Establishing Paternity
“ them He gave the right to become children of God” .

By Jon W. Quinn

In most cases establishing paternity today can be done using DNA and a laboratory. But, that does not always work. It does not work in establishing spiritual paternity. How does one establish who his or her spiritual father is?

Religious folks usually want to identify their spiritual relationship with God as His children. Someone once said that God has children but no grandchildren, the point being is that we cannot establish our relationship with God through what our parents were. If we are God's children, then it must be between God and us.

Jesus Explains Establishing One's Spiritual Paternity
But not everyone who claims God as their Father is making a true claim. Jesus confronted some of His opponents who claimed that God was their Father due to their physical lineage back to Abraham. Jesus said that such was not an accurate test.

A much more accurate test would be how they treated Jesus whom God had sent to them "I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father." (John 8:37-38; see vss. 31-38).

Also, the deeds that they were doing would be a valid indicator, but that while they claimed that God was their Father, their deeds were showing otherwise: “They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God." (John 8:39-41).
Finally, how they treated the message of truth would be a valid test of their spiritual paternity. Whether we are accepting and standing in the truth of God in our lives is indicative of who our real spiritual father might be. Jesus said to his opponents, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.” (John 8:44-45).

So, Jesus suggested three tests for determining spiritual paternity:

1) How one treats Jesus
2) The deeds/actions of one's life
3) Whether one is accepting of the truths of God

The same is true today. My attitude and loyalty to Jesus; how I am living my life and my respect for the authority and power of the Scriptures to guide my life are all important matters to consider with reference to determining what my relationship with God will be.

Children of Wrath
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Here is described people who were not children of God. There are several characteristics ascribed to them which serve as a vivid contrast to the characteristics that Jesus taught establishes evidence that God is our Father.

Again, we see deeds involved. These people were “dead in their trespasses and sins” and are therefore described as “ sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath”. They had lived in the lusts of their flesh. Sadly, this description accurately describes so very many lost souls today. Often in such people grows a seething resentment of that which is righteous; there is cynicism and hopelessness beyond the now. Exaggerated egos become mistaken for personal dignity and others are devaluated.

It takes something very powerful to undo all this damage, but rejoice; something powerful and equal to the task has taken place; human redemption by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Children of the Devil
“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:10).

Again, the paternity test to determine whose spiritual children we are is what we do and our attitude toward our brother. If I resent and am embittered toward my brethren, if I seek them harm because of my jealousy or envy or need for pre-eminence, then my claim that God is my Father is disproved by the Divine paternity test.

Jesus told others to “do the deeds of Abraham!” Abraham lived his life by faith, doing as God directed him to do. God's children are serious about their faith. It is something they are to live as they obey Him from the heart.

Children of God
Jesus came to our world because He was unwilling to leave us at the mercy of Satan. In fact, Satan has no mercy to extend to anyone. But God does. The opening chapter of the gospel of John tells us of the process Jesus came to begin: the process of making us children of God. The gospel says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13).

As children of God we become heirs of God; joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). As children of God we are to imitate Him by making our lives beneficial to His glory and to one another (Ephesians 5:1-2). As God's children, we walk and live by a different standard; a higher and nobler one than this world expects or desires. (1 Peter 1:13-16).

As children of God we fully expect to overcome the world. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith.” (1 John 5:1-4).

It is good to call upon God as our Father; but we each need to make sure that our claim to be the product of such heavenly paternity is legitimate. Never let it be merely an empty boast. It must be much more than this.
From The Bradley Banner 11/9/2008
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
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