30. Aspiring to Sonship

Aspiring Meditations: 30.  Aspiring to Sonship

Matt 5:9   Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Matt 5:44,45   Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Rom 8:14   those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

In what I believe will be the last in the series, we face the fact of who we now are as Christians, a term that does not always sit very comfortably with some but which is nevertheless a very significant term – sons.

We tend to be more comfortable with John’s teaching about us being ‘children’ of God, for example, “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (Jn 1:12,13) and in his first letter, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God.” (1 Jn 3:1,2)

So if we are comfortable with ‘children’, why not so comfortable with ‘sons’? I think there are two reasons. One if I was a woman, I would prefer to be called a daughter but, as we’ll see there was a special significance to ‘sons’. The second reason, I suspect, is that of course Jesus is THE Son of God, and he is unique and we don’t want to detract from that, yet the scriptures are quite clear that by our lives we will show that we are God’s ‘sons’, His offspring with special privileges.

We see this in Paul’s writings: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Gal 4:8,7) See the significance in what he says here. He has put into us His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus and so as He lives and works through us, so we emulate THE Son and are, if you like, ‘little sons’, little replicas of Jesus, or at least that is what He is working towards (see 2 Cor 3:18). Earlier in Galatians he wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Gal 3:26,27) It was by faith we came to Christ and the other side of the coin, from the side that says he was put into us (his indwelling Holy Spirit), says we are (figuratively) put into him (baptized or immersed in him) and thus become one with him.

When he wrote to the Ephesians Paul said, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Eph 1:5), i.e. the long-term plan (from before Creation) was for salvation to mean that we were adopted into God’s family, as a result of the work of Christ on the Cross, to bring pleasure to God as His will is worked out in this way.

Now there are various scriptures that indicate that the way we live and act reveal to the world who we are, for example, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Lk 6:35) Our starter verse above says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matt 5:9) In other words, as we behave with the same nature as God – being kind, loving enemies, and doing good to them, and acting as a peacemaker (do you see how the two verses fit together?) you will be acting as a child of God, no, a son of God. So what is so significant about the son?

To answer that we have to go back into the culture of Old Testament Israel. The word ‘sons’ comes up 883 times in the Bible, most of them in the Old Testament. Observe something in respect of Noah and his family after the Flood: “So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.” (Gen 8:18) but then a little later, “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1) The whole family was saved but it was Noah and his three sons that God blessed? Why? Well look right the way through a concordance of the Old Testament and you see that it is the sons who hold and convey the family name, even as it is mostly today. Why? I can only make suggestions.

Childbirth, I suggest, is the most demeaned human activity when it comes to ideology. To say men and women are equal is often a meaningless comment. Yes, I believe at work there are still centuries of the world’s understanding to be overcome, so there should be equal pay for doing the same job, but a much more meaningful description of the sexes is simply to say we are different, and THE difference is that a woman bears children and then has the heart to raise them. Yes, I applaud men who share in that, but I observe the heart of my wife as she refers to our three children. They came out of her body and nothing can diminish that. She has a feeling, an understanding of them, if you like, that I cannot possibly have because she carried them, she birthed them, she weaned them and I did none of those things, and historically no man can ever do those things and if in our foolish world today we lose that, we are simply showing our folly.

But this is only one side of the coin but I’m afraid it needs saying in this world of distorted truths. The other side of the coin historically is, very simply, that while the wife was doing those three things, the man was out making a name for himself and making provision for the family. It has nothing to do with inequality but simply to do with giving the man status to earn in the world in order to provide for his family. So the follow-on from that is from pre-teenage years (age 12) the son was recognized for what he was to become – the earner – and thus followed in his father’s footsteps in work or business, so that he too could become established as the earner once his own father got too old to work or died. (It was Jesse’s sons who looked after the sheep and went out to war and it was Jacob’s sons who looked after his flocks – with the exception of spoilt Joseph).

Now here is the point, when we are called the bride of Christ (and that includes us men) that refers to the preparation of the present body of Christ (the church) for the return of Jesus. When we are called ‘sons of God’ it is to emphasise the life we have been called to, continuing the Father’s business and also recognising that one day there is an inheritance yet to be received in heaven. Present responsibilities and opportunities serving the Father, and a future hope of a glorious eternity with Him, that is what this is about.

But it is all about understanding (remember, seeing the ‘significance’ of it), and taking hold of it, appropriating it. Aspiring to all these various things in this series is an expression of being a son of God, wanting to enter into the fullness of the life or inheritance that is ours, towards more and more living out all those things, including growing into maturity and more fully being available to serve Him – following in the Father’s business, bringing about the kingdom of God on earth. May we each move more and more into the fulfillment of this aspect of our life with the Lord. Amen.

