QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
Regarding Sonship | Children of God
♦ Does it take time for the holy spirit to convince us we are sons?
On April 7, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“If the holy spirit convinces you that you are son of god, does this take time or happens all at once?”
To the author, we thank you for your inquiry and for allowing us to publish this response. We are touched by your words of appreciation and we pray that we can continue to support you as you support others. Here is our response to this question:
The whole purpose of the Christ’s coming to earth was to reveal to mankind the true nature of the Father and to reveal that we are all sons of this Father. Note that this is arevealing, not an appointment.
“Now I say that as long as the heir is a babe he does not differ at all from a slave, lord of all things though he is, but he is under men in charge and under stewards until the day his father appointed beforehand. Likewise we also, when we were babes, continued enslaved by the elementary things belonging to the world. But when the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son, who came to be out of a woman and who came to be under law, that he might release by purchase those under law, that we, in turn, might receive the adoption as sons.”– Galatians 4:1-5
These verses tell us that we have always been sons, even though we did not know it. We acted as babes, needing earthly caretakers (ritual priests) and were enslaved by elementary doctrines belonging to the world (earthly hopes). But God sent his Son to teach us the more weighty and spiritual matters so that we will be able to receive the adoption. Notice it does not that say that we might be offered adoption, but that we might receive it. It has already and always been offered, even during the days of Abraham. But the idea was too lofty for mankind to accept. We lacked self respect, self dignity, viewed ourselves as good for nothing sinners, and could not comprehend the magnitude of the Father’s love for us. We needed to see the Father’s mercy presented on our level, from a “son of man” so that we might understand. And when we understand, we can open up and receive the adoption long since offered.
How long does it take for us to receive it? That all depends on our own spiritual and mental status. Many even now labor under the idea that we are not worthy. But Jesus told us “even the hairs of our head are numbered” and that “we are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31) Many are too humble to receive the adoption. They hide their spiritual light under a basket. Jesus counseled us to ‘lift the basket and set our light on high so that others can see our light and give glory to the Father.’ (Matthew 5:14-16) And of course, there are some who accept their adoption in their hearts, but due to fear of men, chose not to make it known. Jesus said to those of us with this limitation:
“For whoever becomes ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of man will be ashamed of this one when he arrives in his glory and that of the Father and of the holy angels.”– Luke 9:26
We must not let fear of men prevent us from letting our lights shine. And who knows, perhaps there are others in your congregation who are wrestling with their sonship. Your boldness might empower them to make their hope sure. (2 Peter 1:10) Then you can support one another. Of course, we are here to support you as well.
In the first century, the disciples who heard the word of truth preached to them immediately recognized and accepted their sonship. (Acts 10:44-48) But today, especially among Jehovah’s Witnesses, we are slow to accept our sonship, not because of lack of faith in God, but because, as a group, we have a lack of faith in the Father. (See our article “Revealing God as a Loving Father” for a further discussion of this distinction.)
But no matter how long it takes, whenever your heart opens up to the Father, whenever your courage overpowers your fear, whenever you accept your sonship, your Father and the Christ will be there for you. Then the spirit of truth will be poured out to you so that you can advance in your knowledge and understanding of the Kingdom and the place to where you are going that was prepared just for you.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.”– John 14:1-4
Yes, we know the way – Jesus is the way. Imitate his faith. And may and “the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
♦ Does the spirit bear witness the same way to all sons? And does it make it known to others?
On April 7, 2012, we received the following inquiries:
“Are the anointed sons of God in unity with how the holy spirit convinces them? Does it do it differently with each individual. I learned it’s a personal thing between Jehovah and his son but does the holy spirit make it known to others around you as well?”
To the author, we thank you for your inquiries and hope we can provide satisfactory answers. Here are our responses.
First, please know that the holy spirit does not convince us of anything. It does not work overtly to reason with us or push us to any particular conclusion. Otherwise, the gift of sonship would not be taken by free will. Every spirit creation in harmony with the Father unreservedly respects man’s free will.
Instead, the realization of sonship is presented openly and laid out before us. We hear the message and we ponder it. Then must each of us “be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Roman 14:5) Yes, we convince ourselves based on what we know and learn about the Father’s purposes! That is the only way we can please the Father well. The spirit supports our decision, but our sonship must be freely and personally accepted.
This answers the other part of the question: are anointed sons united in how this occurs. Yes, we are united in that we must each come to this conclusion on our own, but the methodology may differ from son to son. Some accept this immediately, some need more time.
