I had a conversation about this with a friend recently after I said in my post about reasons God doesn’t answer prayer that He’s not obligated to answer prayers for those who are not His children, though in His goodness He may bless even those who do not belong to Him (“for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” Matthew 5:45b).
It’s important when considering questions like this to look at what the Bible actually says (in context, of course) not what logical conclusions we can come to based on what we already know. We’re supposed to let Scripture instruct us and transform our thinking rather than trying to fit it within our frame of reference.
In John 8:42-44, “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
He obviously did not regard the people he was addressing as His Father’s children, but rather the devil’s.
Romans 9:8 says, “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”
In John 1:11-12 it says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” If He was giving people the ability to become sons of God, that means they were not his children before — otherwise there would be no need to become God’s sons.
In John 3:3 Jesus told Nicodemus — not a heathen living in obvious moral sin, but a religious leader — “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” and He went on to explain how one experienced that new spiritual birth in verses 16-18:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
That’s the good news — that we can become God’s children through faith in Christ.
Galatians 3:26: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” We didn’t already belong to the Father: a way needed to be made for us to the Father.
That’s what He came for: that’s what He gave His life for. That would not have been necessary if we were already His children. But He graciously provided the way for us to become His children.
I John 3:1: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. What an amazing blessing!! What great love!
(Updated to add: I just discovered another article along similar lines here.)