Sons of God
It has often been stated by many in the Church that we are sons and daughters of God. That we have been adopted by God and we are the Children of God. Though this was easy to accept, it was the understanding of what it meant that seemed to lack in me. But after a recent encounter with a non-Christian claiming that we are all children of God, knowing this is not so, I was forced to re-examine what it means to be a child of God.
The question “What does it mean to be a child of God?” echoed in my heart for quite some time. Over a period of several years of studying many different topics with a women's Bible study group, verses began to pop out. Verses like Philippians 2:15, where we are called to be the sons of God, harmless and blameless; or Ephesians 5:1, where Paul admonishes us to be followers of God as dear children; among others. But there was one that left me a bit confused, a little befuddled if you will. Reading out of the King James version can do this to a person from time to time. But it's not so bad believe it or not, because it causes one to ask questions, to seek God if you will.
Now where were we? Oh that's right, the verse that 'befuddled'. “John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” Did you notice that? When you read that same verse in most Bibles, you will see that it is written that God gave us the 'right' to become sons of God. But in the KJV it says He gave us the 'power' to become the sons of God. Which doesn't seem to present a problem at first until you notice the context of this word. Notice what it says just before the statement of giving power, “But as many as received him”. Wait a minute! If someone has already received him then, doesn't that automatically make them a child of God? What does this mean? These were the questions that came to mind.
So the next logical step in this authors mind was to look up the word “power” in a concordance. What was discovered is that there is more than just few ways to interpret this, but there was one major underlying theme. The word for power wasn't like the other “power” words, where it indicates explosive power. It is a word that indicates the rights of an individual, as well as the authority and the power to choose, choice. Now things were starting to make sense; when God sent Christ into the world to save us, He gave us power over sin. The power to choose either sin or righteousness, choice was something we lacked prior to this point in time. Sin had power over us, not the other way around; so this power had to be overpowered by Jesus, so to speak. Now we can choose; will we sin or will we glorify God?
With a new understanding of this word “power”, the next question was; “If God has given us the power to to 'become' the sons of God, indicating that we are not yet sons of God; just what does a son of God look like?” So what was the next logical step? Study The Son of God. Would you believe it took a few days of thinking about this one? This was definitely one of those 'duh' moments in life. Knowing that John was written so much differently than the other three gospel accounts, not wanting to miss anything major, I chose to read both Matthew and John. As I read these accounts of the life of our Lord, one thing Jesus said as a boy just kept coming back up, “I must be about my Father's business”. Not that I didn't get that verse before, but wow, this was coming through so loud and clear it couldn't be ignored.
It didn't take long before it was made plain why that verse was coming through so loud and clear. Much of the problem we have with understanding the scriptures comes from our own lack of understanding of the culture of that time. We need to understand just what it meant to be a son, especially a firstborn or only begotten son. I must first confess to you that I am no scholar, therefore what is shared here will be simplistic to some, but it should get the point across. When the Bible was written, the first born son got a double portion of the inheritance that his father would leave. Knowing this, the firstborn son would strive to increase his father's business, as would all the other sons, this was their trade. But the first born would make it his life's work to increase the family business because he knew he had to share it with the others. Farming was quite common, and if you were a shepherd by trade your goal would be to raise as many sheep as possible, increase their birth rate, so you could sell more wool. While at the same time, you 'networked' if you want to call it that, you made more connections and strove to be the kind of man people wanted to do business with, giving your father's business a good reputation. In turn, this made your father wealthier, which meant more would be left to you when he passed on. For the firstborn son, this was pretty much all your life was about, your father's business. And if a father found you were a savvy business man, and really knew how to increase the flock, as well as taking good care of the sheep, he trusted you with more. In fact, anything you asked your father for, if it was intended to increase business, and you were trustworthy, you can bet your father would give it to you.
In the book of John is where this idea of increasing the Father's business really comes together. Jesus' one and only goal in his short time here was to glorify the Father. He loved the Father and obeyed, willing to submit to even the worst death for the sake of the glory of God. So many times He made statements like, John 13:31 "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. and if the Son is glorified, the Father is glorified in Him”, John 17:4 “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work you gave me”, John 17:1 "glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:", and the list goes on. Think of it, this is all He was about, glorifying the Father. Knowing that if the Father is glorified in Him, then people's souls would be saved. And because this was all He was about, He was trustworthy, therefore whatever He asked for, He got. He was/is indeed a Son to His Father. Only one thing remains to be said here, you have the power to choose; I pray you will choose to be about your Father's business in everything, that you may be a true son or daughter of God, and our be Father glorified in you.