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The Bible says that we are all his children. But our heritage is full of malice and evil - many good and decent things too, but with equal amounts of evil in the mix. Can we claim to have the power of God's heritage if we come from a line of such brutal beings that are really no worse than us?

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The Straight Dope

UltraJoe makes a good point. Not all of "God's children" are really God's children. Yes, we are all children of God by creation; we are not all, however, children of God by redemption. The apostle John makes this crystal clear:

"[Jesus] came unto His own people, but they did not receive Him. But to as many who did receive Him, He gave the right to be called the children of God, even to those who believed in His name, who are born of God, and not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man" (1:11-13, my paraphrase, my emphases).

The gospel in a nutshell is this: there is something to believe, and there is someone to receive. I wish we were all children of God by redemption, but sad to say that will never happen, as long as people fail to believe in and receive Jesus Christ into their lives.

You are correct, however, that despite our being created good, all God's children (by creation) have strayed from the path God laid out for us when He first created us. Adam's and Eve's single act of disobedience plunged the human race into sin, and the world was never the same after that single, solitary act (see John 5:19).

We can rant and rave and blame God for the mess He allowed us to create for ourselves, but such ranting, raving, and blaming are misplaced. God did not make us sin, any more than He made us not sin. To create us with the ability to sin or not to sin was God's choice, which we must respect.

Nor was God taken by surprise when we did sin. He did not scramble to come up with "Plan B" when we blew "Plan A." No, His "Plan A" from eternity past was to provide a Lamb of His own choosing to bear away the sin of the world (John 1:29 and 36). That Lamb was, of course, His only begotten Son (John 3:16).

The Three P-Words

The "malice, evil, and brutality" of which you speak are endemic to the entire human race, including me and you. We may not all become serial killers, but if we're honest with ourselves, we realize fully the depths to which we could sink if we chose to do so.

The good news, however, is that Christ came not only to save us from the penalty of sin, but He came also to save us from the power of sin in our lives (and praise His name, one day He will save us from the very presence of sin!). As His children through faith in Jesus, our struggle against sin will never cease, that is until we return to the dust from which we came (Genesis 2:7).

Conclusion: A "Mixed Bag"

The tired cliché about God not wanting to create a race of robots which did not have the ability to distinguish between good and evil and make choices accordingly, may be a cliché, but it is nevertheless true. (The argument could be made that perhaps we need to repackage that cliché a little differently. As long as we exclude the notion that human beings have a "free will," something which only God has, I would be in favor. Humans do, however, have the freedom to choose to obey or disobey.)

Until God re-creates the new heavens and the new Earth (Revelation 21:1 ff.), the human condition will always be a mixed bag. At one time, in fact, things got so bad on earth in Noah's day (see Genesis 5:5-8) that God destroyed every living creature, save eight human beings and two of each animal!

By the same token however, in even the worst of circumstances, as with the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013, human beings can and do act with great courage, compassion, and selflessness, as was the case in Boston that fateful day. Of course our world would be much better off not having acts of terrorism in the first place, but that is why Jesus calls Christians to be the salt and light of the world!

May God help us, then, to resolve to be that preservative and that enlightening influence in the world until Jesus returns for His own.

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I'm not sure what you mean by "God's heritage," but I'll make an educated guess below.

First, let me address the question: are we all the children of God? Based on Matthew 5:9, only the peacemakers are called the children of God. In Mark 10:24, Jesus refers to the disciples as "children." Romans 8-9 and 1 John further supports the notion that "children of God" refer only to those whom He has adopted, those who have accepted His adoption. (Let's not wrangle over the details of election vs. choice here; that's better suited for a separate question.)

You say that our heritage is "full of malice and evil." Indeed, as Paul said in Romans 3:23, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We are born sinners. So how do we escape that heritage, that curse? I've always loved how Pastor Jon Courson of Applegate Christian Fellowship put it in his message, "The Great Switcheroo:"

God made Jesus to die as though He lived my life, so that He could treat me as though I lived His life!

To put it in terms of heritage, through Jesus' death, God not only adopts us as one of His children, as heir and joint heir with Christ, but also sees our heritage -- both personal and ancestral -- as Christ's heritage. We are made as though we never sinned, as though our heritage has no malice, evil, or sin.

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Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? –  David Stratton Apr 17 at 4:25
    
Thanks, David. I had already done that before answering. Just for the record, I was one of the original supervisors of the Religion & Spirituality section of FAQ Farm, now WikiAnswers. I'm glad this site shouldn't become what they did. –  Joe Sewell Apr 17 at 19:11

My answer will focus on children. Children are defined as follows;

Matthew 13;36,37,38,39

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his diciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

The children of the kingdom are those that have been converted.

Matthew 18;2,3,4

And Jesus called a lttle child unto him, and sat him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The children of the wicked one are those of the world, the children of wrath;

Ephesians 2;1,2,3

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

James 4;4

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

1 John 2;15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, our inherent nature is to sin. We are sinners from birth and spiritually dead.

Psalms 51;5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Colossians 3;2 Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

We, in this life, may receive the gift of God, eternal life, we need only accept it.

Romans 1;15,16 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

The power of God is the gospel, and it is available to all.

John 3;16 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.

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