HOW TO KNOW YOU’RE IN GOD’S FAMILY

INTRODUCTION

We all like to be sure about things. We want to know for a fact. We want to be confident. And not just confident, but absolutely confident. Beyond all shadow of a doubt. We hate uncertainty. We don’t like not being sure about things. We do everything in our power to make sure of whatever it is we’re unsure about.

Of course, once some of us get the facts and know the truth, we don’t like the reality that we’re faced with. So we go about deceiving and fooling ourselves into rejecting the truth. We make for ourselves a different truth. A different reality. And we engage in the lifelong, arduous process of convincing ourselves, and others, that we’re right. So we’re back to where we started. We all like to be sure about things. And when we’re not sure we do everything in our power to make sure.

For a lot of us, we take our salvation for granted. We just know, we assume, we’re sure, we’re saved. Period. End of discussion. The question—no, strike that, the matter—isn’t up for argumentation or debate. We’re saved and that settles that.

For others among us, the matter of salvation is a longstanding, if not a life-long, question–a torment, really– about whether or not we’re really, truly saved. How can we know for a fact? How can we be so sure? Our human frailties and sins, coupled with the devil’s constant torments and accusations, have many of God’s dear people tied up in a knot, worrying about whether they’re really saved or not.

I have a 7-part post about how you can know you’re saved. I also blogged about how you can know where you’re going when you die. And how you can know if you really, truly belong to Christ. If you find yourself tormented about your salvation status, please click on the link, study the Scriptures, search your soul, and be very very sure about where you stand with the Lord right now. Your soul is too precious, and eternity is too long, to miss out on Heaven.

In addition to these posts, here’s another way of looking at our salvation from a different perspective—from the perspective of being a part of God’s family.

HOW TO BE IN GOD’S FAMILY

In Matthew 12:46ff Jesus was teaching and was surrounded by gobs of folks. There were so many that Jesus’ mother and brothers couldn’t get to Him. So they sent a message to Him, asking if He would meet with them. You would think that Jesus would rush out of there and see what was up with the fam. Instead, He stretches His hand towards His disciples and says, Look, here are my mother and my brothers (Matthew 12:49).

Then He goes on to say in verse 50 how we can know, how we can tell, if we’re a part of God’s family: Whoever does the will of My Father who’s in Heaven, is my brother and sister and mother. In other words, short and simple, FAMILY IS WHOEVER DOES GOD’S WILL. If you’re doing God’s will, you’re in. If you’re not, and you don’t ever get around to doing God’s will, then you’re out. IT’S WHAT YOU’RE DOING—WHOSE WILL YOU’RE DOING, YOURS OR GOD’S—THAT DETERMINES WHETHER YOU’RE IN GOD’S FAMILY OR NOT.

I’ll elaborate on this in just a moment. The thing that I find so striking here is that Jesus doesn’t say that His family is everyone who believes in Him. Everyone who gets saved. Everyone who has a conversion experience. Everyone who professes to be a Christian. These are all important and they are the starting point: it’s your entry point to God’s family. You’re at the entrance and you made it into the building called God’s family.

Now what do you do once you’re in the building? Do you stay in? Or do you go back out?

Of course, in this world we’re constantly going into and out of buildings. We don’t spend our entire lives cooped up in one building. We go in and out.

In the building that we call God’s family, getting saved is you getting past the entry doors. You’ve gone through the doors and you’ve entered the building of God’s family. You’re in the family.

Now do you stay in the building or do you go back out into the world and the life that’s outside the building? You see, just because you made it into the building doesn’t mean you’re staying in the building. Many Christians leave the building to go back to the sin that they love; to go back to the world that they still love; to go back to the heathen friends and lifestyles that they just can’t seem to get enough of. Like the one lost sheep who’s left the flock (Luke 15), many Christians are outside the building, sinning, yet they consider themselves inside the building.

Jesus wants you to stay in the building. Getting into the building is great. Jesus isn’t knocking or discouraging that. He’s happy you made it into the building. But Jesus is telling us all that it’s just the start. For the rest of your life He wants you to stay in the building. How do you do that? How do you stay in the building? You do God’s will.

