God's central purpose in creation was to bring many sons unto glory. This theme is picked up in the Bible in great generalizations that take into account eternity past and eternity future. Jesus Christ, bom at Bethlehem, was the first and only begotten Son of God (John 3:16, Colossians 1:15-17). Jesus Christ, the man, has a unique relationship to God. The man is the begotten son and heir of God. Jesus is the Son of God, a filial (family relationship) Son. Forget for a moment that Jesus Christ is actually God Himself manifest in Flesh. Instead, view Jesus as a man born in history, that is, as a historical figure. View God as the unique being that He is. He is God Almighty who created the heavens and the earth who was invisible and immortal. See Him as God, the sovereign, unique being with no equals, no compatriots, no relatives.
Jesus Christ, the historical figure, was conceived and bom as the literal Son of Almighty God, the immortal, omniscient, omnipresent unique being. He has, therefore, an exclusive relationship with God. He is the only Son, one of a kind; and there is no other relationship like it. The relationship is not only exclusive, it is reciprocal. The Father is related to the Son as father; the Son is related to the Father as son. Hebrews 1:5: I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son. Notice "will be, shall be" which indicate a relationship that came into being and was not, therefore, eternal. Notice "to Him, to Me" which indicate a relationship that is mutually reciprocal. No others possessed this particular relationship. As a result of this mutual relationship, and as a result of the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, believers can now receive the Spirit of the Son and can actually also become sons of God.
Jesus chose a word never used before to address God. He called him, "Abba," meaning, Father (Mark 14:36). The Pharisees wanted to stone him to death for it (John 10:29-39). In his book entitled I Believe In The Holy Spirit, Michael Greene, rector of St. Aldate's parish at Oxford University of the Episcopal Church, quotes Joachim Jeremias frequently. Jeremias states that nowhere in pre-Christian literature does anyone dare to call God by this intimate, family word, better translated as "daddy" or "dear father...Abba." Along with "amen' and "maranatha," they are the three Aramaic words which appear untranslated in the KJV Bible. It is a mimetic word, an imitative word, a babble word. It is the way that the Aramaic speaking fathers related to their children. We also speak in baby talk to our children, saying "da da," or "ma ma." In the same way, Aramaic fathers would say "ab ba, ab ba." It was a word for the intimacies of the family, not used in Old Testament times for the worship of God. Jesus, the one set apart by the Spirit as the Son of God, dared to call God by this name. In fact, he never addressed God by any other name. It was always Abba. Jesus alone has the right to speak so, for he alone enjoyed the intimate relation of Sonship with God, his Father.
Abraham was not a son of God. David was not a son of God. Moses was not a son of God, nor was Enoch or Isaiah or anyone else in the Old Testament. While Adam and the angels were "sons by creation, and David was considered a "son" in a special sense as royalty, not one human being in all of history was truly a Son of God in the familial sense until Jesus Christ was born. It is this Sonship into which his life and sacrificial death make it possible for us, through the Spirit of Christ the Son of God, to enter. He enables us to pray the Lord's prayer and say simply, "Abba, Father." It is the indwelling Spirit of Christ which makes it possible for us to be adopted Sons of God, which enables us to cry the Abba of little children to our Father and to be, literally, a member of the family of God. You have received the Spirit which makes you sons (Galatians 4:6). When we cry, Abba, Father, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:15).
It is the incredible privilege and status of the Christian to possess the Spirit of God's Son which makes him a son of God and enables him to utter the family cry to God, "Abba." Well may Jereniias conclude that the whole of the good news is concentrated in that single word, Abba. Even though Jesus before his death told his disciples to pray, "Our Father," it was at that time only anticipatory. It was not until they had been born again into the family of God through receiving the Spirit of the Son that they were truly "Sons." In fact, one is not a son, cannot be a son, without the Spirit of the Son living in them. Romans 8:9-11,14: But ye are not in the fiesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Galatians 4:6, 7: And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
The central theme of the Bible is that God's eternal purpose to bring many sons unto glory! Romans 8:9 tells us that without the Holy Ghost in us one cannot be one of those sons. Romans 8:23: And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption to wit, the redemption of our body. In Ephesians 1:13 and 14, the Holy Spirit is called the earnest of our inheritance. It is this firstfruits of the Spirit which makes sonship possible. Romans 8:26: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. The Spirit that is in us is both human and divine, God and the Son of God. Not two divine persons, but one who is at once God and man, human and divine, historical figure and unique being. The Spirit that is in us, the Spirit of Christ, human and divine, Son and Father, can at the same time intercede for us and reward that intercession! The Son can intercede with the Spirit of God, with the most endearing terms, and say "Abba, Father." Romans 8:27: And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. What is his purpose? To bring many sons unto glory. Romans 8:29: For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
God determined from the foundation of the world that there would be people on earth at sometime who would become his sons, adopted into his family through the Spirit of the Son. "For whom he did foreknow," he knew it from the beginning, "he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." To be like him is to suffer. If we suffer with him, we shall reign with him. "That he might be the firstborn among the many brethren." God wants to bring many sons unto glory. He wants the church to be prolific, to be a fostering mother and collaborate with God in bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10 and Romans 9:29).
