For those who believe that everyone is a child of God, this is a study to show you what the Bible has to say on that subject. Please pray about what I am saying and look up the references/passages in your Bible. One thing to always take into consideration when reading and studying the Bible, is the context Ė who is the writer talking to (for example, to believers or non-believers), what does the rest of that book and the rest of the Bible say about that person, issue, doctrine, etc. (donít throw out a clear teaching on a subject by one or several not-so-clear passages)? The Bible doesnít contradict itself (at least the King James Version doesnít!), so if you arrive at a conclusion that seems to contradict other passages, you are probably overlooking something. For your own reference, the teaching that we are all children of God and all will be saved is called Universalism.
For this topic, I looked up all the New Testament references to child, children, son, and sons. I am only discussing the ones that refer specifically to believers and non-believers and their relationship to God. The Bible uses the term son of God in four ways:
1) Adam was a son of God, because he was specially created physically by God. (Luke 3:38) When he was created, he was perfect and sinless.
2) Good angels are called sons of God. (Job 1:6; 38:7) Angels were individually created (physically) perfect. (There is no race of angels.) The fallen angels, those who rebelled against God and followed Satan, are never referred to as sons of God.
3) Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God. He was the only person that was ever born physically as a son of God (perfect, sinless, holy.) (John 1:14; 18; 3:16-18)
4) Christians are born again spiritually as sons of God, when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Some verses that demonstrate this are: John 1:12-13; Romans 8:14; Galatians 4:5-7.
Letís look at the rest of the verses in the order that they appear in the New Testament. I will just list them, but please look them up to confirm what I am saying.
Matthew 3:8-10. Here John the Baptist is rebuking those who thought they had a special relationship with God because they were Jewish, descendents of Abraham. He goes on to say that their lives need to show evidence of change, repentance (a change of mind resulting in a change of conduct), or they proved that they were not of God.
Matthew 5:9; 44-48. Here Jesus makes it very clear that Godís children are to live differently than the world. The majority of people in the world donít love their enemies.
Matthew 8:11-12. Jesus states that just because someone was Jewish (the nation chosen by God, ie. the physical descendants of Abraham) doesnít mean that they will enter the kingdom (Heaven) but many will be cast out into outer darkness (Hell), whereas many who were not physical descendents of Abraham would enter the kingdom.
Matthew 13:37-43. Jesus says that there are children of the kingdom (of God, in other words), and children of the wicked one (the devil), and He says what will happen to each. The children of the wicked one will be cast into the furnace of fire (Hell).
Matthew 23:15, 31-33, 37. Here Jesus says the religious people of His day, who added their own traditions to the Bible and made them more important than Godís Word, were children of Hell, they were children of those who killed Godís prophets, and they were destined for Hell and damnation because they rejected the Messiah (Jesus) when He came to save them.
John 1:12-13. We become sons of God by receiving Jesus as our Saviour. (See Revelation 3:20)
John 3:16-18, 36. Believing in Jesus Christ and His shed blood on the cross for their sins will give someone eternal life, and rejection of Christ as their Saviour condemns them.
John 8:38-45. Because these people rejected Jesus, He called them children of their father, the devil, and quite plainly stated they were not children of God!
John 12:36. Those who believed in the light were children of light. (Light here is a reference to both the truth and Jesus Christ. See John 1:1-9)
John 17:12. Perdition means destruction, of Hell. Here it is referring to Judas who betrayed Christ.
Romans 8:14-17. Those who are led by the Spirit of God and have received the Spirit of God are Godís children. (When does a person receive the Holy Spirit? When they believe in the Gospel. Ephesians 1:13)
Romans 9:6-8, 26. Those who are physically descendents of Abraham are not necessarily children of God, but those who believe in the Messiah, who have faith in Christ, are the spiritual children of Abraham, the children of God.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Belial here is a reference to Satan, the children of Satan. This passage emphasizes that there is a serious difference between believers and unbelievers, children of God (believers in Christ) and children of Belial, righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness.
