Archive for the 'Biblical Descriptions of BElievers' Category

BEING CHILDREN OF GOD

TUESDAY – BEING CHILDREN OF GOD

Another personable term describing our relationship with God is ‘children of God’.  It is used in the very comforting verse, John 1:12 (‘sons of God’ in the KJV is an inaccurate translation of the Greek word teknon):

NAU John 1:12 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,

NIV John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

KJV 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

It is also used in the theologically encouraging verse, Rom 8: 16, 17:

NAU Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

NIV Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs– heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

KJV Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

And in the sanctifying verse of Philippians 2:15:

NAU Philippians 2:15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

NIV Philippians 2:15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

KJV Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world

The greek word for children, teknon, is used interchangeably with Sons of God in Romans 8. But where the Greek word for Sons stressed the legitimacy of familial relationship, teknon stresses the dignity and character of one made prominent by birth. Although there is no direct physical, familial connection of believers with Mary, the mother of Jesus, there is a direct spiritual family connection of believers with Jesus by the spiritual rebirth experienced through faith in the finished work of Christ and the legal adoption into the family of God accomplished through the faith transaction.  Bottomline: Believers are in a close family relationship with the Living God that is made legitimate by God’s work in the spiritual rebirth accomplished through faith. Not only are we slaves as pointed out in previous posts, we are close members of God’s family as Sons, Daughters and Children by our faith connection with Jesus. Let us rejoice and be glad in His work.

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SONS OF GOD – ADOPTED NOT EARNED

MONDAY – SONS OF GOD – ADOPTED NOT EARNED

An even more personable description of Christians is the term ‘sons of God.’ It is used by Paul in Romans 8. It is significant that he uses the term in Romans 8 because the previous chapters have been describing the salvation of God that comes to those embracing the work of Christ on the cross by faith alone. In Romans 8, ‘sons of God’ is used to describe the intimate relationship of those who have embraced by faith the teaching of Romans 1-7.

NAU Romans 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

NIV Romans 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

KJV Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Sons of God’ describes a family relationship. While being ‘a Friend of God’ is honorable and desirable, being a ‘Son of God’ is more so. Sonship indicates legitimacy as opposed to illegitimacy.  However, the ‘Sonship’ of a Christian is not naturally acquired but legally acquired. We are ‘declared righteous’ through faith alone in Christ’s work and following this legal theme, Christians are legally adopted by God into His family:

NAU Romans 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

NIV Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. {15 Or adoption} And by him we cry, “Abba, Father!”

KJV Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father

Sonship, however, has responsibility. Just as children have the responsibility to represent well the family name, so Christians have the awesome responsibility to represent well the Name of God who has adopted them as sons and daughters into His family. Loving, lending and doing well to our enemies should be a trait of God’s adopted sons and daughters.

NAU Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

NIV Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

KJV Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Being a peacemaker should also be a trait in the life of an adopted son of God:

NAU Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

NIV Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

KJV Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

What an honor to be called Sons of God by God, our Father. Though adopted, the term expresses legitimacy – not because we earned the right, but because He did the work to make us legitimate to enter into His family.

Christians have a kind Father who has adopted them into His family, and He treats us more kindly than we deserve. In a kind family, the father and mother treat their children – both natural and adopted – with discipline, kindness and respect. In return, their children live to honor their parents with a lifestyle that reflects the values of the family. Let us live as Luke 6:35 and Matt 5:9 describe the adopted sons of God.

BEING A FRIEND OF GOD

WEDNESDAY – BEING A FRIEND OF GOD

Although the foundational description for appreciating our relationship with the Living God is as slaves, the status of the redeemed is elevated by other biblical terms. Notably we are called ‘the friends of God’. This was first used to describe the relationship that Abraham had with God:

NAU Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend,

NIV Isaiah 41:8 “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,

KJV Isaiah 41:8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

Isaiah was written between 740 and 680 B.C. or roughly 1,300 years after the time of Abraham. This concept of God as friend introduced by Isaiah was followed up by the author of 2 Chronicles whose inspired writings can be dated roughly two hundred years later between 536 and 515 B.C:

NAU 2 Chronicles 20:7 “Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

NIV 2 Chronicles 20:7 O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

KJV 2 Chronicles 20:7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

To be a friend – the Greek word is teknon – was to be someone close, a dear one or beloved. This is no mere acquaintance but one who is a confident, one who is aware of another’s deep thoughts. This was demonstrated by God in the life of Abraham in Genesis 18:16-33 but especially in verse 17 in the reporting of God’s plans for Sodom and Gomorrah:

NAU Genesis 18:17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,

NIV Genesis 18:17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?

