Children or Sons?
“Beloved, now are we the sons (Greek: children) of God,
and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
but we know that, when he shall appear,
we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him
purifieth himself, even as he is pure”
1JOHN 3:2 – 3
This powerful, liberating truth of God speaks to all those who by FAITH have been born anew into the family of God; “…we are God’s children NOW”! This is not determined by the feelings or circumstances of life; this is the certainty of God. We are now children of His, whereby we cry “Abba, Father”. To much of Christendom this is as far and as deep as things get. The beginning has become the end; we have manufactured a doctrinal thesis to keep this as the status quo. We read here in First John that there is to be a living hope that beats within our hearts of growing into a full, undimmed expression of HIM in our lives; so that when HE appears we SHALL BE LIKE HIM! This is manifested in the maturation of a growing purity within the hearts of those who know of this living hope.
“And every man that hath this hope in him
purifieth himself, even as he is pure”
While a living hope infuses the passion and pursuit of purity, a doctrinal hope has no power to convey this quest for life. It is simply a belief that lays no claim to our personal lives; a religious concept that robs the WORD of its power and authority (Mark 7:13). There is little or no cost associated with such a “belief” and the adherents of such go through life with very little change. They are children of God, loved of Him, yet bereft of the experience and privilege of growing and developing into the sons of God. In the New Testament the Greek words used to differentiate between these two (children and sons) are distinct*. As a child develops, added responsibilities are given and with these responsibilities the added privileges of life. We do not give a three year old the car keys. God measures out to His own the pounds and the talents according to their “ability” but we see the withholding of truth to those who are unexercised in the development of true spiritual discernment.
“For every one that useth milk
is unskilful in the word of righteousness:
for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them
that are of full age, even those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”
HEBREWS 5:13 – 14
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual,
but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat:
for hitherto ye were not able to bear it,
neither yet now are ye able”
Strong meat belongs to those who have grown from a child toward that full-aged development by the exercising of their senses to discern “good and evil”. Discernment is developed by growing into a pure heart so that we can see clearly and objectively (1Corinthians 2:15). “Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:18). It is only by us becoming pure in heart that we shall see God and have the ability to discern between good and evil.
“And everyone that has THIS hope in him
purifies himself as he is pure”
The revelation of our hope is verified in a growing purity. That hope is the bridge between what we are now and what we will be when HE appears. All we need to do is to look at the parables of Jesus. They all speak of faith as a living, growing, dynamic filled with HIS very life. The parable of the sower clearly states that the fruitfulness of a life is completely dependent upon the soil of the heart into which the precious seed falls. The seed that fell on the stony ground is the same seed that fell into the soil that brought forth the hundred fold harvest. The only difference is the soil, not the seed.
We need to take responsibility for our growth and development in God. A living hope, burning within the hearts of those who are in full pursuit of purity, is the means of growth from an infant unto maturity.
The heart is the lens through which we see God.
“Blessed are the pure in heart:
for they shall see God”
Huios (son) at times refers to a legal heir and thus, by implication, an adult. It seems to underscore the character or maturity of the individual. Teknon (child or children) is a more general designation for offspring and contemplates the individual as one who is parented, one who has been born to another. For example, Jesus is never designated as teknon or teknon Theou (gen. of Theos (G2316), God), Son of God, but always ho huios, the Son, the Son of God or the Son of Man
“The difference between believers as “children of God” and as “sons of God” is brought out in Rom. 8:14-21. The Spirit bears witness with their spirit that they are “children of God,” and, as such, they are His heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. This stresses the fact of their spiritual birth (vv. 16, 17). On the other hand, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God,” i.e., “these and no other.” Their conduct gives evidence of the dignity of their relationship and their likeness to His character.” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testaments Words, by W.E. Vine)