Grace and peace and mercy to you beloved in the name of Christ.
I pray that you are walking closer with Christ today than you were yesterday. And I pray that if God gives us tomorrow, that tomorrow would find us still yet growing in our love and service of our Lord Jesus.
Today beloved, we are going to worship God in His word. Please take out your Bibles and read along with me as I read for us Galatians 3:24-29. Hear the holy and the perfect word of our holy and perfect God. Read.
Galatians 3:24. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Please join me in prayer to seek the Lord’s help in our desire to worship Him. Pray.
For our purposes today I want to take a bit of an excursus using a portion of text that we looked at last week. I am going to use Galatians 3:24-29 as our platform text from which to look at the idea of being a child of God. You see in V.26 Paul says to the Galatians, and by extension to all of us, that they are, and we are sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Greek – huios, means literally sons, but here stands for “children”, male and female)
I have two reasons for wanting a closer examination of being a child of God. The first is to instruct us in Biblical right from wrong, true from false.
Understanding what a child of God is and why we are children of God comes from my own experience early on with my walk with the Lord. As a very new Believer an older man was teaching me the faith. I had asked him about hell. I asked, would God send people to hell if they did not believe in Jesus as their Sin-Bearer Savior? He said, the Bible says, those that do not believe in Christ that the wrath of God abides upon them. (Jn.3:36) So, yes. But then I said to him, well I do not understand why God would send some of His children to hell. His response was that God will send none of His children to hell. (Rom.8:1) I was thoroughly perplexed. I said, I thought you just said that God will condemn the unbelieving and now you say, He will send none of His children to hell.
This minister told me that those that reject Jesus are not God’s children. And only those that believe in Christ are the children of God. (Jn.1:11-13) I know that this may sound silly to you who were raised in a Bible believing home where you personally read the Bible, but I was utterly floored. I still remember this thirty years later. He went on to unpack what the Scripture teaches on this. I hope to show us this today.
My second reason for understanding our sonship in Christ is to comfort us regarding our sonship or daughterhood. The Bible speak of God and our relationship with God under various figures. Such as, Creator and creature, Master and servant, King and citizen. But the most intimate are Father and child and Husband and Bride.
If or since we are sons and daughters of God that means that God is our heavenly Father. The more we understand our relation to God and with God, the more we will experience comfort and joy and peace in this life.
Now, I want us to look at sons of God under three heads. Son of God by nature. Sons of God by creation. And finally, sons of God by grace.
There are only two men in Scripture referred to as “the” definite article singular “son of God”. That is our Lord Jesus Christ and the very first man Adam. Now if you put “son of God” in your computer Bible search program you will find something interesting.
Adam as “the” son of God is mentioned one time in the book of Luke chapter three.
Luke 3:37. the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
If you know your Bible, then you know that this Scripture from Luke chapter three is the genealogy of Christ Jesus. The idea is that Jesus the Messiah is a descendant from all of these various men down to the very first man Adam. The truth is that Messiah is a true Man. Jesus was made like His brothers in every way except for sin. (Heb.2:17-18)
As regards to Jesus, the title “the Son of God” is used some 40, 41, 42 times in the NT. Listen to John chapter three.
John 3:14. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Let’s first look at Christ’s sonship. Christ is called “the Son” in two ways. One way references His humanity. Jesus is the Son of Man. Christ. He most used title for Himself by the way. He became the Son of Man at His incarnation. Christ took His humanity from the substance of Mary. In this way, Jesus is “the” Son of Man in a unique way and for a unique purpose. The unique purpose is to save His people from their sins by His perfect holy atoning sacrifice. (Mt.12:8, Mt.1:21)
Christ’s other sonship references His Deity. He is the eternal Son of God. (Mt.8:29, Jn.1:1)
When the Bible refers to Christ as the Son of God, He possesses this sonship by essential divine nature. And by nature, I do not mean by creation. I mean something which is essential to His Deity. Hear John chapter one.
John 1:14. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (Jn.3:16-18, monogenes)
I reject the modern translation of only begotten as only “unique” (Son) of God. The word for only-begotten literally means only begotten – monogenes, from gena-owe, to beget. It does not mean only “unique”. Unique or one of a kind is monadikos.
Here is how our confession summarizes what the Bible teaches on this. And you will note that Westminster follows the great ecumenical creeds such as the Nicene Creed on this.
WCF 2.3 In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.(1) The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father;(2) the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.(3)
(1) 1 John 5:7; Matt. 3:16,17; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14. (2) John 1:14,18. (3) John 15:26; Gal. 4:6.