40. Greatest Assurance

Meditations in Romans : 40:  Greatest Assurance

Rom 8:28   And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I always believe that this verse has got to be one of THE most assuring verses of the New Testament. First of all, let’s note that it flows on in Paul’s mind from all that he has been saying and hence it starts with a link word, “And”.  The flow of Paul’s argument goes right back to when he was speaking about us being sons of God (v.14) and therefore heirs (v.17) as long as we take the sufferings as well as the glory (v.17). Having mentioned suffering he contrasted it with the wonder of what is coming (v.18), noting that the world is groaning and waiting for us to be revealed as God’s sons (v.19-22). We too groan inwardly as we wait for the time when we will be changed in heaven (v.23). In the same as we groan inwardly so the Spirit does when we don’t know how to pray. The picture is of a world and a life that is waiting incomplete, a world that is often uncertain that leaves us wondering what God’s will is. THIS is the context for our present verse.

Against the uncertainty of this Fallen World, Paul now balances it with a wonderful assurance for believers, that whatever is going on (which we may not understand!), God will be working for our good. Let’s note this verse bit by bit because it is so amazing. We note first it is about God working and we note that He is working “in all things”. There is nothing in your life or mine where God is not active. God is never passive. Jesus said, My Father is always at his work.” (Jn 5:17). We may not discern His activities and we may not catch His voice but He is always moving and acting on our behalf.

And it is always for our good! There may be various elements working in our lives. Things happen because of what we say or do. Things happen because Satan or someone that he uses intervenes. Things happen because God intervenes. Our motives may be selfish, Satan’s intentions may be harmful, but God’s intentions are always for our good: “God works for the good.”  God always works to bring good, not bad – because He IS love (1 Jn 4:8,16). The Bible shows that God weaves His actions into the actions of humanity, sometimes even using Satan, to bring good.  Sometimes, as we’ve just noted, as we’ve noted WHO may be involved in our lives, things start out badly as self, sin or Satan are at work, but despite that, God in His wisdom will be working into the situation to somehow bring good to us, His children.

Yes, the target of God’s loving goodness, in this context at least, are “those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Now don’t sink into some subjective wonderings about, “Do I really love Him?”  Love isn’t just a nice warm, fuzzy feeling, it’s commitment. When you came to Christ you committed yourself to Him and, perhaps, initially you had feelings of gratefulness but you might not have identified that as love. But the fact that you are a Christian means you love God. The other side of the coin is that you are what you are because God called you with a purpose. You eventually surrendered and were born again because the Holy Spirit was working to convict you, but He was calling you to God, to come to a place when you knelt before God and surrendered your life to Him. His purpose? It was to save you, redeem you, change you, forgive you, cleanse you, and then take you on in a lifetime adventure of change as a son of God!

Now there is about to follow a most amazing overview of the process of God and we mustn’t rush it and therefore we will leave it to the next meditation. In the meantime if you are someone who sometimes worries about what is going on in your life, remember that your loving heavenly Father is working there in the background of your circumstances to bring good to you, either through the circumstances or despite the circumstances. And God never fails!  Let that truth sink in. Amen? Amen!

37.Groaning Saints

Meditations in Romans : 37:  Groaning Saints

Rom 8:22   Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

We have seen Paul describing this world as being in a groaning state, in anticipation of something better to come and now he turns to us Christians and says the same is true of us, this is also true of “we ourselves”. When we became a Christian we may have thought that we had ‘arrived’ but actually we just arrived at the starting post. The rest of our life was in front of us and it is a life of continual change, which is partial while we remain on this earth and then complete when we see Him face to face.

He describes us Christians as having “the first fruits of the Spirit”. By definition, first implies others to follow. Thus he is saying that we now enter into a life of experience with the Spirit but whatever we experience here on this earth, is only the first part of a much bigger experience of Him which we will enter into when we go to Him.  So, he goes on, in the same way as the world senses that it waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” (v.20) so the same thing happens with us. We “groan inwardly as we wait.” Note that it is an inward groaning not an outward groaning. If I may put it like this, it is like a rumbling stomach, except it is in the spirit. Deep inside me something tells me that I have not ‘arrived’, that there is something more than this.

Often we may say of church life, “there must be something more than this.” (Well those of us alert to God at least, do). We look at our own lives with dissatisfaction when we are being honest, yearning for something more than we have at the moment. It is a strange thing but two opposites exist within us at any one time. On one side we are called to be contented and on the other side there is this holy dissatisfaction. We are to be contented with the life God has led us into and the material provision we have (which doesn’t stop us working for more) but in the realm of the Spirit we will always be wanting something more, because this is only a partial experience of Him, this side of glory.

