Good Thursday morning! Are you losing track of the days like we are? Each day feels the same without seeing your smiling faces throughout the week. Let’s turn to God today and worship Him…
Prayer from Pastor Sam:
Lord, help us to evaluate our walk before you today. Grow us through strong stewardship of the blessings you give us and patient character through the adversity you allow. Make our hearts soft to you, our ears open to hearing you, and our minds filled with thoughts that would honor you. I pray for our country and our leaders and the wisdom that they need to make the right decisions. I pray for our missionaries, especially those in places such as Italy, for protection and for many open doors of opportunity with the people they serve. Draw our minds to you today, Lord, and help us become all the more clear in our understanding of the Gospel for ourselves and others. I pray especially for those who are serving in the medical field, that you’d protect them and give them a lot of grace and strength as they help others. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
He came. We saw in John 1:10 that “He was in the world.” He came: that is a powerful statement in itself. Romans 3:11 says, “There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” No one sought Him; He came to seek. He came to make things right and we sinful humans certainly never were going to do it. John 3:16 tells us that because of God’s great love, the Father sent the Son to the world. Whatever you’re facing right now, I want you to know that all the hope you could have already showed up when Christ came to this world. You may have concerns or fears, uncertain plans, frustrations, etc., but the greatest need you have has been fulfilled: He came. He gave His life for you and me; He overcame sin and the grave. The truth for every believer is that the pains and problems of life between right now and glory are very temporary, and to paraphrase the apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians 4:17, our afflictions are light in comparison to the eternal weight of glory yet to be revealed.
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. Perhaps the most significant word in this verse is the word receive. The word comes from paralambano, which is referring to agreement and approval. The antithesis, obviously, would be rejection. The Jews on a mass level did not accept Jesus as the Messiah; many still look for a coming Messiah. This isn’t to say that all of them rejected Him, but the vast majority did. Why? Well, sin is the easiest answer, but let me just give another insight here. Jesus spoke in parables as a veil to the unbelieving. There was a veil as He did miracles, as many would only want to be amazed more but would fail to see the point of the sign, that He was and is the Son of God. Yet another way Christ was veiled was that he looked just like the rest of the people. He had a humble birth, grew up in Nazareth (hear Nathaniel’s disdain towards Nazareth in John 1:46) and was not what the people were expecting. He did not bring down the Roman oppression as they’d hoped he would. He was fully God and yet He was also fully man. For many reasons, the Jews had a hard time accepting that He could be the Messiah.
But as many as received Him. The claim that all people are children of God in the sense that everyone is merrily on their way to heaven is simply not true. Who has been given the right to become children of God? Let the verse speak for itself: as many as received him; no less, no more. Whereas His own did not receive Him, those who have received Him or will receive Him claim the right (exousia) to become God’s children. The word right is referring to capability or power. If we read it differently, we might say that those who don’t receive Him consequently lack the capability to claim the rights of children of God. There are many privileges that come with being a child of God: eternity with God in heaven living in the fullness of His grace and mercy; preservation from the coming wrath of God; the ability to grow in our relationship with Him and to have confidence in our future. Additionally, we can accomplish pleasing works done in faith that have been prepared beforehand by the Father (Eph. 2:10). The self-preserving efforts often on display, especially right now given the global pandemic, evidence where we place our hope and confidence: is it in God’s plans, or is it in the preservation of our own?
What does it mean to receive Him? John gives a parallel in the text: to those who believe in His name. The word “believe” carries a couple thought-provoking caveats to it in this particular verse. First, the word believe here means “to entrust oneself to an entity in complete confidence with the implication of total commitment to the one who is trusted” (BDAG lexicon, Bibleworks). Clearly, many definitions of belief out there do not add up to the Scriptural model of saving faith. Can you say that your belief in Christ could be described this way? Consider this illustration: if I have a chair and claim that I believe it will hold me, I haven’t really proven it until I have firmly sat in the chair. I may go on and on about how I believe it can hold me, sing about it, tell others about it, even learn extensively about that particular chair, but have I put myself in a place of vulnerability should the chair fail? Trusting Christ means completely resting in His finished work on the cross and not in our religious performance.
Finally, the word is written as a present active participle in the Greek. What that means is that belief is not momentary but rather is an ongoing activity. Yes, I believed years ago, but entrusting my life to Christ didn’t stop at that point; it’s something I also do presently. There is cause for concern over salvation testimonies that have an orientation only towards the past (I decided, I gave, etc.) for this reason: while justification happens the moment one believes, the ongoing work of sanctification is never an option in the redeeming work of Christ. A belief firmly rooted in Christ that endures the test of time is one of the elements of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
If you can confidently claim to be a child of God today, why not take a moment to thank Him once again for your rich salvation?
Questions to ponder today:
Who is going to heaven?
What does it mean to receive Christ?
How confident are you in your understanding of the Gospel? How clearly do you think you could articulate the Gospel to someone else?
Finally, let’s worship through the ministry of this song…
Today we are doing our essentials shopping trip. If you are in the high-risk category and would like us to pick up some things for you, please contact myself or my wife before 3pm today!