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God's Child-Training Program for Sonship

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1)      Jesus said:

       “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” –– Luke 18:17

2)      Just a few thoughts this morning about the significance of child–training as it applies to our own lives as ‘sons of God’ in harness.

·         Scripture teaches us that we are called to be Sons of God –– but that high calling is dependent on us responding to God’s child–training program through a spirit of humility and obedience.

·         Our ‘sonship’ is probationary and we have not yet qualified.

·         We are undergoing a training program that the Apostle Paul calls ‘adoption’.

·         Let’s look at it briefly:

Ÿ        Ephesians 1:3-6  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Ø  The word ‘predestinated’ means ordained and the sense here is that God has ordained a people to be trained up to become fully–mature sons.

Ÿ        John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Ø  The phrase “adoption of children” is the Greek huiothesia and means the placing of mature sons beside their father.

3)      This is why the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:15

Ÿ        Romans 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

·         The thought here is of ‘Sonship’ as an adopted state –– a position conferred upon one to whom it is not natural.  It is by Christ's act of grace that Christians are in such a relationship. 

·         The Jews had no such custom of adoption, but it was common to both Romans and Greeks.

·         The Hebrew nation was by calling God’s son (though the Jews who reject Christ are disinherited and damned).

·         Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ the invitation to sonship is now open to the Gentile nations. But only though adoption.

·         Among the Greeks and Romans, when a man had no son he was permitted to adopt one even though not related.  He might, if he chose, adopt one of his slaves as a son. 

·         The adopted son took the name of the father, and was in every respect regarded and treated as a son. 

·         Among the Romans there were two parts to the act of adoption: one a private arrangement between the parties, and the other a formal public declaration of the fact. 

·         It is thought by some that the former is referred to in this verse, and the latter in Romans 8:23, where the apostle speaks of "waiting for the adoption".  The servant has been adopted privately, but he is "waiting" for a formal public declaration of the fact.

·         The adopted son - no longer a slave - had the privilege of addressing his former master by the title of "father" .  This he had no right to do while a servant. 

4)      Though the Jews had no such practice of adopting a slave as a son, they did have a natural parallel practice which worked like this:

·         The noble father of a great house would sometimes submit his infant male child to the training and tutelage of a trusted household servant who was, himself, educated and noble in character.

·         Though heir-apparent, the child actually differed nothing from a servant during the long period of tutelage designed to teach him the ways, purposes, and spirit of his father. 

·         When the child attained the age of considered maturity (in Jesus' day it was the age of 30) there was held a formal coming-out celebration of "adoption" (Gr. Huiothesia).  On this appointed day, the child was presented to his father in mutual anticipation and delight to assume his full rights and privileges as a son and heir.

a)    Jesus was born a child.  There followed the hidden years of growth and maturing.  Luke 2:52.  At His baptism, His Heavenly Father "adopted" him by declaring: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" - Matthew 3:17.  The Father's pleasure came out of a joyful Father/Son relationship before Jesus began His ministry. It is not what we can do for God firstly, but what we must first learn to be, in order to then do the works of God!

b)    Through new birth in Christ a person becomes a child of God.  The child is then trained and raised under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit in the ways of the Heavenly Father to become a mature son. Eph 1:3-14. We come to maturity through obedience. Eph 4:13-15. 1 Peter 2:2. 

c)    The present Christian life is a school of the Holy Spirit - a divine training ground to raise up "sons of God" out from among the "children of God" - Romans 8:14-19.  This company is being matured and fitted to reign with God. While undergoing this "Spirit of adoption" training and raising process, the Holy Spirit witnesses that we are the children of God and we call Him "Abba" (Father through personal relationship).  Romans 8:15.  Galatians 4:6.  Mark 14:36.

d)    Jesus glorified God in manifesting His Father's nature. His Body, the Church, is called to do likewise. John 17:1-5.  2 Thess 2:14.  2 Timothy 1:9.  Hebrews 2:9-10.  2 Peter 1:2-4. To produce this maturity in us God places us in test situations in life, as He did with Adam.  The commandment is still "subdue and have dominion" (application of the Cross to the nature of sin).  Not only do we have to be victorious through the obedience of faith (which victory Christ has already won for us on the Cross), but we must be seen to be victorious through testing, as was our Great High Priest Jesus Christ in the wilderness when He overcame where Adam had failed!  Romans 6:1-6.   Galatians 2:19-21.


5)      When Does the Adoption Take Place?

·         The adoption of sons takes place at the Judgement Seat of Christ.

·         There is a separation of Christians – those who have attained to holiness through the saving of the soul receive placement of firstborn sonship status.

Ÿ        2 Corinthians 5:10-11  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Ÿ        Romans 8:13-19  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 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. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.


6)      The reward of sonship and rulership with Christ belongs to the Overcomers –– those who have learned to rule over themselves are deemed fit to rule over others.

Ÿ        Proverbs 25:28  He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

·         God’s child–training program for the adoption of sons is the essential doctrine of Paul’s Theology and finds strong emphasis in the Book of Hebrews, which is a book of warning and exhortation.

Ÿ        See Hebrews 12:1–17 (or entire chapter).


·         Chastisement in Hebrews 12:5–8 is from two Greek words which literally means child–training...

Ø  paideia (pahee-di'-ah)  education or training; disciplinary correction; chastisement, instruction, nurture.

Ø  paideuo (pahee-dyoo'-o) to train up a child, i.e. educate and discipline (by punishment); chasten(-ise), instruct, learn, teach.


·         “Bastard” in Hebrews 12:8 is the Greek word nothos which in this passage contextually refers to those who reject God’s child–training and therefore cannot be His sons.

·         In this chapter, what is in view is “Sonship” and “rulership”.  Only those who enter the race through a born–again experience can enter the adoption training program with the prize of sonship.

·         Unbelievers and unsaved are not in view here.

·         Only following the adoption can the glory be received from on high –– that divine covering which will come upon the mature character of Christ perfected in His brethren.

      Hebrews 2:10-11  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 perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren


·         Those who receive God’s fatherly training are prepared for sonship and the rights and responsibilities of the Firstborn Company.

·         Those who reject or fail to respond to God’s fatherly training are rejected for that company as they fail to qualify for sonship.

      Romans 8:18-19  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.





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