By Irvin Himmel
God has a family. All His children are in that family. He has no illegitimate spiritual offspring.
One does not enter the divine family by means of a physical birth. It is a new birth-a delivery preceded by a spiritual conception-that brings one into the household of heaven.
Jesus spoke of the new birth in a conversation with Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus was puzzled, thinking that Jesus meant a physical re-birth. “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus .explained, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” To help Nicodemus understand that the new birth is not fleshly, Jesus pointed out, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:3-7).
It is through the implanting of the word in the hearts of men that they are begotten. “Of, his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas. 1:18). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever . . . And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
When the gospel is received by an honest and good heart, the power of a new life generates a change in conduct. This is what the Bible calls repentance. The Spirit’s influence through the gospel leads the penitent person to confess with the mouth that Jesus is the Christ. Spiritual vitality is generated in the heart and life by the seed sown. That vital force coming from God through the gospel, the divine influence on the mind, prompts the individual to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. By baptism the delivery takes place. God’s family is entered. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26, 27).
God’s family is the church. The redeemed make up the church. Paul referred to the “house” or “household” of God as the “church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15). To be in the church is to be in the body of Christ. That body consists of the “called out.” All who have believed and obeyed the gospel are called out of Satan’s kingdom into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
To speak of the redeemed as God’s family is to use a figure of speech. It is a beautiful figure. God is the Father, and all the faithful are related to each other as brethren. God’s children share in a common inheritance. The relationship is by the blood of Jesus, not by physical ties. That kinship calls for “brotherly love” (Heb. 13:1).
Sometimes people enter God’s family and afterward become rebellious, disobedient children. Paul taught that the “wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Col. 3:6). God’s people forfeit their inheritance when they cease to walk by faith. The child of God who persists in sin breaks the fellowship that once existed. God blots names out of the book of life (Rev. 3:5; Ex. 32:33).
The following exhortation and warning is needed by all children of God: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of. you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:13).
The fellowship of God’s family is conditional. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:6, 7).
Truth Magazine XIX: 55, pp. 870-871
December 4, 1975