above,” setting their affection on them, “not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-4; cf. 2:10-13).
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory,” is the promise (Col. 3:1-4; cf. I Jn. 3:2). “I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” recounts John, “for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Rev. 21:1). He then goes on to describe the blessed abode, in which the saved shall live, and worship and serve God forever.
That is the blessed and sure prospect that is set before us. It is to serve as the incentive for us to run the race that is set before us, and so to obtain the prize. Let us use the means which God has graciously provided for that purpose, and so receive the everlasting reward.