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John 1:6-13 Study Guide: Children of God

Community Group Study Guide — Children of God
John 1:6-13

Main idea: 
Being a follower of Jesus is a received identity. God sent his son to reconcile to himself those who’d receive him through faith and adopt them into his family as children. 

Study Information:
In our last study guide we learned that God the Son is the eternal word meaning he is not a created being. John 1:1-2 told us that he was “with God” and “was God” eternally. Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, is God’s ultimate revelation of his glory and grace (John 1:14). In Christ we learn about the character of God and the purpose of God to reconcile people to himself through Jesus. We looked at how John connects Jesus’ origins back to creation because the current created world is filled with sin and brokenness and God’s response to that is to send his son. John continues his focus on the identity of Jesus by elaborating on how he will be rejected by some and received by others through faith. 

The Prophets Point to Jesus
John 1:6-8
John introduces a new person to us named John the Baptist. Just as John connected Jesus back to the creation story, he now connects him back to the prophets of God. To alleviate any confusion, John the baptist and the gospel writer are two different people. We learn in the Gospel of Luke that John the baptist was Jesus’ cousin born to aged parents in Elizabeth and Zechariah. History tells us that he likely grew up as an orphan in a hermit community known as the Essenes who lived in the wilderness desert and practiced a communal lifestyle. John the Baptist is pictured as the last of the Old Covenant prophets based on the language used about him. Here he is called “one sent by God” and in the other gospels he is mentioned as being Elijah or in the spirit of Elijah who as the first major prophet we come across in the scripture (John 1:6, Matthew 11:11-15). Prophets had the role of calling God’s people back to faithfulness to him and pointing to the future redemption God was authoring for his people. Notice that his role here is to bear witness about the light for the purpose that all might believe through him (John 1:7-8). God sent John the baptist as a forerunner to Jesus, functioning as a prophet as a way to prepare people’s hearts and to connect that the prophets and the scripture point to this moment where God the son taking on flesh to save us from our sins. We will learn more about John the Baptist in a few study guides as well as throughout the gospel of John, but the important thing to grasp right now is that his role was to testify about the light so that we might believe and that the scripture of God is trustworthy in how it points to Jesus. 

Jesus Rejected
John 1:9-11
The next focuses in our text are who are the people of God and who did Jesus come for? 

Jesus did not come just for a small and specific group of people who have earned the right to be children of God through their ethnicity or achievement.The people of God are not just those who are born of Israel, but any who receive and believe in Christ. John tells us that the light gives light to everyone. This is not to say that all see and believe, but that the light is given to all without distinction. Jesus was born in a Jewish family and spent much of his time among the people of Israel and yet was not limited to just God’s covenant people in his ministry. The light and life came to everyone without distinction. You would think that people would be overjoyed at the coming of Jesus but we quickly read that both gentiles and Jews did not receive him. Even though he was in the world and the world was made through him, the world rejected him (John 1:10). This is John’s way of pointing to the gentiles, non-Jewish people, and their rejection of Jesus as the light. We then read in verse 11 that he came to his own, meaning Israel, and they did not receive him either. Later on as Jesus talks to Nicodemus we will read that people rejected the light because they loved the darkness and wanted to stay hidden in their sin (John 3:18-20). This is not to say that no one came to faith in Christ, but as a whole God’s saving work and revelation of himself in Christ was rejected. Following Jesus is the light and life of humanity, but it does come with a cost as we repent of our sin and turn away from finding comfort and hope in things of this world as God substitutes. The world had general revelation from God about his glory in creation and the people of God had the word of God and both groups missed Jesus apart from a small remnant who believed. 

Receive, Believe, Born Again
John 1:12-13
John the Baptist’ mission was to point to Jesus as the light so that all might believe in his name and to believe is the greatest treasure. Notice how John, the gospel writer, paints a picture of how life changing believing in Jesus is in verse 12-13. Even though Jesus was not received by the nation of Israel as a whole some did receive him - both Jews and gentiles. Those who received and believed he gave the right to be children of God. To be a child of God is covenant language and typically reserved for the people of Israel in the Old Testament but notice that it is not based on being born of certain flesh and blood or by human will (John 1:13). John is making it clear to us that this identity as a child of God is not based on what family you were born into or anything you did to deserve it. To be part of God’s covenant family is not based on birth or worth but rather received through faith. It is not an achieved identity based on the right job, right qualities, right resume, right school or any other thing we can find out value in in this world. To be part of God’s covenant people is a received identity and is only possible through faith in Jesus as the eternal word who reconciles us to God as the light and life of humanity. 

God invites us to be born again through faith in Christ as we receive a new identity as children of God. What’s offered to us in the gospel is the possibility to recede a new identity and for God to be your loving father through being united in Christ. Father-child language is all throughout the New Testament and gives us hope that God not only forgives us but also genuinely loves us. God does not just tolerate you but actually desires you to know him and be known by him and as Jesus will pray in John 17, he wants you to share in the love that God the Father has for Jesus himself (John 17:26). It is not because of you ability to earn or deserve it but rather is shared with us through putting our trust in Christ and receiving the grace of God which is this gift we do not deserve. 

As we approach this study in the gospel of John pay attention to who rejects Jesus and who receives him and how they’re changed. It is often the least and the unlikely that interact with Jesus and receive him in faith rather than those the world would have expected. It is true that we see people like Nicodemus receive Jesus who was a well known religious teacher, but for the most part the religious elite reject him whereas the suffering, sick and outcasts come to faith and are made new by God. 

Jesus came to everyone without distinction based on whether they were Jew or gentile, male or female, rich or poor or any other distinction we could look value in this world. Most people rejected him but for those who received him they were given the right to be children of God made new by faith. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
What was the role of John the Baptist?

Why is it important that God adopts us as children into his family based on receiving and believing rather than based on our heritage, actions or will?

Based on the sermon and study guide, what kind of people would you expect to place their faith in Jesus as we move through the gospel of John?

Describe what it is like to be a child of God. What kind of relationship does that imply that we have with God the Father?