Who are the children of God?

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I was pleasantly surprised this week when a DJ on our local contemporary Christian radio station, KSBJ, made the theologically accurate point that not everyone is a child of God.  Here are some additional thoughts on that theme.


People often say we’re all God’s children.  Since He created us all in his image and every human being has worth, I suppose we have a kinship.  And those who believe in Christ didn’t do anything to earn their salvation, so it isn’t like we earned the right to be his children based on our works.

Yet if you look for the teaching that “we’re all God’s children” in the Bible you won’t find it.  Every instance I could find only references those whose faith is in Christ.  For example:

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

Romans 9:8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

Galatians 3:26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus

Mark 3:32-35 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

And the extensive and important theme of being adopted by God (Romans 8-9, Galatians 4, Ephesians 1) would make no sense if we were his children from birth, because you don’t adopt those who are already your children.

Now consider these verses which point out that before our salvation we were enemies of God and objects of wrath:

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

The only passage that hints at the opposite view is in Acts 17, where Paul quotes a Greek author noting that we are God’s “offspring,” but that context is much more clinical and doesn’t outweigh the very specific and numerous passages elsewhere.

If I am missing any Bible verses that teach otherwise, please correct me.  I mentioned this once at church and got dirty looks.  Yet it is a clear message of scripture: You will spend eternity as a friend of God or an enemy.  Communicating the “we’re all God’s children” theme could give people a false sense of security.

Thanks be to God for the gift of his Son so that we could be reconciled to him and adopted by him!  By his grace, God adopts, completely forgives and eternally blesses everyone who repents and trusts in Jesus.

8 thoughts on “Who are the children of God?”

  1. “he gave the right to become children of God”
    I don’t think just beleiving is enough, for evne Satan and demons believe Jesus is the son of God. I think we have to establish a relationship with him. I don’t mean good works or other actions, but I think we need to get to know God through prayer and the acceptance of the Holy Spirit.


    1. That’s exactly what I think. Or thought. No. Think. That verse only says through; as in there is something else that needs to take place after that to become a child of God. And in 1 John 4:7 it says this:

      “Anyone who loves is a child of God.” (NLT)

      How I take that verse is a littler different than how it states it. Instead of “Whoever loves is a child,” I would say it means “If you are a Child, you will love.” In other words, “your love will evidence yourselves as Children of God.” I also take the fruit of the spirit in this way. Maybe that’s wrong, but when it comes to alignment with the rest of scripture, I’d say that my interpretation would be accurate.

      This is the point where I jump to Romans 8:14 (NLT)- “For all who are LED by the spirit of God are children of God.”

      The word “led” kind of implies that someone is following… Correct? We have to follow for someone to be leading. The actions are dependent on each other. Therefore, whoever follows the Spirit of God (and therefore produces fruit) are the Children of God. Really, Christ’s death and our belief in his sacrifice is only the beginning and the gate (he is the gate to eternal life) to becoming a child of God. That message won’t be very popular amongst… Well, anyone! But it is Truth!


      1. I’ve heard this preached in such a way as to be universalist or near-universalist, and in so doing to contradict other clear statements of the Bible, rather than to make them be complementary. The preacher said that “whoever loves” meant that any natural filial or fraternal love was a sign of being a child of God, regardless of what one believed about Jesus or how one acted otherwise; that Muslims, atheists, heathens, etc., who love their mamas or are nice to their friends, brothers, or animals, are giving evidence of having been born of God. It seems that these people would wake up in heaven kinda wondering how they got there, since they had never heard of Jesus, except possibly to hate Him. Needless to say, we didn’t go back to that church.

        [Other verses that kind of preaching ignores and essentially declares to be false include that Jesus said that “even the sinners” love their own friends and brethren, and the multitude of verses that show that Jesus is the only way of salvation, and that people will hear of Him and believe on Him in this life.


  2. Sorry, but that’s just not true. I believe we are born God’s own, but even if I go with your premise, Christ came once for the forgiveness of the sins of all. Excluding any cheapens the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ.


    1. First off. We are born sinful. Not because of what our fathers or mothers did, just because we are this way naturally. Multiple times it states sin as our “sin nature.” (One example is Ephesians 2:3 NLT) That means, deep down, we are sinners. We aren’t born into Christ’s kingdom. That’d be freakin sweet, but that’s not how it works. If we are friends with the world, the sinful world, we are enemies of God. Therefore, at birth, before Christ, we are enemies of God due to our sinful nature. Straight out. Right there. Secondly, maybe it does seem demeaning to you. You are correct in one aspect, that God died for us all. But it’s not like he died and we are automatically saved. We must believe and accept his sacrifice. Even after accepting his sacrifice, THROUGH his death (Galatians 3:26) we must become Children of God by following and being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14). Few will find the road that leads to life eternal. I take that verse as this: Jesus died for the many so the few will find him. Not everyone will find him… Unfortunately. Sorry if it stings to hear this, but it is Truth. Don’t ignore it because you don’t like it.


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