Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Manifested Sons

2 Corinthians 11:18-31 (New International Version)

“18Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. 21To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
What anyone else dares to boast about–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast about. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. 23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.”


In the late seventies I was asked to do an interview with a small group of men who called themselves “manifested sons.” They were disciples of a man named William (Billy) Branham, who they believed was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. Some even believe he was the greatest. They were known as “manifested sons” because they believed, based on what Branham had preached in 1960 that they were the manifested sons that Branham described. The scriptural foundation for their privilege, they believed, was one passage from the book of Romans

“19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”

It seemed to me that this was pretty flimsy stuff on which to build a life and core doctrine. But they believed it and their belief was deeply held. I don’t confess to understand all that being a “manifested son” means, but some of what they told me was pretty straightforward. They believed, for instance, that Branham, who had died in 1965, was coming back again to spearhead the final movement of the “manifested sons.” They believed that neither pain nor death would touch them.

Their thinking that Branham was going to re-appear and that death would not touch them struck me as very strange indeed, putting them into the category my wife calls “granola people,” the types of folks who are really nutty. But I have to admit that I had a strange attraction to the pain-free thing. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to live a pain free existence?

I was approaching forty at the time, giving thought to the years beyond the big four-oh. I’d seen what inevitably happens to folks once they hit that magic number. Their knees begin to ache and throb. Their backs ache in the morning. Their hair thins. Their plumbing malfunctions. Their bones seem to creak and moan as they walk the perimeters of the malls with the rest of the grey panthers. It was my observation then that a good part of the second part of my life was going to be spent dealing with pain. Knowing that, I have to admit that a pain free existence seemed very attractive.

Well, our interview didn’t last long. About five minutes in I asked them how old they were. They didn’t say, but it appeared to me that they were in their late twenties or early thirties. I felt I had to let them know what was awaiting them. “You’re young now and feel invincible, but give it a few years, maybe till you reach forty. If you get that far I think your doctrine of manifested sons will change.” The interview ended at that point. It was clear to them that I was a non-believer and there would be no point in going on.

It’s strange how our desires so often over-ride life’s realities. Pain does come to our doors; none of us has escaped it. And none of us will in this life. The pain will either be physical or emotional and in those rare instances when we escape one of those realities in life, the other will visit us.

A few years ago I read Dr. Paul Brand’s “Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants.” Doctor Brand described his work with lepers and made this observation:

“Ironically, while most of us seek out pharmacists and doctors in search of relief from pain, these people are in constant peril due to pain’s absence.”

So, while a pain free existence seems so attractive, it’s not the temporal reality. And, worse yet, those who claim it, the manifested sons and others, have divorced themselves from the human family. By denying it in themselves, they mock the rest of us who live with it. We either lack faith or we are not “chosen” to be part of this select fraternity.

Paul, the great apostle of the Christian faith was intimately acquainted with pain. One cannot help but see upon reading Paul’s letters that it was an almost constant companion in his life. At one point, after the beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, dangers, sleeplessness, hunger, he came to a place where he pleaded with the Almighty to remove a “thorn in his flesh.” He pleaded that God would take it away, but each time he pleaded God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Yes, pain is a very real part of our lives. And grace, rather than being the “pat” answer that God’s detractors would claim it to be, is actually the one answer that links us to others. We experience pain in life and become, if we allow God to use us, wounded healers. We are not indifferent, nor are we superior to others; we are not some special core group that has divorced itself from the rest of humanity. Seeing our own need for healing and grace when we experience it, we reach out to others and offer them the grace we have ourselves received.

Shakespeare saidHe jests at scars who never felt a wound.” One of the great lessons I took from my encounter with the “manifested sons” was that I would never live my life as a jester, mocking pain in others. I would never divorce myself from reality or the human community. I determined then that I would live, as best I could, as a wounded healer.

These are my thoughts today. I hope and pray they find a place in your life, dear reader.

4 comments:

Amy said...

Just a note to let you know I talked about you on my blog.

Pastor Mike said...

Pain is the indicator that something needs my attention. I am a big fan of Brand. Blessings to you again for your clarity.

Erlend said...

Dear Brother,

Don't know much about "The Manifested Sons" but I am a follower of Bro Branham's message and I know Branham himself distanced himself from these isms...he specifically named "Manifested Sons of God" as one of these isms.

Check out my blog here:

http://revivalinme.blogspot.com/

Josephine Melrose said...

