The Spirit in the Epistles, by Witness Lee


Furthermore, the Spirit of life is also the Spirit of sonship for us to enter into sonship. First, the Spirit of sonship witnesses in you that you are a son of God. Formerly, as a descendant of Adam, you were a sinner, but now since you have the Lord Jesus in you, you have the life of the Son and also the Spirit of the Son. This Spirit of sonship in you proves that you are a son of God. Therefore, after being saved, you can call God your Father. Sometimes when you fall, when you are weak, and when you are far away from God, you think that perhaps God does not care about you anymore. Nevertheless, the Spirit of the divine sonship still witnesses in you that God is your Father and that you belong to God.

Not only so, the Spirit of sonship also leads you within. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Regardless of how weak you are as a Christian, often you still have the feeling that perhaps you should not do a certain thing. Sometimes you are not able to overcome and therefore go ahead and do it, yet you know within that you should not have done it because it is not fitting for God’s children. Brothers and sisters, this is the leading of the Spirit of the divine sonship in you.

The Spirit of sonship also sympathizes with us in our weakness. You do not know how to pray, but He prays in you on your behalf with groanings which cannot be uttered. The more you pray, the more He causes you to be like the Son of God, to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. Sometimes He also arranges the outward circumstances to match the prayer within so that He may deal with you until you are like the Son of God and have the image of the Lord Jesus. In this way we have the life, the nature, and the Spirit of the Son of God inwardly, and we also have the image of the Son of God outwardly to become God’s many sons. The Lord Jesus then becomes the Firstborn among many sons.

Here we can see that sonship is the reality of a son. The Spirit of sonship leads us into the reality of the Son. Today many Christians think that the Lord’s salvation will eventually save us into heaven. This concept is inaccurate. Is the concept of going to heaven found in the gospel preached in the book of Romans? No, the book of Romans never tells us to pay attention to a certain place; it never tells us that we will go to heaven. This thought is not found in the gospel. The thought in the gospel is that the salvation of the Son of God, together with the Son Himself as the Spirit of life, will make sinners sons of God. Romans 8:29-30 says, “Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers; and those whom He predestinated, these He also called; and those whom He called, these He also justified; and those whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Here we see that God’s predestination, God’s calling, and God’s justification are for us to be conformed to the image of His Son that His Son might be the Firstborn among many brothers. As long as God can accomplish this, it does not matter whether He puts His Firstborn and the many sons on earth, in heaven, or in midair; wherever He puts them is good. The purpose of God is not to put us in a certain place but to save us, who are sinners and the sons of disobedience, to such an extent that we become the sons of God. We are not adopted sons; we are His real sons, who are born of Him and are growing by Him to be conformed to His image. This is the divine sonship.

A brother once argued with me about the truth, saying, “Brother Lee, you say that a Christian must overcome so that he will be able to reign with the Lord Jesus in the future. This teaching is wrong. The Bible tells us that every saved one will reign with the Lord.” I said, “Brother, let us not talk merely about theories; let us talk about the reality. If the Lord put you on the throne today, do you think you are fit to be a king? Do you look like a king? It is useless to just talk about the doctrine. You have to ask whether you look like a king.” I heard that in some European countries with a constitutional monarchy, such as Denmark and Great Britain, a royal prince has to be trained daily from his youth. He has to receive strict training in walking, speaking, and managing affairs. Then one day when he is put on the throne, he will look like a king. Brothers and sisters, it is true that by His mercy and grace we are sons of God, but if we look at ourselves today, do we look like sons of God? Oh, we are sons of God, but we do not have the sonship! We have the position of a son and are sons of God, but today we do not look like sons. Nevertheless, thank and praise God, the Lord Jesus as the living Spirit in us is making us fit to be sons of God. As the Spirit of sonship, He is leading us to always cry, “Abba, Father!” If in the morning you pray to the Lord Jesus and cry, “Abba, Father,” the whole day you will become more like a son of God. A sister may truly love the Lord, but she often may have such a “long face” that it is too much for others to take. She may have a long face not mainly before others but toward her husband. However, I am sure that if this sister would spend ten minutes every morning to call, “Abba, Father,” she will no longer make a long face. This is the result of the operation of the Spirit of sonship in her.

Brothers, I do not know what to say to thoroughly express my inner feeling. I repeat, the salvation of God is not merely to save us to be good men but to make us His sons. Hence, God has put His Son in us as the Spirit of sonship to transform us and work in us step by step until we are conformed to the image of His Son. We are not just sons in name but sons in reality. We have not only the Son’s life but also the Son’s image.

We may look like people who are very good, but to this day we still do not sufficiently look like the sons of God. Hence, the Spirit of sonship is working in us to minister to us the life of the Son of God. The more the life of the Son of God is ministered into us, the more we are being transformed and conformed into sons of God. Therefore, it is not a matter of improving our outward behavior. Rather, it is a matter of transforming our inward nature. You need to call your mind, your self, back to pay attention to the Spirit. Do not leave the Spirit and pay attention to being victorious, holy, or spiritual. The more you pay attention to being spiritual, the less spiritual you will be. Neither should you focus on your temper, because the more you focus on your temper, the worse your temper will be. You must heed the Spirit; then you will be enlivened within, and He will supply you within that you may have the reality of the Son of God.

(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)