But perhaps you are asking if all sons receive a similar type of manifestation that convinces them of their sonship. Our response to that question is that when we experience outward manifestations that convince us we are sons, these are generally personal experiences and reactions. The human mind is a very complex organ. It communicates ideas to us through various means and through all of our senses, including what is called “our mind’s eye” – our gift of imagination and internal visions. Please see our response in Question and Response, February 23, 2012.
Finally, to your last question of whether the holy spirit makes it known to others, our answer is yes. But not in the way you might be expecting. The spirit does not bear witness with the spirit of others that you are a son, only with your own spirit. (Romans 8:16) However, others will know of your sonship by the fruitage of the spirit that you manifest. (Galatians 5:22-23) The more you imitate the Christ, the more will people recognize something different about you. And those who love the Father and the Christ will “see you.”
Having said that, we caution you not to be too concerned with whether or not others accept your sonship. It is indeed, as you said, a personal matter between you and the Father. When we seek the approval and recognition of others, we ourselves are involving others in this personal matter. How then can we complain when we are the ones inviting them in? Instead, make your peace with the Father and his Christ and you alone. Then go forward doing the work set our for you as “Ambassadors Substituting for Christ.”
We hope we have answered your questions to your satisfaction. If not, please feel free to write us again.
♦ I’ve sinned so much. Could I really be a son?
On April 7, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“I have had people to tell me I might be of the anointed. I have sinned so much in my life, how can this be possible? To be like our great and wonderful teacher Jesus Christ? Then the holy spirit bring to my heart, “All things are possible with our god Jehovah.”
To the author, we thank you for your candid inquiry. We agree with you that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) But we suspect many of our brothers share your concerns and allow this issue to be a stumbling block that prevents them from accepting their sonship. By way of our response, we hope to remove this stumbling block and be of comfort to you and to those who share your concerns.
We believe the best way we can answer this question is to point you to the parable of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-32) (We discuss this parable in more detail in the article, “Why Are the Older Anointed Reluctant to Recognize the Younger Anointed?”)
Here, the prodigal committed all kinds of debauchery. When he came to his senses, although he knew he was a son, he felt he was no longer worthy of that status. He returned to his father and sought only to be a hired man. But the father would not accept this kind of self-pity and self-denigration from his son. Neither does YOUR Father accept that attitude from you.
Jesus demonstrated the Father’s love and mercy when he encountered the woman who had been caught in adultery and who was about to be stoned. After wisely turning away the aggressors, Jesus asked:
“Did no one condemn you?” She said: “No one, sir.” Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way; from now on practice sin no more.”– John 8:10-11
And we follow Jesus’ example. We say to ourselves and to all those who hear us, “sin no more.” And that’s the end of that.
We find the problem with mankind in general is that many fail to appreciate the depth of divine forgiveness. We ask you, how often do you think loving and intelligent parents must forgive their erring offspring? We think, not too often. Not because the children do not err. But because there exists an intimate and understanding relationship between the two that prevent estrangements that necessitate repentance by the child and forgiveness by the parent.
The parent is able to view the immaturity of the child in the light of the more advanced parental maturity. The child, being immature and lacking in the fuller understanding of the depth of the child-parent relationship, frequently feels a sense of guilty separation from a parent’s full approval. But a true parent is never conscious of any such separation such that repentance and forgiveness need come into play.
With the earthly child and the heavenly Father, the divine parent possesses infinite and divine sympathy and capacity for loving understanding. Divine forgiveness is inevitable; it is inherent and inalienable in God's infinite understanding, in his perfect knowledge of all that concerns the mistaken judgment and erroneous choosing of the child. Divine justice is so eternally fair that it unfailingly embodies understanding mercy. Thus, sin is an experience of creature consciousness; it is not a part of God's consciousness.
Let’s take this a little further in our dealings with our brothers. When a wise man understands the inner impulses of his brothers, he will love them. And when you love your brother, you have already forgiven him. This capacity to understand man's nature and forgive his apparent wrongdoing is Godlike.
Conversely, our inability or unwillingness to forgive our brothers is the measure of our immaturity, and our failure to attain adult sympathy, understanding, and love. We hold grudges and nurse vengefulness in direct proportion to our ignorance of the inner nature and true longings of our brothers. Love is the outworking of the divine and inner urge of life. It is founded on understanding, nurtured by unselfish service, and perfected in wisdom.
So we need not concern ourselves with the quantity or even the quality of our sins. When we comprehend the Father’s divine mercy and understanding, we can see that it is only us who holds those past sins against us. We can then let them go, set them aside and start anew. That is what being “born again” is all about.
So, never may we allow our past transgressions to prevent us from accepting our true heritage and entering into the Kingdom of the Heavens. Your challenge, our dear brother or sister, is to forgive yourself. The Father’s work is already done.
