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

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on December 29, 2019

1 John 2:28-3:3
1 John 3:3
"Hope that Purifies"

There are three great words in the Christian vocabulary: faith, hope, and love. Faith and love receive lots of attention. Hope, I'm afraid, often is neglected. The focus of our Bible reading and text this morning is hope. On this last Sunday of 2019 I want to look at the Christian's hope.

Hope is an important spiritual gift, a very important spiritual gift.
In the early 80s the psychology department of Duke University carried on an interesting experiment. They wanted to see how long rats could swim. In one container they placed a rat for whom there was no possibility of escape. He swam a few moments and then ducked his head to drown. In the other container they made the hope of escape possible for the rat. The rat swam for several hours before finally drowning. The conclusion of the experiment was just the opposite of our common conclusion. We usually say, "As long as there is life, there is hope." The Duke experiment proved, "As long as there is hope, there is life."
As long as there is hope, there is life.

I Our Hope is Future
A Hope by definition is future, not present. We don't hope for what we already have but in what we do not yet have (Rom 8:24-25). In saying this, I don't want to take away from our present life. Right now we experience the forgiveness of sins. Right now we have the presence, the gifts, and the fruit of the Spirit. Right now it is our privilege to serve and worship the Lord. Right now our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. Right now we have eternal life. Right now ours is joy. Right now ours is the communion of saints. Right now we experience answered prayer. Right now ours is salvation. Right now we have all of this, but none of it is fully realized. All of it awaits completion and fulfilment. And when that happens, when hope is realized, we will see that what we have in this life is but a shadow of the reality that awaits us.

We have a great and wondrous salvation, congregation, but hope says the greatest part of our salvation still awaits us.

B Our hope is not in this life. Paul can say, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men" (1 Cor 15:19). If your hope is in this life you are to be pitied. Because this life, even at its very best, is brief and prone to trouble and heartache. If you don't have anything to hope for beyond this life, then your hope is a vapor that appears for only a little time and then disappears.

Pick anything in this life. If your hope is in gold, then it is fool's gold. If your hope is in alcohol, drugs, sex, entertainment, things, relationships, family, school, or sports, they will disappoint.

If your hope is in this life, it is not hope at all. Every political philosophy and politician holds out wishes and fantasies and promises. Same with every economic system. But none of them deliver. None of them can deliver -- in spite of what presidents and presidential candidates say.

C So what awaits us? What is it that we hope for? What does John hold before our eyes?
(1 Jn 3:2) Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
What is our hope? "We shall be like him." Our hope is that we shall be like Christ.

Paul explains this hope in Romans 8: "we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:23). We already have the redemption of our souls. We have been born-again and been given a new nature. We have been transformed by the renewing, regenerating Spirit of God. We are new in the inner man, but we still have the old man of sin in our flesh. So we hope and pray for the redemption of our body. We hope and pray for a body to go with the redeemed soul. We hope and pray for a redeemed body that is like Christ's body -- without indwelling sin or the effects of sin, perfect and pure. Our hope is in a new and better life in a new and better body on a new and better earth.

As a pastor, I have visited with countless people as they have been dying. Everyone who believes in Jesus says the same thing: they are ready to die. Why? Because of the hope that is in them.

As a son I have visited with my dad. I haven't said much about my dad lately but he is increasingly confused. He is very emotional. He has left reality. Yet, he can say he is ready to die. Why? Because of the hope that is in him.

II Our Hope is in God
A Our hope is future -- that's our first point. Our second point is that our hope comes from God and our hope is in God. It isn't in men. It isn't in politicians. It isn't in socialism or capitalism. It isn't in democracy. Our hope is in God. God who is trustworthy, dependable, unchanging. God whose "yes" is "yes" and whose "no" is "no." God who has spoken. God who has promised. God who has lavished His love on us (1 Jn 3:1).

Our hope is in God. Not man. Never man. Because man is so fickle and changeable. Because man is so small and puny and helpless. Because man is so limited in time and space and ability.

Paul describes lost humanity in Ephesians 2 as those "without hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2:12). If you don't have God, you have no hope. Life without God is futile and empty and meaningless. Without God, I live, die, and am buried. That's it. There is no more. There is no hope.

Our hope is in God. That's why we should listen carefully to the words of Psalm 43:
(Ps 43:5) Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
The psalmist admits he is downcast and disturbed about something; something has left him depressed, forlorn, upset, discouraged. Notice his solution: Stop feeling sorry for yourself and hope in God. Remember God is your hope. Remember God is your help. Remember God has made you and promises to look after you. Remember God has promised you a better tomorrow in the future life.

