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

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on January 5, 2020

1 John 3:1-3
1 John 3:1
"How Great is the Father's Love"

I Hope - False and True
A False teachers and false churches give people false hope. I repeat, false teachers and false churches give people false hope. This is one of the big teachings we find in John's first letter.

At the time of John there were those who walked and lived in darkness of sin and yet claimed eternal life (1 Jn 1:6). There were those who denied they were sinners and yet claimed eternal life (1 Jn 1:8-10). There were those who did not do what God commands and yet claimed eternal life (1 Jn 2:3-4). There were those who hated their brothers and sisters in the Lord and yet claimed eternal life (1 Jn 2:9). There were those who loved the world and the things of the world and yet claimed eternal life (1 Jn 2:15). There were those who denied Jesus is the Christ and yet claimed eternal life (1 Jn 2:22). There were those who denied Jesus has come in the flesh and yet claimed eternal life (1 Jn 4:1-2).

The false teachers of John's day deceived people about who has a right to the hope of heaven. Are things any different today? False teachers and false churches continue to give people false hope. We are told today it makes no difference what you believe just so long as you believe. We are told today all religions are the same and all paths lead to God. We are told today you can live for treasure on earth and still have treasure in heaven. In most churches today you don't hear the "S" word -- "S" standing for sin -- so people who don't ever repent are led to believe everything is well with their soul.

False teachers and false churches give people false hope. That's why there is a need for the true church to read and reread John's first letter. The need is as great today as it was at the time of John.

B True Christians, not false Christians, have a living hope. What do we hope for? It is described in various ways throughout the Bible. According to John, our hope is that someday we will be like Christ (1 Jn 3:2). In Revelation, John says we hope to live with God and without death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:3-4). Peter can speak of "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you" (1 Pet 1:4). Isaiah speaks of soaring on wings like eagles (Is 40:31).

Only true Christians live in hope. Only those have hope who admit their sin, have a right understanding of Christ and His work, strive for a life of righteous obedience, love and forgive each other, and do not love the world or anything in the world.

II Hope - Because of the Father's Great Love
A Paul says "we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons" (Rom 8:23). According to our text, this hope is already a reality:
(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!
Paul says we are hoping for this, waiting for this to happen. John says our hope has already happened. In theology we explain this as the "already, but not yet." It is already ours. It has already come upon us. But it is not yet fully ours. It is not fully realized until Jesus appears. "Already, but not yet."

B Maybe you noticed the two exclamation marks in our text. The two exclamation marks pick up a word we find in the Greek but not the English of our pew Bibles. "Look!" exclaims John. "Behold!" "See!" John is astonished, amazed, excited, and thrilled.

C "Look!" "Behold!" "See!" At what? What does John want us to see? The Father's love. John writes, "How great is the love." "How great" is not strong enough. It is unbelievably great. It is over the top. God's love is so different from human love that it is out of this world. It is a love that is beyond us. In Matthew 8 the same Greek word is used when Jesus calmed the wind and the waves. The disciples were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" (Mt 8:27). The power of Jesus was and is out of this world, unlike any other power. Likewise, the love of God is out of this world, unlike any other love.

Think of what this means. We have a God, congregation, who loves us with a love that is out of this world. A love that is astonishing and amazing and over the top. A love that has no equal.

D The word used for love is "agape." Agape love is not the erotic love between a husband and wife. It is not the affectionate love of family or friends. It is not the caring love for puppy dogs and injured animals. Agape love is a love that wills to love, that chooses to love. It is a love that is self-giving, self-sacrificing, seeking the good of the other. It is a love that is freely given for the benefit of someone else. It is a love that requires nothing in return. It is a love given even to those who are not worthy of such love.

Fast forward with me to the next chapter of John's letter. Listen to what we read there:
(1 Jn 4:9-10) This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (10) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
This is agape love. Free. Self-giving. Self-sacrificing. Seeking our good. A love that is undeserved, unmerited, unearned because there is nothing in us that makes us worthy of this love. He loved us because, just because.

No wonder John is amazed and astonished. No wonder John says, "Look!" "Behold!" "See!" What kind of love is this? It is different from human love. It is not of this world. It is out of this world. It is over the top. Where does it come from? It comes from God. God is the origin of this love. God is the giver of this love. God is the great and awesome and amazing Lover.