We pray that the spirit of truth will lead you to this realization.
♦ How many people in history have already partaken of the emblems?
On May 19, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“How many people in history have partaken of the emblems? How many anointed are there now? Have you been counting? When can we know if all the anointed has partaken of their heavenly position with our father?”
To the author, we thank you for posting your questions. As a general answer to your questions, we direct you to the Apostle Paul’s words:
“You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one [person] in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”– Galatians 3:26-29
Here we are told that ALL who belong to Christ are sons of God. We gain that privileged relationship through our faith. There is no distinctions in the Christian congregation such that some are consider slaves and some considered sons. We are ALL Abraham’s seed. When we recognize and have faith in those words, we receive our anointing.
We know many of our brothers are having trouble with that concept. They are stuck on the idea that only 144,000 are sons of God and the remaining 7 million of us are only friends of God and subjects of the Kingdom. We have posted several articles that establish the sonship of every member of the Christian congregation under the section entitled Building Up the Brotherhood.
And we are finding that our most recent series of articles entitled The Cherished Earthly Hope is having a significant impact on our brothers who are having trouble understanding their sonship. We encourage you to read that series for further clarification of the hope held out to members of the Christian congregation.
Really, when we understand the truth that we are ALL sons of God, how can we count the number? And why count the number? In truth, the only number that is relevant is the number that are NOT partaking. Those are the ones who need the kingdom message the most.
Our suggestion is that you not worry about numbers. Concern yourself with people. Make it your mission to share the Kingdom message that we are ALL children of God. That is the good news of the Kingdom.
We hope we have adequately answered your questions. If not, please feel free to write again.
♦ Do you encourage people to partake in the Memorial even before God's calling?
On October 19, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“I had the personal experience of being called by God's Spirit (known as anointing event). These days while reading your site I realize you make the point that everyone is God's son. I agree with it, indeed, I hope and pray our celestial Father calls others/everyone as well. My question is: Do you encourage people to partake in the Memorial even before God's calling? I say that because we are aware the fact that God calls his sons.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are so pleased that you recognize and accept the calling of you. (2 Peter 1:10) And your prayer has already been answered regarding the Father’s generosity!
The Father calls us through his Son and the poured out Spirit of Truth. That was done centuries ago. He stands at the door ready for us to open. The only reason our brothers do not know they are sons is because they have not opened the door. They have not taken that leap of faith of believing that the gift of sonship has been offered to them. You might want to read the article we published, “Am I a Son?” – Conquering Doubt, for further discussion of that matter. Notice also Jesus’ words:
“Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his [house] and take the evening meal with him and he with me.”– Revelation 3:20
If Jehovah’s Witnesses were preaching the true good news when they called at a person’s door, that visit would constitute an extension of the Father’s calling to that person. Then, the question of “Have I been called?” would be a non-issue. Brother, there is no hope of survival outside of the Father’s calling. (See Who Are Led by Spirit?) Those that do not accept the heavenly calling are sure to die because the flesh is mortal:
“So, then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh to live in accord with the flesh; for if you live in accord with the flesh you are sure to die; but if you put the practices of the body to death by the spirit, you will live.”– Romans 8:12-13
It is truly sad that the Society actually teaches Jehovah’s Witnesses not to accept the calling. Perhaps you know of brothers who believed they had the witness of the spirit but were talked out of it by men. Those men carry a heavy burden for shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven; and those brothers who followed men instead of the spirit must turn back to the spirit if they are to be saved. We are doing our part to let all men know that the door is wide open for all who desire it. The Father’s call is open and welcoming. It is up to us to take life’s waters free. (Revelation 22:17)
We hope that answers your question.
♦ Chastised for helping another accept the heavenly hope.
On February 6, 2013, we received the following comment:
“I have been working with a young brother in my congregation in helping him get settled with his sonship. I don't know if he intends to partake at the upcoming memorial, but I suspect he will. If so, then I am certain at least from our elders they will think I am responsible for his partaking. I will have to think ahead and formulate a response should questions arise. I will reread the response to an elder who was experiencing difficulties with his own body of elders in regard to speaking about his heavenly hope.[Letter From An Anointed Elder 1/26/13]”
To the author, thank you for your comment. We publish your comment and our response here because we suspect that many others among our association will be facing a similar problem as the Memorial draws closer.
First we want you to know that, of course, you are responsible for the young brother’s partaking, and we say amen! That is what ambassadors for Christ are supposed to do!
