We Are Beloved Children of God!
Dear Lord Jesus, You are my Good Shepherd. You gave up Your life in order to redeem me, but then took that life back again to assure me of my salvation. By faith You have given me the gift of eternal life, and for this I thank and praise You. As I enter into Your presence this day, send Your Spirit to enrich my worship. Teach me important truths necessary for my life and salvation and help me to apply those truths every day as I seek faithfully to serve You. Amen.
After Peter and John were released from captivity after healing the lame man, they reported to their fellow believers what the chief priests and elders had said. Together the believers prayed for boldness to speak God’s Word. God responded by sending the Holy Spirit to give them great power!
Jesus is our Good Shepherd! He gave up His life for us, so that we might be saved. Let us hear His voice and follow Him wherever He might lead us!
Text: 1 John 3:1-3
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
In Christ Jesus, because of whom we are now members of God’s family, dear fellow redeemed:
Of what do you first think when I mention the word “family”? Do you think in general terms of parents and children, or perhaps in more specific terms of new baby girls in the Redlin, Barry, Anderson, and Strand families or new baby boys in the Owings, Hagen, and Eichstadt families—all born this year? Instead of individual people or groups of people, do you think of other things when you think of families—things like stability, love, a nurturing environment, or perhaps simply of home? Families are the basic unit of any society. Truly, as the family goes, so goes the nation!
Family was God’s idea, for He created it when He brought Eve to Adam and told them to “be fruitful and multiply” [cf. Gen. 1:28]. God’s Word, the Bible, is filled with information on and instruction to families. It deals with the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of husbands and wives and of parents and children. It really should not surprise us, then, when God uses the picture of a family to depict His relationship with us and our relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit moved the apostle John to do just that in our text, which informs us that WE ARE BELOVED CHILDREN OF GOD! John then goes on to tie our status as God’s children to Jesus Christ, informing us that Christ has covered our past, Christ has secured our future, and that Christ is guiding our present!
John begins, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” The fact that we are “children of God” truly is a matter of love! Consider these familiar Bible passages, all of which speak of love as the motivating factor within the hearts of both the Father and the Son when it comes to our salvation: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” [Jn. 3:16]. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” [Jn. 15:13]. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” [Rom. 5:8]. It is by faith in this plan of salvation provided and performed by love through Christ that we are brought into the family of God, as the apostle Paul states so clearly in his Epistle to the Galatians: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Gal. 3:26-27].
Consider, however, the very next sentence in our text: “Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” John explains the challenges we Christians face in this world as we exercise our faith, by tying us to Jesus Christ and recalling for us the reception He experienced when He first entered this world at the time of His incarnation. In his Gospel John had already written: “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” [Jn. 1:10-13]. The world in general and Jesus’ own Jewish people in particular did not receive Him when He entered this world as Savior. The world by and large did not want a Savior, because it does not think it needs a Savior, while the Jewish people, essentially, wanted a Savior on their own terms. Consequently, they rejected Jesus, sentenced Him to die, and then crucified Him! But in so doing God used that rejection, a rejection we also now experience, to bring about our salvation and to cover our past sins. As the apostle Peter points out, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” [1 Pet. 3:18].
The world does not want to hear about sin, nor does it want in any way to be dependent upon God. Many today only want a Savior, if they can dictate the terms. Consequently, the world does not know or accept the believer who strives to live according to the Word of Christ to share that Word of Christ. Once again, the apostle Peter says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” [1 Pet. 4:12-14]. WE ARE privileged to be BELOVED CHILDREN OF GOD! Christ has covered our past and for that we can be truly thankful!
Christ, however, has also secured our future! John writes: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” The apostle Paul, in his great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, after establishing the fact that Jesus did indeed arise the third day, goes on to address the questions: “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” [Verse 35] It is difficult for us to understand exactly what we shall be like in the future resurrection. Paul compares it to a seed planted in the ground. Seeds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but one thing is certain—the plant which arises from that seed will in no way look like the seed itself. In every instance the plant is much grander than the seed. Even so the corruptible body we place in the grave in no way represents the glorified body that believers will enjoy in heaven. At best we can say that our glorified body will be perfect—no more glasses, no more hearing aids, no more wheelchairs, walkers, or canes, no more diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. But the absence of those bodily irritants still does not describe what the positive perfection will entail.
