Aren’t we all considered God’s children? I have heard this from prominent celebrities, politicians, tv personalities, religious people (including church-goers), etc. In saying we are all God’s children, the intentions of the phrase appear quite clear. We all have a common bond as humans because we were all created by God, since God “is love” He clearly loves us all, and that we all will receive God’s blessings since He created us. What a great and peaceful message right!? That would mean that we can stand united regardless of our different beliefs because we are all a part of God’s family! We can all know that God is for us no matter what our background, religion, race, creed, or lifestyle. And, of course, we all get to go to heaven, because God cares for us. If this were actually true, then what does this mean for the exclusive claims of Christianity!?
Well… it would pretty much mean that the gospel message of the Bible is pointless, that Jesus suffered and died for nothing, the apostles and martyrs of the Church were killed for nothing, the foundational basis for almost every church throughout history would be essentially meaningless, that knowing the truth about God is not that important, and that we would not need to have any set morals because God loves us all regardless (To name a few). This view seems good intentioned and may even “stop” some debates between quarreling religions or worldviews. But God has told us otherwise in His Word. And if at this point you are thinking to yourself “C’mon man, you were doing so well until that…”, then please keep reading for a better understanding of where I am coming from.
What the Bible Says
The apostle John wrote:
“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10, NASB)
We see here that the children of God are those who practice righteousness and are characterized by love, meaning those who seek after God’s standard of holiness in their life. And those who do not are not considered a child of God. If we are willfully engaging in sinful behavior, completely ignoring God’s instruction, and have not committed our lives to Christ who died for us, then we have no right to claim the blessings that belong to the children of God as if they were ours. In other words, those who receive the forgiveness of sins, through believing in and following after Jesus Christ, are God’s children. Understandably, and knowing how prominent this teaching has been in our culture, I can see how some reading this might disagree. But the Word of God is truthful and inspired by God. So we can either take God at His Word, or “change” it to fit our lives and how we would like to think and believe.
John also wrote:
“But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13, NASB)
We see here that to those who have received Christ, they have been given the right (privilege) to become children of God. This is a right given to those who are re-born of God. Jesus said that unless someone is spiritually born again, then he cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).
If we were all God’s children, regardless of how much we mock God with our lives, then we would all be recipients of eternal life in Christ, would not really need forgiveness for our multitude of sins, and we would have access to the blessings that belong to the family of God. However, this is in direct contradiction to God’s Word. If the God of the Bible is the true God and the Bible says God’s children are one thing, yet we believe and teach that God’s children are something else, then we must hold fast to God’s Word rather than our feelings and personal interpretations.
Oftentimes, there is an underlying assumption that when saying “We all are God’s children” we are talking about the same God. But if we were to take an honest look at multiple religions/worldviews that believe in a god(s) and put them side by side, it would not take long to see the immensely different conceptions of the god(s) that they serve. Furthermore, the Christian God is fundamentally different from the god of Islam, Pantheism, Buddhism, etc. Since they cannot all be truly talking about the same God, then the question becomes “which God is true, or are none of them true and therefore, God simply does not exist”? For more on this topic, click here!
Orphans In Need of Adoption
It is evident that, according to the Bible, we need forgiveness from our sins to receive eternal life with God and to experience the privilege of being a child of God. We are not naturally God’s children because our sin has separated us from Him (See Romans 3). Therefore, entering into a relationship with God is much like the process of adoption. An adopted child is not actually the adoptive parents’ child. However, because of the love of the adoptive parents and the price that they were willing to pay for the child to have a better life with physical, emotional, and relational security, they are given the full blessing and right that a biological member of the family would receive, even though they did nothing to earn it. This is precisely how God relates to us.
Although we are not all God’s children until we enter into a repentant and submissive relationship with Jesus as Lord (the God who revealed Himself by coming as a man to live, die, and rise on our behalf), we are all created by God and made in His image. To be made in God’s image essentially means that He has given us unique characteristics and value that sets us apart from the rest of creation. It seems sometimes that these important teachings of being loved by God and being image-bearers are equated with being in favorable relationship with God as His child. However, even if we aren’t in right relationship with the Lord, He does care for us and wants relationship with us. Jesus said:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB)
Therefore, it is precisely because we will perish in our sins without God’s saving grace that God, in His great love for us, came and brought salvation to sinners (in the form of a man in Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-11)).
Confusing the Gospel
We can rejoice that God does love all of us, created us with immense value, seeks personal relationship with us, and desires to give us the blessing of being called His son or daughter for eternity. However, He does not grant this to those who live their lives according to their own sinful nature and thus, reject God. And He will hold those of us who do not turn to Him in repentance accountable for our deeds. God is perfectly merciful, gracious, patient, loving, kind, and good. But He is also perfectly just, impartial, perfect in His judgement, and jealous for those He created who worship idols such as money, fame, themselves, possessions, and false gods. The apostle Paul wrote:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:18-25, NASB)
The truth of the matter is that the teaching that we all, in the sense of humanity as a whole, are God’s children is a false gospel that teaches something contrary to God’s Word. This is one of many ways by which the truth has been suppressed and exchanged for a lie wherein we glorify and elevate the creature rather than the Creator. With love, I will say that if one considers themselves a Christian, yet they propagate this religiously pluralistic and morally relativistic teaching, regardless of “good intentions”, then I do hope that they bring themselves under the authority of God and His Word and turn from this false gospel.