For most people they are born into a family and don’t even think about what it needs to be a child to a mother and father. For others they have been rejected by their biological family and left to be part of the foster system.
Some become adopted into a family and hopefully it’s the family they wanted to be a part of. Some grow up without a family. Others don’t want to be part of their family for some reason and try to get out of it.
But those who believe in Jesus have become part of God’s family. There are some incredible benefits to being a child of God, but we don’t want to start there. I want to focus first on what it’s like to be part of God’s family and to be a child of God.
A Blessed Privilege
God does a truly amazing thing when he makes us his children. When you begin to think of all of the benefits of being part of God’s family, from where we all started as sinners to the saints he makes curiously, it astounds the mind.
But we must guard against thinking we deserve to become his children. We all know the children that act like they are privileged to be part of certain families. And we know the children who been adopted into great families that are humbled that anyone would care about them that much.
We need to come to God with a “humble confidence.” Instead of treating our adoption as his sons and daughters as an entitlement to demand things from God because we are part of his family, we need to come to him as though we are privileged children.
Nowadays when we use the word “privileged” it is a bad word used by people to describe certain individuals in our country. I don’t mean it that way. What I mean by privilege is that it’s our privilege to be part of God’s family.
We didn’t fight our way into the family. We didn’t demand to be part of it. But God gave it to us as a gift, as part of his grace. And so it’s a privilege for us to be part of his family. We are honored by his invitation and by our adoption.
After all, we don’t deserve to be here. We didn’t do anything to earn it. We weren’t born into his family either. So it’s a privilege, not a right. When we approach God with this humility we honor him as he honored us. We know how we got here.
But it’s also a confidence we have as being part of his family. We don’t have to think we don’t really belong. Some adopted children can never really fit in. We fit in to God’s family. He’s making sure of that. And we can approach him with anything we need.
He gives us authority over sickness and sin. We don’t have to live the way we did before we were part of his family. So we have confidence in his presence. He has given us all things, including an incredible inheritance in him.
So while we need to be humble and not demand things of God we know that he has given us many blessings. We can approach him humbly and get confidently. We know what he has done for us and what he has given us.
All in the Family
“But for all who received Him, He gifted to them the authority
to become children of God, to those who trusted in His name,
these neither from blood, nor from the will of the flesh,
nor from a husband’s will,
but have been born from God.”
John 1:12-13 (author’s translation)
When we think about being God’s children and part of his family John tells us how amazing our adoption truly is. We become part of God’s family in a way special to him. It’s not like any other way to become part of a family.
The most natural way to be in a family is to be born into it physically. We are blood relatives. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Blood is thicker than water.” It generally means that we go to bat for our family. We are willing to fight for them because we’re related blood.
The best I can understand John’s second way of entering a family is through the will of the flesh, the simple act of impregnating a woman to carry an offspring to conception. This seems more clinical than relational. Perhaps these are unplanned surprises. They can go either way. They might be rejected, or feel rejected, by the family. Or they could be readily accepted as wonderful surprises.
It was not a surprise for God to adopt us as his children. He made the choice to bring us in even when we didn’t deserve it. The final way John talks about becoming part of a family is through a husband’s will. This sounds more relational, the husband who chooses to have a child and follows through. To me it sounds like this is a father who wants the child.
The thing is we didn’t come into God’s family by any of these means. We came into his family through belief in Jesus. We trusted in God and he made us part of his family. Our adoption is not like the experience of the estranged adopted child.
This is the best kind of adoption. The New Testament writers when they talk about being adopted into God’s family are thinking of the Roman system. This was a system where you became not only a legal heir but also a full-fledged and full-blooded child.
You didn’t just get the name of your adopted family. You got the inheritance and were treated as a if you were a natural son or daughter. One of the most famous adoptions in Roman history was the son Augustus adopted by Julius Caesar.
The name may sound familiar because he became the first Emperor of the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar adopted him as a boy and he literally became the next ruler of the Empire Julius Caesar built. No one questioned his adoption as making him improbable for the throne.
