God has already “granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” so that “you may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:3-4). The Bible says that we “grow up into salvation” in the same way we should grow to be responsible adults (1 Pet 2:2). Therefore our experience of the fullness of all that is available in Christ should be growing as well. There are reasons why some grow into “all things” more quickly than others. First, they know that they have nothing without God (1 Chr 29:14). Second, they are assured in their hearts that “all things” have already been granted to them by God because He wants them to “become partakers of the divine nature” through Christ. And lastly, they have learned how to receive of His increase.
“… What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” 1 Cor 4:7 ESV
As an English speaking American reading an English translation of the Bible, it is very easy to assume a mentality that whatever God gives us we will automatically and unintentionally receive, based on this scripture. However, we must understand what it really means to receive, Biblically. There are two Greek words used in the New Testament which are translated, “receive”, and yet, they have very different implications. The first word is dechomai (dekh’-om-ahee) and the second is lambano (lam-bah-no).
Passive vs. Active Aggressive Receiving
With a little research, you will find that dechomai speaks of receiving in a passive way. It is a passive verb which indicates receiving in the sense of welcoming and accepting. Lambano is a completely different way of receiving and understanding. Lambano is an active aggressive verb which indicates receiving into action or taking possession through action.
Let me illustrate the difference. If someone threw a glass of cold water on you on a hot day, you would dechomai the water, welcoming and accepting it without having to do anything. However, if someone handed you a glass of cold water, making it available, and you then intentionally interacted with them to take it into your possession, you would lambano the water. Either way, you received it. Through this illustration, you can see why lambano is translated, “take”, as often as it is translated, “receive”. Let’s look at some examples in the Bible. [I will add comments to these scriptures inside brackets.]
“And Simon answered, “ Master, we toiled all night [trying to catch fish] and took [lambano] nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5 ESV
“When he [Jesus] was at table with them, he took [lambano] the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.” Luke 24:30 ESV
There is no fisherman that I know of who expects fish to jump out of the water and directly in into their boat. They know they must lambano the fish, taking them into possession through some kind of action. In the same way, Jesus reached out to lambano the bread, receiving it unto Himself through action.
Do You Lambano?
“For everyone who asks receives [lambano], and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Luke 11:10 ESV
Perhaps you were led to believe that you should ask of God and then wait for the answer to fall on you at the right time, as if you were expecting Him to throw a glass of water at you, if He felt like it. However, this scripture says that everyone who asks must take action to receive it. Everyone who asks must lambano the answer from God, who is not only willing now, but also waiting for us to do so.
God holds out provision, making it available to all who are in Christ. Then He tells us to pray for it, asking in agreement with what He’s already demonstrated is His will through Christ. Then we must reach out and take what He is offering in order to receive it. God assures us in His Word of His unchanging desire to answer our prayers, and yet He wants us to come asking earnestly, persistently, boldly, and expectantly. Our receiving from God is not meant to be a passive act. God wants to interact with us. There must be action in both His giving and our receiving.
If you received Christ as your Savior and the sacrifice for your sins, then you do understand how to lambano. Everything you receive from God comes exactly the same way: by grace through faith — reaching out to take hold of what He is freely offering. Not a single person has ever received Christ any other way. God acts and we respond. God initiates and we cooperate.
Now, let’s look again at the first verse I quoted:
“… What do you have that you did not lambano? If then you lambano it, why do you boast as if you did not lambano it?” 1 Cor 4:7 ESV
In other words, nothing that you’ve received from God was automatically and unintentionally received into your experience, so why boast as if you don’t know why God apparently gave you more favor than anyone else who is in Christ? Instead of boasting, you should teach others how to lambano!
“As each has received [lambano] a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” 1 Pet 4:10
This verse gives us permission, and responsibility as good stewards, to use what we lambano from God to serve one another. In doing so, it also illustrates a key on how to lambano. When it says “as”, it means “in the same way”. In the same way you take a glass of water to receive it, you intentionally take God’s gifts and use them to serve each other, as good stewards would. So, in the same way, we take all things pertaining to life and godliness through intentional and cooperating action, putting them to use. In other words, do something in expectation that you have taken hold of what you reached out for. Receive it into action!
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received [lambano] it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 ESV
This literally means, “Whatever you ask in prayer, lambano it by faith, and it will be yours.” Receive it by taking it! The Biblical act of receiving looks like the intentional action of taking. No one takes hold of something, all the while wondering if they really have a hold on it. They take hold of it and know that they have it as they are receiving it to themselves. They reach out, grab it, and pull it in. That’s how you receive from God.
Good Stewards of Grace
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” 1 Cor 15:10 ESV
It is only by the grace of God that we have anything, and yet it is by the action of faith that we make it ours in experience. The grace of God requires our cooperation in order for it to have it’s full effect in our lives. The Apostle Paul spoke of this very clearly, even implying that God’s grace could have been released and available for him in vain if he had not cooperated with it.
Now, let’s take it a step further. In the same way you receive a gift, use it. 1 Peter 4:10 gives you permission to lambano a gift from God with the intention of serving others. In fact, doing so makes you a good steward of His fully available and varied grace. When someone needs something, you have access to a warehouse full of “all things pertaining to life and godliness” — all available for the taking. A good steward uses what God has entrusted to their care and produces increase from it (Mat 25:14-30). This is part of the work that God gives us to do, and by doing it, God is glorified (Joh 17:4).
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for twenty years, and is the proud father of two boys.