1 February 2014

Children of God

(Gospel e-Letter - February 2014)

The world longs for peace. Every new year brings with it a renewed hope that finally the people of the world will somehow learn to live together in peace and harmony. However as long as humanity continues to reject the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, jealousy, hatred and wars will continue unabated along with the trouble, sorrow and misery in their wake.

Pope Francis spoke about world peace in his message for the New Year. He said that peace should be built on the recognition that all people are all brother and sisters. The media reported:
Francis called on people to “work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other in one’s diversity, and take care of one another … We are all children of one heavenly father,” he said. “We belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny.” (Ref)
Is it true that all people are children of God the Father? The idea of the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man comes from the liberal theologians of the late 19th century, not from the Bible.

The Scriptures teach that we are all created by God, and in that sense, we are all his offspring (Acts 17:28, 29). Moreover the Bible also teaches that we are all neighbours, and we should seek to help each other just as the Good Samaritan assisted the injured man despite the difference in nationality and religious background (Luke 10:25–37).

The Word of God makes a clear cut distinction between those who are God’s people and those who are not; those who are members of his family and those who are outside. This teaching is not very popular, of course, but it is true nonetheless. Those who are ‘without Christ’ are ‘without God in this world’ and ‘strangers and aliens’ in the household of God (Ephesians 2:12, 19).

In the Gospel we read about certain unbelieving Jews; they considered God to be their Father. “We have one Father—even God,” they told Jesus. But the Lord corrected their error, “If God were your Father, you would love me.” Their lack of love for Christ proved that God was not their Father at all. Indeed the Lord stated plainly to them, “You are of your father the devil.” He certainly did not tell them that they were brothers with his disciples or that they all had the same Father.

We often read in the Bible that Christians are the children of God, brothers and sisters in God’s family, and that God is their Father. Indeed the Lord taught his disciples to address their prayers to “Our Father in heaven.” These scriptures are speaking of all who are “in Christ” and it would be wrong and misleading to apply them to those who are still outside the fold.

But they need not remain outside! The door to God’s family is wide open to all who would come through Jesus Christ. The gospel promises that “to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). As long as they continue to reject Christ, they are not God’s children; but when they receive him by faith, then they too have the privilege to call God, “Our Father”.

It is through Christ that believers ‘have access in one Spirit to the Father’ (Ephesians 2:18). There could be no peace among us before we are at peace with God, and that can only be obtained through the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.