Scripture Truth 1941, p. 158
The whole human race is (we read in Acts 17) the offspring of God “who hath made of one blood all nations of men.” That is, God is Creator, and, in a secondary sense, father of the whole family. Man was made of the dust and God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. “The first man is of the earth (the dust) earthy” (1 Cor. 15) and to dust he returns. We do not read of any such infusion of breath into the nostrils of lower animals. Special attention was given to man as the destined head of creation. Hence when we reach the end of the long genealogical tree of Luke 3 we read the words, “Adam which was the son of God,” or more correctly, “Adam which was of God.” Mark these words; man came directly and immediately from God. Just as Seth was “of Adam,” so Adam was “of God.” The degrading theory of evolution from a lower animal—a gorilla, an ape or a toad—has no place here, nor should it have in the conception of him who was created in the image and likeness of God.
No, Adam was “of God.” Man is “of God.” That was his origin; and, though fallen and marred in every way by sin, he still retains that image. We are low enough morally in all conscience, let us not lower ourselves further. Our origin was high—inferior only to angels, let us endeavour to realize it and act more worthily of it.
Second. Children. This signifies relationship. To be a child there must be birth (John 1:12). There is no such relationship in mere adoption—no consanguinity, no participation in nature or life. Affection there may be, but that is all. Hence, God’s children must be “born of God.” This alone forms the family. Let no one presume to think, as alas, so many do today, that they are the children of God who have never been “born again,” nor “taught of God,” nor drawn to Christ by the Father—let no mistake be made here. You cannot claim God as Father, nor truly address Him as such, unless you are His child. We are not children of God by creation but by grace; and, in this view, the popular idea of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man is an absolute delusion and a most mischievous error. The chasm existing between the children of God and those of the wicked one cannot be bridged by the efforts of statesmen, politicians, philanthropists or dreamers. Such well-meant efforts are a mere waste of time. There must be a change of nature effected by the Spirit of God a new birth. This dream of the brotherhood of man was little understood by the first two brothers that ever lived, nor has the spirit of it developed during the intervening centuries, as the merciless cruelties of modem war declare.
But the family of God, nevertheless exists. The precious relation between God and man as Father and child, that are made such by the grace of that Father, the cleansing death of the Son, and the work of the Spirit within—this is a fact placed beyond all dispute, and made visible in the life and conduct of all those who are commanded to be “imitators of God as dear children.” They love one another. This did not Cain, who, in a passion of jealousy slew his brother, proving that he, spite of his offering, was “of that wicked one,” while Abel in virtue of his requisite offering, obtained witness thereby that he was righteous, and therefore on the divine side of the chasm. He was clearly a child of God.
The children of God have His nature, and that nature must express itself. They are “taught of God to love one another,” and that not merely in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth; and this love is the strongest proof of their relationships with God. Oh! That the love of the first Christian century were but half as strong in the 20th; still thank God, spite of the abounding iniquity of the day, we do love one another, and desire the good and blessing of the whole family of God. We “love as brethren.” The family is the circle and sphere of love. And how? “For God is love”—How much might be written on this fairest feature in the divine family! The Apostle John dwells on it continually, his great theme being the display of the nature of God in love, first in His Son and then in the family: whilst giving equal force to the exhibition of His character in righteousness. He states that “God is love,” and also that “God is light.”
How can you explain the mystery of a man, for the first quarter or half of his life, being a God-hater and a persecutor of His children, like Saul of Tarsus, and then, for the rest of it, being a lover of God and of His people. It is a miracle. Yes, but it is the miracle of new birth. It is the mighty moral change that transfers the man from being a child of the wicked one to that of a child of God, and, thank God, such a miracle is not uncommon—it is God’s work. Is this change necessary for the enjoyment of future blessings? It is absolutely necessary. Heaven would be a positive and intolerable hell to a child of the wicked one. He would (if he could enter) find not one element congenial to his nature or taste. He hated God and His holy ways on earth; nor could he love them in heaven. Oh! it is well and happy even now to be a child of such a God and Father, but what will it be, soon and forever, in yonder house of love and light and glory—all secured for us by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Third. “Sons of God.” We need not treat of angels, who are so-called in one or two passages, seeing that they do not belong to the race of man; but, while the relation of children flows from the nature of God by whom they were begotten, the position and rank of sons is given them on account of the Spirit of His Son who now dwells within them—now in these days of Christianity and the presence of the Holy Ghost on earth. The children are raised from a condition of non-age (minors) to that of full-age (majority) as we read in Galatians 4. They can cry by that Spirit, “Abba Father” after the pattern of the Son of God Himself when in the dark shades of Gethsemane.
“If children then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” true, but note the inevitable consequence:—“if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be glorified together” (Rom. 8:17). Co-heirships in glory means companionship in suffering and testimony till the glory itself shall come, and then the whole blood-bought family, in all its members, shall be “conformed to the image of the Son that He may be the firstborn among many brethren,” then shall He say, “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me” all are in the same relation—“My Father and your Father,” albeit He and they—the “I” and the children given to Him—differ so widely. What a family when all shall resemble, the Son of God—conformed to His image He the chief foremost—most glorious! What a family when all shall be in the Father’s house—at home—in the presence of Father, Son and Spirit; where evil, sorrow, death and Satan are displaced for ever by good and holiness and joy and life divine!