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Are We All God’s Children, or Just Christians?

Are we all God's children?

I have to say, one of the things that warms my heart the most is knowing that I am a child of God.

I’ve heard that we are God’s children referenced in church, but what exactly does it mean to be a child of God?

Is everyone a child of God?

If so, then what rights and privileges come with being God’s children?

If not, then what exactly is the defining factor that makes you a child of God?

These are just a few questions that ran through my mind as I attempted to dig a bit deeper into the meaning behind the Bible verses proclaiming that I am a child of God.

As much as the thought of these Bible verses warmed my heart, I couldn’t shake the fact that the meaning just doesn’t run deep unless I truly understand the impact of those words.

Thus, I began a journey of finding every Bible verse in the Bible referencing who we are in Christ, and our identity as a God’s children.

As I unpacked the meaning behind these powerful verses, I found that it was better than I thought!

To be a child of God isn’t just heartwarming, it’s life changing.

Which is why I am so excited to share with you what it means to be a child of God. Let’s go!

Who is a Child of God According to the Bible?

Who is a Child of God according to the Bible?

Something you might have thought a time or two is, who is considered a child of God according to the Bible? So, let’s unpack this first.

To be completely honest, I didn’t know until only a few years ago that not all human beings are called God’s children. I was shocked.

Is this a surprise to you, too?

I just assumed that since all human beings are loved, made in the image of God, valuable, etc., that automatically all human beings are also considered God’s children.

But that’s simply not true.

Track with me on this because this really took me through a loop.

In John Chapter 1, John writes about Jesus’ earthly ministry, and he says this about being children of God:

“He (meaning Jesus) came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted him, He gave the right to be children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”

John 1:10-13 (NLT)

Wow.

So, what this verse is saying is, the right to be children of God is only given to those who believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. 

That means not all human beings are automatically God’s children. Instead, only believers in Jesus Christ are God’s children. 

However, this verse is really insightful because right after John (the author of the Gospel of John) tells us about our right to be children of God, he immediately talks about being born again.

That tells us that being born again is a crucial aspect to being a child of God.

When we receive Christ into our hearts, God actually creates in us spiritual life, making us a new creation.

Read More: What Does it Mean to Be a “New Creation” in Christ?

2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

When you come to Christ, you are a new creation the same way a newborn baby is a new person. That is why this process of regeneration is called being “born again”.

When a child is born, they are born into a family. With our first birth we are born into an earthly family, right?

So then, who’s family do you think we’re born into when we are reborn spiritually? That’s right, the Family of God. In this spiritual family, we are sons and daughters of God — God’s very own children.

Galatians 3:26 says:

“In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”

Galatians 3:26 (NIV)

So, this tells us that not all human beings are automatically God’s children. Instead, you need to receive Christ into your heart and be born again in order to reborn into the Family of God as God’s very own son or daughter.

So, now that we’ve covered the importance of being reborn in order to be a child of God, let’s take a deeper dive into what exactly it means to be a child of God.

Child of God Meaning

Child of God meaning

I hope you’re excited because the meaning behind being a child of God is super profound.

I mean, there’s something starkly different between merely being a creation of God and being God’s very own son or daughter. It changes the dynamic of your relationship with Him dramatically.

It’s the type of relationship that even from an earthly perspective we can understand because God has allowed us to co-create with Him in the making of our very own sons and daughters.

Stick with me here.

God made us in His image, right?

Right.

Read More: What Does it Mean to be “Made in the Image of God”?

However, God didn’t stop there because after making us in His image, He then gave us the ability to make children in our image. Why would He do that?

Well, I have a hunch that the reasoning was very strategic. By allowing us to create our own sons and daughters, He intentionally gave us a glimpse of what it means for us to be sons and daughters to Him.

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It’s through understanding and experiencing the relationship and love we have for our own children, that we are then able to better understand the relationship and love God has for us.

In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said:

“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Matthew 18:3 (NLT)

Through your faith in Jesus, you have now been reborn spiritually into the Family of God as sons and daughters of God. This means you have literally become like little children, God’s very own children, who are now able to freely enter into the glorious Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, it’s important for us to understand that we are not God’s original children. There is another, and that person is Jesus.

John 3:16 says:

“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.”

John 3:16 (NASB)

Hebrews 5:5 says:

“So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you

Hebrews 5:5 (ESV)

So, let’s take a second to unpack what “begotten” means. Begotten is an archaic term referring to when a child is the only offspring of his or her father.

Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, which means Jesus is the only offspring to God the Father.

That is why the Bible tells us we have been given the Spirit of Adoption into the Family of God.

“For you did not receive the spirit of flavory to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:15 (ESV) 

We are not God’s original children, nor the original heirs to the Kingdom of God, or God’s throne. The first-born son and true heir to God’s throne is Jesus.

So, the next thing I want to touch on is how the Bible says we are now God’s children through the Spirit of adoption.

The Spirit of Adoption

The Spirit of Adoption

The Bible actually refers to our rebirth into the Family of God as “adoption”. But Paul uses very interesting language in Romans 8:15 because when he refers to God’s Spirit joining with our spirit, he calls it the “Spirit of adoption”.

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!””

Romans 8:15 (ESV)

By referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of adoption”, he is telling us that the joining of God’s Spirit with our spirit proves that we are now God’s children.

In Roman 8:16, Paul says that the Spirit Himself “bears witness” with our spirit (which is another way of saying “proves”) that we are in fact now God’s children.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God

Romans 8:16 (ESV)

Characteristics of a Child of God

Characteristics of a Child of God

Now you might be wondering, “What are some characteristics of being a child of God?”

The easy answer (well, maybe not so easy) is someone who is actively on the journey of surrendering their life to Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform them into the image of God’s Son, Jesus.

They are someone who reads the Bible regularly letting the word of God be their guide for how to do life in a way that honors the Lord. A child of God is someone who implements the qualities and attributes of Jesus into their life, using Him as their model for how to act and behave.

In short, God’s children are called to reflect the perfect image of God, which is what we see in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

However, there is something else I want to touch on regarding the characteristics of a child of God that I discovered while researching Romans 8 more in depth.

Buckle up because this is where things get interesting.

In Romans 8:15, Paul tells us that because we have received the Spirit of adoption, we now cry out “Abba! Father!”.

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

Romans 8:15 (ESV)

So, first let’s look at the word “cry”.

The Greek word used here is “krazomen”, which refers to loud and urgent screams or shrieks. It’s an inarticulate shout that expresses deep emotion.

The next word I want to point out is “Abba”.

Abba is an Aramaic word that means “Father”. It was a common term used to express deep affection and trust between a father and his child.  You can compare it to a childlike trust that a young child puts in their “daddy”.

God’s title of “Abba Father” is only found in the Bible on three separate occasions:

  1. Mark 14:36
  2. Romans 8:15
  3. Galatians 4:6

Furthermore, there are only two people in the entire Bible who use this word to describe God:

  1. The first being Jesus Christ, Himself
  2. The second being Paul the Apostle (the writer of the Book of Romans, which is what we’ve used the most for Biblical reference for this post)

What’s interesting is the only time Paul uses this word “Abba” is when using it in reference to us, the children of God, who are to cry out to our Abba Father.

The other time “Abba” is used is when Jesus cries out to the Father shortly before His death in Mark 14:36:

Abba, Father,” He (referring to Jesus) cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Mark 14:26 (NLT)

What this tells me is, this is the type of relationship Jesus desires us to have with our Heavenly Father.

Through our faith in Jesus, we have received the Spirit of adoption into God’s Family as His very own children. As God’s children, it is our right to cry out to our Heavenly Father (just like Jesus did) with our pain, worries, and fears.

We should come freely to the Father in every situation saying:

  • Daddy, I’m scared and I don’t know what to do.
  • Daddy, I’m lost and I need you to find me.
  • Daddy, I’ve made a mess of my life and I need you to help me.
  • Daddy, I’m poor and I need your provision.
  • Daddy, I’m confused and I need your wisdom.

Like a child cries out in the middle of the night for their parents, we have been given the Spirit of adoption that cries out with daddy-like affection, “Abba! Father!”.

Instead of running from God and hiding because of our sin and shame like Adam and Eve, one of the most incredible remedies of the gospel is now we have been given the Spirit of adoption that runs toward God asking Him for help from our bondage, pain, and brokenness.

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When we cry out to God from an authentic place, we move from relying on our self for help, to relying on God as our rock and our solid foundation.

When you rely on God and not on yourself, you are truly acting like God’s children. You are putting your faith and trust in God and believing that He can (and will!) meet your every need and take away your every fear.