Somehow Christ is eternally begotten of God the Father. (Dt.29:29) Meaning that this begetting does not infer any ontological inferiority or subordination of the Son under the Father. In this Christ and the Father are one. To see the Son is to see the Father, meaning they are of the same essence. Is this a mystery? Yes. But the Bible teaches it. (Phil.2:6, Jn.10:3) The Father has life in Himself. Christ has life in Himself. Because the Father and the Son and the Spirit are equally God, One God. (Jn.5:26)
We can say, by nature Jesus is the Son of God. And by office He is the Son of Man. By nature Jesus is the Second Person of the Godhead. By office, He is the Mediator of the Covenant of Grace.
Now regarding our study, Christ is the utterly unique Son of God. No other son or daughter of God shares in Christ’s divinity. Man never becomes divine. Even true Christians, we never share in the substance of God or to become equal to Christ in any way. Our WCF says that to affirm we do is impious and blasphemous. (WCF 26:3)
So, when we read or hear of other sons (and daughters) of God in the Bible please know that it does not mean and it cannot mean that we have a sonship like Christ’s divine sonship.
Now let’s go back to Adam. He also is “the” son of God. But Adam is the son of God by creation. Adam was not eternally begotten like Christ. God created Adam in time. Adam is a creaturely son of God. Christ is God who became Man. Adam is mere man. Adam is a creature.
Luke 3:37. the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Now he also is called “the” son of God in the definite singular way because like Jesus he also has a very unique sonship. And what I mean is that he becomes a man, or he comes into being in a much different way than we do.
In Genesis chapter one God records His creation of all things, including man on the sixth and last day of creation. (Gen.1:26-31) Genesis chapter two is an extrapolation of the creation of man, meaning it is a more detailed look into man’s creation.
With certain created things, God created out of nothing by the word of His power. Let there be light. And there was light. But for man, for Adam, God took dust from the earth that He had created, and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and Adam became a living being. (Gen.2:7)
And we know that God also created the first woman Eve in a unique fashion, from the rib of Adam. Bone of my bone. Flesh of my flesh. (Gen.2:18-24)
Adam is a son of God and Eve is a daughter of God by virtue of God’s creating them in His likeness and image. The image of God in man is not corporeal or physical, it is spiritual and moral. The image of God in Man when created was true knowledge of God, and true righteousness and holiness.
So, all human beings in this creaturely sense or created sense are sons and daughters of God. The Bible teaches this by inference of the fact that all human beings descend from Adam and Eve via ordinary generation.
But to the best of my knowledge the Bible only expressly refers to all human beings as children of God in one place. Let me read that to you.
Acts 17:24. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
Now this is where I got mixed up as a young Christian. I thought being a son of God as a creature was the same thing as being a son of God by redemption or by salvation.
Beloved, a German theologian, a professor of church history, Adolph von Harnack (1879-1930) was looking for the commonalities of all religions and he wrote a book , What is Christianity? He said the essence of Christianity is the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of Man. He was a very learned man, but Biblically wrong.
God is the Father as our Creator to all people. But savingly He is only heavenly Father to those that believe in Christ Jesus. All men are brothers as we are all creatures and all humans. All people are our neighbors. (Lk.10:25-27) And we ought to love all our neighbors. But as the Bible says, we ought to especially love those who are of the household of faith, those who are of the family of God. (Gal.6:10)
But only those that believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are our spiritual brothers and sisters. (Jn.1:10-13)
Spiritually the Bible says unbelievers are children of wrath, children of darkness, and children of the devil – not children of God (in a spiritual way). (Eph.2:13, Lk.16:8, Jn.8:12, Eph.5:8, I Thess.5:5, 2 Cor.6:14, Col.1:13) Actually Jesus says those that reject Him as Savior do not have God as their spiritual Father but the devil is their spiritual father. (Jn.8:44)
And that brings us to the type of sonship that Paul is speaking of here in Galatians 3:26. What Paul is wanting these Galatians to realize is what they are in Christ. And he means by believing the true Christ in the true gospel of Christ. Paul is wanting to win the Galatians back to the truth of Jesus. The truth of Christ has set us free. We are joined to the true Christ by faith. Now believe what God says about us in Jesus.
Galatians 3:22. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
This is sonship or daughterhood by pure sovereign saving grace. We do not have this kind of sonship by our physical birth, we have this spiritual sonship by our spiritual re-birth, which is God’s gift of salvation. (Jn.3:1-9) Gifted-sonship. We do nothing to produce this.
John 1:9. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (Rom.8:14-16, Gal.4:6, 2 Cor.6:18, Hos.1:10, Rom.9:26, Lk.6:35, I Jn.3:1-2, Rev.21:7)
You must be born again. Have you been spiritually born again? (I Pt.1:23, Jas.1:18)
God gifts or gives this saving sonship or daughterhood to those that believe in Christ, and the believing is a gift of God. The Bible says, whoever believers that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. (I Cor.5:1, I Jn.5:18)
The inward means.
By believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins God is now our heavenly Father, our Father of mercies. We believe that we are sinners. We believe Christ died to pay for our sins. We believe like Thomas, my Lord and my God. (Jn.20:29)
Our sonship “in” Christ. We are God’s children because we are joined to Jesus. Everything we have, every new name, every new privilege is all “in” Jesus. It is all because of Christ. And we receive all of Christ and His privileges by faith, which itself is a gift of God. (Eph.2:1-9)
The outward pledge.
Water baptism does not make us children of God. For those that say it does, would make Paul contradict himself. The entire letter of Galatians is dedicated to justification by faith (and not by water baptism). In fact, he is arguing against the Judaizers that are saying this very thing – you are a child of God by your circumcision/baptism. (Acts 15:1-5)
Paul has been saying all along that by faith alone we receive Christ and we become God’s forgiven children. You are sons of God by faith. (Gal.3:26) Faith is the means of our spiritual union with Christ.
Water baptism is an outward mark or pledge of God that those that believe in Christ belong to Him savingly. (Mt.3:11, I Pt.3:21) Water baptism without Holy Spirit baptism joining us to Christ is not saving. (Jn.13:8, Rom.2:25, I Pt.3:21)
This sonship is a spiritual adoption. By believing in Jesus as our Lord and Savior God adopts us into His holy family.
Romans 8:14. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
As I said earlier, our natural family is of fallen Adam and spiritually under the dominion of the devil, children of disobedience. But now God has taken us out of that unholy and fallen family and He has placed us into His own family. God has adopted us as His own children.
Oh Beloved, think of that. We were fallen sinful criminals. (I Cor.6:9-11) We hated God. We hated Christ. We loved sin. And we were on our way to an eternity of suffering for our sin. But then God in His own time sent His beloved Son, the eternal Son to pay for our sins on Calvary and reconcile us back to God.
Imagine that. We were anti-God criminals. And now we are His holy children. God calls us beloved son and beloved daughter. God now sees us covered with the sin-atoning blood of the Lamb. God sees us clothed in the holiness of our Savior.
What love is this oh my soul? This is why John Newton sang of amazing grace. God’s grace does not merely save us from our sins and leave us to our self and to our old family. One man has said, the grace of God justifies us in His courtroom as holy Judge and then the grace of God brings us into His family room as Father. All because of Christ.
Because of this we can say that our adoption as God’s children is a legal adoption. God has “legally” adopted us. In Christ we know have a new name, God places His name upon us. God owns us as belonging to Him.
Legally we are forgiven. Legally we no longer belong to the devil. Legally we belong to God.
I do want us to think of this as regards to our sonship; it is an exclusive privilege. (Eph.1:3) All men are born children of Adam. But only the elect of God are born again children of God in Christ. Listen to this.
Acts 13:44. The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. 46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
One of the wonderful things about this exclusive sonship is that it is global, it is universal in one sense. God has His children scattered throughout the world. The gospel call is gathering us in to one holy family. (Eph.2:12-22)
Galatians 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Race does not make us a child of God, nor culture, nor family, nor any other created thing. No. No distinction of race. No distinction of station or sex or anything. Men are not higher, and women lower in the family of God. Oh, glory to God. God’s ways are higher than our ways.
This does not mean there are not different “economic” positions or stations that we occupy man to man. Or course there are still poor folks and rich folks and so on.
But before God, in His eyes, according to our spiritual nature – ALL of those that believe in Christ Jesus are our spiritual brothers and sisters. No matter what other earthly differences and distinctions we may have, we are all in the same heavenly family. All true Christians are children of God, loved by God. And called to love one another – as family. And to be gathered together as one family, the children of God who are scattered abroad. (Heb.11:1-40, Heb.12:1-3, Jn.11:52)
Let’s conclude by looking at some of the privileges we enjoy as children of God.
God is our Father. Christ is our brother. The Spirit is our counselor.
We are children of the king of kings and lord of lords. Our Father owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. Our Christ has all authority committed into His hands. Christ is the possessor of all things. In Christ, we are joint heirs of all things. (I Cor.3:22, Rom.8:17)
Now as God’s beloved and holy children we have a responsibility to walk worthily of our heavenly Father and our holy Christ.
Remember I just said that we are royal sons and daughters. When we as professing Christians live in sin, we are living beneath our family name. Living in sin dishonors our heavenly Father and holy Brother.
Since we are holy royal children of God we want to think like it, speak like it, and act live it. (Mal.1:6)
What a shame when children of God act like children of the devil. (I Jn.3:1-3)
With our great privilege and honor comes great responsibilities to live up to our high calling in Jesus. To listen to His voice everyday from His word. To look to His government everyday in His providence. To approach His throne of grace everyday to speak with Him. To shun every known sin. To embrace every known duty. To love Him. To love people.
I John 3:1. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.