Who Are God’s Children? A Refutation of The Universal Fatherhood Of God.

There are some Christians who believe that God is the Father
of every human being who exists, every human being who existed in the past,
exists in the present and will exist in the future. I know someone personally
who holds to this view, though I won’t mention her name. We’ve debated this
issue together and sadly, a couple of times it got pretty heated. Is this view
correct? Is everyone a child of God or is it only Christians who are children
of God? The purpose of this blog post is to give the answer to that question.
My view is; no. Not every human being is a child of God. Only Christians are.
However, that does not mean that God loves unbelievers any less than He does
Christians (as I’ll explain further in a minute). First, what does The Bible
have to say about this topic of being God’s children?
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
John 1:12-13 is one passage that talks about our being God’s
children. The context of this verse is the opening of John’s gospel. John
chapter 1. In verse 1, John tells us that Jesus Christ (the Word) existed in
the beginning with God The Father and that He was God Himself (John 1:1), then
John repeats himself saying that Jesus had existed from the very start of creation
with The Father (verse 2). Then it affirms that, like the Father, Jesus is the
Creator of the entire universe, telling us that creation was a team effort
between all 3 persons of The Holy Trinity, it wasn’t just something God The
Father did, but it was something that God The Son did also (verse 3). Then John
mentions John The Baptist foretelling Jesus’ arrival (verses 6-9) and
eventually mentions the incarnation (God becoming human) in verse 14. However,
verses 12-13 is what concerns us here. Since the topic of this blog post is the
doctrine of the fatherhood of God. What do these verses say?
John 1:12-13 says: “Yet to all who did receive him, to
those who believed in his name
, he gave the right to become children
of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a
husband’s will, but born of God.”
This passage tells us that those who accept Jesus as their
Lord and Savior become God’s children. It says that for those who receive
Jesus, He “gives them the right to become” children of God. It says children of
God are “not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s
will, but born of God.”
What this seems to imply is that the people
mentioned in this passage were not children of God prior to “receiving him”.
Once they received him, God “gave them the right” to be called His Children.
This passage teaches that it is by regeneration and faith
that we become the children of God, but how can that be if we are the children
of God already?. How can God give to men the right to become His sons if they
have it already? If they were already children of God, how could they “gain
the right”
to become children of God? How can you gain a right if you
already had that right? And how can you “become” a child of God
if you were already a child of God? Is The Bible saying that you can become
something that you already are? Did The Holy Spirit turn a child of God into a
child of God? That doesn’t seem to make much sense. John 1:12-13 seems to
refute the notion that God is the father of every human being and affirms that
He is the father only of those who “receive him”.
Another passage that seems to argue against God’s universal
fatherhood is Romans 8:14-17.
Romans 8:14-17 says “For those who are led by the
Spirit of God
are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not
make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you
received brought about your adoption to sonship
. And by him we cry, “Abba,
Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s
children. 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.”
This passages explicitly says that those who are children of
God are people who are “led by the (Holy) Spirit” What does this
mean for the view of universal fatherhood? If you affirm that even unbelievers
are God’s children, then it seems you’re forced to say that these unbelievers
live lives led by The Holy Spirit (even Hitler and King Herod), which is absurd
and extremely unbiblical. Obviously those who don’t have The Holy Spirit in
them do not live lives led by the Spirit. They live by the flesh and produce the fruits
of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21)
instead of producing the fruits of The Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
But even worse than that for universal fatherhood is that verse
15 of Romans 8 says that The Holy Spirit “brought about our adoption to
sonship”
What this is saying is that we were not God’s children before,
but once we repented, The Holy Spirit brought about an “adoption” which caused
us to be sons of God. Now, again, I ask you; how could the Spirit bring about
an adoption for us to become God’s children if we already were God’s children?
Can a child be “adopted” into a family if he is already a part of that family?
Does a man go to an adoption center to get a kid that already belongs to Him?
No. When a person adopts a child at an adoption center, the child isn’t his
prior to the man adopting him. After adoption, then the child becomes his
son or daughter. The Bible teaches that God adopts us as His children. We
weren’t His before, but now we are.
Verse 17 of Romans 8 says that “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.”
Dear
Universal Fatherhood people, are you saying that even non-Christians will
“share in Christ’s Glory”?
