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Children of God

As children of God we are distinguished from the world, and it all has to do with the saving knowledge of God that sets us apart for Him both in status and state of being.

“Beloved, now we are children of God” (1 John 3:2, NKJV). 

Have you ever beheld something that caused your eyes to widen in wonder? Perhaps an orange-hued sunset or a majestic mountain vista. If you are a Christian, your heart cannot help but well up in praise to God. 

Or maybe you have been humbled and awed by some sort of recognition. An award has been bestowed upon you and, while you are well aware of your achievements that prompted it, your heart overflows in thanks to God for the ability, opportunity, and all that contributed to the honor. 

It is with this sort of awe and disbelief that John proclaims: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). John has just acknowledged us as “little children” (2:28) and detailed for us the handiwork and blessings of God’s grace in our lives. Now, almost as though he cannot help himself, John erupts in wonder at the love of God in Christ that has brought us to such a position. It’s as though he pinches himself when he says, “and so we are” (3:1, ESV). 

John attributes our adoption as children of God to one thing, the love of God. Our status is not owed to how appealing or well-behaved we are in any way, but to the God who first loved us. Paul highlights this disconnect in his letter to the Romans: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). 

As children of God we are distinguished from the world, and it all has to do with the saving knowledge of God that sets us apart for Him both in status and state of being. After marveling at our standing as children of the living God, John goes on: “Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1–3). 

John characterizes our adoption in terms of knowledge, particularly knowledge of Jesus Christ. As part of God’s family we have fellowship with the Father and the Son, just as John reveled in in his letter’s introductory words (1:3). 

While eternal life can be explained in terms of knowing God—“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3)—John’s testimony here and elsewhere is that with that knowledge comes love, joy, peace, and hope. Being a child of God speaks not merely to a new status but to a new life now and into eternity. 

How would you describe the nature of God’s love for you in Christ?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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