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Called To Be Children of God, Part 2

By Carl E. Olson
God made us to be His children, and like children we are meant to rely on His perfect love.

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Adam and Eve were created in a loving relationship with God, but they fell because they didn’t think they needed to rely on God in their existence, so they broke their relationship with him.  The history that follows in the Old Testament, with all its prophets and covenants, is the story of God’s plan to restore mankind to this relationship, so that we can once again trust in God’s love, and thus reach salvation as His children.

"And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 John 4:16).

Trinity and Creation

Man’s longing for the supernatural has existed "from creation" and comes from a special revelation of God (CCC, n. 50). Although man has a certain, natural awareness of this orientation, it is beyond mere human understanding. This orientation is rooted in the Trinitarian God who "is love" and whose "very being is love" (n. 221).

In contrast to the common and warped notion that God is a detached or angry being who demands joyless, blind obedience, the Catechism tells us that "God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange" (Ibid.). This act of love is part of a plan that pre-dates creation:

God is love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of His blessed life.  Such is the ‘plan of His loving kindness,’ conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in His beloved Son: ‘He destined us in love to be His sons’ and ‘to be conformed to the image of His Son’ through ‘the spirit of sonship.’ This plan is a ‘grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,’ stemming immediately from Trinitarian love” (n. 257).

God as Creator cannot be separated from God as Love, although the distinction is important. Separating God as Creator from God as Love erases the reason behind our creation, perverts the goal of our existence, and destroys the worth of our being. God creates in order to demonstrate His glory and "communicate it." He is relational. Why? Because of "His love and goodness" (n. 293).

Humans, in their sinfulness, attempt to obtain power and glory by grasping, clawing, and competing. But God, who needs nothing to satisfy Himself, gives His life and glory in order to perfect and manifest it in creation, and especially in us. So He makes us "to be His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace" (n. 294). As created beings we have to choose between either seeking our glory, which will only bring us disgrace (and hell), or seeking God's glory, since all that we are is due to Him. God's work will be fulfilled; we must choose how we will participate in it: "The ultimate purpose of creation is that God who is the creator of all things may at last become ‘all in all,’ thus simultaneously assuring His own glory and our beatitude" (Ibid.).

The Fall and the Loss of Divine Life

God, Creator and Love, willed us to share in His life. So He created Adam and Eve, who "were constituted in an original state of holiness and justice," an actual sharing in "divine life" (n. 375). They were intimate with God. But something went wrong––they committed sin, and what we know as the Fall took place. This original sin was committed when God allowed the freedom He had graciously given man to be put to the test, and man failed (n. 396). Man became convinced that he was capable of giving himself life, existence and meaning apart from God––the oldest and most popular of lies. Man was already enjoying divine life and "was destined to be fully 'divinized' by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to 'be like God,' but 'without God, before God, and not in accordance with God'" (n. 398). When the gift of divine life was rejected, man was separated from that life and his human nature was wounded (n. 405).

Pedagogy and Covenant

Because man's nature was wounded (though not entirely depraved as the Reformers taught [406]), God worked through stages of Revelation in order to "communicate himself to man gradually" (n. 53). He revealed the Law to show mankind what to do, yet the Law did not provide the grace to actually do those things. But it did point to Christ and the Kingdom, although only dimly and incompletely (n. 1963). God established covenants as indications of His love for mankind and as promises of a future redemption (n. 55). These covenants were sacred oaths that God swore, binding Himself with solemn events and signs to certain groups of people. He covenanted with Noah (nn. 56-58) and his family. He made a covenant with Abraham (nn. 59-61) and his tribe, then with Moses and his nation, and finally with David and his kingdom. With the Prophets He began to tell of a time when He would form a "new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts ... a salvation which will include all the nations" (64).

To be continued …

Copyright © 2000 Carl E. Olson.

Carl welcomes your comments. Email him at

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