Being a Child of God
By Benjamin H. Liles
John penned the words in his gospel narrative, "But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (1:12). I wonder, though, do we as followers of Christ show this in our daily walks? Are we going out of our way, putting to death the things of the flesh to ensure Christ is seen within us, working Himself outward to a lost and dying world? In all honesty, I have to say I feel I fall short of the standard Jesus gave to "love others."
Yet, I also do what I can every day to show that the life of Jesus has impacted me. A lot of you know my story ever since my gall bladder was removed. So, I won't retell that experience. But He has indeed impacted my life and I. I always look at my life through the lens of the Bible, God's word. Every time I read words such as "The soul who sins it shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father and the father not bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will fall upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked man will fall upon him" (Ezekiel 18:20).
I know I have been over the chapters of Ezekiel at one time so I won't go in-depth on that side of things. However, I do want to look at this: how can we become children of God in an age where the world despises Christ and persecutes the Church for standing as Jesus Christ did? In this time, in this age, it's a difficult and wearisome path for a Christ-follower to do exactly that: follow after this same Jesus who died so that we have eternal life.
But I also see this part of it as well. We're told in the Bible, "To him that overcomes I grant to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Revelation 3:21, Berean Study). I find Jesus is giving us His word that we have peace in Him as He promised He would. We have His word in the New Testament toward us, that even when we go through trials and tribulations, persecutions and life in general we are more than simply "getting by."
While Paul awaited his trial in jail in Rome, and even throughout all the struggles he went through to talk to "princes, rulers, and Gentiles," he did exactly what Christ set him apart for. As Jesus said to Ananias, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake" (Acts 9:15-16). While Paul was in jail all those times before his eventual death, each and every time, "praying and singing hymns to God, [with the] prisoners listening to them" (Acts 16:25).
Can we be like Paul, having a joy so unspeakable so rooted and grounded in faith nothing can move us? I believe we can. When we're told by Christ that He came to make our joy complete and full, He wasn't meaning just for this day or for that day but every day, all the time. Joy isn't the same thing as happiness which is so very fleeting. Joy, to the follower of Christ, is being delighted that one day you will be with Him in Heaven; it means everything you go through now is only light and temporary. This is the unshakable faith we ought to have. Lastly, we read about being children of God: "Everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith" (1 John 5:4).
Dear one, I write these words to you to ensure that your joy be made full, as Christ has done for us when He went to the cross for our sins. It's like Jesus said to Nicodemus, "This is important ("Truly, truly" or "Verily, verily") for I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:3). Jesus says this because the one thing that saves us from ourselves, our sinfulness and our works, is our faith that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son of God. We next read the rest of John's thoughts about our faith overcoming this world, "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:5).
In other words, that faith you have in Jesus Christ being the Son of God, that's the same faith that declares you right with God; and considering this stance before the Father of all creation we are as His children. Scripture makes it clear those who belong to Him. By faith in Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead, after being crucified means we have a new life in Him. When we declare that saving faith in Him we are thus putting off the deeds of our flesh, submitting ourselves to Him and His authority once and for all. By doing so we have immeasurable joy, we have His peace "Which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). So, this I write to bolster your faith; it is to help strengthen you, and to help you stand firm in your conviction that Jesus Christ is indeed the Savior of all. I pray this builds you up. In the matchless name of Jesus, Amen.