The Children of God

June 10, 2012

by Shawn Brasseaux

Is everyone “God’s child,” as often claimed? Who are “the children of God?” How does the Bible describe “the children of God” in this the Dispensation of Grace? In this Bible study, we want to search the Scriptures to learn more about our identity in Christ so we can further appreciate our identity in Christ.

 

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WE HAVE TRUSTED CHRIST

The Bible says in Galatians 3:26-28 KJV:

“26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

While it is often claimed that everyone is “God’s child,” this is not true. Verse 26 explains, ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” There are people who want nothing to do with Jesus Christ. Are they the “the children of God.” This verse unequivocally says, “NO!”

So, who then are “the children of God?” “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. The only “children of God” are those who have trusted Christ Jesus alone as their personal Saviour. If you are not relying on the Lord Jesus Christ alone as your mediator to God, then you are not God’s child. It is that plain and simple. If you are working for your salvation, relying on your own “goodness” to please God so He will accept you into heaven, then you are not God’s child. This is what God’s Word says.

Friend, if you are attempting to approach God through some religious figure (pope, pastor, guru, imam, archbishop, cardinal, et cetera), the Bible says that you will never reach God. Jesus Christ clearly declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). If you want to be a child of God, you must come by Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, everyone is not God’s child. Only those who have “faith in Christ Jesus” are God’s children. Unless a person has “believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31)—relying on His sacrifice at Calvary’s cross as the fully satisfying payment for his or her sins—he or she is not a child of God.

Once, we Christians were lost hell-bound sinners, children of the devil (John 8:44). We “were dead in our trespasses and sins,” following the evil world system (under Satan’s influence), doing our own thing and offending God’s righteousness (Ephesians 2:1-3).

There came a point in our lives when we (finally) threw up our hands in exhaustion. We (finally) realized that we were no-good wretches: all our “good” works displeased God. There, we (finally) acknowledged that we could never “measure up” to His righteous standards. There, we (finally) quit working for salvation, and trusted in the bloodshed, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We received God’s salvation as a free gift, something we did not deserve (Ephesians 2:4-9)!

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). If you have trusted Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, you have total access to and peace with God through Christ Jesus our Lord. You are no longer separated from God because of sin. God’s righteous wrath against your sin and sins was poured out on His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, at Calvary’s cross. “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of [God’s] grace” (Ephesians 1:7; cf. Colossians 1:14; Colossians 2:13).

Now, God, not Satan, is our Father (Romans 1:7 et al.). Now and forever, we are “the children of God!”

 

WE HAVE BEEN BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST

Going back to our main text of Galatians 3:26-28, let us focus now on verse 27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we “have been baptized into Christ.” This is not water baptism, for the Bible reads that we “have been baptized into Christ,” not “baptized into water.” When we trusted Christ alone as Saviour, the Holy Spirit baptized us into the Church the Body of Christ. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Ghost, not a preacher or priest, administers the only valid baptism for this Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 4:5).

When the Holy Spirit baptized us into the Body of Christ, He identified us with Christ’s death: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ [not water!] were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…” (Romans 6:3,4a). Just as Christ died, we died to sin. Now, sin does not have dominion over us.

When Christ was raised, we were raised to “walk in newness of life” (verse 4b). Consider Romans 6:10,11 KJV: “For in that he [Christ] died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We have victory over sin in our lives when we simply walk (by faith) in this, our identity in Christ.

Literally, we have “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:28). We have been made “the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). God the Father sees us in Christ: He sees Christ’s righteousness, not our unrighteousness. Saints, God will always accept us in Christ (Ephesians 1:6). We will always be “the Body of Christ,” “the children of God.”

 

WE ARE EQUAL IN CHRIST

Now, we will return to our main text of Galatians 3:26-28 to consider verse 28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female:….”

