What is a child of God? What thoughts cross your mind when I ask you this question?
This question can be answered in many ways, but the best answer to me is one that has God as a Father at the forefront, with Faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Whethere you are a Christian or not, however, not every person is a child of God, at least not in the sense I am bringing forth today. Emphatically, yes, we are all children of God in the sense that He is the Creator of all things, the Creator of the world and the universe, and everything in it ultimately belongs to Him.
However, what I am talking about today is the idea about what it takes to be a child of God in the sense of being saved and having Faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior as taught in the Bible.
The idea that we are all children of God from the second we become alive is not found anywhere in the Bible - again, not in the sense that we are discussing. The Old Testament definitely shows God as the Father, not of all, but of His own people - the seed of Abraham. And when I say "not of all", I mean that in the way that not everyone in the Bible worshipped the Lord, and not all thought of God as their God above all.
By understanding this, and how it is all ultimately Faith based (faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior), we can understand how one can be a child of God in the sense of existing in His created universe, but not truly a child of God as far as faith and belief in Jesus is concerned, which is what was of utmost importance to God.
John 1:12 (ESV): But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
Birthplace does not dictate being automatically saved, either. The New Testament has a worldly vision, and it too shows God as the Father of those who put their trust in Jesus as their divine sin-bearer and master, their Lord and Savior, and thus become Abraham’s spiritual seed. This can be seen written about in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians:
Galatians 3:26-29 (ESV): for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Being a child of God is a spiritual gift that one receives through receiving Jesus and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior.
John 14:6 (ESV): Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The gift of sonship to God, becoming a child of God, is not obtained through simply being born, but through being born again through Faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
John 1:12-13 (ESV): But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Being a son of God, therefore, is a gift of grace. It is not a "natural" birth and sonship in this sense, but more so an adoptive sonship. The New Testament explicitly makes this clear. The apostles proclaim that God has so loved those whom He redeemed on the Cross that He has adopted them all as His heirs, to see and share the glory into which His only begotten Son has already come and that you accept Him as your Lord and Savior.
Galatians 4:4-5 (ESV): 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.
Ephesians 1:5 (ESV): he predestined us[a] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
1 John 3:1-2 (ESV): See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
In a sense, you can sum up the main teaching of the New Testament as a teaching of the Fatherhood of our Holy Creator, as it teaches knowledge of God as our Holy Father. Of course, again, that is a summary, but considering that, if you want to test how well you understand Christianity, find out where your thoughts are on being a child of God, and how deep your knowledge is of this topic of truly being God’s child, and having God as your Father. We can certainly apply this to ourselves as a test of knowledge.
If the ideas of God as our Father and Jesus as our Lord and Savior are not the thoughts that prompt and control our worship, prayer and outlook on life, it may mean that we do not understand Christianity very well at all. Everything that Jesus taught - everything that makes the New Testament better than the Old and everything that is Christian as opposed to a Jewish concept - can be summed up in our knowledge of the Fatherhood of God.
As Christians, we refer to God as our Father. In the Old Testament, God gave His covenant a name to refer to Him: Yahweh, (Jehovah, the LORD). The name proclaimed Him as self-existent, sovereign, and completely independent from all the natural laws of nature, existing outside of it completely as the Creator of all.
Even though Yahweh was His covenant's name, it was a message to Israel of what God is in Himself rather than of what He would be in relation to them. It was the name of Israel’s King, now and forever, used to awaken humility and wonder before the mystery of the Divine Creator. In relation to this, God stressed the fact of His ultimate Holiness upon Israel very strongly in the Old Testament, and it is something that is still true today, now and forever. I think of the angels singing in the temple, that Isaiah heard, saying repeatedly, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!"
Truly understanding what Holy means helps to grasp the entire concept. The word itself expresses uniqueness from all else. God, being ultimate holiness, is what seperates Him from His creation - the dividing line, if you will, between Creator and creation, and all creation should worship Him.
You likely have heard the saying, “the fear of the Lord", and it is a matter of confessing your faults and abasing yourself in God’s presence, and sheltering thankfully under His promises of mercy, and taking care, above all else, to avoid presumptuous sins.
That is the basic requirement at the end of it all. To be a child of God, we must have Faith in God and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, strive to live by His Commands and avoid sin, and make Him the center of our life and base our actions around Him.