The Sons of God




“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons 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. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

I John 3:1-3


  1. There are only two kinds of people on earth at any point in time: the sons of God and the sons of the devil; the vessels of honour and the vessels of dishonour; the vessels of mercy and the vessels of wrath (Rom 9:21-24; Eph 2:1-7; John 3:6; 8:47; 10:26).
  2. Having recently studied the full assurance a believer can have of eternal life in a series of messages called, “No Fine Line,” we realized that our sonship in Jesus Christ is what John sought to prove by the Holy Ghost in his first epistle, especially chapter 3.
    1. I John 3:1 has two important lessons – the incredible fact of adoption by God, and the world’s ignorance of us. Though we are the sons of God walking on planet earth, they no more recognize us than they did Jesus Christ (I Cor 2:8,15; Gal 6:14).
    2. I John 3:2 has two important lessons – our present position as a child of God in several ways, and our future glorification and manifestation to the universe as the sons of God with Jesus Christ our brother (Rom 8:17-19; I Cor 15:35-58).
    3. I John 3:3 has one important lesson – grasping the true reality of our adoption would cause us to live more holy lives.
  3. From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible and in between, it is a record of the sons of God (Gen 6:1-3; Rev 21:7).
  4. There is a chart at the bottom of this outline containing a visual picture with many scriptures of our adoption in five phases.


  1. Adopt. To take as one’s own child, conferring all the rights and privileges of childship.
  2. It is not unusual for men to consider adopting a deprived child to give affection and privileges, and it is usually such children due to their poor birth and circumstances who are available for adoption.
  3. In the Bible, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses, and Mordecai adopted Esther (Exodus 2:10; Esther 2:7).
  4. Adoption is a process with necessary steps that should be thoroughly understood naturally and spiritually.
    1. It begins when a father considers his situation, weighs his intentions and options, and plans to adopt.
    2. He hires lawyers to complete an official transfer making the adoption legal and binding on all parties.
    3. When the legal transfer is complete, the adopted child is given a new name, status, parents, and home.
    4. As the child grows, he learns more and more about his loving adoption, its privileges, and his duties.
    5. When his adopting father dies, he inherits his estate and realizes the fullest extent of his adoption.


  1. We were born Adam’s sons by natural generation and parents, so thereby rejected and condemned by God.
  2. In the beginning God created Adam and Eve very good, but they rejected and defied Him for damnation.
    1. God wisely allowed sin to enter the race by Satan and Adam (Psalm 115:3; I Pet 1:20; Gen 3:24; 20:6).
    2. God imputed Adam’s sin and the penalty of death to the entire human race (Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12-18).
    3. Men by natural generation bring forth children of Satan and Adam (Gen 5:3; John 3:6; Rom 8:8).
    4. Men as soon as they are born manifest their sonship by sinning immediately (Ps 25:7; 51:5; 58:3).
    5. At the last day, sinful men shall receive the same reward as their father (Revelation 20:10,15).
  3. Due to our first natural birth, we are hated (Ps 5:5; 7:11; 11:5) and condemned (John 3:18; Rom 3:19).
  4. If you could have influenced your first birth, you should have stopped it to save yourself such a fate.
  5. By our natural first birth, we were children of disobedience and wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3; 5:6; Col 3:6).
  6. We were under Satan’s influence and control as his own children (John 8:41-48; Acts 13:6-12; II Cor 4:4).
  7. When God surveyed the objects of adoption, he found only filth (Psalm 14:1-4; 53:1-4; Romans 3:9-18).
  8. There was not a single child in Adam’s race who desired Him or cared (Rom 8:7-8; I Cor 2:14; Titus 3:3).


  1. God sent Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for our sins, but that does not make God our heavenly Father.
  2. Redemption describes the purchase price from God’s justice, but redemption does not make us His sons.
  3. Pardon for crimes committed is a great deliverance, but it does not make us the beloved children of God.
  4. Justification clears of guilt and condemnation and makes us righteous, but it does not make us God’s sons.
  5. Sanctification as a holy object without sin is wonderful, but it does not make us God’s children either.
  6. Consider it this way: you must be justified to be adopted, but you do not have to be adopted to be justified.
  7. Adoption rises considerably higher than any other aspect or facet of our salvation in Jesus Christ.
  8. We must say with John, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.”


