"But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man but of God” (John 1:12-13).
Verse 12 has been rightly seen as one of the greatest verses in the New Testament because it tells us how to be saved. Note three key words:
- Receive. This word means to welcome a visitor into your home. To “receive” Christ means to welcome him as an honored guest and to have him make your heart his home.
- Believe. This means more than just saying a prayer or signing a card. It means believing Jesus is the Son of God from heaven and trusting him with all your heart. It means resting on him so completely that he is your only hope of heaven.
- Right. This word means “honor” or “privilege.” The moment you receive Christ into your life, God gives you the honor of becoming a member of his family.
Verse 13 explains how we become God’s children. There are three “nots” and one “but”—and all four are important.
“Not of natural descent.” Grace doesn’t run automatically from one generation to another. You aren’t a Christian just because your parents were Christians or because your grandfather was a Methodist bishop. Your family background doesn’t count when it comes to salvation.
“Or of the will of the flesh.” That means there is nothing you can do to save yourself.
“Or of the will of man.” You can’t pay some bigshot to get you into heaven. No man is big enough to swing open the pearly gates on your behalf.
“But (born) of God.” Here is the heart of the gospel. Salvation is of the Lord. It’s a free gift—totally free and totally of grace. It’s not a cooperative venture where you do your part and God does his.
The only question left is quite simple. Have you ever received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? The world ignored him, his own people rejected him, now what will you do with Jesus?
It is not enough that he came to the earth. His coming will do you no good as long as Christ remains outside your life. Christ may be in your Christmas cards and in a nativity scene in your front yard, but it will avail you nothing unless you receive him.
Jesus is God’s Christmas gift to you. Have you ever welcomed him into your heart?
My God, I believe that Jesus is your Son who died for me, and I gladly receive him as my Lord and Savior. Amen.
Musical bonus: Francesca Battistelli offers a musical prayer for Christmas called Be Born in Me.
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