My Muslim correspondent carefully worked through the material I had written and had translated for him on "How can Jesus be the Son of God, and there still only be ONE God?" (In English at http://Christianthinktank.com/howson.html and in Punjabi/Urdu at http://Urdu-ctt.com/M_menu.html ).
He wrote me back with a couple of obvious questions--which showed that he was approaching the issue correctly, and that he was not just looking for a debate. Here is part of his letter, with one of the questions:
My Dear Glenn,
Thank you very much for you authentic work on my question.
I have listen it so many times and have read it again and again. And every time when I do this I feel pleasure increasing in me. Thank you, you made it possible on my request.
Thanks now I know that there are a lot of things prove that Christ is the son of God. I have never been taught like this before. Really it is a deep study of this topic for a Muslim specially. Friend I am impressed and At least I am convinced that the Jesus Christ is son of God. But it generated some more questions in my mind (please don’t mind I just want to know more…like:
1) I need some clearance (help/guidance) about Jesus is the son of God and in the same way a believer is also called son of God. [I believe that it is not the sonship like on earth]
We saw in the original article that Jesus was called "Son of God" in several different senses.
He was the Messiah, offspring of David, and as king over Israel He was accorded the title "Son of God" -- meaning basically 'king, appointed by God and ruling under the authority of God'. When David or one of his descendants (e.g, Solomon, Hezekiah, Jesus) was anointed and crowned king, God referred to that coronation as 'begetting' which meant that God had accepted the ruler as his governmental representative on earth. Earthly Israelite kings would often install their sons as rulers over cities within their larger realm, and the Psalms/Zabur portray the Davidic king in such terms (Psalm 2):
Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David. (2 Sa 7:8–17).
Jesus--as Messiah--was thus this type of "son of God" as well, and indeed will be the only true descendent of David to fulfill this promise of an eternal throne.
He also was called 'Son of God' in the sense that people can be called 'son of thunder' or 'son of peace'--describing the character of one's life.
But we saw that His claims to being the unique Son of God went beyond these normal uses of the term. His claims to uniqueness and intimacy and unity with God the Father were so extreme and so unambiguous that he would have been deemed insane--if He had not manifested the very power and presence of God in and through His life.
In this article we will build upon the first article, but only point out the ways in which our sonship (and daughter-ship) differs from the unique one of Jesus.
In some sense, we might conceptualize the quality of the difference in three simple images:
The sonship of Jesus is like the sun; our sonship is like the moon (reflecting only a fraction of the sun's light)
The sonship of Jesus is like an original painting; our sonship is like a copy of it (deriving our image from the original, but not possessing the authenticity or value of it)
The sonship of Jesus is like a mountain; our sonship is like a photograph of it (based upon its form, but not containing its weighty material substance).
As we move from the conceptual images to theological themes, we could state some of the differences in this way:
The sonship of Jesus was eternal in both directions -- it never had a beginning (it always was, even 'before time was created'), and it will never end.
Our sonship is eternal in only one direction-- it begins in time, but it will never end.
Jesus sonship was essential—the Person (Son of God) who took on a fully human nature and who lived in the physical body of Jesus of Nazareth also shares the same non-material ‘body’ or ‘being’ or ‘essence’ as the Person the New Testament calls “God the Father”.
Our sonship is legal—we are ‘adopted’ into the family of God. We have only a human nature and we do not share God's essential nature. [The New Testament teaches us that God dwells inside the believer through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but God's nature does not 'merge' with our human nature to make us 'partially divine' in some way.]
The sonship of Jesus involved identity with and equality with God the Father, even though it was manifested in Jesus' life of voluntary submission to the Father (e.g., Jesus was co-worker in everything God the Father did; to see Jesus was to see the Father; Jesus was to be honored to the same extent the Father was; Jesus co-raised Himself from the dead with the Father).
Our sonship involves equality/identity
neither God the Father nor
Christ. Believers are equal sons and daughters -- as
'siblings'--but we are not equal to the Son of God, nor to the Father
(even though Christ calls us 'brethren' and 'children' in one prophecy).
