“You are a child of God!”
You have probably heard pastors and evangelists make this statement as part of their Gospel message. But have they ever stopped to explain what it means? Have you ever tried to discern it for yourself?
In the Old Testament (also known as the Hebrew Scriptures), the people chosen by God as His own called themselves the children of Abraham. They also called themselves the children of Israel. But they never self-identified as the children of God. Only after the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ did God’s elect refer to themselves as the children of God.
The Old Testament references to the children of Abraham and the children of Israel described human lineage. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac was the father of Jacob (also known as Israel), and Jacob was the father of the men who formed the twelve tribes that were enslaved by Egypt and freed during the Exodus.
From the Book of Genesis through the Book of Malachi (the final book of the Old Testament), it was all about the people whom God had chosen to protect and preserve His original covenants. But they were known by the names of their human ancestors.
After Jesus, all that changed.
As described in the New Testament, everyone who received Jesus by believing He was the Messiah and Son of God received the right to become children of God, “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12–13, NIV). It was no longer a matter of human genealogy; it was about supernatural descent by being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3–5, Romans 8:14–17, Galatians 3:26–27). It was no longer a matter of tracing your ancestral roots; it was about loving, and being loved by, your Heavenly Father (1 John 3:1, Matthew 6:9).
But what does it mean when you say you are a child of God?
First, it means you are loved – loved by God perfectly and completely. This may have been difficult for the children of Israel to believe in Old Testament times, but the cross of Jesus Christ revealed how much God truly loves you and how far He was willing to go to redeem you (John 3:14–17, 12:32–33; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). The love of others will come and go, but God’s love for you is forever – because you are His child.
Second, it means you are valued – valued by God who created everything (Genesis 1:1–31) but treasures you above all things (Genesis 1:26–31, Matthew 6:25–30, Luke 12:6–7, John 3:16). Others will underestimate you and undervalue you, but God knows your true and infinite worth – because you are His child.
Third, it means you are protected – protected by God who is with you always (Matthew 28:20) and will never fail you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5, John 10:25–30). Others will use you, disappoint you, and abandon you, but God will never walk away from you – because you are His child.
Today, tomorrow, and always, rejoice in knowing that you are a child of God. Forever and ever, you are His child!
-- Dr. John Morris