I said in my post about reasons God doesn’t answer prayer that He’s not obligated to answer prayers for those who are not His children, though in His goodness He may bless even those who do not belong to Him. “For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” (Matthew 5:45b). This sparked a conversation with a friend about who, exactly, are God’s children. Aren’t we all?
It’s important when considering questions like this to look at what the Bible actually says, in context, rather than coming to logical conclusions. We’re supposed to let Scripture instruct us and transform our thinking rather than trying to fit it within our frame of reference.
In John 8:42-44, “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
He obviously did not regard the people he was addressing as His Father’s children, but rather the devil’s.
But it’s not people at that extreme who are not God’s children. In John 3:3 Jesus told Nicodemus—not a heathen living in obvious moral sin, but a religious leader—“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus went on to explain how one experienced that new spiritual birth in verses 16-18:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
We’re created in God’s image. But sin has marred that image. We’re born sinners, and we make the choice to sin almost every day. God doesn’t let sin into heaven. “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).
That leaves us in big trouble.
But in God’s love for us, He made a way we could become part of God’s family. Jesus, as God, came to earth in human flesh. He was both fully God and fully man. If he were sinful, He could not do anything to atone for our sin because He would have His own. But He is the perfect, sinless One—just like all those sacrificial lambs in the OT, which pointed to His coming sacrifice. He took all our sin and punishment on Himself so we wouldn’t have to.
But Christ’s atonement didn’t automatically save everyone in the world. We have to repent of our sins and receive Him.
In John 1:11-12 it says, “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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” If He was giving people the ability to become sons of God, that means they were not his children before — otherwise there would be no need to become God’s sons.
That’s the good news — that we can become God’s children through faith in Christ.
Galatians 3:26: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” We didn’t already belong to the Father: a way needed to be made for us to the Father.
That’s what He came for: that’s what He gave His life for. That would not have been necessary if we were already His children. But He graciously provided the way for us to become His children.
I John 3:1: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. What an amazing blessing!! What great love!