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Series: The Kingdom of God; Sonship
Sunday am 24th April 2016 – Kobus Swart
John 5:43; (Matt. 10:7); (Mark 16:15); (Ex. 3:13-14); Matt. 24:14;
(Acts 1:3); Mark 16:20; Acts 19:8, 11; Rom. 8:15, 28-29;
(Gal. 4:6); Gen. 1:26; (Heb. 1:3); Eph. 1:5; Heb. 2:10;
1 Cor. 4:14-20; 2 Tim. 2:1-2; Isaiah 40:3-5; Matt. 3:1-3;
Mal. 4:5-6; Luke 1:17; Matt. 11:14; John 10:41; Eph. 4:11;
(Luke 9:58); (Matt. 24:5); (John 13:35); (2 Tim. 3:10-14);
(1 Cor. 4:6-17); (Phil. 2:16); (2 Thess. 3:7-9)
No single person carries the keys of the Kingdom by himself or herself; the keys will be given to a Church built upon the (corporate) Rock. The kingdom of God is related to the principle of sonship. If we can understand the depth of the meaning of sonship it will change our lives and it will become our main desire. True Christianity is all about sonship.
We know an apostle is one who is sent and many people put a full stop there. But it is a lot more than that. To be apostolic means you represent the One who sent you. Moses was an apostle; he did not have the title but was a sent one. Who would have known that all that Moses was going through was preparing him to become a sent one? He grew up in the palace of the king, amongst the elite, away from his own people for forty years. Then he ended up in the wilderness for another forty years. He was being prepared for his apostolic mission. Today the title of “apostle” has become very popular. If you really know what it means you would be scared and not try to appropriate or grab the title. Look what preparation Moses had to go through. God appeared to him in the burning bush and gave him an unbelievable mandate. When Moses asked God, “Who shall I say sent me?” (a very valid question), the answer was simply “I Am”! (Ex. 3:13-14). What you are actually saying is that the sent one represents the one who sent him. Jesus said, I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him (John 5:43). This is the mentality in the world today – receiving one who comes in his own name!
Our mandate it is to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom, with Jesus as the King (Matt. 10:7; Mark 16:15). This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt 24:14). Today different gospels are being preached but not always the gospel of the kingdom. This was the only gospel Jesus preached. In His resurrection body all Jesus could talk about was the kingdom; it was the only topic on His heart (Acts 1:3).
Our Heavenly Father has a way of saying ‘Amen’ when we preach the kingdom by confirming His word with signs and wonders (Mark 16:20). Look at the ministry of Paul: And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God (Acts 19:8). God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul (Acts 19:11). It is sad that signs and wonders today are disconnected from the emphasis on the kingdom. God is currently forming a new wine skin worldwide as the best wine is kept for last.
“It is the very nature of God to do everything through His Son, and in bringing us to Himself He has declared us to be His sons also” (John Alley). The spirit of adoption has been sent into our hearts by which we cry “Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Sonship is in every one of us. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness (Gen 1:26). We are born to be sons. Jesus is our model. He was the exact representation of the Father (Heb. 1:3). He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:5). You were predestined before you were even born to be adopted as a son. We are not only predestined to be adopted as His Sons, but also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). That is why we are going through what we are going through. God will make all things work together for good to those who love Him and that are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Sonship is written all over the Christian life and the Holy Spirit is busy with us. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings (Heb. 2:10). What Jesus was going through in His suffering was to pave the way to bring many sons to glory.
Take another look at what Paul said:
I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel (1 Cor. 4:14-15). How did Paul become a father to the churches that he related too? He preached the gospel of the kingdom. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. (1 Cor. 4:14-20). Timothy was an imitator of Paul. Timothy was not a dead end street in Paul’s ministry. You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:1-2). FOUR generations! The early New Testament Church went into a period of dark ages when this principle stopped functioning. They hit a cul-de-sac. We need to take this seriously or else the chaos of this world will just get worse.
There are two other prominent examples of fathers and sons other that Paul and Timothy in the Bible. They are Moses & Joshua, and Elijah & Elisha. There are others too.
Let’s look at the prophecy about the coming of John the Baptist: A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5). This was Isaiah prophesying about John the Baptist whose main proclamation was “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand”. Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’” (Matt 3:1-3). John had a specific commissioning to prepare the way of the Lord.
How was he to prepare the way of the Lord? “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6). The angel Gabriel came and prophesied to Zechariah (who was going to be the father of John the Baptist). He prophesied concerning the meaning of John the Baptist’s life. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17). He is coming in the spirit and power of Elijah. What was his purpose? To turn the hearts of the father’s back to the children and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous as to make ready a people a prepared for the Lord. How did John the Baptist prepare a people for the Lord? Jesus confirming, And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come (Matt. 11:14). Did he come in the spirit and power of Elijah? The power Elijah was in calling fire from heaven, in shutting the heavens from rain for years and calling for rain to come; being transported in the spirit and slaying the prophets of Baal. Elijah moved in great power, yet John the Baptist never performed any signs or miracles! (John 10:41). The spirit and power of Elijah must have meant something else. What was the commissioning? … He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse (Mal. 4:5-6). To re-phrase the commissioning: it is to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. John the Baptist was not the last fulfilment of the prophecy in Malachi 4. The verse Before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord also points to another season towards the end of time. It is a grace to work great change in the heart of men and women especially with respect to relationships. A special apostolic grace is required to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Elijah prophetically points to an apostolic grace in the time we are living in. Every generation needs an Elijah. Where will we find this now for a people to be prepared for the Lord? And God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the building up of the body and to make the people ready for the Lord (Eph. 4:11). Jesus said that the foxes have holes, the birds have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Luke 9:58). Why? We need an apostolic grace to prepare a people for the Lord – for the Head to find a resting place on the Body. When I say apostolic grace – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, all five of them should function in apostolic grace to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord.
The early Church was an apostolic people. The believers enjoyed an apostolic life under apostolic leadership. The early Church was a church of relationships where there was love and order. When God said “I will”, I believe He who promised is able. “I am going to send you Elijah”. The spirit of Elijah is an apostolic spirit. The body of Christ on earth will again enjoy an apostolic life. The Church must again become a true apostolic Church. Satan is fighting this truth by multiplying titles and false Christs. They will come with “signs and wonders”. Jesus warned that many will come saying, “I am the Christ” (Matt. 24:5). Do not listen to them. There is no such thing as “I am the Christ”. Christ is a corporate Church under true apostolic fathering grace; a people in which true, divine, agape love is functioning. There is a cry in my heart that the church of Jesus Christ would experience again a true baptism in agape love, where we will love each other as Christ loves us. By this the world will know that you are His disciples, that you love one another (John 13:35). Pray with me for an outpouring of divine love, a family spirit, an apostolic people. That is going to be a mature church! We must come to the full stature of a mature man. Paul teaches that we are to imitate this doctrine and his way of life (2 Tim. 3:10-14/ 1 Cor. 4:6-17/ Phil. 2:16/ 2 Thess. 3:7-9). His way of life included the necessity to pour out his fathering love into the sons in the ministry. Sonship is an apostolic grace. (John Alley)