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A Family Affair

• Greg Boyd

We’ve all dealt with issues in our families. In this sermon, Greg sets up the framework of understanding biblical family. This framework will help us understand how God wants us to relate to our families over the next five weeks of study. This sermon will make you go “hmmm”.

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We’re starting a new adventure series this week, and it centers on the issues that happen in families. Whether marriage, children, parents, in-laws, friends or dating, this adventure series will have something for everyone. Today, we are centering on how to understand how the Bible talks about family and how that framework can lead to a more Kingdom family.

In order to understand the biblical passages, we have to take a look at the context in which they were written. In the ancient world, they lived in a very strong patriarchal society. The family always came from the bloodline of the Father. The Father had supreme authority over that family, even the sons who were married. It was understood that the job of the family was to carry out the father’s wishes, honor the father, and to expand the family through marriage and procreation. This understanding of family greatly impacts our understanding of the Bible and its messages on family.

God is our Father, and we are his children. In a general sense, God created every human and is their father. Yet, in a unique way, God becomes our Father when we believe and the Spirit gives us a new birth. We are born from above when we believe Jesus is our Lord and submit to Him. When we submit to God, we receive a heavenly DNA from above.

It is important to understand that we don’t manifest or grow into this new nature. Like a parent with children, they are the children first and how they act is secondary. Even with this new DNA, we’ve received hundred of lies in our lives that are difficult to break out of. However, our familial connection to God is not dependent on our actions. We are His children first and foremost. While we are transforming our lives through the renewing of our minds, we never lose our DNA that has been given to us by God.

When we finally see Jesus face to face and the corruption in this world is gone, we’ll see him as he really is because we’ll all look exactly like him. When all the lies and crap have burnt away, we’re going to shine with God’s glory like Jesus did on the Mount of Transfiguration. We’ll need sunglasses just to look at each other! As we take hold of our inheritance as children, all of humanity will come together and present an unimaginably, beautiful kaleidoscope reflecting the glory of God.

Since God is our father and all who submit to him are his children, then all who submit to him are his family. We are all brothers and sisters of Jesus and God is our Father. In the same way that Adam created a corrupt humanity, Jesus inaugurated a new human family with Kingdom DNA. This new humanity is a family with an undeniable bond in Jesus. Our responsibility in life is to honor our father, carry out his will, and pass on the family name by going out and making disciples of all nations.

Finally, and perhaps oft misunderstood, is that as members of our Father’s family, our central allegiance is to our Father and to the family. This is one of the most scandalous aspects of Jesus’ ministry. He turns the importance of biological family on its head. Jesus wants us to honor our biological family, but God comes before biology. Our allegiance to Him is first and foremost.

This framework of family will help us understand the rest of this adventure series. No matter what family you’ve grown up in, you’ve got a new family born from above. Understanding what this new family will look like when this world is purified will help us understand how to better fulfill our family obligations now.

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Topics: Community, Family, Identity in Christ, Relationships

Sermon Series: Relatively Speaking

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Focus Scripture:

  • John 1:12-13

    Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave 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.

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8 thoughts on “A Family Affair

  1. kevin says:

    So, when Jesus brought peace, He meant ‘lasting’ peace, fully ripe peace that is attained “eventually” through our right relation to the Kingdom? Can we also interpret the passage this way; “I have come to bring peace, and a dividing sword will be required to manifest it.”???

  2. Loree says:

    I like when you call us “brothers and sisters.”

  3. Edward says:

    Great sermon! 😉

    I think it’s extremely important to understand JUST HOW we are genuinely and truly “children” of God the Father. Greg said that our being offspring of God is not merely metaphor, but an ontological reality. Well, how does that happen? Is it merely must because God says so? Is it merely because everything (and everyone) is created and continually sustained by God (aka in Him, we live, move, and have our being)? Is it merely because we have been given God’s Spirit? (How did THAT happen, anyway?) For us not to be clear about this, I believe, leads us necessarily to thinking of our “adoption to sonship” as something LESS than ontological reality, simply because we have no real way to conceptualize anything else.

    So…how’d it happen? How did creatures (humanity) become ontological “children” of the One True Uncreated God? In a word, it was the Incarnation of God’s “John 1:1” Word/Son into human particularity. The spiritual “new birth” of the “one new humanity” is ONLY made possible because God’s Son/Word–who already existed as an uncreated person with God the Father both BEFORE and AFTER Creation’s origin–came into Creation via the Incarnation.

    It’s like this. God’s “John 1:1” Word/Son has ETERNALLY been saying “Abba, Father” to God the Father, before and after the origin of Creation. God the Father and His Word/Son have always, is always, and will always had a parent/child love relationship together. It is uncreated and therefore, inseparable. At the right time, God’s Word/Son incarnated into humanity (without EVER ceasing to **simultaneously** accomplish Hebrews 1:3-4 or Colossians 1:17!!) through Mary…effectively bringing that UNCREATED, eternal “sonship” relationship directly into human existence. Previous to the coming of the Incarnate Word, Jesus, humanity had not experienced such an direct, filial relationship with God. With his coming, death, resurrection, and ascension…and…Jesus’giving us the Holy Spirit from the God the Father,we now have the ACTUAL SPIRITUAL REALITY by which God’s “John 1:1” Word/Son has always and eternally been in a love relationship with the Father. Not just a facsimile…but the “real thing.” This is what the Scriptures mean…


    For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.


    I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.


    See that? God sent his pre-existence Word/Son into Creation–via Mary–SO THAT we could be fully “adopted” as “sons-in-the-Son”. Without the Incarnation…along with Jesus giving us the SAME Holy Spirit he had, following his death and resurrection, we would not truly be “children of God” in the TRINITARIAN sense. We would not be truly additional participants in the perichoretic dance of the One Triune God. Without the Incarnate Word/Son, the most we could say is that we were God’s “offspring” because he created us…or have some metaphor. Through the Incarnation…and *****ONLY***** through the Incarnation…do we truly have humanity becoming “children of God” who are meant to be “partakers of the divine nature.”

    Just an FYI.

    Again, great message! 🙂

  4. Nicky says:

    Thank you for this message, a much needed reminder of who we are and who we must be. However, having been married to an unbeliever for 32 years I think I understand something of the ‘God Chasers’ messages: The pull to a ‘proper’ (English in this case) family life is very strong. The struggle to constantly be honoring the Father first in all things is constant because one is surrounded by the expectations that our worldly family must come first. One gets tired. A message like the God Chaser message enlivens ones resolve to always reach into the Father first. It is not that He is running away but that sometimes we need to stretch out beyond our circumstances in order to find our true selves in Him.

  5. Hearing about the foundation of all of our relationships and that if we have truly surrendered our lives to Christ we are Abba Father’s children gives me great joy. I actually have not looked at the situation that way. When I heard somewhere that the definition of the church is family, that made sense. But to think we are part of the greater family–all who have surrendered to Christ–is challenging yet inspiring and motivating.

    As has consistently happened when I hear Greg speak, the confusing passages–like when Jesus says he comes to divide the family–make so much sense. That is not what he wanted to happen–but he knew it would happen.

    I am really looking forward to hearing the rest of this series.

  6. Oh, I agree with the sister who said she liked it when you called us brothers and sisters. I like the pentecostal influence you bring to your sharing:)

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