Only the Bible reveals that God has made us brothers and sisters because of Jesus.
Who is that looking back at you in the mirror? It’s you, of course. But exactly who are you? Your driver’s license identifies you with a photo, and somewhere there’s a profile on record—and it’s not just with the state that issued the license.
Credit cards and passwords protect information about you. Marketing companies want to know as much as they can about you so they can target you with ads for products they think you might buy. Ethnicity, income level, credit score, and age all tell who you are to others. Over the course of your lifetime you have created an identity that others recognize. They smile when they see you. Some may cross the street rather than greet you. But there you are! You!
Children of God
As believers in Jesus, you have another significant identity on record. It’s different from the others. You should remember that this record is purged. The sins and faults recorded during your lifetime have been removed because the blood of Jesus cleansed you (1 John 1:7). Baptism washed away your sins and made you a reborn child of God (John 3:5-8). In place of those sins, God has inserted another person’s pure and holy record. That record belongs to Jesus, and his perfect life is now on file as yours.
But we need reminders of this important identity. Even after you look in the mirror, in a few minutes you might look again to check. Do you have spinach in your teeth or messy hair? Do you check just to see if you’re still all together? But no mirror can remind you that you are a child of God—loved by your heavenly Father.
Still, we all need regular reminders of this identity. The Bible includes those reminders. That’s one of the reasons the Bible still matters.
The apostle Paul reminded the Galatians, “In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (3:26-28).
The apostle Peter reminded us of our identity too: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Chosen, royal, holy, special. No database in this world stores that identity. But God does, and he wants us to remember it.
Working together as God’s children
Paul shares another important thought. As children of God, we are not isolated and alone. He wrote, “All of you . . . are all one in Christ Jesus.” All believers are children of God, and you know some of them because you worship with them and together serve him and each other. Together we confess that we are the “holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.”
Peter also includes that thought, reminding us that all believers are like living stones built together into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). Peter wrote that, as living stones built together, we all have an important mission. Together we are to “declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light.” How do we do that? We gather together and organize ourselves into groups, congregations, federations, associations, and synods.
In every dark day or lonely corner of our lives, we need the reminders that we are still children of God.
But we don’t all have the same role to play. Paul described the gathering of believers as a body with each person having a place and special talent to contribute to the welfare of the body (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31). Some are different, and we ask some to serve others in order to declare his praises. Yet pastors, teachers, and others who serve God’s children are the same as every other child of God. They too are chosen, royal, holy, and special. They simply have different roles that groups of Christians ask them to perform, and they carry out their offices with the consent of the saints they serve.
So does the Bible’s picture of us matter? The world around us is filled with differences. Divisions become evident when we consider some less important than others. Some of them may be racial, and then we discriminate against those who look different or have different backgrounds. Those divisions sometimes get in the way of our joint mission. We need the reminder that we are all equal before God—all his children, no matter what our ethnicity, our past history, or our role in Christ’s church. How often we need this reminder even in our congregations!
God disciplines his children
Remember we are God’s children. God looks at you and all believers with love and affection. You may not see that in the mirror, but God clearly tells you that you are his child. But children are children! Like children, sometimes we don’t understand why our parents do things. As we mature. we grow in our understanding and knowledge of what it means to be children of God.
Perhaps experiencing trouble, trials, and suffering are the most difficult times for us as children of God. Then we are quick to think that God has abandoned us, and, like little children, we may stamp our feet and yell that God no longer loves us. But God reminds us that these difficult times are the discipline he sends to his beloved children. We know that no discipline is pleasant. When we wonder, complain, and get angry, God reminds us, “Endure hardship as discipline. . . . If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. . . . God disciplines us for our good” (Hebrews 12:7,8,10).
Does the Bible’s message still matter? It certainly does. When the reverses of your life leave you with a bleak future and hope evaporates, trust his discipline and his promises in his Word. When your prayers seem to remain unanswered, God promises he will not forsake you even in the darkest of days. When life’s challenges and trials cause you to wonder about God and you feel worthless, alone, abandoned, and useless, God reminds you that you are his child. He cares for you, wants you to mature, and does everything for your good (Roman 8:28). Think of how many times the Bible mentions God’s tender care of his children. You may have a favorite passage or two for those trying times.
In every dark day or lonely corner of our lives, we need the reminders that we are still children of God. He promises a happy reunion with all his children in heaven. There he will wipe every tear from our eyes.
Does the Bible matter? Absolutely. It is our companion filled with comfort and strength for our lives. It’s not just the pious thoughts of some well-meaning friend. It’s God’s Word—his love letter to us.
This is the second article in a four-part series on the importance of the Bible today.
Author: John Braun
Volume 108, Number 3
Issue: March 2021