The Deeper Meaning of Family of God

The Bible calls the Church the family of God, and Jesus addressed His followers as adelphoi (brothers). This family is not restricted to any building or grouping.

God as Father

As a Creator, God has a fatherly relationship with His creation. He creates things that are distinct from and yet like Himself, especially man, who is made in His image (Genesis 1:27). As a father, He cares for His creation, and particularly for His children, just as a human father cares for his family. The Bible uses father imagery in a variety of ways to illustrate this truth, but the most significant use is in the New Testament when Jesus refers to God as His Father.

Jesus reveals to us something deeper than the simple fact that God is our Father. He reveals that this is a fundamental, eternal relationship in the Trinity. This is why the creeds affirm that "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one in essence" (Trinity).

To say that God is our Father means that He has a personal, intimate relationship with Jesusi? 1/2 and with all who put their trust in Him. This is why Jesus refers to God as Abba, a very personal and intimate form of paternal address. Jesusi? 1/2 did not use this term because he thought it was a poetic way to describe His own relationship with God. Rather, He used it because it is how all Jewish children addressed their fathers in the home.

Some people object that calling God Father imposes a masculine gender upon the Trinity. They argue that Jesus and the other biblical writers were male, so it is appropriate to speak of them as having a sex or a role that is characteristic of men. However, this argument is flawed. The maleness of Moses, the incarnate Jesus and Paul is irrelevant to their divine nature. What is relevant is their role as the source of all that exists, even though they are without a physical body.

This is why the New Testament authors employ father imagery so extensively to describe God's relationship with man and with all of creation. It is also why the apostles and Nicene Creeds teach that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have an identical love and a common mission in saving men and women.

God as Son

Many people are familiar with the Newsboys’ song “This is the Family of God.” The lyrics describe being part of a family that goes beyond blood relations. When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior and Lord, they become part of the family of God. They can then call God their Father and rest in knowing that they are loved forever!

Christians often use the term Son of God to refer to Jesus’ divinity. But the Bible also uses this title to refer to those who believe in Him. Jesus used the term Son of God to mean something very different from what it means for a Christian today.

In the Jewish context in which he lived, Son of God was used to denote a righteous human being who had been given a divine mandate – in his case, to be the Messiah. This is the sense in which he used the term, and the Scriptures support it. Nontrinitarian Jews today understand it in this way, as do most of the Old Testament and later Jewish writings.

Jesus never intended that we should think of Himself as being a divine Son of God in the trinitarian sense. Instead, he wanted us to see that those who believe in him are his family. The La Familia De Dios is not based on biological procreation, but on faith and obedience to the Word of God. And it includes those who have been brought to salvation through Jesus Christ, as well as those who will be saved in the future.

Those in the family of God can inherit eternal life with the Father and Christ, but they must receive the inheritance by accepting the free gift of salvation through Jesus (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:12; Ephesians 1:12; 2 Peter 1:4). This means that they will receive a new, imperishable body on a new, perfect earth. Unlike the temporal material inheritance that some children receive from their natural parents, this will be an eternal, spiritual, and perfect inheritance. This will be the eternal reward for all believers! What an incredible privilege and joy to know that our Father in heaven has made us His children!

God as Spirit

The Bible uses the word “spirit” to refer both to God Himself and to His work in the world. This dual meaning is important. God as Spirit is immaterial and invisible, yet gloriously present, applying the gospel of salvation to people’s hearts and empowering His followers to live lives that please Him. His power is also evident in creation, bringing galaxies into existence and forming mountains and forests of a staggering variety of color and beauty. His playful side is revealed in creatures such as humming birds and ostriches, or even in the way He spoke the world into being in the first two chapters of Genesis.

The Old Testament points to the fact that, despite the fact that God is Spirit, He will one day take on human flesh in Jesus Christ. God’s Spirit would one day be united with His Son’s physical body in a death and resurrection that would bring new life to all who have received Him. The term “spirit” is also used to refer to the power of God’s words in the Bible, which are able to heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead (cf. Acts 8:40; 10:38).

Those who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior become members of the family of God. The Scriptures make clear that this is not based upon their biological relationship to Abraham but on the fact that they have been born of His spirit, or “born again” (John 3:3, 5; Romans 8:9).

These spiritual children will one day meet together in heaven, in one great family, separated only by the gulfs of time and space. Those who have been born again will have Christ as their elder brother, with whom they will be eternally joined in love and joy. This is the true sense of the family of God, a growing family comprising not just the Father and His Son but all who will willingly be under His ultimate sovereignty and leadership into eternity. There will be no third habitation, no purgatory or limbo, for only those who have been born of the Spirit are truly members of this family!

God as Lover

God's love for His creation, revealed in the Bible, is a primary aspect of His character. It is a self-sacrificial and agape love, the kind of love that leads to great sacrifice. It is a love that knows no bounds or conditions. This is what we read in the Bible as the "love that surpasses knowledge" (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). The love of God for His creation is seen in many ways throughout Scripture. It is a love that provides salvation, forgiveness, healing and restoration, peace, comfort, guidance and more. It is also the kind of love that motivates Christians to serve others and to give themselves to ministry.

The Bible teaches that human beings are created to be God's children in a direct, personal relationship with Him and His Son and Holy Spirit.  Despite this, God continued to work to bring together a family that would be generated and sustained by His love. This is the family of faith that Scripture speaks of, a family that will receive instruction from God and experience His love through Jesus Christ and His Spirit (see the statement on the Gospel of Salvation for more information on this).

This family will ultimately be made up of all those who place their trust in Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. It will be a family that is empowered by the Holy Spirit to advance the gospel and fill the earth with worshippers of the true God.

The children of God on earth are still learning wisdom, though slowly and with much trepidation and imperfection. They are sometimes chastised by the rod and taught the hard lessons of life. But one day, they will rise from their graves in a new body to live forever with their Father in Heaven. When they do, they will love Him perfectly with a perfect heart and mind and they will delight in the perfection of His Word. Then, they will be like Him — completely free of sin, weakness, doubt and distraction.

The Bible calls the Church the family of God, and Jesus addressed His followers as adelphoi (brothers). This family is not restricted to any building or grouping. God as Father As a Creator, God has a fatherly relationship with His creation. He creates things that are distinct from and yet like Himself, especially man, who…