Thus believers are in a familial (as in the family) relationship with God. Believers can call God, "Abba, Father." No one was ever a son of God before Jesus was the Son of God. Though for various reasons designated "Sons of God," neither the angels, Adam nor any of his descendants were ever Sons of God in this particular sense. Michael Greene, mentioned earlier, sees that the central message of the New Testament is that "Jesus was a Son of God and therefore we can, through him, become sons of God." He writes, "Take first the question of Sonship. Now there is a very obvious difference between us and Jesus. He was born by the express agency of the Holy Spirit. We are not. He was the Son of God by right (Hebrews 1:5). We are sons only by adoption (Romans 8). Nevertheless, it was the possession of the Spirit that set Jesus apart as the Messianic Son of God" (John 5:18).
According to our text, God's eternal purpose of bringing many sons to glory was, therefore, his motivation for the plan of salvation before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9: Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Titus 1:2: In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. Ephesians 3:9: And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 1 Peter 1:19: But with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. Romans 8:30: Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. That is the whole scheme of things that God will do for and with his sons. He calls them, he justifies them and then he glorifies them, making them like the glorified Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Romans 8:31: What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
God is for us! Why? Because it is his eternal purpose to bring many sons unto glory. God's eternal purpose is more powerful than the Niagara River. When someone gets caught up in it, it is only with great difficulty that he can get out. If you get into this Niagara River, and if you yield to the eternal purpose of God, you will be carried to an eternal relationship in the family of God. The Bible says, "If God be for us who can be against us?"
Romans 8:32: 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? What does that mean? God has already shown what he will do in order to have a son. Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3). He went through suffering unto death, was raised from the dead with power in order to be glorified and exalted. If God put his own human-born Son through that so that he might be glorified, "how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" The baptism with the Spirit is the earnest of this eternal inheritance. It would be like buying a $120,000.00 home making a down payment of a $119,999.99 as earnest money. Who would walk away from that house and not complete the purchase for one cent? God's down payment on our sonship was every drop of blood that was in his body, every breath of life that was in him. If he spared not his own Son, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? If God paid that much for our sonship, when we say to God, "I am discouraged, I need your help," he will give encouragement. "God, I'm perplexed. I don't know how to solve this problem." He will help solve the problem. If he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things. That is his eternal purpose. The privilege to be a Son of God is extended to everybody on earth.
Romans 8:33: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Once in a city where there was a Coca Cola bottling plant, I stood by the window looking at the bottles as they went by. They were all glistening and shining, but every once in a while there was a mechanical arm that would reach out and knock one of those bottles off the conveyor before it was filled with Coca Cola. I watched that for awhile before I inquired as to the function of the arm I was told that even though the bottles are washed and sterilized during the cleansing process, once in a while a little speck or chip in the glass will miss detection until an electric eye discovers it before the bottle is filled. The electric arm will come out and knock it off so that every bottle is acceptable before being filled. God, the judge of all men, might be related to the electric eye. He is the one that can see any spot or wrinkle or blemish. When we go to heaven, I will not have to stand in judgment by you and you will not have to stand in judgment by me. We will all have to stand before God's omniscient eye, before God who can discern the thoughts and the intents of the heart and before whom all things are naked and open.
What this verse says is that God, through the sufferings of Christ, has been able to transfer to the Christian the righteousness and purity of Christ. God has been able to remit sins through simple obedience to the word of God and water baptism, pouring the spirit of the Son into hearts, making men sons of God, justified, righteous, ultimately, glorified. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. When God sees his sons coming into glory, he says, "They are my sons; there is no spot in them. There is no wrinkle in them; they are conformed to the image of my only begotten Son. They are as holy as Jesus was holy. There is no fault in them." The devil, the accuser of the brethren, cannot accuse the Sons of God of faults. He can raise no accusation. Why? Because we appear in the very radiance of God's glory, in the very presence of his all-seeing eye and he looks at us and he says, "They are justified! They are pure. They are clean. They have no spot or wrinkle or any such thing. They are holy and without blemish." Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies.
I must be careful to point out that it is not that God the Father, first person of the trinity, is justifying us through the works of God the Son, second person in the trinity. These terms and concepts are neither found in the Bible nor do they describe precepts which are explained in the Bible. As was mentioned earlier, Almighty God, the unique being, is living in and as the man Christ Jesus, the historical figure. All humanity can be justified and glorified by one sinless human being to the one true God.
Have we been glorified yet, actually, as it seems to say in Romans 8? No. But in his plan we are already glorified, God can speak of his plan as though it had already happened. He called those things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). He calls our glorification as though it has already happened.
When one receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit he has the spirit of Jesus Christ in him, bearing witness with his own spirit, allowing him to call out to God, "Abba, Father," to join God's family and become an heir of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Jeremias, quoted in the selection from Michael Greene, calls sonship the central message of the New Testament. It has been God's eternal purpose before the world began to bring many sons into glory through Christ Jesus our Lord.