E Notice the word "lavished." God has lavished His love on us. Understand this as the most generous kind of love. This is what grandparents do to grandchildren. They hug them and hold them and kiss them all over and make them feel special and loved and wanted. In the same way, God has lavished His love on us. He hugs us and hold us and kisses us with His love and makes us feel special and wanted.

III Hope - as Children of God
A "Look!" "Behold!" "See!" At what? At the Father's love. Notice what the Father's love does:
(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 Father's love makes us children of God. That's why we have hope. That's why we are confident.

To be made a child means to be born. We have been made children of God because we are born of Him by the Spirit of Christ.

God did this when I was a sinner and undeserving. He loved me and adopted me when I was estranged from Him and an enemy of the cross (Rom 5:10; Col 1:21). He loved me and made me born-again as His child even though this was the last thing I wanted. Remember what I read this morning to teach about sin?
(Rom 3:10-11) As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; (11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
There was nothing lovable about me or in me. Yet, He loved me anyway and made me born-again as His child.

"Look!" "Behold!" "See!" Isn't this amazing and astonishing? That sinners, that enemies, have been born as part of God's family?

B God made me His child! The Father lavished His love on us that we should be called children of God! He brought us as close as we can possibly get. He brought us closer than just friends. Closer than just servants. Closer than just co-workers. Closer than just members of His Kingdom. He brought us into His family. He adopted us as His own beloved children. This is not just something we are called, says John. "This is what we are!"

C Let's think of what this all means.

First, when you enter a family yours are the blessings of family life. You have a bed, daily food, clean water, clothing, prayer, teaching in God's ways, parties and family vacations. When we enter God's family we are blessed "in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Eph 1:3-10). What are these blessings? Redemption through Christ's blood, the forgiveness of sins, marked with the seal of baptism, knowing the mystery of God's will, the feeding and guarding of our soul, the gifts and fruit of the Spirit.

Second, family members are heirs. In 2019 Ruth and I looked over our last will and testament. We have four heirs: David, Chris, Josh, and CHARITY. To be a child of God means you are an heir of God.
(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 ...
(cf Gal 4:6-7)
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 the heir? Very simply: everything! Nothing is excluded. Everything is included. Everything in the universe belongs to Christ. Every square inch.

Believers 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 ... 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 God 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 God, "All things are yours." The size of our inheritance is one measure of the love God has for us. "All things are yours."

Third, when you are part of a family you have a father, a mother, a brother, a sister. The same thing happens when we are part of the family of God.
(Rom 8:15) 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."
(cf Gal 4:6-7)
"Look!" "Behold!" "See!" Do you realize how amazing this is? The Maker and King and Ruler of the universe is our Father. We can call Him Father, Abba. We can come to Him as Father. He is the almighty Father Who not only is able to care for all our needs but even wants to look after all our needs.

Fourth, family members resemble each other. Ruth and I were texted a picture by our daughter-in-law in Sioux Falls. The family there was bowling. Our grandson Isaac was standing by our son Chris. They were both standing the same way, arms out from the side. Like father, like son. This is true in the family of God as well. John can write "we shall be like him" (1 Jn 3:2). That is, we shall be like Christ. But this is not only a future hope. This is also a present reality. So, for instance, we are called to be pure just as Christ is pure (1 Jn 3:3). And, in the last verse of 1 John 2 we are told to be righteous just as Christ is righteous. We are told to imitate Christ.

We have a choice when it comes to imitation. We can imitate a sports star, a movie star, a rock star, a politician, a successful businessman, someone we admire like a grandparent or a teacher. Consciously or subconsciously, most of us imitate a parent. As part of the family of God, the person we are to most resemble is the Lord Jesus Christ. The longer we are part of the family of God the more we are to be like Jesus.

Fifth, to be part of a family means to be treated by others as part of the family. I grew up surrounded by the Amish. They dressed a certain way, talked a certain way, lived a certain way. No electricity. No compressed air. No cars. No indoor plumbing. No insurance. Horses and wagons and buggies. You recognized them right away and treated them accordingly. To be part of the family of God means the "world does not know us" because "it did not know him" (1 Jn 3:1; cf Jn 1:10-11). Now, what happened to Jesus also happens to those who are members of His family:
(Jn 15:20) Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.
The world that rejects Jesus also rejects us -- because we are part of the same family. We are not the same as those of the world. We are different. So the world attacks us as part of the family of God.

Being a part of the family of God is the greatest blessing bestowed upon believers and one that should drive us to our knees in humble adoration. We can never do anything to deserve it for it is His gift of love, mercy, and grace to us.
(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!

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