The Manifestation Of The Sons Of God
The New Testament boldly refers to the great "manner of love the father has given unto us, that we should be called the sons of God." (I John 3:1) While the emphasis is on God's love, the text pointedly tells us that, as a result of the New Covenant, it is the Christians that are now to be considered "the sons of God."
In the Old Testament, we see that the angels were referred to as "the sons of God." In the book of Job, in a very instructive series of passages, we find "there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them." (Job 1:6). The phrase "sons of God" (B'nai Elohim) is also used in conjunction with the notorious Nephilim account wherein the fallen ones (Nephilim) "came in unto the daughters of men" and mated with human women. In the reference in the book of Job, we also learn that these "sons of God" were present when the LORD created the world.
It is self evident that these fallen angels have forfeited the privilege of being referred to as the sons of God. However, there were many of the angels that did not take part in Lucifer's great rebellion and, as such, must still be considered sons of God. Indeed, in Revelation we see an angel tell John that he is of his "brethren" - an apparent reference to a spiritual kinship that speaks of a familial relationship between the redeemed human "sons of God" and the ancient "sons of God" seen in the angelic host. (Revelation 19:10; 22:9)
In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul refines our understanding of the qualifications for this blessed position when he states that "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14). It should be readily apparent that the Spirit of God leads all who will follow to the person of JESUS CHRIST. Thus, the identity of the sons of God is relational to the identity and response to the activities of the "Spirit of God."
This is a significant understanding, for in it we can see that God did not sever the sonship of the "angels that kept not their first estate" simply because they sinned in the great angelic revolt. The logic found in the reference in Romans is indicating they lost their prior standing when they refused to allow the Spirit of God to continue to "lead" them.
Throughout the New Testament, we find the concept that the actions and deeds of created beings demonstrate which Spirit their lives are manifesting. The classic example is found in the confrontation between YAHSHUA (Jesus' Hebrew name) and the unregenerate establishment priests commonly referred to as the Pharisees.
In that illustrative account, the Jewish leaders were following a 'Spirit of religion,' and it had led them astray. Seeking to repudiate Christ's emerging position in the LORD's wonderful program for the salvation of Israel, they defensively stated "Abraham is our father." (John 8:39).
This statement was clearly intended to affirm their historical standing as the seed, or children of Abraham. It was to Abraham that many key prophetic promises were made and, using the scriptures, the priesthood sought to claim that their legitimacy was derived from their relationship to Abraham. Although Jesus conceded "I know that ye are Abraham's seed," He contrasted that statement by pointing out that "ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you." (John 8:37)
The Lord then speaks about spiritual parentage as He informs the priests that "I speak that which I have seen with my father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father" (John 8:38). After Jesus firmly implies they cannot be the offspring of Abraham because they were not doing the works of Abraham (John 8:39), the confrontation narrows to the subject of spiritual lineage.
This exchange is one of the most divisive moves in Christ's earthly ministry. In this crucial interaction, Jesus cuts to the heart of the conflict, and the direction that He turns His mission leaves no doubt whatsoever that He considers the Jewish religious establishment to be of the most vile character imaginable.
Jesus bluntly informs the Judean religious leadership that their works manifest whose children they are:
"Ye are of your father the devil. And the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him, when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44).
Before this fiery denunciation is over, JESUS will have called the priestly leaders liars, murderers, and those that have used their position to lust after their own desires. The stinging repudiation was all the more egregious as the elders were categorically told by Jesus that He is, indeed, deity (John 8:58). The predictable result of this spiritual collision was an attempt at murdering Jesus of Nazareth through stoning.
What is truly amazing in this passage is how deep this truth actually runs. So-called "Christian" interpreters of every stripe have taken this passage and sought to bend it to validate their own perspective. Of course, any perspective apart from the pure truth of God is not their own, for this text itself tells that it is but a manifestation of whose child they are.
The Aryan Nations have tried to turn this passage into some bizarre biological doctrine wherein they claim Jesus was telling us the Jews are physical descendants of the devil - the so called 'serpent seed' doctrine. The Catholics have tried to show this means that God abandoned the Jews and their "church" has replaced Israel in the Lord's great plan.
The Rapture Cult has stated that Christ's program of salvation put the Jews into what they call a "parenthesis" - sort of a theological holding pattern - until all the Gentiles that are scheduled to be saved come to salvation. They then say the "church" gets "raptured" and then the Jews are back on the 'front burner' again in the final "dispensation."
