- Understand your identity, purpose, and your inheritance as a child of God
- Understand what the cross actually accomplished
- Understand the purpose of the church
Seated With Him and Our Global View
Getting ready to board a plane for a business trip in New York, I grabbed my luggage and proceeded to walk through the terminal. Taking my seat, I loaded up my carry on, tilted back, and glanced out the window. As the plane took off the run-away, my view began to drastically change. The higher the plane went in elevation the broader my view became until I began to see across counties, states, farms, fields, mountains, and rivers. The clouds, previously looking like cotton balls in the sky and distant, were now massive and within arm’s length. Lakes looked like mud puddles and trees like blades of grass as I began to see the entire landscape and how each feature was connected on a larger scale. In that moment, as I sat in my seat, the truth of my position with Christ, actually being seated with Him in heavenly places, took hold of me. I realized this was not some abstract concept, but an experiential reality meant to be embraced.
This high and eternal position with Him, coupled with scripture, uniquely enables us to have an elevated and wide angled perspective of the past, present, and future activities in and on the earth. It lends us the privilege of seeing the entire landscape of the Father’s purpose for all mankind. By obtaining such a perspective, we are able to learn how who we are and what we do contributes and connects to the greater scope of the Father. Our perspective changes from our own individual desires to His all-encompassing eternal plans.
Like a microscope, we often focus and concentrate our energy on one specific verse, subject, or truth, while blocking out the greater context by which it is applied. While at various times the Spirit of Lord will illuminate specific truths to us, we can often lose sight of how their all connected on a global scale. Like a puzzle, it’s often difficult to see the big picture by which the individual puzzle pieces are forming, but when the end is near and the last few puzzle pieces are being put in, you are able to see the complete picture easier. Have you ever wondered:
- Why did Jesus come to earth?
- Why a cross and what did it really accomplish?
- Why did our sin have to be removed?
- Why does God give us who believe the Holy Spirit?
- Why was man made?
The Heart Of The Matter, Is A Matter Of The Heart
The big picture starts with the Fatherhood of God. The essence of the heart of God is Father. A spiritual, heavenly, loving, and eternal Father. He is the Father of all spirits both in heaven and on the earth, the Father of all creation, and the Father of lights. His ultimate intention is to relate to us as mature sons and daughters and by doing so, provide us an opportunity to be a part of His family and partakers of what He has (an inheritance – more on this later). By natural circumstances, one comes into a family through one of three ways:
- Birth (as a son or daughter) or,
- Adoption (as a son or daughter) or,
- Marriage (by becoming a husband or wife)
The Trinity desires that we enter their family by birth (through the Spirit), adoption (by the Father), and marriage (as a Bride to the Son). In this teaching however we will primarily explore our relation to Him as sons.
He purposed our sonship within Himself before time began. Time, having a beginning and an ending, came on the scene during creation at the same time as space and matter. In the beginning (time), God created the Heavens and the earth (space and matter). The Lord used these three building blocks to construct the foundation (or the basis) of the world. Like space and matter, time is a creation of the Father also used to interject His will into our realm at various times. God dwells in eternity and is therefore ageless. The author of Hebrews alluded to this truth when he described the intercessional function of Christ as eternal (without beginning or ending) and compared it to the priestly order of Melchizekek, the King of Salem and priest of El Elyon (“God most High”), who also did not have a written genealogy of birth and death (beginning and ending).
This earthly temporal order was a mere shadow of the heavenly eternal one. Eternity is not by definition a really long time. It is that it is outside of time completely. Like someone submersing their hand into a bowl full of water, when Jesus Christ came, being an extension of the Father and from a place of eternity, fully submersed Himself into our realm. While on earth, Jesus lived and functioned both in eternity and time at the same time. This is why, for example, in the Garden of Gethsemane He was able to say that the work the Father had given Him was finished, even though He had not been to the cross or had been resurrected yet:
“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. -John 17:4
The Barrier To Sonship
Ok, so we have established so far that the Father’s overarching purpose and plan is to obtain sons and daughters and that this plan was predetermined before time (before the foundation of the world). When the sin barrier entered into the world, it caused all born through Adam (mankind) to be cut off from the commonwealth of Heaven and become orphans (without a Father) and widows (without a Husband). The sin barrier blocked us from receiving the Father’s inheritance and to share in His glory and intimacy. This is the reason why James says true and pure religion before the Father is to watch over orphans and widows because it is the very heart of God toward His family and the heart of the Son toward His bride:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world – James 1:27
As a side note, religion, when expressed from a position of liberty in Christ, is not negative. Otherwise, James would not have mentioned it in a positive light twice in the same chapter (James 1:25-27).
