Question: "How can I become a child of God?"
Answer: “But to all who did receive Him [Jesus], who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
“You must be born again”
When visited by the religious leader, Nicodemus, Jesus did not immediately assure him of heaven. Instead, Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
The first time a person is born, he inherits the sin nature that stems from Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. No one has to teach a child how to sin. He naturally follows his own wrong desires, leading to such sins as lying, stealing, and hating. Rather than being a child of God, he is a child of disobedience and wrath.
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
As children of wrath, we deserve to be separated from God in hell. Thankfully, the passage continues, “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)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
How are we made alive with Christ / born again / made a child of God? We must receive Jesus!
“But to all who did receive Him [Jesus], who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
This passage clearly explains how to become God’s child. We must receive Jesus by believing in Him. What must we believe about Jesus?
First, we must recognize that Jesus is the eternal Son of God who became man. Born through the power of the Holy Spirit by the virgin Mary, Jesus did not inherit Adam’s sin nature. Therefore, He is called the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22). While Adam’s one disobedience brought the curse of sin on the world, Christ’s perfect life can cover our sinful ones. Our response must be to repent (turn from sin), trusting His perfect life to purify us.
Second, we must have faith in Jesus as Savior. God’s plan was to sacrifice His perfect Son on the cross to pay the punishment we deserve for our sin: death. Christ’s death frees those who receive Him from the penalty and power of sin.
Finally, we must follow Jesus as Lord. After raising up Christ as the Victor over sin and death, God gave Him all authority (Ephesians 1:20-23). Jesus leads all who receive Him; He will judge all who reject Him (Acts 10:42).
By God’s grace giving us repentance and faith in the Savior and Lord, we’re born again to new life as God’s child. Only those who receive Jesus—not merely knowing about Him but relying on Him for salvation, submitting to Him as Master, and loving Him as the supreme treasure—become God’s child.
Become a child of God
“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
Just as we had no part in our natural birth, we cannot cause ourselves to be born into God’s family by doing good deeds or conjuring up faith of our own. As the above verses say, God is the one who “gave the right” according to His gracious will. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). Thus, God’s child has nothing to be proud about but boasts only in the Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9).
A child grows up to look like his parents. Similarly, God wants His children to become more and more like Jesus Christ. Although only in heaven will we be perfect, a child of God will not habitually, unrepentantly sin. “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:7-10).
Make no mistake; a child of God cannot be “disowned” by sinning. But someone who “practices” sin (i.e. consistently enjoys sin without heed for following Christ and His Word) reveals that he was never born again. Jesus told such people, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (John 8:44). God’s children, on the other hand, no longer crave the gratification of sin but desire to know, love, and glorify their Father.
The rewards of being God’s child are immeasurable. As God’s child, we are a part of His family (the church), promised a home in heaven, and given the right to approach God in prayer as Father (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Peter 1:3-6; Romans 8:15).
Respond to God’s call to repent of sin and believe in Christ. Become God’s child today!