  • “There is neither Jew nor Greek”Prior to our dispensation, God distinguished between Jew (“Circumcision”) and Gentile (“Uncircumcision”) (Ephesians 2:11,12): this distinction has been temporarily suspended (verses 13-18). In our dispensation, God looks beyond nationality; He only sees Christians (members of the Body of Christ) and lost people. “…For we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;… Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them [Jew and Gentile] that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:9,22,23).
  • “There is neither bond nor free” This refers to social-economic statuses: today’s employer-employee relationship. In Bible times, masters (“free”) employed slaves (“bond”). God gives no special status to Christian masters (employers), nor does He grant Christian slaves (employees) any special standing (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:20-24). Again, when God looks at mankind, He only sees those that are “in Christ” and those that are not. “Neither is there respect of persons with [God]” (Ephesians 6:9c; Colossians 3:25b).
  • “There is neither male nor female” — All members of the Body of Christ are equally “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). In God’s eyes, Christian women are of no lesser value than Christian men, and vice versa.

Galatians 3:28 can best be summarized by comparing it to 1 Corinthians 12:13, a verse we briefly considered earlier: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

While the Body of Christ consists of men and women, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, all Christians are equally saved in God’s sight (just as all lost people are equally dead in their trespasses and sins). All Christians “are complete in [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10), but few ever study the Bible dispensationally (as we do here) to discover their identity in Christ.

 

WE ARE UNITED IN CHRIST

One last time, we will return to our main text of Galatians 3:26-28, reading the remainder of verse 28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

After briefly summarizing the identity of the members of the Body of Christ, Paul concludes with our unity, “For ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Just as Jesus Christ desired unity amongst His Jewish kingdom believers—“That they all may be one” (John 17:16)—God wants unity in the Church the Body of Christ. (Understand, we should not and do not sacrifice doctrine for the sake of unity! We only fellowship with likeminded [Pauline dispensational] Christians; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; cf. Romans 16:17,18; 1 Timothy 6:3-6).

If you have trusted in Christ Jesus alone as your personal Saviour, then these seven doctrines/issues unite you with every other member of the Body of Christ. The “[seven-fold] unity of the Spirit” is “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

How can all Christians be equal in God’s eyes, despite differences in nationalities, gender, and economic-social statuses? All members of the Body of Christ are positioned in the one body (of Christ) forever, they are all indwelt by the same Holy Spirit of God, they are all destined to reign in heaven with Christ forever, they have all trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, they all rely on Christ’s faith (Calvary’s finished crosswork), they have all been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, and they all have God as their heavenly Father. This is our God-given position in Christ! Indeed, saints, “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

CONCLUSION

We members of the Church the Body of Christ have the same relationship with God that His Son Jesus Christ has! As members of the Church the Body of Christ, we can call God what Jesus Christ called God, “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36). “And because ye are his [God’s] sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:6,7 KJV).

Romans 8:14-17 KJV says:

“14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God;
17 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.”

The doctrines we have discussed here, which are only found in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, not only separate us from other believers in the Bible (such as the nation Israel), but they also give us a unique standing amongst the religious people of the world. It is these doctrines that make us Christians, Christians.

All Christians are equal in Christ. They all have the same justification (all declared before God to be as righteous as Christ Jesus), the same baptism (all members of the Body of Christ), the same righteousness (Christ’s righteousness), the same commission to preach the same Gospel of the Grace of God (2 Corinthians 5:14-21), and the same hope (heaven).

Our Lord looks beyond denominations, ethnicities, social-economic statuses, education, gender, weaknesses, and strengths. He looks at the hearts of all people, to only see two groups: those who are the children of the devil (John 8:44), and those who are “the children of God….”


A Kingdom of Priests Versus a Body of Ambassadors

February 26, 2012

by Shawn Brasseaux

Have you ever heard the expression “the priesthood of the believer?” Are we Christians “priests,” or is this just vain religious tradition? We want to study the Bible God’s way in order to reach a sound conclusion regarding this issue.

First, we want to examine and consider the Bible passages that people often use to promote the idea that we Christians are “priests.” Then, we will be able to determine what to believe about this matter.