We catch a sense of this same idea with Abram: “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb 11:9,10) Abram had received a promise of family, a land, and a blessing to bless the world (Gen 12:1-3). So, says the writer to the Hebrews, in his travels he was following God’s leading and looking for whatever it was that God had on His heart for him, a city, he sensed, that God would build – and so he looked for something that never came while he was on the earth. That writer explains it: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:13-16).  These ‘people of faith’ in the ‘faith gallery’ of Hebrews 11 all sensed there was something better than they had at the moment – and that helped them live out their time on earth.

Job, struggling with his terrible infirmities, came to this awareness: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25,27) At that stage it was simply that One would come and even though he died he would see Him. There was this hope!

We find this same sense of ‘looking forward’ in the apostle Paul himself: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-14) He expresses this sense of incompleteness in himself – not yet perfect – yet Jesus took hold of him for a purpose and an end goal and so he will press on for both. He presses on to become the man and ministry Jesus called him to be, and he presses on so that he will do nothing to hinder Jesus bringing him to glory, the ultimate goal in God’s purposes for him.

The writer to the Hebrews conveys the same idea about Jesus: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2) Jesus knew the ultimate goal, the joy of being seated next to his Father in heaven, reigning in the midst of his enemies, and it was this that sustained him when he faced the Cross. Jesus looked beyond the immediate present and looked to the ultimate goal – and so do we.

Yet there is more: “we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” This is interesting and it reminds us that they are various ways of fulfillment, because we have been adopted as sons when we came to Christ, yet there is a fuller expression of it yet to come. Now, as we’ve said before, part of that is in our time here on earth. As every year passes so we learn and experience more and more of what it means to be an adopted son of God. Yet, the fullness of being a son does not come until we see Him face to face and at that time our entire beings are redeemed and made perfect. For now we struggle with ageing and decaying bodies, but when we pass on from this existence we will receive new bodies that will never suffer sickness, or weariness or illness. As we age, that is the hope we have – new bodies! Hallelujah!

35. Sons of God Revealed

Meditations in Romans : 35:  Sons of God Revealed

Rom 8:19   The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

This is a tantalizing verse! I suspect most of us arrive at it, glance at it with an air of puzzlement and pass on rapidly to easier verses. Now there are immediately two ways of thinking of what this verse means: 1. It means the world is watching for us Christians to be revealed as we grow in Christ on this earth, or 2. It means that when we go to glory we will be transformed into something even more glorious (which Scripture does suggest). Perhaps we should add a third possibility: 3. The world is watching to see our transformation as we grow in Christ which will happen in large measure as we allow the Spirit to lead and teach us, but the fullness of the transformation will only come when we pass from this earth into heaven. This third option is what we believe the following verses show us.

But we must remind ourselves that back in verse 17 we read, we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Now when we think of Christ’s life on earth it did comprise both suffering and glory. It was only partial glory and Jesus himself indicated it as such, but the fact was that some saw his glory as he ministered and worshipped him. The fullness of his glory is not yet complete because although he was glorified through his death and resurrection, there is a greater glory to be revealed a) when we see him in heaven and b) when he returns and every knee will bow before him.  This receiving glory is thus a partial and gradual thing but, as we said previously, as we enter into the ‘Father’s business’ and share with Jesus in it, we will experience both suffering and glory.

But what an amazing picture: the creation, the world, all of what we would otherwise call ‘nature’ waits expectantly for us to be changed and enter into a greater measure of our sonship.  Do you remember at the Creation, the Lord gave this mandate to man: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen 1:28) Man’s first act of ‘ruling’ or presiding over as God’s agents, was to name all the creatures: “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.” (Gen 2:20).

However this was followed by the Fall and with that came upset. Man and woman became self-conscious (Gen 3:7), fearful of God (Gen 3:10) and self-justifying and blaming of others (Gen 3:12,13). Further consequences were enmity between mankind, Satan and God on the earth (Gen 3:15), increased difficulty in childbirth and a dominating husband role (Gen 3:16), and the earth running wild to make food producing more difficult (Gen 3:17-19). Previously all creatures had been vegetarian but from then on the ‘food-chain’ that we observe among creatures prevailed. Some suggest that spiritual forces were released that meant shifting of tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods as well as disease and sickness and plague. All of these things came about as a result of the Fall.

