natural tendency to be a ‘weak link,’ we truly can function as a ‘strong
link’ in the chain that God our Father has forged for the success of our
sonship lives and "godly edifying." We actually can ensure our ability to
achieve the many educational attainments and goals that our Father has for
us as His "sons," and also reach the ultimate objective that He has purposed
for our sonship edification and lives — i.e. conformity to the image of His
Son. And indeed this is what we provide for when (1) we first of all respond
positively and properly to our sonship status itself and to what it is all
about; and then (2) when we continuously respond positively and properly to
all the various things that God our Father teaches us, as we progress
through the curriculum that He has designed and written for our sonship
By means of the first of these two responses our Father
has designed for our sonship life and its "godly edifying" to successfully
get underway, and for it to do so with all of the appropriate zeal,
ambition, and enthusiasm that we should possess when it comes to getting our
vocational education and training. Then by means of the second of these two
responses our Father has made it so that what He teaches us is able to
effectually work within us and so produce its "godly edifying." Moreover He
has also provided for our "godly edifying" to actually be self-sustaining
and self-propelling as we work our way towards achieving the ultimate
objective of our sonship lives and edification.
So then these are the two kinds of responses that we need
in order for us to be a ‘strong link’ in ‘the chain of provision’ that our
Father has forged for the success of our sonship lives. As such each
response more or less functions as half of the link.
In the previous portion of this article we briefly
focused upon the first half of the link — upon the kind of positive and
proper response that we should have to our sonship status itself, and
therefore to our Father’s desire to educate us as His "sons." We saw how
that by means of the effectual working of what God teaches us about the
grandeur, and the glory, and the phenomenal prospect of what our sonship
status and life is all about, the very positive and proper response that we
should have to our sonship status actually gets generated within us. In
other words a requisite amount of initial joy, delight, and excitement gets
generated within us upon hearing about our "adoption," and this then
increases and develops into irrepressible ambition and enthusiasm for
getting our sonship lives and education underway.
Wherefore we ought to joyfully ‘cry, Abba, Father’ not
only upon receiving the initial news in Romans 8:14–15 that we have been
given "the adoption of sons," but we should be joyfully ‘crying, Abba,
Father’ all the more, (and consistently as well), in connection with our
Father fully establishing us in our sonship status through the effectual
working of what He teaches us in Romans 8:16–39. And in connection with us
‘crying, Abba, Father’ all the more, we should fervently and
enthusiastically respond to our Father’s plan and desire to educate us.
In fact we should have the same three measures of
commitment to our sonship learning that we noted in the general sonship
exhortation of Proverbs chapter two. We should have these measures of
commitment because of the powerful and earnest determination that the
knowledge of our sonship status has generated within us to see to it that we
get the education and edification that our Father has for us, and that we
get it at all costs.
Therefore if we do possess this kind of positive and
proper response to our sonship status and life, then we indeed have "the
earnest of the Spirit" fully operating within us, just as our Father has
designed for it to operate. Accordingly we also have the first half of what
constitutes us being a ‘strong link’ in ‘the chain of provision’ for the
success of our sonship lives effectually working within us. However if we do
not possess such a response, then we possess characteristics that are more
in line with us being a ‘weak link’ in the chain rather than a ‘strong’ one.
The Second Half of the Link
The second half of what is necessary in order for us to
be a ‘strong link’ in the chain is the issue of us having a positive and
proper response to all of the various things that we will be taught by our
Father as we progress through His curriculum for our sonship education and
edification. Naturally enough this particular component to being a ‘strong
link’ becomes the big issue in our sonship lives once our sonship
education gets underway. For not only does it make sense that we should
respond positively and properly to our Father’s doctrines once we begin
going through His curriculum, but the truth of the matter is that we will
make very little progress, or only very limited progress, in our "godly
edifying" if we do not respond properly to what we are taught.
Now just as the positive and proper response to our
sonship status itself is based primarily upon our favorable attitude toward
being given "the adoption of sons," so also is this the case with our
positive and proper response to all of the various things that our Father
wants to teach us. Our favorable attitude toward God’s word in general, and
especially our favorable attitude toward the specific curriculum that God
has written for our sonship education, is what primarily determines whether
or not we will respond positively and properly to what He teaches us.
