A CHRISTIAN IS GOD'S CHILD
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
Loved Ones, the Bible says, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). There is no passage in the New Testament that should appeal more strongly to a TRUE Christian than the one quoted above. To be God's child is the greatest honor that can be claimed by the sons and daughters of Adam's sinful race. Man in sin is a child of the devil (cf. 1 John 5:19). Jesus said to the apostate Jews, "You come from your father the devil. You want to do the sinful things that your father wants" (John 8:44). Liars, thieves, drunkards, adulterers, murderers and all other alien sinners are the offspring of Satan, following his moral nature, and destined to share his terrible fate (Matt. 25:41). Of such an ancestry there is nothing to boast, and few there are who willingly acknowledge the relationship.
But to be a child of an infinitely loving and merciful Father, whose grace and compassion have brought to the world its only moral and spiritual blessing, is an honor that outshines all earthly glories. Such an honor, when properly understood and appreciated, gives a person an exalted perspective of the meaning and value of life and stimulates him to the noblest of activities in his relations with his fellowmen.
All mankind are the children of God by creation. We all are the "offspring of God" (Acts 17:29) [by creation]. Man was created in God's image and God is the Father of his spirit (Heb. 12:9), for He "formed the spirit of man within him" (Zech. 12:1). Man came (and still comes) from the hand of God as pure as His Creator, but when sin entered his heart, it corrupted his MORAL nature (sometimes called the “flesh” or the “human” nature), and thus a separation was effected between man and God. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2).
But God would not cast off man without hope. A life dead in sin can be made alive (Eph. 2:1). Man can be turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Col. 1:13-14). Our dead sinful moral nature can be circumcised and brought back to life in Christ (Col. 2:13). A child of the devil can again become a purified and consecrated child of God. Christ came to His own and His own received Him not; “But he gave the right to become the sons of God to those who did accept him, to those who believe on his name" (John 1:11-12). Those who thus BELIEVE (including obedience to Christ’s Gospel) become sons of God. They are born, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).
One Becomes a Child of God by a Spiritual Birth
Jesus declared to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again." "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5, 7). You can't pray your way into God's family; you must be born into that family. Peter speaks of those who were "born, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever" (1 Peter 1:23). Christians are born of a seed that never dies – the word of God.
God has no pleasure in an unregenerated heart. The love of the world and of self must be cast out of that heart and Christ must enter it before God will accept it. We, as the church, have ever stressed repentance and baptism as a "birth of water" for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). But we have not stressed as we should the companion part of that ONE birth, the Spirit. We are born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). The burial in the watery grave will avail nothing unless we rise there from to "walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-5)," to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).
The old man of sin must be crucified before the "new man" in Christ can exist. We must put away our old way of living and develop a new way of thinking. Then we can put on the new man, which is created like God “in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22‑24). With growth we will learn to love the things we once despised and despise the things we once loved.
The seed of the kingdom, the word of God (Luke 8:11), must be planted in the heart and be permitted to produce the fruits of righteousness. It is only a crucified heart that is a purified heart. The washing in the water of baptism must be accompanied with a washing of the heart in the blood of Christ (Rev. 1:5). Baptism will not bring us into the death of Christ unless we have died to the practice of sin. Only those who are dead to sin are freed from sin (Rom. 6:2-7).
Repentance is more than mere sorrow for sin. It is a complete turning away from sin and a turning to God. The Holy Spirit said, "A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you" (Ez. 11:19; 18:31; 36:26). The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life must be superseded by a love for God and a hunger for righteousness (Matt 5:6). The heart's affections must be centered on "things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1-2). In a word, to become God's child, we must be "transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). When this is done, then we as God's children will bear the family resemblance.
Most parents take pleasure in the fact that their children look like them. To have a son who is the "split image of his father" will cause a man to praise God with thankfulness. The old saying "like father like son" holds true in the spiritual world. If we have truly been "born of God" we will bear our Father's likeness. We have from Him this command, "Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16). Christian, can you truthfully say that you look like God? Look into the Gospel mirror (James 1:24) and take note if your moral and spiritual features resemble those of your elder brother, Christ.
Peter said that Christ suffered for us "leaving us an example that we should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21). This means we are to live as He lived. Our conduct, our habits, and our attitude toward God and man should be the same as His. Jesus came to show God's children how to live. His Father's will was His will (John 6:38), and He taught only as the Father revealed the truth to Him (John 12:48-49). His submission to the Father was full and complete. Well may we sing: "He the great example is and pattern for me." His likeness and image are revealed in the New Testament, and we must look therein to know how we are to live and look.
Our sincere prayer should ever be:
O to be like thee, blessed Redeemer
This is my constant longing and prayer:
Gladly I'll forfeit all of earth's treasures,
Jesus thy perfect likeness to wear.
When we look into the Lord's mirror (James 1:22-25), we see the image of Christ and can be "changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). When Peter and John were arrested by the enemies of the church it was said, "they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). This means they were reminders of Christ. They personified Christ who was revealed through them.
