See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
I happened to read something that melted my heart on what it means to be a Christian. I picked up a book on my nightstand called Knowing God by J.I. Packer. It is one of those books I have been reading for the past 3-4 months along with several others on my nightstand. I love how God works and speaks to me sometimes. His timing is so impeccable. It just happened to be on the chapter called “Sons of God.” In this chapter J.I. Packer identifies a Christian as someone who calls God their Father. He makes the following statement:
“If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thoughts of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thoughts that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.”
In this chapter J.I. Packer talks about the uniqueness of Christianity in our relating to God as our Father compared to the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, God was seen as holy separate and completely unapproachable because of his absolute holiness. If someone touched the arc, they were immediately killed. The high priest had to enter into the Most Holy of Holies inside the Temple, with a rope tied around his leg in case he was killed by God’s presence and could be dragged out. The Mountain that the Israelite came to in the OT was a fearsome sight and they were told to stand back. Everything in the Old Testament regarding God was all about “stand back”. God is holy.
Then comes Jesus and He introduced this absolute foreign concept of an intimate relationship with God by calling God his Father. This really must have flabbergasted the Jews to see how Christ related so intimately to God when God always seemed so unreachable and separate to them.
And now through Christ, we too can draw near to God and boldly come into His presence. We not only have a relationship with Him, which is remarkable in itself, but the unfathomable is also ours, we too call on God as our Father.
This truth is amazing. God could have forgiven us, provided a way of salvation for us and that would have been remarkable enough. But when God saved us through Christ, He went beyond the unfathomable and not only forgave us but adopted us as well, bringing us into the most intimate of relationships with Himself as His children and promised us an inheritance to those who love Him.
[pullshow]It’s one thing to believe in God and recognize He exists but it’s another thing for us to boldly embrace Him and relate to Him as our Father but this is our relationship . [pullthis]For us to attempt to relate to God by any other manner is to deny Him and who He is to us. [/pullthis] If we try to relate to Him in any other way, as a slave-master relationship like that of the Old Testament, as an acquaintance, a stranger He lovingly whispers to us, “I don’t relate to you that way. I am your Father. This is how we relate to one another. If you want to know me, interact with me and have a relationship with me, you must learn to relate to me as your Father, you must become my child. This is the role I play in your life. This is who I am to you and how you know me. This is our relationship to one another.
This was a powerful truth for me when it clicked. God relates to me as Father. If I want to know Him, I must seek to know him and relate to Him as my Father and nothing less. This encircles a lot of other relationships, friend, counselor, provider, protector, authority, etc…but it is nothing less then all of these. His relationship to me defines how we interact together. Anyone who wants to know God, must seek to know Him through recognizing his Fatherhood in their lives by believing John 1:12, but to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” We have been given a wonderful right before God, but as with all rights, if we do not exercise or claim those rights, the fault lies with us.
In the book Discipline The Glad Surrender by Elizabeth Eliot she builds upon this truth. She states:
There are those who do not want to receive Christ. Those who do, however, are given not an “instant kingdom,” but the “…right to become children of God…” Here is the truth of divine sovereignty and human responsibility wrapped up in a single verse. To those who will He gives. There are many levels of meaning here that we cannot explore. It does not say God makes them instant children of God. It says He gives the the right to become. To those who receive Him, to those who have yielded to Him their allegiance, He gives the right to become children of God.
We also have the responsibility to become a child of God, to place ourselves under his authority, under his sovereignty, under his guidance by faith so that God is our Father. If we do not place ourselves under him, seek to please him, abide with him, listen to him, accept his discipline then we cannot call ourselves children of God. We risk standing outside the door on that Great Day begging and pleading as in Luke 13:25-27 for Christ to open the door for us to enter and receiving his reply, “ I don’t know you and I don’t know where you come from.” He is not saying He once knew you or knows of you He is saying I never knew you, never and I don’t know where you come from. You didn’t come from me. You are not my child. You don’t belong in my house. I know my own and you are not one of mine. I don’t know you.
We make a big deal about our knowing Christ. But does Christ know you? Many are self deceived, thinking Christ knows them as these are who are locked outside the door. They cry out, But Lord, how can you say this, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” How can you not know us? Luke 13:36 And Jesus answers them by repeating himself more strongly in verse 27, “I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
Over and over we see in scripture this warning to those who think they are saved, who think they know God but do not know him. Jesus explains this in Matt: 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The book of 1 John was written to combat this false believe and to show who the children of God are and strength their faith while at the same time trying to shake the faith that false believers are deluded and deceived under that they are saved and have no need of salvation. In the book of 1 John, chapter 3, the Apostle John warns us who the children of God and who the children of Satan are. He says.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. – 1 John 3:7-10
We must make it our pursuit to become like little children and to learn to relate to God as our Father. To imitate him, to depend on him, to enjoy his love for us and enjoy our relationship to Him.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matt. 18:3