When Jesus adopted you as his son or daughter you became everything that he wants you to be. You are fully part of his family. God took you in, hook, line, and sinker. You are his. He has no question about whether or not you belong. So why do we wonder if we really belong?
In and Out
I want to make some clarifications about what it means to be a child of God. If I may step on my soapbox for just a moment, not everyone is a child of God. I know you hear it from every politician to kingdom come, “We are all God’s children.”
I cringe when I hear that. It is not biblical and it is not true. Remember above I said that we become God’s children through belief in Jesus. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re not one of God’s children. I know it sounds terribly harsh but I’m speaking scriptural truth.
Just because you are not one of God’s children if you don’t believe in Christ does not mean you are left with nothing. Every single human being bears God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28). So you still bear God’s image even if you aren’t one of God’s children.
There are a lot of theological ideas about what it means to bear God’s image. For the most part it means that every human being has God’s authority to rule and steward his creation. But more than that the image of God has the idea of being able to spiritually connect to God.
Animals cannot spiritually connect to God. But we can. So every person even though they are not part of God’s family has the ability to connect with God, to know him, and become part of his family through belief in his Son.
So we must make a distinction between being a child of God, someone who believes in Jesus and receives the privilege of being part of God’s family, and every person on the planet who bears the image of God. There’s a world of the difference between being able to spiritually connect with God and being a full-fledged member of his family.
Now that we have described the difference between being in the family as God’s children or being out of the family but still bearing his image, some people feel insecure about their family membership. Even though God has no trouble seeing them as his children and never really feel like they fit in to the family.
The Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16). We must never question our identity in Christ as God’s children. If he made as part of the family we are part of the family. We don’t have to worry about whether or not we fit in. We already do.
We need to accept it and enjoy the privilege of being known by God in this unique way. The privileges and blessings are ours. The inheritance is ours. The relationship is ours. And we approach the throne as his children. We enjoy being part of the family. No one can take that away from us.
Our Blessed Inheritance
I mentioned one of the greatest blessings of being part of God’s family a couple of times already. But I want to stress how amazing it is. Our inheritance is like no other inheritance in any other family. Jesus gives us the inheritance of living eternally with him.
First, when you become part of God’s family he places the Holy Spirit in you as a seal (Ephesians 1:13-14). This seal doesn’t mean he locks you and like a Tupperware seal see you can’t get out. It is the kind of seal a king or government official used.
They would take a piece of hot wax and put it on top of the letter and while it was still hot the king would take his signet ring and push it into the wax. It would imprint the sign of the King. The letter would be identified with that king and would carry his authority in its message.
As we are sealed with the Holy Spirit we carry the authority of Jesus. We belong to him and identified as his children. We walk in his authority because we have relationship with him. The Holy Spirit is a down payment of our inheritance.
Some translations use the word “guarantee” but if you don’t do your homework and look up the word you will think he is saying that our salvation is guaranteed. That’s not what he’s saying. He is saying that the Holy Spirit inhabits us as a down payment of heaven.
Having God’s presence dwell within us is just a little bit of what it will be like to be in heaven with God forever. To be in his presence forever will be a permanent and eternal situation as part of our inheritance. But the down payment of the Holy Spirit is God’s presence for now. It only gets better with time. That is giving us a down payment, a part of the whole of our inheritance with him.
Our final inheritance is to live with God forever in the New Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth. Revelation 21-22 describes the greatest dwelling place in God’s presence with us. We will physically dwell with him forever.
There are a ton of other parts of our curtains that we get a glimpse of even in the here and now. He has many promises that he fulfills in us. He heals is and delivers us from evil. He has saved us from God’s wrath and made us his children.
As you search the Scriptures you will find many other things that God has done for us as part of our inheritance as his children. He will spend the rest of your life enjoying and learning about God’s inheritance given to you.
As we look into what it’s like to become a child of God we realize our privileged place in him. We see what Jesus gives us as an inheritance in him. He does great things in and for us. Now all we have to do is believe in Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
God does the rest. And we can live in his presence forever. There is great joy in being part of God’s family. We have the privileged authority that comes with being his child. Leave a comment and describe one of your favorite parts of being in God’s family.