The Three Stages Of Sonship

And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ

Rom. 8:17
The Life Of God Works In Three Stages

In this portion of the Word [Rom. 8:14-27] three significant terms are used—children, sons, and heirs.

These three words correspond to the three stages of sonship.

The life of God works in three stages to make us sons of God. The life of God regenerates us in our spirit, transforms us in our soul, and transfigures our body.

Hence, we have regeneration, transformation, and transfiguration. These together give us full sonship. As the result of these three steps the sons are fully matured.

Children (the stage of regeneration)

In this portion of Romans we are told that the Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God (v. 16).

In verse 16 it does not say sons or heirs, for in the first stage of sonship we are simply little children who have been regenerated by the life of God. After this we will grow.

Sons (the stage of transformation)

Then verse 14 says that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God these are the sons of God.”

In verse 14 we are no longer babes or children, but sons. When we are capable of being led of the Spirit, it means that we have attained a certain growth in life.

We have grown from children into sons who are able to take the leading of the Spirit.

This means that we are in the second stage, the stage of transformation.

Heirs (the stage of transfiguration or glorification)

Ultimately, we will become heirs. According to ancient law, heirs had to be of age and declared the legal heirs that they might claim the inheritance.

Therefore, in this portion of Romans [Rom. 8:14-27] we have children by regeneration, sons by transformation, and heirs by transfiguration or glorification.

We were born the children of God, we are growing up as the sons of God, and we are waiting for the time when we will be fully matured and legally declared to be the rightful heirs of God.

The procedure which makes us legal heirs is the transfiguration of our body, that is, the redemption of our body, the full redemption (v. 23).

The transfiguration of our body will qualify us to be the heirs of the divine inheritance. This transfiguration will be accomplished by glorification.

Full Sonship

There are great riches in this portion of Romans, and we need several messages to cover them. In this message we have seen a sketch of the three stages of the making of God’s sons: regeneration, transformation, and glorification.

As a result of these three stages, we will obtain full sonship.

These three stages correspond to the three stages of God’s salvation: the first stage, justification, produces children; the second stage, sanctification, enables the children to grow into sons; and the third stage, glorification, results in the transfiguration of the body that we may become the legal heirs of the divine inheritance.

All quotations in this post, unless otherwise noted, are from Life-Study Of Romans, message 19 by Witness Lee. Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA, U.S.A. 1989. Source:

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