Moreover our favorable attitude toward what God our
Father has purposed to teach us needs to be much the same as that which a
human father works to produce in his own son in preparation for educating
him. In fact when a father works to produce the favorable attitude that his
son needs to have both for being taught and for what he is taught, the
father does so by confronting his son with three main things: (1) the nature
of the curriculum that has been written for his education; (2) the
trustworthiness of the one who wrote it; and (3) the value of what is going
to be learned. By confronting his son with these three things the father
expects his son to perceive three corresponding things: (1) that the
curriculum for his vocational education and training is perfectly suited to
do its job; (2) that he can completely depend upon it to do its job in the
details of his sonship life; and (3) that each and every thing his father
will teach him, along with each and every attainment his father will seek to
produce in him throughout the course of the curriculum, is more valuable for
him to know and more valuable for him to attain than anything else he ever
could know or ever could attain.
Now when the son is confronted with these three things,
and thereby perceives what his father has designed for him to perceive, this
then generates within him the favorable attitude that he needs to have
toward what his father is going to teach him. Whereupon the favorable
attitude in turn provides for the son to respond positively and properly to
the details of what his father teaches him, and this allows for them to be
able to effectually work within the son’s mind and heart, and for his
sonship education and edification to genuinely take place.
So it is then that much the same takes place with us as
part of our sonship establishment. For we too need just such a favorable
attitude toward what God our Father has planned and purposed to teach us as
His "sons." And it is the effectual production of just such a favorable
attitude within us that makes it so that we can respond positively and
properly to the details of what we are taught as we progress through the
curriculum for our sonship education and edification.
Wherefore let’s take a bit of a closer look at each of
these three main things with which a father confronts his son, and with
which God our Father also confronts us as part of our sonship establishment.
The Nature of the Curriculum
One of the final things that a father does in connection
with establishing his son in his sonship status and life is to acquaint him
with the curriculum for his sonship education and edification. A father
actually does this for more than one reason, but as noted it is primarily to
make it so that his son sees the nature of the curriculum and thereby
becomes powerfully impressed with what he is going to be taught.
Once again, a father knows that his son needs to be
powerfully impressed with what he is going to be learning, otherwise he will
not have the proper attitude toward it that he needs to have. And if he does
not have the proper attitude toward it, then this means that he will not
place his full trust in the curriculum’s overall capacity and power, nor
will he place his full trust in the power and ability of its individual
Wherefore along with showing his son ‘the chain of
provision’ that he has forged for the success of his sonship life, a father
also purposefully confronts his son with what the curriculum for his
education is like.
For example he confronts his son with all that he has
incorporated into the curriculum, by which he has fully provided for his son
to learn all that he needs to learn in order to receive the complete
vocational education and training necessary to be able to fulfill the
vocation that is awaiting him. The father does this to make sure that his
son perceives the full and complete capacity of the curriculum, whereby he
can become fully convinced in his heart that it is more than capable of
giving him all of the education and all of the training that he needs.
In addition to this a father deliberately confronts his
son with the issue of the safeguards and provisions that he has built into
the curriculum for ensuring that his son is able to successfully cope with
any and all forms of resistance and opposition that he will face, which in
working against him will endeavor to thwart him succeeding with his sonship
education. In so doing the father wants his son to perceive that he has
wisely and prudently provided for all contingencies and issues that might
work against him, and that he has made more than adequate provision for his
son to deal with any such contingency.
Upon perceiving this the son, therefore, is to become
convinced that though he knows that opposition exists and will be
encountered, it need not succeed in thwarting him in the pursuit of the
various attainments, aims, and goals of his sonship life and edification.
Rather he knows that he will be able to cope with all resistance and
opposition, due to the provisions that his father has made.
Along with doing such things as these, a father also
makes sure that his son realizes that the only way he can receive his
vocational education and training is by means of the effectual working of
the curriculum that his father has composed. It has been tailor made for
him, and therefore it is perfectly suited to the specific vocation for which
the son is being trained and prepared. Hence it alone can give him what he
Wherefore the son is to understand and appreciate that
there are no alternatives for him to look at or consider, for there is no
other means of achieving what his father has purposed. Nor are there any
shortcuts or alternate routes that he can take than that which is laid out
in his father’s curriculum. By confronting his son with this realization a
father purposes to instill in his son the great respect and high esteem that
he needs to have for the curriculum so that he will adhere to it and operate
upon it regardless.
