Fellowship

You were formed for God's family.

"God is the One who made all things, and all things are for his glory. He wanted to have many children share his glory..." Heb. 2:10a (NCV)

"See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!" 1 John 3:1 (NLT)

God wants a family, and he created you to be a part of it. This is one of God's purposes for your life, which he planned before you were born. The entire Bible is the story of God building a family who will love him, honor him, and reign with him forever.

"His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure."

Because God is love, he treasures relationships.

His very nature is relational and he identifies himself in family terms: Father, Son, and Spirit. The Trinity is God's relationship to himself. It's the perfect pattern for relational harmony and we should study its implications.

God already exists in loving relationship to himself so he's never been lonely. He didn't need a family- he desired one, so he devised a plan to create us, bring us into his family, and share with us all he has. This gives God great pleasure.

"It was a happy day for him when he gave us our new lives through the truth of his Word, and we became, as it were, the first children in his new family."

When we place our faith in Christ, God becomes our Father, we become his children, other believers become our brothers and sisters, and the church becomes our spiritual family.

The family of God includes all believers in the past, in the present, and all who will believe in the future.

Every human being was created by God but not everyone is a child of God. The only way to get into God's family is by being born again into it. You became part of the human family by your first birth but you become a member of God's family by your second birth.

"...it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God's own family."

"... the Spirit makes you God's children, and by the Spirit's power we cry out to God, "Father! my Father!" God's Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God's children."

The invitation to be part of God's family is universal , but there is one condition: faith in Jesus.

"You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus."

"Jesus pointed to his disciples and said, "These are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!"

Not only are we born again into God's family through faith, the Bible says God also "adopts" us. We don't deserve to be his children, but he has chosen us for this privilege because he loves us.

Your spiritual family is even more important than your physical family because it will last forever.

Our families on earth are wonderful gifts from God, but they are temporary and fragile, often broken by divorce, distance, growing old, and inevitably, by death. On the other hand, our spiritual family -- our relationship to other believers - will continue throughout eternity. It is a much stronger union, a more permanent bond, than blood relationships.

"When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God -some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth."

"To all who did accept him and believe in him he gave the right to become children of God. They did not become his children in any human way -- by any human parents or human desire. They were born of God."

The moment you were spiritually born into God's family, you were given some astounding birthday gifts: the family name, the family likeness, family privileges, family intimate access, and the family inheritance!

"Since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you."

The New Testament gives great emphasis to our rich "inheritance." As children in God's family we get to share in the family fortune. Paul said, "I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people."

What benefits do we inherit? As children in God's family we are given "the riches... of his grace... kindness... patience... glory... wisdom... power... and mercy." We also inherit eternal life and God puts his Spirit inside us now as a guarantee of all that is to come. What an inheritance! You are far richer than you realize.

"My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

"God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay."

Your eternal inheritance is priceless, pure, permanent, and protected; no one can take it from you. It can't be destroyed by war, a poor economy, or disaster. This inheritance, not retirement, is what you should be looking forward to. Retirement is a shortsighted goal.

You should be living in light of eternity.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward."

Baptism: Identifying With God's Family
Healthy families have family pride; members are not ashamed to be recognized as a part of the family. Sadly, I've met many believers who've never publicly identified themselves as Jesus commanded - by being baptized.

Baptism is not some optional ritual, to be delayed or postponed. It signifies your inclusion in God's family. It publicly announces to the world, "I am not ashamed to be a part of God's family." Are you? Jesus commanded this beautiful act for all in his family:

" Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

For years I wondered why Jesus' Great Commission gives the same prominence to baptism as it does to the great tasks of evangelism and edification. Why is baptism so important? Because it symbolizes the second purpose of your life: incorporation into the fellowship of God's eternal family.

Baptism is pregnant with great meaning. Your baptism declares your faith, shares Christ's burial and resurrection, symbolizes your death to your old life, and announces your new life in Christ. It is also a celebration of your inclusion in God's family.

Your baptism is a physical picture of a spiritual truth.

It represents what happened the moment God brought you into his family: "Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ's body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit."

Baptism doesn't make you a member of God's family; only faith in Christ does that. Baptism shows you are part of God's family. Like a wedding ring, it is a visible reminder of an inward commitment made in your heart. It is an act of initiation, not something you put off until you are spiritually mature. The only biblical condition is that you believe.

In the New Testament people were baptized immediately as soon as they believed. At Pentecost 3,000 were baptized the same day they accepted Christ. An Ethiopian leader was baptized on the spot when he was converted, and Paul and Silas baptized a Philippian jailer and his family at midnight! There are no delayed baptisms in the New Testament. If you haven't been baptized as an expression of your faith in Christ, do so immediately, as Jesus commanded.

Life's Greatest Privilege
The Bible says, "Jesus and the people he makes holy all belong to the same family. That is why he isn't ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters." Let that amazing truth sink in! Because Jesus makes you holy, God is proud of you. Being included in God's family is the highest honor, the greatest privilege you and I will ever receive. Nothing else comes close. Why not pause right now and thank God that he included you?

"Praise God for the privilege of being in Christ's family and being called by his wonderful name!"