By DAVID J. DU PLESSIS
Original Publication Date: January 1, 1974
It was early morning, around four o’clock, in the month of January. There was snow everywhere outside. Radio news had predicted 10 degrees below zero temperature that night. I was awakened from a deep restful sleep by a voice that seemed loud and clear. I sat up in bed and looked around the room. The street light was shining through one window. I saw no one in the room. All was quiet, yet that voice kept ringing in my ear. It seemed I could still hear it distinctly saying: “God has no grandsons.”
Perhaps I had left the radio on. I leaned over and felt the set; it was ice cold. The thought struck me that even the radio must be warm before it can say anything. Cold Christians have nothing to say. But where did that voice come from? Who spoke those words? I kept listening, but there was only the sound of heavy breathing from those sleeping in the next rooms. Then it seemed as if there was someone in my room and the presence made me feel good. Suddenly it dawned on me. It must be the Holy Spirit who spoke to me. But why should He say those words to me? What does He mean? — God has no grandsons.
I snapped on the light and took my Bible. Is there a text about any “grandsons”? I could remember none. “How about sons?” I turned to the Gospel of John, chapter one, verse 12 and 13. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
I checked further Scriptures. Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” I John 3:1, 2, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…. Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” Galatians 4:4-7, “God sent forth his son…to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but, a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
I could find nothing about grandsons.
Then I began to check whether there was any. text that might signify that God could be the grandfather of anyone, but I could find nothing in the Old or New Testament. So I concluded: “God is nobody’s grandfather.”
It was about five in the morning. I switched off the light and put on my “thinking cap.” What had I discovered? Nothing new. I always knew God is our Father in heaven. He is the Father of all believers, and believers in Christ are called sons of God. So what? I had only found a new way of saying an old truth. God has no grandsons, only sons. God is nobody’s grandfather, only Father.
At breakfast that morning I discussed this experience with the pastor and his wife. The voice and the thought seemed to stay with me all the time. This lasted for all the ten days that I continued to minister in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I received no revelation or inspiration. Those who I talked to thought it was a very peculiar way of saying that only those who are born of God are sons of God. Beyond that there is no relationship. God has no grandsons. He is no grandfather.
I had to fly to Chicago and by phone made reservations on an evening flight. I never checked just how that flight would go. After we were airborne I discovered we had to change planes in Milwaukee. I was a little displeased because it was another bitter cold night with below zero temperatures. . Then the “still small voice” whispered: “Maybe you should meet someone on this trip to speak to.” That settled it. I was watching and seeking to find that “someone.” I looked over the passengers in the plane. This gave me no guidance. Then after landing I looked over the people in the terminal at Milwaukee. No one spoke to me and I saw none that I felt led to speak to.
Then came the call for the flight to Chicago. When I came to the gate, I was all alone, the only passenger. I felt terribly lonely and very home sick. Then I heard voices. I saw five men in black come toward me. They began to shake hands with each other, and only one came on toward the gate. The others waved farewell. So it seemed we were the only two passengers for the flight. Maybe this was the person whom I should talk to. There was no one else, so why not get acquainted?
“Are you a passenger to Chicago?” I asked. “Yes, sir. Are we the only passengers?” said my friend. “There is the last call, and it seems we must be the only passengers. Are you an R.C. priest, sir?” I questioned. “Yes, I am a priest with an educational appointment,” came his reply as we walked to the plane. Then he asked: “And you, what are you?” “Oh, I am also a priest.” I said. “But what kind of priest are you?” queried my companion. “Sir, I am a Pentecostal priest,” said I. “You mean you belong to the Movement that is growing so fast around the world?” “Yes, sir, that is what is generally admitted these days.” “Could you tell me about them? Do you know much about the Pentecostal Movement?” I told him that I had been in the Movement since 1918 and that I had served as secretary for several world conferences. “Oh, how fortunate I am to meet you,” he ex claimed as we boarded the plane. “I have been hoping to meet with someone who could tell me all about the Pentecostalists.”
As we took two seats, side-by-side, the stewardess offered her services, and my friend said to her: “Lady, we need nothing. We only want to talk. So you may go to the front seat and curl up and go to sleep.” When he said this the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Tell him that God has no grand sons.” Then I knew that now I would receive further revelation on the word that I heard in the early morning.