The Holiness of God
Sin can only be understood in light of God’s holiness. God is perfectly perfect. The nature of God is nothing less than pure holiness and righteousness. It is a holiness which is unfathomable to the human mind and will always remain a mystery. He always has and always will be, without flaw, without blame, and without wrong both within and among Himself (the Godhead). Because the Father’s heart is sonship, this nature of holiness and righteousness must also be inside of us in order to be in His family. We must be perfect in our nature as He is perfect.
In the natural, a son cannot be a son unless he has the nature (seed) of a father. The inward essence of the Father is holiness, and it is His desire to impart this to us in order that we may become His sons. The problem was that God’s holiness and sin cannot co-exist inside of us and therefore was a barrier to receiving His nature and thus our sonship. Like oil and water, they cannot be integrated in the same vessel.
Because God cannot have offspring (sons) with a nature contrary to His own, before sin even entered into the human race through Adam, God made provision to take it away:
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. – Revelation 13:8
Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, God revealed His plan (the gospel) to remove the sin barrier and the authority of satan:
And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He (referring to the seed of Eve, that is, Jesus Christ) shall bruise you on the head (crushing the authority/headship of satan and sin by means of the Cross), And you shall bruise him on the heel (the nail piercings).” Genesis 3:15
He disclosed to them that the seed of the woman (Jesus) would crush sin and the one, namely satan, who influenced it on earth. Like a diamond in the depths of the earth, this plan was hidden for ages. Although satan heard this, He did not comprehend it. Had he understood it, he would have never participated in crucifying the Lord:
..we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8
The cross was not an afterthought, but a forethought in the mind and wisdom of the Father before time began designed to take away the sin barrier to sonship and to be a partaker of His holiness. Once we believe upon Jesus Christ and believe what He accomplished for us: having shed His blood and died, was buried, and resurrected to life, that the seed and holy nature of God is then imparted into us:
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. – 2 Peter 1:4
This holy nature of God is given to us for the very purpose of becoming sons and daughters in His family. When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, our spirit is made alive again through the new birth from the seed (nature) of God which is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit. This was the primary purpose of the cross and the complete remission of our sins.
Let’s recap so far
We have covered quite a bit of ground so far. We have learned that the Father desires sons, but requires that we have His nature of holiness in us in order to become one. We learned that the barrier to us receiving His nature and holiness was sin, but He made provision to remove it from our lives before time even began. We become a son of the Father and are transferred into His family and kingdom when we are born again by believing Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected to life again. Let’s explore now our inheritance (or birthrights) as sons and the plan the Father has for us moving forward.
A Son Is An Heir
Once we become sons, we are heirs and are immediately able to partake of our inheritance:
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. – Romans 8:17
If we view our inheritance from the wrong frame of reference using a worldly perspective, we can completely misunderstand what the Lord desires for us to appropriate.
What our inheritance is NOT:
A one time, single event. Unlike under natural circumstances where an inheritance is typically given at once, in the family of God it is an ongoing release of His promises in our lives over time. As sons we have all received part of our inheritance already by receiving the Holy Spirit Himself. By experiencing Him, we experience a small portion of our inheritance and a taste of what it will be like in future glory.
Like receiving an earthly inheritance. We can’t assume because we are “King’s kids” it implies we are immediately privileged to obtain earthly wealth. Paul instructed against this way of thinking:
and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8
While the Lord is gracious and often blesses us beyond our needs, the riches of our inheritance in the Kingdom is far superior to earthly riches and should be our primary source of enjoyment.
What our inheritance IS:
The ‘Land’ Of The Father:
“I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, and an heir of My mountains from Judah; Even My chosen ones shall inherit it, And My servants will dwell there. – Isaiah 65:9
This prophetic message given by Isaiah from God is describing the inheritance of His offspring (His sons). It is described not as a physical plot of land on the earth (as it was the case with the land of promise to the children of Israel), but a spiritual land from Heaven (mountains from Judah). Notice the prophecy states that it is only the offspring (spiritual seed) of Jacob which inherit it.
What’s in the land?
Built on the mountains of Judah were Jerusalem and the temple of God. The land of our inheritance is the kingdom of Christ (mountains of Judah), the heavenly Jerusalem, and the temple (dwelling place) of God Himself. This is not a land flowing with milk and honey, but with grace and righteousness. Just like mountains in the natural, this land is intended to be explored, experienced, and inhabited. We have the privilege of dwelling their now, but in the future, will experience it in its fullest degree and measure.
