John 1:12–13 (ESV)
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
In the month of October, we will begin to memorize John 1:12-13. After this month, we will only have two more passages to memorize for 2014 and so hang in there!
What does the Apostle John mean when he writes in verse twelve “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”? What does he mean by “he gave the right”?
The word translated “right” is εξουσια and it means “the right to control or govern over, the domain over which one has authority“. So, we could say that God gave us “the authority to be children of God”. Jesus uses this same word when he says that the Father has given him the authority (or the right) to lay down his life. In John 10:18, Jesus says, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
So, just as Jesus received the authority from the Father to either lay down his life or not, so we have graciously received the authority from the Father to become His children by faith. Our son-ship and daughter-ship is ours to claim or ours to deny. But why would I ever need to claim my right that was graciously given to me by the Father? Well, you would only need to claim it if someone was trying to take it away from you.
Back in Jesus’ day, there was a faction of the Jews who were denying the Gentiles the right to become God’s people/children because they were not ethnically Jews or observant of certain ceremonial laws. However, who today is being denied the right to become God’s children by faith in Jesus?
For myself, I know that when I was a new believer, I was primarily the one who kept myself from believing in the right given to me by God to be called His child. When I miserably failed to uphold justice for others or when I instinctively returned evil for evil or freely indulged in sin I knew was displeasing to the Lord, it was then that I denied myself the right given to me by my Father to be His child. I would think to myself, “What type of Christian am I? I am unworthy to be called His son!” Now at that moment, my sorrow and disappointment in myself was totally understandable because I was not living like His child. However, my sorrow would go awry when I would remain in that defeated state and not repent and turn back to the Father who gives me the right to be His child.
You see, from the get go, we were not worthy to be called his sons and daughters but He has made us worthy. HE HAS GIVEN US THE RIGHT TO BECOME HIS CHILDREN. So, when we find ourselves unworthy to claim the right of being His child, then we need to humble come before Him and allow Him to remind us that we didn’t earn that right, He graciously gave it to us. And who are we to tell the Lord that He doesn’t know what He’s doing? His love is amazing!