That’s a tough one. We all want our way and will. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but it just seems like that’s how a lot of us live: we live doing what we want. That’s no criticism or put down, believe me, because I’m every bit human like you and, golly, you don’t know how bad I want to have my way! I’m still human and I make mistakes, get in the flesh, and rush out to do my thing without taking the time to ask God for His take because I already have a good hunch what His take is. Not today, God. Not now. This is what I want to do and I’m gonna do it no matter what You say. In the flesh we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to sin. We’re going to want to have things our own way.

But I’ve got enough sense as a mature Christian and a pastor to know that I’ve got to set my will aside, seek God’s face, learn His will, and do that. Believe me, I do that. I try to do that. To be entirely honest with you, I value one thing more than my will and that’s God’s will. I’m old enough, I’ve gone through the cycle of Christian experience long enough, to know that God’s blessings are found in doing His will. That’s where the happiness and contentment that we cherish and look for are found.

I have a few regrets from past sins and failures that weigh terribly heavy on me. They are a scar  that, upon remembrance, bring a fresh torrent of pain and hurt. I hate this. But seeing that I can’t undo the past, and I can’t entirely, completely forget it either, then such is life for me. I just find a way to set the pain aside and press on. I look for solace and happiness because  they’re all around me just waiting to be discovered, seen, and enjoyed. But without exception, and I mean without exception, all of life’s regrets and pain have come when I was in the flesh. When I did things my way.

And so I’ve learn the painful, bitter lesson: HAVING MY WAY DOESN’T MAKE ME HAPPY. DOING MY WILL HURTS AND GRIEVES ME. HAPPINESS, CONTENTMENT, SATISFACTION, PEACE: ALL THESE ARE FOUND IN DOING GOD’S WILL. IN OBEYING HIM.

So do you want to know if you’re a part of God’s family? Jesus is telling you right here in Matthew 12:50 how you can know for sure. If you’re doing God’s will, you’re in the family.

HOW TO STAY IN GOD’S FAMILY

You stay in God’s family by doing His will. A good place to start is to obey the Bible. The Bible is God’s will. So doing that the Bible says is one way we stay in the family.

Of course, God has a lot of specifics for each and everyone of us. What He wants me to do in any one situation in life may not necessarily be what He wants you to do in the same situation. So what applies to me may not necessarily apply to you.

This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. God speaks to us directly and personally through His Holy Spirit. He gives us the specifics and lets us know what He wants us to be doing right now and for the rest of our lives.

YOU CAN’T OBEY GOD UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT HIS WILL IS.  I think all of us often assume we know God’s will. My will is His will. But unless we’ve prayed about it and heard from God, we don’t know what God’s will is. And, chances are, we’re not doing it. WE CAN’T DO SOMETHING UNLESS WE KNOW WHAT IT IS WE’RE SUPPOSED TO DO. So praying and learning God’s will is just one half of the equation. The other half is, once you know what God’s will is, are you going to do it? That’s hard—especially when you’ve got your mind set on doing what you want to do.

DYING IS SELDOM EASY OR PAINLESS. I know we’ve got all sorts of pain killers to numb the pain or make it unfelt. But when the vicodin or morphine wears off you’re back to feeling the pain. And boy does it hurt! That’s the way dying is. It’s hard and painful. And no one wants to go through it.

And that’s the way self-dying is. I’m talking about the cross and crucifying self, selfish interests, selfish desires, selfish will. It’s a hard thing to do that many people don’t want to do it. And when they do it, they do it screaming because it’s painful to give up your way to do it God’s way.

Yet, this is exactly what God would have all of us do. Luke 14:27, And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE CROSS WITH YOU, IF YOU’RE NOT PUTTING IT TO USE, IF YOU’RE NOT ON IT, JESUS SAYS YOU CAN’T BE HIS DISCIPLE.

What’s the cross for? The cross kills everyone who’s on it. No one comes down from the cross alive. When you get hung on the cross you’re hung until you’re dead.

So where are you at right now? Are you on the cross or off?

