Studies in Sonship, part 7: Sonship and Priesthood
To have a greater grasp on the subject of sonship, it would behoove the believer to understand the restoration of all things and the sovereignty of God. Those are major topics. We have expounded them in depth in a series of 38 lectures. It would also be helpful if one understood the progression of salvation as displayed in the types and shadows of the tabernacle in the wilderness. We expounded that in a series of 30 lectures. (See more information on both these studies at the bottom of this blog.)
Towards the end of the latter series, as we studied the Holy of Holies, we came to understand somewhat about the concept of the manchild, in particular, the birthing of the manchild. This is related to the subject of sonship, although we did not call it that at that time. And both are related to the overcomers, who will be the manifested sons of God.
Sonship is another one of those terms which is used widely among Christians, and yet many or most of them have no idea—or perhaps they have a false idea and conception of what sonship is really all about.
In the book of Revelation, chapter 5, verse 10, we read of the saints becoming priests and kings and they shall reign on the earth. Many believers have the mistaken impression that all Christians will be these priests and kings. This has been reinforced heavily by the term which originated in the Protestant Reformation and which speaks of “the priesthood of all believers.”
However, from our studies on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, what class of people could lawfully enter into the Holy Place? All the Israelites? That is to say, all the congregation? No, only the priests. Only the overcomers will be those ruling. Just because a person becomes a Christian believer does not mean he is automatically a priest in the sense of those who will rule and reign on the earth.
While the Reformers were given many beautiful and marvelous insights and rediscoveries of great truths of Scripture which had been hidden or lost over the centuries, especially during the Dark Ages, they were not given to understand all the truths of sacred Scripture. Some were to remain to be discovered or rediscovered in a later day. “The priesthood of all believers” is one of those misunderstandings that arose from the Reformation.
Having said that, I do understand how the misunderstanding came about. The Reformers were in a reaction mode to the Roman Catholic church, with its hierarchy of priests. In protesting that, the Reformers said: “We don’t need your priests; we are all priests.” That is true, in the sense that we do not need to go through some other man, some mediator, in order to talk to and have a relationship with God. In that sense, the “priesthood of all believers” is true. But not in the fuller sense.
The priesthood and rulership referred to in the Revelation, chapter 5, applies to the overcomers and not to all of the church. Stated in terms of the types and shadows, the right to rule applies to those in the barley company, not to those Christians in the wheat company.
In a similar manner, many Christians have the mistaken idea that once a person “gets saved,” that he is automatically, then and there, transformed into a “son of God. “This is not the case, as we will show in this study. Sonship is the result of a path of experience, and in that sense, it is analogous to or similar to the path of the believer which we studied in our series on the tabernacle in the wilderness. Sonship and priesthood are related ideas, as we will show later.
In the tabernacle in the wilderness, there were three main parts to the structure. The innermost part was the Holy of Holies (alternately called The Most Holy Place), the outer compartment was the Holy Place, and outside of that tent structure itself was the open-air area enclosed by the linen fence which was called the Outer Court.
During the course of our Tabernacle studies, I posed the question concerning someone who had just entered through the gate in the Outer Court: “is he saved?” And the answer was both yes and no, or “sort of, but not really.” And then the pilgrim moved on to the altar of burnt offering and from there to the laver, and from there he entered inside the Holy Place, and at each step along the way we would ask the same question: “Is he saved?”
And always, the answer was both yes and no. Yes, because the salvation process that God has begun in a person, He will complete. No, because none of us are at the final stage of salvation yet where we have been awarded vivification—a term which in the biblical context refers to our resurrected body which possesses both immortality and incorruptibility.
We have a very similar situation here with the question of sonship. When a person first becomes a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, is he a son of God? And we could answer: sort of, but not really. In other words, he is a son in the sense that he has begun proceeding down the path which will culminate in actual sonship. That is why that phrase “the priesthood of all believers” has an element of truth to it.
