(To play the audio version of this lesson, click LISTEN.)
In our last two studies, we’ve focused on The Witness, John the Baptist, and Jesus, the Light of the World. Now, in part three of this study, our focus shifts to the results of His first coming and how the world responded to Him. John 1:11 continues, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” Who is John talking about here? He’s talking about the people of Israel whom God calls “My people” more than 100 times in the Old Testament. Starting with Pharaoh in Egypt, He said, “Let My people go!” Later He said through Solomon, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray…then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” These are the people to whom God gave the Law, the Land, the Prophets, and through whom the Scriptures and the Savior came.
Yet when the Light finally came to earth, how did His people respond? They called for His crucifixion, the most horrific crime in history! But then it wasn’t the Jews only who rejected Him. The Romans did too! And you would have too, if not for God’s amazing grace! The gracious truth is this: God always saves a remnant out of the world—Noah and his family from the Flood, Abraham and his family in the days of idolatry after the Flood, 11 disciples who left everything to follow Him, and 120 praying in an upper room after His ascension into heaven, a number that has grown to billions in heaven and on earth who love Him today. For though His own did not receive Him, verse 12 says as many as did receive Him, “to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
Imagine that you’re 6 years old again—an orphan with no family of your own. A friend invites you home after school, and you think to yourself, “If only I had a family like this!” Then his father asks you a surprising question, “Do you like it here?” “Sure!” you say. “Then why don’t you stay and be a part of our family?” What do you have to do to make it happen? Take his father at his word and stay. That is what Jesus invites you to do—to come home and be a part of His family. All you have to do is say “yes” and stay. That’ll involve some changes in your attitude and behavior. You can’t join a family and not have it change you. But that’s all there is to it from the human side. Believe and receive. They are one and the same thing. To receive is to believe and to believe is to receive. A simple act of the will leading to irrevocable membership in the family of God!
Nor are we merely adopted into God’s family. John says we’re born into it. This is a mystery and miracle we cannot see with our eyes. Verse 13 gives us the divine side: “who were born” (2 Peter says we are “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust.”)…born not of blood (It isn’t your family connections that earn God’s favor. God has no spiritual grandchildren.)…nor of the will of the flesh (Trying hard and doing good works won’t get you into God’s kingdom.)…nor of the will of man (No human organization can stamp your passport to heaven.)…but of God.” To escape the flames of hell and be welcomed into heaven, you have to be born of God. And yet, this is one thing you have no control over! You have no more ability to be born again than when you were born the first time. You had no say in whose DNA you inherited or what family you were born into.
But you say, “If this is what decides my eternity, there must be something I can do!” Only one thing! You can ask. Ask Jesus to do it for you. For John is clear: Jesus is the only One with power to make us children of God! But listen! Jesus says, “Whoever comes to Me, I will never cast out!” So stop trying to believe or be good enough to be saved! You can’t do it! I tried for years as a young person to earn salvation, and it did me no good…until in helpless childlike faith, I called upon the name of the Lord Jesus and He gave me faith to believe. For the Bible promises, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
So I ask you as we finish. Have you met the Light and received Him into your life? If you have, give God the glory for it because, like Paul, if He hadn’t opened your eyes by His grace, you’d still be on the wrong road. On the other hand, if you’re just starting to see the Light, don’t hide from it. That’s how everyone reacts at first. When Peter first realized who Jesus is, He said, “Depart from Me, for I am a sinful man.” But thank God He didn’t answer that prayer! He’s still reaching out to you, inviting you to stay and be a part of His family. He won’t force you to do that. You can resist Him if you like. But why do that? My prayer for each one of you is that you’ll receive Him by faith this very moment in prayer.
Here is a sample prayer you may want to use – “Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. Please forgive me. I believe you rose from the dead. So please come into my life. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Now, help me live for you the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
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