He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 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: (John 1:11-12.)
These are they who have received God. However, it isn’t enough to merely receive God; God must, in turn, receive them (review Matthew 7:21-23). And when God receives one such, he chastens them. He tries them in the furnace of affliction that they might be refined as silver and gold.
To review, adding verses 8-9:
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:5-9.)
Here’s something else we must be open to if we are to be received by Jesus:
Wherefore come out from among them [i.e., unbelievers, infidels and idol worshipers], and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing [i.e., temples with idols] ; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18.)
Again, we see God taking the role of father (Father) to us, calling us his sons and daughters . . . if we separate ourselves from the unbelievers, etc.
As far as separating ourselves from idol worshipers, we might want to consider exactly what an idol is. In the Bible times they were most often graven images from stone, metal or wood, which they worshiped and paid homage to.
In modern parlance, in addition to the above, we may say idols are those things we spend most of our time and energy on—whether it’s money or the pursuit of money, sports, computers, entertainment (television, movies, music, computers, and so forth)—even family! (I can see hackles rising with that last one!)
But here’s what Jesus said about that:
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37.)
One would assume wife or husband are also included in that list. Even so, that’s a pretty powerful statement and one that is not generally heard over the pulpit, I think. But remember the first and great commandment:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37.)
First, love God, then love family.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39.)
Family is the most intimate neighbor, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, I didn’t say it; Jesus did. Discipleship is not easy for those who do not put God first.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. (Romans 8:14-16.)
When we are truly led by the Spirit of God, we love God first and foremost above all other things. And if we are truly led by the Spirit of God, then that means we follow what the Spirit tells us to do. We can’t be led unless we are told what to do.
The scriptures tell us what to do. Jesus said we should do the works he did:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12.)
So, then we must be led by the Spirit of God if we are to become sons and daughters of God. This is the means by which we receive the spirit of adoption. And the “Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God”.
The Greek word for adoption implies sonship in respect to God. (James Strong, Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Abingdon Press, 1973.)
Basically, it means we are once again accepted and connected to God as we were before the fall of Adam and Eve—literal sons and daughters of God!