11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 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 1:11–13, NKJV)
Jesus came to the Jewish people, and they rejected Him as the Messiah. But, their refusal to receive Him did not prevent God from declaring Jesus to be Lord and Christ (Psa. 2:1-7; Acts 2:33-37). Now, everyone who receives Him has been given the right to become a child of God. It is precisely those who “believe in His name” that have the right to be born of God to become His child. Some have this verse 12 all wrong. They think it says, “receive + believe = become.” They use this verse to say you should pray for salvation, but nothing is said of prayer here. The verse actually says, “received Him (believed) = right to become” children of God. If you receive Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (that is, you believe it), then you have the right to become a child of God. That truth is embedded perfectly into the call of the gospel at the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16). You have the right to become a child of God when you receive (believe) He is the Christ, the Son of God. But, without faith you cannot be saved (Jno. 8:23-24).
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1–4, NKJV)
Greatness in the kingdom of heaven is not defined by prominence above others, or by power over others, or by preference before others. Greatness is defined by humility, such as is seen in a little child. By these words, Jesus thoroughly rejects the notion that we are born with a “sin nature,” a corruption that originated in Adam and is transmitted through his progeny to all of humanity. If we must “be converted and become as little children,” then little children do not possess corrupt hearts. Otherwise, Jesus’ analogy is meaningless. The child stands as the prototype for greatness in the kingdom. Those who are great in the kingdom are not driven by a sin nature. Like children, they are driven by the innocence of humility. Any doctrine that corrupts the innocence and humility of children before God and mankind is false and deplorable error.
10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. 11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life. (Proverbs 4:10–13, NKJV)
Parental instruction, given in harmony with God’s word, will bless your child. The parenting model that says, “I let my child decide for themselves” will ultimate result in juvenile, even foolish and harmful decisions. (What if the child decides to play in the street?) Children need guidance, they are not “free range” animals, to come and go at will. Teach your child “in the way of wisdom” and lead him or her “in right paths” by your own example of righteousness. Do not hinder your child by given them unclear teaching and ungodly influences. Teach them in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6).
24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. 25 Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice.” (Proverbs 23:24–25, NKJV)
A godly mother is a great blessing to her children. She guides her household in the path of righteousness with loving wisdom and enduring patience. She rejoices to see her children walk uprightly, doing the will of God. Her heart aches when those she bore refuse her guidance, ignoring the right ways of the Lord. Today is Mother’s Day, and mothers across the land will be honored by their children. The wise child honors mother every day through kind words, generous deeds, and righteous obedience to the will of God. That is the best Mother’s Day gift the godly mother will ever receive from her children. Honor your mother this day by giving her these reasons to rejoice and be glad.
8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; 9 For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8–9, NKJV)
A mark of maturity is the willingness to accept and follow wise, godly instruction from one’s parents. Tempering the boisterous confidence of youth with humility and sound judgment is the task undertaken by parental teaching and counsel. The blessed child learns to respect his or her parents by accepting and retaining the training they give. If your parents have taught you to fear the Lord and do His will, then thank God. And, so your thanks for them by living according to their wise and loving instruction.
The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother. (Proverbs 10:1)
Solomon bears witness to a fundamental principle of humanity: Parents are made joyful when their child walks in wisdom. There is no greater joy, John would say, “than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Conversely, few sorrows are more profound and drive deeper into the core of a mother’s heart than watching her child make foolish, godless decisions. (See Proverbs 15:20 for a parallel verse.) Foolishness can be driven out of the heart of a child by applying the consistent “rod of correction” (Prov. 22:15). Teaching a child to fear the Lord helps them begin a life of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). Fathers (and mothers), instruct your child to fear the Lord. Correct your child while there is hope (Prov. 19:18). You are equipping your child to be wise. Child, realize there is no future in foolishness, only empty dreams and eternal regret. Walk in truth and bring joy to your parents – and especially to God.
Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” (Judges 13:8, NKJV)
A young family in the church was blessed last night with their first child – what a joyful event! The love and innocence of a newborn child reminds us of the wondrous love of God and His ever-present care for us. What an awesome task parents have to guide an immortal soul in the way of the Lord. If you are a parent, there is no greater counselor than the Lord to show you what to do for your child. Seek His help as parents through prayer and through the instruction of His word. With the Lord’s help, one day you can join John the apostle in saying, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).