In regard to the assembly, the body of Christ, the ministry of the gifts bestowed by our ascended Head has in view its edifying, “until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:12-13). That is the present divine objective. It should be ours also.
When we think of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of Man, we see in Him the representative Man, according to eternal counsel, the One who is set over all the works of God (Ps. 8), and the One who in dominion and kingdom and glory is to be served by all people, nations, and tongues (Dan. 7:11), also the One who is the glorifier of God (John 13:31), even as He is likewise the glorifier of the Father as the Son (14:13). When, however, we view the purpose of God in relation to the Son of God, the One who perfectly represents God, we see Him ultimately in eternal blessedness surrounded by those who are called His brethren, sons of God who had been foreknown of God, His elect—called, saved, justified by grace, and glorified even as He had predestinated beforehand—“conformed to the image of His Son so that HE should be the Firstborn among many brethren. The knowledge of God’s Son now! Conformity to His image in glory then!
“And is it so? we shall be like Thy Son,
Is this the grace which He for us has won?
Father of glory, thought beyond all thought,
In glory, to His own blest likeness brought.”
As the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Father first revealed Him to Peter. Paul, however, was the first to preach Him as the Son of God; while it is by the Apostle John the Spirit presents Him to us pre-eminently in this way. Upon Himself, thus revealed, Jesus made known to Peter that He, the Son of Man, would build His assembly. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “Ye were called into the fellowship of God’s Son.” John says in regard to his Gospel, “These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life in His Name”; and in regard to his first epistle, “These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” Life and love are both intimately connected with our Lord Jesus Christ thus, “in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
When the raising of Lazarus was in question, the Lord said it was that the Son of God might be glorified thereby,” and to Martha He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He raised others also from the dead, nor could He Himself be holden of death, for He rose again from among the dead after He had laid down His life for us in infinite love. This also demonstrates who He is, for who but the Son of God could bring the dead back to life and rise Himself from the grave? Upon this glorious fact the Apostle Paul bases the foundation teachings of the Gospel in Romans, as he says of the Saviour, “marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of the dead” (1:4). God’s love is declared in the down-coming and death of His Son. Life and glory are known in the risen and ascended Son of God!
“Son of God! with joy we praise Thee,
Living now in heaven above,
All Thy wondrous work displays Thee,
Telling too that ‘God is love.’
God in Thee His thoughts unfolding
Shows the riches of His grace;
Blest our lot with joy beholding
All glory in Thy face.”
Moreover the Spirit of God’s Son has been given to the redeemed, and a capability also granted to them so that they might grow in the knowledge of the One into whose fellowship the Gospel of God’s grace has called them. Although they are not yet glorified they are sons already. They were redeemed by the Son of God that sonship might be theirs. Therefore it is written, “Because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Notice, it is the Spirit of God’s Son which has been given to us. The very Spirit which He has now in heaven we have here on earth, and that same Spirit gives us to address God in the same relationship in which He Himself is! Notice again, this precious gift is a matter of the heart. We are told that the Spirit of God indwells our bodies, and they are the temples of the Holy Ghost, but the Spirit of His Son is sent into our hearts, giving us the cry of relationship in divine love, and giving us power too to know Him in a deeper and fuller way.
In Luke 1:35 we read of His birth in time when it is recorded, “That holy thing which shall be born of thee (of the Virgin) shall be called the Son of God.” Thus Luke presents Him to us in all His gracious perfection, the divine Man here for God’s pleasure and the blessing of men. In John, however, He is shown to us in His own personal glory and deity, so that his first epistle thus closes, “The Son of God has come and has given us an understanding that we should know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” We see Him therefore as a perfect Man, and know Him to be also truly God. As this is rightly apprehended many glorious truths are explained. Who but God could fully reveal God? and yet how else could this be perfectly done for men except by a Man? Until such an One came, we read, “No man has seen God at any time;” but when the Son of God was here, He “declared Him” (John 1:18); and, “being the effulgence of His glory and the expression of His substance,” all that God is shone out in moral perfection in Him. God is known in His Son, and the Son of the Father’s love is His very image, for the invisible God has become visible in Him (Col. 1:15). This indeed is encouraging to those who love and rejoice in our Lord Jesus Christ.
When Satan began the temptation he said, “If thou be Son of God” (Luke 4:3), but when he was defeated and Jesus began to spoil his goods, setting free his captives, the fleeing demons owned Him as they cried out, “Thou art Christ, the Son of God” (4:41). Legion likewise with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God” (8:28). The Roman centurion too, who saw Him and heard His loud voice when He gave up His Spirit, said, “Truly this Man was Son of God.” John also said, “I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God.” Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.” Martha said unto Him, “I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” And when the stormy waves tossed the ship in which the disciples were crossing the raging sea, and Jesus brought Peter safely into the boat after he had walked on the water, they came and worshipped Him, saying, “Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.” Not did He refuse to receive their heartfelt homage, for He truly was the Son of God.
It was the same in the case of the blind man whose eyes were opened by our Lord Jesus Christ. He had reaped the benefit of this gracious work, although he suffered the rejection of the religious leaders when he afterwards spake well of the Saviour, but when the Lord made Himself known to him as the Son of God, he worshipped Him (John 9:38). He might have previously prayed for the Lord to open his eyes, and then have thanked Him for having done it, but it was the knowledge of who He was that called forth the homage of his heart. See that drowning youth call for help! and another plunge into the deep and save the grateful man! He heartily thanks him for doing so, but who shall describe his feelings when he learns that his saviour was none less than a Prince! Just so with the soul that has been saved by our Lord Jesus Christ; his thanksgivings are sincere, but as be grows and learns the wonderful glories of His Saviour, heartfelt homage will make him a worshipper in His presence, for the Son of God in His infinite worth and love is increasingly known and appreciated for what He is in Himself.