The primary reason for what is referred to as the ‘curse’ is that God stepped back and left the earth to mankind to rule. The withdrawal of His presence meant the withdrawal of His life and blessing and yet, the Bible tells us, God was aware of and took account of all these things even before making the world, because giving man free will was essential for him to be fully human, with all that that meant. From before the creation itself, the plan of redemption was there in God’s planning and that was necessary because of the Fall and its effects. So with the Fall we have disruption to the way the earth works and the way mankind work; both are not how they were originally designed to be.

But then comes Jesus and the possibility of salvation, of redemption, and suddenly the earth is starting to be populated by men inhabited by God. The process is dramatic (new birth) but also slow, steady and continuous throughout the human life (sanctification). Suddenly it is a new day with these new God-empowered, God-directed ‘sons of God’, men and women energised by the Holy Spirit, coming to bring something new to the earth. Where they shed light, darkness falls back.

But it is never without resistance for Satan and his minions and the powers and principalities of darkness, press in on those sinful men and men who have not heard of a new way, or who have heard and refuse it.   And so a battle ensues and change is slow, but down through church history these men and women inhabited by God have been slowly revealed for what they are – saints. Twisters, connivers, cheats, thieves, prostitutes, murderers, traitors, abusers, all hear the words of the Christ and are transformed and another ‘son’ is revealed, another light bearer walks on the earth. They struggle to understand who they are, they are slow to understand the wonder of being ‘a son’, and they cannot comprehend the wonder and the potential of who and what God has made them to be. But the world looks on and wonders at every new birth. How will this one develop? What will they contribute to this world to bring light that dispels darkness, what will they say and do that actually changes the world?

Yes we, you and me, are being revealed. Gradually bit by bit we are changing and the likeness of Christ is being seen through us: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18) Hallelujah!

33. Sonship

Meditations in Romans : 33:  Sonship

Rom 8:14-15   those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

I am aware that, looking back over the ‘meditations’ that I have written over the years that they vary a great deal in length in terms of what they cover.  Sometimes we may cover ten or fifteen verses while at other times we only cover two or three. These present ones fall into that latter grouping and you may be excused for muttering, “Oh, not again. Why doesn’t he move on?” and the answer has to be, because Paul doesn’t. We have commented before that Paul is a good teacher and good teachers know that their pupils need to hear the same thing over and over again, often from different angles, before what they are teaching really sinks in.

So yes, we did conclude the previous meditation with starting to mention sonship but as Paul goes on and explains it, so we must stick with it and consider it. Now writing as a man I often wonder how women think about this subject of ‘sonship’. If the feminist lobby took notice of this they would no doubt want to shout, “What about daughter-ship?” Well, my answer to this has to be that the language being used is being used to convey certain truths and they are not gender based, even though they come out of gender illustrations. This is also true in respect of the fact that I am a man, but I am part of the ‘bride of Christ’.

So previously we concluded with Paul saying, those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (v.14) and we suggested that whenever ‘sons’ are being referred to in New Testament language, it is using the imagery of the Old Testament where in daily life, so often the son followed in the father’s footsteps and so if there was reference to ‘sons’ if was reminding us that we follow on in the Father’s steps, learning the Father’s business and becoming more and more like the eldest son in the family, Jesus. It’s all about family likeness and family inheritance and family business.

So then Paul makes another of his ‘contrasting statements, where he sets one thing of against another. He starts with a negative and then balances it with the positive to add to what he has already been saying. First the negative: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear.” (v.15a) We’ve just be noting him talking about the Holy Spirit coming in to us as new believers and so he now says, but there is nothing about this that creates fear. God isn’t doing all this to make us craven slaves, groveling before Him in fear. No, he says, it quite the contrary: “but you received the Spirit of sonship.” (v.15b) In whatever language and with however little knowledge we may have of the Old Testament, this must come over to anyone quite simply as, “He didn’t make you a slave but a family member.” Bear in mind all we said earlier about the implications of sonship, do that by all means, but just grab the simple concept of being a member of God’s family, a close member, not a distant cousin, but a son!

You may observe the note in your Bible that says an alternative to ‘sonship’ could be the word ‘adoption’. That conveys something even more strongly. When a child is adopted, they are taken into the family and become a real and genuine part of it. They were not born in it but now they have legally been made part of it. Legally they are now related to the parent and that by the wishes and intent of the parents. How else can it say it? You are now directly related to God, part of His family and you are not a slave or anything like it. It seeks to convey a sense of warmth, a sense of unity and oneness. God is for us!