B Our hope is in God. This means, this implies, hope is a gift of His grace. Paul actually says this in his second letter to the Thessalonians:
(2 Th 2:16-17) May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, (17) encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Hope comes by His grace. Meaning what? Meaning hope is not something you earn. Meaning hope is not something you deserve. Meaning hope is not something you can demand. Never let it be said that we did anything to earn hope. It is a gracious gift. God is the source of that gift. It is God, by grace, who gives hope.

C Our hope is in God and His promises. You all know where we find those promises. You all know where God lays out those promises. In the Bible.
(Rom 15:4) For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Do you hear that? The Scriptures were written so we might have hope. So we read that Word, study that Word, meditate on that Word, hear that Word. We feed on it and let it nourish our souls. We feed on it and grow in hope. God's hope.

When we turn to the Bible we can give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have (cf 1 Pet 3:15). It is all laid out there. God's promises. Our hope. Our future life. Our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies. Our hope in God is all promised and explained in the Bible.

III Our Hope is Sure Due to Christ's Resurrection
A We have a future hope. We have a future hope given by God through grace by means of the Scriptures.

How do we know this hope is dependable and sure? How do we know our hope will become reality? You know, there are lots of things we hope for but many of them don't happen. We hope to lose weight. We hope to exercise more often. We hope to visit or call our parents every week. We hope to spend more time with our spouse and children and less time at work. We hope to read the Bible and pray every single day. We hope to be the star of the basketball or volleyball team. We hope our team gets to the Super Bowl (unless you are a Bengals' fan). Lots of hopes. Many of them, maybe most of them, are never going to happen. So how do we know the hope from God is any different? How do we know it is a sure thing?

B Our hope is sure because of Jesus. Our hope is secured because of Jesus. "We know that when he appears, we shall be like him" (1 Jn 3:2). We know. Not, we guess, we think, we desire. We know. We are given surety, security, because of Christ.

This thought is further explained to us by Peter in his first letter:
(1 Pet 1:3) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Our hope is sure and secure because of the resurrection of Jesus.

If you look at the cross without also looking at the empty tomb, you have every reason to question whether our hope is realistic. Apart from Easter's resurrection you have every reason to question the power and mission of Jesus.

Do you remember what was said by Job? He said, "And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God" (Job 19:26). Do you remember why he was able to say this? We go back one verse earlier: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth" (Job 19:25).

Do you remember the triumphant language used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15?
(1 Cor 15:20) But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
If Christ has not been raised, my preaching, your faith, and our hope is useless. If Christ has not been raised, then we won't be raised either. Because He lives we also will live. Because He has been raised, ours is a sure and certain hope.

Jesus is the reason for our hope. Jesus' resurrection, Easter's resurrection, is the reason for our sure and certain hope.

IV Our Hope Leads to Purification
A Our hope is future. Our hope comes from God as a gift of grace through the Scriptures. Our hope is secured by the work of Christ.

Notice how our text ends: "Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." Do you hear what John is saying? John is saying hope impacts behavior. John is saying hope affects conduct. John says the hope we have is reflected in the way we live.

There are different ways to change a person's behavior. We give instruction to little children and discipline them in order to make them act a certain way. The government passes laws in order to change behavior. Doctors scare patients into making changes before they get a heart-attack. Advertisers hold promises of health, wealth, success, and good times if we buy a certain product. Churches warn people about hell and hell's destruction and the wrath of God.

Do you see the approach John takes? We are to act a certain way because of the hope we have. Someday we have the hope of being like Christ. Someday we have the hope of the redemption of the body. We don't want to wait. We don't have to wait. We want to be like Christ now. So now already, today, we strive to be pure even as Christ is pure. That is, we strive for sanctification, for a progressive decrease of sin and a progressive increase of holiness. In 2020 are you going to live like someone with the Christian's hope; are you going to strive now already to be holy and pure just like Christ?

B John writes this against the Gnostics who say the body and its sins and desires don't matter. John writes this against the Gnostics who say what counts is the mind and what it thinks. John writes this against the many churches and Christians today who show no concern for holiness and purity. This is not what should happen, says John. Those who hope to be like Christ, those who hope for the redemption of the body, strive now already to be like Christ. They strive for a life, a bodily life, that is holy and pure.

John not only writes against the Gnostics but he also writes for the Christian. Remember one of John's big concerns in this letter? How do we know who is a true Christian? How do we know who is not real and true and sincere in their faith? Look, says John, look at whether the hope within them leads to purity. Unlike what passes for popular Christian culture true Christians are concerned about holiness and purity.

Our hope is future. Our hope comes from God as a gift of grace through the Scriptures. Our hope is secured by the work of Christ. Our hope is shown in a life of purity.

Is this hope yours? It is if you believe in Jesus.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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