Faithlife Sermons

The Reward and Our Response to Jesus' Return (1 John 3:2-3)

1 John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Christians have a reward now and one that is not yet, and it should lead to a proper response in living right now. Be encouraged by this message to be ready for the return of Jesus and be sure of the greatest reward.

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INTRO

If you had two months left to live, what would be your priority? I walked in a man’s house this past Thursday morning and that was his reality.
Someone I know told me about this man, I’ll call Jim, because they were good friends. All I knew is that he has had cancer for a while and the doctors say he doesn’t have much longer. I was surprised to pull up by the house and see him walking outside. I got out and introduced myself and he invited me right in.
He laid down on his couch as I sat across from him listening to his story. He told me about the things he was doing to be ready to leave this earth soon if the doctors are correct. He told me he paid off his funeral and told me where he would be buried. He asked me some questions about funerals and how the process works. He eventually even asked if I would officiate his funeral service if he doesn’t like the man the funeral home assigns to him. He told me how he got a generator for her house so his wife would be ok and some other arrangements he put in order while he was waiting for his time to expire.
Eventually, I said sir, you’ve thought a lot about putting things in order here, but have you put things in order for after here? Are you ready for what comes next?
Let me ask you this: if you knew Jesus would come back tomorrow, what would change in your life today?
We need to be ready. There are some who think they are ready because they said a prayer or asked forgiveness from God years ago and just figure they are ready for when the time comes that they meet Jesus.

THE REWARD OF NOW AND NOT YET

Notice how John says in v.2 that we are God’s children NOW and then what we will be has NOT YET been revealed.
In other words, if you think you have it good now in Jesus, just wait! I want to talk about the two-fold reward. There is the reward of now, a great blessing right now to living in Christ: God is your Father. Then there is a reward of the not yet: we will be like him! Like Christ.

The Reward of Now: God is your Father

We are God’s Children NOW— Don’t lose sight of this glorious reality of your life if you are a Christian: God, the Creator of all things, is your Father. Think of what that means for your life today:
Unconditional love.
Perfect guidance in truth through His Word.
Part of a family— brothers and sisters who will encourage you, pray for you, and keep you accountable.
Join heirs with Jesus, the Son (). That we would even be able to be considered close to Christ is amazing.
Receive reproof to keep you in the right way. He doesn’t just let you wander off into the natural bent of your sinful heart but gives the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin and gives His Word to correct you. He loves you and makes it possible for you to be forever kept as His child.

The Reward of the Not Yet: We will be like him

This reward should give you the greatest hope, no matter what you are going through right now. You could be in the bleakest circumstances of your life, and read this verse of the Bible and be so encouraged. Because we know that we won’t always be like this.
The physical limitations we experience now will gone.
The intellectual limitations we experience now will be gone.
I think of those who are in difficult physical conditions, and I want to tell you to persevere because it won’t always be this way. What we will be has not yet been revealed.
And we need be clear about this: it is inevitable that when you study, read, or discuss anything about heaven or eternity, there are always more questions than answers! Partly, this is because of the fact that not every detail of our eternal existence has been revealed.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—” (, ESV)
God has prepared eternity in a way that we can not even imagine in these finite minds of ours. So you might even leave this sermon with more questions than what can be answered.
But I want you to see that this reward of the not yet is the perfection of God’s grace in you. is the promise that will be complete. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (, ESV)
is a great verse to meditate on and claim in prayer: “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” (, ESV)
But what exactly does it mean to be like Jesus in that day?
The New American Commentary: 1, 2, 3 John (1) Be Confident and Ready for His Coming (2:28–3:3)

when native converts came to this phrase, the scribe laid down his pen and exclaimed: “No! It (sic) is too much; let us write, ‘We shall kiss His feet.’ ”

The New American Commentary: 1, 2, 3 John (1) Be Confident and Ready for His Coming (2:28–3:3)

W. Alexander recorded that on the mission field, when native converts came to this phrase, the scribe laid down his pen and exclaimed: “No! It (sic) is too much; let us write, ‘We shall kiss His feet.’ ”348

The New American Commentary: 1, 2, 3 John (1) Be Confident and Ready for His Coming (2:28–3:3)

W. Alexander recorded that on the mission field, when native converts came to this phrase, the scribe laid down his pen and exclaimed: “No! It (sic) is too much; let us write, ‘We shall kiss His feet.’ ”

This is such a glorious phrase that they didn’t even want to write it out! It’s no wonder that we are not given every detail of what this will look like because it is so glorious that minds wouldn’t even be able to comprehend it!
Our character, righteousness, purity, holiness, immortality, even our glorified body— we will be like Him!

Our Response of Holiness

Found in v.3, the active, present verb found there is purifies. That should be our response— we are to actively be pursuing holiness.
Purification was required in priests for divine service (; , ), and indeed in all who belonged to the chosen people (, ; ). It was to prepare oneself by participating in the sacred festivals in visiting the temple, offering up prayers, abstaining from certain kinds of food, washing the clothes, bathing, or shaving the head ().
Priests would purify themselves
Since the OT times, purification/consecration was done to be ready to be in the presence of God at least symbolically through sacrifices and other acts of worship.
And that’s what we are told here: purify yourself. In other words, be ready!
This is a reference to progressive sanctification, that theological doctrine that says we are continually becoming more like Jesus. We are being sanctified. Even now, we are to be pursuing holiness.
I like how Daniel Akin said it in a commentary: “My hope for the future enables me to pursue holiness in the present.”
Did you know that assurance produces more work? I saw a documentary on the building of the Golden Gate Bridge and the leader of construction installed a safety net underneath of the bridge so that workers who fell wouldn’t die. 19 men fell into the net and became called the Halfway to Hell club. But do you know what that net did? It cost over $130K to install, but it paid rich dividends because the men worked faster and harder because they had an assurance that they would be safe.
That’s how it should be with our faith. We have a blessed assurance—we know what is ours now and we know what is coming one day for us—and that ought to make us work faithfully for our Savior!
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Are you watching and waiting? Do you have this blessed assurance?
Christians: you have this reward, now let’s make sure we are responding properly.
Notice in v.2 that it says we will be like him because we will see him.
Listen: Being like Christ one day depends upon seeing Him.
We know that one day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. But I’m talking about right now—if you don’t see him now as your Savior, then you won’t be like Him when that day comes when he returns or you go to stand before Him.
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