What we do know, however, is this—our future as God’s children is secure in Christ! There should be no doubt within our minds that Christ rules, that He is preparing a place for us, and that at the time of His choosing God will usher us into the kingdom He has prepared for us, Jesus says, “from the foundation of the world” [Mt. 25:34]. At that time we will see Jesus as He is—the glorified Son of God reigning over all things, and we will be like Him. What a glorious sight and experience that will be! The Book of Revelation, which gives us a peek into our futures, reveals Christ in a variety of glorious ways—as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” [cf. 5:5], and “a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes” [cf. 5:6], and as the “King of kings and Lord of lords” riding on a white stallion with crowns on His head and a sword proceeding out of His mouth [cf. 19:11-16]. While we cannot fully imagine what we as God’s children will be like, we can be certain that we will experience everything that God has planned for us. Yes, WE AREprivileged to be BELOVED CHILDREN OF GOD! Christ has secured our future!
Christ is, finally, guiding our present! Given the fact that WE ARE BELOVED CHILDREN OF GOD, that Christ has covered our past, and that Christ has secured our future, how should we then live in the present? John concludes our text by giving us this encouragement, “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” God calls us in Scripture His “saints” [cf. Rom. 1:7; Eph. 1:18; Col. 1:4]—individuals sanctified by the Holy Spirit and called into the service of Christ’s kingdom. The plain fact of the matter, however, is that while we are saints, we are also sinners. The apostle Paul in describing us Christians and encouraging us in our Christian living writes, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do” [Col. 3:12-13].
Our lives as Christians will be filled with challenges. Some of our challenges may be sitting next to us, and their challenges in turn may well be sitting next to them. As we work together there will at times be friction, but let us be patient, longsuffering, and forgiving. We are to walk by the grace of God and with the help of the Holy Spirit in the path of our Savior. He is and will always remain pure, holy, and undefiled! We are to strive to be the same. Will we always succeed? No, we will not, but that is not a reason not to try, or to give up. We sin, but are cleansed by the blood of Christ. We stand forgiven by God—not because we are perfect, but in spite of our imperfections. He loves us, upholds us, and encourages us to go on. Will it be easy? Seldom! The apostle Paul encourages us: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” [Phil. 2:12b-13]. But while it will be hard—this life of ours as God’s children in the midst of a sinful world—it is a life we can live with confidence, for as God’s children we can rest assured of God’s abiding presence and blessing.
In our Men’s Breakfast Bible Study these past several weeks we have been considering the last days of the judges. It was a trying time in the history of God’s Old Testament people, in which there was very limited and very poor leadership—a time in which people lived pretty much as they wanted and not in accordance with the will of God. They were anything but pure in God’s eyes and in the example they set for the world around them. Shocking situations arose and they were consequently seldom handled with goodness or godliness. Still God was present among His people when they sought Him, and the Spirit of God has recorded those historical accounts for our learning, so that we might become stronger and wiser as we approach the challenges of our day. We concluded in our discussions that we must approach our lives with repentant hearts, with open ears, and with eyes directed to our Savior. We have talked about the importance of listening to God’s Word as it directs us day by day to live our lives with love [cf. 1 Cor. 13:1, 13; Col. 3:14], to sacrifice ourselves in order to fulfill our leadership role both for our wives and our children [cf. Eph. 5:25-27], and then to raise our children in “the training and admonition of the Lord” [Eph. 6:4].
The Bible has directives for each of us as God’s children—men, women, girls, and boys. These directives—Jesus’ commandments “are not burdensome,” John tells us later in this same 1stEpistle [cf. 1 Jn. 5:3], but rather are the instructions of a loving Father, intended both for our protection and our blessing. “What manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us,” John exclaims, “that we should be called children of God!” My dear friends, WE ARE by God’s grace through faith in our Lord Jesus BELOVED CHILDREN OF GOD! Rejoice, therefore, in the fact thatChrist has covered our past, secured our future, and is indeed guiding our present! All will be well! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting
Soli Gloria Deo!