The Preterist Apostasy tells us the devastation of Jerusalem in 70 AD concluded the tribulation, and that Christ has already returned. This blasphemy postulates that the "tribulation" was God was bringing about a final end of the Jewish era, and forcing the Christian church to take a path independent of its predecessor role as a Jewish sect with a post-messianic perspective.
All these doctrinal groups (and many others with variations on a theme) are in a fatal error - and as they continue to cling to their error, they are demonstrating that they are spiritually related to the unregenerate Pharisees. Jesus Christ's word are even more breathtakingly relevant right now than they were then- "He that is of God, heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God" (John 8:47).
Indeed, in one of the most ironic role reversals of all time, the overwhelming majority of what passes for Christianity is now manifesting the role of the Pharisees - in that they are refusing to hear the truth that is being told them concerning the Lord's plan for the last days and their immediate future.
As literally thousands of denominational corporations vie for commercial survival utilizing every doctrinal weapon they have to sustain their perceived standing, the truth militates against them. The convoluted mess that organized religion has become is evocative of the ominous verse that speaks of "multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision, for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision" (Joel 3:14).
The Remnant of Israel is just that: a remnant of believers that have followed the LORD's program even as He "confirm[ed] the covenant with many" (Daniel 9:27) just as He was prophesied to do. The Apostle Paul provided a second witness of Christ's epic accomplishment that "the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ..." was indeed fulfilled - thus re-affirming the promises that God made to Israel.
Yet "they are not all Israel which are of Israel" (Romans 9:6). Those that have followed God into the truth of salvation in His only begotten son Jesus Christ are no longer Jews or Gentiles - they are now the sons of God. Those sons are not in a separate construct called the "church" or the "bride" or some other term lifted out of the context of scripture. They are the Remnant of Israel - a spiritual body of believers that "doeth truth [and] cometh to the light, that his deeds may be manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:21).
Ephesians tells us "all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light." (Ephesians 5:13) This profound truth is plainly telling the reader that it is the increasing of the light, manifested in a vessel of honour, that is the catalyst for the spiritual clash that is steadily increasing in severity.
The incredible truth here is that "the sons of God" are seen "in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world...." (Philippians 2:15) As that light shines into the darkness, the darkness comprehends it not; and as the world continues to deteriorate into evil, the "sons of God" continue the process of the externalization of the powerful Spirit of God that is growing in us.
Writing early in the first century, the Apostle Paul brings the study full circle in the book of Romans. In a futurist context, we learn that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now" (Romans 8:22). This verse poignantly speaks of how all aspects of creation are under the same curse of sin.
Paul also articulates the great hope that at some point this physical bondage will be destroyed. He tells us that before that release occurs, "the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19). This statement is pointing to a time when the "sons of God" will lead the entire creation to a state of release from the spiritual decay that presently plagues the world. This "manifestation" will only occur in its fullness when Jesus Christ returns.
The Preterist pretenders would say this has already occurred, yet it is clear the creation is still in an abominable condition. The Rapturists would say this "manifestation" occurs at the so-called "rapture" - but their twisted version still has a world that "groaneth and travaileth" in the tribulation after they've managed their unscriptural evacuation.
The truth is very straightforward, and in the end times it will occur very much like it did in the time of Christ. As Jesus Christ confronted the corrupted priesthood, they became defensive of their position and standing, and progressively increased their opposition to Him. The same thing occurred in the lives of the Apostles as the power of God increased exponentially in the face of the opposition they encountered. Remember, "that which maketh manifest is light." The first century Christians ended up ministering outside of the "church" and, as they began to move supernaturally, and they loved not their lives unto the death.
The Tribulation Saints will do the same. As the Spirit of God grows in us, the darkness reacts to it. It is the light which causes the darkness to manifest itself - even when the vessel that hosts it is posing as a minister of righteousness. The wickedness in Christianity Incorporated will be exposed for all to see.
Believing themselves to be in favor with God, the "Christian" leadership is already manifesting which spirit actually empowers them. That spirit will ultimately drive the corporate church to work within the prevailing political order to facilitate the destruction of those that tell the truth.
As the world deteriorates to unheard of levels of spiritual desolation, the power that works in Jesus Christ as the head of the church will be manifested in the lives of the Remnant, and the world will hate us for it. But Jesus Christ sustains us when He says "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).
March 17, 2003 - James Lloyd
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