The Right To Become Children Of God
E. Russell King
The apostle John, throughout his gospel record, makes a constant contrast between unbelief and belief in Jesus as the Son of God. He opens this book with an emphasis upon the unbelief of “the world” (1:10) and of “His own people” (1:11 ESV). He structured this book with sufficient evidence to induce belief (continued belief) in Jesus Christ (20:30-31).
Unbelief, because of being so widespread and so pervasive, could well be called the sin of the world (cf. John 1:29), “the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1), the sin that caused the Galatian Christians to “so quickly” remove to “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6). Unbelief is no less prevalent and powerful in our day!
During the approximately 20 days in the life of Jesus that John calls upon in his record, our Lord both taught and performed works that gave ample, indisputable evidence that He was who He claimed to be — the Son of God. Near the close of His ministry, He said to those unbelieving Jews, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him’ (John 10:37-38). The “work of God” (John 6:29; cf. 9:3) through Jesus was plainly evident, even recognized by many Jews (John 3:2; cf 11:47), but obstinately rejected by the Jewish leaders and their ardent followers.
This widespread and obstinate unbelief is representative of the atmosphere to which John referred when he wrote: “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13 ESV).
From that Scripture, we should give attention to this fact: Those few Jews, comparatively speaking, who did “receive him,” who “believed in his name,” were “given the right to become children of God.” It is obvious that to “receive Him” and “believe in his name” are parallel statements, stating the condition upon which one obtains the right to become a child of God. They did not become children of God at the point of receiving him! Believing in Him, they received only the right to become God’s children. That right allowed those believers (and all others who follow their example) to be born again, a spiritual birth “not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23 ESV). Jesus emphasized that fact to Nicodemus who strongly expressed his personal belief by saying “We know You are a teacher come from God” (John 3:2). In response to that belief, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God … That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6).
The spiritual birth is consummated in baptism as stated by the apostle Paul: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5 ESV). If, as some teach and insist, one is saved at the point of receiving Jesus or believing in Jesus, then the apostle Paul, God’s personally chosen messenger, was wrong when he said that God saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, an action that is universally acknowledged by scholars as being baptism.
As a result of Paul’s preaching to the heathens in Corinth, he tells us that “... many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). When a believer chooses to exercise his right to become a child of God in this manner, God saves him and adds him to His people (Acts 2:41. 47; 1 Peter 2:9), to the citizens of the kingdom of heaven. -Rt. 6, Box 310-A,
Keyser, WV 26726. firstname.lastname@example.org
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