Scripturally speaking, there is no doubt that we who have entered into Covenant with the Body of Christ ( both the Creator Himself & the Body of His Son ) are 'sons of God' ( Matthew 5:9, Romans 8:14, Galatians 3:26 )! There are those who have not, whether through ignorance or stubborness ( rebelliousness ) entered this Covenant & so cannot & should not be called 'sons of God'. The question before us today is, 'can they or should they be considered children of God, or part of His family?'
Most if not all Christians would immediately protest against calling an unbeliever 'brother' or 'sister' ( interesting note; many of those we would call 'unbelievers' call each other 'brother' or 'sister & some act more Christlike than some Christians )! Another question we might ask here ( I have personally struggled with this for much of my adult life ); 'is it obligatory for one to become part of what we call the Visible Church in order to be a Christian?' Realizing that one must aquiese with the Creator that he or she needs His Blessing & Communion in order to have Life ( eternal & everlasting ), we could well ask ourselves if one must accept the Covenant in order to be Blessed by it, or Him!
We have explored some of the differences, previously, between the Institutional Church & the Body of Christ; obviously, not all all who belong to one belong to the other! Jesus said, 'by their fruits you will know them' ( Matthew 7:16 ). These words He spoke in reference to the Phariseees, but they still hold true today, both of those within & those without the Institutional Church; the Body of Christ, on the other hand, is solely comprised of those who not only profess belief in the Messiah of Israel as the Creator Himself & Savior of the World, but who act according to His Law of Love!
In reference to my life-long struggle & to reiterate the question above, 'must one willfully & purposely enter into the Covenant in order to be in Covenant with the Creator?' Is this not how we enjoy life ( the human experience )? To enjoy the Full Blessings of Covenant Life ( AKA, Eternal Life ), Communion with the Creator & the Body of His Son is a necessity, but in order to simply enjoy this human existence, we must simply exist! We, whether we accept it or not, are in Covenant with our Creator; without this Neccessity, even biological existence would not be possible!
The Scriptures have much to say about belief; for instance 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved' ( Acts 16:31, et al )! These words & others like them, were in context spoken to a certain people, at a certain time & for a certain purpose. This is not to say that they have no application for us today, but the 'salvation' spoken of here was the breaking down of the wall or division between Jew & Gentile; in essence, believe that Jesus is the Messiah, not only of the Jews, but of the Gentiles as well & you will enjoy the benefits of the salvation provided them!
Communion, whether Blessed or Cursed, is not only Necessary to our human experience, it is a Choice we must all make! If we choose to live rebelliously & not according to the Law of Love, then we will doubtless experience a sort of cursed existence. When we refuse to love our neighbor as ourselves ( to say nothing of our God & Father ) & disdain to treat others as we would be treated ourselves, then we most likely will receive the same disdain in return; if we simply treat others as they treat us, if we only react to the actions of others, then doubtless we will find ourselves on the receiving end of much that we abhor! On the other hand, when we simply act according to the Law of Love, in most, though probably not all cases, we will find that Blessings in Abundance will be ours!
The Covenant Family of God, though traditionally viewed as exclusive to those who enter into Covenant, who agree with their Creator that they need the Salvation He brought to His Creation, is, as some have witnessed under the New Covenant, inclusive of all who enjoy biological existence! The Wall of Division has been torn down, having been ripped in half from the bottom up with the Revelation & Ascension of the Son of God! As the Children of God, then, we have been given a choice; will we serve our Father's Purpose & be Ministers of Reconciliation or will we simply exist as Beasts of the Earth, loving only those who love us & treating our neighbors as they treat us?!
Has more importance been placed, in this day & age, on doctrine, on profession & confession, than on the actual application of that doctrine? Belief, in particular right, or orthodox belief is important, but if not practiced, is about as useful as a screendoor on a submarine! The apostle James indeed says that such a religion is dead ( useless - James 2:14-26 )!
It is definitely important that one believes the correct doctrines, for if that one is religious about it ( James 1: 26 & 27 ), his or her beliefs will be revealed through their works, or fruits! Where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, what one does, the way in which he or she chooses to act is the main thing; there are too many who claim to believe a certain thing, but then turn around & do almost the exact opposite & then there are those as well who claim no specific doctrine or religion who nevertheless act according to the Law of Love, simply because it is in their Nature to do so!
In conclusion, as a wise man once wrote, 'Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.' ( Ecclesiastes 12:13 ). Along these same lines, another Prophet wrote 'He has shown you, O man, what [ is ] good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God' Micah 6:8 ) Belief & agreement is necessary ( 'everybody's gotta believe something' ), but these two benedictions seem to show what is most important to our Heavenly Father; it is what we do, more than what we say, that matters most!
Charles Haddon Shank