Quoting John’s words he says this: John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
This passage it seems clear actually teaches that those who are born again of the Spirit are given the power to become Sons of God. There seems to be a responsibility on the believer to exercise this power. These are John’s opening remarks preceding the verses we often hear quoted for our salvation from the book of John. So what is the reason or meaning behind neglecting this point in John’s gospel?
Are there other scriptures that would agree that we must have some responsibility to God once we are born again?
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” John 20.31.
What does it mean to believe that “He is the Christ the Son of God”? What John tells us here as part of this conclusion to this same gospel is not much different from the verses he began with in his gospel record. “Ye might have life” is not a guarantee. If we say that we might come to dinner; that implies a condition.
Jesus died unconditionally for every man, but His offer was not universalism, and it was not unconditional.
In fact what John states is that in order to have power to become, you must be born again. How does that happen? — by believing. Exercising personal responsibility or obedience is the way that Jesus told us that we show our love for Him.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15 KJV
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on whom he hath sent.” John 6.29
So what does it mean to believe on Him. Does that simply mean that we believe who He is, or that we not only do that, but does it also mean that we show our belief by doing what He says as well?
John had said: John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
So Jesus in whom you and I believe is the Word, and yet, men have chosen of their own free will to extract only those things to believe about Him from His word or from Him upon which to base their salvation. Paul preached the gospel, in that gospel he communicated many things. After having preached to the Ephesians he told their elders this. listen:
Acts 20:24-29 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Paul said that he knew that this would happen. We can’t pick just what we want from scripture, and ignore all the rest. No preacher that I have ever heard has spoken of dangers to the flock that Paul points out here.
Obviously Jesus is much much more than the written Word of God. He is the living Word. Paul preached the gospel of grace, he says the kingdom and the whole council of God was preached. But what does that mean to you? He has done his part here, and there is almost a washing of his hands as to what these teachers then do with what has been given to them through him.
Was the kingdom and the whole council of God not a major part of this gospel that He preached? Jesus told the disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Paul says that he taught them the kingdom. Why in our day is this not part of his gospel to us? In fact many dispensationalists today make the kingdom a separate gospel.
There is a blog on WordPress called Jesus without baggage — the teacher, who is now deceased, was a universalist. He believed in Jesus death burial and resurrection but he believed very little else, none of Paul’s writings are scripture in his gospel. James says the devils believe and tremble. Our responsibility to The Christ goes beyond believing who He is and even what He did, but should it not also include what He requests of us.
Paul preached to them the kingdom, the whole council of God, and yet he still believed that wolves would come and lead many astray. What would that look like today? Will it resemble Eternal security thrown away? Christ has given us eternal security. It is what we do with that gift that matters to Him.
I have been accused of teaching Lordship salvation. I’m not even sure what that is. If they, who accuse me of that, are saying that I believe that Jesus is Lord over my life, then yes I am guilty. He purchased me. He has the right to be my Lord. If they are saying that I base my salvation on having made Jesus Lord, then again I am guilty, for I can do nothing apart from Him. He is Lord, we are free to believe that fact or not. My salvation is totally dependent on Him, but my trusting Him as He speaks in His word, in order that He might bear fruit through me, is my part in the covenant relationship. I yield my heart in trust that He might write His Law upon my heart. Paul says that if we deny Him then He will deny us. Where did Paul get that? — from Jesus. So yes I believe that our trust in Him is precious to Him. If that is making Him Lord then I am guilty.
The question we all must answer is if Jesus can and will deny us based on the conditions that He sets forth in His word then does that mean we are in some way responsible to Him?
Take the Coptic Christian who in the not to distant past was kneeling before His ISIS enemy. When his enemy says Deny Jesus and praise Allah and live, is it a work on his part to die for Jesus? Or is it His grace that strengthens him to be able to die, because he trusts Him even in death? I would see it this way if I were to deny Him that would then be a work of the flesh and it would be filthy rags before Him, because it would be my effort to save myself. It would mean that I would know better than Him how to save myself.
Our responsibility then is to trust Him with our whole life. If I allow myself to be deceived by presuming on the grace of God, and say to myself you are saved you can’t lose or throw this salvation away, so now save your life — after all Peter denied the Lord three times and was forgiven by Him. Jesus’ grace was sufficient for him. Jesus had even told him if you deny me before man I will deny you before my Father which is In heaven, and yet, He still forgave him. What’s up with that? Here is the difference. Peter was not yet under the new covenant when he denied Christ. He had not yet been given the power to become — the Holy Spirit. He was not yet responsible for that gift when he denied Him. We are in that covenant relationship just as Peter was after the death and resurrection of our Savior. Our belief in what Jesus tells us is all that we have going for us. It’s all that He requires of us, but it doesn’t stop with only believing in His death burial and resurrection. We are responsible to believe what He has taught us. To whom much is given much is required.
I have written this in the Hope that this clarifies what I believe about Jesus, and my responsibility as a believer to Him.
What is this power that we are given? The Holy Spirit (Christ in us) is the hope of glory. We are led by Him. We walk in Him, in the power of His Holy Spirit, and not in the flesh. We obey or we deny. We trust in Him or in ourselves to see us through. Is this not what James had in mind when he said:
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22 NASB
Peter for whom Jesus died, still was hung upside down on a cross not for himself, and not for us, but for Jesus.