1. John 1:6–13 (ESV)
  2. Application

Becoming children of God

John 1:6–13 (ESV)

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

How is it that we can become children of God? If we are blinded by our sin and darkness, if we are naturally children of wrath, slaves to our sinful passions and desires (Ephesians 2:1–10), children who ignore God and reject his light, how do we come to believe in Jesus Christ? How is our love for darkness broken?

The answer that John gives us is that God the Holy Spirit must work a supernatural change in our heart. The decision to as to who will believe and be given the right to become children of God is ultimately not a decision that lies in our hands (John 1:13; John 3:1–15).

Our genetics do not have a role to play in our salvation. We can be descended from Abraham, we can trace our line to David, but it is not those born of blood who have the right to become children of God. There is not something in your DNA that makes you better than other people so that you respond to the gospel when you hear it. You are not a Christian because you grew up in a family where your parents believed. We can raise our children in the faith but that is no guarantee that they will embrace the promises of the gospel. The sign of baptism is a sign that calls for faith and there is no salvation for those who reject God’s truth no matter what privileges they may have enjoyed.

Likewise our experiences are not proof of salvation. When John refers to the will of the flesh in John 1:13 he is primarily referring to children being the fruit of sexual desire, but perhaps we can parallel this with the modern desire for emotional experiences. It is possible for us to spend our lives looking for experiences. We seek out worship services where the music is just right, the sermons are powerful and the people are friendly. Then we leave each week feeling good—our hearts have been encouraged. But if we were to be asked what we believe, then we are not sure. We came for the experience and not for doctrine; it is not truth about God that we are interested in. But if your hope is grounded in experience, you are constantly looking for the next big fix and if the day should come when your emotions are not stirred, well then you have no assurance that you truly belong to God. Children of God are not born of the will of the flesh. 

Finally, and perhaps the hardest truth for us to understand, the decision to become a Christian does not lie in the power of your will. If you were given the choice, by nature you will always choose to ignore God and live your own way. That is how dark the sinful soul is. For us to put our faith in God requires more than the will of man; it requires God to do a supernatural work within us. In the words of Jesus Christ (John 3:1–15), we must be born again, of water and the Spirit if we are to see the kingdom of God.

The Word is the true light who shines in the darkness. His testimony is clear; the truth of the Bible is plain for all to see. However, because man loves darkness, he refuses to leave his sin and trust in Christ for forgiveness. This is the reason why our world rejects the truth of the gospel and seeks to smother the voice of Christians. Unless God’s Spirit works powerfully to open blind eyes and soften hard hearts, darkness is the condition in which we will live and die. We will keep making up our own stories to justify our rejection of God.