The Gospel of John

Power to Become Sons of God

John, in his prologue indicated that Jesus’ own nation would reject Him, but not completely. He wrote, “But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on his name” (John 1:11, ASV). The KJV translates the same passage to read, “But to as many as received him, gave he the power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. Whether “to as many as received him, gave he the power to become sons of God” or “to as many as received him, gave he the right to become children of God” is immaterial: in either case the believer is given something (right or power) he must exercise to become at that point something he is not.

The power or right the believer is given when he exercises that right is that he becomes God’s son. The is no passage in the Scriptures which shows more clearly this truth than Galatians 3:26-29: “For ye are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” It is “through faith” that we reach a goal; “through faith” we become sons of God. Galatians 3 continues: “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.” The word “for” in Galatians 3 is gar which means “therefore” or “verily”. Paul thus told the Galatians how through faith they had become sons of God, they had been baptized into Christ. The word “into” reflects a change of state from”outside Christ” to “inside Christ”. That change of state occurred when they were “baptized into Christ”.

Notice the consequence from coming in be in Christ: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female, for ye all one man in Christ Jesus. And, if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed; heirs according to promise”.

Now, look at John’s conclusion of his words: “to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on his name. who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Those who became sons of God did not become so because they were of a certain nation or man — “born of blood”; “nor of the will of the flesh” — through the fleshly desires; “nor of the will of man” — not through man’s devices”; “but of God” — born of God, a work of God.

A new birth is discussed not only in John 1. It is dealt with more extensively in John 3 when Nicodemus came by night to see Jesus and confessing, “We know thou art a teacher come from God” (John 3::3) To his astonishment Jesus responded “… verily, verily, I say unto thee, except one be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. When Nicodemus in astonishment asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus said, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Jesus made baptism part of the new birth, just as Paul did in Galatians 3:27. God joined baptism with the new birth, and as with marriage: “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

Having dealt primarily with the eternal nature of the Word, John then turned to the earthly ministry of the Word: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

From the time of man’s creation God communicated with him. But the matter of communication was not sufficient for the work the Father foreordained the Word to accomplish: God’s Lamb for mankind’s sins. From the early days of man God required the blood of animals to atone for man’s sins (see Genesis 4 for the first instance of this with the account of Cain and Abel). Such sacrifices were only temporary and could not remove sin (Hebrews 10:4). Animal blood could not atone, but the blood of God’s Lamb could. But for the Lamb to offer His blood, He must have a body. Because of this the Hebrew writer referenced a prophecy from Psalms 40:6-8: “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sins thou hadst no pleasure; then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me) to do thy will O God” (Hebrews 10:5-7). To do God’s will, it was necessary that His Son have a physical body which God prepared for Him and thus, “And the Word became flesh and dwell among us”.

Jim McDonald