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Rights and Responsibilities

January 17, 2016 | PB | From the series: Born Again Identity

In every family there are rights given the members of that family! That’s wonderful; but there are also responsibilities to remember too. In this message we’ll continue to explore the “Born Again Identity” and find what rights and responsibilities are part of your personal identity as a Christian.

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Sermon Notes

John 1:9-13 “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

A long time ago, about 40 years ago, Robin’s parents lived in our suburban home town of Delmar outside of Albany. They had a split level home in a nice neighborhood. Across the street, a new family moved in with some young kids. There hadn’t been young kids in the neighborhood for years, so this was part of the neighborhood buzz when they moved in. One summer afternoon the reality of that new situation came to roost in an unusual way. My father-in-law was home, and the doorbell rang. He got up from his chair and answered the door. It was the new neighborhood kids, all at his front door. He opened the wooden front door and then the storm door and greeted them. Then this happened. They burst through the front door and started running. My father-in-law was stunned. They took off, up the stairs and up another set of stairs to the bedrooms. He could only yell, “Irene!!”, as he stood there, frozen in disbelief. Laughing children were dancing in the bedroom hallway. Robin’s mom started shushing them out, “Get out of here!” in her Brooklyn accent. They all merrily ran down two sets of stairs, turned in the foyer and ran out, past my still frozen father-in-law. Then the last child punched him in his belly and ran out laughing with the others across the street to their new home. That really happened. They told that story for years.

Beside the shock value of that story, it’s hysterical because these weren’t their children or relatives of any sort. They were just strangers. They had no right to come in the door, let alone dance in the hallway, or to poke Fred in the belly. They had no right. Robin and her sisters had the right dance in their rooms or in the hallway. They could go and open the fridge and get something to eat or drink. They could expect that they would be fed, clothed, sheltered, etc. because they belonged to the Kent family.

They had a right to expect that. It was part of their identity.

John 1, where we’ve just read, helps us to see that as born again believers in Jesus we have been given rights. Let’s read this through again and study the content.

Verses 9 and 10 “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.”

Jesus is the True Light. He is the light that John the Baptist pointed to, witnessed to.

This verse says that He gives light to every man coming into the world, male or female; light of life, first of all. Jesus is the One through whom the world was made. Life and breath are the light that everyone gets. Yes, even the evil and difficult have gotten the breath of life from Jesus, whether they know Him or not. That’s what verse 10 says. By and large, the world doesn’t know Him and Him as Light. That Light is also the light of the Gospel, the Good News in Jesus. It has been made available to all, His sacrifice on the Cross, big enough for every sin, every wrong of every person. But not all have the right to that.

Verse 11 “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

Even the people of Israel, the Jews, didn’t receive the Light. Some did. When we study our way through the book of Matthew this year, you’ll see that plainly.

Verses 12 and 13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

There were those, and still are those, who received Him and believed Him, in His Name. They received rights as the children of God. There’s the overall “right” of children, which opens up a whole lot of sub-rights.

It’s the power and purpose of God that makes that transformation, that translation from creature to children. Not all people are children of God. People become children of God by faith and the power of God. God adopts people by faith and His power, and they are actually part of His family, His offspring.

Think about what this means! All the things you would normally expect of family status is yours as a born again believer. You can ask for what’s in His cupboard and He will judiciously give it to you. You can ask for resources, vision, security, purpose, gifts and authority, because of the rights of children. You can start your prayers with “Our Father” because of that right. You can have 24/7 access to Him personally.

Remember George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life? There was a scene in the movie where George’s dad was in a tense business meeting with Mr. Potter. George just walks into the meeting as if it were his dining room table at home. His Dad paused, listened to him, and sent him on his way. You have access!

It’s a shame that we don’t pray more.

There was something else in that first story we need to go back and see. While Robin and her sisters were Fred and Irene’s children, with all the rights that go with that status, there was another difference between both sets of kids. Robin and the girls had rights but they also had responsibilities. The neighbor kids weren’t expected to set the table for dinner or help with the dishes. Robin and her sisters were expected to clean their rooms from time to time, help with other chores, and be there to talk at dinner or to be present on holidays. The Kents hoped the neighbor kids wouldn’t show up for that.

In God’s family there are also responsibilities that go with the rights. Here’s a few of them…

Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

We are expected to relate to God, our Heavenly Father. That means we turn to Him in prayer, approach Him boldly, consult and depend on Him, growing in the grace and knowledge of Him.

1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

We are expected to use the gifts we’ve been given, as a ministry to others. Everyone has them. The availability of gifts is a part of the rights of children, but the purposeful use of those gifts is a responsibility.

Matthew 25:35-36 “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

We are expected to care for the needs of people; the fatherless, the widow, those who cannot give back to you. Especially your family!  As well as those who don’t provide for their own, worse than an infidel.

Your identity as a Christian is one of rights and responsibilities!

Here’s my series of questions for you.

  1. If you are a child of God, a born again believer, do you realize the amazing rights you have and are you taking full advantage of them?  Someone I know just recently investigated a savings account that had been made in their name without their knowledge. It had a great deal of money in there!  You have an account that you haven’t plumbed the depths of yet.
  2. If you are a child of God, are you embracing the responsibilities of the family?
  3. If you’re finding that you’re a creation of God, but not a child of God, a family member, then you need to believe to have that right to become a child of His.  Are you born again by faith in Jesus Christ alone and have the right to become a child of God?