by George R. Hawtin
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