Son, Servant, or Friend of God?

How do you mainly identify with God? As a

(a) servant of God,
(b) a friend of God, or
(c) a son of God?

When Samuel Mathew posed this question on his Facebook page yesterday, I was so surprised at the results, that I decided to poll E2R readers on E2R’s FB page. (Before you read on, answer the question for yourself. How do you primarily relate to God? As a servant, a friend or a son?)

So far about 30 people have responded to the FB polls. To my astonishment, less than half picked (c) “son of God.” And so, once again, Facebook has provided a brilliant answer to one of the world’s most pressing questions:

Why is the world still a mess, even though Jesus did everything He came to do, 2000 years ago?

The problem may not be what you think. It’s not legalism, condemnation, or even sin. The root cause of the problem is that the majority of people do not identify with God as their Father. They relate to Him as something other than sons. That is, they have an orphan spirit. Those outside the church are like the prodigal son, while many of those inside the church are like the elder brother. Neither brother received their father’s love. Both trusted in their own labor and had little confidence in the grace and provision of their loving father.

There may be only two kinds of people in the world: sons and orphans. Which are you? The devil’s plan is to get you confused about your identity. He will sow doubt by asking, “if you are the Son of God…” (Mt 4:3). To the degree that you are uncertain about your sonship, to that degree you have an orphan spirit.

I will probably write more about this some other time, but the FB polls have fired me up. I couldn’t sleep for thinking about it. So many of you are evidently victims of identity theft! I can’t stay silent while the devil runs off with your birth certificates, so below are 10 reasons why (c) is the best response to the question above. Even if you serve a God who is your best friend, you are first and foremost a son of God. And this applies equally to the ladies, for we are all one in Christ (Gal 3:28).

Top 10 reasons why you are a son of God first and foremostpapa_and_boy

(1)    The Holy Spirit says so. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rms 8:15).

(2)    Do you really need more reasons? Come on now! Paul thought no. 1 above was such an important truth that he said it twice. “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, ‘Papa! Father!’” (Gal 4:6, MSG). God Himself calls you son. (You wouldn’t want to call God a liar now would you?) He is the one who makes it possible for you to call Him Papa!

(3)    The Bible says so – in many places (see Gal 3:26, Rms 8:14, Heb 12:7, 1 Jn 3:1 for starters).

(4)    The Old Testament prophets longed for the day when God’s people would be called “sons of God” (Hos 1:10). They thought it applied to the Jews, but Paul says it includes “even us whom He also called” (Rms 9:23). Jesus came to reveal the Father (Mt 11:27). This is what makes the new covenant new. Sonship – not servanthood, not friendship – is the pinnacle of redemption. Not even Adam and Eve were identified as sons! Because of Jesus we have come closer to God than when we started out in the Garden. How awesome is that?!

(5)    We are to be servant-hearted, not servant-minded. Someone with an orphan spirit readily identifies themselves as a servant of God. It sounds noble, but it insults the cross and the Spirit of grace. Servants work for wages but we live under grace and there are no wages under grace. Sons are shareholders, not employees. We don’t work because we have to, but because we are wholly invested in the success of the family-business.

(6)    A servant doesn’t know his master’s will, has to be told what to do, and then relates to God on the basis of what he does. If he does good, he thinks God loves him more. How sad, how utterly tragic to be enslaved to such a lie. A mature son is nothing like that. He has the mind of Christ (1 Co 2:16), is clothed with His righteousness (Is 61:10), and relates on the basis of the Father’s love first shown to him (1 Jn 4:19). A servant waits on God. A son does what he sees His Father doing (Jn 5:19).

(7)    Servants suffer from performance-anxiety. Even friends may worry thinking they have to pound on doors in the middle of the night merely to borrow something (Lk 11:5). But sons need not worry, for our “heavenly Father knows we need all these things” (Mt 6:32). Our Father – not our master nor our friend – delights to give good gifts to those who ask Him (Mt 7:11). You’re not on the outside looking in. You’re warm and secure in bed with your Papa (see Lk 11:7).

(8)    True, Abraham was a friend of God (Is 41:8) and we are revealed to be friends when we do what Jesus says (Jn 15:14). This is a good thing and something to treasure. But sonship is better by far! Sons have “full rights” of access that friends lack (Gal 4:5). Sons have an expectation of intimacy that servants and friends do not enjoy. My kids are with me 24/7 (it’s the school holidays). In contrast, I only see and enjoy my friends occasionally. Wouldn’t you rather walk with God enjoying His presence continuously? As a son you have full rights to do so!

(9)    Sons are heirs. I have an inheritance and it’s the entire planet (Rms 4:13). All the cattle on all the hills and all the blessings of Abraham are ours, paid for with Jesus’ blood. Indeed, we are co-heirs with Christ (Rm 8:17). Our share is no less than Christ’s!

