Study 3 SONS
CALLED BY A NEW NAME
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: 1 John 3: 1-10
There is a company of people in heaven and on earth whom God calls His children – “the sons of God” – and we shall confine this study to some of the things we read about these favoured people in 1 John 3:1-3. It is important to recognise that John’s writings were particularly for the Family, whereas Peter, James and Jude wrote about the Kingdom, and Paul about the Church. In this study we have clear teaching for members of God’s family, God’s children.
But are not all people the children of God? No, not in the sense that John points out. In a creative sense we are all the children of God, that is, we are His offspring (Acts 17:28-29); but in a spiritual and redemptive sense we only become the children of God when we have received the Lord Jesus Christ and are born into His family (John 1:11-13). Compare 1 John 3:1-2. When John wrote his letter he addressed a particular class of people, those who had become “sons of God” by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26). We can only become the children of God by the miracle of the New Birth, and the moment we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him as our personal Saviour we are born from above (John 3:7). Look up 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1; 5:4 and 5:18. In 1 John 3:1-3 we are told four things about the children of God.
1. Our DIGNITY is Great
Notice the note of wonder in John’s words (verse 1)! We know that God loves everybody, as John 3:16 assures us, but it is true that as our loving heavenly Father He has a special love for His own children. Do you ever sit down and meditate on the place and position of dignity, privilege and honour into which the Lord has brought you as His child? – you, who were a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and a child of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6), He has raised up and made a son of God, a member of the Royal Family of heaven (Ephesians 3:15)! You are His child now, if you are a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 2 tells us this. What a royal, heavenly dignity the Father has given to us! As you think about this wonder, say to yourself, ‘I am a child of God!’ – and let the full glory of your high calling take possession of you and enable you to cast off your fears and troubles and to rejoice for your dignity is so great.
2. Our DISTINCTIVENESS is Marked
Verse 1 tells us that “the reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him”. It is perfectly true that when Jesus was here the world did not recognise Him, and no more will it recognise us. We are a distinctive people, but the world does not recognise us or understand us or our way of life. How mystified they are when we do not share their pleasures (1 John 2:15-17); because we have a conscience that will not allow us to tell lies (Acts 24:16); because we seek to be completely honest (Romans 13:7); because we prefer a prayer meeting to worldly entertainments; or because we prefer to give up a lucrative job so that we might serve the Lord in some needy part of the world (Matthew 6:19-20)! The unbeliever very quickly misunderstands us because we are a distinctive people, and we can be persecuted in some measure. See what John says in 1 John 3:13 and compare Jeremiah 12:9.
3. Our DESTINY is Fixed
Verse 2 tells us something of what the future holds for the child of God:-
- (1) The Lord Jesus is coming again. John speaks of the time “when he appears” – look up John 14:3; Titus 2:13 – and note in the Bible all the signs of the times, the religious, the Jewish and the commercial signs, all point to the fact that the coming of the Lord must be very near indeed – James 5:8!
- (2) We shall see Him as He is. What a wonderful thing it will be to see the Man Christ Jesus, the one who came and lived and died for us, who rose again and who is ascended now in the place of glory at God’s right hand! He first came in weakness, but the second time He will come in power and great glory. “Every eye will see him” – Revelation 1:7.
- (3) We shall be like Him. We read that in a moment “we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52); and compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. What a wonderful prospect! We are so unlike Him now, but when he appears, we shall be like him (1 John 3:2).
Yes, our destiny is fixed! But notice that we have a duty to perform.
4. Our DUTY is Clear
In verse 3 John says, “Everyone who has this hope…” (that is, the assurance that Jesus is coming back again, and that when He comes we shall be like Him), “…purifies himself, just as he is pure”. If we live in the light of the Lord’s coming we shall live very carefully, by purifying ourselves (2 Corinthians 7:1); having a tender conscience about sinful things in our lives, homes or businesses; wanting to live in ways pleasing to the Lord, so that if He comes suddenly we will not be ashamed when we meet Him (1 John 2:28).
Is there any adjustment that you should make in your private life, with your home or your daily work, or in relation to your service for the Lord? If you knew the Lord would return tonight, is there an urgent matter you would attend to, so that you would be ready to meet Him and not feel ashamed? He may be here tonight! See to that matter now – “for everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”