That they are heirs of God? This smells of
universalism (the view that everyone will be saved, regardless of whether they
have placed their faith in Christ). It smells of heresy. Either you must
abandon the view that all mankind are God’s children, or you must embrace the
heresy of universalism. One or the other.
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through
faith
.” – Galatians 3:26
Besides these 3 passages, probably the most explicit verse
denying the universal fatherhood of God is 1 John 3:10. 1 John 3:10 says “This is how we know who the
children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does
not do what is right is not God’s child
, nor is anyone who does not love
their brother and sister.”
DOES THIS MEAN THAT GOD
LOVES UNBELIEVERS LESS?
By no means! I believe that God loves EVERYONE equally.
God loves Adolf Hitler as much as He loves Mother Teresa. God loves King Herod
as much as He loves the apostle Paul. God loves Richard Dawkins as much he
loves William Lane Craig. That’s Why God became a human being (John 1:14,
Philippians 2:6-7) and suffered one of the most agonizing, slow, torturous
deaths that a person could experience, experiencing the horrors of Hell Himself
so that human beings wouldn’t have to (Romans 5:6-11). God suffered Hell in a
human body so that we wouldn’t have to experience Hell. And this sacrifice
that Jesus made, He made for everyone.
2 Peter 3:9 says God is “not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance”
and 1 Timothy 2:4 says God “…desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge
of the truth.
While these two verses don’t say that Jesus died for
all people, it does say that God wants all people saved. And if God
desires all to be saved, then it stands to reason that Jesus would have died
for all so that they could be saved (even though many would be lost
because they freely chose not to repent). However, just two verses after 1
Timothy 2:4, Paul says that Jesus gave himself as
a ransom for all”-
1 Timothy 2:6
So, God does love everyone equally. He desires all to be
saved (though not everyone will be saved because many will choose not to
repent, and won’t accept Christ as their Savior and so, Jesus atoning blood,
though offered to them, will not be applied to them).
Follow this syllogistic reasoning:
1: Those who get saved become children of God (John 1:12-13,
Romans 8:14-17)
2: God wants all people to get saved (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy
2:4)
3: Therefore, God wants all people to be His children.
And it seems to me that if God wants all people to become
His children, then that must mean He loves those who do not become His children
as much as those who do become His children. So I do not think that denying
universal fatherhood in any way suggests that God doesn’t love everyone or that
He loves the unsaved less than the saved. John 3:16
says that God loves the world. Moreover, as an Arminian, I think that
not only does God love everyone, but He desires all to be saved. The reason He
wants everyone to be saved is because He loves all people. God is not
the Father of all human beings, nevertheless, he wants to be the Father
of all human beings.
The Parable Of The Rich
King At The
Adoption
Center
NOTE: This is NOT one of Jesus’ parables. Rather,
It’s one I made myself. I conjured this parable up to demonstrate God’s
omnibenevolence in relation with God’s non-universal fatherhood.
There once was a rich King who went to an orphanage to adopt
some children. He was a friend of the owner of the orphanage so he got to
interact with the children often. One day, when he went to the orphanage, he
told the children there that he wanted to adopt them into his family so that
they could enjoy all the riches and splendor of his palace. He said that he
wanted to adopt every single child there. Some of the children there had lived
in poverty their whole lives and were excited at the thought of living in the
lap of luxury in the king’s palace. However, some of the children there were
too prideful, and didn’t want to go with the king. They didn’t want handouts.
They wanted to work their way to riches and glory. They ran up to the king in
anger and kicked him the shin. The owner of the orphanage was stunned at the
audacity of these kids, but the king didn’t react harshly. He told the angry
children that if they didn’t want to live with him, that was fine. They didn’t
have to. He told them that none of them had to go with him if they didn’t want
to.
After signing adoption forms, the rich king left with a
group of children who were now his. The children who were left behind did not
become children of the king, though the king wanted them to be for he loved
them dearly.
In this allegory, God is the rich king, the orphanage is the
world, the children at the orphanage are human beings, and God wants to adopt
everyone in the world. However, He leaves the choice up to us (Deuteronomy
30:15-19, Joshua 24:15). There are some who reject God’s offer. Nonetheless,
God loves those as much as he did those who did repent and got saved. The rich
king loved those who wanted nothing to do with him as much as those who
willingly went with him.
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