“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”– Matthew 28:18-20
“They now arranged for a day with him, and they came in greater numbers to him in his lodging place. And he explained the matter to them by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God and by using persuasion with them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.”– Acts 28:23
Take a look at the Society’s publication, “Bearing Thorough Witnesses About God’s Kingdom.” The entire book is about making disciples of the Kingdom. On page 10, paragraphs 20-21, it state:
“Let us keep ever in mind that we have been commissioned to do an important work – to preach and make disciples. With each day that passes, the urgency of that commission becomes greater. The end of this system of things is rapidly approaching. Never before have so many lives been at stake. We do not know how many more rightly disposed ones may yet respond to our message. (Acts 13:48) But it is our responsibility to help such ones before it is too late. – 1 Tim. 4:16
“It is vital, then, that we imitate the example of zealous Kingdom preachers of the first century. May your careful study of this publication more strengthen you to preach with ever greater zeal and boldness. And may you be strengthened in your determination to continue “bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God.” – Acts 28:23
Yes, brother. You have a responsibility to imitate the first century preachers and teach the hope they taught. And when you speak about the kingdom of God, you can use persuasion. If the hearer makes a decision to take up the mantle of the Christ, that is a joyous occasion! Which one of the elders does not rejoice when they make a new disciple? Which publisher does not feel proud when a Bible student gets baptized? If they can rejoice when they lead someone to the earthly hope, how much more so can you rejoice for leading someone to the heavenly hope.
This double standard in our organization is reprehensible. Those who preach about an earthly hope, which was never taught by Jesus or the early Christians, are praised for their disciple making, but those who preach about the heavenly hope, which is the only hope Jesus and the early Christians taught, should somehow be ashamed and chastised? That is despicable!
It is time for this double standard to be confronted head on if it is to be dissolved. And it must be confronted with dignity, courage, confidence and joy! Bravo to you if the young brother does indeed partake! More glory to the Christ and to his powerful message of sonship! And shame on those who would seek to discourage it! They are making themselves subject to Christ’s disapproval as were the Pharisees who were likewise shutting up the Kingdom of the Heavens! (Matthew 23:13)
There is a lot of patience and tolerance for administrative matters such as meeting times, frequency of magazines, dress, grooming, service appointments, even which holidays can be celebrated. But the righteous indignation of sons of the kingdom should arise when men seek to control who can enter the Kingdom of the Heavens. Such men become adversarial resisters who will be shaken to their core.
We reject the double standard and we hope all sons of the Kingdom likewise reject it. If you are called to answer for assisting others into the heavenly hope, do not cower in fear as if you have done something wrong. Let them know that you are proud of your hope, proud of your ministry, and proud to take sides with the Christ and the Kingdom of the Heavens. They are the ones that should be ashamed. You may want to read: Proving Ourselves Worthy of the Christ and Sons of the Kingdom, Stand Up!
We will pray that you and the young brother have the courage to take your stand, and we will pray that those who try to suppress and inhibit the heavenly hope repent before there is no longer any forgiveness for them left.
We welcome your comments.
♦ Visitor shows that the number of sons of God are not limited to 144,000.
On March 14, 2013, we received the following comment:
“1 John 5:1 is a clear answer to any attempt to limit the number of the anointed: [According to the New English Translation of the Bible (NET)] ‘EVERYONE who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God.’ Also from the NET Bible. ‘The verb gennao- here means to be fathered by God and thus a child of God. The imagery in 1 John is that of a male parent who fathers children.’ A similar thought is found at John 1:12 from the NET Bible ‘But to ALL who have received him--those who believe in his name--he has given the right to become God's children.’ CAN ANYTHING BE CLEARER!! And these words were written AFTER the book of Revelation!”
To the author, thank you for your email. We agree with you. The matter is quite clear. There is no limit to those who could be faith sons of God and thus, no limit to those who have the heavenly hope. You make an excellent point that the words in 1 John 5:1 and John 1:12 were written AFTER the book of Revelation, after John received the vision of the 144,000.
According to the book, “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial,” published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., the writing of the book of Revelation was completed circa 96 C.E., whereas the writing of the books of 1 John and the Gospel According to John were both completed circa 98 C.E.
In your email, you quoted from the New English Translation of the Bible (NET). For the benefit of our visitors, we will provide a few more translations so that all can be sure of what John the Revelator himself believed as to how many believers could become sons of God.
Regarding 1 John 5:1:
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.”– King James Version
“Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child.”– Revised Standard Version
“Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God, and everyone who loves the one that caused to be born loves him who has been born from that one.”– New World Translation
Regarding John 1:12:
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”– King James Version
“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”– Revised Standard Version
“However, as many as did receive him, to them he gave authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name.”– New World Translation
These scriptures leave no doubt that ‘all who believe’ have the power to become sons of God by virtue of their faith. Thus, anyone who attempts to limit that number is in direct conflict with the words of Jesus as recorded by John the Revelator.
