“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12–13
We’ve all heard it: “All children are God’s children”—but is that right? In Acts 17:28, Paul addressed the philosophers in Athens saying, “. . . for we are indeed [God’s] offspring.” But Paul’s statement is made in the context of directing them to God, their Creator, in whose image they were made (Gen. 1:27), which was in strong contrast to the idols that they made with human hands. While Paul was referring to all of us being created in God’s image, and that we bear a sense of his likeness, he also wrote in Hebrews 12 about illegitimate sons, that those whom God did not discipline were not his true children.
This wonderful and powerful passage in the Gospel of John tells us that the children of God are those who have simply received and believed in him. This is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture because my assurance of being one of his children is not based on my good works, who my earthly parents were, or where or when I was born—but only because of the will of God to bring me into his family. It gives me hope in God’s promises and the assurance that I will always belong to him because I am one of his children.
But one of the saddest passages of Scripture is found in the verses which precede this passage:
“He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” John 1:10–11
John begins his Gospel by telling us who Jesus is, that he is God, the Creator of all things, and yet when he entered the very world he created, many of his own people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob rejected him, their long-awaited Messiah.
As I have reflected on my faith over the years and have compared it with the other major world religions, the aspect of Christianity that attracts me most is that God came into our world. Jesus gave up his throne in heaven and came down into our mess to rescue us from sin, Satan, and death. No other religion has a god like our God who loves us enough to do that for us. All he asks from us is to give him our sin and receive him as our Lord and Savior. This offer has been given to all who want to be in his family, to be his children.