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Study to Grow

By Randy Dillon

John 1:12-13

12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were  born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”


The Gospel of John is different in its approach to Jesus than the other three gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  John begins with Christ as the Word which precedes even the creation and in fact through which the creation comes.  He is portrayed as the “light” which men reject.  Then John turns to those who received Him as savior and lord.  When a person receives Jesus as savior and lord, receiving Him and believing in His name, He bestows upon them the right of adoption as children of God.

This was the problem of the Jews and even many people today.  In response to those who rejected Jesus John then strikes at the very foundation of their Jewish faith, culture and tradition by indicating that all of the rationale by which they sought favor with God were of no consequence.  

First, he indicates that those receiving Jesus in regeneration did so “not of blood” which anticipates the Jewish reliance on their ancestral lineage (blood line) from Abraham.  This was a cornerstone of the Jewish reliance on their special privilege as the chosen of God.  It provided confidence of their eternal security.  And John denied their reliance on this essential element of their faith. Even today many Christians rely on their lineage from Christian parents, or grandparents, as the basis of their eternal security.  Like the Jews at the time of Christ, this is a false security.

Second, John says it is also not of “the will of the flesh” by which salvation comes. Jews relied on their observance of the law as another signal of their rightful place as a child of God.  That is, by their faithfulness to the law and its subsidiary regulations they believed that their eternal destiny was secure.  Theirs was a salvation of works by which they earned their eternal reward.  This, too, John denied.  Likewise, today many professing Christians base their eternal security on their behavior.  Making a public profession of faith, walking the aisle to signal their conversion, going to church regularly, paying tithes and offerings, working on committees, teaching, singing, etc. become the factors on which too many Christians base their security.  These are not unimportant elements in the demonstrate of our faith, but if they are not preceded by placing our destiny in true faith in Jesus they are as worthless as the Jews who rigorously kept the law.

Third, and finally, John says that salvation is not “of the will of man.”  Jews often determined their place in the world and in the kingdom of God based on blood, the law and also a person’s own volition or “will” to be saved.  John clearly indicated that even a one’s will cannot bring one to a proper relationship with God independent of receiving and believing in Jesus as the Messiah. Nor can reliance on someone else wishing for you to become Godly save you. Too many Christians today fall into the same error.  They believe that their salvation is due to their own will to be saved independent of regeneration by the Holy Spirit and even independent of accepting Jesus as both Savior AND Lord.  They receive Jesus on their terms and obey Him on their terms.  Some even fall into the trap of believing that the prayers of another Christian will save them.

Finally, John sums up these three fallacies by stating that receiving and believing in the name of Jesus is “of God.”  One cannot come to Jesus unless drawn to Him by the Father and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.  Any other means of receiving and believing in Jesus is of “works” and will not be recognized as an appropriate rationale for entrance into the kingdom of God.

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