Roger's Postings

Saturday, April 25, 2009

1 John 3:1-7. You are Children of God 26/4/09

(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 reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. {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. {3} Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. {4} Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. {5} But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. {6} No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. {7} Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

What an amazing message we have here this morning. We are here, reminded that we are children of God. Think about that for a bit: You are children of God: part of God’s family. Extraordinary! Unbelievable even, maybe! Yet that is what God has done for us through our Lord Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection, and our connection to him through baptism.
On the one hand, we might like the sound of it and sort of accept the words of it, but do we grasp the significance of it? I suspect that we might very well have the view that surely we are not yet fully God’s children. We are sinners: we are far short of the perfection that, is needed or expected of one who is a child of God. How can we be a part of a family that is righteous: in others words that does everything right. That is not us! So obviously, we are not really, truly God’s children. We obviously have to do a little more or a little better yet: we have to work a little harder.
Or on the other hand, we might see ourselves not as children but as adults who are free to make up our own minds and do our own thing. We hear the words freedom in the Gospel and see that as enabling us to live and do as we please, because after all we are adults who surely know what is good for us. Yet at the same time, we are quick to follow the popular thinking of the day, without thinking things through. There is no way however, that we want to see ourselves as children, having to live and act within family constraints. We are above and beyond that.

Now, here in this letter John is addressing the situation where there was a strong influence either from within our outside the congregation, which saw itself as having a superior knowledge of God and of having a special and better relationship with him than what had been passed on to them by the disciples. They saw themselves as above the Law and had no need of it because they were God’s special people. And they denied that Jesus was truly human and downplayed the importance of Christ’s death on the cross. Serious stuff! And it was wrecking havoc within the congregation.
These people were acting like spoilt children and had an arrogance and superiority, which, on the one hand was intolerable, and yet had an appeal that was hard to resist by people who have a sinful human nature: in other words, all human beings. They came across as being super Christians, with an air about them that was appealing to humanity, yet was far from the truth of Scripture and what is in accord with one who is a part of God’s family. They were children of the devil, even though they were promoting themselves as the true Christians.
So John has to remind and encourage the remainder of the congregation to beware: to be strong: to be children of God. To encourage them to see themselves as children of God: That is people who know to whom and where they belong, and who are dependent on God and prepared to listen to him rather than get caught up in the thoughts of the day and the persuasiveness of human argument and superiority. At the same time, they are to be people who seek to live in accord with the family: that is, doing the things that God tells us are important: living by his Law rather than being lawless. Doing what is right, rather than being led astray into that which is wrong.
The hen and her chickens is a good example for us in this regard. After the chickens have hatched, they stay close their mother, and learn from her how to live and survive. They watch what she eats and drinks and doesn’t eat: they listen to her clucks so that they know what is important and what is not; and the danger that is around. When they hear her call, that danger is there, they run to her and hide beneath her wings and so are kept safe. They stay close, listening, following and doing what the hen does.
However from time to time a chicken fails to heed her mothers, and other hens, call of danger when a hawk circles above, perhaps thinking that this danger will not affect it. Yet sure enough, in a flash the hawk has swooped, and the chicken is gone; snatched away as someone else’s lunch.
Now we here are children of God. God has claimed us as his very own: no matter who we are or what we have done. His Son Jesus coming into our world and dying on the cross in our place so that we now are, forgiven and can have a place in God’s family. Through our baptism, we are joined to Jesus’ death and resurrection and become God’s children. Being a part of God’s family means that we have the assurance of perfection: which is ours now, but will only see and experience in all its fullness in eternity. It means that we are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ. It means sharing in all the glory and goodness of God, for all time: Everything of God Almighty himself. Absolutely amazing!

All lavished on us because of God’s love for us, despite our sinfulness.
The extent of this love is far beyond our comprehension. We only get a glimpse of it when we start to understand what God did to his very own Son on the cross: His much loved Son at that. He allowed him the disgrace of taking on himself our sinful humanity, and having to suffer at the hands of each and every one of us; who are by nature real enemies toward him: rejecting him, disobeying him, and seeking to have nothing to do with him other than to get rid of him. Then to satisfy his own holiness he punishes Jesus, to the point of totally forsaking him. He does it all because of the love he has for us, even though we don’t even begin to come close to deserving it. He does it all so that we can now be his very own children. Truly incredible!

For now, however, we have to content ourselves with the fact that we are simply God’s children in the midst of this world, with all of its problems. Knowing that we are God’s children, we then know that we in the fullness of time, when Jesus appears again, we will enjoy the full extent of what this truly means for us. In the meantime, we go forward with hope, and seek to live as his children: as chicks around its mother hen.

That being the case, we will purify ourselves, as we are pure. We will seek to live holy and perfect lives here on earth; and when we fail, we will turn back to our Lord in repentance for the forgiveness of our sins. Our whole aim now will be to live in total obedience to our Lord instead of seeking to live and do our own thing. We will constantly want to stay close to our Lord and his true Church so that we can hear what he has to say to us, so that we are not led astray by those who, think that they can live and do as they please, and say that they have greater knowledge of God than what his Church has, and who boast about their freedoms and experience that places them above others, and who reject and downplay the importance of Jesus death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Yes, these same dangers are very much in our community at this time, and within Christian circles. So we will seek to stay close to our Lord and his true Church, and constantly listen to him so that we are not caught unawares.

When he tells us of the dangers that lay around about us, we will heed his warnings and run for cover. We will not be so presumptuous as to think, ‘she’ll be right mate; I’ll be OK; I know better. Or look, it is not so bad, after all, they claim to be Christian’. We will test the spirits as John goes on to say in the following verses, to see if they are from God. The test being; is Jesus coming into our world as a human being and his death on the cross for our forgiveness, of paramount importance. If not we will be very cautious.

Why? Because we are children of God: Because we are holy and precious in his sight: Because we are connected to Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection: Because we have the sure hope of eternal life with our Lord. So we have every reason to live close to our Lord and take care that nothing will separate us from his love for us.

Yes, what a privilege it is that we should be called children of God. Utterly amazing that he should love us that much. In response, let us now seek to live as his true children: staying close to him; Listening to him and being obedient to his commands, and all time seeking to be sure that we are not led astray by the subtle wiles of the antichrist, which comes to us in the guise of being Christian, but seeking to destroy us: All the while looking to our Lord Jesus Christ and his death on the cross as our assurance that God loves us so much that he has called us his children. To him alone be all glory and honour, now and forever. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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