Summary: In 3:1-3, John, having acknowledged that Christians are born of God, now enlarges on the wonder and the glory of our relationship with God. Reflecting on our position as children of God should cause us to have a renewed sense of wonder. Let’s examine wh
THE WONDER OF WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST
It is fascinating to watch little children as they discover something new. They are filled with wonder at an object as tiny as a beetle or as colorful as a butterfly. One of the problems with growing up is that all too often we lose our sense of wonder.
The Apostle John had been a Christian longer than any person alive at the time of the writing of this epistle. However, he never lost his sense of wonder at the things of God. One can feel John’s sense of wonder in the words, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God."
The word for "sons” or “children" is not the normal word that is John often used. Usually he used the word "huios," which means “a son.” That word stressed dignity, status, or position. The word John uses is "tekna" which stresses birth, origin, oneness of nature and could be translated "born ones." In 2:29 John stresses the practice of righteousness in the life of those who have been "born" of God. The born ones have the very nature of the Father.
All of chapter three centers in the special relationship that believers have with the Father. As John thinks on that special relationship, he can’t help but be overcome by a sense of wonder. In 3:1-3, John, having acknowledged that Christians are born of God, now enlarges on the wonder and the glory of our relationship with God. Reflecting on our position as children of God should cause us to have a renewed sense of wonder. Let’s examine who we are as children of God.
First, we are recipients of God’s love (3:1a). The Apostle John was filled with awe, as he reflected on the Love of God. "Behold, what manner of love...." When John wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he had known the Lord Jesus for over sixty years. As he reflected on God’s love, he could not help but worship and wonder. How great, how wonderful, how glorious is God’s love.
God’s love is an unearthly kind of love. There is no love on earth like God’s love. It is greater than a mother’s love. It is greater than love for country. It is a love that has been "bestowed" or literally "poured out" freely on us. It has been "lavished" on us. It is ours as a permanent possession. It is the love that was expressed in John 3:16 and Romans 5:8.
Second, we are members of God’s family. Note the words, “That we should be called the sons of God.” The word translated “Sons” or “children” as has been pointed out is the translation of a word meaning "born ones." The new birth is the means by which we become the children of God. Those who have been born again are privileged to bear the name "children of God." We are "called" children of God.
Not only are we called children of God, we really are children of God. Dr. V. L. Stanfield was one of my preaching professors at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Stanfield used to ask, “Did you ever sing the hymn, ‘I’m a Child of the King’ and all at once realized that you were?” The NASB reads, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are” (emphasis mine). The words, “and such we are” are not in the KJV but they are in the Greek texts, and are so translated in most translations of the Bible. John is saying, that not only are we called “children of God,” we really are God’s children.
Have you ever wondered why the world is so hostile to believers? It is because the world has rejected our Lord. “The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (3:1b). The world does not recognize us because it does not recognize him.
Third, we are partakers of God’s glory. John turns now to consider what awaits God’s children in the future. In 2:28 John uses two words regarding the coming of the Lord. First, there is the word “appear.” This comes from a word which means “to make manifest,” or “to show oneself.” Christ came the first time to take care of our sin problem. One day, He will come again. Second, there is the word “coming” which comes from a word meaning, “a presence” or “an arrival.” John commands us to “abide in him (Jesus)” so we will have confidence and not be ashamed when Jesus comes again.
In 1 John 3:2-3, the Bible speaks of two different aspects of our relationship with Jesus Christ. First, there is a NOW aspect of our relationship with Christ. We do not have to wait in order to become children of God in the future. “Beloved, NOW are we the sons of God.” Second, there is a NOT YET aspect of our relationship with Christ. “It doeth NOT YET appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (3:2). The privilege of sonship is ours now, but the full disclosure is yet to come. It will be fully disclosed to us in the coming again of the Lord. What a day that will be!