I’ll be turning sixty-five in a few weeks. And of course, I’m getting lots of Medicare stuff wanting me to weigh all the options of Medi-Gap insurance or Medicare Advantage. And don’t forget Medicare Part D, the prescription drug coverage which you need to go along with Parts A & B. And I’m told I might want to consider Plan G, that’s a good one - probably better than the other plans, K, L, M, and N. Sounds like one of the “Men in Black” movies, doesn’t it? Anyway, I think this birthday coming up might ‘sting’ a little especially when I look in the mirror and wonder who that old guy is staring back at me.
But I still feel young, or at least I have these involuntary thoughts of myself being a lot younger. I think maybe some of that comes from a constant reminder from scripture that I’m a child. I will say it’s a little difficult to think of myself as a child being a dad and grandfather; and not having my parents around anymore. But I’ll be darn, there it is right there in so many places throughout scripture telling me I’m a child. I had to chuckle the other day when I looked up the dictionary definition of a child – “a person who has not attained maturity”. Well, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that fits me pretty well; and my siblings would probably agree (Ha - I hope they’re smiling). But then again, I think it’s great to be “young at heart” – can I get an amen on that from all you “young at heart” people?
Anyway, as you can tell I’ve been thinking about this a little more lately. I really love the scriptures that talk about all believers in Christ as being children; the following passage being one of my favorites…But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (Jn 1:12-13). There it is, right there. We have become the children of God. Look at that. I’m still a child and I still have a father even though I’m turning sixty-five and my dad passed away almost 18 years ago. I love this thought. When I read this scripture, I don’t feel very old. Maybe I should go to the playground, go down the slide, ride a skateboard, and then head over to get some ice cream with gummy worms…or maybe not. Probably not a good idea.
So, why don’t we unpack this great scripture because it really contains some awesome stuff, better than ice cream with gummy worms. We start out seeing that anyone who receives Him (Jesus) becomes a child of God. This receiving thing is an act of taking or acquiring something given or offered. So, there’s an offer and then it’s up to the person to receive it, to take possession of it. In this scripture, what, or should I say who, is being offered? Yes, that’s right – Jesus. He’s offering Himself to all mankind; He’s offering His life to everyone. And of course, there are those who receive Him, those who become children of God; and there are those who do not receive Him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (Jn 1:11).Who are his own people? Obviously, this is referring to the Jewish people who were alive in Jesus’ day. Most of the Jews at that time did not receive Jesus, they did not accept Him as their Messiah. And it has remained this way from the first century all the way up to today with most Jews having rejected Jesus as Messiah.
But, to everyone who receives Jesus, those who take possession of His life, He gives them something else. He grants them the right to become children of God.The word rightin this verse comes from the Greek word Exousia. This word is also translated in scripture as authority, power,and strength. It also means privilege. If you receive the life Jesus is offering you, then you have the privilegeof becoming a child of God. And that privilege includes the authority and power granted by the Creator of the universe to declare His glory and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a child of God, I’m a representative of God, my Father in heaven, and I give testimony to His greatness. A child who has a loving and attentive earthly father gets to know their father well during their upbringing. That child is a representative of their home and is entitled to the rights and privileges of being associated with that home, having the name of and being a child of their father. In the same way, God our Father grants us all the privileges associated with being His child. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through the gracious act of God. (Gal 4:6-7).As His children, we have inherited His authority to testify of His greatness, we’ve been given His strength to stand on His promises, the privilege to come boldly to His throne of grace (Heb 4:16), and the power to spread the good news of salvation through faith in Christ. Yes, as a member of the body of Christ and of the family of God, we have the honor of sharing His truth, to love as He loves, to have compassion, wisdom, and discernment; and to have the ability to trust in His great faithfulness, to rest in His promises. What an incredible offer, what an incredible gift…and all this is ours simply because we receive it, simply because we receive Him.
We’re then told what the prerequisite is for receiving this offer; the offer of Jesus’ life within us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This incredible gift is received, it’s acquired, it’s obtained, by all those who believe in His name. The only requirement, the simple response to His offer, is to believe. Wait…that’s it? This amazing offer to become a child of God with all its rights and privileges is mine simply because I believe in His name. You mean to tell me I don’t have to clean up my act, get baptized, be a better person, start going to church, make a profession of faith, start tithing, stop sinning, pray every day, smile all the time, and help elderly ladies across the street? All I have to do is believe? All I have to do is accept His offer by faith? Yep, that’s right my friend. All you need to do is believe in His name. Who’s name? Jesus. What does it mean to believe in His name? It means to believe God’s Word when He explains who Jesus was in the beginning, who Jesus was when He came to earth, who Jesus is today, and who He will forever be…God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:1,14). I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning, and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. (Rev 1:8).
Yes, Jesus was God in the flesh when He stepped out of eternity into time and became a man. He’s the second person of the triune God…He’s the Son. Do you believe this? Do you believe God became a man by being born of a virgin? Do you believe He lived on this earth for thirty-three years? Do you believe He died on a cross as the redeeming sacrifice for the sins of the world? Do you believe that when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son (Ro 5:10)? Do you believe He was resurrected from the dead on the third day? Do you believe He now sits at the right hand of God and makes intercession for us (Ro 8:34)? Do you believe He will return to this earth one day soon to rule and reign as King? Do you believe these things? If so, then you believe in His name, because this is the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ. This is who Jesus is. This is His name. Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9-11). And if you believe in His name, if you reckon(determine) these things to be true, then you my friend are a child of the living God. This is you’re true and eternal identity, this is who you have become, who He has made you to be…His child forever. Don’t ever forget that!
We know a child is born into this world from the mother’s womb. This is a miracle in and of itself. Just like the child of a man and a woman, scripture explains that a child of God must also be born. Children of God are described as ones who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. We find further reference to this “re-birth” in Jesus famous meeting with a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews who wanted to find out who Jesus was, where Jesus came from, how it was that He could perform all those miracles. In response to Nicodemus’ questions, Jesus simply cut right to the heart of the matter…was Nicodemus a believer or not; was he willing to receive the offer or not? Jesus said to him, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (Jn 3:1,5-6). Jesus was making a point that a person must be born a second time. Obviously the first time is when one is born from the mother’s womb. The second time is when one is born of the Spirit. The first birth is of water, of blood, of the flesh, of the will of man. The second birth is of God. This is where the phrase “born again” comes from that I’m sure you’ve heard so many times in Christendom.
The Apostle Paul discusses this concept in several places in his epistles. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… (Eph 2:4-5). Paul makes several references to this “life and death” issue; that mankind’s spirit is dead to God until it is made alive. (See Romans 5, 6, 8). That’s why we must be born of God, we must receive the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1Co 2:12).To understand what it means to be a child of God and everything we receive with it; we must have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. And we find that the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. (Ro 8:16). The Holy Spirit, the third person of the triune God, testifies (bears witness) to the fact that we’re God’s children. He’s the reason we’re identified this way because He dwells within us. In addition, we’re not able to understand the things of God unless the Holy Spirit teaches us those things. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1Co 2:13). A major component of the offering from Jesus, part of receiving His life within us, is the ability to discern the things of God and to become fully aware of everything we’ve been given. To fully understand who He has made us to be simply because we have become His child, simply because we believe in His name.
So…do you see why thinking of yourself as a child is so incredible? Do you see why it’s vitally important to realize that your true and eternal identity is a child of the living God? Do you understand why it’s such a privilege to be known as His child? Do you truly grasp the reality that you’ve been born of God; that you have received His life, that God Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit dwells within you? Do you fully appreciate the position God has placed you in when you accepted His offer; and that you can boldly approach His throne of grace at any time? Do you comprehend everything you’ve been given when you accepted this gift; the authority to declare His glory, the faith to believe His promises, the power to spread the Gospel? Do you truly fathom the magnitude of being made alive together with Christ; the ability to discern spiritual things; to understand what God has freely given you?
Do you know how special you are? Do you know how precious you are in God’s sight? Do you know how much He wants the best for you? Do you know how much He loves you? Do you know He resides within your inner being? Do you know you’re His child? If so, then you, my friend, know that you are indeed young at heart...you're a child of the living God!