Am I a Child of God?
Note: This article was published in the October 21, 2015 edition of The Chadron Record newspaper.
People toss around the phrase, “children of God” in a way that is all-inclusive, as if all people are God’s children. Of course, all people are created by God. But are all people God’s children? And, closer to home, am I God’s child?
In the Bible, “children of God” carries a very specific meaning. It occurs in 9 different passages, and those verses give at least three “paternity tests”; three ways to know whether we are God’s children.
First, the Bible tells us that there is a family resemblance. In the same way that my 8 year-old son walks like I walk, God’s children walk in the way that God walks. 1 John 3:10 (and its context) teaches that children of God obey God and follow his commandments and practice righteousness. God’s children resemble their Father. Because of that, as Philippians 2:15 says, they shine as lights in the world. We know that we are his children because we walk like he walks and we shine like he shines.
That is not the only way we know. Another way is because God’s Spirit confirms this to us. That is what Romans 8:16 teaches. Like a parent affirming love and acceptance to his children, God lovingly confirms to our spirit that we are his children and his heirs. The Holy Spirit does this in many ways, but mostly through the promises in God’s Word.
John 1:12 gives us the third, and most important, way that we know for sure that we are God’s children. That verse says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God”. If I am really trusting in Jesus Christ then I am his child. In fact, that is how I became God’s child; Jesus made me a child of God.
Noteworthy is what the Bible doesn’t say. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that I am God’s child because I self-identify as a Christian or was born to a Christian family or because I am a member of a certain church or because I have gone through a religious ceremony; or simply because I am a human being.
What the Bible does teach is that if my faith is in Jesus Christ alone then I can know for certain that I am God’s child. God’s Spirit, usually through God’s Word, graciously confirms this to me. And I know that this is authentic and genuine because there is a family resemblance; God has shaped, and is shaping, the way that I live my life. Now, as a child of God, I follow God.
So the question of the day is pretty simple: are you a child of God?