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One of the most widely used passages in this regard is 1 Peter 2:5,9,10. Let us read those verses as found in the King James Bible:

“5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ….
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Another verse used to teach the “priesthood of the believer” doctrine is Revelation 1:6 KJV: And [Jesus Christ] hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.And Revelation 5:10 KJV: “And [the Lamb, Jesus Christ] hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

Certainly, we the Bible does call believers “priests,” but there is one thing we need to clarify—which believers? Who is the “ye” and the “us” in the above passages? Oftentimes, it is wrongly assumed that everything in the “New Testament” (that is, Matthew through Revelation) applies to us members of the Church the Body of Christ. This is why there is abounding confusion in Christendom. Understand that some New Testament passages are written to Israel, not to us. We need to exercise caution before we follow verses in the New Testament, lest we claim something that God promised Israel and not us.

If we return to the Bible passages 1 Peter 2:5,9,10, Revelation 1:6, and Revelation 5:10, it is apparent from the context that these verses do not apply to us members of the Church the Body of Christ. For instance, the people spoken of in 1 Peter 2:9 are called “a royal priesthood,” but they are also called “an holy nation.” Are we the Church the Body of Christ a “holy nation?” Certainly not, therefore this verse is not talking about us Christians in this the Dispensation of Grace.  Revelation 1:6 and Revelation 5:10 not only say that believers are “priests,” but also “kings.” Are we “kings?” Again, the answer is NO. But there is more Scriptural evidence that indicates these passages do not apply to us.

In order to understand any Bible topic, we must use dispensational Bible study. The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The only verse in the Bible that tells you to “study” the Bible is the also the solitary verse in the Bible that tells you how to study the Bible: “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Right division means we are recognizing divisions that God has placed in His Word. All of the Bible is for us, but not all of the Bible is to us or about us. Not everything in the Bible is directed to us, and we know that because we cannot follow every instruction given in the Bible (In fact, some Bible verses teach doctrines opposite to what other Bible verses teach, so what then?). So, how do we solve all these so-called “contradictions” in the Bible? The key is to use the context of the Bible verse/passage to determine the people to whom God is speaking. Is God speaking to us, or is He speaking to someone else?

Undoubtedly, 1 Peter 2:5,9,10, Revelation 1:6, and Revelation 5:10 all say that believers are “priests,” but dispensational Bible study demands that we ask these two questions: (1) “Who wrote these passages?” and (2) “To whom were these passages written?”

Answer to Question #1: Obviously, the Apostle Peter wrote 1 Peter (1:1) and the Apostle John wrote the book of the Revelation (1:1).

Answer to Question #2: Galatians 2:9 says that Peter and John are apostles of Israel. Peter and John are not writing to us Gentiles; they are writing to Jewish believers, the believing remnant of Israel! The Bible verses 1 Peter 2:5,9,10, Revelation 1:6, and Revelation 5:10 are written to Jewish believers. We are Gentiles, not Jews; therefore, these passages do not apply to us.

Lest someone charge us with not providing enough biblical support for this conclusion, we will offer additional verses for consideration.

God’s message to us as members of the Church the Body of Christ is found in Paul’s 13 epistles, Romans through Philemon. Our doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny as members of the Body of Christ are found in Paul’s epistles alone. The remainder of the Bible focuses on God’s purpose and program for the nation Israel. Christendom refuses to recognize the distinction between Israel’s prophetic program (Acts 3:21) and our mystery program (Romans 16:25); hence the abounding confusion about the Bible.

Re-read 1 Peter 2:5,9: “Ye also,…a spiritual house, an holy priesthood,…a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” Let us look at the Old Testament parallel passage, Exodus 19:5-6 KJV: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” These words were clearly spoken to Israel. Peter simply repeated to Israel what God told them through Moses many centuries before. Notice how the word “nation” appeared in Exodus chapter 19 and 1 Peter chapter 2. Again, is the Church the Body of Christ a nation? No, but Israel is a nation! See, the Bible makes perfect sense if we use it God’s way.

