Confidence At Christ's Coming - 1 John 2e
1 John 2:28-3:3
Stephen Caswell © 1998
Prepare To Celebrate
In 1983, Ed Woodyard decided where he wanted to spend New Year's Eve 1999. After some discussion with a reservation agent, he booked at a hotel which hadn't yet been built - the Marriot Marquis that would overlook Times Square in New York City. Now that's triple faith; that the day will arrive, that the hotel will be built, and that he will still be alive. But wouldn't it seem strange if Ed planned an overseas trip from the week before that day until midnight of December 31 1998. You would expect him to be in town, ready to move in. It shouldn't seem strange that Christians are preparing to attend a grand event God has planned for all who belong to Him through faith in Christ. Revelation describes it as the wedding celebration of Jesus and His bride. But some believers live as though Christ was not coming back. Their plans do not include being ready for the second advent. John says that such believers will be ashamed!
Will you be ashamed at Christ's return and want to shrink back? Or will you be confident at Christ's return? Can you be confident at Christ's coming? Or is that being presumptuous? John gives believers three instructions so that they can be confident at Christ's return.
1. I. Abide in Him
2. II. Appreciate the Fathers Love
3. III. Anticipate Christ's return
Firstly I. Abide In Him
1 John 2:28 says this: And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
a. The Command - And now, little children, abide in Him
John commands believers to abide in Him. Why will abiding in Christ give us confidence at His return? This word is used some sixty odd times in John's writings. The word abide means to remain, to indwell, to be in a close and settled union. One of the greatest passages on abiding is found in John chapter 15 where Christ speaks of the vine and the branches. This illustration highlights the individual's responsibility to have a personal relationship with Christ. We cannot just be connected to another branch. We must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ if we are to avail ourselves of His power. John 15:4-5 says this: Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Believers cannot live lives that please God, without abiding in Him. It is only as God lives His life in us and through us that we can be fruitful. We do not have the power or ability to please God on our own. Only when we depend on the Lord can He bring forth fruit in us. When we abide in Christ, He abides in us. As Christ abides in us, we have access to His life, and His love. When we obey His word we have confidence that our prayers will be answered since they are asked in accordance with His will.
Abiding in Christ is the secret to a fruitful Christian life. It is accomplished through simple faith in Christ's promises. It is maintained by prayerful reliance upon God for grace and confession of sin. And it requires obedience to His word. These simple, yet necessary steps allow us to abide in the vine. He alone can bring forth the fruit, because the life is in the vine. So the command is to abide, not to bear fruit.
The Solar Powered Torch
In our modern day we have some marvellous inventions, computers, electric tools and many others. They all require electricity to be able to function. Nowadays it is possible to by solar batteries which draw their energy from the sun. This is both clean and economical. A useful combination is a solar torch. This is a regular torch combined with a solar battery. But for the torch to be able to shine at night it first must spend time in the sunlight to charge up its battery. The longer it remains in the sun, the more charge the battery receives. Consequently if the torch is not left in the sun it has no light to shine. This has a parallel with Christians. If we wish to shine for Christ we need to spend time in the Son's light to draw power from Him. Only as the believer abides in Christ can he draw on this unlimited power supply.
b. The Promise - That when He appears we may have confidence
Those who abide in Christ will rejoice at His coming. They will have a quiet assurance within that they will receive reward. John promised those who abide in Christ that they will know that all is well. Do you desire to have confidence at Christ's return? If you do then you must abide in Him. 1 John 4:17-18 says this: Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
c. The Warning - And not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
John also gives a warning in this verse. Those who don't abide in Him will be ashamed at Christ's coming. The New American Standard Bible says, and will not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. This reveals that some will be uncomfortable at Christ's return.
Are you abiding in Christ? Do you spend time alone with the Lord and remain close to Him? Are you relying on Him, drawing power from Him to live the Christian life? Will you have confidence at Christ's coming or shrink away in shame? John's first command to abide in Him had both a promise of confidence at Christ's coming and warning of shame for those who don't abide.
