No We Are Not All God’s Children
One of the clearest teachings of Scripture running from Genesis to Revelation is that there are two classes of humanity: those who belong to God and those who do not; those who will live with him forever and those who will not.
This simple yet basic truth is taught everywhere in the Bible, yet far too many people seem totally oblivious to this – and I refer here to so-called believers, not just non-Christians. Not only have I had biblically illiterate believers chew me out for suggesting that there are two humanities, but almost every day we have someone claiming that we are all God’s children.
There are of course countless examples of this, so no need to pick on any one individual here. But the most recent and most publicised example of this occurred a few days ago, and is worth using as yet another instance of how not to think on this topic. I refer to the remarks of Pope Francis on this in a video he just released. As one Catholic site reports:
The Pope’s first video message on his monthly prayer intentions was released Tuesday, highlighting the importance of interreligious dialogue and the beliefs different faith traditions hold in common, such as the figure of God and love.
“Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: We are all children of God,” Pope Francis said in his message, released Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany.
At the beginning of the video, a minute-and-a-half long, the Pope cites the fact that the majority of the earth’s inhabitants profess some sort of religious belief. This, he said, “should lead to a dialogue among religions. We should not stop praying for it and collaborating with those who think differently.”
The video goes on to feature representatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, who proclaim their respective beliefs in God, Jesus Christ, Allah and Buddha. Later on, after the Pope affirms that all, regardless of their religious profession, are children of God, the faith leaders state their common belief in love.
For those interested, you can see the video here: http://apostleshipofprayer.org/
Of course this is not the first time Francis has made such claims. And a fair amount of this push for all things interfaith has been heard often before in Catholic circles, although there are many Catholics who are not so thrilled with it all, especially when it comes to cosying up to Islam. See here for more on that: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/12/07/20359/
But let me look at this claim that we are all God’s children. The truth is, there is so much biblical material on this topic, that a small book could easily be produced on this. Let me keep it brief and simple. It is of course true that we all belong to God because we are all created by him.
But biblical sonship overwhelmingly refers to being his by redemption. While every single human being is indeed a creation of God, only the redeemed are actual children of God. Again, this is plain teaching found everywhere in the Scriptures. The biblical story line throughout presupposes this, and it is found in the earliest of Biblical passages. Way back in Genesis 3:15 we read about the two humanities that came about after the Fall:
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
These two seed lines run throughout the Bible. Everywhere we see God making such distinctions. Yahweh chooses Abraham and his seed; he chooses Joseph above the other brothers of Jacob; he chooses Israel over all the other nations on earth; and so on.
The wicked and the righteous are constantly being contrasted, as in Psalm 1:1: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” The final book of the Old Testament continues this theme. In Malachi 3:18 we read:
Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him.
The apostle Paul makes much of the two humanities theme as in places like Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 where he speaks of the first Adam and the last Adam (Christ). We are all without exception part of the line of Adam, and share in the death that comes as a result of that. But for those who come to Christ, we receive newness of life.
As Martyn Lloyd-Jones remarks, “God has always dealt with mankind through a head and representative. The whole story of the human race can be summed up in terms of what has happened because of Adam, and what has happened and will yet happen because of Christ.”
Jesus constantly spoke in such terms as well. We read about the judgment between the sheep and the goats for example in Matthew 25:31-46. But one of the clearest and most strongly stated examples of this idea of two humanities comes from the lips of Jesus in John 8. In a heated dispute with the Pharisees over sonship, we find this in verse 39-44:
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Wow, super strong words, and words which forever dispel the blatantly false notion that we are all God’s children. Unless people enter into a relationship with God through faith and repentance, they are none of his. Indeed, simply looking at how the Bible describes the lost makes it clear that they are not God’s children. Consider some of these telling descriptions about what we are as sinners:
-spiritually sick (Luke 5:31-32)
-rebellious children (Luke 15:11-32)
-lost (Luke 19:10)
-in darkness (Acts 20:18)
-under the power of Satan (Acts 20:18)
-slaves to sin (Romans 6:22)
-spiritually blind (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
-God’s enemies (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
-objects of wrath (Ephesians 2:3)
-dead (Ephesians 2:5)
-darkened in their understanding (Ephesians 4:18)
-separated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18)
-in the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13)
-alienated from God (Colossians 1:21)
-his enemies (Colossians 1:21)
-idol worshippers (1 Thessalonians 1:9)
-not a people who had not received mercy (1 Peter 2:10)
-sheep going astray (1 Peter 2:25)
Um, it is pretty hard to consider the unbeliever as a child of God in the light of such passages. Only those who are in right relationship with God can claim the title of being his child. Indeed, we are all alienated from God until we come to Christ, and then we become adopted into God’s family, as these passages explain:
Romans 8:14-17 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Galatians 3:26-29 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 4:4-7 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Ephesians 1:3-6 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
It is vital that we adhere closely to the word of God on this matter. Not everyone is a child of God. If people want to have interfaith powwows to better get along with one another in a messed up world, that is one thing. But we help no one when we push unbiblical notions that somehow we are all one big happy spiritual family.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
14 Replies to “No We Are Not All God’s Children”
John 1:12 “But as many as received Him (Jesus – as Saviour and Lord), to them He gave the right to become children of God …”
This verse also makes it clear we are not all children of God.