Once some Greeks came to Phillip saying, "Sir, we would see Jesus," and Christ was presented to them in person. We cannot do that, but we can show to the world a Christ who lives in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17). If Christ lives in us He will not enjoy our cigarettes, slangy language, lurid comics, shady stories, or our general indifference to the spiritual realities of life. Our daily walk should ever be with the consciousness that He is ever by our side, and that we are to be "living epistles… known and read of all men" (2 Cor. 3:2). Our lives oftentimes made repulsive by sin, can be renewed by the spirit of the Lord and, be made to bear His image. This is your work and mine, for the Lord cannot change a sinful life except by the willing help of the individual.
Every Child of God should learn to Love the Whole Family
Jesus laid down an infallible test of true discipleship. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). The attainment of a perfectly happy home life depends on this principle. A family rent with bitter quarrels and sordid fights experiences neither peace nor happiness. It was love in the beginning that formed the family and it is only love that will hold it together. The family of God has no greater lesson to learn than to "love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Pet. 1:22).
In view of the fact that the love that saved us was a pure and unselfish love, a love that gave the highest and most precious gift known to man (John 3:16), we should be unselfish in our attachment to the entire family of God's children. "If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (1 John 4:11). "We know we have passed from death unto life when we love the brethren" for "he that loveth not his brother abideth in death" (1 John 3:14).
In the early days of Christianity, when thousands sealed their faith with their life's blood, the church was bound together by a tie so strong that even the most hardened of the Roman soldiers would exclaim in astonishment, "Behold how the Christians love each other." But in this modern age of fast changing spiritual values, most members of the church regard each other as mere acquaintances, and they would feel insulted if asked to bear the burden of another's trouble. That selfless devotion that bound the early Christians together is, in many congregations, as rare as a blooming rose in a desert. Paul declared that the Body (the church) is ONE, but has many members. If one member suffered, all members suffered with it; or if one member was honored, all members rejoiced together (1 Cor 12:12, 26). Such a care and devotion can be produced only by a scriptural knowledge of our relationship to God and to each other. It was said of the early church, "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32). All hearts blended into one.
We then can truthfully sing:
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love,
The fellowship of kindred minds,
Is like to that above.
All Children of God Should be Interested in their Father's Cause
If an earthly father was doing a work that brought great blessings to his fellowmen, he would be grieved if his children took no interest in his work. Our Father has a great work to do. He sent His Son to seek and save that which was lost. His main interest in man is in blessing and uplifting him. A true child of God can have no better interest. Jesus plainly said, "No man can serve two masters: For either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will cling to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24).
Too many professed Christians are entirely engrossed in material things and have no time for the spiritual things that concern the Father. You simply cannot partake of the Father's likeness without at the same time, partaking of His interest in spiritual things. We are not to be interested in treasures that are subject to rust and decay, but should be entirely interested in the kind of treasures that are deposited in the bank of heaven. Our Lord spoke of how the "cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the word so that it becomes unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22). He who has no real interest in the saving of souls and in building up the church, has no claim upon his Father's inheritance. There are thousands in the church today that have never lifted their little finger to save a soul and we shudder at the thought of their doom!
David complained, "No man cared for my soul” (Psalms 142:4), and if you have no interest in another’s salvation, you really have no interest in your own. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all might come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Long ago God said, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked: but that the wicked should turn from their evil ways and live" (Ezek. 33:11). “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).
It is little less than hypocrisy for worldly minded members to sing in stentorian tones; "Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave. Weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus the mighty to save," and then when they meet their friends and neighbors, never have a single word to say to them of their souls' redemption! Are we not parasites if we live off of our Father's bounty and never seek to share His grace with those who are doomed?
A Child of God Should often Commune with the Father
Oftentimes Jesus would, withdraw Himself from the teeming, noisy crowds and spend quiet and restful hours alone with His Father. Between that Father and His Son was the closest bond of affection, interest, and fellowship. We have often wondered why many people call God their Father when they never have one word to say to Him from one day to another. We've known people who when asked to pray, would say in a panic, "Oh I can't pray!" How absurd! Can't talk to the kindest Father the world has ever known! What could make it impossible for a child to converse with a most loving and affectionate father? Our Father is one of infinite love, mercy, and compassion. His interest in us and love for us is beyond expression. We claim to have been saved and redeemed by His infinite grace, and yet we can't talk to Him! How absurd!
If a friend whom you loved, gave you a gift of much value, would it be beyond your mental or physical power to say "Thank You, my friend"? Would we not feel ashamed to accept this gift without tendering grateful and heart‑felt thanks? Yet each day, we receive from the Father "every good gift and every perfect gift" (James 1:17), spiritual gifts and material gifts, and never utter a single word of gratitude or appreciation! Thanking the Father for His precious gifts and asking Him for strength and grace to meet all our daily trials should be the most natural thing in the world.
