************ Sermon on 1 John 3:1 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on March 15, 2015

1 John 2:28-3:10
1 John 3:1
"Children of God"

Have you girls heard of Boko Haram? It is an Islamist terrorist movement based in Nigeria. It forces young boys to kill parents and older brothers and join their army. About a year ago it kidnaped 276 Christian schoolgirls; as of today, 234 of the girls are still missing. Do you know what happened to the girls? They were forced to convert to Islam and then sold into marriage.

Can you imagine being one of those girls? Can you imagine being dragged from your school? Can you imagine the death of your parents and brothers? Can you imagine being taken across the border? Can you imagine being forced to become a Muslim? Can you imagine being locked up in a compound somewhere where you know no one and have no contact with the outside world? Can you imagine waiting for someone to buy you to be their wife?

You look for opportunities to leave. But you are stuck. Month after month goes by. Every night you cry yourself to sleep. You finally realize your only hope of escape is for someone rescue you.

I've told you about Boko Haram and the Christian girls it kidnaped. Actually, this is a picture of you and me in our natural state as sinners. We are prisoners of sin and Satan. Like the Nigerian girls, we are locked up and have no hope of escape. Actually, we identify with our captors and don't even want to be rescued.

This is the kind of picture that is behind John's words in the GEMS text this evening:
(1 Jn 3:1) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

I Adopted as Children of God
A What did the Father do? Out of love He rescued you: He sacrificed for you, He forgave you, He paid for your sins, He appeased His wrath. And then He went one step further: He made you one of His children; that is, He adopted you as one of His children. He adopted you girls as His daughters.

A surprising number of people in our congregation have been adopted. Some of them are in their eighties now and others are in their teens or twenty-something. You might know that Bryan & Sara Jongsma are waiting to adopt a girl from Bulgaria. Think of that little girl waiting to be adopted. She has no parents, no home, no brothers and sisters, no sense of security, no sense of belonging, no love. And then, suddenly, she has parents, a home, lots of love, a brother and a sister, toys, her own bedroom. For the first time she can call someone "daddy" or "mommy." She is considered a full and complete part of the family. She even is included in the parents' will as an heir.

We have been adopted by God. Don't minimize this. Don't ridicule this. Don't pretend this is not a big deal. God could have decided not to save enemies. God could have decided that the blood of His Son is too precious to waste on sinners. God could have decided to save you and have nothing more to do with you. Instead, He has adopted you and made you part of His family.

What does it mean to be adopted by God? It means the almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is your Father. It means God the Father provides for you and looks after you and protects you and guides you (cf Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 26). It means you have a Father in heaven Who loves you. It means you are children of the King. Therefore, as you keep being told in GEMS, each one of your girls is a princess!

B I am sure you realize there is nothing about you that makes you worthy of adoption. Because you are sinners and enemies, in God's eyes there is nothing sweet, cute, adorable, or lovable about you. So why would He want to adopt you? Why should He adopt you?

We are given the answer in Ephesians 1. We are told that in love God adopted us as His sons and daughters through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5). Do you hear the reason? It is all because of Christ. The eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is my God and Father because of Christ His Son (Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 26). We are adopted children of God -- adopted by grace through Christ (Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 33). God, through Christ, has become our Father (Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 120).

It is because of Christ that you girls are children of the King. It is because of Christ that you are a princess!

C God has given you proof that He has adopted you as His child. God has given you a sign and a seal that you are His daughter. See the baptismal font over there (POINT TO FONT)? The water on your forehead is a mark of God's ownership. The water on your forehead is a claim that you belong to God. The water on your forehead is a sign that you have been adopted by God. So, you are not an orphan. You are not separate from Christ. You are not a foreigner to the covenant. You are not without hope and without God in the world (cf Eph 2:12). Baptism is proof that you are a child of the King. Rejoice in your baptism. Be thankful you have parents who want to press the claims of God and Christ upon you.

II Born Again as Children of God
A How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are by adoption! But our Bible reading also mentions something more important and more profound.