So it is then that by doing such things as these a father
provides for his son to be powerfully impressed with what his father
is going to teach him as he works his way through the curriculum for his
vocational education and training. In fact the son is to be so powerfully
impressed with what he is given to perceive, that deep and strong
convictions about the curriculum are generated within him. The upshot of
these strong convictions is that he becomes fully persuaded, without a
shadow of a doubt, that the curriculum can do its job, and that therefore he
can trust in it completely.
Generating the Same Convictions in Us
In view of having designed and created the sonship
relationship in the first place, God our Father also confronts us with what
the curriculum for our sonship education is like so that we too can be
powerfully impressed with what He has purposed to teach us, and so that
we too can have the appropriate strong convictions that we need to have
about the capacity, power, and might of what we are given to learn.
Now what our Father does for us corresponds with what is
set forth in the sonship exhortations of Proverbs chapter 2, where after the
father exhorts his son in verses 1–5 to fervently commit himself to getting
his sonship education he then makes sure that his son perceives the general
nature and caliber of what he is going to be taught, and knows about its
inherent capacities, power, and might to achieve its objectives. Wherefore
he says to his son…
6 For the LORD giveth
wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them
that walk uprightly.
8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his
9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity;
yea, every good path. (Proverbs 2:6–9)
Moreover following this the father ensures that his son
perceives the ability of the curriculum to effectually provide for him to
deal with the resistance that he will face from ones who are opposed to the
success of his sonship life and edification. Hence in verses 10 and 11 he
describes to his son how that…
10 When wisdom
entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:…
…which, as he goes on to describe, will provide for his
son to be delivered from the opposition of "the evil man" and also from that
of "the strange woman."
In similar manner to this in Romans 8:31–39 God our
Father has the apostle Paul pointedly confront us with the issues of the
power, capacity, and might of what He has provided for our sonship lives and
edification. Following describing in verses 28–30 the details of ‘the chain
of provision’ that He has forged for the success of our sonship lives, He
has Paul ask us the thought-provoking question…
31a What shall we
then say to these things? (Romans 8:31a)
And indeed this is exactly what this question is — a
thought-provoking question. It is designed to provoke us to think very
insightfully and perceptively about ‘the chain of provision’ for the success
of our sonship lives that has just been described, and about the
implications and ramifications of it as we embark upon our sonship
edification and living our sonship lives.
What’s more, to ensure that we perceive what we ought to
perceive as we thoughtfully consider "these things," our Father has Paul
direct our consideration by asking us a series of questions which provoke us
to clearly perceive the specific issues of the power, capacity, and might
that are resident in the provision for our sonship lives. Hence after asking
the thought-provoking question, "What shall we then say to these things?"
Paul goes on to direct our consideration by asking…
31b If God be for us,
who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how
shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that
is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh
intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are
accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that
loved us. (Romans 8:31b–37)
In short what we should perceive is that everything is
‘geared for our success.’ Our Father has provided for everything that we
need to be successful, including incorporating into the curriculum for our
"godly edifying" all of the things that are necessary for us to obtain the
full objective of being conformed to the image of His Son. Moreover He has
provided for us to victoriously deal with all resistance and opposition,
even to the point of ‘turning the tables’ on some of it so that it actually
works out to advancing us on in our sonship edification.
Wherefore the effectual working of these considerations
ought to generate within us some very deep set and strong convictions
regarding our ability to succeed in our sonship lives by succeeding with our
"godly edifying." Indeed they ought to generate within us the very same
powerful convictions expressed by Paul when he concludes answering the
question "What shall we then say to these things?" by saying…
38 For I am
persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So then by forcefully confronting and impacting us with
the full power of ‘the chain of provision’ that He has forged for the
success of our sonship lives, (including the power of His curriculum for our
edification), our Father has provided us with the first thing that we need
to be able to respond positively and properly to the things that He teaches
us. For by impressing us first of all with the fact that He has ‘geared us
for success,’ God has made it so that we can respond to the curriculum for
our sonship education with the unshakable conviction and confidence that it
not only can do its job, but that it will do its job.