I began to witness about my conversion when I was born again — born of God. I continued to relate how after my conversion in 1916 I had received the Holy Spirit in 1918, and how I was called into the ministry. I kept quoting New Testament parallels, first saying, “Christ was born of the spirit, which we call the Virgin Birth. Then at the age of thirty, at Jordan, He received the Holy Spirit – two distinct happenings. First there was birth, then enduement for service. Christ never ministered until He had received the Holy Spirit. So Christ commanded His disciples not to leave the city of Jerusalem until they had received the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost He came. That is why we are called Pentecostals. Later in Samaria they had been baptized and had enjoyed miracles, but after that the Apostles came from Jerusalem and only then did they receive the Holy Spirit. Again two experiences. Cornelius had a life of prayer and angels appeared to him. He already had experienced the grace of God, but when Peter preached to him he also received the Holy Spirit, and we speak of that incident as the Gentile Pentecost.”
Suddenly my friend interrupted with: “Oh, I see what you are trying to do: You are trying to revive the Apostolic Church of the New Testament in this century, and you expect the same things to happen now that were experienced by the early churches.”
“No, sir,” I replied. “We are trying nothing of the kind. We are only standing back and watching it happen all over the world. The first church was a creation of the Holy Spirit, and He has not changed; but in every generation He wants to repeat what He did in the first Christian Church through the first leaders and members.”
Then I proceeded to tell him how in miracle fashion, in many countries almost simultaneously at the turn of the century, the Holy Spirit moved upon those who were praying for revival. This happened in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa – on every continent and in almost every country of the world. The Pentecostal revival became known as the Pentecostal Movement which now has somewhere around ten million adherents. I have no time and space to give all the details here of what I told my friend that night.
Finally he interrupted me again and said: “I take it that you think all the other Christian churches are wrong or they have gone wrong?”
I prayed for guidance to answer this question. In a flash I got it. “Yes, sir, they have all gone wrong, and even now the Pentecostals are falling into the same ditch and they are going wrong too.”
He looked shocked. “But what do they do? When, why, where, how do they all go wrong?”
“Now, sir,” I said, “your church claims to be the oldest church. Is that not so?” “Yes, there you are right.” He answered. “Then your church went wrong first, and after that all fell into the same rut or ditch.” I added, “They all do the same thing – they begin right and keep right for a long time and then they go off the highway of God into the byways of men.
“What do they do? Please tell me quick. I must know this before we get off at Chicago and have to part.” My friend seemed very anxious.
With a deep prayer in my heart I said to him in slow, clear words: “They give God grandsons, and God has no grandsons.” Almost dumbfounded, he said, “I have never heard of such a thing! Grandsons? What do you mean?”
I answered him, “Actually I never heard of such a thing until a few weeks ago when I heard an audible voice say to me, ‘God has no grandsons’; and only now, this very moment, have I learned what the words mean. Now I shall try to explain why, where, when, and how all this happens.
“John the Baptist preached, ‘Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Then Jesus preached, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached: ‘Repent…and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ In the house of Cornelius, Peter told the Gentiles: ‘Whosoever be lieveth in him shall receive remission of sins.’ Thus – it was clear that every Jew and every Gentile that came into the Christian Church did so by repentance, or conversion, or being born of the Spirit. Everyone had a very definite encounter with the living Christ, the resurrected Son of God. The record in Acts also shows that they received the Holy Spirit. Or this Paul was so sure that when he met the disciples at Ephesus he asked them: ‘Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?’
“This revival continued and the Church grew and Christianity swept the world of that time. Then some Jew or some Gentile began to reason: ‘I was a Jew [or Gentile] and became a Christian by repentance of sin and conversion from Judaism [or paganism] and so was my wife; but this boy of mine has never been a Jew [or Gentile]. He did not grow up in the temple. He was born from Christian parents, in a Christian home, and was brought up in the Christian Church. He is born Christian.’
“Now this may all be true, but he has never been born of the Spirit, and that child has not repented as a sinner because he has had a strict training as the son of Christian parents. He was taught to try and live like a Christian, for he is the son of God’s children.