Two weeks ago we had a new baby born into our family -- Adriana Rose. David brought Linda to the hospital and after a couple of hours a new grand-daughter was born. That's the normal way for children to enter a family.

B Notice what John says twice in our Bible reading? Twice he mentions being "born of God" (1 Jn 2:29; 3:9). The children of God not only are adopted but they are also born-again.

Now, adoption is amazing; out of love someone takes a stranger and accepts him or her into the family. Organizations like Bethany arrange this all the time. Likewise, it is absolutely amazing to be adopted into God's family. But it is even more amazing to be born of God. This is not something any of us can ever do. None of us can cause a child to be born-again. But by His great and mighty power God can make people born-again so that they are part of His family, so that they are His children.

C What happens to those who are born of God? John talks about God's seed being planted in them (1 Jn 3:9). By this he means the Spirit. The seed of new life. They are given the seed of God so they take on a family resemblance. So they begin to look and act like God. So they have a new nature. So they take on more of the image of God. So they look like they are part of the family.

If you are a child of God, you are so by adoption; but more than that, you are so by new birth. So, you are twice God's child.
(1 Jn 3:1) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

III Implications of being Children of God
A What does this mean for you girls, to be children of God?

First, it means children of God are led by the Spirit of God and of Christ:
(Rom 8:14-16) ... those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons [daughters] of God. (15) For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." (16) The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

This is what it means to be a child of God. His Spirit is leading you. His Spirit is renewing you. His Spirit is transforming you. You are becoming a new person in Christ.

B Second, it means children of God are lights in this sin-darkened world:
(Phil 2:15-16) [You are] ... children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (16) as you hold out the word of life ...

Those who are children of God are totally different than the world. The children of the world are characterized as "a crooked and depraved generation." Children of God, on the other hand, shine like stars. That's why our Bible reading can say "the world does not know us" (1 Jn 3:1). Our values have been changed. Our priorities have been changed. Our behavior has been changed. Our words have been changed. Even our thoughts have been changed. Everything about us has been made into conformity with Christ so we don't make sense to the world.

C Third, to be a child of God means you are heirs of God, heirs of the King. I am an heir of my grandfather so I inherited some coins when he died.
(Gal 4:6-7) Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." (7) So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

(Rom 8:16-17) The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. (17) Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ ...
Do you hear that? We are co-heirs with Christ.

We are co-heirs. Therefore, we can expect to inherit what Christ inherits. So, what does Christ inherit?
(Heb 1:2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things ...
Of what is Christ an heir? Very simply: everything! Nothing is excluded. Everything is included. Everything in the universe belongs to Christ. Every square inch.

You girls are co-heirs with Christ. So, everything is yours. Listen to how Paul puts this in his letter to Corinth:
(1 Cor 3:21-23) All things are yours, (22) whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, (23) and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

"All things are yours." You like to have stuff? You think that is important? If you are a child of the King you already own everything. So, you don't have to be part of a culture that tries to accumulate more and more things, more and more stuff, more and more wealth, more and more treasure. "All things are yours." So your focus can be God's Kingdom and God's righteousness. So your focus can be what counts.

As a child of the King, "All things are yours." See this as a sign of God's love.
(1 Jn 3:1) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
The size of our inheritance is one measure of the love God has for us. "All things are yours."

D Fourth, to be a child of God means we stop the life of sin. I know this sounds like sinless perfection -- something which is not possible in this life and in this body and on this earth. But that is not what John has in mind. Listen to verse 9:
(1 Jn 3:9) No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
In the Greek, it is continuous action that is mind. Those who are children of God don't continuously sin. They don't live for sin. They don't enjoy their sin. When they sin, they do what they do not want to do (Gal 5:17). The child of God stops living the life of sin and starts living for Jesus.
(1 Jn 2:29) If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

E Fifth, to be a child of God means we love. John doesn't mess around with this. He gets straight to the point:
(1 Jn 3:10) This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
Children of the devil do not love their brother or sister. On the other hand, children of God do love their brother and sister.

Children of the King. Children of God. That's what you girls are by adoption and by birth.
(1 Jn 3:1) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
Now, you need to live this out.
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