The Children of God

Perhaps one of the most popular platitudes within our culture today is the statement “We are ALL God’s children.” For the sake of clarity, I want to state that The Reborn Church of Phoenix does not agree with the notion that we are all God’s Children. At Reborn we seek to be as biblically consistent as possible. This post will seek to examine the Scriptures and provide a thorough argument in support of Christians exclusively possessing the title of being called The Children of God.

I believe the assumption that we are all God’s children comes from the idea that since God is a Father and he created everyone, then everyone must be a child of God. This belief usually presupposes that God has the same positive and loving relationship with everyone equally. Christians, who hold the Bible to be authoritative in all aspects of life, need to make sure the statements we hear are consistent with God’s Word, so we are not lead astray by the perspectives of popular culture.

The Children of God According to the
Apostle John:

Believers are the Children of God

John 1:11-13

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

In John’s prologue to his Gospel he reveals Jesus’ deity and incarnation. In the passage above John informs his reader that Jesus came into the world, specifically to Israel and they did not receive him. John claims that all those who believe in Jesus were given the right to become children of God. Therefore, anyone who believes in Jesus are given the right to possess the title of being called God’s child. This passage also implies that there was a time, where people were not the children of God because we have to become the children of God by believing in Jesus. He also makes argues against the idea of being a child of God by birth in verse 13. This means that those who reject the light are not the children of God. God is not everybody's Father. He created everybody, and they are his. But Jesus says in John 8:42, "If God were your Father you would love me." God is not everyone's Father. And the test of who your Father is, is whether you love his Son.[1]

John 8:41-47

They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

In this context Jesus is involved with a dispute with the Pharisees over his identity and who their father is. The Pharisees believed that there father was God because of birthright. Jesus boldly refutes them by informing them that their Father is not God, but the devil because they do not believe in him. In this passage we learn that the children of the devil are those who do not hear the words of God. On the contrary, those who believe in Christ and hear God’s word are the children of God. Those who rejected Christ did so because they were not God's children, but the children of the devil. These words may sound harsh, but they are the very words of Christ. We cannot ignore them. By nature, by birth, we are children of Satan. We are rebellious and lost citizens of the sinful and dying world with familial connections only to the evil one. We are not natural-born members of the household of God[2]

1 John 3-2

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now

The Father loves his children and if you are a Christian then you have been called a child of God. In this text John claims that the world does not know us because they do not know God, and then he continues his thought by reminding his audience that we are God’s children now. This implies that in the past, we were not his children, but in love God has chosen to adopt all those who have faith in Christ. However, the question remains: what does it mean to be a child of God? The answer is that to be a child of God is to be righteous in Christ. This is implicit in 1 John 3:1 where the apostle speaks of the world rejecting us in ways analogous to Jesus’ own rejection by the world (John 1:10; 16:2–3). That we are also rejected implies that we will be like Christ who is Himself the only begotten Son of God.[3]

The Children of God According to
the Apostle Paul:

Children of God by Adoption

Throughout the metanarrative of the Bible, there is a theme of adoption. In regards to Biblical theology, adoption can be defined as an act of God whereby he makes us members of his family.[4] We desire for people to become a part of the family of God, so we show them love by sharing the good news about Jesus to them. The very fact, that there is a theme of God adopting children presupposes that there are people that are not his own children. Nevertheless, let us examine some passages that highlight God’s adoption and distinguish between his children and those who are not.

Romans 9:8

This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

The context of Romans 9, is about God’s sovereign choice in salvation. The Jews believed they were children of Abraham and children of God because they were born in the nation of Israel, similarly to the view of the Pharisees in John 8. Paul argues that we are not children of God by birth, but instead we are children of God by the promised Messiah Jesus Christ. We are only the children of God through adoption - by faith in Jesus, not by birth.

 

Ephesians 1:3-5 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us  for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

In Ephesians 1:3-5, The Apostle Paul reveals to the Ephesian Church God’s plan of salvation in predestination and adoption. It is important to note that Paul is addressing a Christian church, so when he uses inclusive pronouns like “we,” he is referring to the community of believers, not to unbelievers. In this passage, we learn that God has an adoption process: he predestines specific people before the foundation of the world, and then he adopts them by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:1-5 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

In the next chapter of Ephesians, Paul explains the state of people without Christ: sons of disobedience, children of wrath, and these individuals follow the Prince of the power of the air (which is the Devil). In this passage, the Apostle Paul makes a distinction between the saved and the unsaved. The good news in Ephesians 2, is that by God’s will he adopts some sons of disobedience and children of wrath and makes them his children.

Galatians 4:1-7 

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,[a] though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles[b] of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

In Galatians 4, Paul is warning the Galatian church not to believe a false gospel of works that was being taught throughout the region. In this passage he makes a distinction between children who are enslaved and then he continues his thought by informing the Galatians that through Christ we receive adoption as God’s sons.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, as we examine these verse I hope that you come to understand that not everyone is a child of God. Our hope is not to exclude people, but invite them to an inclusive relationship with Christ. The title of being a child of God is reserved for those whom God has placed his saving love upon. If you believe in Christ by faith then God has adopted you as his child and you have the title of being called a child of God. For those who are not the children of God, there is an opportunity to become a part of the family of God by repenting of sin and believing in his Son Jesus Christ. Believe The Gospel. Become Family. Be Reformed.  

 

[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-to-become-a-child-of-god

[2] https://carm.org/are-we-all-gods-children

[3] https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/children-god/

[4] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. Zondervan 1994. Page 1235.