(10)    What will it take to fix this broken, poisoned planet? A revelation of the sons of God (Rms 8:19)! In the garden God gave us a planet to keep. We lost it, Jesus got it back, yet we still act like it belongs to the devil. It is OURS! “The earth he has given to man” (Ps 115:16). Jesus paid a high price to redeem this planet for us. Creation is not waiting for the church to rise up. Neither is creation waiting for God’s servants or His friends to rise up. Instead, creation waits for the mature sons of God to rise up and say with authority “this is my planet; hands off devil!”

If you’re still having trouble wrapping your head around this, look to Jesus. Did Jesus describe God as His (a) Master, (b) Friend, or (c) Father? That’s an easy question. Under the obsolete law covenant, God was Master. Under the Abrahamic covenant, God is our Friend. But under the new covenant in Jesus’ blood, God relates to us as our Father!

And don’t water this down by saying that God is “all of the above.” He’s no more “all of the above” than you are “all of the above” to your own children. My kids will serve many employers and have many friends, but they will only have one earthly father and that’s me. I am thrilled beyond words to be identified as my children’s father because it is my unique privilege. I hope they will be equally thrilled to be identified as my children. It makes my heart soar when they call me Papa. I’m less thrilled when they call me “your majesty.”

He is your Father and my Father! Yes I serve Him and yes He is my closest friend. But service and friendship stem from my secure position as His adopted son. There’s nothing I enjoy more than being with Him, knowing Him, walking with Him and talking with Him. Every day with Him is an adventure!

When you have a revelation of your sonship, it will change the way you pray. You will pray for the smallest things, because if it matters to you it matters to Him. But you will also ask Him for big things, because God has promised you the nations. You won’t hold back like a waiter or a friend – you’ll come running in to Papa knowing that He loves to give good gifts to His children.

Paul prayed, and so do I…

“…that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Eph 1:18-19)

Related posts:
- By which gospel are you saved? The gospel of grace!
- Does God give bad gifts?
- Top 12 blessings in the New Covenant

Comments

  1. Didn’t see this before – I wasn’t home much on the weekend. Heard Todd White preach on Saturday nite, and he hammered on this. Many of my brothers and sisters in the Lord would not have answered rightly. I know, because I hear it all the time from them, about how they try to be better servants, or think they can lose their right standing with God. They don’t see that once you are in the family of God, you are in it for eternity. He doesn’t un-adopt us!

  2. Amazing post Paul,

    A must needed revelation for our Generation to see a gr8 revival among the nations!!!…
    continually being blessed my your posts…

    Keep the good work going..
    Grace be with you..
    God bless..

  3. Wow, what a GREAT, UPLIFTING, INSPIRING, JOY and PEACE BRINGING message!
    Thank you so much, yes, this message is true.
    And when you apply it, you feel changed immediately, it results in love and peace.
    That takes away the condemning, stressing and fearful loud ‘voice’ inside.
    Keep up the good work, God bless you for all that you are doing!

    Best wishes, Menno

  4. rajjilicious says:

    Great post! During prayer the thought occurred to me that we can pray like servants rather than sons, so I decided to google the issue and found your post.

    God Bless,
    R. Rao

  5. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been reading and commenting on this same topic at http://chuckwarnockblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/sermon-a-little-faith-and-a-lot-of-obedience/ and their take on it seems to be that our attitude should be, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty,” (Luke 17:5-10). One of the replies to my comment was: “Christ died to make us servants.”

    Of course it sounds very spiritual on the surface, but unless you look at the entirety of Scripture on the subject, you don’t get the complete picture.

    • Hi John,
      One of the things that struck me since posting this, is how offensive the identity of sonship is to some people. They would much rather be known as God’s servants. One person wrote on FB, “I was created to serve.” The truth is, God doesn’t need servants and He doesn’t need our help. Jesus is coming back for a bride not a maid!

      It might surprise some people, but God can actually manage quite well without us. Creation is not an expression of God’s need for service or servants, but an expression of His love. He wants more Sons!

  6. i wonder whether many people have been poorly parented and dont have a very positive concept of a father. My answer was “daughter of God” but then I have a great relationship with my earthly father and so its easy for me to relate to God as his child. To me a father is someone warm and loving, strong and consistent, fair and just – because my Dad is those things. Maybe I wouldnt be so easy to relate to God as my father if my relationship with my earthly father was more negative.

  7. Ruth Coleman says:

    Paul, please add me to your e-mail list. I am gobbling up your life-giving posts. Thank you!

    • Hi Ruth, To subscribe you need to enter your email address in the subscription box that you’ll find at the top of the right side-bar (under “Email subscription”). You will then receive an automatic confirmation email from WordPress. Click the link in the email to verify your subscription and you’re all done.