From Abraham to the time of Christ’s earthly ministry (Four Gospels), Israel was God’s chosen people on earth. When Israel killed her Messiah (Jesus Christ) and refused to repent in the early Acts period, ultimately stoning her prophet Stephen and blaspheming against the Holy Ghost in Acts chapter 7, God changed the program. Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, the Apostle Paul writes that the nation Israel is “fallen,” “cast away,” and “spiritually blinded” (Romans 11:11,15,25).  Because Israel rejected her Messiah-King Jesus Christ, and demanded His crucifixion, Israel’s kingdom was never established on the earth.

Israel has never been a “kingdom of priests”… yet. The passages of 1 Peter 2:5,9,10, Revelation 1:6, and Revelation 5:10 all belong to a future time period, beyond our present day.

In our dispensation, God has temporarily set Israel aside. Consequently, for nearly 2000 years now, the nation Israel has not enjoyed that privileged status she once held. The day is coming, however, when God will remove Israel’s spiritual blindness, “and so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-29). This is the “New Covenant,” which God will establish with Israel at Christ’s Second Coming (Acts 3:19-21; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17).

Once the Church the Body of Christ is complete, it will be raptured from the earth and taken into the heaven, and then this Dispensation of Grace will end (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). After the rapture, there will be a seven-year period of God’s wrath, known as the Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th week, or Jacob’s trouble). The Tribulation will conclude when Christ returns at His Second Coming to establish His kingdom on the earth, and this is when Israel will be a kingdom of priests.”

Let us consider what Isaiah 61:1-6 KJV says:

“1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.”

According to Luke 4:16-21, Isaiah 61:1 and the first one-third of verse 2 were fulfilled during Christ’s earthly ministry (His First Coming). The remainder of verse 2 down through verse 6 has yet to come to pass: “the day of vengeance of our God,” for example, is the seven-year Tribulation, and “to comfort all that mourn” refers to the subsequent 1000-year earthly kingdom where the curse on creation will be removed and Israel will dwell in her land safely. Verses 3 through 6 describe the earthly millennial reign of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Israel will be restored and comforted, she will dwell in peace and prosperity, and Jews will be “Priests of the LORD” and “the Ministers of our God” (Isaiah 61:6).

Israel will be restored and comforted, she will dwell in peace and prosperity, and Jews will be “Priests of the LORD” and “the Ministers of our God” (Isaiah 61:6). Notice, Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Israel will not be a kingdom of priests until Christ sets up His millennial kingdom.

This is in perfect accordance with Exodus 19:5-6, 1 Peter 2:5,9,10, Revelation 1:6, and Revelation 5:10.

In this future kingdom, lost Gentiles will seek JEHOVAH, but the only way they can approach Him is if they come through Israel! Jews will be the mediator between Gentiles and God Almighty (see Zechariah 8:20-23, Isaiah 42:1-6, Isaiah 60:1-3, and Matthew 28:18-20, for instance). Please note that none of these Scriptures relate to us today because we are not the nation Israel and we are not living in her prophetic program.

In fact, 1 Peter 2:10 tells us that these Jewish believers “in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” “Not God’s people” describes Israel today (Hosea 1:9; Romans 10:1-3). In the future, our dispensation will be seen as this period of “time past.”

 

WHERE WE FIT IN

So, as Christians, members of the Church the Body of Christ, we are not “priests.” What are we then? We need to go to our apostle, the Apostle Paul: Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles,” so he is God’s spokesman to us (Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11). Never does Paul use the term “priests” to describe us believers today. *NOTE: Modern Bibles (NIV, NASB, NRSV, ESV, et cetera) insert the word “priest” into Romans 15:16, but was Paul ever a priest? Then, why do modern Bibles say that he was? (Because they are being dishonest!)

The Apostle Paul speaks of us in 2 Corinthians 5:20 as Christ’s “ambassadors.” An “ambassador” is one sent to a foreign territory to represents his or her homeland. As Christian ambassadors, our lives (should) represent heaven: “For our conversation is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Furthermore, we are not a kingdom because Jesus Christ is not our King; He is Israel’s King. Paul wrote that Jesus Christ is our “Head,” the Head of the Church that is His Body (Ephesians 1:22,23; Ephesians 4:15; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:19).

We as members of the Church the Body of Christ are not “a kingdom of priests;” we are “a body of ambassadors.”