My Family Rights
By Duane Stewart
God’s family, called the Children of Israel in the Old Testament, was the results of a covenant God made with their father Abraham. This covenant, which required of them to remain faithful, became the arena of God’s provision and protection. However, history reveals that rebellion and unfaithfulness, the breaking of the covenant, removed from them God’s promised provision and protection for long periods of time. However, God, being ever loving and faithful continued to care for His family. This love moved God to establish guidelines and laws which, when obeyed, He would again be obligated to supply their needs and protect them. This God did, in many forms and fashions, as He remained faithful to the covenant He had willingly made; while the Children of Israel continually rebelled against Him in breaking the covenant.
Nevertheless, God, in His wisdom and knowledge, foresaw the day when Joshua would lead God’s people back into the land He promised. In his place of leadership, God promised Joshua (Read Joshua 1:1-9) that God would never leave nor forsake him. God also encouraged Joshua to be strong and of good courage for He would be with him and God was and is faithful to fulfill His word of promise. In all this Joshua, because of stubbornness and rebelliousness among the children of Israel, was not able to lead them into the full rest that God promised. Therefore, there yet remains a promised rest for God’s people, His family.
Israel’s failure, even while in the Promised Land, they did not enter the promised land of continual rest. This failure becomes a solemn warning, lest professing Christians of today also fail to enter into that rest. A promise which God has now promised to the Christian community. This rest promised by God for His people today, is not an entrance into geographical Canaan, which as an historical event, is but a type of a rest for God’s Christian family to enjoy. This rest can be a present day experience for the believers who fully surrender to the Lordship of Christ and who yield to the Holy Spirit through a willing submission. Nevertheless, know that the mere hearing of the Word of God is not enough. It becomes a gospel, that when received and believed, it is purposed by God to manifest from within the person.
Heb. 4:1-2, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it”. Yes, there yet remains a promise that some must enter into, a place of fulfillment and rest. Heb. 4:9-10, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Likewise, just as God rested from His work of creation, the ones who trust in Christ shall rest in what God has done for them. They have ceased their striving to achieve salvation by their own efforts and strength, and in their daily lives have learned to be dependent and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s and His help alone.
God purposed a better covenant for man when Christ Jesus fulfilled and replaced the old covenant law, the outward law written upon the tablets of stone. The first covenant was entirely external. While it set the standard, it provided no power to keep it (Read Heb. 8:7-13). However, when Jesus’ ministry came bringing God’s covenant of grace, it was empowered by the Holy Spirit to be written within the minds and hearts of believers. In this, God establishes a new personal covenant relationship with His people. This new covenant from God is not one based upon a compelling force from without but on an impelling power from within. While the old covenant was limited and an impersonal revelation, the new covenant is one of a complete, universal, and immediate knowledge of God with a personal relationship.
This new covenant speaks of an adoption that removes one from being without a holy family. The new covenant speaks of becoming a part of the family of God. Being a part of God’s family puts us in the position of inheriting the rights and privileges of God and His Son. Even as it exists in the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing is left out, all He is becomes available to receiving vessels. We become heirs and co-heirs with Christ. Rom. 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father.” Thus, this same Holy Spirit, which dwelt in Jesus, gives us the assurance that we are children of God called to give Him glory, as we stand with Him concerning that which He suffered for us. Rom. 8:17, “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together”. This gives us the assurance that our present status as children of God guarantees participation in the present and future joy of God’s kingdom.
This assurance is not withheld from us or waiting for some time or certain event to take place in the future. But we, because we have become His children, enter into a progressive maturing pathway that we might know the full adoptive power of that which Christ is. Our present tense groaning, our maturing processes reveal our willingness to overcome that we might inherit. Rom. 8:23, “Not only that, but we also who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body”. Just as the first-fruits of a harvest are the pledge of the full crop to come, the Holy Spirit is the pledge of our full adoption, the redemption of our bodies. The time for groaning is over and our natural bodies, subject to pain and sin, are now knowing resurrections power to know freedom from physical frailty and any indwelling sin.