Jesus character as Son was a perfect expression, perfect replica, and perfect revelation of the Father's character (the old expression "Like Father, like Son" perfectly applied in this case.
As adopted children of God, we are supposed to grow into the likeness of The Unique Son of God, and are supposed to imitate the character of the Father. We do this imperfectly now, and our likeness to God's character can increase or decrease, depending on how we live. After the resurrection, we will be like God in character fully (but not in essence--we will always be only human, even though immortal and glorified at that point), but until then we are imperfect replicas of the Father's character
Of course, we are unlike Jesus in many, many ways other than sonship:
We are not described as being pre-existent, with the glory of the Father [Jesus: Jn 17.5: And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began]
We are not described as having come down from heaven [Jesus: Jn 6.38: For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me]
We are not considered objects of religious faith or worship. [Jn 9.35-38: Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36 "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." 37 Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." 38 Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshipped him.--Notice: In this passage Jesus affirms himself as BOTH a legitimate object of religious faith AND as a legitimate object of worship! (No rebuke is given to the man at all for worshipping Jesus--even in the presence of the Pharisees!); and Jn 3.15: that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.]
We are not to claim ultimate loyalty. [Jesus: Matthew 10.47: Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me]
We are to be honored, but not co-extensively with the Father. [Jesus: Jn 5.22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.]
We don't have any authority over the Holy Spirit to send Him to the earth. [Jesus: Jn 15.26: "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me and Jn 16.7: But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you]
Seeing us is NOT equal to seeing the Father (it is almost never this way!) [Jesus: Jn 14.9: Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?]
We don't go around implying that we are equal to God! [Jesus: Jn 5.17ff: Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. ]
Our works are not co-extensive with the Father's. [Jesus: Jn 5.19f: Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does]
We don't make claims to have been the only one to 'see' and 'know' the Father. [Jesus: Mt 11.27: No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him; and John 6.46: No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.]
We don't make claims to perfection, sinlessness, and always-pleasing the Father [Jesus: Jn 8.29: The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him; and Jn 8.46: Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?]
We are never called 'My Lord and my God'! [Jesus: John 20.27f: Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.]
We will never be omnipresent. [Jesus: Matthew 18.20: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. And Matthew 28.18f: Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.]
We cannot raise ourselves from the dead (!). [Jesus: Jn 10.17ff: The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life -- only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.]
People closest to us would never eventually call us 'THE Son of God' [Jesus: Matt 14.33: Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God; and Matt 16.16: Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God; and John 1.26-30,34: "I baptize with water," John (the Baptist) replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, `A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'... I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
We are never said to have been responsible for the creation of the universe (!) [Jesus: Colossians 1.15ff: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.]
We don't sustain the universe by our words (!). [Jesus: Hebrews 1.1-3: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. ]
We are never described as the 'exact imprint' or 'perfect expression' of God the Father. [Jesus: Hebrew 1.3 (above): The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…]
We are never described as the Author of Life, Author of Salvation, Destroyer of Death, Savior of the World, or other titles of Christ. [Jesus: Acts 3.15: and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead; and Hebrews 2.10: the author of their salvation ; and 2 Tim 1.10: but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.; and John 4.42: They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.]
All of the above attributes (and more) are ascribed to Christ in the New Testament. His exalted nature and status is in every paragraph of the New Testament. Any honest reader of the New Testament Scripture will be confronted with the true 'more than just man' Person of Christ.
He was somehow the exact 'imprint' of God the Father on a historical person:
"The exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:3). The word translated “representation” (charaktēr), used only here in the New Testament, originally was used for an engraving tool or an engraver, a stamp, or even a branding iron. It also came to be used of the image, impress, or mark made, for example on coins or seals. Metaphorically the word developed the meaning of a distinguishing mark on a person or thing by which it is distinguished from other persons or things. Thus, the term denotes features of an object or person by which one is able to identify it. … as William Lane points out, our author employs the word to make his point for Christian theology. The idea that the Son is the “exact representation of [God’s] being” means that he gives a clear picture of the nature of God. This echoes other New Testament texts that speak of Jesus as the “form,” “likeness,” or “image” of the Father." [Arnold, C. E. (2002). Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Volume 4: Hebrews to Revelation. (12). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.]
