Study 4 FOUR THINGS ABOUT GOD’S CHILDREN!
THE LETTERS OF JOHN
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 1 John 3:1-24)
There are a great many people in Heaven and on earth whom God calls His children – the ‘children of God’, and we shall look at some of those things we are told in John 3:1-3 about these favoured people. Are all people the children of God? No, not in the sense in which the apostle John writes. In a creative sense we are all the children of God, we are His offspring – look up Acts 17:28-29; but in a spiritual and redemptive sense we only become the children of God when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives and we are born into His family – look up John 1:11-13, and compare 1 John 3:1-2. John wrote this letter to those who had become ‘children of God’ by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – look up Galatians 3:26. The moment we receive Him as our personal Saviour we are born from above – look up John 3:7; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18. 1 John 3:1-3 tells us four things about the children of God.
1. OUR DIGNITY IS GREAT
Do you catch the note of wonder in John’s words in verse 1? God loves everybody, as John 3:16 assures us, but He has a very special love for His own children. Do you ever think about the wonderful place and position of dignity, privilege and honour into which the Lord has brought you as His child? Think of it! You, who were a child of wrath (look up Ephesians 2:3), and a child of disobedience (look up Ephesians 5:6), He has lifted and made a son of God, a member of the royal family of Heaven – look up Ephesians 3:15! You are not going to be His child later on; if you are a true believer in Him you are His child now – see verse 2. What a royal, heavenly dignity the Father has given to us! Say to yourself, ‘I am a child of God!’ – and let the full glory of your high calling take possession of you. This will enable you to cast off your fears and troubles and to rejoice, for your dignity is great.
2. OUR DISTINCTIVENESS IS MARKED
Verse 1 tells us that because we are the children of God, “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; nor will it recognise us. We are a distinctive people, and the world does not recognise or understand us. Indeed, sometimes non-Christians think we are fanatical and foolish to be so religious. They are mystified when we do not share their pleasures – look up 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Peter 4:4; because, when it would stumble our weaker brother, we are willing to deny ourselves certain things – look up Romans 14:21; because we have a conscience that will not allow us to be untruthful – look up Acts 24:16; because we seek to be honest before all men – look up Romans 13:7; because we prefer a prayer meeting to some worldly entertainment – Acts 4:23; or because we prefer to give up our well-paid job in order to serve the Lord in some needy part of Africa, India or South America – look up Matthew 6:19-20. Yes, the world very quickly misunderstands us, because we are a distinctive people. Even as Jesus was ostracised we, in measure, are always misunderstood and persecuted – look up 1 John 3:13.
3. OUR DESTINY IS FIXED
In verse 2 John tells us something of what the future holds in store for the child of God. Notice how he progressively unfolds the truth:
- The Lord Jesus is coming again. John speaks of the time “when he appears”, and he refers to the Christian’s hope – look up John 14:3; Titus 2:13. If you read your Bible carefully you will notice that all the signs of the times – (religious, Jewish, commercial, etc.) point to the fact that the coming of the Lord must be very near indeed – look up James 5:8.
- When He comes we shall see Him as He is. John tells us this, and 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 is ascended now in the place of glory and of majesty at the right hand of the Father! He first came in weakness, but when He comes the second time He will come in power and great glory! We shall see Him; “every eye will see Him” – look up Revelation 1:7.
- When we see Him we shall be like Him. John tells us this, that (as Paul tells us), “…we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” – look up 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, and compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. What a glorious prospect we have! Look up Psalm 17:15. We are so unlike Him now, but we “know” – what? “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him” – look up 1 John 3:2.
Yes, our destiny is fixed. All earth’s trials and tribulations as well as our personal sorrows and testings are only until He comes again.
4. OUR DUTY IS CLEAR
John speaks about this in verse 3, “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” If we are living in the light of the coming of the Lord we shall live very carefully. We shall purify ourselves – look up 2 Corinthians 7:1; we shall be careful about sinful and doubtful things in our lives, our homes and our business – look up Psalm 139:23-24; and we shall want to live in ways that are well-pleasing to the Lord, so that should He come suddenly we should not be ashamed before Him at His coming – look up 1 John 2:28. Is there any adjustment you should make in connection with your private life, your home, your daily work or business, or in relation to your service for the Lord? If you knew He would be returning tonight is there some urgent matter you would attend to so that you would be ready to meet Him and be unashamed before Him at His coming? He may be here tonight!