1 John 3:1-2 December 4, 2016
Sermon Series on I John Sermon # 9 Today’s Sermon: “Children of God”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
3:1 begins with the command to “see” or “behold!” God calls us to stare in awesome wonder at the greatness and manner of His love for us! He describes the action of God’s love: lavishing His love upon us by calling us His children, so that this is our real nature!
“How great” in the Greek is literally “Of what country?” John Stott writes: “It is as if the Father’s love is so unearthly, so foreign to this world, that John wonders what country it may come.” [It’s out of this world!]. God has not merely shown us this love; He has lavished it upon us! This is who we are, in Christ, by God’s great grace! It doesn’t matter what the world calls us or thinks of us; you are a child of God! God is your Father! You share in His divine nature! That is who you are! You can enjoy all the rights and privileges –and responsibilities – of being His child right now!
But just as the unbelieving world did not recognize that Jesus Christ was God’s Son, neither does it recognize you and me as His children. In fact, the world hates us. As Christ’s glory was veiled in flesh at His incarnation, so our lives are now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Our status as His children, through real and actual, is not yet visible to the world (Rom. 8:19 “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”)
But there’s a deeper level of truth and wonder here….
John Piper notes that not only did it cost God his Son to save us from sin and death and hell, and not only were we enemies so that God had to propitiate his own righteous anger in order to save us, but he went way beyond the love of rescue and the love of sacrifice to his enemies. In and through all this he had a greater design. He showed us another kind of love beyond all that. He might have rescued us, sacrificed for us, forgiven us, and not done any more. But instead he showed us another kind of love—he took us into his family. He made us to be called children of God.
Think about that. Piper goes on to say that God didn’t have to save us at all. God could have said, “Enemies don’t deserve saving, and that’s that.” He might have said, “My Son is too precious to pay for angels, let alone humans, let alone ungodly, rebellious humans.” But he also might have said, “I will save them from hell, and forgive their sins, and give them eternal existence—on another planet, and I will communicate with them through angels.” Nothing in us required that God would go beyond all redeeming, forgiving, rescuing, and healing love to this extreme—namely, to an adopting love. A love will press all the way in to make you a child of God. A member of the family.
But even that is not an adequate description of this kind of love. When John writes about our becoming children of God, He is thinking in terms of something more profound than adoption; He is thinking of new birth. There is no human analogy to this. If Lynn and I find a child and want to take him into our home and adopt him, we cannot cause that child to be born again. We might take him and love him, but he inherits the personality and temperament that he has from his biological parents. We could influence him with love, but we could not get into the very nature of his person and change it.
But God does that. The love that John has in view here in verse 1 is not the love that merely takes adopts us. That would be amazing beyond words—to be adopted into God’s family. And Paul does describe it this way. But John sees more at work. God moves in, by his Spirit, his seed, as John calls it, and imparts something of himself to us, so that we take on a family resemblance.
Therefore, if you are a child of God, you are so by adoption, and by more than adoption, by new birth. 1 John 5:1 says it this way, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ [has been] born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”
So the love of God for us goes beyond the story of the wealthy business man who took care of all the legal matters to adopt a poor orphan. God will not stop in his pursuit of intimacy and communion with us until he has penetrated our very souls and planted his seed in us and given us a new nature, not a divine one—we are not God—but a nature like God’s—in the image of God.
Now look at 3:2 – “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
John again states out status/ nature as “children of God,” but then goes on to state that our final and finished product is still beyond him. John Stott comments: “What we are now does not appear to the world; what we shall be does not yet appear to us.”
But this is not Doris Day singing “Que sera, sera; whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera.” We may not know exactly what our divine nature as God’s children will look like in the future, but the Apostle John goes on to assure us that “We know that when He (Christ) appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
That is, when Jesus Christ returns to earth at the second coming, in all His glory and power, when He becomes visible again, then our hidden divine nature will also become visible! When His glorious nature appears, then our glorious nature will also appear. When the whole universe sees Him as He really is, then the entire world will also see you and me as we really are!
(Again, Rom. 8:19 “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”)
All of creation is waiting eagerly and expectantly, not only for the identification of God’s children – including millions of secret believers from Muslim and Hindu backgrounds, as well as secular countries – but also for their being crowned with glory and blessing, through Christ! What a day that will be!
John Murray, commenting on Romans 8:19, writes “Not until then will the children of God be made manifest to themselves and others in the fullness of their status and privilege as sons, and not until they are all glorified together with Christ will the body of Christ be manifested in its integrity and unity (Col. 3:3-4).”
The two revelations, the two appearances, of Christ and of our final state, will be made simultaneously, for then we shall share in His glory. (Romans 8:17; Col. 3:4)
When we behold Christ in all His glory, we will finally and completely become like Him, including our bodies (Phil. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:49). On that day, and forevermore into all of eternity, we shall both be with Christ and like Christ!
Today, some of us don’t like what we see in the mirror. But if you are willing to wait, one day you will have an infinitely better likeness…for you shall be like Him!