The theology, promoted among most of the Christian community today, is one that continues to put the fulfillment of God’s purposes far off into a time in the future. This theology establishes a mind-set that excuses a people from becoming His resurrected expression in the now. However, does this mind-set line up with the word of God? Has not the risen savior been seated on the right hand of the Father? Has not the Holy Spirit been given that He might teach us all things concerning God? Being under the old covenant keeps us as children, while the new covenant brings forth the adoption. This adoption makes us sons with all the rights of God’s family.
When is it that our adoption take place, but when we are able to believe? Gal. 4:4-7, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father! Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ”. Thus, the assurance is according to the good pleasure of God’s will and His appointed plan. Thus, a guaranteed destiny has come. Eph. 1:5, “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
This place in God changes a people, no longer a “woe is me,” but a people who manifest a life style that reveals the Father in their daily lives. When God speaks to His family to “be filled” with the Spirit, the tense of this Greek word makes clear that such a Spirit-filled condition does not stop with a single experience. Nay, but it is continuously maintained by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to influence all aspects of our lives, overflowing in transforming relationships, dynamic ministry, and enhanced worship. Eph. 5:18-20, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Religious platitudes, rituals, and doctrinal traditions are not “the order of the day” in Christ. As He ascended back unto the Father, He changed the “order of the day” from the law to His grace. A grace that would impart the promise of the Father, a promise that would endow the believers and receivers with power from on high. This power is the enabler that brings all that Christ is to this earthly realm. The power of His grace will take the invisibleness of God and cause it to become His visible expression. Luke 24:49, “Behold I send the promise of My Father upon you; but terry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” This power is the infilling of the Holy Spirit, who takes up residence within the vessels and empowers them for their mission. The supernatural power that Jesus used is to fulfill His purpose unto the world through His family. Has not this power been available, these past 2000 years, for us to become?
God’s requirement and ability comes through Him. Through Christ and His death, we have the power and freedom to choose not to sin. We are to live in holiness because we are holy, by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus. Thus, He requires, James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” A double-minded man is a person drawn in two opposite directions. His allegiance is divided. Because of his lack of sincerity, he vacillates between belief and disbelief, sometimes thinking that God will help him and at other times giving up all hope in Him. Such a person is unstable in all his ways. This lack of consistency in his exercise of faith betrays his general character. Thus, a double-minded person attempts to hold to God and the world at the same time.
Meanwhile, God is arising in His family and because we are a part of His family, we have all the inherited rights of the family. By exercising these rights, we separate from the world and the world from us. God progressively reveals Himself as obedience matures each one to a place of truth wherein freedom of exercise is to manifest all that truth. John 8:32, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Remember, the law, the old covenant made nothing perfect, but the ushering in of a new covenant makes perfection, in Him, a way of life. To those under a law, if they were truly children of God, they would have reverence for the Son of God. It is not ethnic or family pedigree that makes one acceptable to God, but by honoring God and by believing in and loving Jesus Christ.
What are God’s family rights? All things that the Father purposed for His creation are within our rights. When are they available? Now, since the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost, they can be received by each one individually as they welcome Him into their lives. God promises that the Spirit will guide each receiver into all truth. The Spirit’s ministry is for each believer even as He also ministered in Jesus Christ. John 16:13-15, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of mine and declare it to you.”
What the Spirit teaches, He draws from and conveys in the authority of Christ as He glorifies Christ in all that He does. True ministry in the Holy Spirit never serves a private agenda. When working in and through us, the Spirit never exalts Himself, but He continually glorifies Christ who glorifies the Father.
As we are purposed to be the body of Christ, what is our purpose? It is to take all of our family rights, to become His glory that the Father may likewise be glorified. What does this mean and how does it affect the ministry? It affects us by having a righteousness that goes beyond and is deeper than traditional religion. We are to teach the things Jesus taught, in the way He taught them, by always staying in tune with the Father. We are to do the things He did in the manner in which He did them. Jesus treated people with dignity, motivated by compassion, and never did anything just to draw attention. Friends, the same Spirit that raised Christ from death dwells in us who have received. Therefore, the same Spirit is saying to the overcoming remnant family of God, go and do likewise, this is our family right.