But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become children of God, to the ones believing into His name. John 1:12
There are 4 terms in this verse that need attention: receive, authority, believe and name.
Received: “To all who received Him …” Now what is receiving Him? Nothing more than being open to Him. It’s not rejecting – that’s the opposite to receiving. Rejecting is slamming the door; receiving is opening the door. “He stands at the door and knocks.” (Rev. 3:20) Are you opening the door?
Authority: In the New Testament, the term “authority” is translated as “power over” or control over. He gave “power over” whether you become a child of God or not. People operate by desire, therefore the “power over” whether you become a child of God or not, necessarily rests on whether you desire to or not. He’s done everything on a silver platter, except your desire. In Luke 14:16-24, they were called to the feast, but they all made excuses and went away. That’s what many do – “It doesn’t suit me, I don’t want to.” But the “power over” is there; it’s given as a gift.
Believe and name: Starting with Adam, your name is what you actually are. It describes you. If you believe into His name, you are believing what or who He actually is, in other words.
This is an elementary beginning. It is similar to Jn. 1:37-38 (… the two disciples heard him speaking, and they followed Jesus. But having seen them following, Jesus said to them, What do you seek?) They were curious and started following Him. They are acting according to interest and being open to or recognizing the possibility or potential of something worthwhile – the opportunity. The whole gospel – its nature is that of an opportunity. There is no reason why you wouldn’t be a child of God other than you’re not interested. “They made excuses” and went to what they were actually interested in instead. That is how He calls His sheep, everywhere. It’s always on your desire, therefore interest and openness, or lack of it.
John 1:12 is also the beginning of involvement – just open to it, or you’re slamming the door right off. One way of putting it is by this saying: “Many people sort of believe Jesus, but very few care to get involved with Him.” All along the way, many fall away, step by step, along the whole path. As in John 6, many of His disciples no longer went about with Him. “This word is hard; who is able to hear it?” (Jn.6:60) “From this time many of His disciples went away into the things behind, and no longer walked with Him.” (Jn.6:66) They went pretty far. You can go pretty far with Jesus and still miss everything. You may be open to Him up to a point, and then slam the door – This is too much!
The verse doesn’t say to all who continue receiving Him, but it’s obviously necessary. If you receive Him today and forget Him tomorrow, you’ll never get anywhere. It’s like the four plantings in Matthew 13. The first one never even started (Everyone hearing the Word of the kingdom, and not understanding, then the evil one comes and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is that sown by the roadside. Matt 13:19). Obviously there is a need to continue – “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.” (John 8:31) You continue receiving, but it can’t stay at that level. John 1:12 is very elementary, followed by a continuing and growing, and conversion – a deepening as a plan. And once it starts you can’t go back. You have to continue and keep going. You’re proving who and what you are.