What do people mean when they ask if someone is a “child of God”?
Suggested Daily Reading: John 1:12-13; Romans 8:14-17 and Galatians 4:5-7
In one sense, everyone is a child of God because everyone is a marvellous work of God’s creating wisdom and power (Ps. 139:14). In a second sense, all people who are born into or attend church and are outward members of the church are children of God, they are set apart from all others on earth to be brought up in an outward or external covenant relationship with God (Deut. 14:1-2; I Cor. 7:13-14). When people ask, however, if someone is a “child of God” they generally mean, is this person saved? Does he or she have saving faith? Does this person genuinely love and serve God wholeheartedly?
When a person is saved by God’s wonderful grace, he or she becomes a child of God in a two ways — in a:
- Spiritual sense – The person is born again. A new spiritual birth takes place. The Holy Spirit plants new spiritual life in a spiritually dead sinner’s heart. He or she is regenerated.
- Legal sense – By legal adoption. The person is adopted into the family of God as one of His children. All the person’s former debts are paid. He or she is justified.
To picture legal adoption, imagine the following episode. There is a poor orphan boy with no home living off the street in a large city. He steals food from outside vendors on a regular basis to stay alive. He was quick and the vendors could not catch him, but one day one of the vendors did and yelled to the others, “I got him, this little thief!” The others gathered around this squirming boy, held tightly in the vendor’s strong arms. A loud commotion ensued as the vendors gathered around, one yelling over the top of the other.
In the commotion, no one noticed that the king was riding by, and he stopped to see what was causing the commotion. When the vendors saw the king, it suddenly became very quiet. After asking one of the vendors some questions and speaking intently with the boy, the king understood the situation. He asked the vendors how much this boy owed them for that which he had previously stolen, and then generously paid every vendor all the boy’s debts. He turned to the amazed orphan boy and gently told him, “Come with me. I want you to live with me. I want to adopt you as one of my sons!”
When a person becomes a child of God, this type of amazing exchange happens! A debt-ridden, sin-dirtied, lost and hopeless sinner experiences a miracle, something that seems too good to be true! All his or her debts are paid and he or she is adopted as a child of God.
Are you, by God’s adopting grace, a child of God? If so, why would you love God in return? What results of adoption will be witnessed in your life? How are these fruits in your life the result of the spiritual sense of adoption?