Regularly, people proclaim, “We are all God’s children,” in internet posts. The common interpretation of this remark is that God treats everyone equally. This implies that God has a personal relationship with each individual on earth in the role of heavenly Father. Assertions of universal salvation (or that everyone will be saved) are sometimes made using this term.
One may wonder if the Bible genuinely teaches that all people are equal before God. Let’s examine some of the most important things the Bible says that may shed light on this topic.
God is Our Creator
Everyone is made in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26–27). After Adam’s disobedience, God created humans “a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor,” according to the Bible (Psalm 8:5).
After the Great Flood, God clarifies that human beings have God’s image, and that fact alone justifies capital punishment (Genesis 9:4–6).
Christians should not use derogatory language toward others, as instructed by James, the apostle:
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:9).
Two important principles emerge from a consideration of these Scriptures together. To begin, humankind has fallen. Second, despite their fallenness, people nonetheless bear the image of God and have innate dignity, worth, and importance. Both of these labels fit every human being, regardless of where or when they were born.
The only time the term “offspring of God” is used to describe human beings in the New Testament is in Paul’s speech to the Athenian philosophers:
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands . . . As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring” (Acts 17:24–28).
Paul’s portrayal, however, does not imply that the Creator and all people have a direct father-child bond. As with the expression “founders are the fathers of the company,” this is more of a broad depiction of humankind’s beginnings.
God as our Father
There is only one begotten Son of God (John 3:16). However, one needs to be incorporated in, by, and through the Only One Who is truly the Son: Jesus Christ, to become a child of God. Those who haven’t been taken into God’s family aren’t God’s children. Simply put, there is no other way, truth, or life save Christ (John 14:6).
By noticing that Paul begins several of his epistles with “God our Father,” we might learn more about Paul’s views on this subject (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3). From the context, it’s evident that he’s just speaking to Christians and not everyone. In several passages, Paul used the metaphor of adoption to explain the Christian’s position in the Father’s family:
“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:5)
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26–28)
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:14–23)
A new nation made up of Jews and Gentiles, men and women, the wealthy and the impoverished, enslaved people, and free people has been woven together by God. These are the individuals who have been adopted as God’s offspring.
It is through grace, not by blood that we are adopted as God’s offspring, as the apostle John teaches. Many people turned their backs on Jesus, but “yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11–13, emphasis added). That is to say, not every person can confidently call themselves a “child of God.”
Even worse, Jesus condemns certain people outside of his household for having the “father, the devil,” and says that they do the “father’s desires,” which include lying and murder (John 8:44).
We may find similar remarks in Ephesians, where Paul warns the church not to be deceived by “empty words” (2:2) and the “prince of the power of the air,” for “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (5:6). Who are these disobedient “sons”? They haven’t established a covenant connection with God the Father via Christ.
This leads us to a crucial point. Although not everyone is already a child of God, Jesus offers everyone the chance to become one.
How Do We Become One of God’s Children?
To those who finally received him, who trusted in his name, he granted the right to become God’s children (John 1:12). The Bible makes it quite plain that if you want to be adopted into God’s family, you have to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
If we want to accept Jesus, what should we do? Faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Receiving Jesus is not a completion; rather, it is an act of acceptance.
To be a child of the Father and a believer in Jesus Christ, one must “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” as stated in Romans 10:9. Belief in Jesus entails two essential tenets: that He is Lord and that He truly rose from the grave.
According to other Scripture verses, those who put their faith in Jesus receive adoption as children of God the moment they make that decision. According to Philippians 2:15, we are to be “children of God without blemish amid a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” 1 John 3:1 explains the meaning of God’s adoption of us as His offspring: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” God the Father’s love has afforded us the privilege of becoming His children.
Because of negative or nonexistent early experiences, many individuals have trouble accepting God as their loving Father and acting as His children. Unlike earthly parents, who are fallible and can disappoint or harm their children, our heavenly Father has no such flaws and can only give us the best. He has made it possible for anybody who trusts Him to receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a fresh start on earth.
Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? If you haven’t already or are still on the fence about committing your life to Jesus, you can make that choice right now. You need not pray any particular prayer to achieve this. Having God’s Spirit in your life is a gift, and you can’t buy your way into God’s family.
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