Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (John 13:20, NKJV)
These reassuring words of Jesus, spoken to His apostles, establish the vital importance of following the apostles’ doctrine today. Th word “apostle” means one who is sent. Jesus told them, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). In their case, Jesus sent His apostles into the world to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). Only by receiving Jesus does a person receive God into his or her life. But, to receive Jesus Christ, one must receive His apostles. Therefore, one cannot reject the apostles’ teachings and rightfully claim to have received Jesus into his life. Receiving the apostles begins by hearing and believing their words (Acts 2:22, 36-37). It continues by obeying their commands (approved by the authority of Jesus) to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38-41, esp. v. 41). Furthermore, one then steadfastly continues “in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Christians continue to learn and follow the word of Christ which His apostles taught. Do you receive Christ’s apostles, by believing and obeying their teachings? If so, you are receiving Jesus and the Father, who sent Him to the world.
33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:33–35, NKJV)
Paul did not preach the gospel in order to make money. Indeed, there were multiple occasions when he had to make tents to provide for himself and his companions (Acts 18:1-3). The example he set is a template for us to apply. When we are tempted to work so we can buy the next best gadget and gizmo, Paul has shown us a better way. We should work like he did so that we can “support the weak,” that is, give to those in need (Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 6:17-18). A growing faith develops to the point where we wish to give more than to receive. This well-known statement from the mouth of Jesus draws our attention away from silver, gold and apparel, to the spiritual fortune of a life that is spent in giving to those in need.
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).
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them… (Acts 8:12–14)
This verse teaches us how sinners receive the word of God (v. 14). When these sinners heard the good news of God’s kingdom and of Christ’s power, they “believed” and “were baptized” (v. 12). When Philip “preached Christ to them”, they believed and obeyed, and were saved (Acts 8:5). Simon himself received the word of God the same way (v. 13). There was no yelling and screaming. There was no “praying through”, expectantly waiting for the Holy Spirit to fall upon them. (In fact, the Holy Spirit “had fallen on none of them”, v. 16.) We read of no “sinner’s prayer” to ask Jesus into their hearts. Instead, we read of sinners who “received the word of God” by believing it and being baptized. Did you receive the word of God the same way as these people did in the New Testament? If not, why not? And if not, will you receive God’s word the way they did?