Jesus was God, a Son who had a father. We are being made to be like Christ and will have the nature of sons. Essentially all believers are spiritual sons (for more on gender language, see the next section) and all need spiritual fathers, even if not all believers embrace or even understand the idea. A spiritual son is a person who recognises their need for God and embraces the fathers in their lives, the people placed there by God, and walks with them into spiritual maturity.
A spiritual son is a person who loves God, and knows how to walk with others in faith, to grow, mature, and become a spiritual father themselves, whilst at the same time always remaining a son. Jesus Christ was always God, and as God was also a Father, and yet has a permanent position as a Son. Without it being this way, there would be no salvation for us. Jesus walked with His Father and served and honoured Him as an example to us. There is something very powerful and essential in this sonship, and we desire to also have this spirit of sonship within us.
We have to understand this sonship. We must come to appreciate the attitude and values of Jesus Christ, for to this we are right now being conformed by the Holy Spirit. If we reject this, we reject the purpose of God in our salvation. This is what salvation is all about, as the writer to the Hebrews said, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that god, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews2:10)
So let us be very clear. Sonship, and our conformity to this pattern IS what the Christian faith and our salvation is about in its entirety. To this outcome all of the Scriptures speak and direct us. It is a destiny that can only be achieved by walking in relationships – relationship with God in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and as the Scriptures make plain, relationship with God’s people as well.
For example, the apostle John included a striking statement at the beginning of his first epistle. “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
This is a thrilling Scripture, which not only clearly reveals that our fellowship with the saints and our fellowship with God the Father and Son is the same fellowship, but more. Like in other places in Scripture, the Holy Spirit has purposefully inspired the writers to interchange what we would have thought was the acceptable order when referring to Christ and the church. The purpose is to accentuate the truth that any fellowship with God the Father and Son must of necessity be also seen as fellowship with the saints. To reject the fellowship of the saints is to miss God and His purpose, and to leave ourselves spiritually vulnerable and poor, having misunderstood the riches of Christ and our true inheritance.
So sonship is walking with God yes, but it is also walking with people. It is honouring God the father, yes. And it is also honouring and walking with people on earth who are spiritual fathers. Being a spiritual son is having the heart of sonship in you towards others, especially your fathers in the faith, and your leaders. This heart is the heart of Christ.