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Sonship for all!


This past Sunday (3 September), I closed our worship time with the wonderful words of Romans 8:14-17:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba!  Father!'  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

At the end of our worship gathering, I gave an exhortation around the idea of sonship, encouraging people to lay hold of what is rightfully theirs in Jesus.  However, I didn't communicate as clearly as I would have liked, and got some great questions from a few people in our congretation on what we mean by sonship and its implications.  

I want to take this blog post to clarify what I meant, and more importantly, what scripture teaches - why sonship is such a beautiful truth, and how it applies to both men and women equally.

If you read your bible for long enough, you'll notice that many of the terms it uses are gendered - for example, the text above speaks about 'sons,' but while it then mentions 'children,' it makes no reference to 'daughters.'  So does Paul have only men in mind when he writes these words, and is he intentionally excluding women?  Biblically speaking, the answer to both questions is an emphatic 'no.'

The preface of the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible does a great job of explaining why the word 'sons' is important, and how it applies equally to men and women in this context:

'...the English word 'sons' (translating the Greek word huioi or huios) is retained in specific instances because the underlying Greek term usually includes a male meaning component and it was used as a legal term in the adoption and inheritance laws of first-century Rome.  As used by the apostle Paul, this term refers to the status of all Christians, both men and women, who, having been adopted into God's family, now enjoy all the privileges, obligations, and inheritance rights of God's children.'  (emphasis added)

This is what sonship means: incredibly, beautifully, and bewilderingly, God the Father has graciously chosen to bestow upon believers the same rights and privileges that his perfect Son Jesus enjoys, for we are co-heirs with Christ.  Through his atoning work in our place on the cross, we who were once spiritual orphans and enemies of God because of our sin have now been made God's children, for through Jesus we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'

Sonship matters, because it means that we are not simply 'children of God' in an abstract or ambiguous sense, but that we - both men and women - have been graced with the same relational standing that the Son has with the Father.  And that's crazy - but that's simply how good our God is!