Posted by: rcottrill | October 25, 2013

Beloved, Now Are We the Sons of God

Words: Daniel Webster Whittle (b. Nov. 22, 1840; d. Mar. 4. 1901)
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1840; d. July 9, 1907_

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Daniel Whittle)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Whittle and McGranahan are two of the most prominent gospel song writers of the nineteenth century. The Cyber Hymnal will give you a look at the output of both men, with its list of 123 songs by Major Whittle here, and a list of 73 tunes , plus the lyrics of a few songs McGranahan here. A number of these songs are still found in our hymn books.

This 1883 selection is one of those gospel songs whose refrain is twice as long as the stanzas. Yet the stanzas do make a significant contribution, all the same. The refrain is virtually a direct quotation of First John 3:2.

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I Jn. 3:2, NKJV).

You will notice one particular difference, if you are familiar with the KJV text that Whittle used. The verse begins: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” That may seem an insignificant difference, but it is not. Both words are used in the New Testament to describe Christians, and there is indeed some overlap. But two different Greek words are used, describing two aspects of our new relationship at conversion.

¤ By the new birth, we become children (teknon, in Greek) of God. We are God’s spiritual offspring, children in His forever family. The word is used in John 1:12. See also Romans 8:16 and Philippians 2:15.

¤ The moment we’re saved, we’re also elevated to the position of sons in the family (huios, in Greek). The word particularly emphasizing our legal position in the family as joint-heirs with Christ. See Galatians 3:26. This relates to the practice of elevating a son, when he comes of age, by what the Bible calls “adoption” (huiothesia). See Ephesians 1:5.

The word in First John 3:2 is teknon, so the NKJV properly translates it as “children.” However, having said these things in the interests of precision, both terms are applicable to each and every Christian, and we certainly can revel in our sonship, as Major Whittle does here.

CH-1. Sonship has to do with how “the Father sees us,” and the fact that “He gives us place” as heirs in His household. (Note how this particularly relates to the description of sons of God, given above.)

The Refrain. As Christians, we presently (“now”) have our standing in God’s family. We don’t have to wait till we die for that. However, there is definitely more to come. When Christ returns, we shall be made “like Him.”

“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:51-53).

CH-1) Sons of God, belovèd in Jesus!
O the wondrous word of grace;
In His Son the Father sees us,
And as sons He gives us place.

Belovèd, now are we the sons of God,
And it doth not yet appear what we shall be;
But we know that when He shall appear;
We know that when He shall appear,
We shall be like Him, we shall be like Him,
For we shall see Him as He is.

CH-3. This will be accomplished by “transforming grace.” Though we were created to bear the image of God, that image has been significantly marred and distorted by sin. When we are gathered into His presence, we “shall then His image bear” in all the perfection and glory God intended. “Transforming grace” will accomplish this.

CH-3) By the pow’r of grace transforming,
We shall then His image bear;
Christ His promised word performing,
We shall then His glory share.

Questions:
1) What does it mean to you to be both a child and a son of God?

2) Some depart from Scripture and declare that “we’re all God’s children.” What do they mean by that? Is there any limited sense in which it’s true?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Daniel Whittle)
The Cyber Hymnal


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