  1. Long before the creation of the world, God purposed to adopt some persons from sinful mankind for the glorious display of His grace, and He committed Himself to perform the necessary operations of grace.
  2. He created the universe to display His glorious grace and kindness in His adopted children and His terrible wrath and justice in the rejected children (Rom 9:22-24; Pro 16:4; Eph 2:7; I John 3:1; I Pet 1:12).
  3. The eternal counsel and will of God is the fountainhead of this great gift (Romans 9:15-16; Eph 1:5,9,11).
  4. God purposed this act of adoption in His eternal counsel as He does all His works (Acts 15:18; I Pet 1:2).
  5. God’s adoption of sinners as His children was predestinated from eternity (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:5).
    1. Predestination. The ordaining or determination of events before they come to pass.
    2. This word occurs four times in the New Testament, all relating to sonship (Rom 8:29-30; Eph 1:5,11).
    3. Our adoption includes an eternal inheritance, which God also predestinated for us (Ephesians 1:11).
    4. We were predestinated to be Christ’s brethren, which would clearly make us God’s sons (Rom 8:29).
  6. God’s purpose, grace, and promise of adoption was given before the world began (II Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2).
  7. The spiritual blessing of adoption and all others was given us in Christ before the world began (Eph 1:3-4).
  8. God gave us to Jesus Christ in eternity for adoption (Matt 1:21 cp Eph 1:4; Heb 2:13 cp John 6:39; 17:2).
  9. Jesus Christ, Who paid the legal price for adoption, was assigned to it in eternity (I Pet 1:17-21; Eph 3:11).
  10. And God our Father began preparing heaven for His adopted children from the very beginning, which will result in the tremendous difference of what the righteous and wicked will hear (Matthew 25:34,41,46).
  11. It is presumption and sacrilege to think that adoption is the choice of the rejected orphan choosing a father!
  12. The will or faith of the child of the devil is not involved in becoming a child of God (John 1:13; 3:8; 5:21).
  13. When He looked at the children of men, there were none worthy of adoption at all, there were none cooperating with Him, there were not seeking adoption, and there were none good (Psalm 14:1-4; 53:1-4).
  14. To further magnify Himself, He chose the poor and despised orphans of humanity (I Cor 1:25-31; Jas 2:5).
  15. The angels cannot comprehend His incredible grace and mercy on men, for those that sinned among them are reserved in chains unto the judgment of the great day (I Peter 1:12; Eph 3:10; II Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6).


  1. To adopt sinners, God’s absolute and eternal justice and wrath had to be paid and satisfied, for His holy nature and righteous character could not accept, love, or adopt a wicked creature (Psalm 5:5; Hab 1:13).
  2. This holy God cannot clear or acquit the guilty of sins (Exodus 34:7; Nahum 1:3; Rom 3:24-26; Ps 85:10).
  3. Being holy and just, He demanded and expected their eternal condemnation (Ezek 18:4; Rom 5:18; 6:23).
  4. God appointed Jesus Christ in eternity to provide the human sacrifice for us (I Peter 1:20; Heb 10:5-14).
  5. Jesus took on human nature to pay the legal price for adoption by His substitutionary death (Heb 2:9-17).
  6. It pleased God to bruise the Lord Jesus Christ to make satisfaction for the sins of God’s seed (Is 53:10-12).
  7. God’s law, which demanded our eternal death, was paid in full by Jesus Christ (Gal 4:4-5; Rom 5:20-21).
  8. Jesus by His death gathered together in one all the children of God (Matt 1:21; John 11:49-52; Eph 1:10).
  9. Not only did He die for us, but Jesus Christ also obeyed God perfectly for us (Rom 5:15-19; II Cor 5:17).
  10. Through this gracious sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the adopted children were given an inheritance (Titus 3:7).
  11. Here is the love of God most clearly displayed, He killed His only son to adopt you as His son (John 3:16)!
  12. Jesus mediated this great act of adoption by putting two enemy parties at peace (I Timothy 2:5; Rom 5:11).
  13. It is an error to think of Christ’s sacrifice as a payment to purchase us from Satan, for He offered His infinite sacrifice to God in payment for His claims against us (Hebrews 9:12-15; Gal 3:13; Rom 3:25).