Thank you again, and please continue to share your observations.
♦ Is one with an earthly mind set and hope also one of God’s sons?
On March 18, 2013, we received the following comment:
“I am still somewhat confused about the heavenly hope. I do see your point of it being even more wonderful than the earthly hope. I also understand that we may be here (on earth) for a time and then something else develop (heavenly). That seems logical and would be loving on our Father's part.
“Maybe it is a weak spirit on my part that I haven't been able to imagine more. It seems that to be able to be both earthly and spirit at times would be the most exciting. I do know that the spirit would be so much different and in many ways superior to flesh. However, it doesn't seem that Jehovah would create an earth for Adam's home if it were not his intentions for the home of the human race. The earth is so wonderfully made as is the fleshly creation.
“Even though I haven't fully grasped this point about leaving the earth, I do so feel that I must partake of the emblems at the Memorial. What do you say to those that have not caught up with the heavenly hope yet but do firmly believe that we should all be brothers with Christ and remember him at the supper by sharing in the emblems.
“Is one with an earthly mind set and hope also one of God's Sons?”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are glad you are opening your mind to the plain and open teachings of Jesus.
Your studies of the Bible surely show that the only hope Jesus taught or the Christian Bible writers preached about was the heavenly hope. The idea of everlasting life on earth did not enter into the Christian teachings until the early 1900's when men attempted to interpret the prophecies in the book of Revelation. (See Proving Ourselves Worthy of the Christ) Anyone reading the Bible alone would never come up with the idea of an eternal earthly hope. The heavenly hope is real, the earthly hope is speculative, at best.
As you wisely say, the ideal situation is for us to enjoy life on earth for a time and then later enjoy the heavens. That is exactly God’s purpose! The only bug in the plan was the rebellion of Lucifer/Satan/the Devil and the error of Adam and Eve. However, when man gets back on tract and back in line with the divine purpose, through the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20), our time on the earth will be much more pleasurable and enjoyable (Psalm 46:9; Psalm 67:6; 72:16; Isaiah 2:4; 11:6-9; 33:24; 35:1, 6, 7; 65:21-23; Hosea 2:18), while we await our grander purpose in the heavens. The earth is wonderfully made, but it is only the pre-game show! The real life is in heaven. (1 Timothy 6:19)
You ask whether one with an earthly mind set and hope is also one of God’s sons. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.”– Romans 8:15-17
The sons of God are those who are led by spirit and who will inherit the heavenly kingdom. Those who have not gained that understanding or appreciation yet would not be considered as sons of God. If you are turning away from the heavenly hope, then it is mandatory that you advance in your thinking, develop yourself into a spiritual person, and line yourself up with the correct mind set and the true hope as Paul counseled:
“I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.”– Philippians 3:14-15
If a person rejects the heavens in favor of the earth, he will get his wish. When his body wears out, he will return to the earth and his thoughts will perish. (Psalms 146:4) On the other hand, if he aligns himself up with the true hope – the heavenly one – then when his body wears out, the body will return to the earth, but his life, his personality, his essence will be resurrected in a new incorruptible body and he will live on in heaven! (1 Corinthians 15:42-49) Remember, the resurrection Jesus promised is to heaven, not earth. (See The Promised Resurrection)
In the meantime, it is important for all who claim union with Christ to honor him by participating in the Memorial supper. And very soon, if such a person allows himself to be led by spirit, specifically the Spirit of Truth, he will know that everlasting life is granted to those who follow the Christ – into the heaven.
We hope we have answered your question. If not, please feel free to write us again.
♦ Can you introduce me to brothers who understand sonship in my area?
On September 13, 2013, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“I have a question. Are there any brothers in Florida around my area? Those who have learned the truth of the sonship? If so, where? If you can’t tell me, I understand.”
To the author, you ask a very good question. However, we have not as yet provided a means to introduce brothers through this website. It seems that some with impure motives could take advantage of that freedom and cause problems for those who attend meetings at Kingdom Halls. We would hate to be a party to that. So, we are trying to find a way to make that possible without compromising our brothers’ privacy. When we figure that out, we will let you know. And we are certainly open to suggestions.
In the meantime, you can find such brothers on your own or you can develop them yourself. That is what the ministry is all about. As you put yourself out there, you will become a magnet to other like minded brothers and sisters. In the article Defending Our Living Hope, we shared the experience of a congregation of 345 partakers. What we did not share is that this brotherhood of like minded sons of God grew out of our contact with one individual.
