Life, Hope & Truth

Are We Children of God Now?

Is God the Father of all? Are we His children now? You may be surprised, but you will also be encouraged to discover what the Bible really says about this.

While it is not so popular in today’s secular world, historically mankind has commonly spoken of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. This is a tacit admission that God is the Creator and therefore considered the Father of all. It acknowledges that all human beings are equal and on a different plane from God. Furthermore, if we accept that the entire human race sprang from Adam and Eve, then God as their creator could be seen as the Father of all.

There is nothing wrong with this analogy, but it is not the reason the Bible calls certain people the children of God.

Bringing many sons to glory

The Bible clearly teaches that human beings who are saved from this world will be resurrected from the dead, will be given everlasting life, and will enter into God’s family as His children. God the Father has proclaimed His purpose in describing one of the roles of Jesus Christ, the Savior, calling Him the Captain of our salvation.

All that Jesus did was done to further God’s plan of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). The ultimate hope of Christians is to become glorious spirit-born children in the family of God in the next life.

But what about now? Are we the children of God today?

The apostle John answers, saying, “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Is he saying all people on earth are the “children of God”? Or is John speaking to a select group?

When Jesus Christ came to the earth as a human being, He repeatedly said that no one had known the Father. He further stated that it was impossible for one to know the Father unless Christ revealed Him (see Matthew 11:27).

It was evident that man was not living as if God were the Father of all. Jesus made this plain when He told His followers, “And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me” (John 16:3). Indeed, some would be persecuted for following Christ and submitting to the Father. Jesus expressed it this way: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).

The fact is that it can be dangerous to be a child of God in our world today—just as it was for Jesus back then.

But just who are the children of God?

The simple answer is that children of God are individuals who have renounced and forsaken the ways of sin and death and turned to God for redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Though not fully born into the spirit family of God, they have been granted the Holy Spirit to guide and lead them in the way of God. This changes the way they think and live. They model themselves after Jesus and follow His instruction. They are members of the spiritual Body of Christ, His Church on earth today, waiting for His return. By analogy, they are like babies in the womb, already begotten of their father but not yet come to full birth. (See our article “What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?” for a fuller explanation of the analogies the Bible uses.)

When we recognize our sinful state and turn wholeheartedly to God, that action is called repentance. When we accept the sacrifice of Christ to pay the eternal death penalty for sin, we are baptized as an expression of our faith in His power to save us. Following baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit, which gives an added dimension to our minds, allowing us to discern spiritual truth, including right and wrong. This is called conversion, as we have now changed our focus and manner of living.

Notice: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). And again, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (verse 16, King James Version). At conversion, we become the children of God, identifiable in both word and deed.

The children of God emulate Jesus

If we are the children of God, we will be known to God—and to our detractors—by our way of life, which is contrary to the way of human reasoning and human values. He says, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10).

Christians—the children of God—take on the attitude and love of God, our new Father, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4, emphasis added throughout).

The phrase divine nature represents a powerful expression of closeness to God. It means that as children of God we are taking on the spiritual characteristics of our Heavenly Father.

The children of the devil

Jesus described the leaders of His day as children of the devil—not that Satan created them, but that his influence pervaded their thinking and actions. This has been true through all human history for the vast majority of mankind.

In human terms, you cannot choose your father or mother. But in spiritual terms, we must make the choice. We can submit to the Spirit of God and become His little children, walking in the footsteps of our elder brother Jesus Christ—or we can continue to serve Satan by default, simply doing nothing to escape his control.Christ revealed this satanic influence and control over man when He said, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44). These selfish attributes are completely contrary to the divine nature.

Which father do we want to have?

Can you choose your father?

In human terms, you cannot choose your father or mother. But in spiritual terms, we must make the choice. We can submit to the Spirit of God and become His little children, walking in the footsteps of our elder brother Jesus Christ—or we can continue to serve Satan by default, simply doing nothing to escape his control.

But we should realize that Satan has nothing good in store for us. His game is to deceive us into believing that we are free to be and do whatever we choose, without regard to our Heavenly Father, the Creator God. Just as he did with Adam and Eve, the devil claims there is no penalty for sin.

Eventually, Christ will intervene and bind Satan from deceiving man any more. Then, as Paul says, “The creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

Yes, the children of God on earth today are living examples of what can and will happen to all peoples when Christ returns and establishes His Kingdom of peace and joy. They are experiencing true liberty—freedom to serve God and reject the deadly deceptions of Satan. They live in freedom from fear of death and freedom from confusion about what happens after death. Those who practice God’s law of love understand why the apostle James calls it the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25).

A plan of salvation for all

This truth may surprise you, but please understand that the Bible teaches that God is not converting the entire world today. God is not in some competition with Satan to win souls. Most are not even invited to be His children at this time.

Notice this astounding statement overlooked by most people, even the religious: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).

The Father’s plan of salvation calls for a limited number of people to become His children in this age. Jesus called them a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). The rest of mankind will be called to conversion in later ages, following the return of Christ to this earth. Believe it or not, even those who are long dead will have a future opportunity to accept the sacrifice of Christ and become the children of God. (Study more about what the Bible teaches about God’s plan to give everyone a chance in the articles “Judgment of God: The Real Story” and “Second Resurrection: A Second Chance?”)

Since God is calling only a fraction of mankind to salvation today, His calling is very precious.

Are you among the children of God?

Are we now the children of God? Ask yourself that question! If we are converted, we certainly are (1 John 3:1-2). But we are still fleshly children, not yet transformed into the eternal beings with spiritual bodies that God has in store for us (1 Corinthians 15:44; Romans 8:18-23). (See our article “What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?” for a fuller explanation of both of these analogies.)

What a wonderful truth to know that we can actually become the eternal children of God! As John said, “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). This change happens at the resurrection of the righteous at the return of Christ.

That great and glorious day is coming soon. If you are being called of God now, you need to rejoice in this opportunity and turn to God with all your heart. You, too, can be a part of God’s plan of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10)!

If you have not read the companion article “Children of God,” we encourage you to read it now.

About the Author

Larry Salyer

Larry Salyer is a retired pastor of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

Continue Reading

×

Discern is published every two months and is available in digital and print versions. Choose your preferred format to start your subscription.

Print subscriptions available in U.S., Canada and Europe

×

Please choose your region:

×

Suscríbase a Discernir

×
Fill out the form below to start your subscription.
×