Gospel Power

The Unstoppable Movement of Forgiveness

Sonship is the idea that God’s connection to his people is familial and eternal because he is our father. The fatherhood of God is the assurance we have for God’s care toward us and his commitment to bring about the reconciliation and Kingdom expression that he has promised. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1). This verse creates a division in how people understand and interact with God. Some are children by the grace of God, others don’t know or understand God or his children. This shows a divide in the way that people understand reality. The first is “contractual Christianity” a way of interacting with God and others that is based off of contractual terms. These terms exist for the exact reason to allow interaction without true relationship. I can go to the store and buy a gallon of milk without a relationship with anyone present because I have a contract with the store and a bill of sale to prove it. Many interact with God and others on a contractual basis. There is no security because there is no relationship. The contract can be broken via our conduct or the conduct of the opposing party. Fear is what maintains contractual life and contractual Christianity.

By contrast, relational Christianity (as established through God’s covenants) is the understanding of God through the lens of sonship. We relate, not on the basis of contract, but on the basis of relationship. This same lens informs how we interact with others around us. We don’t relate to people solely on the basis of contract, but on the basis of relationship. The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 tells the story of two brothers. Both live their lives contractually and their father lives relationally (or covenantally). Through the story, both sons encounter their father’s relational commitment and respond differently. The younger son receives his father’s blessing after losing everything. The older son initially holds to his contractual view, but the story ends with a question. How does the older son ultimately respond to his father’s invitation? Does he maintain his demands upon his father on the basis of contract or does he submit to stability and love of his father’s relational offer?

The power of the gospel is our sonship. The cross of Jesus Christ is the means of sealing and securing that sonship fully and finally. It is the ultimate covenant from God to man that establishes our relationship for all time. The death and resurrection of Jesus provides us with the relational capital to view everyone we see in the world with a new set of eyes.

Learn more from this life-changing 6 Session Sonship Class from New City Fellowship Church in St. Louis.