I AM A CHILD OF GOD
Who Am I? Seeing Your True Identity Through God’s Eyes ❧ Part 3
For a number of years, we use to watch the powerfully heartwarming television documentary called: “Long Lost Family.” The show followed the personal and complex stories of numerous people desperately seeking to be reunited with their long-lost relatives. Many of them had been searching in vain for years. Even though their stories differed greatly, their heart-hunger to be reunited with their lost relatives was the same. They longed to know who their “real” mom or dad was. They struggled with questions like: “Am I who I think I am?” “Why did they abandon me?” “Why is there a hole in my soul?” “Why do I feel alone in a crowded room?” Time after time they shared their lives felt incomplete without knowing. Even though many of them had been raised in a family that loved and accepted them, they felt as though they didn’t belong, didn’t really matter. Deep inside they always knew this was not their real family, even if no one told them otherwise. They desperately wanted to know who their real mom or dad was. If you’ve been adopted, you don’t need anyone to tell you this, you know.
But the search was not just from the child, it was also from long-lost moms, dads, brothers, sisters and cousins as well. Many wondered, “Does my daughter or my son know I’ve loved them their whole life?” “Do they know I’m looking for them?”
Today, we’re going to look at message three in our series: Who Am I? I Am a Child of God. God wants you to know if you have placed your faith in Christ, your true identity is that you are now God’s child. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). Only God can satisfy the longing to know who you are and Whose you are. Only God can fill that emptiness.
Many of us have tried to fill that void with worldly sources: personal success, approval of others, beauty, wealth, drugs, alcohol. While we may find momentary satisfaction in these things, and even find a sense of identity through them, they don’t last. Your satisfaction will be fleeting and your identity fragile. Your life will never be complete with knowing God as your Heavenly Father. The truth is, God has loved you your whole life and been looking for you. He longs to be your Father. I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:18). What It Means to Be God’s Child: 1) I have a new position; I now know I belong—I’m wanted and accepted. 2) I have a new perspective; my life has hope and meaning. 3) I have a new power; my life is not controlled by my past, my failures, or by what others may think of me. God has freed me to be who He made me to be. 4) I have a new purpose; God has a plan for my life to make a difference. Position, perspective, power, & purpose.
I. I have a new position. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Ephesians 1:5). This verse says God predestined to adopt you as His child, meaning He decided beforehand. When was that? The previous verse tells us before the foundation of the world (4). That is, God has been looking for you before time began! Before He created the universe God has loved you as His child and wants you to know you matter.
In order to really get to the heart of this great truth, we need to understand adoption what adoption was like two-thousand years ago. It was very different from today. Not unlike today, children in the Roman empire had little to know value. Unwanted children were often severely beaten, left abandoned to the elements to die, abused sexually, or enslaved. Disabled children were discarded the fastest. Some were tied to rocks and thrown into the river, suffocated, or left to wild animals.
If that wasn’t bad enough, infant mortality was extremely high. About fifty percent of all children died before the age of five and fewer than forty percent lived to be twenty. For every family that had five children, only two of them would survive into adulthood. Often parents would not name their babies until they were eight days old.
In this culture of death where human life had no value, adoptions were not as common as we know them to be today. Usually, it was the upper class who adopted and that for self-serving reasons. Adoption was a way of ensuring their legacy would last beyond their lifetime. Political leaders wanting to secure the future greatness of their empires would from time to time adopt an adult heir. It is said that all of the Julio-Claudian emperors adopted sons for this reason. Nero, for instance, was adopted at the age of twelve (Driscoll, Who Do You Think You Are? Pp. 170-171).
All this to say, two-thousand years ago, if you had the fortune to be adopted, that made you very extraordinary. Once you were adopted, your whole identity was radically and permanently changed. You could not be unadopted. The Bible says this is true of us as God’s kids as well. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39, NLT). In saying you’re adopted; God wants you to know your whole identity is radically and permanently changed. Jesus calls God our Father some 38 times in the Gospels.
I read about a lady raised in an orphanage that craved to be a part of a family. As a teenager she would walk the streets in the evenings, straining to look through windows just to see a family together. She would try to imagine what it would be like to really “belong.” Finally, when she was twenty years old, after being mistreated in a number of foster homes, she was adopted by a Christian couple. When she met them, they told her, “Don’t call us Mr. and Mrs. , it’s Dad and Mom.” She was thrilled.
Believer, God wants you to know He is your Father. You belong. You’re part of His family. You’re loved and wanted. God determined long ago to make you His child. You have a new and permanent position as God’s child.
II. I have a new perspective. Whenever you change your position, your perspective changes as well. You see things differently. What is that new perspective? God raised us up with Christ. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).
One of the amazing experiences of flying is you see things from an entirely different perspective. Cities that looked chaotic from the ground suddenly have a sense of order and design from the air. Rambling farmlands take shape like giant puzzle pieces.
For the believer, a new perspective means life has hope and meaning. It has hope in that we know our destiny – Heaven. Why does God say we are seated with Christ except to remind us of our destiny is certain; we know when we die, we will go to Heaven? (Not only this, once I get to Heaven, God assures me He is going to continue to pour out His lavish grace and love in my life making us trophies of His grace). If I know Heaven is my destiny, it’s going to change how I live this life. I no longer live in fear, fear of death, fear of tomorrow, fear of a changing world. Because I matter to God and He has made my future secure, my life has meaning. It has value. It has purpose. I’m not a cosmic fluke. I’m worth a Son to God. Not long ago I heard the heartbreaking news that one of my mentors while in graduate school passed away. It seems that he decided to take a nap. While he was quietly sleeping, he died. What I didn’t know until sometime later was when they found him he had a big smile on his face! His smile reminded me of the certainty of our hope.