Here is how it happened. Our brother was volunteering at a homeless shelter and met a young man who had been undergoing various trials. After learning more about the young man’s circumstances, our brother shared with him the sacred secret of sonship and discovered he was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. The young man was directed to the website and he was so inspired by the information that he shared the website with his mother. She, in turn, shared it with her Congregation Coordinator; the Congregation Coordinator shared it with the body of elders, and the rest is history.
In another experience, our brother shared the hope and the website with a man who owned a video rental store. About a month later, the man moved to Mexico for family reasons, and began sharing the website with others. Within a few months, his efforts grew into an association of brothers and sisters numbering close to 100. He writes us occasionally with thrilling updates of the faith of those new sons of the kingdom.
Both of these fellowships grew from speaking to one individual. We are certain that many of the visitors here can attest to the value of making one meaningful contact. These types of experiences can be duplicated anywhere. This is the intent of the Christ. He said:
“You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”– Acts 1:8
This directive was fulfilled principally through the scattering of the brothers from Jerusalem. They went off individually or as families in different directions, some traveling as far as Africa. And these lone brothers, or lone Christian families, developed fellowships in the communities in which they found themselves.
The true ministry is not just fellowshipping. It involves reconciling others to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) Thus, true harvesting comes through ‘pioneering’ new areas where the good news has not yet penetrated. And not just geographically, but spiritually. Your own community is likely virgin territory to the sacred secret of sonship!
We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to start conversations about sonship with even strangers. The good news, as Jesus taught it, is so appealing to the spirit when it is unencumbered with proselytizing to a particular religious group. In other words, when you share the good news and allow the listener to decide how they choose to respond to it, you will have so much more success than if you told them they had to come to your church or change to your religion in order to be saved. As Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, the Father is not looking to see at which ‘mountain’ you worship. He is looking for those who worship with spirit and truth:
“Jesus said to her: ‘Believe me, woman, The hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”– John 4:21-24
A fellowship is a base for mutual encouragement. Until you develop a fellowship, we are here for you. However, the real ministry is out in the field:
“Then he said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’” – Matthew 9:37-38
The good news begins as a small mustard seed. Once the seed is planted, it takes on a life of its own and grows into a large tree where many will find shelter. Perhaps you might be able to plant seeds and to spark a fire of sonship in your area. If you do, please share your experiences with us so we can post them for the encouragement of the entire fellowship. And, of course, if you have any suggestions on how we can discreetly introduce visitors of like minds, please do not hesitate to share those ideas with us.
In the meantime, as we often say, there is a large field under cultivation. Pick a spot!
♦ Is your article Beyond A Friend just a quibbling over the words ‘sons’ and ‘friends’?
On May 2, 2014, we received the following comment:
“First of all, I would like to offer a few comments regarding your article today, “Beyond a Friend." The terms "friend" and "son" convey relationships by the use of word pictures. The biblical usage of word pictures is well established among Bible scholars. Yes indeed, we Christians are sons of God! At the same time, we are referred to as friends of God and Jesus. "I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me." (John 15:15 NLT) Notice this verse uses the word pictures of "slaves," "master," and "friends." If we focus too exclusively on this scripture, we might get the impression that Christians would not be called "slaves," but only "friends." However, notice how inspired Bible writers refer to themselves as slaves. (Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1) So it seems best that we don't "quibble over the meaning of words." (1 Timothy 6:4 NLT) It is certainly fine to "get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding", regarding words, without being "over righteous, neither be overwise." (Proverbs 4:7; Ecclesiastes 7:16 NIV)”
To the author, thank you for your email. It is informative, however, we feel your counsel should be more directed toward yourself than toward us. Here is why we say that.
As we explain in the article Beyond A Friend, Jesus was clear in teaching that his followers are sons of God. While it is also true that the New Testament refers to his followers as his friends and slaves, it does so only in a relative, not an absolute, sense. Whereas our identification as sons IS absolute. We do not cry out “Abba Master” or “Abba Buddy.” We cry out “Abba Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6)
This is an important distinction, especially in light of Governing Body’s teachings as expressed in the February 15, 2014 Watchtower magazine which was scheduled to be studied this weekend (May 3-4, 2014) entitled “Jehovah – Our Best Friend.” That Watchtower article is designed to prevent our brothers from joining in union with Christ as his brothers and to promote alienation from God as heirs to the kingdom of the heavens. It is not a small matter.
Your email suggests that we are the ones who are ‘quibbling over words’ as referred to in 1 Timothy 6:4. We respectfully disagree. Let’s take a look at that verse in context.
