God the Father has always been God the Father, and God the Son has always been God the Son. This familial relationship is something of the nature of God, and we, too, as believers have become part of this family. While more could be said, a handful of Scriptures below describe what it means to be part of the family of God.
The Father and His Children
In eternity past, God “predestined us for adoptions as sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:5), and when we believe and receive the Spirit, this adoption actually takes place, confirmed to us by the Spirit (Rom 8:14–17; Gal 4:4–7). We “become children of God” (John 1:12), and to be called “children of God” is possible only by the “love of the Father” (1 John 3:1). Having been separated from unbelievers and darkness, “the Lord Almighty” claims, “I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me” (2 Cor 6:18; cf. 6:14–18). When we first believe, we are “newborn infants” who “long for the spiritual milk” (1 Pet 2:2) and should eventually mature into those who eat “solid food” and have the ability to teach others (Heb 5:11–14).
The Greater Son Among God’s Children
The Father declared of Christ Jesus, “This is my beloved Son” (Matt 3:17), and we are “his offspring” as well (Isa 53:10). Along with the Father, Christ is “the builder of a house” (Heb 3:3; cf. 3:4), His church (Matt 16:18), and “Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Heb 3:6). Christ is also the elder Brother to all believers, so to speak, prominent as “the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom 8:29) who is “not ashamed to call them brothers” (Heb 2:11).
The Household and Its Code of Conduct
As children, we are “members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19) who “ought to behave in the household of God” as He prescribes (1 Tim 3:15). We are to “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). We are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1). Relationships in our biological family guide us for how to interact with other members of the family of God: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Tim 5:1–2).
The Inheritance to Us as Heirs
Each believer is “a son” and thus “an heir through God” (Gal 4:7) of “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:4). We are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17).
Marilyn B. Knight, 90, of Rockford passed away Friday, January 12, 2018. Born October 16, 1927, in Chadwick, IL; daughter of Walter and Florence (Kehl) Bailey. United in marriage to Eugene F. Knight on October 26, 1946, in Rockford, IL. Together they shared 67 years of marriage until his passing on March 20, 2015. Member of First Baptist Church where she taught Sunday School for many years.
Survived by her children, Patricia Colantonio, Kay (Robert) Lehman, and John Knight; 5 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren; sister, Darlin (Roger) Arendsee. Predeceased by her parents, husband, Eugene; son, William Knight.
Funeral service at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 20th, at First Baptist Church, 5304 Charles Street, Rockford. Pastor David Huffstutler officiating. Visitation from 9:30 a.m. until time of service. Burial in Sunset Memorial Gardens.
Galatians 4:6 states, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”
The verb krazō (“to cry out”) is used 55 times in 54 verses in the NT, often in a literal fashion. For example, Peter cried out for Christ to save him from sinking in the water (Matt 14:30), people cried out when possessed by demons (Mark 5:5; 9:26), and people cried out for the death of Christ (Mark 15:13). Having some literal examples in hand, we feel this verb’s intensity when it is used of the Spirit’s action inside of someone’s heart. The Spirit cries out, “Abba! Father!” What is going on here? Are we supposed to somehow literally hear these words within our hearts to know that we are the sons of God?
What Paul is describing is a figurative crying out—it is not something audible. And yet, it takes place, and we know God is our Father because of this cry.
If God has truly saved us, and if we are truly His children, the Spirit does a work within us whereby we are confirmed that we are God’s children. This work is described here as the Spirit’s crying out within us that God is our Abba and Father. Abba was a term not usually used of God and stressed the intimate relationship of child and father. Father emphasizes this relationship as well. While the Spirit may not audibly make this cry within us, we know when this cry takes place because we ourselves are the ones saying that God is our Father, all at the Spirit’s prompting. In a parallel passage, Paul says that “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom 8:15 ESV). This process is described in this way: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16 ESV).
Comparing Scripture to Scripture with these two passages, we could say that one of the ways whereby we know that we are the children of God is this—God has placed the Spirit in us to bear witness to our spirits in such a way that moves us to cry with certainty to God that He is our Father.
To put it more simply, Galatians 4:6 provides us with part of the answer to the question, How can you know you are a Christian? Well, to be a Christian is to be a son of God, and we know we are the sons of God when the Spirit who lives within us prompts us to call upon God as our Father.
The women will be starting a new Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount. The study will begin on Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 6:00 PM. Please join us as we dig deeper into God's Word together.
From “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” the first two verses of the third stanza read as follows:
Hail, the heav'nborn Prince of Peace! Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Ris'n with healing in His wings.
“The heav’nborn Prince of Peace” is obviously the Messiah (see Isaiah 9:6), but our understanding of the rest of these verses is not so immediate. Malachi 4:2 states, “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (ESV). How is it that Christ is Malachi’s “Sun of Righteousness” who is “Ris’n with healing in His wings”?
Roughly 400 years before Christ, Malachi called Israel to faithfulness in light of her sins after returning to her land from exile. Malachi 3:13–4:3 gives an instance of these sins, recording Israel’s “hard words” against God claiming service to Him was profitless because the arrogant and evildoers lived in prosperity (Malachi 3:13–15). God responded that the unrighteous would indeed be judged and that the righteous would be protected (Malachi 3:16–4:3). The righteous would also experience the blessings of global righteousness and healing (Malachi 4:2).
Scripture often uses light as a metaphor for righteousness, and a king’s rule could shine righteousness over his land. As David once said, “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning” (2 Samuel 23:3–4). Likewise, Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah’s rule, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2; cf. 9:6–7). The fullest light of Christ’s rule comes at the end of the ages. John saw of the New Jerusalem that “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23; cf. 22:5).
Malachi then pictures the sun’s rays as wings taking healing to all. Wherever this sun shines righteousness, it also gives healing through its rays. David once spoke of the sun’s dawning rays as the “wings of the morning” that reach to “the uttermost parts of the sea” (Ps 139:9). Wherever God’s righteous rule would be, so also would be His healing. The suffering of the Great Physician on the cross conquers not only sin but also its effects (Isaiah 53:4; cf. 35:5–6).
While Malachi did not speak directly of the Messiah as the sun with healing in His wings, this righteousness and healing do not come apart from Him. As He will one day be the Lamp of the New Jerusalem, we can gladly permit the hymnist the poetic license to call Christ the Sun of Righteousness whose rising day brings Healing as far as His rays will fly.
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.