Our life not only has hope, but it has also meaning. As God’s children we see Him working out the knots of chaos and confusion of our past bringing order and sense to our lives. Years ago while working at a drug and rehabilitation center for federally mandated addicts, I was able to share the hope and forgiveness of Jesus Christ with a young mother. She’d lost her children due to drugs and crime. When she asked Christ to forgive her and come into her life, God began restore meaning and order to her life. Shortly after she finished the inpatient program, she left the old life and stared a new one following Christ. She got off the streets and got a job. The state gave her children back. The changes in her life were so swift and radical it caught the attention of a major news media who interviewed her (I believe it was 60 Minutes or Dateline. I don’t remember which). She called me up shortly after the interview and shared her exciting news.
Being one of God’s children brings new perspective to our lives. We now know with certainty there is more to this life than we formerly knew. Because of our hope in Christ, Heaven is our destiny. And God brings order and meaning to our lives.
III. I have a new power. With the new position and perspective as God’s child comes a new power as well. New power means my life is not controlled by my past, by my failures, or by what others may think of me. God has freed me to be who He made me to be.
At the very moment you trusted Christ the Bible says you underwent a total spiritual change – God, the Holy Spirit, came into your life making you, His child. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 6:4). God gives you new spiritual power, new life, as His child. How great is this power? Unlimited. Unconquerable. Neither death nor the devil can touch it. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:11). The writer of Hebrews says Jesus died so that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14). God has given you immeasurable power through His indwelling Spirit in your life. Paul understood this saying, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
There’s just one problem. Most of us haven’t even come close to experiencing God’s unlimited power in our lives. Many make a good start living the Christian life, but soon fizzle out. We pray, “God, help me to be more loving, patient, and self-controlled.” And we may be for a little while. But the changes are always short-lived. We feel like we’re trying to carry water with a bucket full of holes. We leak. For most of us the problem is we’re trying to live the Spirit-filled life in our own strength.
What are we to do? Two things. First, we need to make sure we’re not living a life of sin. If we are, we need to confess it and turn back to the Lord. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit and drains His power from our lives (Eph. 4:30). So, first, patch the leaks. Second, we need to learn to live by faith, not feelings. Most of us understand our salvation is not based on experience, but faith. By faith we’re saved, not feelings (Eph. 2:8-9). The Spirit-filled life is the same way. We wrongly believe the mark of a Spirit-filled life is having some kind of mystical experience. We’re overcome with a surge of emotions. I’m not ruling out experiencing God. What I’m saying is tapping into God’s power in our lives is first and foremost a choice to live by faith. By faith I chose to believe who God says I am. By faith I chose to depend on the Holy Spirit to empower me to live out my new identity. When those two are in line – God’s power floods our lives enabling us to do all things through Him who strengthens us. I want you to hear what this means through someone I’ve asked to come and share.
IV. I have a new purpose. God has a plan for my life to make a difference. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed (σύμμορφος) to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29a). What is God’s purpose for your life? To make you like His Son. There is no doubt that the most influential Person who ever lived is the Lord Jesus Christ. No one has come close, or ever will come close, to making a difference in the world as Christ has. That means if God is making us like His Son, then our lives are going to make a difference as well. New identity means new purpose.
I want to pause here and look at how God conforms our life to be like His Son. No one would dispute God’s love for His Son. But what we often overlook is God’s love for His Son did not spare His life from hardship. Jesus experienced temptation unlike we will ever face. He was rejected, hated, slandered, mistreated, threatened. While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death (Heb. 5:7, NLT).
God did not spare His Son from the brutal realities of a fallen world. Yet, in all this, Jesus never questioned the love His Father had for Him. He knew the truth of Who is Father is and Who He was. He understood living in a sin-fallen world and dying for our sins was an invitation to a life of pain and heartache. None of this stopped Him. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross despising its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2). He had a bedrock trust in His Father’s plan and love for Him.
God want us to have that same bedrock trust in Him as our Father as well. It is true Jesus came to give us abundant life (Jn. 10:10). But the abundant life does not mean a problem free life. We live in a broken world filled with pain, rejection, failure. Though I believe God does protect us, it does not mean we are immune to life’s brutal realities. Going through deep waters of pain can cause us to question God’s love for us. The greats in the Bible did. Moses did. Job did. Elijah did. Jeremiah did. Daniel did. David did. O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? (Ps. 13:1-2, NLT).
Does this mean God’s love is not trustworthy? No, not at all. He has promised nothing can separate us from His love. He will never forsake or abandon us. He has proven it over and over in the lives of those whom He’s greatly used. They understood His ways are not our ways. My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine (Isa.55:8). They learned to trust God’s heart even though they could not see His hand. His values are different from ours. We value comfort, but God values character. We value health, but He values trust. We value a life without struggles, but He values faith in the midst of struggle. He knows what is best. We can fully trust Him even if we don’t understand. Job, in the confidence of his faith in God, declared, Though He slay me, I will hope in Him (Job 13:15).For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Rom. 8:18, NAS). Something amazing happens when we chose to trust God even though we don’t understand. I have seen it many times. God gives His children His peace that surpasses human understanding (Phil. 4:7). Your life will never be complete with knowing God as your Heavenly Father. The truth is, God has loved you your whole life and been looking for you. He longs to be your Father.
What does it mean to be God’s Child? 1) I have a new position; I now know I belong—I’m wanted and accepted. 2) I have a new perspective; my life has hope and meaning. 3) I have a new power; my life is not controlled by my past, my failures, or by what others may think of me. God has freed me to be who He made me to be. 4) I have a new purpose; God has a plan for my life to make a difference.