This month Theology 101 seeks to explore answers to the question: “Who are Christians in relation to God?” We will look at some biblical ways to think about and appreciate being in a saving relationship with Him.
Several meaningful terms occur in the Bible — terms that give us encouraging answers to this simple but basic question. The beginning point is one of the frequent and treasured answers: “As Christians, we are children of God.” This truth as presented in 1 John 3:2 states, “Beloved, we are God’s children now.” This is somewhat enlarged in John 1:12: “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
As God’s children, Christians have a birth relation with Him. The Bible speaks of being “born of God” (1 John 4:7). Jesus’ declaration to Nicodemus stands out: “You must be born again” (John 3:7). As God’s children, Christians also have a legal relationship with God, expressed in the idea of adoption, as stated in Galatians 4:4–5: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Thus, a believer can confidently declare, “I am a child of God by both birth and adoption.” This status was made possible by the saving work of God’s only Son, as attested in Galatians 3:26: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
‘Joint heirs with Christ’
One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to give us assurance of being God’s children. Such is the truth of Romans 8:16: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Since
believers are both begotten of God and adopted by Him, the very next verse of that passage asserts that as God’s children we are His heirs: “And if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”
A further implication that stems from being God’s children is that all those who have God as their Father are thereby related to one another as brothers and sisters. Believers of every nation, race, gender, language and ethnic group begin their prayers with the same inclusive words given by Jesus: “Our Father.” As the hymn writer put it in the last century, “Who serves my Father as a son is surely kin to me.”
Editor’s Note – Jerry Batson is a retired Alabama Baptist pastor who also has served as associate dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and professor of several schools of religion during his career.