  1. Though legally the children of God, He justly despised our remaining depraved and deceitful natures.
  2. We loved the devil, obeyed him cheerfully, followed the world in sin, and sought to fulfill all our lusts.
  3. God gives us a new heart loving Him and holiness and hating the devil and wickedness. Glorious change!
  4. Though elected and justified, we had only an old man of the flesh at total enmity with our new Father.
  5. We were adopted children cursing, biting, and kicking all the way to the car for the ride home with Him.
  6. In natural adoptions, sometimes the adopted child, retaining their biological nature from usually perverse parents, despises their loving and kind new parents. And adoptive parents cannot change this painful fact.
  7. Adoption as God’s child required a gracious gift of a new nature to be like Him in affection and wisdom.
  8. Without this change in nature, we could not see or appreciate our Father, Jesus Christ, or the gospel or our adoption (John 3:3; 5:24; 6:44; 8:47; 10:26; Acts 16:14; I Cor 2:14; Rom 8:7-8; Gal 5:17).
  9. It is only after this change in nature that we can believe the gospel (John 5:24; I Cor 1:18; I Jn 4:15; 5:1).
  10. God’s quickening power, as in resurrecting Christ, gives us a new nature (Eph 1:19-20; 2:1-5; Col 2:13).
  11. It is this new nature within that makes us God’s children in yet a further way, by a new spiritual character.
  12. Prior to this drastic transformation, we are the children of the devil by nature (John 8:41-47; Eph 2:1-3).
  13. This operation of grace makes us His children by nature through His Spirit (Rom 8:14-16; Gal 4:6-7).
  14. We are born again by the absolute sovereign and unconditional power of God (John 1:12-13; 3:8; 5:21).
  15. This second birth of the Spirit makes us spiritual sons, very different from our flesh birth (John 3:6-8).
  16. We are regenerated (born again) without works as the people and nation of God (Titus 3:5; I Pet 2:9-10).
  17. Our second birth creates a nature for fellowship and obedience (II Peter 1:4; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10).
  18. Regeneration is called the first resurrection, saving us from the second death (Rev 20:6,15; John 5:25-29).
  19. The Father begat us unto a lively hope by Jesus Christ’s resurrection and our inheritance (I Pet 1:3-5).
  20. The new birth giving us a new nature is by the living word of God, not the written (Jas 1:18; I Pet 1:23).