The church as God's family never will be what the Father intended it to be until every sincere Christian recognizes his kinship to God and treats Him with the same loving adoration that a properly trained child shows toward his father. Praying to the Father should be as natural and as easy as to converse with anyone we love and admire. Christians miss the greatest experience in life if they never learn to pray. When Christians pray, we should speak to God as to a good friend. He is not a remote power; He is with us and all about us (Matt. 28:20; Eph. 4:6). In our moments of extremity we should turn to Him as our great friend, baring our soul, striving only to be heard and understood. It should be as if we were contacting someone with whom we need never pretend, who will look into our hearts and know what is there. Then we will have the true experience of religion, as we speak directly to the Lord.
There can be no real religious life whatever without a personal contact with our Father, who is ever interested in all which pertains to our welfare. Peter urges: "Cast all your cares upon him for he careth for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). Paul insists that we should go "boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need" (Heb. 4:16). The Philippians were admonished to be "careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6).
What is the sense of singing "Sweet hour of prayer, Sweet hour of prayer, That calls me from a world of care. And bids me at my Father's throne, make all my wants and wishes known," while at the same time we never avail ourselves to the personal blessings of that hour? If a father is the right kind of a parent, his children will get into his lap with the utmost confidence and assurance that they will be loved and comforted in their childish troubles and sorrows. They know his strong arms will close around them in loving protection and comfort. The Christian life will be well nigh meaningless to anyone unless he can look upon the heavenly Father with the same degree of security, intimacy, and trust as a child goes to its earthly father. Your Father is ever as near to you as the door of your heart. At any moment, when that door is opened in welcome, the all‑loving Father will be in your presence to "comfort, strengthen, and keep you."
Children of God Should Trust their Father to Provide all their Needs
Jesus once asked: "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give them a stone? Or if he ask a fish will he give him a serpent? If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven, give good things to those that, ask him?" (Matt. 7:9-11). One of the rarest things in the church today is to find a professed Christian who has implicit trust in the Lord to supply all his needs.
We sometimes sing, "I'm the child of a King," and in that song we speak of how his "coffers are full, he has treasures untold," yet we slave and work and work and worry for fear we shall not have the wherewithal to be fed and clothed. O Ye of little faith! Jesus once pointed out the fact that the lilies of the field were more gorgeously appareled than Solomon in all his glory, even though they could neither toil nor spin; and the birds of the air neither sow, reap nor gather into barns, yet they are fed through a father's care (Matt. 6:26-30). "Are ye not much better than they?"
Worry is when you hold a mental picture of things you DON’T want to happen. We seriously doubt if there is any one thing that distresses our Father more than to have whining, complaining, and worried children. An affectionate and considerate Father is ever ready and willing to provide our every need. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth those that fear him" (Ps. 103:13). Why can't we or won't we trust him? Jesus says, "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things" (Matt. 6:32). This being true, which no real child of God will deny, why should we be so fearful of the future? Why the strained look, the wrinkled brow, and the heavy heart? Why is it such a risk to lose a dollar by going to the Father's house to worship Him and commune with Him?
There was a member of the church who had to work on Sunday to hold his job. A man of faith told him if he gave up such a job in order to be free to worship the Lord, that the Lord through His grace would enable him to find a better job. Quick as a wink the member heatedly said, "I don't believe that!" Yet Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). We would hesitate to call Christ a liar, yet that, in effect, is what we do when we doubt His word. Faith is taking God at His word. As a rule, you will find that those who are faithful in attendance at the hour of worship each Lord's day, are just as prosperous and many times far more happy than those who refuse to trust the Father for their daily bread. We do not believe we have to disregard the commands of God in order to earn our daily bread.
We often wonder why people will sing: "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus" when they never trust His promise for one hour or a day. Listen to Paul: "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Tim. 6:17). We certainly believe that the name of "God" should be something more than a mere word to those who profess to be His children. "In him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). He is One who is "able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20). And we have the assurance that "no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Ps. 84:11).
A Child of God, if Faithful to Him, can look forward to a Great Family Reunion
When the holiday season approaches it generally is a season of family reunions. The married children with their companions and children return to the old homestead to spend the day with Mom and Dad. What a happy occasion it is! Brothers and sisters reunited under the old family roof, drinking deeply from the well of affection, and reliving the sweet memories of the childhood days that are past. The cares and responsibilities of life are for the moment forgotten, and they all revel in the presence of those they love. But there can be only a few hours at the most of this sweet companionship and then all must part.
We cannot expect a permanent reunion of an earthly family. But the day is coming when the great family of God, gathered from every tribe and nation, will meet around the eternal throne of the Father, in that land where no storm clouds gather and where we'll never say "Good Bye." John wrote, "And after this I beheld, and lo a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds and people and tribes and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb clothed with white robes and palms in their hands" (Rev. 7:9).
Every saint and redeemed one from all the generations of the past, will be there. The great and the mighty of all of God's servants together with even the smallest in the kingdom ‑ all home at last! No parting, no tears, no sad farewells. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. And he that set upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new" (Rev. 21:4-5).
Loved ones, Christians are children of God. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Rom. 8:17).
At the sounding of the trumpet,
when the saints are gathered home,
We shall meet each other by the crystal sea.
There to meet and join
to sing the songs of Moses and the Lamb,
What a gathering of the faithful that will be!