The Bible regularly refers to God as our “Heavenly Father”. It teaches us that He is the creator of everything that exists, and that He loves and cares for us. Likewise, the Bible teaches us of the great blessing of being considered a “child of God”.
But what does it mean to be a child of God?
First, we are not the same “species” as God.
While we are made in His “image” we are not the same as God, and never will be.
Jesus was once challenged by some Pharisees to answer whether or not the people should pay taxes to the Roman government. He held up a coin and asked,
“‘Whose likeness [image] and inscription is this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:20-21).
Jesus, and all of the people present, knew that just because the coin bore the image of Caesar, it was not the same substance as him! We are no more literally born of God than that coin was literally born of Caesar.
Second, No one is born a “Child of God”.
The Bible clearly teaches that many people are definitely not children of God.
The Apostle Paul teaches this by referring to his opponents as “sons of the devil” (Acts 13:10), and “false brothers” (Galatians 2:4), or “sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6). The Apostle John explains that the way we live will bear witness to whose children we are, saying,
“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil” (1 John 3:10).
Even Jesus makes this clear in his indictment of the priesthood holders of His day.
“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s will” (John 8:43-44).
These verses aren’t teaching that people are literally born of the devil, but they do show us that the way in which we behave identifies who we are following.
Third, We can be adopted into God’s family.
The Bible teaches that the followers of God are not those who have been born as His spirit children, but those who have been adopted by Him.
Galatians 4:4-5 says,
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
In this way, we must be “born again” (John 3:3), because our first birth does not fully qualify us as children of God.
So how do we become children of God?
The Bible teaches that belief in the true Jesus of the Bible is the only way to become a child of God. John 1:12 says,
“But to all who did receive [Jesus] who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Galatians 3:26 says,
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.”
It is not possible for us to receive this adoption apart from Jesus. Ephesians 1:5 says,
“In love, [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”
So here’s the point: The Bible teaches that God provides a way for each of us to be “adopted” into His Kingdom. By believing in the one He has sent, you can acquire the full inheritance He has promised for His children. And apart from this adoption, no one can ultimately be called a child of God.
- Matthew 22:20-21
- Acts 13:10
- Galatians 2:4
- Ephesians 5:6
- 1 John 3:10
- Galatians 4:4-5
- John 3:3
- John 1:12
- Galatians 3:26
- Ephesians 1:5
“By believing in the one He has sent, you can acquire the full inheritance He has promised for His children. And apart from this adoption, no one can ultimately be called a child of God.“