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.