But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children—children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God. John 1.12-13

Nobody is born, physically, as a child of God. It is not by human parents that someone is his child. We are not his children automatically. It’s a lie to say that we are all children of God.

This shocking truth ought to cause us to learn how to become children of God. If we are not, God gives us the right to become his children.

In order to become a son or daughter, it’s necessary to be born into the family. Jesus explained that birth into God’s family comes through immersion in water, John 3.3, 5. Since it is an act of faith, it is described in the above verses as being an act of receiving or believing in the name of Jesus. His name is confessed at the moment of immersion by the person being baptized. His name is pronounced over him during the act of immersion, Acts 2.38; 8.37.

We live in a world which rejects Jesus, John 1.10-11. The very word “world” means, in many biblical contexts, humanity in rebellion against God. Even the religions and denominations are a part of this rebellion, for they have invented their own system against God’s will.

The verse above begins with the word “but.” It means that although the world rejects Jesus, there will be some people who receive him.

Let us be certain that we are among the number of those who receive and obey him.

Creator God, I want you to be Father to me. I want to be an obedient child of yours. I want to be part of your family.

Translated from our Portuguese-language devotional, Deus Conosco. For more information about becoming a child of God, see Richard Mansel’s book, The Most Important Question.

Glory to our God, who created a people of his own! Praise to him who is our God, and we are his! Exalt the Almighty who of many made one! Worship him who did what everyone wants, but no one is able to produce, a classless society! Glory to the Father who brought us into being as his family, all children beloved and cherished!

The church is in a fast cycle of change, most of which is not for the good, because it is driven by culture and by desire to draw outsiders in through a process other than evangelism. The biblical underpinnings are being weakened. We no longer speak as the Bible speaks, nor do we maintain silence where the Bible is silent. Perhaps we have neglected true evangelism and have failed at real discipleship, with the result that our attempts at growth are clumsy and misguided and our efforts toward building community sound more like a social club than the intimate fellowship of God’s family. We may retain a name and go through a few familiar motions, but it will be a hollow echo of what the people of God should be and a mere shell of a vibrant faith that once was certain that God’s plan cannot be improved upon.

On the church-of-Christ email group, somebody noted that Gov. Rick Perry signed a statute to protect students’ religious rights. I wrote this below after reading about it.

I don’t know whether to see this positively or not. It’s existence testifies to the sorry state of the US where religious values have to be fought for and legislated over rather than generally accepted. It signals, I suppose, a battle victory on the one hand, but may represent a losing war as the richest country in the world, in that period of its richest material gains, turns its back on those principles which brought it to power. I’m no prophet nor son of a prophet, and perhaps there will be a widespread “restoration of 50s values,” as some groups hope, but as world powers go, it’s said that the US has overstayed its allotted time at the head of the list.

However a country may wind its way through the mysterious mazes of the world, be it our own or on the far side of globe, the family of God holds its course as the Sovereign’s obedient, holy, and busy people to do his will for his pleasure and preach the gospel of eternal salvation to nations which have always needed it, regardless of peace or war, liberty or slavery, prosperity or want.

What a blessed hope to be counted as citizens of a heavenly nation, where every law is just, every citizen equal, every responsibility fair, and every privilege but the pointer to the perfect state we shall enjoy forever before the glorious throne of our Creator and Savior.