Thursday, January 01, 2009

Sounds Familiar?? On Sonship.

Being a person of extremes - it's usually no secret to anyone who comes within a 10 mile radius of the people that I love and the people that I ... well, don't. So I am also aware that my enthusiastic love of Rob Rufus and his ministry from Hong Kong will be no secret to anyone - whatever their opinions on Rob himself and the varied opinions on whether Rob has taken grace "too far" or not. Well I was at work last night and was reading a book (I won't tell you what it was until you have read the quote). Read it, and consider how similar it is to Rob himself and other grace teachers such as Terry Virgo and then see who said it.

It's a quote inspired by Galatians 5:18: "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law" and here it is:

"Laws aren't made for children and for intimate and dear friends but for servants. A being under law in the more ordinary use of the expression among the apostles was inconsistent with liberty.

Why is it said; "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law" and what is the connection between being led by the Spirit and not being under the law? The connection consists in two things:

1. As this evidences their not being under law.

Their being led by the Spirit is an evidence of their being in Christ who has fulfilled the law and delivered them from it ... children aren't under law as servants.

2. It renders them not proper subjects of the law.

A being led by the Spirit is a thing that causes that alteration with respect to them that renders them unapt to be subjects of law.

a. By their having the Spirit given them, they are advanced to that state that they don't agree with a state of subjection to the law (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Being sons it is suitable that they should be dealt with after another manner - to hold them under law is to treat them as servants (2 Corinthians 2:6, 7); "thou art no more a servant but a son".

b. The Spirit of Christ in Christians or spirit of adoption actuating and leading is a principle that supercedes the law and sets them ABOVE the law. The law obliges to no other things but what the Spirit inclines to and is sufficient for ...

The Spirit is better than the letter.

They that have the Spirit of Christ in them have the law written in their hearts according to God's promise. The Spirit of Christ is superior to the law and sets a person above subjection to the law because it is a principle that is superior to a legal principle.

The Spirit of adoption evidences to them their being the children of God and begets that trust and assurance that renders them incapable of a legal principle (Romans 8:15-16).

Note this point in particular!:

"If a person has not that legal principle or principle of fear, he has not that principle that the law which exacts obedience was made to influence and work upon and therefore is not a proper subject of law because being destitute of that principle, the law takes no hold of him for it finds no principle in him to take hold by.

A being led by the Spirit of the Son of God as a spirit of adoption is inconsistent with a state of bondage, as sonship is inconsistent with servitude".

I hope that quote is understandable to everyone. What is being said is that fear (the legal principle that was the law's strength) and the Spirit of adoption is totally and utterly inconsistent. It sounds too good to be true but essentially the argument is this - if we are sons then we are co-heirs with Jesus Christ and therefore we are above the law. I can hear heresy-alarms going off straight away! But it's there in the Bible - we are no more servants but sons!

You may have probably guessed that the author of this quote is indeed Jonathan Edwards and the quote itself is taken from my new "Notes on Scripture". But what particularly interested me and excited me was the paralell between this comment and the sermon of Rob's I've been transcribing for him: "Sonship vs Christianity". Rob spent a lot of time showing that "fear" (or as Jonathan Edwards called it; the legal principle) is the power of law. He said this;

"Sons have a spirit from the Father in them so they will never fear again. What is the fear? The fear that the Father will abandon me because I've sinned and made mistakes ... the fear that the Father is not able to supply me with what I need because I am not good enough and I am not holy enough so I will be rejected. Sons are led by a spirit that will never put them in fear again!

The whole purpose of the law was to point out your faults, point out how wrong you were, point out what you should be doing and that you will be judged and rejected by God under that law ... the Holy Spirit didn't come to replace that and just carry on making you feel bad - no! The Holy Spirit came to totally remove the law and to show you that you are a son and that if you live in the Spirit not circumstances ... then you are walking in a spirit that will never make you a slave to fear again!".

How awesomely similar is that? My whole point in juxta-posing these two quotes is not to find a defence for Rob Rufus. Rob is merely preaching a message. My excitement is that Jonathan Edwards read this Scripture hundreds of years ago and came to the same revelation that Rob has come to. That the law attempted to exact obedience by fear - fear of consequences if it was not kept to the letter. But we now who are in the New Covenant have received a Spirit of adoption. We are SONS!

What earthly father would run his household using fear to exact obedience? What earthly father would use the threat that if he was not obeyed then he would "disfellowship" the son from his household? It just wouldn't happen surely. Just so with our heavenly Daddy! Now we are sons, we have His Spirit within us crying out "Abba!" and He too will NOT use fear to attempt to exact obedience. Later on in the quote, Jonathan Edwards goes on to say that the Father wants obedience from a joyful and willing heart. Let me repeat one of the first things Edwards said because I love it so much;

"Laws aren't made for children and for intimate and dear friends but for servants ... the Spirit is better than the letter ... A being led by the Spirit of the Son of God as a spirit of adoption is inconsistent with a state of bondage, as sonship is inconsistent with servitude".


Anonymous said...

Your ability to smell out quotes that give a foundation to your doctrinal beliefs is quite ... startling. How do you do it? I have to say in all honesty - your extremism is refreshing. I have no doubt that if Sovereign Grace could have won you round, you would be a valuable asset to them right now.

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

It's so good to go smelling around the past like pigs hunting for Norman used to say. I want to look into one of his favorites from the 1500s or so called jacob Boehme. Obviously I'm hunting for stuff which helps explain Christ living His life as us...but it should all boil down to much the same thing. Found some gret stuff from Oswald Chambers. I notice Tim Atchley recommends Oswald Sanders and Oswald Chambers on leadership (see church website).
Keep it up.

Dan Bowen said...

Thanks Anonymous. Yes when I first discovered S.G.M would you believe I spent a ridiculous amount of money buying C J Mahaney tapes from CLC in Washington?! I built up quite a library of virtually every tape they had available. And I typed up every sermon of C J's that I could find and made it into a book! I was an SGM-er and proud of it ... :)

Your point is interesting - you could look at it that I try to embody the verse; "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might". Or I suppose I'm trying to avoid the Laodecian error and avoid being lukewarm about anything!! :)

Ahh yes Chris, that is exactly the analogy! Sniffing out truffles! I think that's how I see myself when I get into a library anywhere ... I go sniffing for gold. And you may have to read book after book and find nothing. But every now and then you find something like Edwards!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Have you still got the C J Mahaney materials?

Dan Bowen said...

No, Anonymous - I sold them on ebay for about £10.