“If any man teaches another doctrine and does not agree with the wholesome instruction, which is from our Lord Jesus Christ, nor with the teaching that is in harmony with godly devotion, he is puffed up with pride and does not understand anything. He is obsessed with arguments and debates about words. These things give rise to envy, strife, slander, wicked suspicions, constant disputes about minor matters by men who are corrupted in mind and deprived of the truth, thinking that godly devotion is a means of gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:3-5
Here, Paul is exhorting Timothy to not get sidetracked from the teachings of Jesus Christ that lead to godly devotion by getting caught up in debates about words. Is that not the very thing you are doing in your email? You emphatically state “Yes indeed we Christians are sons of God!” So you agree with the point of the article, Beyond A Friend! Yet you then go on to elaborate about the various uses of the words ‘master’ ‘slaves’ and ‘friends.’ Is that not ‘quibbling over words.’ Is this not the epitome of a ‘dispute about minor matters’? We exhort you, brother, to ‘pay attention to yourself and your teachings.’ (1 Timothy 4:16) Learn to recognize ‘the more important things.’ (Philippians 1:10) And before you counsel others, first consider the ‘rafter’ in your own eye. (Matthew 7:3) Since you agree that we are all sons of God, then there is no real dispute and, thus, no reason for challenging our motives. Could it be you who is being ‘over righteous’ and ‘over wise’? It is certainly a matter worthy of contemplation.
♦ Visitor who had lost faith in God questions the growth as stated in Kingdom Update - December 2014.
On December 31, 2014, we received the following detailed comment and question which we are happy to respond to. We present the entire email:
“I'm a reader of your website since end of 2012. I followed with great interest many of your articles and I check almost daily if something is new. I was a witness [for 28 years]. I pioneered and served in various positions. We were close to attending Gilead, but decided to have children instead. In 1980, I was disfellowshipped due to not accepting the [Faithful and Discreet Slave] anymore.
“In the years after 1980 I became a very active ex-witness, trying to help our former brothers to recognize the errors I found, but my own family became even more convinced as a result. I joined an evangelical group for about 10 years, became more critical, lost my faith in the Bible as God's word and finally my faith in the God the Bible represents.
“In the 2nd part of 2012, I had the desire to see what's going on with [Jehovah's Witnesses] because [my family] are still in the organization. For many years I had no interest in religion – became an agnostic – but through your articles my hope was nourished that something is going on which finally could change the organization and I could be reunited, at least with my family. I agree with a lot of your articles, which show that Jesus needs to be the center of our faith. I never commented any of your articles, but I'm thankful for the work you have done during this period. Particularly I'm thankful, that I found on your pages for the first time a reference to the Urantia Book. I have read it meanwhile from beginning to the end and I'm reading it again. It simply overwhelmed me and since reading it, I can believe again in God. There is so much to detect and as my memory fails now often (I'm 72), I will have to read it often. I'm reading daily in it and marvel about the information presented there and I tend to believe it.
“On the other side there is something which fuels my skepticism. In your Kingdom Update December 2014 you speak of the tremendous increase from April 2014 to now (from 8.7 to 27 million) which simply ignites my doubts, because that sound unbelievable. I remember that you once answered a similar question [Question and Response 2/12/14] but the answer for me was not satisfying. On what do you base such information? It would take even for an organization like the [Watchtower Bible & Tract Society] a department of people to add up all the figures which would come in from various sources and different parts of the world. I would appreciate if you could provide a satisfying and understandable answer - no details are required for it.
“Does the figure include the figures from another group or religious organization and how then do you decide which ones should or can be included? How do you get the information? I don't expect any details, but a general, open and understandable answer. Or is it that you personally have - or believe to have - contact with some of the celestial beings? Sometimes your wording rings like that.
“Personally I think that your statement of these figures rather discourages as it will fuel doubts, especially if you don't explain how you can say that. So, I should appreciate very much a satisfying clarification, as I'm considering helping you to translate your articles into German. I'm looking forward to your answer and wish you further success in your wonderful work. With kind regards.”
To the author, we want to thank you for your email. We suspect there are many others who have followed, and are following your faith journey, and many others who share your concern about the numbers reported in the Kingdom Update – December 2014, and on other articles on this website. We are awed at the numbers as well, but we assure you they are accurate as we will explain below.
