Author: Ron Graham
The PURPOSE of Jesus to be YOUR SAVIOUR who can give you fellowship with God.
"To as many as received him, to those who believed in his name, to them he gave the right to become Children of God." (John 1:12)
In our community, there is much emphasis on personal rights. People are always talking about human rights in general, or some particular issue involving the rights of some person or group. Often we think we have rights that, in fact, we don't have. In Australia, for example, we often hear prayers of thanks offered in church for the religious freedom we enjoy. As a matter of fact, our equal right to religious freedom in Australia is dubious, to say the least. We'd be wise not to take it too much for granted.
There is, however, one human right which is granted by the highest authority in the universe. This right is the most wonderful that any human being could have. Yet you will find it in no modern charter of human rights. You don't hear it mentioned in current debate about human rights. Ordinary persons, generally speaking, make no attempt to take up the franchise, and couldn't care less that they have access to this right. This right is stated in our text for this lesson (John 1:12).
John is, of course, referring to Jesus Christ and the right with which he empowers those who will receive and believe his gospel.
This statement of our supreme right is at the same time a statement of Christ’s purpose in coming into the world. Paul tried to get people to appreciate that purpose as much as he did: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (1Timothy 1:15) . A statement worthy of all acceptance indeed, but alas largely rejected.
Look again at John’s statement: "To as many as received him, to those who believed in his name, to them he gave the right to become Children of God." (John 1:12)
This one sentence from God word is likely to have more effect than ten thousand words of my own. What is the essence of John's statement? The essence of any statement is found in its verbs or terms of action. There are three such terms in John's statement. We can do no better than to consider these three actions. On the next page, we will do just that.
From your standpoint, no actions in all time and space have ever transcended the glory and wonder of these actions. I just hope that your heart's eyes can see the glory in them.
Our text (John 1:12) says, "God GAVE the right..." The story of the Bible is, basically, the story of a God who gives glorious things out of his lovely grace. If people had understood God in this way, "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" but they did not perceive "the things which God has prepared for those who love him... the things which have been freely given to us by God" (1Corinthians 2:7-12) . But God so loved the world that he gave even his only Son that his purpose for you might be fulfilled (John 3:16) .
Our text says, "To as many as RECEIVED him... to those who BELIEVE in his name..." God never forces his gifts upon you. He holds them out, and waits for your acceptance. That doesn't make the gift any less free, or any less glorious. But it does present you with the most glorious opportunity in your entire life. If you miss this opportunity, nothing else you gain will ever be able to compensate you for that loss (Matthew 16:26) .
Our text speaks of "the right to BECOME the children of God". Some people might assume that they are children of God simply because they are his creatures. But being daughters of Adam, or sons of Eve, does not automatically make us the sons of God. Others might assume they are children of God simply because they are believers in his Son.
Of course, we cannot be children of God unless we believe in his Son Jesus Christ. But the text makes it clear that belief in the Son does not, by itself, make us children of God. It only gives you the right or authority to BECOME a child of God. To actually become a child of God, you must exercise that right, and do what is necessary to become what you have the right to be. For example, the belief must be confessed otherwise it is ineffective (Romans 10:9-10) .
What else, besides the confession of faith, is required in order to become a child of God? Peter made it clear that repentance from sin and baptism are necessary. He commanded both in order to receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) . Manifestly, those who have not the forgiveness of sins, and who lack the gift of the Holy Spirit, are not the children of God. It is in baptism that the repentant believer dies with Christ and becomes a newborn child of God (Romans 6:3-4) .
I hardly knew where to begin this lesson, or what to put in.
How do I explain to you that the destiny God has purposed for you is that you should be an honoured member of God’s own household?
This right will be granted you on one condition, well within your ability to meet. You must believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God and receive him as your Saviour.
What bothers me is that —unless you are an exceptional person— I could talk for half an hour about this in your hearing, yet you will not hear! You will not appreciate what I am trying to tell you. You will listen to me politely, as one does to a minister.
You may even approve of what I say, and even feel good that once again you have exercised your freedom of religion and done your worship for the week. Yet you won’t really have heard anything I said. It will be just religious words, the familiar sounds of church, a message lost on you.
There was a little dog owned by an elderly lady. It sat each day at the cottage gate. Neighbours and passers by would say hello, give it a pat, tell it what a cute little doggie it was.
One day, the dog was at the gate as usual. As each passer by would greet it, the dog would give a few barks, and look toward the cottage. It would follow the passer by along the fence and bark again.
Each passer by would say something like, “Dear me, you are noisy today! There, there now! That’s a good doggie!” This went on for three days. Then the dog disappeared.
After a while the passers by and neighbours missed the little dog at the gate, and realised that they hadn’t seen the elderly lady either. Two neighbours went in to see if all was well.
In the kitchen they found the elderly lady and the dog both dead. Both, it turned out upon investigation, had suffered stroke. It was realized that the little dog had died of distress, because nobody had really listened to what it had been trying to tell them.
Sometimes I feel like that little dog. My ability to communicate this message to you is limited. If you will not be sensitive to what I am trying to say, then my effort will be in vain.