The Expository Files


That We Should Be Called “Children of God”

1 John 3:1

When one obeys the gospel, he or she becomes a child of God. In this way, one becomes a member of God's spiritual household, or family. There are rights, privileges and blessings in the family, but there are also responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to be true and loyal to our Father in every circumstance even when the world does not like it much. The Father's love is just too great to betray or despise. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. “ (1 John 3:1).

Simply put, we must not allow those who do not know God dictate to us what our relationship to the Father ought to entail. They may say that we should have no relationship with God at all. Or they may insist that the relationship be distant and that we ought not to be fanatical about it (meaning: do not let it effect your life very much). I would hope that we reject such counsel. Our living hope as children of God ought to motivate us to press on toward a much more close, meaningful, happy and blessed relationship with the eternal Father. Consider:

Two Senses in Which One May Be a Child of God
There are different senses in which a human being is a child of God. One way is by right of creation. As descendants of Adam, every human being is a child of God in this sense (Acts 17:24-29).

Luke traces the genealogy of Christ back to Adam (LUKE 3:38). Every human lineage, if they were traceable today, would wind up at the same place. Somewhere, your lineage and my lineage and the lineage of Christ join into the same branch. The Bible believer truly believes in the concept "the brotherhood of man", and along with that, the implication of such ideals as love and respect for others, justice and equality.

Since the beginning, God has "breathed" of His life and image into every human being; first at creation (Genesis 2:7; 1:26-27), and then also again , as man multiplied himself, human parents would pass on their genetic physical traits and God would add of His spirit (Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 12:9). These things are true for every human being, but being in God's spiritual family requires that we be "born again". This is a necessity if we are to see the kingdom of God. Being born only once is not enough. Jesus says a second birth is required (John 3:3-5).

Born Again into God Spiritual Family
Being "born again" involves being born of "water and the Spirit" (John 3:5). Not just water. Not just spirit, but both (Titus 3:5-7). Being "born again" involves being given the living hope of an unfading heaven (1 Peter 1:3,4). Such a living hope has true staying power which protects the faith of those who have it (1 Peter 1:5). Being "born again" involves "obeying the truth" of God's word (1 Peter 1:22,23). Purification from sins come as we obey the gospel (Acts 22:16).

Yes, everyone of us are God's children in one sense by bearing His image in our spirit, as human beings have done from the very beginning. But being counted as God's spiritual children, purified and living in hope, expecting to inherit the eternal heavenly kingdom, only comes from being born again. The statement "I didn't ask to be born!" may be true concerning the first birth, but not the second birth.

Responsibilities in the Household of God
One responsibility of being God's child in His spiritual family is to no longer make a habitual practice of sin. We start aiming higher than that (1 John 2:28,29). With the word abiding in us, we seek to make application of it to the daily events of our lives. This helps us to overcome the habitual practice of sin, and sin itself becomes the exception, not the rule of our lives (1 John 3:7-10).

Another is to love our brothers and sisters. Brotherly love is a trait that ought to be ours and be developed. Our brothers in Christ become precious to us (1 John 5:1).

Then we ought to be living lives of victorious Faith. It is by faith that we overcome the world (1 John 5:4). We seek to come to know the Father better as we witness His grace in our lives (1 John 4:7). This in turn increases our confidence in God's greatness. We know that God is greater than Satan. John wrote the following to God’s children: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). That is why we are so blessed. By faith we shall inherit our eternal home.

As God's spiritual children, we should reflect His image to the world. We make His characteristics a part of our character. We are not interested in treating our God and His message in a trivial way. We are not interested in leaving behind His care and purposes. He is not our personal fireman that we only call on in emergency situations.

Jesus gives the right to become children of God to those that receive Him (John 1:1-13). See how great a love God has for us that He would give us such a high honor and privilege? As a human being you bear the image of God within and are therefore a child of God in that sense. But have you been born into God's spiritual family? That is where all eternal blessings are found.

11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:11-13

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 19.3; March 2012