Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
Who Am I in Christ?
The Beginning of Discipleship - Part I
Foundational Verse: "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NASB).
Let us first examine and analyze this verse from the Greek so that we can clearly see what it says.
1. The “all” in inclusive of all humanity regardless of race, gender, age, or culture.
2. The “received" indicates a self prompted action; it is a willful decision to accept. It is not inherited, nor can it be forced upon someone, or declared on behalf of someone. It is a personal choice.
3. The word “right” which is sometimes translated as “power” comes from the original Greek meaning “authority.” Authority is given for a purpose, but must be utilized.
4. "To become" is an infinitive defining the purpose of the authority to be used. In middle voice in the original Greek, it requires personal participation.
5. "Who believe on his name" is better translated as "those who are presently believing” in His name." It is a participle that describes a state of being.
Now let us examine some examples of how the content of the verse is shown in the lives of those who applied it.
1. In John 1: 29-34, John the Baptist clearly identifies Jesus as the Son of God.
2. The next day, John the Baptist, identifies him again in the presence of John and Andrew who immediately leave John the Baptist to follow Jesus (John 1: 35-42).
3. In John 10:24-30, Jesus affirms that he is the Son of God, and states that those who do believe are his sheep and “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (27-28).
These examples clearly illustrate “receiving” as an active willful following after Jesus.
The rest of the Gospel of John relates story after story of people who change as they are in the state or process of believing.
How does this process of believing work? In 1 Corinthians 3:16, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” The phrase “turns to the Lord” means the same as “receiving” and therefore, presently believing and following. Verse 17 of the same chapter says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” indicating freedom to see, unhindered by a veil. Verse 18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” The right or power given us when we receive/follow after Christ as our personal Savior allows us to behold or comprehend the presence of the Lord and as we focus and walk in that presence we are changed by increments (degrees) to look more like Him.
Hebrews 4: 1-2 indicates that regardless of who hears the Gospel of Christ, it is only those to “united by faith” to that message that benefit from it. A person must “receive”…willfully decide…to “believe”…follow Jesus…in order to enter into the promises of salvation. Verbal and/or intellectual assent is not enough; willful receiving and active believing (following) make a disciple of Christ, one of the “children of God.”
"And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath (received) the Son hath(receives) life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe (follow after) on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have(received) eternal life, and that ye may believe (follow after) on the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:11– 13).
Related reading: How to Build a Disciple-Making Church, Part I; How to Build a Disciple-Making Church, Part II