Jesus' sonship is not earthly, physical, genetic, or sexually-based -- as legitimately condemned in the Qur'an -- but rather is a relationship that is somehow 'inside God'. The Son of God is identical to God the Father in both essense/nature and in character/morals. The Son is NOT the Father, and the Father is NOT the Son, but they share the same essence (something like two persons being inside the same body and being able to control the arms and legs together in unison--we do not have this type of thing in nature, but God is beyond our limitations so this could be the case, from our limited perspective).
however--even though also not earthly, physical, genetic, or
sexually-based--is not 'inside God' at all. Instead, we are adopted
children, made to be legal heirs of the benefits and responsibilities
of the future Kingdom of God. Jesus--as the only essential and only
ultimate Son--is the primary heir of the Kingdom, but He has stated
that He will share those benefits and responsibilities with His
Of course, in some sense, all creation is a 'child' of God-since He is the Maker. But among the various senses of sonship, the New Testament teaches that the sonship of believers in Christ is distinctive:
"In broad terms all humankind are children of God in that God is their Maker (Isa. 45:11–12). More particularly, Israel has God as its Father (Deut. 32:6ff.; Isa. 43:6–7). But Christians are children of God in a still fuller sense: Christ has given to those who believe in him “the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12–13)" [Arnold, C. E. (2002). Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Volume 4: Hebrews to Revelation. (195). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.]
Of course, all believers enter the kingdom of God and have a place there--it is a simple matter of trusting Jesus, as we showed from the Bible in part 5 of the series on Why Did Jesus Let Him Kill Him?. But God will give greater inheritance gifts, blessings, rewards, and responsibilities to those who obey Him, follow His teachings, and serve Him in this life--even in the face of suffering.
The theological and biblical term for how we become children of God is 'adoption':
"Adoption: Theologically, the act of God by which believers become members of “God’s family” with all the privileges and obligations of family membership. “Sons of God,” a common King James Version (English translation) expression, includes individuals of both sexes numbered among God’s children (Is 43:6; 2 Cor 6:18)." [Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible]
The Scripture teaches us that we become legal, adopted children of God through the work of the eternal, essential Son of God:
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” (Ga 4:4–6).
In this passage, the Apostle Paul uses the image of adoption under Roman law. Roman adoption was an experience of dying to the past life and being 'born again' into a new family (legally):
"…the profound truth of Roman adoption was that the adoptee was taken out of his previous state and placed in a new relationship of son to his new father, his new paterfamilias. All his old debts were cancelled, and in effect the adoptee started a new life as part of his new family." [Francis Lyall, cited in Paul: Jew, Greek and Roman, Stanley Porter (ed), Brill:2008, page 266]
One commentator explains:
"Paul continued his discussion of the privileges that believers receive as full heirs of Abraham through Christ. Paul used the familial metaphor “adoption” of our salvation while John and Peter used the familial metaphor “born again.” The adoption metaphor was used primarily in two contexts in Roman culture. In Roman law, adoption was very difficult. A long, involved and expensive legal procedure, once enacted adoption afforded several special rights and privileges: (1) all debts were cancelled; (2) all criminal charges were dropped; (3) they could not be legally put to death by their new father; and (4) they could not be disinherited by their new father. In legal terms, they were a completely new person. Paul was alluding to the believers’ security in Christ by using this Roman legal procedure (cf. Rom. 8:15, 23). When a father publicly adopted a son, he officially and permanently became his heir. Also, the metaphor was used in the official ceremony of a boy becoming a man, held on the 17 th of March each year. [Utley, R. J. D. (1997). Vol. Volume 11: Paul's First Letters: Galatians and I & II Thessalonians. Study Guide Commentary Series (45–46). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.]
The apostle John connects the ministry of the incarnate Word (Jesus) with our right to become children of God:
He (Jesus) came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (Jn 1:10–13).
Our legal standing as adopted children of God is thus dependent upon the work of Christ on the Cross. This new legal standing with God--not only as forgiven criminals but now as adopted members of God's family!--is an expression of His love.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 Jn 3:1–2).
This verse points out that our sonship has two aspects: a present aspect and a future aspect. The present aspect is that we are NOW adopted children of God even in our mortal bodies and with our moral failures, and the future aspect is that we will IN THE FUTURE be transformed beyond our mortal state into something greater.
"Although we already have fellowship with Christ through his indwelling Spirit, a time is coming when we will see him face to face, in all his glory (3:2). Just as he could be seen, heard, and touched in his first manifestation, so it will be true at his second appearing. John’s statement implies that Christ may come at any time, so we must always be ready. Though guaranteed eternal life (5:11–12), true believers will nonetheless give account to God (Heb 13:17) and be judged by their works (Matt 16:27; 2 Cor 5:10).
"At this time in our lives, the world may not fully recognize us as the children of God, but it will when we are fully glorified with Christ. Nonetheless, our lives should display the fact that we are God’s children now. Contrary to the belief of the Pelagians, we do not become children of God by doing right. Rather, doing right is a sign that we have already become God’s children—because we cannot do right on our own.
"In this section, John declares that something inconceivably wonderful is waiting for us—even more glorious than what we now have as God’s children. And of this prospect we can be sure: In eternity we will be with Christ and be like Christ. We already have a hint of what this future glory will be like, though the world is completely ignorant of it. Christ will be revealed to us and in us, in all his glory (2 Cor 4:4). In the same way, believers will be revealed to the world as God’s children, sharing in Christ’s glory and honor. This is the hope of every believer, even of all creation itself. As the apostle Paul said, the whole creation is waiting for the day when the children of God will be revealed in all their glory, reflecting the image of Christ (cf. Rom 8:18–30).
"But seeing Christ is something that begins in the earthly life of the believer. The idea is not that we see him physically but that by constantly gazing at Christ, we will become like him and reflect his glory (2 Cor 3:17–18). As John said it, “we will see him as he really is” (3:2). This means more than a merely physiological occurrence; it means “perceiving,” “recognizing,” even “appreciating.” In order to know someone—to see them as they really are—you have to pass through similar experiences. Therefore, in order to see Jesus as he really is, we must experience the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. This was Paul’s aspiration, and it should be ours (Phil 3:7–14). Of course, this was also John’s aspiration, as expressed in the following verse: “All who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure” (3:3). Everyone who has the hope of seeing Christ and being like him realizes that Christ is morally pure and therefore pursues purity now. We can do this only through Christ’s Spirit in us—as Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This is an ongoing purification process, which begins at rebirth and continues until the day we see Jesus. The more pure we become, the clearer our view will be of Jesus, who is pure through and through." [Osborne, G., & Philip W. Comfort. (2007). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 13: John and 1, 2, and 3 John (347–348). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.]
So, our sonship as believers has three phases of it:
The Past: Our 100% full legal adoption as children of God the moment we put our trust in Christ as our sacrifice, our substitute on the cross, our ransom, and our rescuer;
The Future: When we get the full rights as 'mature' children of God, when our mortal bodies are resurrected and transformed into immortal and glorious bodies like that of the Risen and Ascended Christ the Son of God; the New Testament refers to this as 'adoption, the redemption of our BODIES' in Romans 8.23: "We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us."
The Present: We are directed
to live like children of God, by imitating the heart of God in this
life: Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are
his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the
example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for
us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Eph 5:1–2).
