Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Witness to the Word: Receiving Jesus

Every human being comes into this world by birth. There’s simply no other way to get here except to be born. And the same is true for those who enter the kingdom of God, you must be re-born.
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]
John listed the ways that people mistakenly think they can come to God.

First, he said, this new birth is not of blood, or by natural descent, in other words, not by inheritance, or by human ancestry. What that means for you and me today is that we don’t inherit being Christians because our parents or grandparents were Christians. Being raised in a Christian home and going to church all your life, going to a Christian school, being involved in lots of Christian activities does not automatically make you a Christian.

Next, John listed the will of the flesh,” or human decision. When you were born into this world, it wasn’t your idea. In fact you didn’t have anything to do with it at all except to be there. It was all your parents’ choice. Being reborn carries with it the same idea that it is God’s gift to you and me out of His grace, His generous, undeserved love. Being reborn is not accomplished by your or my volition. It’s God Who gives new birth.

Third, John brought in the will of man,” or some translations say “the husband’s will.” In other words, you and I can’t make ourselves Christians through positive thinking, or simply calling ourselves Christians, or by deciding to live a good, Christian life, or turning over a new leaf or any of those things.

By the same token, no one else can decide for you. Your parents couldn’t make you a Christian and neither can a minister or a priest, or your friend who prays for you every day or your spouse, or anyone. This is between you and God.

In the same way, you and I can’t make our children Christians either. Each individual must respond to Jesus’ light on their own terms. This is between each person and God.

No ceremony, no reciting of words or saying special prayers or creeds, or going forward, or performing certain rituals makes a person a Christian. John was saying that God’s children can only be “born of God.”

It is a new birth, accomplished by God within the human heart. Because it is all God’s doing, and no one else’s, it is accomplished beyond any human effort.

And it is available to all who believe the Word, who with their mind accept the facts and understand the light, who with their emotions respond with desire and with their will give themselves to Jesus and receive Jesus as their own.

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