Children Of God

Q. I had a discussion with one of my friends about angels. He was basically arguing that everything created by God is a child of God, including Satan and all the angels. I know that God loves all his creations, but do you think that God considers all his creations his children (including believers, unbelievers, animals, and angels)?

A. The Hebrew phrase that becomes “angels” when translated into English is Bnai haElohim. It literally means sons of God. And the Bible hints that all children belong to the Father in Heaven.

But in John 1:12-13 we read, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” He’s speaking about being born again, and how that gives us the authority to call ourselves children of God.

So there’s obviously a difference, because if we were all already God’s children, we wouldn’t have to be born again. There was a loose parallel in Greek and Roman cultures that Paul referred to in Galatians 4:4-5 to help explain this. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”

In those days even biological sons had to be legally adopted by their fathers to receive the right of inheritance. This normally took place when the children had reached the age of accountability, and was called receiving the full rights of sons. And so it is with us. Although we’re born into God’s family, when we come of age we have to be born again to receive the “full rights of sons.”

Angels cannot receive this right, nor can unbelievers and certainly not animals. It’s only for believers. “… those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (Greek, adoption). 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. (Romans 8:14-17) Sharing in His sufferings means allowing His death to pay for our sins.

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