First John 2:28-3:10
We Are Called Children Of God

Authored by Rev. Shigeru Matsubara, Assistant Pastor, Osaka Nozomi Church, Osaka, Japan

1.  Last time we studied about [when Jesus said,] "Please abide in the son."  It meant to "please keep in your hearts that Jesus himself is the good news that God promised," and it meant "please keep holding firm the gospel that was communicated to you."  "If you do, you will also be abiding in the Father and the Son," (2:14).  And "this very thing is the promise the son promised to us, eternal life," (2:25).

2.  We learned that when we have a relationship with the Father and the Son it is one and the same as having eternal life.

Abiding In Christ

3.  Chapter two and verse twenty-eight [says] "Please abide in the son.  If you do so, when the son appears, you can have confidence and when the son comes you will not be ashamed before Him."  When we were following this text, I introduced the parable of the ten virgins who had been invited to the wedding reception.  Today, let's give some thought to the faithful servant and the wicked servant (Matthew 24:45-51).  A certain master went out on a journey for a long period of time, the servants who were trusted with their respective properties, if loyal and wise, would manage well until whenever their master returned home.  But if [one] were a wicked servant and said, "Since my master is not coming home at all, I'll have me a great time and do what I please," and then went around visiting with his evil buddies, came home and abused the servants, what would happen to him?  The answer is clear.  He would be punished.  What is the lesson for us out of this?  Most people would answer the lesson is that when Christ comes back the faithful Christian will receive a good reward and the unfaithful will be judged.  But, it is more than that.  The point to this parable lies in the reasons for the wicked servant and his attitude and actions.  He had determined that his master would not come back for a rather long period of time and there would be enough time to tally up the account balances.  But [contrary to his determinations] he was forced to face his mistaken behaviors.  Operating on a false assumption, he pleased himself more than his master.

4.  If we were to think there is still time before the coming of Christ and the end of the world and we adjusted our priorities and thought there was enough opportunities to balance our accounts later, that would be a gross mistake.  There may not be any time for many people.  We ought to devote our undivided attention to the work of our king.  We don't have time for ever.  We could discuss on the subject of "serving the Lord in the next ten years," but we better not.  Instead, we had best keep aware of the fact that we may not have the next ten years.  We may not even have the next day.  The gospel will be communicated to every person in the entire world.  But, only the heavenly Father knows the precise meaning of that.  The words of the master do not stay in (abide in) a wicked servant.

5.  If we keep abiding in Christ, we will be able to stand before Him "with confidence" at that time [of his return].  The best way to be ready for the second coming is for us to "abide in Christ" every day.

We Are Now Sons [And Daughters] Of God

6.  Chapter three and verse one, "Please consider how much the Father loves us.  [He loves us] so much that he calls us sons of God."  In saying that we are called the children of God, John requests his readers to consider how great God's love is.

7.  "We are called the sons of God."  [That's] "children of God."  When we are called children of God, does that seem right to you for us to be called children of God?  "We all used to walk in the desires of our flesh and heart and were persons who ought to receive the wrath of God from birth just as the other people," (Ephesians 2:3).

8.  We were sinners at birth and sinners who have walked with our backs to God.  We were far from being called "sons of God" and were under the wrath of God instead and on the way to eternal destruction.

9.  "For, by the Holy Spirit given to us, the love of God has been poured into our hearts.  In truth, Christ died for us sinful people.  When we were sinners like this, God showed his love towards us through the death of Christ on our behalf," (Romans 5:5-8).  Also, "even when we were enemies, we received reconciliation to God by the death of His son and were saved," it says in Romans 5:10.  Even more than the fact we used to be in opposition against God, we were considered by God as his enemies and were his castaways.

10.  Our being called "children of God" [when we used to be his enemies and abandoned by him] could never be without the grace of the gospel, the events of God and of Christ, which exhaust our imagination.

11.  Will the worldly people call us "children of God" because we go to church?  Instead, the worldly people look at us with a cold eye and kind of treat us somewhat contemptuously as an idiot saying, "you're foolish" or "you believe for good luck, right?"  They don't ever call us "a child of God."  Worldly people call us "Christians."  It is not society who calls us "children of God," but "God the Father" himself is the one who does.  By God calling us this it is tantamount to God "making us children of God."  Certain people think it natural that they are "children of God," but they are completely ignorant regarding human nature and to think that is human conceitedness that thinks too highly and those who think that are in every day reality walking with their backs to God and moving along in darkness.

12.  John says, "What great love he has bestowed on us to call us the sons of God."  The width, length, height, and depth of God's and Christ's love go way beyond human knowledge and unless given to us we could never "be called the sons of God" the way "we" are (Ephesians 3:18-19).

13.  "Jesus gave his life away for us," (3:16).  "God sent his only son into the world, so that we would live through him.  Here's how the love of God is shown in us.  We did not love God but God loved us and sent his son as a sacrifice to redeem our sin.  Herein is love," (4:9, 10).

14.  "In order for us to be called 'sons of God' God gave his son Christ on our behalf.  This is the love of God.  It would not have been possible to be called 'sons of God' if there had not been a love from the son of God's death on the cross," (Gohji Tanaka).

15.  "When the son appears, we know that we will become like him," (3:2).  Verse two has it that "We are already sons of God now," and we are now children of God in this present life in this temporary world.  Since "the world does not know us" (3:1) it won't admit we are the children of God.  However, the problem is not whether the people of the world will recognize us now as the children of God.  It is whether we can confess now for ourselves that God is calling us children of God.  "O Father God of [our] Lord Jesus Christ, we are included in our name by grace but we still sin."  When I am like that am I still presently a child of God?  "I don't understand what I am doing.  Because I don't practice what I hope to do, but on the contrary I do what I hate."  "How wretched a human being I am!  Who will save me from this body set for death?," (Romans 7:15, 24).  The cry of Paul is our cry as well.  But [this cry of] Paul  confesses with joy and thanksgiving for the love of God in the Lord Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation, saying "I give thanks to God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Romans 7:25).

16.  The one who made us "sons of God" is God.  For that reason God the Father poured out his limitless love on us in his son Jesus Christ.  The Lord Jesus Christ died for us.  That's how we were abundantly anointed by the Holy One and we come to be called the "sons of God."  "Everyone who puts his hope in the son will purify himself as the son is pure," (3:3).

17.  When the Lord Jesus Christ will see fit to come back again in his glory we will be changed into the glorious likeness of sons of God similar to the likeness of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and we will live without limits with our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.  "We who embrace this hope in Christ" must "make ourselves pure as Christ is pure."

The Son Was Manifested To Take Away Sin

18.  "Sin is to rebel against the law," (3:4).  A definition of sin is to turn your back against the law set by God.  In verse four John makes clear what the nature of sin is.  In order to make oneself pure, [John] says it begins from acknowledging the nature of sin.  The nature of sin is not mere loss or failure, but to go against the law of God.  There are destruction and misery in it.  In addition, there is no peace [in it], but more than that, there is no fear for God in its eyes.

19.  "The son was manifested to take away sin," (3:5).  The reason Christ came was to give us new life, eternal life.  "There is no sin in the son."  This sentence states the true nature of Christ.  Only a person who is sinless is able to redeem a sinners' sin.  That's right and this event which took away sin did take place in history.  The purpose for Jesus when he came forth into this world was to take away sin.

20.  "Everyone who is always in the son does not sin," (3:6).  The person who continues to abide in Christ will not habitually continue to sin.  A person who believes in Christ has certainly sinned.  Anyone alive in this world with flesh and blood lives with weakness.  But that is not the general principle [over our lives].  Sin is not to control a Christian.  Therefore, if you committed a sin, please tell it to Jesus Christ and receive his cleansing and let him keep you pure.  If Christ is sinless anyone in him shares in the sinless nature of Christ.  As long as you abide in Christ you do not sin.

21.  "O children, let no one lead you astray," (3:7).  An instructor of lies is a subordinate of Satan and will continue to lead believers astray.  For them, the flesh is not important.  [These deceivers] say if the soul is pure the flesh is pure no matter what it does and they live an immoral style of life.  A righteous person practices not only [with] a righteous soul but makes righteousness his or her practice in his or her conduct as well.  "He who practices righteousness is righteous in the same way as the son," (3:7).

22.  "He who sins belongs to the devil; for, the devil has been sinning since the beginning," (3:8).  He who continues to sin has come from the devil.  The devil has continued to sin since the beginning.  "At one time you thought in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven, set [my] throne higher than the stars of God, and will sit on top of the northern mountain where the gods gather, and rise to the peak of the clouds and become as the Most High One," it says (in Isaiah 14:12-15).

23.  "The son of God was manifested for the very purpose of destroying the work of the devil," (3:8).  The son was manifested in order to remove the power of the work of the devil, render him powerless to act, ruin him, and bring retribution against him (John 12:31).  He will bring to fulfillment the utter destruction of the devil at the end of time (Revelation 20:10).  This is the first time here in this epistle that he calls Christ "the son of God."  In Second Peter chapter three and verses eight through ten it says the following with reference to the end of time and the coming of the Lord, "With the Lord one day is like one thousand years and one thousand years is like one day.  The Lord is not delaying the fulfillment of his promises.  He is being patient on your behalf so that not one person will be destroyed and everyone will repent.  The day of the Lord will come as a thief."

24.  "Everyone born of God does not sin; for, the seed of God is always in such a person," (3:9).  The seed of God.  A metaphor for the Spirit (3:24, 4:13).  It means the Word of God (1:10, 2:14) and it expresses how that it has life within it.  "Since he is born of God he cannot sin," (3:9).  It doesn't mean that a child of God never commits any type of sin.  Because if we love God, love the brethren, and that love is true, even if we rebel against God's commands due to our weakness, whoever has taken part in the gift of Christ's salvation will repent of his sin and be cleansed from his sin through the blood of the son Jesus.  Whoever is in the church of God, in the light and has a righteous life on a day to day basis will love his or her brothers and sisters.  Because we abide in God's love which goes as far as calling us "the sons of God."  Let's continue to abide in the Lord Jesus Christ since we are called "children of God."

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