Today, our message is entitled “Family of God.” We’re going to be talking about God’s family and how it relates to our human families. A human family consists of parents and children. This pattern for the human family comes God’s family.
Ephesians 3:14-15 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
God’s family is made up of our heavenly Father and His children. Not everyone is part of the family of God, as we’ll see today. As God is the father and parent of His children, so every human family follows the same pattern. The pattern of a father and his children. Although, every person on earth has been created by God, not everyone is a child of God according to God’s Word.
John 1:12-13 (ESV) But to all who did receive him [Jesus], 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.
These verses make crystal-clear how one becomes a child of God. A person must receive Jesus into their lives and believe in Him. They then become born spiritually as children of God. Jesus called this being born again. In the Bible being a child of God, refers not to natural physical birth but of a spiritual birth through faith in Jesus Christ.
You don’t become a child of God by being born to Christian parents. You don’t become a child of God by going to church or being baptized either as an infant or as an adult. You don’t become a child of God by doing lots of good things or reading your Bible. You become a child of God by believing in Jesus.
Even though the entire family of God encompasses every believer on the planet, the family of God is lived out in a local church family. We see in the New Testament that believers in a church family refer to one another as brother and sister. Why? Because they are all part of God’s family. A true believer in Jesus will always be part of a local church family of spiritual siblings.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at what the Bible has to say about the family of God. As we do, we’ll come to see how understanding God’s family will help us in our own natural human families. So, let’s begin with the question …
Some people say that every human being is a child of God. In a general sense, that is true, as God has created every person. However, as we have already seen, being part of God’s family as His child is only a result of faith in God.
Matthew 12:49-50 (ESV) And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus is teaching an important lesson in these verses. This passage begins with Jesus’ mother and brothers looking for Him. Yet, Jesus says that His disciples are His mother and brothers. In other words, His disciples, those who had believed and followed Him were members of His family. Then Jesus tell us that members of His family are distinguished by doing the will of their heavenly Father. Only those who are believers in Jesus will do the Father’s will. So, God’s family and His children are spiritual. You can tell who the children of God are but looking at the fruit of their lives. Those who do the will of their heavenly Father are His children.
Romans 9:8 (ESV) This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
In this passage, Paul is speaking of Abraham who had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was a child of the flesh, but Isaac was a child of the promise. God had promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a son in their old age. They believed God and Isaac was conceived and born. The point in this passage is that not all Jews are children of God. Only those who have believed God’s promises. In the same way, those who believe God’s promise through Jesus Christ today are children of the promise, children of God. God’s promise of salvation is repeated many times in Scripture. We’ve already read one such promise in John 1:12-13. Those who believe in Jesus are given the right to become children of God, children of the promise.
Natural children of believing parents are not automatically believers. Each child must make a decision to put their faith in Jesus Christ. It is the parent’s responsibility to help their children make that most important decision. The family unit of believing parents and believing children then becomes an expression of God’s family on earth.
The Christian family should be a witness to others of what God’s family is like. The way that the parents interact with children should follow the example of how our heavenly father treats His children. The way that children interact with their parents and each other should be a reflection of God’s family. Our families should together shine the light of Christ in a dark world.
The family of God is the most unique and wonderful of God’s creations. There is nothing else like it on this earth. In the Bible, the family of God and the church are basically synonymous. The family of God consists only of believers and the true church likewise consists only of believers. That is why we often refer to our local church here at Life Church as a church family. So, what is that that makes God’s family unique on this earth?
Ephesians 2:12-13 (ESV) remember that you [Gentiles] were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
In the Old Testament, the Gentiles, non-Jews, were not part of the people of God in Israel. But when Jesus came and offered Himself up as the ultimate sacrifice, the sins of every person, Jew or Gentile could be forgiven. So, every person, whether Jew or Gentile, needed to believe in Jesus. When they did, they become children of God.
When you become a child of God, you become part of God’s family, you become a brother or sister to other believers. You become one with other believers, there is unity and peace between every member of God’s family.
Galatians 3:28 (ESV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
God’s family is the only place on earth where nothing separates people from one another. We are all one in Christ Jesus, united by our common faith.
Ephesians 2:14 (ESV) For he himself [Jesus] is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
Because of Jesus, not only are we made one with every other believer, but divisions, walls and hostilities between different kinds of people are removed or broken down. We must be careful to note that we’re talking about divisions between believers are removed. We will have divisions between believers in God’s families and those outside of God’s family. Why? Because we are fundamentally different classes of people, believers and unbelievers. Those who are children of God and those who are enemies of God.
But within God’s family, within the church, there are to be no divisions. Just as there will be no divisions in heaven.
The family of God, the church, is to be a place where color, race, age, gender or social class don’t separate or cause divisions. The church family is to be a diverse family of people united by their faith in Jesus. Unfortunately our culture has hijacked the word diversity. The church is to be diverse with regard to the ways that God has created us, not in condoning sinful behavior.
Every person is valuable in God’s eyes and we are called to love one another in God’s family. As parents, we must teach our children to love everyone, including people different than ourselves. Let’s ask our third question today.
If a human family has not children, eventually the family line will die out. In the same way, if God’s family in a generation does not reproduce itself, it will likewise die out. Now, God is not going to let His family die out, He has promised to always preserve a remnant. However, we have a responsibility in preserving the legacy of God’s family by doing our part with our families and church family.
Psalm 78:3-4 (ESV) things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
As a believer, most likely someone led you to the Lord. Perhaps that person or others helped you to grow in your faith. Those people are your fathers in the Lord. The things that you have learned from them, you must teach to your children and grandchildren. Pass on faith stories of what God has done in your life and in the lives of others to your children, the next generation.
Not only should we pass on those faith stories to our physical children, we must do the same with spiritual children. One of the ways we do that in our church family is through our children’s and youth ministries. As we are faithful in that calling, God uses us to leave a legacy both for our physical and spiritual families. Not only should be pass on our faith stories, we must also …
Psalm 78:5-6 (ESV) He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
Every believer must teach their children God’s Word. Those children will in turn teach their children when they are born and the legacy continues. There are examples in the Old Testament of generations that failed to pass on their faith to the next generation. The consequences were disastrous for their children. And what is the result of diligently teaching your children God’s Word?
Psalm 78:7 (ESV) so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;
Then your children will put their faith and hope in God. They will not forget Him, but follow Him and His commands all the days of their lives.
The primary responsibility for teaching your physical children lays with the parents. The church family’s role is to support and supplement the parents. As a church family, we also seek to reach out to children and youth who do not come from believing families.
Spiritual children come in all ages. When anyone, regardless of age becomes a believer, they are a spiritual infant. Just as a physical baby needs care and support, so does a spiritual new born. As a church family, we seek to help those who are new believers or who are immature in their faith. The church family also provides support for single parents and single adults of all ages. As we work together to pass on our faith legacy, both in our physical families and in our church family, the family of God grows.
The family of God is a spiritual family that is unified in Christ without divisions. Although the perfect physical family or church family doesn’t exist, as we follow God’s Word, we can grow in both areas.
God intends our families and church family to be characterized by love. Love for God and love for one another. Love overlooks a multitude of faults. Love always seeks to be reconciled with any who have hurt them. That love in the church family makes it a place where external differences make us stronger together, rather than dividing us. I pray that our Life Church family and our individual families would more and more reflect the family of God that God desires.