Secondly Appreciate the Fathers Love.
1 John 2:29-3:1 says this: If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. 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.
a. The Command - Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us.
A literal reading might be, Take a good look at the out of this world kind of Love that Our heavenly Father has freely given to us. The love God has shown us is not the type of love normally seen in this world. His love is unconditional and extravagant. Who in this world would adopt total strangers into their family and give them the family name and inheritance. And what is even more extravagant in this, is the fact that He has done this for His enemies who rebelled against Him. We had rebelled against God and sold ourselves into slavery and sin. We have all shaken our fist at God and gone our own way. But God has given His only Son to die in our place. Not only has God set us free from spiritual slavery, but He has given us spiritual riches in Christ, that includes an eternal inheritance. And we don't deserve any of it. God has done it all by His grace. So John asks us to appreciate what the Father has given to His children. He commands us to have a good look at the Father's great love.
Firstly we appreciate our new birth. 1 John 2:29 says : If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
After Sandy and I had been married for about seven years we received great news. We learnt from the doctor that Sandy was expecting our first baby. Well we were excited and gladly told our family and friends the good news. We planned and prepared for the arrival of our first baby. We loved the child so much even before it was born. Soon there would be a new member in our family. Soon there would be another person bearing our name. Soon there would be an heir to our belongings. She would be our own flesh and blood and would resemble us in some way. And that was exactly what happened when Lauren was born.
Well the same is true of believers. We have received a second birth. God through His Spirit has given us new life. We have been born spiritually and become members of His family. God is now our Father and we are His children. He loves us and provides for us so that we will grow and become healthy adults in God's family. But as in any family it starts with the birth. God does not have any grandchildren, He only has children. If you haven't been born into God's family through the new birth, then you do not belong to His family. You won't receive these wonderful blessings the Father has freely given. Have you been born again? You can be, you need only believe in Jesus Christ and ask Him to be your Saviour and Lord.
Secondly we appreciate our new nature. 1 John 2:29 says: If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
Lauren's First Days at Home.
But when Lauren first came home from the hospital she was so small and needed so much care. We had to change her nappies often and feed her at all hours of the night. At first we could only feed her with milk. As she grew a bit older we gave her mashed bananas and vegetables. Then as she grew older she began to eat solid food and then meat. In those first few weeks she did not look much like either of us. First she began to crawl and then to walk and talk. And as she has grown over the years there are things that she does and says that reflect her parent's characteristics. And at times we can see certain features that look like us.
This is also true of believers when they first enter God's family. They begin as spiritual babes, and like all babies they need to feed on milk. At first they might not resemble or behave much like their Spiritual Father. But they do have His life and the process of growth now begins. As they feed on the simple truths of Scripture they grow and begin to flex their spiritual muscles. Pretty soon they start to walk with their Father, even though they fall over occasionally. They talk to others about their Lord and their actions become more like Him. Are you showing your Father's nature? Is His life seen in you?
Thirdly we appreciate our new name 1 John 3:1 says: 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.
Lauren's Family Name
Most of the time Lauren obeys her parents and we are happy with her conduct. But sometimes she disobeys us and we have to discipline her. But no matter how Lauren looks or behaves as a child, she is still our daughter. It does not matter if we are disappointed because of bad behaviour. We love her, we gave her life. She will always be our daughter, and a member of our family. She bears our family name and will never lose that or her inheritance. Through the new birth we have become members of God's family and received His name. Even when we disobey God and know that we have let Him down, He will always remain faithful to His word. Once we have been born into His family, we can never lose our position as His children or His name which we bear.
Ephesians 3:14-15 says this: For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
Do you appreciate the wonderful out of this world kind of love that God has given to His children? Do you take time to think about your position as a child of God? Do you live your life now as a child of God? Do you bring shame on God, whose name you bear? Do you remember to thank Him for all that He has done for you? We are now the children of God, but the best is yet to come.
1. Thirdly Anticipate Christ's return
3:2 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.
