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).
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18–19, NKJV)
God has shown His power and deity to mankind. This truth, that “may be known of God,” has been revealed by God Himself (v. 19). The very existence of this universe testifies of His creative power and divine nature (Rom. 1:20). The psalmist David recognized this when he wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard” (Psa. 19:1-3). Since God’s creation speaks of His power and deity, all who reject and oppose this truth are “without excuse” and under divine wrath (Rom. 1:20). God’s wrath is directed against “all ungodliness and unrighteousness” – these sins “suppress” (hold down) the truth that God has made known about Himself. Sins against God and against men display faithlessness that is seen and punished by our Creator. Therefore, God’s wrath against sin is an incentive to know Him and obey His truth, not oppose Him.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13, NKJV)
Our prayers should not only be about our needs and desires (Heb. 4:16). They should not only be supplications on behalf of others (1 Tim. 2:1-2). They should also be filled with adoration for our Heavenly Father. Reverent respect and regard for the Almighty ought to be evident in our manner of prayer (Matt. 6:9). Acknowledge the regal, royal, sovereign rule of our Father as we pray. It is precisely because He reigns supreme that we are impressed with His willingness to hear and answer our prayers. His eternal power, announced by His whole creation, assures us of His ability to act on our behalf. His majestic glory humbles us in His presence and impresses us of His love toward us, low as we are in comparison to His majesty (Psa. 8:4). As we pray, let us remember to whom we are addressing our petitions. This will help define our attitude in prayer as well as shape our faith in our Father to “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).
5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground… 10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” (Psalm 147:5–6, 10–11, NKJV)
God’s power and wisdom is unbounded. He does not act as we humans. What He values and exalts is very different from the estimations given by men. He raises up and magnifies the humble of heart, while He crushes wickedness under the strength of His mighty hand. Unlike men, who put confidence in the strength of their military might and prowess, our Lord delights in those who reverence Him and trust His mercy as their salvation in time of trouble. Let us never doubt the robust power and unlimited understanding of the Lord God to provide for and protect those who humbly serve Him and faithfully trust His mercy.
5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (Acts 4:5–7, NKJV)
We do not possess the way to heaven within ourselves. (Jeremiah said, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps,” Jer. 10:23.) The unbelieving Jewish rulers, who had seized Peter and John, questioned them about the power or name by which they had healed a lame man (Acts 3:1-10). We should question ourselves “by what power, or by what name” we teach and practice what we do. We are under divine instruction to do so: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). We must have Christ’s authority endorsing what we teach and what we do, otherwise, we are acting from our own will, not His. The New Testament is Christ’s complete final authority (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 14:37; Jude 3). By following His word we act under His authority (in His name). Let the word of Christ be the final word in your life, today and every day.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV)
Because God is omnipotent, our prayers ought to acknowledge this essential attribute of His deity. Faith in His power should influence how we pray. God can bring to pass whatever He chooses is consistent with His will (1 Jno. 5:14-15). Although God has limited Himself with regard to present-day miracles, He still works providentially. Therefore, let us make sure we pray to God like He is God, not like He is a man. Ask for the things that seem impossible to us, pray for the things that our power alone could never bring to pass. By doing this, we treat God like the God that He is: “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV)
Although our petitions to God are often limited in scope and momentary in time, God is limitless in His ability to act on our behalf. God’s ability to answer our prayers is beyond measure, and is the very power that works in us (Eph. 3:17). Since Christ dwells in our hearts “through faith,” we can only conclude that God powerfully answers our prayers in harmony with His powerful word, which anchors our faith (Rom. 10:17). God’s word assures Christians that He works according to His will: “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us…we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 Jno. 5:14-15). Remember to whom you pray: there is none like Him. “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours” (1 Chron. 29:11). God is able to powerfully answer our prayers far beyond our ability to ask or think. And so, like incense, our prayers confidently ascend before the throne of God (Rev. 8:3-4).
36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:36–38, NKJV)
Elizabeth, the mother of John, had not been able to bear children her whole life. Now, she was “well advanced in years” (Lk. 1:7). Furthermore, her husband Zacharias admitted to being “an old man” (Lk. 1:18). Yet, she conceived a son. Elizabeth’s pregnancy was a sign to Mary that, although she was a virgin, she would indeed bear a son by the power of God (Lk. 1:34-35). Notice carefully how Mary said the “impossible” would be accomplished. She had faith these things would occur to her “according to your word” (v. 38). Things that are “impossible” with man are accomplished according to the word of God, not contrary to it. Do not expect God to act against His word; He will not. Instead, when you rely on and obey God’s word, great things will be accomplished that defy human wisdom, will and power.
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:21-22, ESV)
Although many reject water baptism as having anything to do with being saved, Peter’s statement remains very clear: “Baptism…now saves you” (v. 21). Who gave water baptism the power to save? Not the church. Not a creed. Not the one being baptized. Not the preacher. Not the water. It is none other than the resurrected Christ who empowers water baptism to save you from sin’s death. The blood of Christ cleanses the conscience from the works of sin when the sinner is baptized into His death (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 6:3). To conclude that water baptism has no power to save is in direct conflict with the word of God and the power of Him who is in heaven “at the right hand of God” (v. 22). Instead of opposing the word of God, appeal to God for a good conscience. Be baptized to be saved – not by your own merit – but “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…” (2 Timothy 1:7-9)
The eternal purpose of God to save us in Christ is the compelling reason for Christians not to be “ashamed of the testimony of our Lord”. The preacher Timothy was to remember this and never be afraid to boldly preach the word of God. The fear of sin and death is cast off in Christ (Heb. 2:15). Be bold in spirit as you teach the gospel. The gospel is God’s power to save. The gospel is the expression of God’s love. The sober mind pledges allegiance to the gospel, come what may.