The Second Component
Having, therefore, such conviction and confidence the
next thing that we need to possess is a "spirit of faith" in the very things
our Father teaches us as we receive our sonship education. In other words we
need to implicitly believe everything that He teaches us, and operate upon
them by faith. This is what constitutes the second component of our positive
and proper response to what our Father teaches us as His "sons."
It should go without saying that a son is expected to
know that his father can be trusted. In view of ‘the chain of provision’
that has been lovingly forged for him; and in view of all that the father
has already done for his child, (and has given him to know), from birth to
"the adoption of sons"; a son should know that he can believe whatever his
father says to him and that he can trust in it implicitly.
In fact throughout the childhood years one of the most
fundamental things that a father does is to generate and establish a "spirit
of faith" in his child. He wants his child to know without a doubt that he
speaks the truth and that ‘his word is his bond.’ Hence the father
deliberately manifests his faithfulness and trustworthiness to his child on
numerous occasions, confronting him with them so that he comes to understand
and appreciate his father’s veracity and dependability.
Wherefore by the time a child receives "the adoption of
sons" he is expected to possess a strong "spirit of faith" in his father and
in his words. In fact his father is to be the most trustworthy person that
he knows. And in connection with this, upon receiving "the adoption of sons"
and being established in his sonship status, the son is expected to become
the most trusting person with whom his father ever deals.
In other words a father looks for his son to believe him
implicitly in whatever he says to him and in whatever he teaches him. For
doing this is not only consistent with having a strong "spirit of faith,"
but the success of the son’s sonship education absolutely depends upon him
doing this. For the effectual working of much of what he will be taught by
his father through the curriculum for his vocational education and training
demands that he believe things implicitly and that he operate upon them
steadfastly, even in the face of more attractive and more
Hence a consistently strong "spirit of faith" in his
father and in his words is the second component of a son’s positive and
proper response to what his father teaches him.
Our Father’s Trustworthiness
We too ought to have a consistently strong "spirit of
faith" in God our Father and in His words to us. For He too worked to
generate and establish just such a "spirit of faith" in us before He ever
told us about our sonship status.
Indeed God did this very thing. For by the effectual
working of "the gospel of Christ" itself, we were not only confronted with
the issues of God’s great love, mercy, and grace unto us, and also with the
issues of His wisdom and power in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we
were also pointedly confronted with His trustworthiness. And so we believed
"on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for
our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Hence just like
Paul describes about Abraham in Romans 4:16–25, we ourselves were "not weak
in faith," but rather were "strong in faith," being fully persuaded of the
truth of what God says in His "gospel of Christ." And as with Abraham we
were fully persuaded because God is the one "who quickeneth the dead, and
calleth those things which be not as though they were."
Now in connection with believing "the gospel of Christ"
God not only justified us in His sight, saved us from the debt and penalty
of our sins, and made us permanently "at-one" with Him, but having
confronted us with His trustworthiness He also laid the groundwork for
establishing in us a consistently strong and on-going "spirit of faith" in
Him and in His words to us. Moreover having done this, in Romans 6:1–8:13
God built upon it and provided for developing it further through the
effectual working of what He taught us in the doctrine of our sanctification
"in Christ." With the result that by the time He tells us about our sonship
status in Romans 8:14–15, we should already have a strong "spirit of faith"
in Him and in the effectual working of His words to us.
Wherefore after we receive our sonship establishment
through the effectual working of Romans 8:16–39, the strength of our "spirit
of faith" in our Father and His words should be such that we too live in
accordance with the truth that "faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen." With this being so, we should be ready to
respond positively and properly to everything that our Father will teach us
throughout the curriculum for our sonship education, implicitly believing
everything He teaches us and confidently operating upon it. For as His
"sons" our Father should be to us the most trustworthy person we know, and
along with His Son Jesus Christ we should be to Him the most trusting
persons with whom He deals.
So then as we progress through our sonship education and
edification our Father should not need to say to us, ‘O ye of little faith.
Why do ye not believe?’ He should not need to reprove us for being "weak in
faith" regarding what He teaches us. Howbeit if we are "weak in faith,"
needless to say we will be a ‘weak’ link in ‘the chain of provision’ for the
success of our sonship lives.
