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God. The thought of sonship, or fellowship, as Jesus pictures it, throws light on both of these, and includes both. Sonship means belonging to God, or sanctification in the first sense. The son is one who has given himself to the Father, who belongs utterly to him in all trust and love and obedience. But it is upon the second question especially that light is thrown. It is, of course, always through the Spirit of God that men are made over, or made holy in life. But how does God's Spirit come and how does his Spirit work? We answer, in and through the fellowship which we have with God as his children. It is in the fellowship of children, in the practice of love and trust and aspiration and obedience, that God gives us his Spirit. And it is thus that the life of men is made over; it is thus that we grow as sons into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit.-And here the doctrine of the Holy Spirit becomes more clear. It is not some magic power or strange presence for which we pray when we ask God for his Spirit. We are asking simply for his presence, for this fellowship which alone can transform our life. The presence of the Holy Spirit involves this fellowship with God on the one hand, and a Christlikeness of temper and life on the other.


Sonship and the New Birth.—What we have been considering here is what the church has called regeneration, or the new birth, though we find neither of these names in the first three Gospels. The third chapter of John speaks of the new birth, or the birth from above (John 3. 3, margin). We cannot always be sure in reading the fourth Gospel whether we have the words of Jesus or the evangelist's interpretation of Jesus' message in his own language. But the truth brought out in John 3 is the same teaching of Jesus that we have been considering. What John says in mystical phrase the other Gospels give in simpler speech. When God receives men in forgiveness as his sons, he puts in them the spirit of sonship. This

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spirit of sonship is the life from above, the new birth. So Paul understood it (Galatians 4. 5, 6; Romans 8. 9, 14, 15).

The Secret of Sonship.-In a passage of wonderful beauty Jesus points out what this fellowship means and how men may enter upon it (Matthew 11. 25-30). This spirit of sonship is his spirit. He has the secret of this fellowship, it is his own life, and he longs in his love to give it to men. The secret is not open to human wisdom, the clever cannot find the

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find it, the humble and eager. They need only come to him. And they would come, if they only knew the peace and joy of that life as he knows it. And so, in words that have lured the hearts of men in all the centuries since, he speaks his invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ”

The Scope of Sonship.—The questions have often been debated, Is God the Father of all men ? Are all men children of God? A large part of this controversy has come from failure to understand what is meant by Fatherhood and sonship. Fatherhood, in Jesus' sense, means the spirit of grace and good will toward men. This spirit God shows toward all men, evil and good (Matthew 5. 45). He is, therefore, the Father of all, not only in the lesser sense that he has brought forth all men in his image, but in this high and absolute sense of his character. Because it is God's character that makes him Father, he will always be a Father to all men. It is different with men. There is the lesser sense in which all men are sons of God. God has made them all in his image, with the capacity for knowing and loving him, and all belong to him. But in the higher and truer sense, as Jesus uses the word in Matthew 5. 45, men are sons only when they are like God in character. They must have the Father's spirit to be the Father's children. It is character that makes sonship just as it makes Fatherhood. Men must love as God loves in order to be sons of their Father. Using the words, then, in this higher sense, we may say that God is the Father of all men and that men are to become his sons.


Scripture references: Luke 15. 1, 2, 11-32; Matthew 11. 2530; John 3. 1-16.

Review the main points of the last two chapters. Note carefully how Jesus' idea of God as Father determines all his other teaching. The last chapter gave the heart of Jesus' teaching about ethics; here we have the heart of his thought of religion.

Read again the story of the prodigal son with one question in mind: What does it tell about the character of God and the way he receives men? State the narrower and the larger meaning of forgiveness.

With this same parable before you, consider what this restored sonship meant to the boy: (1) a gracious gift, the fellowship and friendship of his father; (2) a great demand, to live up to the spirit of this home and the character of such a father; (3) a great help, the love and sympathy of his father as a help to lead the new life. How far is all this true of a man's life with God?

Read Matthew 11. 25-30 and consider the transforming power of fellowship. Find illustrations of this in the home, and in the person of friend or teacher or pastor. Are men ever helped apart from some such personal touch? How does Jesus himself give such personal help to his followers? Note that his great promise here is that he will lead men into that fellowship with God which was his own strength and joy.



The message of Jesus was one of hope and good cheer. "Love is the law of God's life," he said. True, the Pharisees too spoke of God's love; but they said, "God loves the good," and they were ever separating the sinners from the saints. For the saints they held up promise of reward, for the sinners only condemnation. Jesus said, “The heavenly Father loves all.” To harlots and taxgatherers and all manner of outcasts he declared, “God is your

Father and is ready to receive; nay, more, he has gone out to look for you."

Such a proclamation seems at first glance to take out of religion all moral demand, to leave the matter of righteousness wholly to one side, to make religion a pure gift, a mere matter of God's mercy. If God thus loves the evil as the good, what have men to concern themselves about? Only the shallowest thinking can so regard Jesus' message. The good news is not an encouragement to rest easy; it is a tremendous call to repentance and righteousness. If God so loves, if he is waiting to receive you as his son, then it is time to hate the old ways, to seek the new

Such love shows what sin really is, such love summons men to turn about, such love demands faith and life. No man ever condemned sin like this prophet of love and mercy, and no one ever issued such a trumpet call to repentance.

JESUS' TEACHING ABOUT SIN The Heart of Sin.-There is always a danger that our ideas of sin and righteousness shall become conventional and shallow. There are people who are narrow, selfish, censorious, domineering, and yet who consider themselves


unusually pious, it may be, because they observe this form or avoid that amusement. There were men in Jesus' time who ignored pride and hardness of heart, but who were horrified at the breaking of some Sabbath rule. It is interesting to note what Jesus points out as sinful in the Sermon on the Mount. To be selfish or hard or unforgiving toward your brother, that is sin. To care for anything else more than for the right, that is sin. To fear anything more than you fear God, to love anything more than you love God, that is sin. Fear, worry, selfishness, greed, halfheartedness toward God, hard-heartedness toward menthese are the sins that concern Jesus. The heart of sin is the denial of the heart of goodness.1 The test of goodness is man's “Yes” to the highest that he knows; the test of sin is man's “No” to good and God. The heart of goodness is the inner spirit of love, or good will; the heart of sin is selfishness.

Sin in All Men. Jesus saw this sin in the hearts of all men. It is true he recognizes differences; he speaks very simply of the good man and the evil man (Matthew 12. 35). But goodness is simply relative here; over against the standard of God even good men are evil (Matthew 7. 11). It has been pointed out that Jesus calls some men righteous, and declares that he came not to call these, but sinners, to repentance (Matthew_9. 10-13); but a little attention will show the irony in Jesus' word. These men were "righteous" after their own fashion, but it was not the righteousness of God; for God said, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice," and these men were hard and unforgiving. Plain and unmistakable is his position in the parable of the two in the temple, where he speaks of those "who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at naught” (Luke 18. 9-14).

A Keener Sense of Sin Needed. One of the deep needs of to-day is a keener sense of sin. We are too indifferent toward sin, too ready to condone it. There are certain forms of sin which we are quick enough to condemn, but

1 See Chapter IV.

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