  1. Predestined, justified, and regenerated as His children, God then tells us the good news of what He has done for us, which brings us to hearing the gospel and responding in faith and obedience as dear children.
  2. It is a normal event for adopted children to learn of their adoption and review their deliverance, which ought to cause great joy and thankfulness for adoptive parents rescuing them from rejection and despair.
  3. This great event is the conversion of God’s children from error to the truth of the gospel, which is ordinarily accomplished by the preaching of the gospel and membership in a church of saints.
  4. God’s ministers have the wonderful privilege of telling men like the Ethiopian eunuch or Cornelius that they are the adopted sons of the living God by gracious predestination through Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
  5. As God’s children learn of adoption and obey their Father, they find joy, hope, assurance, and fellowship.
  6. It is the gospel that informs us of the eternal affection God had for us through Jesus Christ in our adoption.
  7. This is where we believe the gospel record and lay hold of eternal life (I John 5:13; II Peter 1:5-12), which is not the means of our sonship, but rather the evidence, assurance, and identification of it (Gal 3:26-27).
  8. Believing and receiving Jesus Christ is the evidence of a son of God, not a condition for it (John 1:12-13).
  9. As we obey our new Father’s rules, we receive a comforting Spirit assuring us (Gal 4:6-7; Rom 8:15-16).
    1. We receive this Spirit in regeneration, but we realize His comforting ministry by faith and obedience.
    2. The Holy Spirit is sent into our hearts because we are sons, not to help us become sons (Gal 4:6).
    3. The Holy Spirit in our hearts is the earnest of our eternal inheritance (Eph 1:12-13; II Cor 1:22; 5:5).
    4. If we grieve or quench this Spirit, then we lose some of the pleasure as sons (Eph 4:30; I Thess 5:19).
    5. Abba, Father. An untranslated and translated expression of affection to our Father as a dear Father.
  10. Though sons by plan, purchase, and preparation, the pleasure and peace begins with Fatherly fellowship.
    1. The prodigal son pictures a legally living son but dead to fellowship with his father (Luke 15:11-32).
    2. The practical benefits of sonship are reflected in fellowship and joy with the Father (I John 1:3-4).
    3. The word of God and gospel preaching tell us all about our adoption (II Tim 1:10; Rom 1:15-16).
    4. We manifest and display our sonship by working out the new nature God put within us (I John 3:10).
    5. Faith and baptism confess our sonship to God and others (Gal 3:26-27; Hebrews 3:6; I John 5:1).
    6. We put off the old man of our flesh birth and put on the new man of our spiritual birth (Eph 4:22-24).
    7. We show it further by our works good works, which reveal us as God’s sons to the world and please our Father in heaven for further rewards (Matt 5:9,45; Luke 6:35; II Cor 6:17-18; Phil 2:12-16).
    8. We live as the sons of God in contrast to the children of wrath (Eph 5:1-8; Col 3:5-7; I Thess 5:5-10).
    9. The sons of God do not marry the daughters of men or play with the world (Gen 6:1-3: II Cor 6:14-18).
    10. We know we are only strangers and pilgrims in this world, waiting for our final home in heaven.
    11. We learn to love the children of God, for they are our brothers and sisters by adoption (I John 5:1-2).
    12. We understand that since Jesus was made of our nature, He is great high priest (Heb 2:17-18; 4:14-6).
    13. Husbands even recognize their wives as sons of God rather than just spouses (I Pet 3:7; I Cor 9:5).
    14. All of our brotherly duties take on special significance when we view each other as the sons of God!
  11. The chastening that we often consider grievous is proof of Fatherly love for us (Hebrews 12:5-13).
  12. Because we acquire knowledge of our adoption, we then approach God boldly (Matthew 6:9; Heb 4:16).
  13. No longer is God only Divine Justice and Holy Fire, He is our loving Heavenly Abba Father.


  1. We obtain the full riches of adoption when glorified in heaven with our eternal inheritance with God.
  2. The final display of our adoption to the universe is the grand finale coming very soon (Rom 8:17-25).
    1. The whole creation (8:22) is under God’s curse due to sin, but will be liberated in that great day.
    2. The whole creation is awaiting public manifestation or display of God’s sons (8:19-23). Glory!
    3. We still await an aspect of our adoption – the redemption of our physical bodies from death (8:23).
    4. And there shall be no more curse (Rev 22:3). Sin and its effect shall be eradicated from the universe.
    5. And God shall make all things new from the corruption of Adam’s sin upon the whole creation.
    6. We will then have the immortal bodies like His body, which we now lack altogether (I John 3:2).
    7. Then will come to pass the glorious descriptions of our great bodily change (I Cor 15:35-58).
    8. This is the certain end of God’s predestination, our obtaining of our eternal inheritance (Eph 1:11).
  3. All bodies will be raised from the dead, but we will be raised to the resurrection of life … the book of life!
  4. Jesus Christ will declare to God that we are His children that God had given Him to save (Hebrews 2:13).
  5. We have an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance reserved in heaven for us, which should make enduring suffering an easy thing and give us joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:3-9)!
  6. Being a joint-heir with Jesus Christ of God should far exceed any pain while here on earth (Rom 8:17-18).
  7. This inheritance of all things and public announcement as sons are to promote faithfulness (Rev 21:7).
  8. Glorification, the end of the adoption process, is as sure as the predestination that started it (Rom 8:29-30).
  9. The covenant, will, or last testament, by which we receive our eternal inheritance, was put into force by Jesus Christ’s death to accomplish the will of God (Heb 9:15; 10:10-14 Rev 5:1-14).
  10. You need to know about this inheritance, because it will change your life (Eph 1:18; Col 1:12; I John 3:3).
  11. Sons should encourage one another with the prospect of Jesus Christ coming for them (I Thess 4:13-18).