I know we say that all Christians are going to Heaven when they die. Listen. I’m not the Gatekeeper of Heaven. If it was up to me, everybody in church and everybody who’s a Christian will go to Heaven. But this isn’t exactly what God said! Jesus said here in Matthew 12:50 that you’re family only if you do God’s will. Which is to say, if you’re not doing God’s will you’re not family.

Jesus reiterated this condition of doing God’s will in Matthew 7:21-23, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  (22)  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  (23)  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Brethren, I don’t know how to make it any clearer to you than this. IF YOU’RE NOT DOING GOD’S WILL YOU’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT TO HEAVEN.

Let me hasten to say this doesn’t mean that if you mess up once or twice, or even a lot of times, you’re not going to Heaven. We all are human and imperfect. We’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to mess up. And just because we mess up doesn’t mean we’ve lost our salvation and we’re going to hell. No, God has given us the offer of forgiveness so that we can be forgiven and go to Heaven. Of course, we have to repent of our sins and turn away from them. But the point is, just because you sinned doesn’t automatically mean you’re not in God’s family.

Jesus here is talking about a pattern, a habit, a lifestyle, a way of living where you’re doing your will on a regular basis and not God’s will. Make that a life’s habit and you’re guaranteeing yourself a horrible surprise when you die.

So how can you know, how can you be absolutely sure, you’re in God’s family? If doing God’s will is a habit and lifestyle with you, then you’re in. It’s as simple as that.

If obeying God isn’t a habit and lifestyle with you, and you want to go to Heaven, then guess what you need to be doing: you need to start obeying God. If you don’t want to obey God, but don’t want to go to hell either, then ask God to give you a new heart. Ask Him to change your heart and mind. Ask Him to give you an obedient heart, Ezekiel 36:26-27. As a Christian, I’ve had to pray this prayer a number of times and it’s always worked for me. It’s a prayer that God will answer, Philippians 2:13.

God wants you in His family. If you want in, He’ll bring you in and, with a lot of prayer, crucifixion, teaching, and chastening too!, you’ll have a heart to obey God. That might not seem possible to you right now. But take it from me who’s gone down the road before you, it’s possible to say Not my will, but Thine be done, and to mean it with all your heart. It’s such a refreshing and gratifying stage to be at in life and you, my dear friend, can join me! With God’s help, you can make it! For with Him all things are possible and not even your hard head or heart is impossible for Him to change. If He can’t change you He’s not God. Of course, if you’re not wanting to be changed, then it’s all on you. Either way, God will always be God. If you want changed, God will see to it that you are changed. You have His word and His guarantee on that and He will not fail.

5 Comments

  1. February 18, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Do you think it’s possible to do the will of God without believing in the Bible in the modern sense?

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      February 20, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      Hello Sacredstruggler, I’d love to answer your question but, shamefully, I must confess that I don’t know what you mean by “believing the Bible in the modern sense.” Could you clue me in? While I wait for your answer, let me preface my forthcoming answer with these introductory points about doing God’s will. I don’t exactly know what you mean by “God’s will,” but here’s how I understand it. (1) There are certain aspects of God’s will, namely the most basic and universal of His moral laws, that God has given to all peoples. These laws are written on their heart & conscience (Romans 2:14-15). By obeying these divine moral laws stamped on their heart and conscience, any person–indeed, all people–can do the will of God without knowing who the God of Abraham is or who Jesus Christ is. (2) If we understand “God’s will” to be all the things God wants a person to do at any given moment in life, a person can do God’s will without him or her even knowing what God’s will is and without even realizing that he/she is doing God’s will. For example, when Potiphar bought Joseph to be his slave (Genesis 39:1), chances are, he didn’t buy Joseph because God told him to do that. We know in hindsight that it was God’s will for Joseph to serve Potiphar. But Potiphar didn’t know that up front. From his point of view, Potiphar probably bought Joseph because the price was right or because Joseph looked like good slave material. In this respect, it’s possible for a person to do God’s will without evening knowing what God’s will is and without knowing that he/she is doing God’s will. (3) In the main, however, God’s will, as it is popularly understood in Christendom, refers to His revealed, written will called the Bible. His will is also His personal will revealed to a specific person through the Holy Spirit’s work in that person’s life. For example, it’s God’s will for me to work at Intel or it’s God’s will for me to go to Africa. A person who disbelieves the Bible in its entirety, by default, rejects it as being God’s revealed will to mankind. In this sense, a person who doesn’t believe in the Bible will choose not to do God’s will. So, no, a person who doesn’t believe the Bible will not do God’s will. Hope this helps.

