The Children of God
(Article)

Introduction

Some of us may have lost one or both parents when we were still young. What is it like to be a young orphan? It must be a rather sad experience to lose both parents while we are still young. We may pity those who have to grow up without the love and guidance of parents.

What about those who are without God? It is even more tragic to no longer be children of our heavenly Father. Jesus described what the children of God are like in the sermon on the mount, in verses 43 to 48 of Matthew chapter 5:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

1. Whose Children are We?

In the spiritual sense, it is not really possible to be spiritual orphans, because if we are not the children of our heavenly Father, then we are the children of the devil. We either have our heavenly Father as our Father, or we have the devil as our father.

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” 1 John 3:8-10.

2. Our Saviour’s Lesson

Jesus taught us what it means to be the children of God in the sermon on the mount.

“He pointed His hearers to the Ruler of the universe, under the new name, ‘Our Father.’ He would have them understand how tenderly the heart of God yearned over them. He teaches that God cares for every lost soul; that ‘like as a father pitieth his children, so the lord pitieth them that fear Him.’ Psalm 103:13. Such a conception of God was never given to the world by any religion but that of the Bible. Heathenism teaches men to look upon the Supreme Being as an object of fear rather than of love—a malign deity to be appeased by sacrifices, rather than a Father pouring upon His children the gift of His love. Even the people of Israel had become so blinded to the precious teaching of the prophets concerning God that this revelation of His paternal love was as an original subject, a new gift to the world.” – Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 74.

The children of God have the character of love, just like the character of their heavenly Father.

“The children of God are those who are partakers of His nature. It is not earthly rank, nor birth, nor nationality, nor religious privilege, which proves that we are members of the family of God; it is love, a love that embraces all humanity. Even sinners whose hearts are not utterly closed to God’s Spirit, will respond to kindness; while they may give hate for hate, they will also give love for love. But it is only the Spirit of God that gives love for hatred. To be kind to the unthankful and to the evil, to do good hoping for nothing again, is the insignia of the royalty of heaven, the sure token by which the children of the Highest reveal their high estate.” – Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 75.

3. God’s Children are to be Perfect

Jesus taught on the sermon on the mount that God’s children are to be perfect.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.

Sister White comments on this verse in her book, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing.

“The word ‘therefore’ implies a conclusion, an inference from what has gone before. Jesus has been describing to His hearers the unfailing mercy and love of God, and He bids them therefore to be perfect. Because your heavenly Father ‘is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil’ (Luke 6:35), because He has stooped to lift you up, therefore, said Jesus, you may become like Him in character, and stand without fault in the presence of men and angels.” – Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 76.

Sister White goes on to explain the conditions of eternal life in the next paragraph:

“The conditions of eternal life, under grace, are just what they were in Eden—perfect righteousness, harmony with God, perfect conformity to the principles of His law. The standard of character presented in the Old Testament is the same that is presented in the New Testament. This standard is not one to which we cannot attain. In every command or injunction that God gives there is a promise, the most positive, underlying the command. God has made provision that we may become like unto Him, and He will accomplish this for all who do not interpose a perverse will and thus frustrate His grace.” – Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 76.

How is sin expelled from the heart?

“With untold love our God has loved us, and our love awakens toward Him as we comprehend something of the length and breadth and depth and height of this love that passeth knowledge. By the revelation of the attractive loveliness of Christ, by the knowledge of His love expressed to us while we were yet sinners, the stubborn heart is melted and subdued, and the sinner is transformed and becomes a child of heaven. God does not employ compulsory measures; love is the agent which He uses to expel sin from the heart. By it He changes pride into humility, and enmity and unbelief into love and faith.” – Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 75-76.

What had been the mistake and failure of the Jews?

“The Jews had been wearily toiling to reach perfection by their own efforts, and they had failed. Christ had already told them that their righteousness could never enter the kingdom of heaven. Now He points out to them the character of the righteousness that all who enter heaven will possess. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount He describes its fruits, and now in one sentence He points out its source and its nature: Be perfect as God is perfect. The law is but a transcript of the character of God. Behold in your heavenly Father a perfect manifestation of the principles which are the foundation of His government.” – Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 76.

God tells us to be perfect as He is perfect. That is what God’s children are to be.

“God is love. Like rays of light from the sun, love and light and joy flow out from Him to all His creatures. It is His nature to give. His very life is the outflow of unselfish love.

‘His glory is His children’s good;

His joy, His tender Fatherhood.’

He tells us to be perfect as He is, in the same manner. We are to be centers of light and blessing to our little circle, even as He is to the universe. We have nothing of ourselves, but the light of His love shines upon us, and we are to reflect its brightness. ‘In His borrowed goodness good,’ we may be perfect in our sphere, even as God is perfect in His.

