Believing and Receiving
Although “He [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11), there were some who did believe. To ‘believe in His name’ means ‘to trust Him as a person knowing the integrity of His character and the authority of His commission’. Some people did that. They received Him as a man, they received His words as God’s, and, as they got to know Him, they validated who He was in the dynamic of their relationship with Him.
But ‘receiving Jesus’ did not simply make them part of His team because they also became part of God’s family. They were given the right to be children of God. Indeed, ‘believing in Jesus’ is the only way to become children of God. Children are not born by their own efforts, but by the parents. In the same way, people are only born again into God’s family by His decision. All those who are born again are immediately given the right of access to their Heavenly Father. They are the ones who inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Although there are many religions in the world, Jesus Himself said that He was the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Only through Jesus is it possible for sinful human beings to become sanctified children of God. Their only contribution is a willingness to agree with God’s condemnation of their sins and believe that Jesus was punished instead of them. When people believe that, and choose to receive Jesus, they are born again by God’s Holy Spirit. That is the gospel message. Jesus commanded the disciples to proclaim it, and Peter preached it at Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39). It is the same gospel message which we can proclaim. Our task is to let others know. Everyone who knows they are a child of God is concerned that their family and friends should not be left outside His great family. Perhaps it would be a useful exercise to work out what you would say if somebody asked you, “Why should I believe in Jesus?” or “How can I be born again?” Those opportunities might come to you at work in the next few days so be sure that you are ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15).
© Dr Paul Adams