First, we want to acknowledge that many, many of our brothers who were mistreated and mislead by various religious groups and who have consequently turned away from God have found their way back to faith and back to the Father and Christ Jesus by means of The Urantia Book. What happens is that the hard to understand Bible stories, and the way many of its teachers and adherents behave make it hard for intelligent, reasonable and thoughtful people in these modern times to believe there is a wise, loving, and caring God. But, in our experience, The Urantia Book, which we call “The Teacher’s Guide to the Bible,” explains many of those hard to believe stories by adding context and background which appeals to reason, logic, intelligence, and known scientific facts. And in so doing, it makes the Bible understandable and acceptable to the modern mind, and thereby builds and rebuilds faith. But we know that the vast majority of Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses would stumble at the book. That is why we limit what we publish on this website to what was actually presented in, and supported by, the Bible. More advanced concepts and the examination of extra-Biblical writings such as The Urantia Book are reserved for our sister site www.TheChristExperiment.org. We hope you continue visiting that website and sharing your thoughts. Now to your question.
You are right that it would take a very large army of men to count each person who claims to be a son of God, and there would always a question of whether the person is truly a son of God or just an imposter or a ‘wanna-be.’ While we do have a means of tracking visitors to our site, those reports do not identify who is a looky-loo and who is an actual son. So there must be more to it.
Jesus once said: “When the son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) But faith in what? Faith in the Father; faith in Jesus; faith in the Spirit of Truth; faith in Holy Spirit; faith in the angelic army whose purpose is to serve man; faith in one another; faith in personality survival after death of the mortal body; and things like these. Like those in the 1st century, a large portion of our society is ‘a faithless generation.’ In an effort to change that, we published articles such as “Faith in Unseen Realities” and “Walking By Faith.” We showed that angels are active today and very much concerned about continuing and completing the ministry Jesus began in the 1st century. As they did back then, angels continue to guide and direct his ministry. And yes, dear brother, they can count. (Matthew 10:30) Does this stumble you? “What, therefore, if you should see the Son of man ascending to where he was before?”
We hesitate to speak too much on this matter because we want people to focus on the message, not the messengers. Numbers signifying growth in the sons of God are encouraging, especially among a people who are convinced that the world is increasingly Godless and going ‘straight to Armageddon.’ But it is the plain and open teachings of Jesus that build faith and lead to peace to salvation.
The bottom line is that you can doubt the numbers if you choose to – they are only good for counting. But do not lose sight of the more important things. As some would say ‘Do not throw out the baby with the bath water.’ If what you find on this website is encouraging and if you are moved to assist us in continuing Jesus’ authentic ministry, we welcome you and any others who want to help us spread his ‘plain and open teachings.’ We especially need translators.
So reflect on what we have written and let us know if you still wish to help us.
The Inquirer’s Reply: 1/1/15 - Dear brothers, Thank your very much for your really fast and kind answer, which I appreciate and accept - it didn't stumble me, somehow I even expected it - but certain doubts will remain for the time being. You are right, there are more important things than numbers. Your message and the articles on your site bears the spirit of truth, which I can't deny, so I'm still willing to help you in translating your articles.
♦ Can you what “the spirit of slavery” is? (Romans 8:14)
On May 7, 2015, we received the following inquiry:
“Can you explain what "the spirit of slavery" is?”
To the author, thank you for your email. The easiest way to answer your question is to consider the context of the scripture that refers to the spirit of slavery. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“For all who are led by God’s spirit are indeed God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs—heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ—provided we suffer together so that we may also be glorified together.” – Romans 8:14-17
Paul was writing to Roman Christians, a people who were very familiar with slavery. Using that practice as an appropriate setting, Paul contrasted the mind and inclination of a slave with the mind and inclination of a son of God. He explained that God’s sons are led by spirit and the spirit leading them – the Spirit of Truth – is not characterized by fear, but by a confident assurance and a strong faith that God is their personal intimate father.
A slave approaches his master with eyes turned down not knowing what to expect. But a son approaches his father looking him straight into his eyes knowing that the father always has his best interests at heart. A slave is always doing and working so as to please his master. But a son is born with the father’s favor. A slave works and works but receives no pay. He may receive a small reward during his lifetime depending on the master, and a hearty "thank you" as he returns to the dust. But a son carries on the family business and gains the inheritance.
Paul was telling the Roman Christians not to cower away from God or view God as an angry potentate who would strike them down for any wrong, as a slave might think – the spirit of slavery. But to see God as their own father, one who loves and welcomes them. Although their actual adoption is for a future time, for now they have a faith-based sonship – the spirit of adoption – knowing in their hearts that their future adoption as spirit sons of God is assured. When one comes to know God and the one he sent, Jesus Christ, then the desire by faith to be adopted comes naturally.
Whether one has a spirit of slavery or a spirit of adoption as sons is a question of life or death – either one accepts sonship and gains the inheritance of everlasting life, or one accepts slavery and returns to the dust.