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God's Privileged Children

GOD'S PRIVILEGED CHILDREN

A small child gazed up into the eyes of his father and asked, “Daddy, what is a Christian?” The father replied, “A Christian is a person who loves and obeys God. He loves his friends and neighbors and even his enemies. He prays continuously, is kind, gentle, holy, and more interested in going to Heaven than in earthly riches. That, son, is a Christian!” The boy looked reflective for a moment, then asked, “Have I ever seen one?”

The father gave a reasonably good answer to his son, didn’t he? He emphasized the love for God, and love for others--even for our enemies. He also emphasized communication with the Father, seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven, and displaying the fruit of the Spirit in one’s life. It was a good description. But imagine the father’s shock when the son asked if he had ever actually seen such a person! Actually, it is a common question asked in children’s Sunday school classes. We might be able to tell others what a Christian is--may even profess to be one--but are we a good example? How do we become one?

John 1:12-13  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

When one has faith in Jesus as Lord, he has the right to become a child of God. He becomes a child of God when he repents, and is baptized. The believer, who was spiritually dead in his sin, is born again of God--the Holy Spirit, and God the Creator becomes his Father. God does this because of His great love and mercy, which He demonstrated for all mankind by sacrificing His Son, Jesus, on the cross as an atonement for our sin.

1John 3:1-3 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

This new birth into God’s family is just the beginning of what God does for us. John used the phrase "born of him", indicating the privileged relationship which Christians enjoy as children of God. As we grow in our love for God and seek intimacy with Him with all our spirit, soul, and body, our Father transforms us into the children He would have us be.

1 John 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

Those that have been born of God, practice righteousness. Righteousness begins by faith and ends in love. We begin our relationship with the Father by believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who saved us from our sin. This faith develops into an intimate love for Jesus Christ—so intimate, we devote our entire life to Him. We practice righteousness because we love Him and desire to please Him.

Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What a great love the Father has for us. His love is “agape”, denoting a sacrificial, divine, love. The whole wonderful plan of salvation begins with God. While we were His enemies, God loved us and sent His Son to die for us.

Not only does God’s love sacrifice His Son for us, His love is so great, that He gives us a new birth experience. We, who were His enemies, are now the children of God and can call him Father! God, the Holy Spirit, resides in us, giving us a new nature—a godly nature!

However, that is just the beginning of our relationship. As God’s children, we are to grow up, or mature in faith and love for God—getting rid of every spot, wrinkle, and blemish, because we love Him. We are the Bride of Christ, and this love relationship will culminate at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb of God. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to prepare us for this future event.

We do not expect the world to understand this privileged relationship, because it does not even understand God. This love is foreign to the world. Only a person, who knows God through Jesus Christ, can appreciate what a privilege it is to be a child of God. How great, how wonderful, how glorious is our gift of sonship!

When we realize our privileges as children of God, we should feel much obliged to live righteously—to live up to the Name we have been given.

Unfortunately, some of us have become so accustomed to expecting God's love that we no longer stand in awe of it. In fact, we actually take it for granted. We even think of it as something God owes us. I pray we will repent of our apathy, and meditate upon the love of God for us until it astounds us and we stand in awe of it and worship Him.

Others of us are never sure of God’s love. They sort of use the “daisy petal test” to determine God’s love. I can recall using this method during my grade school years. I had a crush on a girl and was told I could determine whether or not she loved me by pulling the petals off a flower, saying "She loves me; she loves me not." I also remember selecting another flower when the last petal on the flower said "she loves me not."

There's a more reliable way to know if God loves us! It's reading His love letter to us (the Bible) and meditating on His words and all He does for us. Think of what Jesus did to save us! We can be confident of God's unfailing love because He has proven it beyond all question on the cross.

This amazing love has provided us the opportunity to become children of the King! By faith in the work of Christ, demonstrated by our willingness to be baptized, we are reborn by the Holy Spirit into the family of God, and thus, we become His children.

Furthermore, we are engaged to the King of Heaven, Jesus Christ. He will come one day and take us to His eternal kingdom as His Bride.

