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. (John 1:12–13, NKJV)
God gives believers the right to become His children – to be saved in the Son (1 John 5:11-12). John explains that birth into the family of God is not due to physical lineage (“not of blood”) or fleshly procreation (“of the will of the flesh”). The apostle Paul said, “nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham” (Romans 9:7). One is not born into the family of God by the will of man. Neither human desires and wishes, doctrines, creeds or confessions produce the new birth. Birth into the family of God is of faith, not of flesh. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Children of God are born of God and have life in the Son. Children of God walk in the light. Such rich blessings of salvation come “by grace, through faith” to those who put on Christ, which occurs when the believer is baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27).
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” 36 He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. (John 9:35–38, NKJV)
This man, whom Jesus had healed of blindness on the Sabbath, had been cast out of the synagogue because he drew a necessary inference about Jesus, and had the audacity to declare it publicly. He concluded from the miracle Jesus worked for him that Jesus was from God, otherwise, “He could do nothing” (John 9:31-33). When Jesus found the man and challenged his faith in the Son of God, He identified Himself to be the Son of God. The miracle had convinced him that Jesus was the Son of God. When Jesus identified Himself to the man, he confessed his faith and worshiped Jesus as the Son of God. The recorded miracles of Jesus continue to be signs providing the testimony we need to believe Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30-31). Exalted on high at the right hand of the Father, the Son of God gives life to those who put their faith in Him and follow Him according to His word (1 John 5:11-13).
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6–7, NKJV)
As used here, “received” means “to receive near…to associate with oneself” (Strong’s Dictionary). Christians have a close association with Christ. This relation began with belief: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12). Those who believe in Christ are given the right to become children of God. Receiving Christ begins with belief, but it does not end there. Jesus clearly said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved: but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). To receive Christ (take Him near, to be saved) one must believe and be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Through obedient faith, one receives Christ and His salvation (Acts 2:38-41). Christians need a grounded and growing faith to continue to walk in Christ (Colossians 2:7). The teaching of the apostles establishes us in the faith (Acts 2:42). Having heard, believed and obeyed the word of salvation to receive Christ, our hearts were filled with thanksgiving. Now, to remain close to Christ, we must continue to live with an obedient, vibrant faith.
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:8–10, NKJV)
The “word of faith” was preached by the apostles. It produces faith in the good and honest heart (Romans 10:17; Luke 8:15). It produces belief in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, and that Jesus is Lord. A verbal confession of one’s faith that Jesus is Lord (Ruler, Master), and that He was raised from the dead, is necessary to be saved. Confessing one’s belief that Jesus is the risen Lord is not the only thing essential to be saved. The command to repent of sins must be obeyed, or we will perish (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30). Water baptism is also commanded to be saved (Mark 16:16; Acts 10:47-48; 1 Peter 3:21). The “word of faith” contains all these essential actions of faith to be saved by grace. The gospel plan of salvation is for the lost to hear the gospel, to believe in Jesus, the resurrected Lord (the Son of God), to confess Jesus as Lord, to repent of your sins, and to be baptized into Christ. God will save you by His grace, when you do the things God wants you to do.
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. (John 2:23–25, NKJV)
The miracles of Jesus were signs to the people that He is from God. When they saw the signs He did, they believed in His name, or power. Without those miracles, there would have been no ability to know who Jesus was, or the power by which He spoke. By contrast, Jesus did not need signs to tell Him what was in the hearts of men and women. People did not need signs to confirm to Jesus who they were and what was in them. Being the Son of God, He knows the hearts of men. For example, He knew Nathaniel was an Israelite “in whom is no deceit” (John 1:47). He knows what is in your heart and mine (Hebrews 4:13). Let us be sure to entrust our souls to Him by faithfully honoring and obeying His authority as the Son of God.
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37–38, NKJV)
In answer to the question posed by the murderers of Jesus (Acts 2:36), Peter did not tell them to “just accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and you will be saved.” (They evidently already believed Jesus to be “both Lord and Christ,” because they are convicted of their sin against Him. You cannot be convicted about something you do not believe.) Peter did not tell them to “pray the sinner’s prayer” to be saved. (Yet, that is what many tell sinners to do about their sins.) Peter did not tell them, “There is nothing you can do to save yourselves. God has done everything.” (But, many tell sinners they are completely passive in their salvation.) Peter did tell them to repent. These believers were not yet saved; they needed to repent, or they would not be saved. Peter also told them to be baptized “for the remission of sins.” Just as one must believe and repent to be saved, one must also be baptized to be saved. Instead of accepting doctrines that deny and oppose this simple passage about how to be saved, why not believe it, obey it, and be saved? When you believe, repent and are baptized, God will remove your sins, just like He did theirs.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18, NKJV)
During the confirmation hearing of Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Bernie Sanders charged Vought with being “hateful,” “Islamophobic,” and “insulting” a billion Muslims because his Christian faith informs his belief that those who do not believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, are condemned (see today’s verse). Article VI of the U.S. Constitution plainly says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Senator Sanders should know this.) Mr. Vought should not be expected to abandon his faith in order to hold a job in the government. Nor should he be so falsely accused because of his faith. Yet, this outrageous example reminds us that believers will continue to be falsely accused. Jesus said His disciples are blessed when we remain faithful in the face of faithless persecutors (Matt. 5:10-12). “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Peter 3:15-16).