November 8, 2011

Receiving the King

When we were in Scotland, we drove up to the gates of the royal castle near Braemar. The flag was flying so we knew the Queen was there. However, when the guards stepped forward with their rifles up, we were not brave enough to ask if she was receiving visitors. So we turned aside and drove on.

This idea of a person receiving someone into their home is the closest I can think of to what it means to receive Jesus. Yet receiving Jesus is far more than welcoming Him inside for a visit over tea and scones. These verses present the thought . . . 

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11–13)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. (Colossians 2:6)
Much of what follows, I’ve personalized from Spurgeon’s delightful thoughts for today. As he says, my life of faith is represented in the Bible as receiving. This action implies the very opposite of merit. Receiving is simply the acceptance of a gift, in this case a gift offered by God to me, a sinner.

Think of how the earth drinks in rain, how the sea receives streams, how the night accepts starlight. So I am like that before God, giving nothing (for I have nothing to give) and receiving freely God’s grace. I am not by nature a well or a stream, but more like a cistern into which living water flows, an empty vessel into which God pours salvation.

This idea of receiving implies a sense of realization. That is, receiving Christ is not an imaginary transaction like trying to receive a shadow. Jesus Christ is substantial, a reality. Receiving Him as God’s gift of grace through faith means that Christ has shown Himself as reality. Before He came and before faith, Jesus was only a name, a person who lived a long time ago, His life only history to me. But when He arrived at the door of my heart and I received Him, I experienced the reality of His person. He is a living Savior, not a myth or ancient history.

Yet there is more. Receiving also means taking possession of the gift. It becomes my own, appropriated to myself. When I received Jesus, He became my Savior and so much a part of me that neither life nor death or anything else can take Him away. He promises to never leave or forsake me. This relationship is now both real and eternal. God’s free gift, once received, is never taken back. Instead, He stays in my life, transforming it to be like His own life.

Salvation could be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life. I have not only received these blessings in a spiritual sense, but have received Christ Jesus Himself. He gave me life when I was dead in sin and separated from God. He also gave me forgiveness and imputed righteousness. All of what it means to becoming a Christian is precious, but these gifts cannot be separated from Christ Himself. He is the greatest gift of all. He was poured into me, gave me new life, gave me Himself. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “When Christ who is my life appears, then I also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). What more could I need?

Spurgeon adds this magnifying thought — since heaven itself cannot contain Him, what a heart-full Jesus must be. Heart-full indeed! 

Lord, Your Word, these thoughts and the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ fill my heart with praise and worship. Yet I know that receiving You implies even more. I’m also to walk in the same manner that I received You — always remembering that You gift me each day with Yourself that I might do Your will. Yes, I appreciated all that You have done. I repent of my sins each day, just as I did that day. I receive Your grace and strength each day, just as that first day when receiving You. However, each day, even each moment, needs to begin with the realization that You showed up at the gate of my life and by grace I, a mere sinner, received You, the King of glory.

(photo credit)

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