Are All "Believers" Children Of God?

by Garland M. Robinson

        No, all believers are not children of God. In fact, there are scores of people who "believe" in Jesus but are not saved. To properly understand this question, as any Bible question, we must "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
        In the Bible, the word "believe" is used in two different ways. It is used of those who believe in the sense that they have a mental acceptance of God and Jesus his Son. And, it is also used in the sense of those who not only believe, but act or work upon the basis of their belief.
        It is clear there are many today, just as there were in the Lord's time, who "believe on him" but do not obey his commandments. We read in John 12:42-43, "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." James even describes demons who believe but obviously do not obey. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). No one would think the demons in hell will be saved!
        The Bible often uses the word "believe" as a figure of speech called a synecdoche, where "a part is put for the whole." That is, one thing is stated but obviously includes much more. For example, 1 Corinthians 1:21 says, " pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe ." This is not just an acknowledgement of Jesus, but a full obedience to his commands. It is a belief or faith that saves because it is an active or living faith. James records, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead ? ... For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (2:20,26).
        Children of God are only those believers who OBEY his commands. Jesus said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say" (Luke 6:46; cf. Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus commanded faith in Him (John 8:24), repentance of sins (Luke 13:3,5), confession of faith in Him (Matthew 10:32-33) and water baptism (Mark 16:16) in order to be children of God. Those who have left out even one of these commandments are not true believers and, therefore, not children of God!