The Explanation (10
1Before the universe began to be,
and all that it consists of and contains,
the Word already was. He is the Power,
the Explanation, and the Reason for
all things. He was before all things with God,
and He was God. 2Yes, He was with God when
the universe and all that is began
to be, 3and He created everything.
Apart from Him, without His will and power,
not anything that has been made was made.
4In Him was life, eternal life, the light
of men, 5which shines into the darkness to
expose unrighteousness with grace and truth,
and show the way to life. And darkness has
not overcome it, no, nor ever shall.
6God sent a man named John. 7He came to be
a witness to the Light, that all who heard
him might renounce unrighteous ways, and through
the Light believe. 8This John was not the Light;
he came to testify about the Light
and to prepare the way before Him. 9For
the True Light, Who gives light to everyone,
was coming to the world. 10And He was in
the world – which He created – yet the world
did not acknowledge Him. 11The Light came to
His own, but they did not receive Him. 12But
to all who did receive Him, and believed
in Him as Word and Light and Life, to them
He gave the privilege of becoming God’s
own children, 13born of God by grace alone,
and not by any works of flesh or will.
- John 1.1-12
Receiving is not enough
It’s possible that at some point in your life, someone may have urged you to “receive” Jesus into your life. As I explained in our previous installment, that’s a necessary first step in gaining the restorative benefit of Jesus’ having come into the world to seek and save lost folks like us.
But John explains that “receiving” Jesus is only a kind of first step. Just because I receive someone doesn’t mean that person is going to have any continuing influence over my daily life. Susie and I have often received people into our homes, interesting people, people whose company we have enjoyed and some of whom to this day we count as friends.
But they are only friends or acquaintances. They do not define the terms of our existence, give ultimate meaning to our every activity, shape our mindset, rule our affections, re-order our values and priorities, guide our daily actions, or determine the content or form of our conversations. We do not talk with them on a regular basis or cherish any missives we might receive from them as words to be preserved and followed without fail. Just because we have received these friends into our homes and lives does not mean that we believe them to be the hope of our wellbeing, security, happiness, and peace, now and forever.
If you have “received” Jesus into your life in some measure, that’s a good beginning. In the gospel accounts of Jesus’ earthly life, many also received Him into their homes and at their tables, but not all those who received Him found in Jesus what He intended for them. Their having received Him did not result in their believing in Him, and thus they did not gain the eternal benefit of His coming into them which He intends.
John explains that all who receive Jesus and believe in Him are restored to a right relationship with God. God the Father adopts those who receive and believe in Jesus so that they become His own children, privileged to know His loving presence and limitless bounty of grace, goodness, joy, purpose, and provision. Becoming a child of God the Father is a “right” which He alone can bestow. Not everyone enjoys this privilege. No one can merely claim it and make it so, nor can people do anything which would establish them as a son or daughter of the living God.
This privilege comes from God alone. It is bestowed by Him and, once bestowed, it is never revoked. The privilege of adoption into the family of God brings with it benefits and blessings, now and forever, which can be attained nowhere else and by no other means than God’s by granting them.
And God grants them, as part of the privilege of adoption into His family, to all who, having received Jesus Christ believe in Him.
Everyone believes in something. Everyone has faith or confidence or trust in something greater than himself, something he hopes will make his life make sense and fill his life with good things. We say that someone has faith in something when he depends on it, builds his life around it, looks to it as the organizing motif and driving force of his daily existence, and hopes in it for the realization of his vision of the good life.
Some people believe in hard work. They are convinced that if they work hard in everything they do, their life will make sense and they will realize their fondest hopes and desires at some point. So they fill the best time of their lives with hard work, in order to ensure that the other times of their lives are as full and enjoyable as they can be.
Other folks believe in having fun. If work’s not fun, find some other work. My friends should be fun. How I spend my free time and money should be fun. I should enjoy everything I do, all the time. And I should arrange the details of my life to make sure I have as much fun as I can, even though I understand that I may have to put up with some inconvenience and irritation – such as my job – in order to gain the fun that makes my life make sense.
Many people today believe in money and things. Money can allow them to acquire the things which bring them pleasure and help to explain to others who they are and what matters to them. Such people are confident that, in order to be happy in life and to have their lives make sense, they need to provide for a sufficient stream of money flowing toward them throughout the course of their lives. Thus they organize the best time of their lives to maximize their money-making potential, whether through work or investments or whatever.
Everyone believes in something. As may be obvious, everyone ultimately believes he should be happy, and he believes in a particular course of life, and particular things, are best suited to enable him to achieve the happiness he believes he should have.
But happiness is an elusive thing, and very often the things we believe in to attain the happiness we believe we should have, simply don’t produce as we hoped. Still, we continue to believe.
We believe when we trust, submit to, organize our lives around, depend on, and, yes, even obey that which we have decided makes ultimate sense for whatever we have determined is our ultimate good.
So, what do you believe in as the explanation and goal of your life?
Believing in Jesus
As many as receive Jesus and believe in Him are adopted into the family of God – brought within His household, privileged to know Him and to live within His love, included in all the benefits of His rule and power, endowed with daily blessings of inward peace and joy, and increasingly transformed into His own image, so that they represent their Father and His love and purpose to the rest of the world.
All who thus come to know God as Father find a peace that goes beyond understanding and sustains them with joy even through the hard knocks of life.
They learn to be forgiving and forbearing people, who look with love on others and their needs and put their own interests on the back burner in order to show their Father’s love to their neighbors.
The children of God the Father become creative, as He is, in showing the beauty, goodness, and truth characteristic of their family line in their everyday lives and conversations, as well as in all their work.
They make the best use of their time in order to fill each moment with the awareness and manifestation of their family status, privileges, and obligations. They exude a hope which extends beyond time and space and things, and is anchored in and oriented toward an eternal realm and existence of unfaltering bliss and boon.
All who have become privileged to be adopted as the sons and daughters of God have arrived at that happy state by receiving Jesus Christ and believing in Him. Believing that He came seeking them. Believing that He is able to restore them to God. Believing that His life is the life they need, His death has wondrously managed to overcome everything deserving of death in them, His resurrection has opened a portal into a whole new realm of existence, His presence at the right hand of the Father empowers them to seek and advance His Kingdom, and His coming, one day soon, to take them to Himself will usher in a new world and a new day where sorrow, sin, death, fear, and shame no longer exist.
Those whom God adopts believe that Jesus is the Explanation of everything. As such, He alone can make our lives make sense, guide us through each day so that we faithfully represent our new family before others, teach us the way of full and abundant life, empower us to follow in His footsteps, accompany us through our hard times, and fill us with real and unfailing joy, peace, and wellbeing.
But what makes believing in Jesus any more sensible than believing in anything else?
T. M. Moore
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