  1. We shall receive a new, personal, and intimate name only God and we shall know (Revelation 2:17).
  2. Angels desire to know about it, which is beyond their blessings and knowledge (I Peter 1:12; Eph 3:10).
  3. There are numerous and great differences between a human adoption and God’s adoption of us.
    1. Men adopt for joy and comfort of children, but God was infinitely happy before (Job 35:5-8).
    2. Men adopt because they may have no children, but God already had many sons (Jobs 38:7).
    3. Men adopt because they see something desirable in the adopted, but God saw only filth in us.
    4. Men adopt never knowing for sure their future disposition, but God gave us His own nature.
    5. Men adopt children of age who agree to the adoption, but we were God’s enemies and hated Him.
    6. Men may adopt children and then later rescind the adoption, but God cannot repent of His gifts.
    7. Men may adopt a child who dies before receiving his inheritance, but God gets us the inheritance.
    8. Men adopt children who receive the inheritance only when they die, but God cannot die. Christ!
  4. Should not our prayers take on a greater confidence in our Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:9; 7:7-11)?
  5. And cannot we pray with greater joy and pleasure knowing He already knows our needs (Matthew 6:32).
  6. By Christ’s adopting death, we are part of the family of God (Gal 6:10; Eph 2:19; 3:14-19; Heb 2:11).
  7. The angel told Joseph that Jesus Christ would save His people – or kin (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:68).
  8. Is there a picture of this Divine adoption more touching and convicting than Ezekiel 16:1-22?
  9. Do you sometimes feel less worthy than others? Rejoice and see your adoption in Christ (I Cor 1:26-31).
  10. The universal “fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man” is only true naturally (Gen 3:20; Luke 3:38).
  11. Jesus comforted His disciples in their self-denial with a kind Fatherly blessing (Luke 12:32).
  12. “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom . . .” will be heard by each (Matt 25:34).
  13. Jesus graciously told His disciples, “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father” (John 20:17).
  14. Our adoption has made us heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ in one family (Rom 8:17).
  15. Can we not take great comfort in the fact that our Heavenly Father knows us (Psalm 103:13).


  1. It is not enough to talk of being God’s children (John 8:43-47; Rom 9:1-8; Matthew 7:21-23).
  2. Do you wish to know your sonship for sure (Rom 8:12-14; II Pet 1:5-12; II Cor 7:1; I Jn 3:10)?
  3. The purpose of the ministry and the church is for us to live as the sons of God (Phil 2:14-16).
  4. There are things we can do to manifest our godly nature here before men (Matthew 5:43-45).
  5. The Lord Almighty will receive us as His children, if we will live separated lives (II Cor 6:18).
  6. The hope of the glorious day of our future public adoption should purify our lives (I John 3:3).


  1. There is no higher subject for thanksgiving and glory than our adoption as the sons of God through Jesus Christ.
  2. If we truly laid hold of this grand theme, it would change our lives (I John 3:3; Romans 8:11-13; Rev 21:7).
  3. Use the chart reproduced below to assist your mental comprehension of the five distinct phases of our adoption.

For Further Study:

  1. The study document, “When Were You Saved?” will lead you through a study of the five phases of salvation.
  2. The sermon outline, “No Fine Line,” documents the various ways to know you are one of God’s elect and a child of God.