A Strong Link

[This is the conclusion to the previous Quarterly article briefly dealing with the kind of positive and proper response that we should have to our sonship status in this present dispensation, and also to our sonship education and edification.]

 Despite our 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 edification.

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.

Brief Recap

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 components.

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 needs.

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 saints.

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:… (Proverbs 2:10–11)

 …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 justifieth.

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. (Romans 8:38–39)

 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.”

A Father’s Trustworthiness

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 seemingly-believable alternatives.

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 us.

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 ultimate objective.

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.

A 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’ link.

— K. R. Blades

2006Q4

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