THERE IS A VAST DIFFERENCE between believers in the Old Testament and believers in the New Testament. Both are called “saints” but Old Testament saints were saved under the Old Covenant that God made with Israel on Mount Sinai. New Testament saints are saved under the New Covenant made by Christ when He shed His blood on the cross. When we take the communion cup we remember that it symbolizes the “blood of the new covenant” shed for us.
When Old Testament saints died their souls went to Paradise (Heb. sheol) where Jesus went when He died. When Jesus rose from the dead He raised from the dead all the Old Testament saints and led them to heaven.
When New Testament saints die their soul goes straight to heaven to be with Christ to await the Rapture when the “dead in Christ shall rise first” and the living saints will be changed; caught up to meet Christ in the air.
Old Testament saints were the servants of God but New Testament saints are the children of God. In the Old Testament the only ones who are call the “sons of God” are angels because they are created by God but in the New Testament we become the children of God by a spiritual rebirth.
Jesus told Nicodemus that “except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). To enter
the family of God one must be born again of the Spirit of God and become a child of God. God becomes our Heavenly Father and all other believers in Christ are my brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no other way to become a child of God other than the new Birth and we are born again by simple faith in Christ..
There is a mistaken view in Christendom that all men and women are the children of God because we are created by God. But this view fails to recognize the fact that after God created Adam sin entered and separated the human race from God. The only way back is via the new birth. We must be born again of the Spirit of God.
How Can I be Born Again?
The New Birth is a work that God does in the heart when we believe on Jesus Christ. John 1:12-13 states:
“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.”
We receive Christ by faith and we believe the promise of God’s Word. “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing the Word of God” (Rom.10:17).
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are
his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph.2:8-10). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1Pet. 1:23).
Faith takes hold of the promises of God and the Holy Spirit does the work to make me a “new creature in Christ” (2Cor.5:17).
Children and Sons
In the original Greek there is a distinction between the Children of God and the Sons of God. In fact there are four main words used to distinguish the stages of development in the Family of God. The four stages are as follows:
1) The unborn child in the womb of its mother is en gaster scheo literally, “in the stomach held”. During pregnancy the unborn is a real person and innocent. Should it die or be aborted it is eternally safe and for this reason heaven will have millions of souls of the unborn who have perished.
We know that the baby in the mother’s womb is a real person because John the Baptist could be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb of Elizabeth (Luke 1:41).
2) Little Children who have not come to the age of understanding are described by the Greek word paidon. Jesus took these in His arms and blessed them and said,
“Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt.18:14).
Until a child reaches the age of understanding they are safe in the
arms of Jesus.
3) Children who are old enough to make a responsible decision are described in the greek as teknon and that is the term used of all those who are born again of the Holy Spirit. We enter the family of God as His children and the Bible says of us
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1Pet.2:2).
In this life Christians are teknon, immature children of God. We are all learning from our Heavenly Father. We grow spiritually as we feed upon the Word of God and it is God’s desire that in this life we become mature Christians. God has placed pastor/ teachers in the Church to help us to grow spiritually
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph.4:12-13).
This side of heaven we will never reach the standard of perfection but Paul says that we “press toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” or to the “upward call” which is the Rapture when we will be perfected in our resurrection body. That is our goal.
In the Epistle to the Galations Paul states that a child, though an heir “differeth nothing from a servant, though he be Lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father” (Gal.4:1-2).
In this life God chastens us when we are disobedient children in order that “we might be made partakers of His holiness” (Heb.12:10).
4) The fourth Greek word used to describe the children of God is huios which is a term for adult, fully mature sons. In our society it would approximate to turning 21 years of age and no longer considered a child but a son. The Bible describes this as “the adoption” when we finish our earthly journey and are raptured into the presence of Christ and God will
“change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil.3:21).
“Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom.8:23).
The “adoption” has nothing to do with becoming a child of God but is all about our glorification at the first resurrection of the Church-age saints. The children (teknon) of God are waiting the adoption; for the day when we see Christ and
“when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1John 3:2).
At conversion we receive “the Spirit of adoption” and then we wait until the Rapture for the day when we will be glorified and given a resurrection body like unto Christ.
In Romans ch.8 we are reminded that we groan in this body “waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body”
In the epistle to the Galations Paul states that we are redeemed so “that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal.4:5).
In his epistle to the Ephesians Paul indicates that Christians are predestinated unto the “adoption of children” but the words of children are added by the translators. The Greek word translated “adoption” is a compound of two words huiothesian, “a son” and “to place”. The meaning is “to place as an adult son”. God has predestinated all who believe in Christ and have thereby become the (teknon) children of God, that we will be placed as sons, fully perfected into the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But notice the words, “to Himself” that follows the statement that “we might receive the adoption”. The adoption is obviously something future for the believer because it is somethng we have yet to receive. And the adoption is “to himself” i.e. to Christ.
So when will we receive the adoption; the redemption of our body? Paul says that at the Rapture, “this corruptable must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality” (1Cor.15:53).
It is at the Rapture that we are received to the immediate presence of Christ and only then will the adoption, or full sonship take place. Our bodies will be redeemed.
In these bodies we sin and fail to come up to the perfect standard of Christ but our salvation will be complete when this corruption will put on incorruption and this mortal shall put on immortality.
Nowhere in Scripture are we told that we are predestinated to believe or to be born again as a child of God. Predestination is the guarentee we receive at conversion of an
“inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1Pet.1:4).
Adoption is not the way that God places us in His family. God never adopts anybody elses children. All of God’s children are born into the family of God by the New Birth as Jesus told Nicodemus,
“Ye must be born again!” There is no other way to become a child of God.
The truth that all who believe are predestinated to be glorified as the “sons of God” is the truth of the eternal security of the believer and cannot be interpreted to mean, as Calvinists teach, that God only predestines some to eternal life.
Eternal life is the free gift of God available to all who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His precious blood to redeem us.
If God has already chosen some to be saved and they cannot resist the call, and if He has chosen the rest to be lost and they cannot respond to the call, then there is no point in Christ coming and dying for the sins of the world.
Calvinism is faced with the charge that they have by-passed the crosswork of Christ and have a salvation that does not need a Saviour or atonement for sins. They endeavour to avoid the charge by saying Christ did not die for the sins of the world but only for the elected which is a denial of the plain statement of Scripture that,
“the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1John4:14).
In this life, evey born-again believer is “waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body” (Rom.8:23) and all who are thus “in Christ”
after believing in Him, have been predestinated to the adoption or our glorification as the perfected sons of God, changed into the perfect image of the Lord Jesus.
John states that,
“now are we the sons (children) of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1John 3:2).
Peter makes it clear that God
“hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1Peter1:3-4),
Since there is a place reserved in heaven for those who believe in Christ then God must have predetermined that every believer will be glorified and every believer can therefore be sure that they are eternally secure.
“Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom.8:39).
Our adoption “to Himself” is secured and “so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1Thess.4:18).
For the Church, that will take place at the Rapture!