Of all the characteristics of a child of God, this touches my heart the most. We are God’s children, and He is our Father.

God wants us to have the type of relationship with Him where we desire to run to Him with daddy-like affection, just like we would our earthly father.

Spirit of Slavery verses Spiritual Sonship

Spirit of slavery, Spiritual sonship

The last thing I want to talk about regarding who we are as God’s children is an interesting little thing Paul points out in Romans 8:15 regarding the spirit of slavery verses our rights regarding our spiritual sonship.

*For all the women reading this post, this also applies to God’s daughters as well 😉

Listen to Paul’s logic in Romans 8:15:

Paul tells us that the reason those of us who have the Spirit of adoption are also the children of God is because God did not give you a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear.

Instead, what God did give you is the Spirit of adoption as sons (spiritual sonship).

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

Romans 8:15 (ESV)

Hmm…so, what exactly does Paul mean here?

Well let’s start by contrasting the spirit of slavery with spiritual sonship.

The spirit of slavery makes you fearful, whereas spiritual sonship is an intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father, to whom you cry out to from a place of love and trust.

Why is this significant? Why would Paul want us to understand the difference between the spirit of slavery which is a spirit of fear and bondage, and spiritual sonship, which is a spirit of truth, love, and life?

Well, what do we know to be true about God?

  • God is all powerful.
  • God is all knowing.
  • God is in control of all things at all times.

*Of course, God is more than just that, but we’ll stop there

Because of the magnitude and power of who God is, it might be easy for us to imagine a God who would want slaves instead of sons.

  • Slaves who act as God’s little earthly robots.
  • Slaves who do whatever God says without any pushback or argument.
  • Slaves whose entire purpose in life is to be dominated and controlled by God for forever and ever.

This type of God is actually easier for us to imagine than the person that God really is: a super loving, gentle, and caring God who values you individually and uniquely.

Read More: How Do I Know God Loves Me Personally?

The reason it’s easy for us to imagine an evil, controlling, and domineering God (aka a spirit of slavery) is because the people who hold positions of power and influence in the world tend to lean on the side of being evil, controlling, and corrupt.

When we see these people use their power and influence to control and manipulate people around them, we just assume that our Heavenly Father must do the same.

That is why Paul is actually contrasting this “evil God image” by telling us in Romans 8:15 that God has NOT given us a spirit of slavery, but instead has given us a Spirit of adoption as sons!

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

Romans 8:14-15 (ESV)

God wants us to know that we are His sons (and daughters), not slaves!

Paul points out that the spirit of slavery creates people who are fearful whereas the Spirit of adoption creates people who cry out, “Abba! Father!”.

The Spirit of adoption is proof of our spiritual sonship (and daughership) as God’s children. This spiritual sonship makes us a citizen of heaven where we are now part of God’s Family as God’s children, who are also royalty and heirs to God’s throne.

Who we are in Christ is the exact opposite to slavery. We have been set free by the life, death, and resurrection of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus.

Because of our faith in Him, we have been lifted high and seated in the heavenly places with Jesus as God’s children, who are loved and cherished forever.

Let’s recap what it means to be God’s children:

  • The right to be children of God is only given to those who believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
  • The children of God have been reborn spiritually into the Family of God. In this spiritual family, you have been adopted as sons and daughters of God.
  • As God’s very own children, it is your right to cry out to your Abba Father with our pain, your worries, and your fears.
  • When you cry out to God, you move from relying on yourself for help, to relying on God as your rock and solid foundation.
  • When you rely on God and not on yourself, you are acting like children of God who rely on Him for your every need.
  • You have not been given a spirit of slavery, but spiritual sonship, set free by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

 Did this help you understand what it means to be God’s children? Let me know in the comments below!

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Read More

What Does “I am Fearfully & Wonderfully Made” Mean?

What Does “Made in the Image of God” Mean?

What Does “New Creation in Christ” Mean?

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Are we all God's children?

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Welcome to Lavender Vines

I’m Tiffany, a travel lover, small business owner, and expert-level cat cuddler. Sharing the love of Jesus is one of my favorite things ever, hence why I started this blog! You’re gonna find loads of goodies on this site, but one of my fav’s is my brand spankin’ new free ebook on your identity in Christ. Cut to the chase – Jesus thinks you’re pretty cool – but my ebook explains just how cool you really are. It’s kinda amazing.

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