Great article Bill and a timely reminder.
Thank you for the article. The Word couldn’t be clearer that we are not all children of God. Also as someone whose conversion was influenced by the fact that Roman Catholicism has a Papacy which made a lot of sense to me this Pope never fails to amaze me. He is not tough enough in my opinion. We need another John Paul 2.
My mind boggles at some of the statements of Pope Francis; but then he is a Jesuit. Thanks for this article Bill. I think the problem is that Catholics from the Pope down don’t have regard to the authority of the Bible. But if the Pope does not recognize the ultimate authority of Jesus Christ then how does he expect to be saved? How does he expect any of us to be saved? What is he on about?
An excellent article saying all the things the pope and successive arch bishops should have been saying, especially in light of the current meeting of worldwide Anglican leaders which could trigger a schism. Also a good reply to the Dean of Oxford and president of Modern church in UK, Martyn Percy who has raised the centuries old controversy regarding Pelagianism (link to this: https://mbarrattdavie.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/say-no-to-cheap-grace-a-further-response-to-martyn-percy/
So true Bill, if only more institutional churches would proclaim this truth as well.
I’m amazed at meeting Christians who still believe that the message of Jesus was all love, tolerance and peace on Earth, as bergoglio seems to think it is. The real message of Jesus is terrifying: repent, turn back to God, or spend eternity in Hell. I’m probably a lousy Christian but it still puzzles me how people read the same bible as me and come out with a wildly different message. Are they blinded? Are the dyslexic? Weird.
Well put Bill. There is way too much fuzzy thinking on this topic.
I think the best verse in the Bible to support the notion that we are all God’s children is Ps 82:6, but in context it should wake up anyone who thinks that way.
Psa 82:1 A Psalm of Asaph. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
Psa 82:2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
Psa 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Psa 82:4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
Psa 82:5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
Psa 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
Psa 82:7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
Psa 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
Romans 9 spells it out for those who bother to read their Bibles.
Rom 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Rom 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
There is a big difference between being physically a child of God (a descendent of Adam, the son of God) and being one spiritually, as Jesus makes clear in John 8.
Again, well put.
Loved reading about this topic. I used to get into debates with several Grace Communion International pastors (formerly Worldwide Church of God) about this topic because they now teach a Karl Barth view of inclusiveness that says Jesus is the elect and this all mankind are elect through Him. So it’s coming not only from biblically illiterate and watered down Christianity, but also from a neo-orthodox theology.
A nostalgic reminder of myself being disabused of this false idea of everyone being a “child of God” when I was still a new Christian. It was quite a shock at first. Then the realization that we were all only creatures of God until we were reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ began to make much more sense. It’s a fundamentally critical distinction and I am surprised and disappointed that this Pope did not express that when he had the audience and the opportunity to do so. Thanks Bill. More evidence that Pope Francis is a false prophet.
Thank you again, Bill! Great article! It seems so clear from Genesis to Revelation that there are the “two humanities”. “The seed of the woman” and the “seed of the serpent” are declared in Genesis 3 to be in a war that will last until the serpent’s head is crushed, as is revealed in the book of Revelation. Thank you for your part in this war!
John 8:42-44: Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
(1 John 3:1-10)
1 BEHOLD, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
1 AND you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
THEN THERE IS THIS:
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Great Truth Bill!
Bigger than any “Proof-Text” is the fact that the entire Bible is composed around a call for repentance and belief in Jesus Christ. No book ever written has a clearer theme. “Come unto me”, “Unless you repent you will perish”, are the key ideas of the whole book.