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Are all human beings the literal offspring or children of God existing in heaven before our human lives?

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Are all human beings the literal offspring or children of God existing in heaven before our human lives?

Robert M. Bowman Jr.

The Bible teaches that we begin to exist as physical beings and that we may become adopted children of God through faith in Christ.

The Bible never explicitly says that human beings lived as spirits in heaven before their physical lives on earth. What the Bible does say supports the traditional Christian view that our existence begins here on earth. Consider the description of how God made the first man, Adam: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Notice that Genesis does not say that God placed an already existing individual spirit being into the physical body, but that he “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” This statement at least seems to be saying that this is how Adam came into being.

The earlier passage about God creating human beings “in his image” (Genesis 1:26-27) raises an interesting problem for the idea that people existed in heaven as God’s literal offspring. Remember that the LDS Church’s teaching is that God the Father has a physical body of flesh and bones. If being “in God’s image” meant that we have a human body much like his (although his is better), one would think we would get that body when he and the heavenly mother procreated us as their literal offspring. That is, if God is a physical being and produces literal offspring, one would expect that offspring to be physical beings. Yet the LDS view is that our heavenly parents produced us as their offspring in heaven as spirits and then God made physical bodies for Adam and Eve. Do earthly parents have to construct bodies for their offspring? No, because earthly parents with physical bodies produce offspring that also have physical bodies. So then, why did God need to make physical bodies for his literal offspring?

The New Testament explicitly denies that all human beings are God’s children. Jesus taught that those who rejected him were not God’s children, and even said that the devil was their father (John 8:42-44). The apostle John explained that “the children of God” were those who were “born of God” through their faith in Christ and had turned away from a life of sin, while “the children of the devil” were those committed to a life of sin (John 1:12-13; 1 John 3:1-10; 5:1-2). The apostle Paul makes the same point when he says that we who believe in Christ and have the Spirit dwelling in us receive “adoption as sons” (Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26-4:7). Thus, people are not by nature God’s children. Rather, we are all God’s creatures, and we can become God’s sons and daughters through adoption and the spiritual rebirth that comes through faith in Christ.

According to the Bible, only one human being existed in heaven before his physical life on earth: Jesus Christ. John the Baptist contrasted himself with Jesus in this regard when he said, “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all” (John 3:31). “He that cometh from above,” who “cometh from heaven,” is Jesus Christ; John the Baptist, like the rest of us, “is of the earth.” Unlike the rest of us, Jesus “had come forth from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3). Jesus told his disciples, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (John 16:28). When he said this, he was clearly saying something about himself that was not true about everyone else.