Onward and Upwards- Maturing Sons
While we have received the nature of God on the inside (our spirit) and have become children, it must be worked out and make its way to the outside (our soul and body) in order for us to become mature sons:
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, …..but speaking the truth in love we are to grow up in all aspects of Him who the head, even Christ, – Ephesians 4:14-15
But like the Holy one who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; – 1 Peter 1:15
The Father is not only looking for sons, but mature sons that bear the full image (that is to say the same inner nature, character, and mindset) of Jesus Christ. That we would be, as it were, complete replicas of our elder brother Christ Jesus while at the same time keeping our own individuality and personhood:
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; – Romans 8:29
This full image is described as spiritual manhood. Not manhood and growth of the outer man, but of the inner:
Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16
A day is coming however when even our outer man (our physical bodies) will also be transformed into the likeness of His, ultimately causing the full man to be in conformity:
who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3:21
While our sonship is immediate, our maturity is not. In the natural, a son born from his father’s seed may be an heir to all the father has, but he is still a babe. He must grow up into a man and put away his childish behaviors and mindsets:
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11
The result of this increasing maturity of the inner man causes us to change in three primary areas:
- The way we speak- How, when, & what we say
- The way we think– Our thoughts become different through a continuous process of repentance and our perspective regarding the world around us aligns more with His
- The way we reason- A child reasons in his mind that he is the center of the universe and the world and everyone in it revolves and exists to serve all his needs and desires. A mature man on the other hand looks to the desires of the Lord and makes Him the center of their universe, and looks to ways on how he can serve in the Kingdom:
This is not a maturity which we manufacture on our own, but one which requires a partnership with the Spirit of the Lord through an ongoing process. For He gives us the motivation and desire to do what is pleasing in His sight, and as we embrace this desire, we mature. While maturity involves a work we do (for He will give to each according to their own works) it primarily rests on the shoulders of the Spirit of the Lord and the work He does inside of us. We become what we continuously behold, for the good or for the bad. But when we continuously behold (gaze upon) the Lord, the Holy Spirit changes our image (our nature, character, and mindset) to look gradually more and more like Him:
But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 3:18
Growth and maturity is not something we feel. A child cannot feel himself growing, but it becomes evident in the eyes of others around him. Likewise, we may not feel or sense that we are growing and maturing. Although mirrors are available to give us insight regarding our outer man, there is no mirror available that we can use to show us the image of our inner man. Only the Lord sees our true image and can tell if we are maturing into His likeness.
The Purpose of All Ministries
Every God designed ministry given to the church since the ascension of Jesus Christ, from a music ministry to a motorcycle ministry, has been given for one sole purpose: to mature the sons of God. On the surface it may appear that because so many various truths are circulating in the Body of Christ that we are a divided family. While error certainly exists, we can become parochialistic when we believe we have the truth while others do not and the knowledge and understanding we possess is superior. This simply reveals our ongoing need for maturity. While some ministries focus only on specific functions such as missions, music, healing, signs and wonders, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, evangelism, the prophetic, etc.), each serve their own purpose and are directed by the Spirit of the Lord to address different areas of the Body requiring attention. Like a bodybuilder who only does upper body workouts will lack growth and strength in his legs, various gifts and ministries exist to give strength to specific areas of weakness in the Body. We can think of ministries like various types of exercises and weights which target various muscle groups (members) to produce an overall healthier and stronger Body. Just like a single puzzle piece cannot see the entire image when put together, each member of the global church cannot fully see the complete image being formed but it is visible to the One putting it together, who is the Lord.
Going back to our original questions:
- Why did Jesus come to earth?
- Why a cross and what did it really accomplish?
- Why did our sin have to be removed?
- Why does God give us who believe the Holy Spirit?
- Why was man made?
Why would the Father do all of this? Why would He go to such great lengths to give us sonship, new life, His holiness and nature, redemption, and an eternal inheritance undefiled? Why liberally impart so much into us and into the Body of Christ to bring us to a state of perfection and maturity? Was it because of some deep revelation and mystery unknown to man? What was the grand purpose and motivation behind this wonderful plan?
It is extraordinarily simple and profoundly humbling. The Holy Spirit says it was according to two primary reasons:
- Because He loves us and just felt like doing it
- To simply demonstrate the riches of His grace toward us
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, (1) according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, (2) according to the riches of his grace, – Ephesians 1:5-6