Manifested Sons of God
For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:11
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16
"The earth and all of creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, the time when they will come into their maturity and immortalization...The church has a responsibility and ministry to the rest of creation. Earth and its natural creation is anxiously waiting for the church to reach full maturity and come to full sonship. When the church realizes it's full sonship, it's bodily redemption will cause a redemptive chain reaction throughout all creation."
Carnal Christians who have a form of godliness but deny its power cringe at the idea that Christians can be manfiested sons of God enduded with the same power and authority that Jesus has and do great works than Jesus did. Because of Christ, the Greater One, now living inside of us, we can mature into our full stature and be all that God intended us to be. We can crush God's enemies, even death, and usher in the kingdom of God and take the world for Jesus through the miracle working power that is within us. God has been waiting for us to get it together, realize who we really are in Christ, and the power within us and rise up and do what the church down through time has either been too carnal or too immature to ever do; put all of God's enemies under our feet. We've been foolishly waiting for Christ to come "for us" and all the while, He's been wanting to "come within us." Sickness, trouble, poverty, lack and death are not our masters. We are!
Apostle Paul prayed for the faithful saints in Ephesus that the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ would grant them according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith; that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that they might be filled with all the fullness of God? Obviously you don’t have to be extremely intelligent to figure out that just because people are saints they are not filled with the fullness of God just like Barnabas was about whom the Word of God states, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord (Acts 11:24). The bible also tells us that Stephen was a man full of faith and power and the Holy Spirit who did great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:6-8).
There is this idea taught in some churches that we are all anointed ones and are full of the Holy Ghost? But if this is the case where are the works of great wonder and signs among the people? Nonexistent! In the secular world people have no problem doing their all to achieve something even if it would cost them their life. In March 1923, in an interview with The New York Times, the British mountaineer George Leigh Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, and replied, 'Because it's there'. The answer became famous, not least because Mallory himself was lost on Everest in the following year. It was sometimes suggested that he and his fellow-climber Andrew Irvine, who were last seen 'going strong for the summit', might in fact have reached it before their deaths, but there was no proof.
In May 1999, 75 years later, the body of George Mallory was found on Everest, and the press coverage surrounding the discovery focused again on Mallory's 'Because it's there' as a statement summarizing the mountaineer's reasons for climbing. One such report quoted from Robert William Service's `Dauntless Quest', which was inspired by Mallory's words:
Why seek to scale Mount Everest,
Queen of the Air,
Why strive to crown that cruel crest
And deathward dare?
Said Mallory of dauntless quest
`Because it's there.'
Well there is more to life than just being a saint and struggling with the mundane things of life. You can be a saint that is strong in the Lord in the power of His might, rooted and grounded in love, knowing the love of Christ be filled with all the fullness of God and doing great wonders and signs among the people? God put no limits on what is people can achieve, have or be except the limits that they set on themselves! Unfortunately many of them become circus fleas who jump so much and no more! Fleas ride dogs and they jump. This is all they ever do, it would seem. If you catch a flea and put it in a jar... with out even thinking it'll just jump right out. But if you want to train that flea, put a lid on the jar. Then you can sit and watch it jump. The flea will start hitting its head on the lid of the jar. And every time it tries to get out. You can come back in an hour. It will still be jumping, banging its head on that lid. Two hours it’s still jumping, still trying and whacking its head on that lid every time it tries. Come back at some point though and it will still be jumping but not hitting it's head on that lid any more. That flea eventually learned to adjust its jump. And to always stop short of hurting itself. That flea is trained and you can take the lid off and watch the flea jump. It will not jump out of that jar. Not because it can't. That flea can see everything it wants, going on all around it. But will never have it. Only because the flea no longer believes it can. And never will again. And unfortunately this happens with people who have bad experiences and hurts in life and don’t allow their faith to be stretched any more, they go so far in God and no further. They had prayed and prayed and God didn’t seem to answer and now they don’t pray any more. But the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is unchanging:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesian 4:11-15
Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12
God desires that we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Kenneth Hagin, the great Apostle of Faith, stated, "The believer is just as much an incarnation as Jesus was." Jesus was God in the flesh. We must be as He was in the world in volume and influence." We are on earth as extensions of God to finish the work He began. We are the essence of God, His ongoing incarnation in the world. Morris Cerullo, internationally renowned evangelist, stated, "Jesus being the brightness of all that God has and is. He was the reflection, image, and manifestation visibly of all that God has and is. What is God's purpose and plan and objective? Sons and Daughters who will manifest all that God has and is. Can you imagine the power in your being when you face the devil? You represent all that God is and all that God has!"
Yes, it’s the will of God that we represent Jesus not only in words but in deeds and in power. God’s word is unchanging:
Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. Acts 15:12
"how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38