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Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 7

Sonship - Essentially and Exclusively of God (continued)

Now, God is going to be very true to that principle and position, and we will discover that a life in the Spirit, which is the life of sonship, cannot be a life in the flesh, cannot be a life out of nature and nature's springs. A life in the Spirit, which is the life of sonship, has continuously behind it the realization that we cannot live save out from God, that we draw our very life from Him every day. The more we go on with God, which means the more we live in the Spirit, and the more spiritual growth and maturity takes place in us, the deeper will be our consciousness of utter dependence upon God for our life, and for everything in the realm of our relationship with Him. Self-resource, self-strength, self-confidence, self-ability, self-wisdom, self-esteem, self-reputation, will be steadily undermined and sapped and drained by the Spirit of God, and we shall come more and more to the place where we know that it is not in us to be Christians, not in us to live a life in the Spirit, not in us to go on with God. It must all come right out from Himself. Sonship is the most dependent thing of which you can have any conception. He said of Himself, in words perhaps all too familiar to us; "The Son can do nothing out from himself" (John 5:19). Again, "I can of myself do nothing ... because I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 5:30). The Apostle, in the spirit of a true son, will say, "I know nothing by myself ..." (1 Corinthians 4:4). "We have this treasure in vessels of fragile clay, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not of ourselves" (2 Corinthians 4:7). "Who is sufficient for these things? ... our sufficiency is of God" (2 Corinthians 2:16, 3:5). Now, that is sonship, and that means living continually on the ground of resurrection.

Sonship - Based on Resurrection

And so we come to Romans 1:4: "... declared to be the Son of God in power ... by the resurrection of the dead" - sonship based upon resurrection. That is wholly of God, only of God. The Lord Jesus, in putting the truth of sonship into operation, said and did several things which are full of significance in the light of what we are saying. You remember in those early chapters in John how He said, "The hour cometh, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son ... and ... shall live" (John 5:25). Why? "As the Father raiseth he dead, and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom he will" (John 5:21). This relationship with God in terms of sonship means that by dependence upon God, by a life in God, a life in the Spirit, that which is God's sole and exclusive prerogative of raising the dead becomes an actual fact in the sphere of sonship. The Son becomes the sphere in which the Father's power and right of resurrection operates. But, while that is true, that resurrection life is working through the Son from the Father, the Son is still saying in the very same parts of the Word, "The Son can do nothing out from himself, but what he seeth the Father doing" (John 5:19). That is in the early part of John.

You get well on in John and you have the case of Lazarus, and Lazarus is taken up, as you know by the introduction to the incident, with one object. The Lord Jesus states the object of Lazarus' sickness and death. "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified" (John 11:4). And so Lazarus is not healed. The Lord Jesus does not come to the home in Bethany as the doctor to give a remedy, and to recover Lazarus. He stays away deliberately until Lazarus is not only beyond hope in this life, but is beyond this life itself, and then, when the Lord Jesus knows that he is dead, He says, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth". The disciples misunderstood and thought He meant that he was having a sleep: so Jesus said plainly, "Lazarus is dead". Then, when He knew in His spirit that Lazarus was gone, He came to Bethany. He was acting out now what He had said before, and the thing which governs the action is "that the Son may be glorified". Then John sums up the whole of that Gospel in the words of chapter 20:31: "These things are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." The whole of John's Gospel is written with that object in view.

Now John has written the statement which we have about the Son raising the dead by His relationship and life in the Father, and dependence upon the Father, and John too has written about Lazarus; and he says, I have written all these things and all the other things with one point in view, namely, "that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God". Sonship is all the time on this basis of resurrection.

What was true in the case of the Lord Jesus is true of the spirit of sonship, wherever that spirit is found. Turning to Galatians again, the Apostle says, "Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6). We are sons. But how many of the Lord's people are willing to live on that basis? How many there are who want to have it in themselves; the strength, the wisdom, the ability, the efficiency; everything in themselves, not a life of utter dependence and daily resurrection. "When the Son of man cometh, shall he, find the faith ..."? You see the point - something which is exclusively of God; and God takes pains to undercut every tendency and inclination to have it in ourselves, because that is the way in which at the first this very purpose of God in sonship was set aside.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - "The Law of Faith and Dependence")

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