By William C. Sexton
It is such a grand privilege to be a child of God that each person ought to be challenged to ask: “Who may be a child of God? How may one become a child of God?” Each should ask, “What are the results of being a child of God?” Many have not been impressed with the greatness of being a child of God, evidently, and such is one of the saddest situations in our land today. However, some who have been impressed with the greatness of being a child of God have not really been challenged to see how or in what manner such can be accomplished. They have not been awakened to the need to search out the information that will enable one to determine “who is” a child of God and who is not. Thus this article is designed to challenge us to examine the word of God relative to how one can become and be sure that he is a child of God and what the results of that relationship really means.
Therefore, by examining the text of Gal. 3:26-29 and the context, we wish to establish these three points: (1) That all who are children of God, are such “by faith.” (2) That to be a child of God, “by faith” one must have acted on his faith; (3) That all who are children of God by faith have a common inheritance. So, being a child of God “by faith” involves:
1. Being Distinct from the Law! Notice the “for” in these verses and in some other significant verses in this chapter: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ” (v. 26). The Greek word translated “for” here is gar, a conjunction. The Greek word is defined by two authorities: “II, It adduces the cause or gives the Reason for a preceding statement or opinion,” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 109); “Conjunction used to express cause, inference, continuation, or explain” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 151). In English, of course, the word “for” may be used as a preposition or a conjunction, and it is defined by Webster, “because; seeing that; more formal than because and used to introduce evidence or explanation for an immediately preceding statement,” when used as a conjunction. So, the “for” of this verse is a conjunction, connecting what is to follow with what has preceded, giving an explanation or as evidence of the previous statement. By backing up to v. 19 we can see that the following points are made: (1) Why the law was given-it was added because of the transgression four hundred years after the promise had been made to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3); it was to be in effect “till the seed” should come to whom the promise had been made; it was educational, a school-master, making men aware of sin. (2) Now, the faith had come! Therefore, the law was no longer effective! As evidence of this-“ye are all the children of God by faith” and not by the law! Whereas under the law men became children of God by having Jewish parents, under the faith men and women became children of God by learning to “know” Him (cf. Heb. 8:11). Most of these Galatians were Gentiles, not Jews; thus his argument was effective in getting them to see how they were children of God-“by faith”-thus showing that the law had ended and the faith was now operative.
As further proof that this line of thinking is correct, notice the real purpose of the book of Galatians! Those Galatians had been converted by the preaching of Paul, the apostle, as he presented the gospel. However, after he had gone on to another part of the country, other teachers had come in and tried to persuade the Galatians that they need a supplement to the gospel. These Jewish teachers had argued that the Galatians really needed a part of the law, especially circumcision if they were going to be saved. Paul expressed his disappointment in them, because they had turned to “another gospel” so soon (1:6-10). He tells them that there really is just one gospel, and he had preached it. So, when they turned to something else, they were really turning away from God! So, here the word “for” is used to show that the law was no longer in effect-its purpose had been fulfilled and its time had expired.
2. As to the Manner! The word “for” in v. 27 introduces the manner in which they had become children of God “by faith.” “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” May we ask how many were the children of God “by faith?” Paul’s answer: “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ . . . .” Some questions are in order. What has to precede baptism, in order for these people to be baptized into Christ? This passage does not tell us, but there are many others that do. Let us look closely at some relevant passages. (1) From Hebrews 11, we learn that one must believe two things relative to God: that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. However, in John 8:24, we learn chat faith in Jesus’ deity and Sonship is essential, too! Thus, faith in God and Christ constitutes a prerequisite to being baptized “into Christ.” (2) In our search further, we find that repentance is essential before one can be baptized into Christ (Lk. 13:5; Acts 17:30-31). Thus he who has not repented cannot be baptized into Christ. (3) Matthew 10:32-33 reveals the fact that confession is essential, and Acts 8:37 presents the same truth, while Paul in Romans 10:9-10 tells us the same thing. So, without confession by mouth that Jesus is Christ and Lord, one cannot be baptized into Christ!
The interested reader should be interested in what happens in baptism. Looking closely at passages, we determine that one is “buried with him by baptism into death” (Rom. 6:4). Also one will notice that he is “baptized into his death” (Rom. 6:3). With close observation of the text in Galatians, one will see that he puts on Christ in being baptized. Then he will notice that it is in baptism that he is raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Now, one who is really interested in ascertaining the truth will recognize that this is what the Lord has said and not man, and even if this is so contrary to what he has heard man teach he will still accept the Lord’s teaching in preference to man’s.
Are there children of God “by faith” who .did not become such by this act? I am aware of the fact that many preachers teach that all children of God are such before and without ever being baptized. In fact they say, “if you have to be baptized to be saved, then that means water salvation.” However, where is the passage that teaches there are any children of God other than those who are such “by faith?” There is no passage, and all who say that there are children of God “by faith” without having been baptized are doing so on the authority of men alone! I have people tell me, “You are saved by faith and not by baptism.” Beloved, notice this passage closely: see that we are saying that you are saved “by faith” when you, by your faith, are baptized into Christ! All spiritual blessing are in Christ (Eph. 1:3). How did you get into Christ? Look at Gal. 3:26-27 and Rom. 6:3-4. Beloved, there is not one way for some people to become a child of God by faith and another way for other people! The same terms are for every person, rich or poor, black or white, young or old, American or foreigner (Acts 10:34-35).
3. As to the Benefits! Being a child of God then breaks down distinctions, (vs. 28-29): “for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Nationality is no longer an important factor when it comes to being blessed as a member of God’s family. Neither social status, nor sex distinctions are of importance in being an heir of God. Being “one in Christ,” then entitles one to all of the benefits. He is Abraham’s seed, and he is an heir according to the promise made to Abraham long ago (Gen. 12:1-3). Peter describes the inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-4) as being incorruptible, undefiled, reserved in heaven and kept by the power of God. Thus it is that which will last forever, never becoming tarnished in any way, and no one can ever take it from us-because it is held by God. Paul, then tells us that we have reason to “rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). We should then be the happiest people in the world, that is, if we are indeed children of God “by faith.” As the man from Ethiopia went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39), all who having demonstrated their faith in repentance and confession are baptized into the Lord have reason to. rejoice. They have their sins forgiven, and are added to the body of Christ, the kingdom of heaven, the family of God. They then have the greatest opportunity available to man: teaching the unsearchable riches of Christ (cf. Eph. 3:8).
So, in closing, may I challenge you to answer in your own mind-what it means to be a child of God by faith. Are you real sure that you are? Have you become such in the same manner that Paul says the Galatians became such? If you think that you became a child of God “by faith” without being baptized into Christ I challenge you to do two things: (1) show me the passage that so teaches; (2) tell me what this passage means. My only concern is that we all may spend eternity in heaven. If I am trusting in the wrong thing, then please teach me; if you are not following the Scriptures, then you are not trusting in the right one and you are lost. I want you to be saved, and I promise to keep trying to get you to save yourself (Acts 2:40) before the period of grace is passed.
Truth Magazine XIX: 48, pp. 765-766
October 16, 1975