The identity of God’s family
God ’s family is composed of those persons who live or otherwise exist in a direct relationship with God. The head of this family is God, the Father. The other primary persons in this family are Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, exist and function as one triune unit who compose and manage everything about God’s family.
God’s family also includes individual human beings whom God has invited throughout history to share in a direct relationship with him and his Son and the Holy Spirit. Although human beings were especially created by God for such a relationship with him, this relationship was broken by the sins of Adam and Eve. The refusal of this first human couple to trust God and to obey him turned all human beings into rebellious sinners rather than created children of God (see Genesis 2:15-17 and 3:1-24 for the account of this rebellion, and see the statement on “Sin” on this website for a further explanation of this matter).
The generation of God’s human children
Since the rebellion of Adam and Eve prevented God from having human children through his act of creation, he chose to have them in a different way through his Spirit. They would be born into his family by the direct and personal action of the Holy Spirit rather than through the action of men and women in sexual procreation and child-rearing (see John 3:1-7 and the sermon on “Trying to Teach Worldly People Heavenly Truth” for the statement of God’s rule regarding the importance of being “born again” and a brief explanation about this matter).
God calls or invites individuals to become members of his family and to share in direct personal relationships with him and his Son and his Spirit and other human children through his Spirit and the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus, who paid the price that God requires to redeem rebels (sinners) into his family (see the statement on “Why Jesus?” on this website for an explanation of Jesus’ role in this matter).
Family is known by experience
Human individuals come to know their mothers and fathers by living with them in daily experiences that express a special level of love that is referred to as the bond that exists between parents and children. It is this bond and the experiences that make it that defines human families. Birth certificates are pieces of paper that certify the specific relationships that initially are created by men and women with the child or children that they produce, but a family is really certified and known by the experiences that individual persons share with each other.
Consistent caring and trust and daily sharing and acts of love are the certificates that define a family. In many human families too many individuals may not experience a high level of these blessings, so they have a damaged perspective on what it means to be a part of a family, or they may not feel that they are part of a family at all, or they may seek to find or create a family to which they can belong. Many human families are severely damaged or broken by too many negative experiences among their members.
So a GOOD family is experienced and known through acts of love and trust, and the bond that ties individuals together in their relationships within a family can be understood as faith. It is sometimes expressed in these words of proclaimed love, “I'll always be there for you”, or “I’ll always love you”, or “I have no doubts about you or questions about your love”. And the daily experiences are filled with a lot of praise and celebrations for the glories of the family, a lot of sharing, and acts of repentance and forgiveness for what threatens the family.
God’s family is also known in experiences of faith and love
God is love. God’s initial commandment to Adam and subsequently to Eve that they not eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (see Genesis 2:17) was given to establish a basic level of trust between these human individuals and God, but they disobeyed it and the relationship was broken without a bond of faith being established. God did not stop loving his created human beings, but he continued to work to bring together a family that is generated and sustained by faith and love. And he does this through his love that is constantly expressed to humanity through his Son, Jesus, and his Spirit who are each experienced through faith.
When you reflect upon what certifies the nature and qualities of human families, as described above, it should not be too difficult to understand the nature and qualities of God’s family. Faith and love are not some complicated philosophies that human beings have brought together into various systems of thinking and behaving. They are two basic principles by which God creates and manages his family and lives in relationship to its members forever.
But the faith and love that is experienced and shared in God’s family is quite different from that which is usually experienced in many human families. The qualities of faith and love all come from God, the Father, and they are constantly being dynamically experienced by all of the members, including Jesus, the Son, and each human member forever. Faith in God, or trusting God, is transforming through the truth of God’s word. And the love that is experienced and shared in God’s family is constantly redeeming and strengthening the members of the family, because it is especially sacrificial. (For an explanation of how God uses these principles of faith and love in the management of his family, see the statement on “God’s Work of Redemption” on this website; and to see how faith and love can be implemented in one’s life, see the statement on “What is Christian Faith? (Revised)”.)
Some individual members of God’s family may be known as Christians, or Israelites, or they may not have a particular name among their human associates. They certainly aren’t to be identified by any denominational names, because an individual cannot become a member of God’s family by joining any church or other religious organization. In response to a comment about his “mother” and his “brothers”, Jesus indicated that his family, and of course God’s family, would be composed of those “who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (see Luke 8:19- 21).
Jesus gave this principle of definition for God’s family some very definite emphasis in a discussion that he had with some Jewish critics who were depending upon their lineage to Abraham to make them members of God’s “family” (John 8:34, see John 8:31-47 for the complete discussion). He said to them, “He who belongs to God hears what God says” (John 8:47). So individual members of God’s family will be known and certified by the special bond of faith and love that they “practice” or experience with each other and with God, the Father, and with Jesus and the Spirit day by day. And they are “sanctified”, made good, in this relationship and in God’s family by the “word” of the “Father” in accord with Jesus’ prayer that the “Holy Father” would “sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
God’s family is not of this world; it is forever
So God’s family is to be known and certified by experiences of faith and love that are shared between God, the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and its human members in accord with the “word” of the “Father”. God’s family is different than any family of this world. It is not produced by any activity of human flesh, such as sexual procreation, and it is not limited in its duration by the time span of one’s life. It is produced by God’s Spirit, and it is designed and managed by God to be GOOD forever! Do not reject God’s invitation to join his family. It is a relationship of special trust and love!
Copyright notice: "Scripture quotations taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House."