One commentary summarizes:
"In his concluding statement in chapter 4, Paul had instructed believers to be gracious in the same way that God had been gracious in Christ. He now enjoins believers to become imitators of God as beloved children. Our status as his beloved or dear children, the objects of his love, is the result of the gracious way he has acted toward us, as described in the first three chapters. Paul exhorted believers, as God’s beloved children, to live in the sphere of love. Paul’s mention of the sphere of love is reminiscent of Christ’s command to the disciples in his farewell discourse, where he told them to love one another as he has loved them (John 13:34; 15:12, 17). Our model is Christ who, out of love, gave himself for us as an offering and sacrifice to God. He willingly died on behalf of sinners, who had no love for him, and many, in fact, despised him. What a model! God was pleased with Christ’s sacrifice, which to him was a fragrant aroma. In the Old Testament many animal sacrifices, even when properly prepared, were not received by God as a fragrant aroma because the offerer had a wrong attitude and a heart far from him. In contrast, Christ willingly gave himself to be offered, and he did it to be a pleasant aroma to God. In the same manner, believers are enjoined to exhibit sacrificial love so as to be a sweet perfume not only to God but also to fellow believers (2 Cor 2:14–16). Christ’s love cost him his life. Should our love be without cost? [Hoehner, H. W., Comfort, P. W., & Davids, P. H. (2008). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol. 16: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, Philemon. (100–101). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.]
Jesus speaks of this Himself in the Gospels:
If you love
only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even
sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to
those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do
that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay
you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other
sinners for a full return. 35 “Love your enemies! Do good
to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your
reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly
be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who
are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be
compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
They are blessed who work for peace, for they will be called God’s children. (Mt 5:9).
But in addition to imitating God in our interactions with others, we are also urged to interact with God as His children, opening our lives and our hearts to him as our Heavenly Father. God gives His adopted children special help, by sending the Holy Spirit--the same spirit that was active in the lives of the Prophets--into our hearts to help us enjoy this relationship with Him:
So you have not
received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you
received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.
Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit
joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (Ro
And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” (Ga 4:6).
We should also note, however, that our present status as adopted children of God is not just a 'legal fiction'. The New Testament teaches in other passages that we were spiritually 'reborn' when we placed our trust in Christ. We were 'born again'--of the spirit and not of the body--by an miracle of God inside our hearts. God gave us a new birth by His powerful Word:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. 4 Now we hope for the blessings God has for his children. These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept in heaven for you. (1 Pe 1:3–4).
For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. (1 Pe 1:23)
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. (Jas 1:17–18).
So, when we trust in Christ as the provision for our sin-debt and as the Father-sent rescuer of our souls, God both gives us new spiritual life inside our hearts and gives us legal standing as His children.
There are many, many blessings that God gives us as we live this life as His children. He is changing us more and more into the likeness of His Son (who is the perfect likeness of the Father's character, remember). He will honor us as His children at the resurrection of the dead. He will walk with us today through our good times and bad times (like a perfect Father would do).
But all of our blessings as His children depended on the death of Christ for us. Without that solution to the problem of human sin and the deserved punishment from God, we would not be able to experience this present relationship of intimacy with the Father, nor would we be able to be honored at the resurrection as children, along with the pre-eminent and unique heavenly Son of God.
Jesus is our perfect example of submission to the Father followed by exaltation by the Father, and our lives are to be a 'smaller version' of that. For example, in Jesus' words:
Rev 3.21: To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (We do not share the throne of the Father--only Jesus does that--but we share the throne of the Son Jesus).
The eternal Son of God came to earth in the body, birth, and life of Jesus of Nazareth. He always was, and always will be the absolutely unique Son of God the Father. He showed us what the Father was like, and showed us how we were supposed to live as newly accepted children in God's family. His voluntary and sacrificial death on the cross cleared all the judicial barriers that could stop us from becoming God's children, and He gives eternal life and eternal honor to those who place their trust and confidence in Him. Once we trust Christ as our Redeemer and Savior, we become children of God and are called upon to live lives that reflect the character and goodness of our Heavenly Father. At the resurrection, we will receive many other blessings of God, as co-heirs with the truly unique, incomparable, and essential Son of God Christ.
Much of this is still a mystery to us--but we believe the Scripture and we trust God that He guides us with truth and love.
I hope this helps, friend-- and may you and your loved ones come to trust this heaven-sent Jesus, and to be --because of this faith-- welcomed into the family of God by God Himself!