ACTUAL SONS, ACTUAL BROTHERS

ACTUAL SONS; ACTUAL BROTHERSCopyright Š 201 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Given the extent to which God has exalted the Lord Jesus Christ, plus our natural shying away from any attempt to cross the bridge from humanity to Divinity, our willingness to think of the Father and the Son as co-equal is understandable.

However, no matter how well-meaning our present understanding of God and His Christ may be, we have gone outside of the Scriptures. As a result, now that God is ready to bring us past the rudiments of the plan of salvation, we are unable to perceive that the Scripture presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the Firstborn of additional sons, who are to be brought to glory.

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Uniqueness of the Offices of Christ

The Lord Jesus Christ as the Firstborn of many sons of God

Like Him in Substance and Nature

Conclusion

ACTUAL SONS; ACTUAL BROTHERS

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

Introduction

I am going to emphasize in this essay that in order to be the brothers of Jesus Christ, members of His body, and members of His bride, we have to be changed into the same Substance and Nature as He.

We could wish that more attention would be given to the above verse. In terms of the current state of Christian thinking, Romans 8:29 is nothing short of revolutionary.

We have been predestined to be changed—not saved, but changed! Our entire salvation experience is to be one of change! We no longer are to be mere human beings, but changed! We no longer are to be marked or moved by our racial characteristics, but changed!

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. (II Corinthians 3:18)

Are you willing to be totally changed into the image of Christ? Are you desirous of being a new creation, to have your personality radically altered?

The following are a few of the human characteristics that are not found in the Lord Jesus. Are you willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit until these have been completely removed and replaced with the Substance and Nature of the Lord?

A man-pleasing spirit; seeking the approval of people.

A jealous, envious spirit.

A spirit of complacency

Smugness; offensive satisfaction with oneself.

Disobedience to God.

Arrogance and pride.

Excessive speaking

Flirtation.

Narcissism, self-worship.

Covetousness.

Personal ambition and seeking preeminence.

Discontent with one’s appointed place.

Seeking to control another person.

The above are but a few examples of the traits that make up our fallen, adamic nature. None of these is found in the Lord Jesus. None of these is of the image of Christ. None of these can remain in the brothers of Christ, the body of Christ, or the bride of the Lamb.

We are to be made exactly like our Lord. Before I proceed, however, I would like to point out the offices of Christ. We will never participate in these offices. They are the unique possession of the Lord Jesus.

The Uniqueness of the Offices of Christ

Christ was in the beginning with the Father.

Through Christ all things were created.

Christ made an atonement with His blood for the sins of the world.

We can worship Christ and pray to Christ as we do to God, and are baptized in water into His name.

Christ is the supreme Lord over all of God’s creation. We will share this dominion with Christ; but, as Pharaoh said to Joseph, Christ will remain greater in the Throne of God than will be true of us.

Now that we have established the uniqueness of Christ we can proceed to discuss the astonishing fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of additional sons who are to be born and filled with His Substance and Nature.

I guess I have realized for many years that God has predestined us to be changed into the image of Christ that we might be His brothers. But the reality of what Paul has written is finally sinking in to my head. Has that ever happened to you—that you knew something and yet later you came to really "know" it?

The Lord Jesus Christ as the Firstborn of Many Sons of God

In the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was the perfect Expression of the invisible God, and all things were made by Him.

At some point God began to refer to the Word as His Son:

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. (Psalms 2:7)

Thus by Divine fiat the eternal Word became the Son. My own opinion is that this change of status, or relationship, or whatever it was, occurred when Jesus was born of Mary.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of God’s sons.

I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. (Psalms 89:27)

There may be no more significant term in the entire Scriptures than the word "Firstborn." This is because it announces that God plans on having many sons, many brothers of the Lord Jesus.

To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)

Then Christ became the Firstborn from the dead.

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (Revelation 1:5)

And again:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10)

The more I consider the above verses the more I realize that being saved and filled with the Spirit is the merest beginning of the work of redemption. What God has in mind is to make us exactly like His Son in Substance and Nature.

I wrote at the beginning of this essay concerning how Christ is different from us in the exalted offices the Father has given Him. But what we must come to realize is that the Father’s will is to bring us to the stature of the fullness of Christ so that we truly can become His brothers and coheirs. If He is Son of God and Son of man then we must become a son of God and a son of man. We must be born twice.

Right here is the crucial factor. We really are born of God. This is not a mere figure of speech.

Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:13)

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:11)

I suppose many of us have realized that the New Testament teaches we are to be made in Christ’s image, and even that we are destined to be His brothers. But other believers may have been like myself: I just could not grasp the reality of it all.

I think the problem, at least in my mind, has been with the doctrine of the Trinity. If there is one God in three parts, and each part is equal to the other, then how are we to become a brother of one of the parts? God is God and we are human beings.

But if we abandon the doctrine of the Trinity and go by what the New Testament teaches, then we can envision the Lord Jesus Christ as being the Firstborn of many sons. As I pointed out, Christ is unique as to His several offices. However, it is entirely possible for there to be several brothers of one household—genuine brothers born of the same father. And yet to have one of the brothers, particularly the oldest, be given a position of supremacy. This is entirely reasonable.

So it is with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father has chosen Him to be the Firstborn of many brothers, all born from the same Father. Yet, as I stated previously, Christ has been given several offices which are His unique inheritance and cannot be shared with the other brothers:

Christ was in the beginning with the Father.

Through Christ all things were created.

Christ made an atonement with His blood for the sins of the world.

We can worship Christ and pray to Christ as we do to God, and are baptized in water into His name.

Christ is the supreme Lord over all of God’s creation. This last office of Christ, rulership over the creation, we share with Him. However, He always remains supreme. There is no question but that man is destined to govern the world to come. Man has been created to serve God as a ruler, judge, priest, and otherwise as God’s servant to maintain righteousness and peace among the nations of people who are saved.

So we see as we enter the ways in which we are in the image of Christ we need have no fear that we are subtracting in any manner from the majesty to which the Father has appointed His Firstborn.

The following is a good passage to keep in mind concerning the unique majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 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. (Colossians 1:15-20)

We have suggested that Christ has been raised to the highest throne. If we overcome the evil that wars against us, we too shall be seated on that throne; although Christ always shall remain preeminent, as we have stated.

Notice carefully the following passage:

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, Which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:17-2:7)

Is it as clear to you as it is to me, that we have been seated with Christ on that Throne which is far above all rule and authority, power and dominion.

We understand then that in this part of Christ’s office, that of rulership over the works of God’s hands, the other sons of God have a share. But in the remainder of the offices of Jesus Christ He remains unique.

Like Him in Substance and Nature

When we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood we are partaking of the Divine Substance. We are given the flesh and blood of Christ in the spirit realm every time we choose to turn aside from our sinful nature and do what the Spirit would have us do.

The body and blood of Christ strengthen us so we are able to resist all the forces of darkness that come against us.

It is God’s will that we learn to live by His flesh and blood as He lives by the Father.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)

The Lord Jesus Christ is filled with all the fullness of God. We also are to be filled with all the fullness of God.

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

The Lord Jesus is absolutely perfect in Personality. He is the spotless Lamb of God.

We cannot make ourselves perfect. But we can present ourselves each day to the Spirit of God so that the darkness can be driven from us and Christ formed in its place. God has destined us to pursue and gain total moral transformation.

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. (I John 4:17)

The Lord Jesus is the perfect representation of God—the living Image of the living God. This means Christ thinks as God is thinking; speaks as Christ is speaking; and acts of God is acting.

This is our goal, to live as Christ is living so we too are the perfect image of God. God has in mind that we be the moral lights of the world, as we reflect His thinking, speaking, and acting.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20)

Here is a remarkable fact. The Father loves the other sons just as He loves His firstborn Son.

I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23)

When the Lord Jesus returns we shall be given an outward form like His.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (I Corinthians 15:51,52)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20.21)

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, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:1,2)

Conclusion

Perhaps it is obvious that if we are to be His brothers, His bride, His body, we shall have to be of the same living Substance and Nature as He. Otherwise it would be as if a man married an animal.

It may be that we do not realize the joy that Jesus has at the thought of many brothers with whom He can share the Kingdom of the Father. I think I sense that joy in the following verse:

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’" (John 20:17)

If God has said these things are true of us, who are we to say they are not? But we will have to be willing to become new in every aspect of our personality. The one Seed of Abraham is without racial identity.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27,28)

We have mentioned above the removal of the disfigurements of our inward nature. Every one of these must be replaced with the Substance and Nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. They indeed shall be if we obey the Holy Spirit carefully in every detail of our discipleship.

Notice the image of the Lord Jesus Christ:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3)

And then:

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

"The whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Are you and I willing to rise up and claim this by faith in the operation of the Lord God?

Then as to the fullness of the inheritance:

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, And you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9,10)

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)