[Jesus] came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who didreceive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.John puts “believing in his name” in apposition with “receiving him.” They are essentially the same.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)The point of that parable is not that the kingdom can be bought, but that there is no greater treasure than being in the kingdom — where the King is. So saving faith receives Jesus as what he truly is. He is the supreme Treasure of all who receive him.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)This does not mean we are “worth” having Jesus, but that he is worth being had as our supreme Treasure. To be “worthy” of Jesus, is to receive him in a way that is “suitable” — that shows his worth. This is what saving faith is. And if we don’t have it, we don’t have Jesus. Here is the way Paul put it:
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing,because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–10)Literally, it says, “They did not welcome the love of the truth in order to be saved.” The issue is not just welcoming the truth, but being willing to have the love of the truth in our hearts. Many people presume to have truth and speak truth. But it is all mental, intellectual — notional, Edwards would say. They do not love the truth of the gospel. They say things about Jesus, but they don’t love what they say — that is, they don’t love the one they speak of. They don’t treasure what they say. And Paul says this is why they are not saved. Which means, they don’t have saving faith. Because saving faith has in it the love of what is believed — the One believed. Saving faith receives the truth of Christ not merely as a fact, but as treasured fact. Not just as the description of a person and his deeds, but as a treasured person whose deeds are treasured for how valuable they really are. That is, saving faith includes loving Christ — treasuring him for who he is.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved (egapekosin) his appearing.To love him is to love his appearing. That is, to really want him to come back. To treasure his return more than you treasure finishing your career, or getting married, or having a family. That is what it means to love him. And the effect of such love is “the crown of righteousness.” That is not a reference to a special class of Christians in heaven. That is the crown that is put on every Christian head. By faith we are identified with the righteous one (Isaiah 53:11). And we will be crowned with him. This is the outcome of our faith. Which means that loving his appearing — that is loving him — is what faith includes.
I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:41–44)Ponder the connections among “believe,” “receive,” and “love.” You do not receive me, Jesus says. Why do they not receive him? Because they can’t believe on him. Why can’t they believe? Because they seek glory from one another, not the glory of God. Why do they do that? Because they “do not have the love of God” in them. They don’t love God. Not loving God excludes believing and receiving Jesus. Why? Because believing and receiving Jesus means receiving him for who he is — the loved and treasured Son of God. Believing Jesus includes loving God. Or again, John says,
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people lovedthe darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:18–19)Why don’t they believe on Jesus? Why don’t they receive him as supremely treasured? Because they “love the darkness.” Until the love of darkness has been broken, and replaced with love for the Light, coming to the Light as supremely valuable — supremely loved — will be impossible.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?Here are the steps in his thinking.
Our love to God enables us to overcome the difficulties that attend keeping God’s commands; which shows that love is the main thing in saving faith, the life and power of it, by which it produces its great effects.If you are a parent or a pastor or a small group leader, or a Christian who cares about helping anyone trust Christ and live by faith, what all this means is that your desire to help the people you serve will include a desire to help them love Christ. This does not mean do things for him. It feels things for him. It means treasure him above all else. Be satisfied in all that God is for us in him. When this sinks in, all of parenting, all of ministry, all of life becomes the great quest of awakening affections for God in Christ. More than this, to be sure. But nothing less — never less.
Did you know that almost six out of ten teens leave the church at some point? Nearly 60% of high school students who grow up going to church will close the doors to a Christian life. And usually, they don't come back (survey by the Barna Group). "Because of people breaking the laws and sin being everywhere, the love in the hearts of many people will become cold." Matthew 24:12
Whenever I answer a question like this, I’m deeply aware that someone may be reading this who is seriously contemplating suicide—and I would do everything in my power to convince them not to take that final, drastic step. With Christ, there is always hope. If that’s you, please hear me. Don’t you dare do that! Jesus and I deeply love you and need you.
(This post is written to Christian women and is based on a biblical worldview, supported with Scripture. Since the writing of this post, a sequel has been written, The Motive to Modesty.) Hurriedly I raked through my second dresser drawer in the dim light of the unlit closet, scrambling for pants of some kind. Finding some, I grabbed a workout shirt, jammed feet into tennis shoes and breathlessly answered the door for Mr. M. “Ready for breakfast?” he asked.