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:…
I. THE NATURE OF THIS RECEIVING OF CHRIST.
1. No man can do this in the darkness of natural ignorance. If we know not His nature and offices we do not take, we mistake Christ. The receiving act of faith, then, is guided by knowledge.
2. This receiving of Christ implies the assent of the understanding to the truths of Christ in the gospel — His Person, offices, incarnation, satisfaction — which assent, although it is not saving faith, is its groundwork. This is more than conjecture or opinion, it is belief.
3. This also implies hearty approbation, liking, and estimation; yea, the very acquiescence of our souls in Christ as the most excellent remedy for wants, sins, and dangers (1 Peter 2:7). There are two things in Christ which must gain the approbation of the soul.
(1) That it can find nothing unsuitable to it in Christ as it does find in the best creatures — no weakness, pride, inconstancy, or passion. He is the altogether lovely.
(2) That it can find nothing wanting in Christ necessary or desirable. In Him is the fulness of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
4. It consists in the consent and choice of the will; and this is the opening of the heart and stretching forth of the soul to receive Him (see Christ's complaint, John 5:40, and Ephesians 1:19).
5. The respect that this act of acceptance has unto the terms upon which Christ is tendered to us in the Gospel. Faith answers the gospel offer, as the impress on the wax does the engraving on the seal (1 Corinthians 15:11). There is no receiving Christ but on His own terms.
(1) He is offered sincerely and really, and is received with a faith unfeigned (1 Timothy 1:5).
(2) He is offered entirely, and is received in all His offices as Christ Jesus the Lord (Acts 16:13).
(3) He is offered exclusively, and the soul singly relies on Him (Acts 4:2; 1 Corinthians 3:11), and not partly on His righteousness and our own.
(4) He is offered freely as the gift, not the sale of God (John 4:10; Isaiah 55:1.; Revelation 22:17). So the believer comes to Him with an empty hand.
(5) He is offered orderly. First His Person, then His privileges (Romans 8:32), so the believer does not marry His portion first.
II. THIS IS THE JUSTIFYING AND SAVING ACT OF FAITH.
1. The faith which gives the soul right and title to spiritual adoption, with all the privileges and benefits thereof, is true saving faith.
2. That only is saving faith which is in all true believers, in none but true believers, and in all true believers at all times.
III. THE EXCELLENCY OF THIS ACT OF FAITH (2 Peter 1:7; James 2:5; John 6:29).
1. Considered qualitatively it has the same excellency that all other precious graces have. It is the fruit of the Spirit. It is singled out to receive Christ. As it is Christ's glory to be the door of salvation, so it is faith's glory to be the golden key that opens that door.
(1) It is the bond of our union with Christ (Ephesians 3:17).
(2) It is the instrument of our justification (Romans 5:1).
(3) It is the spring of our spiritual peace and joy (Romans 5:1; 1 Peter 1:8, 9).
(4) It is the means of our spiritual livelihood and subsistence. Take away faith and all the others die (Galatians 2:20).
(5) It is the great scope and drift of the Gospel to get men to believe. The urgent commands aim at this (1 John 3:23; Mark 1:14, 15; John 12:36). Hither, also, look the great promises and encouragements (John 6:35-37; Mark 16:16). The opposite sin of unbelief is everywhere threatened (John 16:8, 9; John 3:18, 35).
1. For information: If there be life in receiving Christ, there must be death in rejecting Him.
2. If faith be accepting Christ, then there are fewer believers among professors than were thought to be, and more believers than dare conclude themselves such.
3. Those who have the least degree of saving faith, have cause for ever to admire the bounty of the grace of God to them therein (Ephesians 1:3).
4. For examination:(1) The antecedents of faith — illumination (Acts 26:18); conviction (Mark 1:15); self-despair (Acts 2:37); vehement and earnest cries to God for faith.
(2) The concomitants of faith — seriousness (Acts 16:29); humiliation (Ezekiel 16:63; Luke 8:38); a weary condition (Matthew 11:28); a longing condition.
(3) The consequents of faith — evangelical meltings (Zechariah 12:10); love to Christ, His ways, and His people (Galatians 5:6); heart purity (Acts 15:9); obedience (Romans 16:26).
5. For exhortation:(1) What is in Christ whom you are to receive?
(2) What is the offer of Christ by the gospel?
(3) What is in the rejecting of that offer?
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: