“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are…” (1 John 3:1a)
“See how great a love.” In and of themselves the words are stunning. They were some of the first words from the Bible that struck my heart; that made me stand in awe of God and His love. That He would make us His children. I would read it again and again, amazed at the goodness of God.
That was in 2013, when we studied 1 John for Bible Bee locals. On Sunday, I studied the passage again. As I looked up cross reference after cross reference I was struck once again with the knowledge of God’s beautiful, fathomless love.
“For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1b)
If we have believed in Jesus Christ, then we are His children. By His blood He’s freed us from slavery to the Law’s demands, demands that we could never in our wildest dreams fulfill. He’s given us a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5-7). We’re part of His family, His identity is ours – that’s why the world doesn’t know us, why it hates us just as it did Him.
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)
You see, the beautiful thing is that this isn’t all. We have a present salvation; and we have a future hope. We will see Him as He is. Can you even imagine it? I don’t think we can, really; His glory is far too great for our feeble thoughts to begin to comprehend. But one day we will; one day we will see Him, and unlike Moses on Mount Sinai, we will look upon His face.
And we will be like Him. Even now, the apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18, we are beholding His glory with unveiled faces, being transformed from glory to glory into the same image. How much more when we behold Him as He truly is, when we look on Him, not as in a mirror, but face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12)?
Philippians 3:20-21 says that our citizenship isn’t here. It’s in heaven, and from heaven we wait for our Savior. It’s He who will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” No more illness. No more sin. No more waking up in the morning with a headache you know will follow you the rest of the day, no more struggling to resist the temptation to whack your brother over the head. The Father has predestined us to be conformed into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29), and we know with certainty that we will be.
“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3)
We can’t wait until then, though. If we’re His children, we ought to be living like it now. 1 John 3 reveals that the children of God will not act like the rest of the world. We will sin, but we won’t practice it – we won’t make it our way of life. We can’t, because we’re His children.
Even now, we are being transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18). We can’t see His glory in person – not yet; but we can see it in the gospel, in the powerful, world-shaking truth of what He has done for us. As we abide in Him, as we look upon Him as He is revealed in the Scriptures, we can become more like Him. As we rest and exult in the knowledge of who out God is and what He has done, we begin to gain a love and trust to surpass the fears and the lusts of this world.
He has not left us alone. He has given us His Spirit, and His word. God Himself is within us, teaching, comforting, transforming us. His word is with us, available whenever we have need of it – to direct, to convict, to strengthen; to show us and remind us whom it is we worship.
Abide in Him. Look upon Him. Let His words fill you and give you strength. Rest in the truth of His love. Look ahead, child of God, past this world, to the hope laid up for us. To the day when you will see His face.