Children of God
Children of God
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 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
1 John 3 1-3
I know it’s a little morbid, but I was talking with my son recently and discussing what I would have written on my headstone – assuming that I had one. I said I wanted to be: David Green, Preacher and Teacher. But I had to pause for a moment – and added the phrase “A child of God”. We went on to discuss what made us significant in this world and in eternity. It is being His child that makes all the difference!
A real relationship 1 title and reality
The real world 1 unrecognised like Him
The real hope 2 we shall be like Him
The real task 3 purifies himself
In these magnificent words from his first epistle, John reminds us of the amazing love of God – that shows it’s greatness in making us His children.
This is a REAL relationship v1
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!
It begins with love – proceeds with an official naming – and ends with a guarantee!
It is worth pausing to reflect on what it means.
Here is our DIGNITY and our AUTHORITY,
Our self-esteem and our purpose – to bear the likeness of His Son.
We recall that this author wrote those famous words in his gospel – about God so loving the world…
He also records the Lord’s mention of GREATER LOVE…
Love of the Father transforms us, and welcomes us into His family.
He bestows on us a title far greater than any the Queen might bestow – and although Paul’s words are true:
26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no-one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
The work of the Father is to TITLE US “children of God”.
And His love – in all its breadth, and length and height and depth – GUARANTEES that status and that life
And that is what we are!
We should hold up our heads as we move about the world – for we are children of the King, children of God THAT’S WHAT WE ARE!
But John has a practical view of this:
This dignity is declared in the REAL world v1
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
We need to be reminded of this – otherwise we might think there is something defective about our heritage and our standing. In the same way that the world did not recognise Jesus – it does not recognise us.
The followers of Islam may draw attention to their beliefs by wearing certain clothes or having a certain appearance – but no matter if we wear clerical garb or wear crosses on our necks or our lapels, or have the symbol of the fish on our cars etc. – we are marginalised.
In our own culture – which has become inured to the presence of parish churches and small chapels, to the State religion and it’s non-conformist equivalents – we are fast becoming the MINORITY.
The world does not know us…
It’s value systems despises the roots from which it sprang.
People maintain you can be good and moral without religion – and especially without Christianity.
This is the ENVIRONMENT OF OUR FAITH – and it challenges us to present a convincing evidence of our heritage and our title.
Because it did not recognise our Lord.
In Paul’s day the Jews required a sign and the Greeks wisdom:
22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
To them the Gospel was stumbling block and foolishness – but it did not divert the Church from declaring it’s central tenet :
“Christ Crucified … the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
The temptation is always to match the Gospel to the expectation of the world – but the only Gospel that works is CHRIST CRUCIFIED.
Nothing of us – and everything of God.
But – notice this – it declares POWER and WISDOM
The REAL hope v2
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.
This pivotal verse reiterates our present dignity “now we are children of God,” but it also highlights two contrasting truths:
There is a mystery about our future status “what we will be has not yet been revealed”.
Today – now – there is no understanding of our final status – that is a matter that is closely linked to the return of Christ…
But rather than depressing us – it in fact encourages us – for what WE DO KNOW
When He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
We can’t speculate as to our final state – but there are three glorious truths to hold on to:
1. He is coming “when He appears”
2. We shall be like Him
3. We shall see Him as He is
This is both an extension of what it means to be Children of God – we shall bear the likeness of Christ,
and an absolute assurance that WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS!
But the timing is God’s – as is the promise of our Lord’s return!
How wonderful that our future status is dependent upon HIS COMING, OUR SEEING, and OUR BEING LIKE HIM!
In the same way that our conversion depended upon our “seeing Him” in His saving work upon the cross and in the empty tomb – so our final state depends upon an even more profound “seeing Him as He is” now in glory.
But the hope and the dignity/status that we presently enjoy as Children of God leads us on to a practical application:
The REAL task or duty v 3
3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Living, as we do in a world that does not recognise us, we have a clear objective, a clear command to apply now:
Having hope (of all the results of our status as Children of God) we PURIFY OURSELVES
Even though we don’t know yet what we shall be when fully grown as believers, we have a present responsibility to take care to be pure. To strive for a likeness to Christ even in this world and in spite of all the attitudes of this world.
The heart of this is PURITY – separation – difference – blamelessness – as far as that is possible.
Moral purity is certainly demanded of us.
This is an application of OUR HOPE to OUR LIVES
Hope involves :
1. Time – looking to the future
2. Anticipation – a definite goal
3. Confidence – that the goal will be achieved
4. Desire – because to be like Jesus is worth striving for
Although the reality lies in the future and is intimately bound up in our Lord’s return, we are expected (commanded) to strive for a quality of life (moral and spiritual) which aims to be more like Jesus.
The pivotal requirement is “purifies himself”
This is the DISCIPLINE of the believer’s life.
Is it too much to ask?
 In quality
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1984; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic edition.) (1 Co 1:26). London: Hodder & Stoughton.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1984; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic edition.) (1 Co 1:22). London: Hodder & Stoughton.
 four main semantic components which combine in various ways to represent the concept of “hope.” These are, (1) time, for hope always looks to the future; (2) anticipation, for there is always some goal to the time span; (3) confidence, namely, that the goal hoped for will occur; and (4) desire, since the goal of hoping is represented as a valued object or experience. Haas, C., Jonge, M. d., & Swellengrebel, J. L. (1994], c1972). A handbook on the letters of John. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators (84). New York: United Bible Societies.