But…I believe that there is a very important distinction that needs to be made here. I believe that everyone travels the path of salvation and eventually brings forth Christ in them, and thus they are born again (eventually) into immortality and incorruptibility. They all become sons of God. However, I believe there is a distinction between a firstborn company of the sons of God and all the other groups of sons born later.
This corresponds exactly and directly with the concept of the overcomers in contradistinction to the rest of the church; that is, the barley company as opposed to the wheat company. In other words, there are great privileges and honors which are bestowed upon that group of saints called the firstborn sons of God which the rest of the sons of God who are born into immortality later will not receive. We will develop this theme as we proceed in our study. But just to whet your spiritual appetite, this is what the apostle Paul was referring to when he said: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14.)
We also discovered in our study of the tabernacle in the wilderness the multiplicity of threes. They were associated with the three compartments of the tabernacle. We had the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the most Holy Place. We had the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. We have the salvation of our spirit, our soul, and finally the salvation of our body at the Feast of Tabernacles. We have the three stages of salvation: justification, sanctification and glorification. The saints bring forth fruit to different degrees: some 30-fold, some 60-fold, and some 100-fold.
We will now focus in on another trio as we begin our studies on sonship. It is that each of the three compartments can not only be related to the processes of justification, sanctification and glorification, but that the three compartments also correlate to the three stages defining our relationship to the Father while we are on our the path to complete and full sonship.
These three relationships are found in the epistle of 1 John, chapter 2. There John uses the terms little children, young men, and fathers. Before we examine that passage, let me just make this point for the record. It is something that was never necessary until relatively recently in our history. It concerns the distinctions between genders.
With all of the political correctness being force-fed to us in our culture these days, it becomes a necessity for me to point out that when the Scripture speaks of sons, or young men, or other such terms specifying the masculine gender; that it should be clear by the context, that members of the female gender are equally included. This used to be understood and accepted by everyone in our society.
For example, when we would say mankind, everyone understood that it included women. Now there even some modern Bibles which are trying to be politically correct by being what they call “gender inclusive.” They start the Lord’s prayer like this: “our father/mother which art in heaven…” Well, I can easily get off on a tangent here discussing the gender of God, which deserves a teaching by itself, but the point that I am making is that Paul says in:
Galatians 3: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
And thus, when we’re talking about obtaining sonship, it applies equally to males and females. Enough said on that. (To be continued.)
Further information for those desiring in-depth Bible studies.
Concerning the restoration of all things and the sovereignty of God, my 38 lectures are available in a series of four CD albums, which can be ordered individually, or all four albums as a set called God’s Plan for Man. This is a progressive study; therefore, we recommend hearing them in sequential order, lowest numbered album first. The individual albums in the God’s Plan For Man series are:
A-101 The Doctrine of the Eons and the Laws of Jubilee 6-CD set. $24
A-102 The Sovereignty of God 10-CD set, charts. $40
A-103 It’s Hell…or Nothing! (This presents [and disposes of] the case for eternal torture and/or the final annihilation of the unsaved.)10-CD set. $40
A-104 Universal Reconciliation 12-CD set. $44 (This presents the case for why God will ultimately save everyone.)
PACKAGE PRICING for all four of the above CD albums for $99. Save $49!
The Tabernacle in the Wilderness series is a progressive study; therefore, we recommend hearing them in sequential order, lowest numbered album first. The individual albums in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness series are:
A-105 Introduction, The Court, The Brazen Altar 6-CD set, includes charts. $24
A-106 The Laver: Baptism and Circumcision 10 CD set, charts. $40
A-107 The Holy Place 8 CD set, charts. $24
A-108 The Holy of Holies 6 CD set, charts. $24
PACKAGE PRICING for all four of the above CD albums, plus D-101 for $95; SAVE $23.
D-101 DVD, a visual survey and introduction by Dr. Bruggeman of all the furniture associated with the Tabernacle. Approx one hour.
While our online store is under reconstruction, you can order via postal mail to: PO Box 5695, Asheville, NC 28813.