Theology 101 — Christians as Children

Images of a Christian

By Jerry Batson, Th.D.
Special to The Alabama Baptist

In prior weeks Theology 101 focused on images as ways of gaining understanding about spiritual truths. In doing so we gave thought to the sad fact that humans, created in the image and likeness of God, nonetheless became distorted images of our perfect Creator. Further we considered the Bible’s witness to Christ as the perfect, unmarred image of the invisible God who came in the flesh. We ended that series with the truth that ultimately Christians will have the marred image fully restored when Christ returns. 

In coming weeks we will let the Bible suggest some common images by which to describe Christians as we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. These common images can be windows through which to see ourselves with greater clarity. 

Children of God

One of the most common biblical images of the people of God is that of children. 

In the Old Testament God’s covenant nation is referred to as the children of Israel. In the New Testament believers in Christ are termed children of God. For example, John 1:12, in referring to Christ, declares, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Similarly, Romans 8:16 promises, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” 

God’s love is the motivation for sinners being considered as children, declaring with exultation, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

Always growing

Normally common to children is the experience of growth. Babies become children, children become teenagers and teenagers become adults. The image of believers as children suggest that all of us are to be growing — growing in grace, growing in likeness to Christ and growing into responsible living and working. 

Children are not carbon copies of other children. Having the same parents still results in distinguishing characteristics of siblings. Identical twins can be distinguished by those closest to them. Fingerprints are different. Subtle distinctions are found in facial features, hair color and dispositions. 

As children of God Christians are to be distinct. We are not identical. Talents and gifts differ. Motivations vary. We bring our differences into the body of Christ, the Church, so varieties of ministries can be accomplished in and by the family of God. 

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