The Third Component
The third and final main component of a son’s positive
and proper response to what his father teaches him is the issue of him
placing so much value upon learning what he is given to learn and achieving
the attainments thereof, that he is willing to pursue getting them
regardless of the cost. In other words nothing compares with succeeding with
his sonship education and edification. This too is how it ought to be with
Loving Sonship’s Aims and Goals More Than Anything Else
A son who responds positively and properly to what his
father teaches him also does so because he loves pursuing and attaining the
various aims and goals of his sonship life more than anything else. In short
they are ‘the love of his life.’ He would rather learn a form of doctrine
from His father’s curriculum and attain its corresponding attainment in his
sonship walk, than pursue and/or possess anything this world has to offer,
or that it values and esteems. This is because his father has effectually
generated within him an incomparable love for his sonship aims, goals, and
Now this is also something a father accomplishes as he
establishes his son in his sonship status and prepares him for receiving his
sonship education. For as a father teaches his son about the upcoming
vocation that he will have in his father’s business, and informs his son
about the nature of the curriculum for his vocational education and
training, in so doing he also naturally teaches his son about the various
glories of his sonship life.
In fact learning about these glories is one of the
reasons why a son ‘cries, Abba, Father’ more and more. For they deliberately
confront his standard of values and they begin to adjust the evaluation
scale of his heart. In so doing they effectually work within him to affect
‘his heart’s desire.’ They displace any importance that he has placed upon
any worldly desires and pursuits, and replace them with the desires and
pursuits of his sonship life. The glories of his sonship life outshine all
the glitter and glistening of what this world says is valuable and worth
pursuing, so that the ‘eyes of the son’s understanding’ begin to look upon
another object of desire. One that exceeds all others and is of inestimable
worth to him.
So then the exceedingly glorious aims, goals, and
attainments of his sonship life, along with the incomparable value of its
ultimate objective, effectually work within a son to make him pursue these
things as the love of his life. Wherefore he will respond positively
and properly to his father’s teachings, desiring to obtain these things at
all costs, even in preference to the approval and accolades of men, or to
escaping their reproach or persecution.
Generating the Same Degree of Love in Us
Through all that we are taught for our sonship
establishment in Romans 8:16–39, our Father also provides for ‘the love of
our lives’ to become the pursuit of our sonship aims and goals. For with
respect to life in general, what does this world have to offer that compares
with receiving our vocational education and training for the everlasting
vocation that belongs to our eternal lives? And where is the happiness,
satisfaction, and contentment of this world that compares with the godly
versions of them that are produced in us by the effectual working of our
sonship education? And what kind of relationship, or intimacy of fellowship
and communion can this world offer that compares with that which we can have
with God our Father by means of our sonship education and sonship prayer?
And most of all, where is there an object for our heart’s desire that even
comes close to the ultimate objective of our sonship lives — i.e. being
conformed to the image of God’s Son?
So then along with (1) having strong convictions and
confidence regarding the capacities of our Father’s curriculum, and (2)
having implicit faith in whatever our Father teaches us, our positive and
proper response to what our Father teaches us also includes (3) desiring
above all else to obtain these sonship glories, and being willing to obtain
them at all costs.
Weak or Strong Link?
We are going to function as either a ‘weak’ or ‘strong’
link in our Father’s ‘chain of provision’ for the success of our sonship
lives and "godly edifying." They are the only two options. However there
really is no excuse for us to be anything but a ‘strong’ link. For the
doctrine about our sonship status in Romans 8:14–15, and the following
doctrines for our sonship establishment in Romans 8:16–39, provide us with
the very means by which we can function as a ‘strong’ link. They are
purposefully designed by God to generate within us the two kinds of positive
and proper responses that we need in order to be a ‘strong’ link. Wherefore
we just need to avail ourselves of them, let them effectually work within
us, and thereby be the ‘strong’ link that we ought to be.
So then the upshot of the matter is this: To whatever degree, or in
whatever way, we may fail to succeed with meeting any or all of the
educational expectations and attainments that are in the curriculum for our
"godly edifying," the reason for any failure cannot be attributed either to
our Father, or to any of His provisions for us, or to His curriculum. For
they are faultless. Rather any reason for failure lies solely with
ourselves. Because the simple fact is that we do not have to be a ‘weak’