      • February 21, 2013 at 10:05 PM

        Believing in the Bible as modern Christianity sees it.
        What do you mean you don’t know what I mean by God’s will??? God’s will. You speak about it in your post many times. You say that one can do God’s will without having any idea, but not that people who don’t know the Bible can’t do it. Why not? Is it not possible to live a life of good conscience as it is written on our hearts without knowing Biblical law or perhaps not believing semantics of the Word.

      • gaylorddiaz said,

        February 22, 2013 at 9:18 AM

        Hi Sacredstruggler. I hope your day is going great. As I tried to point out previously, there are different aspects of God’s will. (1) It’s possible for people to live a good, moral life by obeying God’s will that’s written on their heart and conscience.There are many people who live a good, moral life without believing in the Judeo-Christian God or its Bible. The problem here is, the human heart and conscience do not contain all the revelation of God’s will. God wrote parts of His most basic moral laws on the human heart/conscience, but not all. So while anyone–both Christian and non-Christian–can do God’s will without believing in the Bible in the modern sense, that obedience is limited. All of God’s will is not being obeyed because all of God’s will is not written on the heart/conscience. This brings us to (2). God, apparently, felt that He wanted men everywhere to know more of His will than just that which He inscribed on the heart. Hence, the Bible. Modern Christianity believes that God revealed His will by speaking to the Bible writers. Since God is completely true and never false or wrong, then God made sure that what the Bible writers wrote down and eventually transmitted to succeeding generations was inerrant & infallible. This is what we modern Christians believe. (3a) You wrote about not believing the Bible in this modern Christian sense. To not believe the Bible in this sense is, by default, a rejection of the belief that God inspired the Bible writers to write what they did without error. What we have in this scenario is…the Bible is not the divinely-inspired, infallible, inerrant word of God. There are many people who believe in the Bible to some degree, but not to the degree of modern Christianity. These people believe that the Bible writers wrote their book without God’s inspiration or intervention. They wrote it much like a novelist or author would write a book. In this scenario, the Bible is not a revelation of God’s will since God Himself was not involved in its writing. The Bible becomes, and remains, the word of men. Thus, it’s not different from any other book written by men. Since the Bible in this scenario is not a revelation of God’s will, it is illogical or fallacious to talk about the Bible when it comes to doing God’s will. (3b) Some people believe that parts of the Bible are divinely-inspired; the rest of the Bible is a production or literary work of the Bible writers. In this scenario, Bible scholars, or each one of us individually, have to determine what part of the Bible is God, good, and right; and what part isn’t. In this scenario, it’s possible to do God’s will once a determination is made about what in the Bible is God’s will and what isn’t. (4) In both 3a and 3b I talk about God’s will in relation to the Bible in a non-modern Christian sense. Coming full circle, doing God’s will presupposes that God has revealed His will, hence, His will can be known. Naturally, we can’t do God’s will if we don’t know what God’s will is. So the question we’re faced with is, what is this revelation of God’s will? Is it the Bible? If not, is it the Quran? The Bhagavad-Gita? The Buddhavacana? If God revealed His will to us, but the Bible is not the revelation of that will, then we’re back to 3a. On the other hand, if there is no other, or fuller, revelation of God’s will than that which is inscribed in human nature (the heart/conscience), then, yes, it’s possible to do God’s will without believing in the Bible in the modern Christian sense since the Bible within this framework is not a revelation of God’s will. Hope this helps.

      • February 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

        Yeah, I went to Christian school for 12 yrs. I know all that stuff. I wanted to know your opinion. Thanks though.


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