Warning: If you don’t read this entire post, you’ll likely miss the point. It’s under 800 words, so take a quick break from YouTube or from binging your favorite TV show, and we’ll all be good.
For those who may not know the history, the concept of “The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man” is a fairly recent idea that was spawned by liberal theologians in the early 1900s. According to this doctrine, God is the universal Father to every mortal, and He indwells in each human, including those who have outright rejected Jesus of Nazareth and His kingdom message.
The concept has made another wave today. Social media abounds with memes saying, “God is in you” and “God is your Father” – not addressed to Jesus-followers, but to every person who breathes oxygen.
While the idea sounds warm and nice, especially to those who are drawn to new-age inspired ideas, it flatly contradicts the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.
Jesus was almost stoned (I mean by rocks!) because He made the shocking statement that He was God’s Son (see John 8). He also made plain that God is NOT everyone’s Father when He said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:3-8). Birth is the impartation of life. New birth is the impartation of divine life.
If Nicodemus was already a child of God (possessing God’s indwelling life), Jesus’ words would have been meaningless.
One of the centerpieces of New Testament revelation is that those who repent and believe on Jesus are made “sons of God” (John 1:12). In other words, God’s life indwells them, and they are kin to divinity. (“Sons” in the New Testament includes women. Just saying.)
The genuine Christian possesses divine life. The triune God – Father, Son, and Spirit – indwells in him or her (see Romans 8).
Therefore, to assert that God dwells in every human is not only false, but it empties the gospel message of its power. The gospel isn’t just about the afterlife, it’s about the present life. And those who have entrusted their lives to Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, have the unique privilege of receiving the indwelling presence of God and being His child through regeneration.
The above realities are stated on just about every page of the New Testament, so I won’t bore you with a long list of Scriptures supporting the idea.
But I’m calling “bull” on all those memes and quotes that assert a fundamental untruth that has deceived many people and conned them into rejecting the message of Jesus Himself. After all, why bother with the claims of Jesus if God is already your Father and He indwells you?
While the New Testament is unshakably clear that not every human possesses the Holy Spirit (God dwelling in them), anyone can receive God’s life if they repent and entrust themselves to Christ.
And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. Romans 8:9
What we [the Christians in Corinth] have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God. 1 Corinthians 2:12
Now a word to those who have embraced a blue-blooded form of evangelical fundamentalism, who are or have been expressing hatred toward everyone who isn’t like them: Let me remind you that Jesus had the harshest things to say about such people. And as was the case with Warden Norton in Shawshank Redemption, the ability to quote the Bible and claim to be “born again” doesn’t make it so. Matthew 7:12 is the litmus test.
Do you treat everyone else the way you want to be treated? That’s the evidence of the new birth. So says John, anyway (see 1 John).
Catch up on all previous articles by clicking on the categories below:
Mission – articles on God’s eternal purpose and the kingdom
Spirituality – articles on the deepening of the spiritual life
Church – articles on radical church restoration and reform
Rethinking – articles that rethink the Christian status quo
Personal – articles about my own practices, spiritual experiences, dreams, and reviews
Humor – articles that contain comedy