KJV Genesis 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

As a friend of God, Abraham is allowed to be privy to the intimate plans of God. But it is left to James in God’s revelation to explain why Abraham is called the friend of God:

NAU James 2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God.

NIV James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” {23 Gen. 15:6} and he was called God’s friend.

KJV James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

It was Abraham’s faith (i.e. confidence or trust) in God that resulted not only in the imputation of righteousness but in becoming God’s friend.

Are you a friend of God? A friend of God is one who trusts God for the care of his/her soul. God demonstrated His care for our soul by promising a remedy for our soul-sickness (i.e. sin) through the work of Christ. Our trust in God’s care for our soul through Christ’s work results in our enjoyment of the remedy – imputation or being declared righteous and therefore able to enter eternally into the presence of God. Such trust is rewarded by being called the friend of God – an elevation from our status as slaves.

BIBLICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF BELIEVERS

TUESDAY – BIBLICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF BELIEVERS

I think one of the reasons that some believes struggle with the Lordship of God is the picture it portrays. It is a picture of servant hood. At least, that is the sanitized designation assigned by modern man. The actual biblical portrayal of the Greek word is slavery. This word produces many mental images – mostly negative. In its benign form it is simply a picture of a Master with a servant, a Lord who has absolute control and the final say over another individual. This can be a positive experience as portrayed in Exodus 21:1- 6. It can also conjure up the negative images of abuse to Africans by some of the British in England during the 1700’s and by some Southern Americans during the 1800’s, or in the modern day by African Muslims to African Christians.

However, it should be noted that slavery to God was a concept embraced by Jewish and Christian leaders in Scripture. There was Moses who was considered the slave of God:

NAU Revelation 15:3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!

NIV Revelation 15:3 and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.

KJV Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

Incidentally, the term bond slave or bondservant is an unfortunate English translation of the Greek word doulos. It is best translated slave. The word refers to a person on the lowest level of servitude and one who was willing to give himself over to the will of another. This is what Moses did in his relationship with God as did James:

NAU James 1:1 James, a bond-servant of God

NIV James 1:1 James, a servant of God

KJV James 1:1 James, a servant of God

Peter:

NAU 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

NIV 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

KJV 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

Jude:

NAU Jude 1:1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ,

NIV Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ

KJV Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ,

John:

NAU Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,

NIV Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

KJV Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

And Paul:

NAU Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus,

NIV Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,

KJV Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,

NAU Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God,

NIV Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God

KJV Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God.

It was also embraced by Paul’s fellowworkers, Epaphrus and Tychicus:

NAU Colossians 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant,

NIV Colossians 1:7 You learned it from Epaphras , our dear fellow servant,

KJV Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant,

NAU Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ,

NIV Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus

KJV Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,

NAU Colossians 4:7 As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.

NIV Colossians 4:7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.

KJV Colossians 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

In fact, Peter tells all believers to have an attitude of being slaves:

NAU 1 Peter 2:16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

NIV 1 Peter 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

KJV 1 Peter 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

More importantly it is a term used to describe Jesus:

NAU Philippians 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

NIV Philippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,

KJV Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,

If Jesus did not reject this term then neither should we. We are, after all, slaves of God not only because He created us but, more importantly for believers, because He is their Redeeming Lord. We were stripped naked exposing our pitiful yet unacceptable self-righteousness before God and redeemed from this pitiful condition for relationship, friendship, and sonship (terms all to be discussed this week) with God. Yet slavery to God is the foundation for appreciating the rest of the terms that we will examine this week.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)!