"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!" (I John 3: 1)
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.'" Here is God, the procreator, God the Father. This marks a clear change in the creation story. Although God clearly authored the plants and animals, the water and dry land, the day and night and all the heavenly bodies, He fathered Adam and Eve. He intentionally put into them the likeness of Himself.
In the beginning, Adam was created as a son. That was how Adam knew God - as the One Who gave him Life, the One Who fathered him. In the beginning, Adam had a home with Father, and they lived in perfect communion and relationship. But Adam broke that communion. In that moment, he forfeited a birthright that included dominion over the earth and intimate fellowship with God. He was still born of God, but no longer existed in a relationship of sonship. The likeness he bore to his Father began to be eroded and covered over by sin.
But Father could not bear the loss of His children, and so He planned for our redemption. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will. (Eph. 1: 4b- 5) Your identity and relationship as a son or daughter of God is the primary component of redemption. The whole point of the cross was to restore the sons of Adam to the truth of their design as the sons of God.
God's affection for us has absolutely nothing to do with anything we deserve or earn. We cannot make Him love us more than He already does. Love is what springs from One who designed and labored over our lives, breathing His own life's breath into our bodies. Love is what pours from One who is delighted with us, truly overjoyed to be our father. And love is what causes Him to watch over us with tenderness and compassion and fierce protectiveness. This is the heart of Father. This is love. (e.g., Deut. 10: 15 (KJV); Micah 7: 18- 19; Jer. 31: 3; Zeph. 3: 17)
In the same way that a husband and wife long to create a child that is born of their love and of their union, God longed to create you. You are the beloved of God, created to be His son, His child. You were created for God's pleasure; your very existence delights Him. He wants to live in intimate relationship and partnership with you. That is our ultimate destiny and our true identity.
One of the best summaries of how Father feels about you as His child is the Father's Love Letter, written by Barry Adams of Father Heart Communications). Click here to read it.
Jesus exemplifies life as a son.
When we come into relationship with God through Jesus' death and resurrection, we receive the Spirit of Sonship. He causes us to be sons by adopting us. As sons, we inherit the life of the Son, the identity of sons, and the ministry of the Son. As the ultimate Son, Jesus teaches us how to walk in these things.
1. Affection, intimacy, & confiding Luke 3: 22 John 5: 20; 15: 9 NAS
Long before any issue of obedience or sacrifice, Father loved His Son, and Jesus loved His Father. All of Jesus' obedience flowed from His love for His Father. All that He suffered, all that He risked, all that He gave up was because He was rooted and grounded in that love. This is the kind of relationship that results in bear hugs and kisses, not handshakes. (Eph. 3: 17-19, AB)
As you come into the love of Jesus for you, you come into the love of the Father and the heart of the Son. Salvation was meant to be a joyous, deeply emotional event. Your adoption isn't a business offer or some obligatory transaction, but one born purely of love and longing.
Love and intimacy lead to confiding in, sharing secrets and information. (John 5: 20) Understanding that with your heart (not just head) produces the behavior of affection:
2. Imitation: "You're just like your father" (John 5: 19; 1: 18 AB. Luke 6: 35-36, AB) We are called into intimate sonship where we really come to know Father - what He thinks and feels about things. And then, the expectation is that as sons who bear His name, we would accurately reflect that to the world.
3. The family name (John 17: 11-12; Phil. 2: 9-11 NAS)
Loyalty to the family name is a form of loyalty to the family. Father (Yahweh) gave Jesus His own Name (Jesus means "Yahweh saves") with the expectation that Jesus would do everything possible to preserve its honor. We have been given Jesus' title: "Christians", or "little Christs". We need to guard the reputation of the family name by not engaging in behaviors and attitudes that would dishonor it.
4. Loyalty and Responsibility 1 John 4: 20-21; Col. 3: 15-16
What are the differences between being a son in a family and being the friend of the son who is present as a guest in the home? Both may benefit from the family's resources, but the two boys differ in their responsibility to the family. The friend has a duty to be polite, grateful for the provision and kindness, and respectful of the host family's rules while in their home. But the son's responsibilities go far beyond that. He is expected to participate in the life of the family, to help take care of its members, to guard its reputation.
We don't need for God to prove His love for us; he has, at the cross." (pg. 174, The Journey of Desire) And yet, over and over again, we weak-hearted sons find ourselves willing to entertain the questions, "Does God love me? Is God good? Can Father be trusted?" Those questions are never appropriate for sons. (The Fatherhood of God and the Sonship of Man)
One of the most basic behaviors of sonship is to continue to engage in the very thing that made us sons to begin with: faith, particularly in the character of Father and of Jesus.
Deut. 1: 26-27 contains one of the clearest descriptions of faithlessness in the entire Bible. After being rescued from Egyptian slavery and receiving God's repeated miraculous provision in route to the promised land (e.g., manna from heaven, water from a rock, safety from enemies), Israel loses its collective mind. "In spite of this," - against all evidence of Father's tender affection and commitment to them, Israel renders this accusation: "The LORD hates us." (Deut. 1: 30-32)
6. Openness to instruction: "Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]." Rev. 3: 19, AB
"Have you completely forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure correction for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not thus train and correct and discipline? Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all of God's children share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons at all." (Hebrews 12: 5-11, AB)
Sonship and warfare
Why did Herod try to kill Jesus as a baby? Ultimately, It was because of Jesus' sonship. He is Father's son and sons inherit their fathers' thrones and kingdoms. A king had been born and Herod felt threatened by that.
What was the Pharisees' primary complaint against Jesus (i.e., what got Him killed)? His claim to be the son of God. They could tolerate all the other things Jesus did - the miracles, the healings and deliverances and raising of the dead. But they could not stomach Jesus' claim to be God's son.
What one thing did God publicly address with Jesus at His baptism? The issue of sonship. Out of all the things Father could have addressed (and there are many), He chose this one thing: "You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."
This was important for many reasons, but among them was the fact that Jesus was about to face his enemy in the wilderness. What was Satan testing when he harassed Jesus during His 40 day fast in the wilderness? Sonship. The first two tests begin with the phrase, "if you are the son of God". The third tests Jesus knowledge of His inheritance as a son.
One of Satan's primary goals is to prevent sonship. He does this a variety of ways, chief of which is to try to kill us before we can come to relationship with God. It is no accident that children are abused and aborted in record numbers. It was the strategy he tried to use on Jesus through Herod's insecurity.
If Satan fails in preventing sonship, then the goal is to confuse or hide the meaning of sonship. If he fails in that, then he spends the rest of eternity knowing that you are dangerous to him. He regards you as an enemy and is pledged to rob, kill and destroy whatever of your life he can.
Being a son of God means that the battle will be brought to your door. Warfare occurs because of who you are. You cannot stop that. You can, however, win the war. But only if you fight.
Note: some of the content of this teaching was taken from The Fatherhood of God and the Sonship of Man. (see publications page for details)