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July 1, 2012 / Pastor George Fike

To Become the Children of God…


John 1 (NIV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

I hate controversy.  Really I do. But I keep getting drawn into lengthy facebook debates concerning heaven and hell, saved or lost, reformed or free-will.  All important issues.  So I decided to sit down and pick apart what the Bible has to say about these declarations. Well, here goes…

First of all, I think it’s important to correctly identify the “children” of God – who they are, and then what they are.

One thread that has been particularly disturbing to me is of the variety “A loving God would not torture His children forever in the flames of a hellish prison.”  I agree with that statement 110%.  The problem with the statement is: who are these children we’re talking about?  Enter the scripture that prefaced this post.

Here are verses 11 & 12, as close to the original pen-and-ink as we can get:

εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον.  ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ

Here’s an interlinear rendering for word-by-word comparison:

Trying to capture the nuances of the grammar, I paraphrased it thus:

11 “He came to that which was his own creation, but those who were intended to be his own did not welcome him.  12 But to as many as received him, the ones believing in him, he gave the bonafide right to be transformed into the very children of God.”

Now let me explain.  Verse 11 speaks to the purpose of God.  I am persuaded by the orderliness and cause-and-effect evidence of the universe that God created everything in our time-space dimension to be a birthing ground for His children…

 “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”  Romans 8:19-21 (NIV)

This tells me the farthest stars flung to the farthest realms are expending their resources, burning for the illumination of the human race, preparing for our commencement as God’s heirs.  Talk about “when I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made”! This is what we call the Anthropic Principle – that everything created seems to have been designed and managed to support human life on planet earth. So the intent of God was to create an environment where men and women could see His loving care and respond to Him. “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27 (NIV)  God did not place man in a perfect world, but still a very good world, giving evidence of a very good Creator in whom we can place our trust.

Second, notice that the universe has not yet seen the children of God revealed, bringing to mind another scripture from 1 John 3:2

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

So, it will not be until the end of the age that we who have believed in Christ will be revealed as the children of God.  We already are His children, but He has not yet brought us to full maturity. So we cannot look around and see who the children of God really are.  We have some pretty good ideas, but we cannot know what only God knows.

Third, consider the grammar of these verses from John 1.

  • “whoever received him” – aorist tense (at a point in time)
  • believing in his name – present tense (ongoing action) – faith in the particular person of Christ
  • “he gave the right – aorist tense (at a point in time, i.e.: completed action) – the authority
  • “to become children of God.” – AORIST tense!!! Remember: COMPLETED action!

I pause at the thought.

We – the human race, that is – have a somewhat limited shelf life.  It seems the more highly complex the life form, the shorter the distance to extinction.  Here, as we race to the end, we realize that God orchestrated creation to provide a window of time whereby we can learn about our Creator, lose our faith in ourselves, place our faith in a Savior, and prepare for our birth into eternity as God’s dear children, by His choice and somehow by ours, also. We can freely choose or reject the One Who has the right of ownership.  It is by this remarkable redemption through Christ that God has made a way for His children to be born as His offspring rather than to be manufactured as His robots. When we believe in Jesus’ sacrifice and welcome him into our lives, we are instantaneously reborn as children of God – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye!  The act is completed!  Believers are birthed into God’s family for eternity!

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes (PRESENT PARTICIPLE)  him who sent me has (PRESENT TENSE) eternal life and will not be judged (FUTURE [no longer!] TENSE) but has crossed over (PERFECT TENSE=Complete and Enduring) from death to life.” John 5:24 (NIV)

That’s the WHO.  In my next post, I’ll address the WHAT.

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