Although God loves us while we are still His enemy, His love will not leave us in the condition that we were in when we first believed. The second verse of 1 John 3 tells us what the children of God will be in the future. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Being a child of God implies that future development is expected. A child has much potential. We look at children with hope and expectation, but we do not know how they will turn out. Some, who seem to have so much potential and opportunity, throw away their lives. Others, you don’t think will amount to much, accomplish great things. So it is with the children of God.

Jesus said in Matt 19:30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Nevertheless, it has been God’s plan from the beginning of time to create mankind to love Him and be like Himself.

Gen 2:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

God's love for us does not stop with the new birth. God, the Holy Spirit, operates in the life of the believer, so that we may be conformed to the image of God's Son. This is not completed in the moment of our new birth at baptism. Baptism is just the beginning of the life-long grace of God. Sanctification follows baptism and is a detailed and painstaking process of God’s grace "until Christ be formed in you".

However, we also play a part in this transformation. Created in God’s image, we therefore, have a free will. We choose whether or not we will receive thes privileges and be conformed to Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Purity is cleanliness of heart, soul, and spirit; of thought, word, and action. To purify ourselves means that we must totally surrender to God, so that by His grace, we may separate ourselves from all that defiles. This is a continuous life-long process. Our goal for purity is to be pure just as Christ is pure.

We are not to judge our purity or our lives by other people, but by Christ, who is the standard and goal toward which we are to live. After all, we are children of God and the Bride of Christ. Knowing who we are should inspire us to be pure like Him. This inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit, who touches the will of the Christian to motivate him to action. By this divine grace, the saint puts sin out of his life and keeps it out!

Finally, the appearance of Christ will bring about physical changes in God's children. The result of Christ's appearing is that we will be like Him in every dimension: spirit, soul, and body.

1Cor 15:49-52 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

All this work of transformation happens because of the Father's love. Because the Father loves us and sent His Son to die for us, we have the privilege of being the children of God. Because God loves us and lives within us, He prepares us to live with Him as the Bride of Christ. When Jesus comes, we will be given an imperishable, glorified body—just like Jesus’ body.

Therefore, salvation, from start to finish, is an expression of the love of God. We are saved by the grace of God, but the provision for our salvation was originated in the love of God. And since we have experienced the love of the Father, His grace teaches us to reject the desire to live in sin.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hopethe glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

God’s love and grace sums up our great salvation and privileges as God’s children. With privilege comes responsibility. An unbeliever, who sins, is a person sinning against his Creator. A Christian, who sins, is a child sinning against his Father. The unbeliever sins against God’s law; the believer sins against God’s love.

For example, a group of teenagers were enjoying a movie, and afterwards someone suggested that they go to a party. "I'd rather you took me home," a young lady said to her date." My father doesn’t approve of that kind of activity."

"Are you afraid your father will hurt you?" one of the girls asked sarcastically.

"No," the girl replied, "I'm not afraid my father will hurt me, but I am afraid I might hurt him."

That teenager has a love relationship with her father. She demonstrates the principle that a true child of God, who has experienced the love of God and loves Him in return, has no desire to sin against that love—no desire to hurt the One who suffered so much to give her life and all its privileges.

The children of God love their Father because He first loved us. Our relationship with the Father began with faith in His Son, Jesus. Jesus Christ is everything the children of God should want to be. Our desire to be like Jesus comes from the love the Holy Spirit has shed abroad in our heart for the Father and the Son.

Romans 8:12-18 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligationbut it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirsheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Jesus is coming again to take us home! What a privilege! Today's Scripture readings tell us what we can do to prepare for Christ’s return. We are to walk with Christ in faith, love, and obedience. Keeping our minds pure and our hearts right will prepare us to be the Bride of Christ.

One day the trumpet will sound and we will ascend! The time to get ready is now! Are you getting ready? Is the desire to be like Jesus Christ a powerful motivation in your life? If it is, you will yield to the Holy Spirit’s purification process as He transforms you into the image of Christ. Don’t be discouraged by the purification  process, which keeps us in a constant state of repentance. The Holy Spirit digs deep into our souls throughout our lives, revealing all the roots of sin. It is His loving correction and discipline at work, preparing us for our Wedding Day.

Only the children of God will go to Heaven! Nobody else’s children will have that privilege.