Sons of God

“Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. … Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear [when it is disclosed, NEB], we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.” —I John 3:1,2

IT IS difficult for us as human beings to truly appreciate this stupendous thought: “Now ARE we the sons of God!” How can this be possible? We are imperfect, in fleshly bodies. How can we be said to be sons of Jehovah God, the Creator of the universe? More than this, the apostle said that we shall be like God. Jesus, after voluntarily giving up his earthly life as a ransom for father Adam, was raised far above angels, principalities, and powers—taking his place at the right hand of the Father. He became a divine being, like God.—Heb. 1:3; II Pet. 1:3; I Cor. 15:54

As incredible a thought as this may be, it is true. God has predetermined that there will be 144,000 individuals selected from the human race who will collectively be joined to Christ on the divine plane of existence. It is only by the grace of Jehovah that humans, and not spirit beings, have been offered this opportunity.

Of course, there never was any obligation on God’s part to offer such an opportunity to any of his sentient creation. The word grace implies doing something not demanded by justice. “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8) But there is more to it than simple grace. God has established a standard that must be met by all who will eventually receive this high reward.

Paul writes in Romans 8:29: “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.” The Greek word translated “conform” in this text means ‘to be jointly formed’, ‘fashioned alike’, ‘to be similar’. The life of Jesus supplies the pattern for us to follow. We are to become as much like him as we can. “For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps.”—I Pet. 2:21

According to Jewish custom the firstborn son was the family heir. The Apostle Paul used this arrangement to illustrate how we become receivers of glory from God. He wrote: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children 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. 8:14,16,17

Since we are already God’s sons, we shall be heirs only if we are faithful unto death—if we suffer with him, that we may be glorified together! The Greek word translated ‘heir’ means ‘to get by appointment’. The prospect of being heirs is of considerable worth—we are heirs of the kingdom promise! All heirs will receive the same nature as the Lord, they shall see God face to face, have fellowship with all the spirit beings, and be united with God’s only begotten Son, his firstborn, as joint-heirs!

The idea of the faithful receiving the kingdom is emphasized by James. He said: “Hearken my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:4) Jesus said it brings pleasure to the Heavenly Father to do this for those who serve him: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”—Luke 12:32

Who Is Selected?

The opportunity to become God’s sons is not something we choose. It is still true that “no man can come to me [Jesus] except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”(John 6:44) And what do these individuals possess that causes God to select them? Generally it is a measure of faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”—Heb. 11:6

They must be willing to acknowledge that they are sinners, have need of a savior, and that Jesus Christ is that savior. If this awareness is coupled with faith in God, circumstances may be arranged so that God’s call to become part of his heavenly family will be heard, and either accepted or rejected.

The call is stated in the Scriptures by these meaningful words: “My son give me thine heart and let thine eyes observe my ways.” (Prov. 23:26) Accepting the call is completely voluntary, and there is no punishment for those who hear but do not accept. God does not coerce anyone. We will not hear God’s call unless we possess the right heart attitude, “for if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not “—II Cor. 8:12

Another word for ‘willingness’ is ‘consecration’, and a synonym for consecration is ‘dedication’, which means ‘to set apart for a religious purpose’, or ‘devote to something sacred’. Consecration was required by Israel’s priests before they could serve God in the Tabernacle. We read “These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest’s office.”—Num. 3:3

In Romans we find another well-known ‘consecration text’, although the word itself does not appear. “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice [i.e., dedicate your life], holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1) Those who do this are said to have made a covenant by sacrifice. “Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”—Ps. 50:5

Among other definitions, Webster’s Dictionary defines sacrifice as ‘an act of offering to deity something precious, especially the killing of a victim on an altar; destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else’. What, if anything, do we surrender in favor of something else? We surrender our restitution rights to perfect human life to be offered to all Adam’s descendents in Christ’s Millennial kingdom. We gain divine life as joint-heirs with Jesus.

J.B. Phillips, in his translation of the Bible, has beautifully rendered Paul’s thought in this way: “With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him.” We do not give part of ourselves; we give all of ourselves. Then we yield ourselves to God’s transforming influences: “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”—Rom. 12:2

The Greek word translated “transform,” is metamorphoo. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word ‘metamorphosis’ as: 1) a change of physical form, structure, or substance, especially by supernatural means; 2) a marked and more or less abrupt change in the structure of an animal (as a butterfly or a frog) occurring subsequent to birth or hatching. The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is a beautiful metaphor for those who leave behind old ideas and bodies, and emerge in the glory and beauty of something new.

Paul wrote: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” (II Cor. 5:17) He also views this as a process of putting off the old and assuming the new: “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:22-24, RSV) “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”—II Cor. 4:16

It is not enough to say we will serve God. The Israelites at Sinai said they would serve him, but all too frequently they did not do so. Through their many experiences, God tested them. “The Lord your God proveth you to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 13:3) And he will prove us through our experiences to see if we are worthy of the good things he has in reservation for those who love him. Those who become joint-heirs with Christ are first called, then chosen, and must finally be found faithful.—Rev. 17:14

Our commitment to the Heavenly Father must be total. No earthly soldier can succeed unless he is fully dedicated to his cause. And so it is with all soldiers of the cross. Paul said this about his commitment: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 3:13,14

Do you want to be a son of God? Have you heard God’s call? Have you dedicated your all to God, to be dead with Christ? Have you fully sacrificed your own will and accepted God’s will? Are you laying down your life daily as a sacrifice for Christ, the truth, and the brethren? Are you searching for ways to use less time for life’s pursuits and more for heavenly things? If you can answer, Yes, to these questions, then you will eventually be awarded THE crown of life, the divine nature!

How transporting is the love of the Father that we should be called the sons of God, for when it does appear what we shall be, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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