VIII. CHILDREN OF GOD
`As many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name.' -- John 1:12
What is given must be received, otherwise it does not profit. If the first great deed of God's love is the gift of His Son, the first work of man must be to receive this Son. And if all the blessings of God's love come to us only in the ever-new, ever-living Son of the Father, all these blessings enter into us from day to day through the always-new, always-continuing reception of the Son.
What is necessary for this reception, you, beloved young Christians, know, for you have already received the Lord Jesus. But all that this reception involves must become clearer and stronger, the unceasing living action of your faith. (2 Cor. 10:15; 1 Thess. 1:8; 3:10; 2 Thess. 1:3) Herein especially consists the increase of faith. Your first receiving of Jesus rested on the certitude which the word gave you, that He was for you. Through the word must your soul be still further filled with the assurance that all that is in Him is literally and really for you, given by the Father in Him to be your life.
The impulse to your first receiving was found in your want and necessity. Through the Spirit you become still poorer in spirit, and you see everything every moment: this leads to a ceaseless, ever-active taking of Him as your all. (Matt 5:3; 2 Cor. 3:10,13,16; 6:10; Eph. 4:14,15; Col. 2:6)
Your first receiving consisted in nothing but the appropriation by faith of what you could not yet see or feel. That same faith must be continually exercised in saying: all that I see in Jesus is for me: I take it as mine, although I do not yet experience it. The love of God is a communicating, a ceaseless outstreaming of His light of life over the soul, a very powerful and veritable giving of Jesus: our life is nothing but a continuous blessed apprehension and reception of Him. (John 1:16; Col. 2:9,10; 3:3)
And this is the way to live as children of God: as many as receive Him, to them gives He the power to become children of God. This holds true, not only of conversion and regeneration, but of every day of my life. If to walk in all things as a child of God, and to exhibit the image of my Father, is indispensable, I must take Jesus the only-begotten Son: it is He that makes me a child of God. To have Jesus Himself, to have the heart and life full of Him, is the way to live as a child of God. I go to the word and learn there all the characteristics of a child of God; (Matt 5:9,16,44,45; Rom. 8:14; Eph. 1:4,5; 5:1,2; Phil. 2:15; Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:14,17; 1 John 3:1,10; 5:1,3) and after each one of them I write: this Jesus shall work in me: I have him to make me to be a child of God.
Beloved young Christian, learn, I beseech you, to understand the simplicity and the glory of being a true Christian. It is to receive Jesus, to receive Him in all His fulness, to receive Him in all the glorious relations in which the Father gives Him to you. Take Him as your Prophet, as your Wisdom, your Light, your Guide. Take Him as your Priest, who renews you, purifies you, sanctifies you, brings you near to God, takes you and forms you wholly for His service. Take Him as your King who governs you, protects you and blesses you. Take him as your Head, your Exemplar, your Brother, your Life, your All. The giving of God is a divine, an ever-progressive and effectual communication to your soul. Let your taking be the childlike, cheerful, continuous opening of mouth and heart for what God gives, the full Jesus and all His grace. To every prayer the answer of God is: Jesus, all is in Him, all in Him is for you. Let your response always be: Jesus, in Him I have all. You are, you live in all things as, `children of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.'
O my Father, open the eyes of my heart to understand what it is to be a child of God: to live always as a child through always believing in Jesus, Thine only Son. O let every breath of my soul be, faith in Jesus, a confidence in Him, a resting in Him, a surrender to Him, to work all in me.
If by the grace of God you now know that you have received Jesus and are God's child, you must now take pains to make His salvation known. There is many a one who longs to know and cannot find out how he can become a child of God.
Endeavour to make two things plain to him. First, that the new birth is something so high and holy that he can do nothing in it. He must receive eternal life from God through the Spirit: he must be born from above. This Jesus teaches. (John 3:1-8). Then make plain to him how low God has descended to us with this new life, and how near He brings it to us. In Jesus there is life for every one who believes in Him. This Jesus teaches (John 3:14-18). And this Jesus and the life are in the word. Tell the sinner that, when he takes the word, he then has Jesus, and life in the word. (Rom. 10:8). O do, pray, take pains to tell forth the glad tidings that we become children of God only through faith in Jesus.