“The nicest thing you could say about him is that being the son of two of God’s children who became a son and a daughter of God by regeneration, he is now a grandson of God–but there it is, God has no grandsons.
“Gradually the early Christians began to accept as members into their churches their well-trained but unregenerated children until the pews were packed with members who had no encounter with Christ as Savior and much less a Pentecostal experience. They were not born of the Spirit and therefore could not be filled with the Spirit. God. says: ‘[It is) not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit.’ The Spirit found no more blood-cleansed hearts in the Church to dwell in, and the Church cooled off spiritually until even in the pulpit there stood well-trained but unregenerated preachers who spoke the letter but had not the Spirit.
“When Emperor Constantine caused his army to be baptized into the Church, she was already so dead with a generation of unregenerate grandsons that these sinful soldiers felt quite at home in the Christian society. Spiritually the Church was dead. But God did not leave it at that. Time and again the Holy Spirit found a heart through which He could reach the ears of the people. Such men were the exception and were looked upon as fanatics and usually were persecuted or martyred.
“There came, for instance, the man known as Martin Luther. Out of his ministry came the Reformation. There seemed to come into life a new church with membership that had a fresh and very real encounter with Christ and with the Holy Spirit. However, it was not long before some Lutheran parents began to reason and say, ‘But our children have never been Roman Catholics; they are just born Lutherans.’ ‘Right there it began again–grandsons for God in the Lutheran or Reformation churches.
“Then came John Wesley in England, and we had the Western revivals. Again men and women were challenged to seek God and be born of the Spirit. But after two or three generations some parents began to reason: ‘Our children have never been Anglicans, or Lutherans, or Roman Catholics; why, they are just born Wesleyans or Methodists.’ Soon the grandsons filled the churches and the revival was over.
“Now at the turn of this century came the Pentecostal revival. All were called to repentance. Everyone who was born of the Spirit was now encouraged to seek and receive the baptism in the Spirit with the New Testament evidence of speaking in tongues and with the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, such as prophecy and healing. No matter how the older churches objected, the revival spread. It was the same in the Catholic countries as in Protestant countries and in pagan lands. When people are born of the Spirit they live. When such people are filled with the Spirit, they receive power to become witnesses.
“But what is happening now? We find that in the beginning of this revival, fifty years ago, every one was expected to be filled with the Spirit with the confirmation of ‘tongues’ before they could hold any office in the Pentecostal church or the Pentecostal Assembly, but there are today the sons and grandsons of Pentecostal pioneers who are teaching in Sunday schools and are holding all kinds of offices in the local churches without ever having had a real baptism in the Spirit according to Acts 2:4. The waves of Pentecostal power and revival are receding fast. There is danger that in another generation we may have a Pentecostal Movement without Pentecost–that is, without the experience, just like other revivals which still emphasize some or other truth but never experience it. Revivals crystalize into societies and establish churches when the ‘grandsons’ take over. But God has no grandsons.”
“Shocking… shocking…,” was all my friend the priest could say at first. Then he suggested that we might meet again some time. “Your grandfather’s story has upset my philosophy,” he concluded. We parted with a warm handshake, and we have not met again, but I prayed for him. I wonder whether he pondered that evening: “What am I? A son or a grandson?” Then the next morning when he prayed, did he remember “‘Our Father, which art in heaven’? Is God my Father? Have I treated Him like a grandfather? But God is no one’s grandfather.” I often wonder what he will tell me if we should meet again.
I have repeated the above experience almost weekly since 1959. I have related it to meetings of ministers, to the faculty members of seminaries, to students in seminaries, and to so many theologians that I cannot remember their number or names. Again and again I have been asked to write the story, and at the request of some leading Protestant churchmen, I do so with the prayer that this message might stir honest men and women all the way from Roman Catholic churches to the Protestant churches and even to the ranks of my own Pentecostal brethren everywhere.
REMEMBER… GOD HAS NO GRANDSONS!
Published by DAVID J. DU PLESSIS
Original Publication Date: January 1, 1974
3742 Linwood Avenue Oakland 2, California