Summary: Is it obvious to the people you meet that you are a child of God? What is it that makes it obvious?

J. I. Packer on Being God's Child

“You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one's Holy Father”.

“If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all”.

The Apostle John has much to say about living as a child of God. He reminds his readers that Jesus’ second coming is both the source of the believer’s hope and the basis for holy living. As we consider his teaching on this subject ask yourself this question: is it obvious to those in your circle of influence that you are a child of God? What is it that makes it obvious?


1. In the epistle reading last week (1John 1:2-2:2) John wrote against the false teachings that had surfaced in the church, concerning how one entered into authentic fellowship with God.

A. Some claim fellowship with God while refusing to recognize Christ as the way, truth and the life (i.e. the only way to God).

B. Some claim fellowship with God because they have no current sin in their life, while

C. Others claim they were never in sin, that Adam’s sin had no effect, and therefore they have no sinful nature to corrupt them.

2. John warns that in each case, those who make these claims are living in darkness. Since God is light, and in him there is no darkness, they cannot possibly be in fellowship with him.

3. With this admonition, John turns his attention to the other side of the equation. How one in authentic fellowship with God must live as the result of their sonship. OYBT 1 John 2:28 as we consider the characteristics of a child of God.

[Is it obvious to the people you meet that you are a child of God? What is it that makes it obvious?]


1. Confident in our status: and now, dear children, continue in [Christ], so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming (2:28).

A. Remaining in Christ is the antidote for false belief and unchristian behavior. John reminds his readers of Christ’s coming as the centerpiece of their hope and the basis for living a holy life. When he will come is unknown: that he will come is certain.

B. Given this, believers must continue in Christ, meaning continue in holiness and obedience to Christ until he returns so that they will not be ashamed when they stand before him.

C. This begs the question, if Jesus returns today, can you stand before him unashamed, or are there things of which you are ashamed? Are you giving God what he deserves (money, commitment, witness, service, etc.) or tossing him the scraps of the day? We cannot claim to be in Christ if his kingdom means so little to us.

2. Living a holy lifestyle: If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him (2:29).

A. John moves from the judgment at the second coming to introduce a new idea, that of spiritual birth, which is prominent through the rest of the epistle (3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18)—that believers stand in a new relationship to God, analogous to that of children to a father .

(i) I. Howard Marshall writes, “The point of this metaphor is that spiritual life comes from God through the agency of the Word and the Spirit. The Christian is thus placed in the same relationship to God as is occupied by Jesus, though John reserves the name Son for Jesus and uses children for others .

B. Notice the order of John’s statement. He suggests that we will recognize those who are “born of him” by their holy lifestyle. Those who live this way are “born of him”, a clear distinction between those in authentic fellowship with God and those who are not.

C. Do you live righteously? You should, if you are “born of God”. Most evangelicals cringe at this statement, thinking that we can’t possibly be righteous?only God is righteous! Yet, according to scripture, righteousness is imputed to us in Christ (there’s that phrase again!), therefore, we can live righteous lives if we choose.

[Is it obvious to the people you meet that you are a child of God? What is it that makes it obvious?]

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