  8. Kelvin dennis,malaysia says:

    How wonderul.. That really amazed me.. Thanks2 Paul. In christ,we are son of God.and that is by faith alone,not work.

  9. This article leads to some questions about what the apostles meant when they referred to themselves as servant slaves (doulos) of God and Christ after the formatoin of the Church. Peter, John, James all address themselves as such. What does it mean then for a modern believer to be known as a doulos of Christ, or does it have any signficance at all?

    • hewonmyheart says:

      Hi John,
      I just had heard something about this recently, is it by men or Holy Spirit? But it makes sense to me. God sees us as sons and He has sent the spririt of His Son in our hearts crying Abba Father.
      Every true son though, will out of love take the role, the place of a slave of the Father of Love. What more blessed place but to be a slave of LOVE toward MAN and not go around strutting like a son “look who’s here and watch out my power… ZAP!”
      This is a quote from Curry Blake “I am God’s son, the devil’s master and man’s servant” or man’s slave if you prefer.
      He became our Servant. I am now a son but a SLAVE of Love in HIM for mankind!
      Makes sense to me!
      In His Peace, Goodness and Grace, Claude

  10. fui sagaga says:

    i love this!!!!! thank you for this article! I am my ^Fathers^son

  11. I have some of the same thoughts as John on this. I know that God is my Father and I look to Him as such first and foremost. Is it wrong to identify myself as His servant as well? My service to Him should flow out of that relationship as a son which brings me to a point of asking, “If I’m not serving then what does that say about my relationship with my heavenly Father?” If not serving, and using grace as an excuse, then doesn’t that cheapen the full purpose of grace in my life? Grace not only saves me, it sustains me, helps me in times of need (Heb.4:16) and is to be ministered to others through the gifts God gives us through grace which comes in many forms. (1 Peter 4:10) Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

    I’m not disagreeing with you in the least. My post comes mainly from encounters with some in our church who are preaching grace in a way that says even encouraging believers to serve others is mixing law and grace. I ask them in light of 1 Peter 4:10, “was peter then mixing law and grace by encouraging believers to serve others with their gifts?”

    I find great joy in serving my heavenly Father by serving others and encourage others to do the same. In serving others we participate in what our Father is doing. It is our Fathers nature to serve, as Jesus lived out for us, and being filled with His very nature it should come as natural as breathing is in the flesh.

    • The post above is about identity and how we see ourselves. Jesus came to reveal God’s name to us and his name is Abba, Father. “Father, glorify your name.” Jesus said pray like this: “Our Father…” That’s not a way to pray; it’s the way to pray. So as far as identity goes, you are a son of God. This is what the Holy Spirit teaches us (Rom 8:15). Sadly, there is a lot of confusion on this issue of identity (as my poll results reveal), but the fact is every single NT writer referred to God as Father. Creation waits for the sons of God to stand up and reveal themselves.

      So what about Paul when he calls himself a “servant of Christ”? I don’t think the apostle of grace was confused about his identity anymore than Jesus was when he referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” Jesus said he came to serve (Mt 20:28) and those who follow him have the same heart. We are the sons who serve, as I think you are saying. But what service does God need? What could we possibly do for him> Frankly, God does not need our service at all. And he is not interested in recruiting servants but raising sons. As you say, we serve others. We serve people. To say I am a servant of Christ means I serve in the same manner in which Christ served.

      Paul also said, “God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son…” (Rom 1:9). Paul considered preaching the gospel as service to God. That’s kind of a neat way to look at it because God doesn’t actually need to hear the good news as much as we do. But when we preach the gospel, God is blessed through the increase of his family – he gets more sons and daughters. So one of the best ways we serve is by revealing the good news of his Son.

  12. Wow…this is some good truths…the kind that set free indeed! Thanks for being a blessing to the kingdom!

  13. Ryan John Pool says:

    thanks Paul

  14. Lee Jensen says:

    When I think of my own children they can fill, or not fill, all three roles. They can deny that they are my children (orphans as you call them). They can refuse to serve in the daily chores of the family. They can be dutiful children, but still not be friendly and miss creating a deeper bond. Likewise in my relationship with God I find that I am closest to him when I open my heart in all ways. Christ has many titles, Son, Father, Servant, Word, Judge, Redeemer, Bread, Light … all appropriate to who he is. None of them diminish from the other. I cannot help but feel it is the same with us.

  15. John 15:15 says we are God’s friends, too. No need to diminish one metaphor to enhance another. It’s not an “either,or” but a “both,and.”

  16. I know God (as my Father), but I also knew Jesus said, I no longer call you servants, but friends. As I pondered this, I wondered if I searched this question if I would just find all the Scriptures, which I did, but then I found your page! How awesome is that? You explained it with such clarity and grace~thank you!!

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