By Mike Willis
In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul called the “church of the living God” the “house of God.” The word “house” is not used in this sense to refer to a physical building; it is used to refer to the family of God, even as “house” refers to the family of Noah in Hebrews 11:7. There are a number of lessons about the church which can be learned from this comparison.
1. God is the Father. Those who are members of the family of God have the privilege of calling on God as “father.” There are only two spiritual families; one is a member either of the family of God with God as his father (Eph. 3:14-15) or of the family of Satan with the Devil as his father (Jn. 8:44). Sometimes someone will ask, “Do I have to be a member of the church in order to be saved?” Inasmuch as the church is the family of God and there are only two spiritual families, the answer is easily perceived. One cannot go to heaven when he dies, being a child of the Devil. He can only go to heaven as a child of God. Hence, one must be a part of the family of God, the church of the living God, in order to go to heaven when he dies. To imply that one can go to heaven without being a part of the family of God is to imply that God has children outside his family, a blasphemous thought. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 Jn. 3:1).
2. Christians are brothers and sisters. All Christians are children of God and brothers and sisters to each other. Jesus said, “all ye are brethren” (Matt. 23:8), in contrast to an arrangement in which one is greater than another. A spirit of brotherly love should exist among Christians. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (1 Jn. 5:1).
We refer to each other as “brother Jones” or “sister Smith.” Sometimes we treat each other as enemies. When we call one another brother or sister, let us be sure that we treat each other as brothers and sisters. In a family, the members rejoice in each other’s success and rally to support the member who is sick, weak, and ill. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
3. Christians should be obedient children. Some children in families rebel against parental authority. As children of God, we should be obedient children. Peter said, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance” (1 Pet. 1:13-14). The wrath of God is directed against children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6). Are you an obedient child? Do you attend worship like your Father directs? Do you study your Bible as your Father directs? Do you visit the sick as your Father directs? Do you try to teach others the gospel as your Father directs? Are you an obedient or disobedient child?
4. Wear the family name. As a child of my father, I am privileged to wear the family name. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14-15). How privileged I am to wear the name of Christ, to be known as a Christian. The name implies that I am Christ-like in my conduct. Are you a Christian? I did not ask, “Have you been baptized?” Are you what the name “Christian” implies? Can you imagine a spineless coward being called “Rocky” or a morally upright young lady being called “Jezebel”? The name and character just do not fit. Does the name “Christian” fit you? You have been honored to wear the name of Christ; how are you wearing it?
Blessings In The Household of God
There are blessings available to those who are members of the household of God which are not available to those who are outside the family of God. As a member of God’s family, a Christian enjoys these benefits:
1. An Heir of God. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint .heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:15-17). We have a living hope of an inheritance which is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:4). How much richer blessed are the children of God than the children of the Devil. Most of us can understand the blessedness of being, an heir of a rich man; how much more should we treasure being the heir of God, for he is greater than any man.
2. Access to God as Father. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). He reminded us of God’s fatherly care for his children: “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:9-11) Recognizing that Christ opened up a way whereby man could approach God, the Hebrew writer exhorted, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). This is a privilege of God’s children. Those who are not members of the family of God do not enjoy this privilege of sonship.
3. God’s Fatherly Provisions. Even those outside the family of God enjoy God’s provisions of physical blessings, for he “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). However, God’s spiritual blessings are only available in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Until one is “in Christ,” he cannot enjoy the Father’s provisions for man’s spiritual needs. Though these blessings are made available to every man, not every man enjoys them because not every man has obeyed the gospel. As a child of God, I have access to God’s fatherly provisions. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be, opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8).
4. God’s Fatherly Correction. God has promised to deal with his children as a father does his son. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Heb. 12:6-9) Although no chastening is enjoyable when it is being endured, it produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness. God’s children are blessed to have a heavenly Father who chastens them for their own good.
Each of us needs to learn to accept the Lord’s working in his own life, learning from the various situations which he faces. Even as the Son of God was made perfect through suffering (Heb. 5:8-9), we also grow and develop spiritually through the things which we endure. We should not allow our sufferings to embitter us; rather, we should develop the attitude Paul displayed in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when God refused to remove his thorn in the flesh and told him that his grace was sufficient to him. Paul accepted the Lord’s will saying, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
5. God’s Fatherly Protection. God protects his children from harm. Jesus taught us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). In warning. us about the danger of falling away from God, Paul wrote, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:12-13). Paul told the Philippians, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
I am comforted in the knowledge that God is my keeper. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. . . . The Lord is thy keeper. . . . The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul” (Psa. 121).
6. God’s Fatherly Love. John marvelled, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 Jn. 3:1). How blessed we are to be the objects of God’s love rather than the objects of his wrath (cf. Rom. 1:18). His love is so intense toward us that no outside force can separate us from God’s love. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35,38-39). How blessed God’s children are to have the love of God.
How To Become A Child Of God
Surely the blessings of being a child of God make one desire to be a part of -the family of God. How does one become a child of God? One becomes a child of God by being born again. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3,5). This new birth is effected through the preaching of the gospel: “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23). Paul explained how one can become a son of God through faith in Christ Jesus. “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).
In summary, one becomes a child of God by hearing the gospel, believing it, repenting of sin, confessing faith in Christ, and being baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of his sins. When he does this, God adds him to his family, which is the church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15).
God has no children today who did not become children in this manner. Those who imply that there are children of God in all of the denominations imply that there are a multiplicity of ways of becoming a child of God, an idea not revealed in the pages of God’s word and contrary to the teachings of Christ. There is but one way for men to be saved through Christ (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12). Those who have not met the conditions for salvation are missing all of the spiritual blessings available to man in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). Are you a child of God?
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 3, pp. 98, 118-119
February 18, 1988