Galatians 3:26, 29; 4:28. Verse 26 couldnít be any plainer: we are children of God by faith in Christ.
Ephesians 1:5. Adoption implies that we previously werenít His children.
Ephesians 2:2-3. The children of disobedience and wrath is clearly a reference to those who are at enmity with God, who are not His children.
Ephesians 5:6-8. The children of light are quite distinct from the children of disobedience.
1 Thessalonians 5:5.
2 Thessalonians 2:3. Perdition means destruction, of Hell. Here it is referring to the Antichrist who will turn most of the world against Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:5-8. This passage teaches that God disciplines His children, and that there are those He doesnít discipline, that are not His children. He disciplines His children because Christ has already borne their judgement; and He doesnít discipline those who are not His because He will judge them eternally. Discipline is correction, not punishment.
2 Peter 2:14. Obviously not children of God here!
1 John 2:12-13. Those who are Godís children are those who are forgiven and who know God the Father.
1 John 3:1-2. This letter, as were all the New Testament letters, was written to Christians, those who are saved.
1 John 3:10. Those who do evil are not the children of God, but those who do righteousness are. (Note: A child of God will do righteousness because they are saved, we donít do righteousness to be saved. If we are trying to earn our way to Heaven through our own good deeds, God says that our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6)
1 John 5:1-2. A child of God is a person who believes that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Saviour, who obeys God, and who loves those begotten of God (other believers).
Revelation 21:7-8. Those who have faith in Christ (who believe in Him and what the Bible says about Him, see 1 John 5:4-5) are the sons of God, and their lives are completely changed. Those who still live sinful lifestyles are not His children, but will be cast into the lake of fire (Hell). (Note: I said lifestyle of sin. A believer will not be sinless until they get to Heaven, but they wonít live in sin without discipline from God; they wonít be able to live a lifestyle of sin and be happy with it, and get away with it. Jesus, which means Saviour, came to save us from our sins, not to keep us in them. Matthew 1:21)
Now to cap off this study, I will quote the two main passages from the Bible that are twisted out of context to justify the teaching of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of mankind. One is taken from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.
Malachi 2:10. Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? This comment was made to the people of God in the Old Testament, the nation Israel (and not mankind in general, Malachi 1:1). It is very possible that the father that was referred to was Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. (Notice the small "f" here.) Even if Malachi was referring to God, in this context, he was obviously referring to Him as their Creator, not as their spiritual Father.
Acts 17:29. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. In what sense were the unsaved philosophers at Mar's Hill the "offspring of God"? The Bible is consistent in its teachings, so obviously God is not contradicting Himself here. All the other New Testament passages we looked at quite clearly showed that the unsaved were not the children of God. Only those who placed personal faith in Jesus Christ as their Saviour, who believed the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, became the children of God.
One cardinal rule in interpreting the Bible is: Never throw out a clear doctrine of Scripture by one or two unclear passages. We must always interpret the unclear passages in light of the clear ones! So what does this passage mean? Since Scofield explained this verse so well in his notes, I will quote his explanation of "offspring" here:
Gr. genos = "race." The reference is to the creation-work of God in which He made man (i.e. mankind, the race in Adam) in his own likeness, Genesis 1:26,27, thus rebuking the thought that "the Godhead is like unto gold," etc. The word "Father" is not used, not does the passage affirm anything concerning fatherhood or sonship, which are relationships based on faith, and the new birth.
Now this study may not answer all your questions in this area, but it gives you many passages to consider, so you can see what the Bible says about this topic. As you read through the Bible, and as you ask the Lord for wisdom, you will find that many of your questions will be answered and clarified.
Psalm 119:18 says, "Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law." Here law is a reference to Godís Word.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5
May the Lord bless you and give you understanding.
In Christís name,
Eagleís Wings Ministries, April 2001
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