Firstly this anticipation gives us a new hope
John says that we are God's children right now, but we don't see our heavenly Father or Jesus Christ at the moment. A day is coming when we will see them and spend eternity with them. We will see the Lord in all His glory and be able to bear it. We will know Him in a way that we cannot at the present. God will remove all sin and sorrow and pain. He will do away with death and make everything new. The believer's hope is to be with God and Christ who have saved them. What a glorious expectation. This blessed hope will one day be a reality.
1 Corinthians 2:9 says: But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
Secondly we anticipate that one day we will have a new body
1 John 3:2 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.
When Jesus comes back to take His people home not only will we seem Him, we will be like Him. Christ will change us from mortal to immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible. We will be able to see Christ in all His glory because our sinful nature will be removed. We will have glorious new bodies, like Christ's glorious body. Phil 3:20-21 & 1 Thess 4:16-17 say: For our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Illustration of a Caterpillar that Becomes a Butterfly
When we were kids we used to collect caterpillars and keep them in a box. We would feed them a certain kind of leaves each day and watch them grow. These little grubs would grow bigger and bigger. Then one day they would start to spin a cocoon. It would take them hours and hours to make it. Then nothing would happen for a while. But then at the right time the caterpillar would come out of the cocoon. But it was no longer a caterpillar but it had become the most beautiful butterfly. Then it would fly away into the sky.
Well believers are a lot like those caterpillars. Some of us are more grub like than others. But this is not the end of the story. One day Jesus Christ will come back and change us. He will transform us into glorious new people with sinless, perfect, glorified bodies like His own. Our appearance now is only a shadow of our future appearance.
Thirdly because we have this hope of Christ's return and being glorified we have a new purpose in life
1 John 3:3 says: And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Because God has done so much for us we should live godly lives. The believer has an inheritance kept for him in heaven and therefore should not become consumed with earthly things. Since our hope rests in Christ's return we should desire to live pure lives like Jesus whom we are waiting for. If we are looking for Jesus to come back then we will want to abide in Him so that we can be fruitful for Him. Since our hope lies in Christ's return we should lead others to Christ. Only those things done for the Lord will endure for eternity.
Do you have the blessed hope? Are you looking for Christ's return? Are you excited about seeing the Lord? Do you tell others about this hope? Do you get excited about the new body you will one day receive? Are you keeping yourself pure in anticipation of Christ's return?
Are You Ready
A teacher told his class that he would be going away for several weeks, and he offered to give a prize to the student whose desk he found in the best order when he came back. But he didn't tell them what day he would return. Because the prize was big, each child was determined to get it, including a little girl whose desk was normally quite messy. Her classmates jeered, " Mary, you'll never win. Your desk is never neat. " " Oh I plan to clean it the first of every week from now on. " " But, " someone said " suppose he comes at the end of the week? " " Then I'll clean it every morning. " "But, " another classmate persisted, " he may come at the end of the day. " For a moment the child was silent in thought. Then she said decidedly, " I know what I'll do. I'll just keep it clean! " If we want to receive the Lord's approval at His return we must always be ready.
Will you be confident or ashamed at Christ's coming? Is your relationship with Christ growing or dying?
1. Are you abiding in Him? Are you spending time with the Lord each day? Are you spending your money on things for time or eternity? To increase your own possessions, or to extend God's kingdom? For where your heart is there your treasure is also! Is your life fruitful for the Lord? Only as we rely on the Lord for power can we be fruitful and faithful.
2. Do we appreciate all that God has given us, His children? Is the Father's nature within you transforming you into the image of Christ? Do you think about your position as a child of God? Does this spur you on to greater service? Do you thank Him often for His marvellous grace? Remembering what God has given us can spur us on to greater service!
3. Are you anticipating Christ's return? Are you excited about all that will happen when Jesus comes back? When Christ comes back we will be changed! We don't know when the Lord will come back, it could be today, what a glorious thought! Are you ready? The only way to be ready is to abide in Christ. Will you determine in your heart today, to abide in Him?
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.