Happy Monday everyone!
Today I want to focus on the New Testament reading. I found a great sermon by John McArthur on this passage here.
Two Conditions to Becoming a Child of GodVerse 12 sets two conditions: receiving Jesus and believing Jesus: "But to all who received him, who BELIEVE in his name, he gave authority to become children of God."
Receiving Jesus means that when Jesus offers himself to you, you welcome him into your life for what he is.
- If he comes to you as Savior, you welcome his salvation.
- If he comes to you as Leader, you welcome his leadership.
- If he comes to you as Provider, you welcome his provision.
- If he comes to you as Counselor, you welcome his counsel.
- If he comes to you as Protector, you welcome his protection.
- If he comes to you as Authority, you welcome his authority.
- If he comes to you as King, you welcome his rule.
Believing in His Name
That's the first condition in verse 12: receiving Jesus, the light of the world. The second condition is believing in his name: "But all who received him, who believe [present tense!] in his name, he gave authority to become children of God."
What does believing in the name of Jesus mean? Let's do a little tour of this gospel to find out. First look at John 3:18 to see that believing in the NAME of Jesus is virtually the same as believing in Jesus. "He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." Here believing "in him" and believing "in his name" are used interchangeably. The "name" simply emphasizes the full stature and dignity and authority of the person.
Do you see what verse 44 implies about believing? It implies that you can't believe in Jesus if you love the praise and glory of men. This means that believing is so contrary to pride and self-exaltation that it involves a deep humbling. It means abandoning the craving for human praise, and caring more about the praise of God. Believing is not merely intellectual assent to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God.
Next look at John 6:35. "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." This verse teaches that believing in Jesus means being satisfied with Jesus. It means that Jesus is the food that feeds the hunger of your soul. Believing is not merely intellectual assent to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God.
Two Key Differences Between Verses 12 and 13Now notice two very important differences between verses 12 and 13. Verse 13 says of the children of God, "[they] were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God." Notice: in verse 12 Jesus, the light, is the person acting—"To all who received him, HE [Jesus] gave authority." But in verse 13 God is the person acting—"Who were born . . . of God."
The other difference is that in verse 13 God begets or brings into being children, and so they are his children by virtue of his being the begetting Father. But in verse 12 John speaks of people needing to get authority to become children of God. But why do children who are born of God need authority from Jesus to be children of God? What is this authorization or this empowerment in verse 12? If we are born of God, are we not God's children? What need of authority from Jesus?
Here's the answer as I see it. Before God causes any of us to be born again, all of us are mere flesh. There is no spiritual life in us. John 3:6 says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." In other words we are spiritually dead before new birth. We are sinners, all of us. And that means that we need two things if we are to inherit eternal life as the children of God.
The Need to Be Born and for an Authority/Right
We need to be born. We need to have spiritual life. That is what God does according to John 1:13 without any help from us—"not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God." We are born of God by a free act of sovereign grace. He chooses us before we choose him.
But when God does that, what we now have is a newborn sinner. The spiritual life is present, but so is sin, and a whole history of sin! In this condition we would have no right to take our place in the house of God—no authority, no empowerment. Except for one thing. God not only provided the regeneration by which we are born again, but also the authorization by which we can lay claim to our inheritance as children, even though we are sinners.
And that is precisely where Jesus comes in. The moment you believe in Jesus, the moment you receive him for who he really is, in that moment he gives you not new birth, but the right and authority, as a sinner, to lay claim to your inheritance as a child of God—to become legally, as it were (with due authority), what you are by virtue of new birth—because you were "born of God."
Two Great Obstacles to Eternal Life
Between us and eternal life there are two great obstacles. One is that we are spiritually lifeless and dead. The other is that we are sinfully corrupt and guilty. We cannot inherit life as children of God if we are dead and if we are guilty. But God so loved us that he did two things.
He sent his Spirit to cause us to be born again, to quicken us and make us pass from death to life. And so he overcomes the first obstacle.
But in perfect harmony with the work of his Spirit God sent his Son to die for our sin (John 1:29) and remove the guilt of all who believe in him. So the moment we believe in him, even though we are sinners, we are authorized in him to lay hold on the inheritance of the children of God. And so the second obstacle is removed.
This is a great salvation for sinners like you and me. It is full and free and corresponds to our exact need and condition. I offer it to you this morning in the name of Jesus. Receive him as he really is. Believe in him as the all-satisfying end of your search for peace.
Hope you all have a great week!
Tomorrow's passage: 2 Samuel 6-7, Psalm 30, John 1:29-51