God's Family: The Reason You Were Born

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God's Family

The Reason You Were Born

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Have you ever wondered why you exist, why you were born? Have you ever suspected there isn't a purpose to life at all? What is the meaning of life? Is there anything beyond this physical life?

If you've ever pondered questions like these, you're not alone. Mankind has pondered these questions for millennia. Philosophers, scientists and theologians have tried to resolve them, but with confusing and contradictory results.

Can you know the answers to these questions?

Yes, you can! The astonishing answers can be found in the pages of your Bible.

Did you know that the main reason the Bible was written was to explain how God is creating His own family, the sons of God? It is amazing how few people grasp this incredible truth, yet it is so plain in the Bible.

At the beginning of the Bible is the account of the creation of Adam and Eve. All human beings are their descendants. We are, by natural descent, their great, extended family. Adam was, according to his natural parentage, a son of God (Luke 3:38). Therefore, in our natural descent, we are all the children of God. He is our Father by physical creation.

Creating immortal children

But God's purpose is far greater than the creation of corruptible and perishable human beings. God is in the process of creating His own spiritual children who will be incorruptible-children with eternal life who have His divine nature or character.

He refers to this new creation in terms of "the old man," in contrast with "the new man," who is "renewed in the spirit of [his] mind" and is "created according to God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:20-24).

The apostle Paul defined the new creation as a spiritual transformation, at first a change only in a person's nature and character, followed by a change into a literal spiritual being with eternal life. The Bible refers to this process as salvation.

The Bible refers to those who are receiving salvation as the "sons of God" in a sense that goes beyond our descendancy from our first two human parents. God is accomplishing a marvelous spiritual transformation in the lives of His followers through His Holy Spirit.

Paul explained that "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17).

Do you grasp the enormous significance of Paul's statement? It explains why we are here, the very reason for our existence, why we were born. It gives meaning to life itself. It explains why God wants all human beings to come to the knowledge of the truth. God is creating a family, His Own family. We have the priceless opportunity to be a part of that family.

That family relationship-our becoming children of God the Father-is the heart and core of God's great plan for humanity. Notice how Paul expresses it: "In bringing many sons to glory [salvation], it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy [Christ] and those who are made holy [converted human beings] are of the same family" (Hebrews 2:10-11, New International Version).

That's right!

That truly converted Christians are all of the same Father makes them members of the same family: God's family! Paul continues: "So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, 'I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.' And again, 'I will put my trust in him.' And again he says, 'Here am I, and the children God has given me'" (Hebrews 2:11-13, NIV).

Notice that Jesus is not ashamed to regard converted members of His church as His own brothers (or sisters). That is how close and personal this family relationship is.

Humans created to be like God

From the beginning of the Bible, this is the clearly stated purpose of God. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image ..." (Genesis 1:26-27).

Both men and women are created to be like God. The Bible often speaks of physical children as "sons" because that was the custom at the time the Bible was written, and has been in many languages, including English, over the centuries. In the Hebrew and Greek languages, in which the Bible was written, "sons" was used to mean "descendants." When used in this sense, the Hebrew and Greek words for "sons" refer to male and female descendants alike. Today, we use the words mankind and brethren in a similar sense.

God makes it clear that His family includes people who are now physical men and women, both sons and daughters. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26-28).

Also, "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:18). Men and women are God's children.

Now to the point of Genesis 1:26-27, which tells us we are made in God's image and likeness. At the first mention of human beings in the Bible, God declares His intent to make us like Him. But to what extent are we made like Him?

God's purpose is to make us fully like Jesus Christ! In Ephesians, Paul makes this clear. He explains that God established a ministry to serve the church. That ministry is to work with those in the church, until, he says in Ephesians 4:13, "we all come to . . . the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

Paul's statement in Galatians 4:19, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you," expresses the same concept in different words. Do you grasp the significance of Paul's statement? We are to become fully and completely like Jesus Christ. His character is to be formed in us. As Jesus is God's Son, we will also be God's sons.

The apostle John is explicit: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:1-3).

Resurrected to glorified state

Human beings who are inducted into the family that God is creating will be given the glorious honor to be like the resurrected Jesus Christ, who today reigns in His glorified state at the right hand of God in heaven. The awesome potential of any human being as it is presented to us by Christ and His apostles seems so incredible that most people find it difficult to grasp when they first read it. But it is plainly stated in the Bible, even though people read right over it. In fact, it is the whole purpose for salvation. It is the reason God made mankind. It is why we were born.

In Psalm 82:6, we read: "I said, 'You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.'" That is how God wants us human beings to relate to Him: as children of the Most High. It is truly an awesome family relationship-God's own personal family! Jesus quoted the preceding verse from Psalm 82 to show the Jews that He was not blaspheming God by claiming to be God's Son (see John 10:34).

Even the promises made to ancient Israel pertained to God's intention to eventually bring His people into a family relationship with Him. The apostle Paul said: "For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises" (Romans 9:3-4).

Of a humbled remnant of Israel in the future, God gives this prophecy: "But now, this is what the LORD says-he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine . . . Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, "Give them up!" and to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made'" (Isaiah 43:1, Isaiah 43:5-7 NIV).

God has always kept His purpose, of making human beings His children, as the guiding principle of how He deals with human beings. He gave us His laws to teach us how to treat one another in a godly manner-the same way Christ treated people. God has always offered forgiveness to anyone who would repent of sin, which is the transgression of His laws. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11). He says plainly that Christ came so the whole world-all people-can be saved (John 3:16-17).

Israelites to set an example

Many readers of the Bible have wondered why God chose the descendants of Abraham-ancient Israel-as a special people if He is impartial in offering salvation to all people.