“Jesus said, Be perfect as your Father is perfect. If you are the children of God you are partakers of His nature, and you cannot but be like Him. Every child lives by the life of his father. If you are God’s children, begotten by His Spirit, you live by the life of God. In Christ dwells ‘all the fullness of the Godhead bodily’ (Colossians 2:9); and the life of Jesus is made manifest ‘in our mortal flesh’ (2 Corinthians 4:11). That life in you will produce the same character and manifest the same works as it did in Him. Thus you will be in harmony with every precept of His law; for ‘the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.’ Psalm 19:7, margin. Through love ‘the righteousness of the law’ will be ‘fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 8:4.” – Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 77-78.

The following are some Bible quotes on perfection:

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:4.

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” Hebrews 6:1.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16.

“If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2.

“And above all these things put on charity which is the bond of perfectness.” Colossians 3:14.

4. God’s Children in the Last Days

God’s children in the last days is described in Revelation 12:17:

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

God’s church and people has been described in the above verse to be the remnant of the woman’s seed. God’s remnant church is what makes up the children of God in the last days and they will be the ones who will be going through the time of trouble without an intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary. This means that they will pass through the time of trouble (or close of probation) without any sin on them. They will no longer have a high priest who will perform the work of the cleansing of sin from sinners. The Bible says of such: “he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11.

Therefore it of the utmost importance that God’s people be found to be keeping all the commandments of God, even now. The real national sunday law in the U.S. may be passed sooner than we may expect.

There are people in the church who hold such erroneous beliefs as:

1. It is not possible for God’s people to be perfect and that God’s people will remain imperfect until Jesus comes.

2. Jesus is keeping the law for us on our behalf, and therefore we no longer need to keep the law.

Such erroneous beliefs result in sinful disobedience and spiritual carelessness. We may very well be among those who will be alive during the time of trouble and live to see the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, either as those who are faithful commandment keeping children of God or as the faithless sinful disobedient children of the devil.

All the children of God are to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect, even in this life. Any imperfection in them would mean they are no longer the children of God. As for the belief that Jesus is keeping the law for us on our behalf and therefore we no longer need to keep God’s law, this belief is simply illogical and unacceptable to any spiritually sensible person. How can it be that while Jesus does not steal or does not commit adultery on our behalf, we ourselves may steal or commit adultery or in any sense not keep the law?

It is true that as children of God, we may still commit sin occasionally. When that happens, we are still able to confess and be forgiven our sins as our High Priest is still ministering in the heavenly sanctuary above. But this state of things cannot continue indefinitely forever. God’s will for us as His children is that we are to grow in grace and strength to overcome our sins. This process of growth is known as sanctification. We are to grow stronger and stronger until we become spiritual adults in Christ, having perfect characters and perfect righteousness.

Will we reach full sanctification in this life? This question is perhaps debatable. However, it is sufficiently clear that God’s children will be perfectly keeping the law of God or else they will not be among those who will pass through the time of trouble without sin and be translated at the second coming of Christ.

Sister White, in her numerous counsels, have instructed God’s people in regard to the following:

“‘In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days he speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue.’” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, pages 661.

“‘The Lord has seen fit to give me a view of the needs and errors of His people. Painful though it has been to me, I have faithfully set before the offenders their faults and the means of remedying them. .... Thus has the Spirit of God pronounced warnings and judgments, withholding not, however, the sweet promise of mercy. ....’” – Ibid, page 661.

“‘Repentant sinners have no cause to despair because they are reminded of their transgressions and warned of their danger. These very efforts in their behalf show how much God loves them and desires to save them. They have only to follow His counsel and do His will, to inherit eternal life. God sets the sins of His erring people before them, that they may behold them in all their enormity under the light of divine truth. It is then their duty to renounce them forever.’ ‘If God’s people would recognize His dealings with them and accept His teachings, they would find a straight path for their feet and a light to guide them through darkness and discouragement.’” – Ibid, page 661.

Conclusion

As children of God, we are to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. God’s children in the last days will pass through the time of trouble without sin and without an intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary to remove any unconfessed sin.

Therefore, it is an important matter for God’s children in the last days to grow in grace and spirituality and be overcomers of their sins and character defects. The Testimonies given through Ellen White point out the errors and sins of God’s people and they are to renounce these errors and sins forever.

May God help us to be truly the children of His. Let us pray and ask God to give us the grace and strength to grow into mature spiritual adults and to have perfect characters and perfect righteousness. We may very well be the ones to be going through the time of trouble without an intercessor, so let us now prepare ourselves for eternity.

Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, thank You so much for showing us what Your children are to be, that is, they are to be perfect even as You are perfect. Please help us to grow in grace and spiritual strength and be ready to meet our Lord Jesus when He does come in the clouds of heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.”


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Questions for Thought:

1. Are God’s children to be perfect even as their Father in heaven is perfect?
2. Will God’s children pass through the time of trouble without an intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary?