The children of God and the children of the devil.
There are only two spiritual families on this earth, the children of God and the children of the devil. And why the King James Bible got it right in John 1:12.
In Matthew 13:24-30 the Lord Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares. He then explains its meaning in Matthew 13:36-43.
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this."
A little further in this chapter the Lord explains the meaning of the wheat and the tares. The disciples asked Him to explain the parable.
"He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; THE GOOD SEED ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM; but THE TARES ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE WICKED ONE; 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 devil do not become children of God; tares do not become wheat, and goats do not become sheep. The word of God refers to those who ARE the children of the devil, and it refers to those who ARE the children of God, even before they know they are His children.
In John 10:25-29 the Lord Jesus is speaking to the unbelieving Jews who were harassing Him and demanding that He tell them if He were the Christ. Here He plainly tells them:
"I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. BUT YE BELIEVE NOT, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF MY SHEEP, as I said unto you. MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, and I know them, and they follow me....My Father, WHICH GAVE THEM ME, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
Notice that the text does not say "you are not my sheep because you don't believe" but rather "Ye believe not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT MY SHEEP."
The same truth is seen in John 8:43-45 where Jesus says to the Pharisees and other Jews - "Why do ye not understand my speech? even BECAUSE YE CANNOT HEAR MY WORD. YE ARE OF YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not."
Then He explains further in John 8:47, saying, "He that IS of God heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF GOD." They cannot hear and they cannot believe BECAUSE they are not His sheep and they are not of God but of their father the devil.
God's people ARE his sheep even before they hear his voice. In John 16:10 the Lord Jesus says: "And other sheep I HAVE (not "hope to have") which are not of this fold (the Jews): them also I MUST BRING, and THEY SHALL HEAR MY VOICE; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."
All Bible commentators, even the Arminians, agree that the "other sheep" refers to the Gentiles who would later hear the gospel of the grace of God and believe in the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.
Scripture refers to those who have not yet heard, but will believe when they do hear the gospel preached, as "the sons of God".
We see this in John 11:49-52 where an unbelieving high priest named Caiaphas unwittingly prophesies that Christ would die for the nation of Israel - "And not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one THE CHILDREN OF GOD that were scattered abroad."
This last phrase refers to the children of God among the Gentile nations who had not yet heard the gospel of salvation. Yet God refers to them as His children, even before the hear of what Christ had done for them at the cross.
And Romans 9:6-8 clearly tells us that there are those who ARE the children of God and those who are NOT.
6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, THESE ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
1 John 3:10 also mentions the two families and their characteristics. "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."
In the book of Acts 13:10 the apostle Paul refers to a certain sorcerer and false prophet named Elymas, who sought to turn away people from the faith, in this manner: "O full of all subtilty and all mischief, THOU CHILD OF THE DEVIL, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?"
Notice the Lord Jesus' prayer for His own in John chapter 17:2 where He says: "As thou hast given him power over all flesh; that he should give eternal life to AS MANY AS THOU HAST GIVEN HIM."
Seven times in this prayer the Lord refers to "the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me" (v.6) "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." (v.9), "those whom thou hast given me" (v.11) and "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am" (v.24)
And in Hebrews 2:13 we read of one of the Lord's prayers where He says: "Behold I and the children God hath given me."
A legitimate question can arise about what does it mean then in John 1:12 where it refers to those who "BECOME the sons of God" when they receive Him and believe on His name. Is there a contradiction? Let's take a closer look at the passage and see if we can explain it without contradicting all the other clear verses that tell us that God chose us in Christ BEFORE the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48) and that "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation" (2 Thes. 2:13)
John 1:12-13 tells us: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to BECOME THE SONS OF GOD, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
First of all it should be noted that this spiritual birth was NOT of blood (we do not inherit it), nor of the will of the flesh (it is not a result of the natural will of our fallen, sinful nature) nor is it by the will or desire of another for us. But this new birth is totally of God.
So what does it mean when it says they "BECOME THE SONS OF GOD" if they already were God's children given to Christ from the foundation of the world? I believe the best answer to this question is to see it as referring to our earthly experience of when we realize who we are in Christ and we begin to see ourselves as God made us and we start to walk in that reality in our daily lives. The child now becomes a son. He has now reached a new state of spiritual maturity and growth.
We see a similar principle in 1 Corinthians 13:11 where the apostle Paul says: "When I WAS A CHILD, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I BECAME a man, I put away childish things."
And again in the book of Galatians chapter 4 we see that "when WE WERE CHILDREN, were in bondage under the elements of the world". But God sent forth His Son to redeem us "that we might receive THE ADOPTION OF SONS."
The adoption of sons is literally the placing of the child into that of a mature son. "Even so we, when WE WERE CHILDREN, were in bondage under the elements of the world; But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTION OF SONS, And BECAUSE YE ARE SONS, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Galatians 4:3-6.
God's word cannot contradict itself. It is clear that the good seed are the children of the kingdom. We were given by the Father to the Son before the foundation of the world and ALL that the Father gives to the Son will come to Him. (John 6:37) And that those who received Him and believed on His name WERE BORN (not "got born") NOT of the will of the flesh, but of God. (John 1:12) The reason we received him and believed on his name is because we WERE BORN of God.
Regeneration precedes faith. See What is the New Birth (being born again) and When and How did it happen?
"In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Romans 9:7-8
"Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise." Galatians 4:28.
Many modern versions have missed the truth that the child of God becomes a SON because of the way they mistranslate John 1:12, and they end up creating a contradiction. God's elect people ALREADY ARE his children even before they know they are. We were given to Christ before the foundation of the world and have ALWAYS been the children of God.
Instead of saying: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to BECOME THE SONS OF GOD" they say: "he gave the right to become THE CHILDREN of God." Among these are the NKJV, ESV, NASB, NET, NIV, Jehovah Witness NWT, and the Catholic St. Joseph NAB 1970 and New Jerusalem bible 1985.
The NASB has translated this same Greek work (teknon) as "son" or "sons" 8 times. See Matthew 21:28 - a certain man had two SONS...and said SON, go work today in my vineyard."
Likewise the NIV has translated it as "son" or "sons" some 15 times, and versions like the ESV and NKJV have also translated it as "son" or "sons" several times themselves. See Matthew 9:2; 21:28 (twice); Mark 2:5; Luke 2:48; 15:31; 16:25; 1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:22; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1; Titus 1:4 and Philemon verse 10.
Agreeing with the King James Bible in John 1:12 that as many as received him, to them he gave power to BECOME THE SONS OF GOD are Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, The Beza N.T. 1599, the Douay-Rheims 1610, Mace N.T. 1729, Whiston's N.T. 1745, Wesley's N.T. 1755, Webster's bible 1833, Sawyer N.T. 1858, Young's literal 1898, Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, J.B. Phillips N.T. 1972, The 21st Century KJV 1994, Third Millennium Bible 1998, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson N.T. 2002, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005, The Mebust Bible 2007 - "he gave strength to them to be the SONS of Elohim", The Conservative Bible 2010, The Hebrew Transliteration Scriptures 2010 - "He gave the right to become the SONS of Elohim", The Jubilee Bible 2010 and The Modern English Version 2014.
Foreign Language Bibles = KJB, The Latin Vulgate 405 A.D., the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569 - " les dio potestad de ser hechos HIJOS de Dios", Cipriano de Valera 1602, Reina Valera 1960 - 1995, La Biblia de las Américas 1997, the Italian Diodati 1649 - "d’esser fatti FIGLIUOLI di Dio" and La Nuova Diodati 1991- "l'autorità di diventare figli di Dio" and the Italian Riveduta 2006, The Portugues O Livro 2000 and the Portuguese Almeida Bible 2009 - "o poder de se tornarem FILHOS de Deus".
The Inconsistent NIVs.
Though the NIV English version says "CHILDREN of God" yet the NIV Spanish Bible, La Versión Internacional 2015 says SONS of God and not "children" (niños) - "Mas a cuantos lo recibieron, a los que creen en su nombre, les dio el derecho de ser HIJOS de Dios."
And so too does the NIV Portuguese edition of 2000.
João 1:12 Nova Versão Internacional - 12 “Contudo, aos que o receberam, aos que creram em seu nome, deu-lhes o direito de se tornarem FILHOS de Deus”
Objection Raised and Answered - Ephesians 2:1-3
Some "free will religionists" try to tell us that we were all children of the devil before we became children of God, and they use and misread Ephesians 2:1-3 to try to maintain this false theology. Let's look more closely at what the passage of Scripture actually says.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, 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 all 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.”
Please notice that in time past we lived AMONG THEM and acted like them. But we were not the children of the devil, as the other passages we have looked at in this study prove.
And when it says that by nature we were the children of wrath, even as others, it does not say that we were “vessels of wrath”, but children of wrath.
This means two things. That we were characterized by wrath. Wrath towards others. In fact, as Christians we can still have this problem.
That is why the apostle goes on to instruct us as Christians in Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness and WRATH, and anger, and clamour and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
We are told the same thing in Colossians 3:8 - “But now ye also put off all these, anger, WRATH, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
And in 1 Timothy 2:8 we are exhorted - “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without WRATH and doubting.”
And finally in James 1:19-20 we are further instructed - “ Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, SLOW TO WRATH; For the WRATH OF MAN worketh not the righteousness of God.”
And secondly that we, in our fallen nature, deserve the wrath of God. We see many Scriptures that bring out this truth that we are all deserving of God's wrath.
Psalms 90:7-9 says: "For we are consumed by thine anger, and by THY WRATH are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away IN THY WRATH: we spend our years as a tale that is told."
John Gill comments on Ephesians 2:3 - “and were by nature children of wrath, even as others: by which is meant, not only that they were wrathful persons, living in malice, hateful, and hating one another; but that they were deserving of the wrath of God, which comes upon the children of disobedience, among whom they had their conversation; and which is revealed from heaven against such sins as they were guilty of, though they were not appointed to it: and they were such "by nature"
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