Abraham was a righteous man who was called the friend of God. God promised him that, if he would walk wholeheartedly before Him, He would use Abraham's children in a special way. God chose to build a national family from Abraham's descendants so they could, if they would cooperate, set an example as a type, or model, of God's own family.

God told Abraham's descendants: "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe . . . Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?" (Deuteronomy 4:1, Deuteronomy 4:6-8).

The people of Israel agreed to become just such an example nation. But they still had a carnal, selfish nature, just as do all other human beings. Knowledge alone was not enough. God gave the Israelites His laws-the knowledge of right and wrong-but they did not have a converted mind whereby they could obey God from the heart. As a nation, they failed to set the obedient example they had promised God they would do.

The example they did set, that of consistently abandoning their commitments to obey God, preserves an important lesson for the rest of mankind. Neither nations nor individuals can produce godly behavior without God's Holy Spirit dwelling within them, even if God personally gives them explicit knowledge of right and wrong.

The only family that can ever set the proper example of godliness and righteousness for mankind is God's own family, His own sons and daughters, when they will have been granted immortality and incorruptibility. God is creating that family, and you can be a part of it!

Who will be in God's family?

Who are the children of God, and who will become a part of God's family?

The family of God will consist of those who sincerely repented of sin, which is the transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4), who had been baptized and were imparted God's Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38). By receiving that Spirit, they had become members of Christ's spiritual body (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), which is His Church (1 Corinthians 12:27; Colossians 1:24).

Paul explains the importance of the Holy Spirit to salvation and to becoming children of God: "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit [that] dwells in you" (Romans 8:11).

Paul makes it clear that "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9). Why do those without that Spirit not belong to God? Because "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14).

God's children are only those who are being led by God through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the power and presence of God working in them (2 Timothy 1:6; Psalm 51:11; Philippians 2:13).

How do we receive God's Spirit? The apostle Peter said we must "repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Because of this repentance and baptism, we are then considered to be children of God (1 John 3:1).

But that is nothing compared with what we will be like at Jesus Christ's return, when the dead are resurrected: "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, NIV).

These verses depict an awesome change indeed! That is why Paul says: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 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. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:16-18, KJV).

Glory beyond compare

Do you get the picture? Being born into God's family as a very child of God, a part of God's own family, is so magnificent that it is futile to try to compare to anything we have ever known. No amount of human trials, problems and suffering in this life could ever approach the inestimable value of eternal life as children of God, of our actually becoming like God and Jesus Christ. That is what life is all about. That is why you were born. God wants you to be like Him in every way as His son or daughter so you will be part of His very family at the time of the resurrection.

No wonder Paul exclaimed, "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" (Romans 8:19, NIV). God's purpose explains why Peter says, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).

Paul writes that God "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4, NIV).

These scriptures tell us that God is patient, and He desires to bring all human beings into His family. He also tells us that "he who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Revelation 21:7).

The wonderful world of tomorrow will be inaugurated at the return of Jesus Christ, who returns to rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). All the kingdoms of the world will be brought under His dominion (Revelation 11:15). He will establish the Kingdom of God, which is the heart of the message-the gospel, or good news-that He preached.

Those sons and daughters of God who have been faithful to their commitment to obey Him-who have overcome their own carnal, selfish nature and the temptation to return
to a life of sin and lawlessness-will share in that rule with Jesus Christ as sons of God. Notice Christ's promise: "To him who overcomes
I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Revelation 3:21). Those who overcome will be given responsibility as kings and priests of God in that Kingdom (Revelation 1:5-6).

Change to immortality

How can we mere human beings ever hope that Jesus Christ would share with us such incredible responsibility? Certainly, we can never do so while we are still weak, imperfect human beings.

That is just the point of these and many other scriptures. We must be changed.

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trum-pet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).

It is a gross understatement to say that the Kingdom of God, under the rule of Christ, will be wonderful. What will make it wonderful? It will be the leadership of all the sons of God, each changed to immortal spirit being under the leadership of Jesus Christ, who will reign as King of Kings and is "the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). We, the present sons and daughters of God, will share with Christ the management of that wonderful Kingdom. As we read earlier, those who are led by God's Spirit are the children of God and Christ's brothers and sisters: God's family!

The prophet Daniel received from God a marvelous vision of the establishment of that Kingdom under Jesus Christ on His receiving it from God the Father. "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14).

Who shares that Kingdom with Jesus Christ? "Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him" (Daniel 7:27). Here again, we can see that people who are the "saints of the Most High" will be kings or rulers with Christ.

But certainly they will not rule like some unscrupulous worldly tyrant. Jesus said: "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves" (Luke 22:25-26). God is creating not just a family in which are kings, but kings who, as servants, will pass on wonderful blessings to those they serve!

Rulership based on love

God's character is based on love (1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16). The loving character of God must be manifest in all who are truly His children. It is that loving character that distinguishes the true children of God, that makes evident who is really a part of His family.  "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10).

Jesus taught the same. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven . . . You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-45, Matthew 5:48).

The implementation of that love of God by the resurrected, immortal sons of God will produce the wonderful world of the future. God is perfecting that spirit of love and mercy in those sons and daughters who are the firstfruits of His spiritual harvest (James 1:18) so they will befit His family and so they can demonstrate to the world that obedience to God's law is the right way of life.

God is creating in His children His own divine nature, His holy and righteous character. The apostle Peter speaks of that spiritual nature, which we can share with Jesus Christ: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:2-4).

Those who become like Jesus Christ at the resurrection will be more than just spirit beings similar to Him. They will share with Him the very nature of the Father. God gives that godly nature to them when they receive the Holy Spirit, but only when they become fully like Jesus Christ will those divine characteristics be perfected. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ . . . that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17).

Never underestimate the value of your life. You were born to become one of God's children. You were born to receive His very nature and, eventually, eternal life. You were born to become an immortal son of God.