Having looked at “The Apostolic Mission” let’s turn our attention to “The Apostolic Message.”
THE APOSTOLIC MESSAGE Sonship – Christ In You and You in Christ
“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:19-20
It is one of those transition times. Within just a few hours of betrayal, Jesus knows that He must communicate the true substance of the Gospel, give His apostles this most important revelation. He will go, but not stay away. He will not leave them (or us) as orphans. Although no longer seen by the natural eye of natural man, those who have eyes to see will know that He has returned in Spirit to abide within believers.
Jesus would be arrested, tried, crucified, buried. He would be raised from the dead by the same Spirit who would come to dwell in His people. Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also.”
Paul put it this way: “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
The foolproof mark of the authentic Christian is the presence of the Spirit of Christ within and the Holy Spirit being upon them as they are enabled and empowered by the Spirit to be His witnesses and to do what He did…
Acts 1:5,8 “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now … But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
John 14:12 ““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
Paul goes on to write:
“If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Romans 8:9)
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Of do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless you fail the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Jesus Himself said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)
“Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8)
So, the apostle must clearly communicate the foundation of Christian life, “Jesus Christ in you.” No Christ, no Christ life!
THE SEED OF CHRIST IS THE SEED OF SONSHIP
Note several phases of development from seed to fruition. First the root, then the shoot, then the fruit.
Jesus said it better, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows – how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.” (Mark 4:26-28)
Paul observed that God was causing the growth. (I Corinthians 3:6)
John, an apostle, taught that there are children, young men and fathers. Children are those whose sins are forgiven, young men are those who are strong because of the word abiding in them by which they overcome the evil one. Fathers are those who have come to know Him who was from the beginning and, in their maturity, are mentoring those who are younger in the faith. (I John 2:12-14)
It is good to be born of the Spirit, have the seed of Christ in you and your sins forgiven; better to develop the word of faith in the soil of your heart until you are strong and can overcome the evil one; best to press on to know Him who was from the beginning, knowing His heart, motivations, and purposes; passing on your wisdom and understanding to the next generation (discipleship and mentoring).
Generally speaking, there are four significant phases in the life of the developing Christian.
1. Hireling – believer understands that if he does certain things he’ll receive certain benefits.
2. Servant – believer comes to understand that he ought to serve the Lord whether or not he receives any benefits.
3. Friend – believer enters into a relational level beyond the hireling or the servant and, out of love for Christ, will do as he is asked – obedient regardless of the personal cost.
4. Sonship – believer begins to understand that the purpose of God is to reveal Himself through sons who are conformed to His image and likeness.
The apostle must bring an understanding of these phases of development and keep a vision before the people which will motivate them on in the increase of the seed of Christ in them, the seed of sonship.
“For in subjecting all things to him (man), He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subject to him. But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom
are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the Author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:8-11)
The apostle must instil in the believers the truth that Christ is in them, that they are sons, that all things have been subjected to them, and that they are being brought to glory. It is a process. The apostle must not allow the church to perish for lack of knowledge or vision (revelation). The bedrock of kingdom truth is that we are brothers of Christ, born of the same Father, and have His Spirit within us to bring us into all of our potential in Him. Paul describes the process:
“Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:1-7).
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)
He was speaking of the multiplication of sons which would come forth through His death. Just as a grain of wheat falls into the ground and a crop of wheat results, the Son was buried and a crop of sons is coming forth. After He returned to His Father, the Spirit of Adoption, the Holy Spirit of Sonship, was sent upon the disciples.
“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)
“All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)