But then the reality of this new relationship is revealed for we find ourselves, as the Holy Spirit within is urges us, crying out and addressing God as ‘Daddy!’ (which is what the Aramaic ‘Abba’ conveys): “And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (v.15c) and we don’t need to wonder about this for Paul adds, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (v.16) So often when I pray, I find myself praying, “Father….” In fact I invariably pray that. I don’t ask the Holy Spirit and I rarely ask Jesus, even though he is seated at the Father’s right hand. I pray, “Father….” because that speaks of family relationship, but Paul tells us that this is how the Holy Spirit prompts us.

For those of us who have not had good relationships with fathers, counsellors warn that we might feel negative about God being a Father, and yet I find that in God I find one who makes up for all the deficiencies I might have found in my own father, and who my children might find in me. When we consider human fathers, our own or our own role as a father, we will always find deficiencies. There may be many good things (and a good exercise is to sit and think what they are) but there will always be things where they do not live up to our hopes and expectations, or we find we cannot live up to the hopes and expectations of our children. That’s just how it is being part of the fallen human race. God will help us, but we still come from a position where we start with deficiencies. But when I turn to God, I do not find that. If there are deficiencies, I have found, they are deficiencies in my understanding of Him. When I can see through or past my own confusions and misunderstandings, I find a Father who is perfect in every way. If only I did not have those confusions and misunderstandings! But that is how it will be this side of heaven, and that requires me to open myself to the Holy Spirit to enable Him to allow me to catch and see the wonder of the One who has done everything that is possible to bring us to Himself, and to show us the wonder of who He is.

9. The Peacemakers

Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Consider the order again: awareness of spiritual poverty, grieving for that state, acceptance of God’s will, yearning for His goodness, acceptance of all others in the face of my own failing and His will, and purity of desire for God. The different facets of this process of coming to salvation start with recognition of our plight (v.3,4), then rejection of our old life and desiring for God’s way (v.5,6), which then move on to characteristics of the seeking heart as seen in its attitude to others and towards God (v.7,8). Each of these is an indication of the convicting work of God’s Holy Spirit as He seeks to draw us to God through Christ.

Today’s verse is a further such characteristic that blends attitude towards God and towards others but which really is more than attitude; it is action and as such will form the first of the two final beatitudes that are about living out the Christian faith. First of all we have to see what God is doing. He is working by His Spirit to reconcile us to Himself and bring us to a place of peace with Him: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.(Col 1:19,20). Peace with God is one of the key results of the work of Jesus applied in our lives. Now when that comes and a person is born again, what we so often see is a desire in that person for that peace to come to others. This being a bringer-of-peace or being a peacemaker, isn’t about bringing warring parties together in a global conflict, as good as that is. This peace is the peace of salvation. When this peace comes all sorts of other peace situations can follow, but the bringer of peace, or the peacemaker, is a bringer of the Gospel experience, of the knowledge of the love of God. That’s what a true peacemaker does; they bring others to the place of ultimate peace – peace with their Maker.

But why should they do that? They do that because of the work of the Holy Spirit working within them. The Father desires all peoples to come to know this peace (Rom 16:20a, 2 Pet 3:9b), the Son died to bring peace (see Col 1:20 above), and the Holy Spirit works in our minds to put us at peace (Rom 8:6, Gal 5:22). How many of the letters of the apostles start with the desire for ‘grace and peace? For example, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Paul – Eph 1:2). “Grace and peace be yours in abundance(Peter – 1 Pet 1:2). “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ” (John – 2 Jn 1:3). Even James added in, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (Jas 3:18). All the apostles realized that peace was a crucial issue in the Christian life and its outworking started with being brought to peace with God through Jesus’ work on the Cross, and peace would then be an ongoing experience of the Christian’s daily relationship with God.

But what about the second part of the verse? “They will be called sons of God.” Why? Because sons exhibit the same characteristics as their father and so Christians will exhibit this same desire to bring peace to others, through Jesus’ work, that the Father desires. The bringers of this ultimate peace as doing the same work of the Father that Jesus did. Everything Jesus did was ultimately bringing people into the knowledge of God his Father, and in that knowledge, have peace. In the Old Testament times, ‘sons’ were known as those who carried on their fathers’ businesses. That is why we are sometimes referred to as sons (regardless of gender); it is a reminder that we are adopted to become like our Father in heaven and to do His work, and carry on His business, here on earth. That is the significance of ‘sonship’ (and if you have gender issue problems, remember we’re all, regardless of gender, part of the ‘bride’ of Christ!).

So, to conclude, if the Holy Spirit is truly bringing change in us as He convicts, there will be a change in attitude towards all others (v.7), there will be a wholeheartedness towards God (v.8) and now there will be a looking outwards to bring the same peace we are experiencing into the lives of those around us. Thus we become peacemakers. Are you?