Tag Archives: Epistle to the Romans

Who are the children of God?

KSBJ
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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.

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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.

Does God love unconditionally? Sort of.

Our last church, which we left over 15 years ago for reasons like this, had a billboard and a weekly sermon theme that “God loves you unconditionally.”  Alternate versions used by other churches go something like, “God loves you just as you are.”

Guess how your average non-believer will interpret that, with plenty of help from Satan?  “Yes, God loves you unconditionally, just as you are, so no need for any change or to repent!   And you definitely don’t need Jesus!”

In the agape term for love, which is having someone’s long-term best interests at heart, God does love unconditionally.  But He doesn’t provide salvation unconditionally.  You must repent and believe.  Those who only teach part of the Gospel don’t teach the Gospel at all.  They demonstrate that they are ashamed of the real Gospel.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Greg Koukl likes to point out that, “God catches his fish and then He cleans them.”  I think it is important to remember that when sharing the Gospel.  If someone had come to you or me and said, “As soon as you stop being greedy, lustful, idolatrous, selfish, etc. I will share some great news with you!” I don’t think we’d have been interested in hearing more.  According to the Bible, we can’t have power over sin until we are saved.

God does love us: Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

But a response is required: Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Run, don’t walk, from churches that are ashamed of the real Gospel.  If they teach that you can be saved without Jesus or that your good deeds will earn your salvation, or that God doesn’t require you to repent and believe, then get out and find a real church.

False teaching seminary grad still knows little about the real Jesus

Such is the problem with theological Liberals: They know so little about Jesus.  He is God, so He inspired and agrees with all of the Bible.  When false teachers quote other uninformed people about Jesus, such as in Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie‘s piece about “Jesus: Soft on defense. Wrong for America,” you get the usual distortions and errors.

Would Jesus be soft on defense?   Of course not.

False teachers like Chuck go wrong when they use their perverted definition of love.  They use it as indulgence and even encouragement to sin, whereas the Bible uses it as having someone’s long term best interests at heart.

And Jesus didn’t say to only love your enemies.  He said to love your neighbors as well.  If you love your neighbors you’ll want to protect them from harm, which means supporting everything from local police to national defense.

Also, Jesus inspired Romans which states the roles of government.

Then there is the classic and transparently false claims that Jesus is a socialist / communist:

Voice: Karl Marx says that the government ought to take from each according to his abilities, and give to each according to his needs. This is socialism. This is communism. Jesus agrees with Marx. He says to be saved, you have to give your hard-earned possessions away. He said: “Go and sell whatever you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.”(Mark 10: 21) Jesus. Socialism. Dangerous for America.

Even in the verses the author takes out of context he still exposes his error.  Having the government give and take from each person is radically different than each person giving based on what he has decided in his own heart to give.  Jesus never taught to petition Caesar to take from neighbor A to give to neighbor B.  He taught to give from your own wallet.

Oh, and did Marx promise treasures in Heaven?  I must have missed that part.

Chuck hypocritically closes with a call for politics to be more civil.  Right, Chuck.  As soon as you are done with your race-baiting, serial libel, false claims of hate speech, etc. I’m sure you’ll be more civil.

These phonies should learn more about the real Jesus before opining on what He would or wouldn’t do as a politician.

Taking St. Francis too literally

St. Francis’ saying that Christians should “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words” is terrific, except for three things:

  1. He didn’t really say it.
  2. He didn’t really live it (he used words, a lot).
  3. Even if he said it and lived it, it is only accurate if used as hyperbole.

I didn’t realize until recently that he probably didn’t even say those words, so I wanted to note that while re-publishing this piece from 2006.  I hear that quote far too often, and typically used as a reason not to use words to share the Gospel.  Bad idea.

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Original post

I always appreciated St. Francis of Assisi’s famous quote: “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”  To me, that means that our lives should reflect our faith in Christ.   It reminds me of the exercise where you ask, “If I were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me?”  We all still sin, but ideally when someone learns I am a Christian he doesn’t say, “Really?!  I had no idea.”

But either I misunderstood St. Francis’ meaning or others are taking him too literally, because I often hear this phrase used as an excuse not to use words to evangelize.  The implication is that we can bear witness to the Gospel with actions alone.  I see a few flaws with that reasoning.

  • No one is so good that they don’t have to use words.
  • St. Francis still used words to share the Gospel.
  • The early church spread using words (check out the book of Acts).
  • Most importantly, Jesus used words to share the Gospel.
  • The Bible is God’s Word and we are told to use it.  Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
  • Even if you are Marcel Marceau, you probably aren’t good enough at miming to present the Roman Road Gospel verses without words (i.e., Romans 3:23, 6:23, 10:9, etc.).

Our actions can speak volumes and should be in concert with our words, but we need to be prepared with words as well.

1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

I heard of one guy who used the “I don’t need words to evangelize” philosophy for many years without converting anyone.  Finally, one person recognized that there was something dramatically different and better about the man’s life and said, “You’re a vegetarian, too, aren’t you?”  The man realized he needed to be a little more specific about the source of joy in his life.

As the saying goes, words without deeds are as ineffective as deeds without words.