Knowing what to expect

 Knowing What to Expect

1 John 3:1-3

In Jesus Name


May our joy be complete, as we find our fellowship is the fellowship shared between the Father, and Jesus Our Lord, as we realize that the God our Father has created us to be His children!


Where have the Father’s gone?


When you are taught to preach, one of the things you are taught is to understand not only the context of the passage, what things in the life of the original readers impact them, how they live, what the words mean to them then.  You are also that you need to consider the context of those who will be listening to you.  How they will hear the words today.  What things in life will shape their hearing, from education to experience to one of the most dominant forces in our culture – television!

That is certainly the case today, as we examine 1 John 3 – our epistle reading.  Some of us were blessed to have incredible parents who taught us about life, and God, who taught us about getting things right, who comforted us when we really screwed up.  Others did not, but they knew of fathers who did those kinds of things.  Fathers like Ward Cleaver, or Andy Griffith, or the character Fred McMurray played on “my three sons.”  They were re-runs in my youth, and I doubt they are even on the “oldies” stations now.

Instead, the most famous father on television now (and in re-runs) is …. Homer Simpson!

If children today don’t have a role model of fatherhood in the home, if they cannot find such a role model of a father’s love, and his devotion to his children, how can they understand the passage today?  How can they understand God our Father’s desire to pour out love on us?  How can they understand a passage like:

11:11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  Luke 11:11-13 (NKJV)

So what can we expect of God our Father, what can we teach these little ones to expect of a Father whose love knows no bounds?

We are already God’s Children… yet

The apostle John starts out the third chapter – by talking about the fact, the fact that we are God’s children, even if the world doesn’t recognize us as that, even if we haven’t really begun to understand what that means, and how God has transformed us.

There are a couple of issues here, first the challenge to believe that God can and does transform people.  The world doesn’t know us, because they really, really don’t understand God. Their picture of Him is based only in justice, they don’t understand His mercy, His love, and the extent of that love. Perhaps that is due to us at times, where our desire for people not to get hurt comes across as a legalistic moral standard.  And where we should be concerned for the damage sin does to their lives, they hear God’s warnings as condemnation.

As a parent, how easy is it to let your children suffer the consequences of their actions?  How many of us enjoy disciplining them, and correcting them?  But how much more do we hate they pain they have to deal with, when they have done wrong?  It takes a little thought, but God’s desire is never to punish never mind condemn. It is that we live life walking with Him, guided away from those things which we might chose, even as a young child doesn’t always choose that which is needed,  Like when we warn our kids, those warnings that God gives us aren’t always heard as warnings by those who hear them from us.

It’s hard to understand why we can’t have fun, how such things could result in great pain, to us, and often to others.

Not only do those who do not comprehend God’s love not see us as we are in Christ, but neither do we.  There are days I admit, that I don’t see myself as one of God’s kids, and there are days that I wonder about the church as a whole.  Part of that is I look at my actions, our actions, and I wonder how in the world we can call ourselves God’s kids, when we aren’t the most loving, or the most patient, or the most merciful.  It’s hard to see myself  as holy at times, or to see the church, as it acts in the world as holy, as the people God has called and chosen.

While we should never excuse our sin, we should understand the tension of not really grasping how much God is changing us.  Hear again John’s words,

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

which Paul echoes,

3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)

John said,
what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him

and Paul said,
your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

They agree!  Imagine that!  They both were led to write that by God, because they too struggled with sin, and occasionally, doubt. Yet there were equally sure of what they knew of God’s character – that as our loving, merciful Father, who chose us to be His children, He isn’t about to give up on us, and our salvation is guaranteed by the one who guards our hearts and minds

Keeping ourselves pure

Besides reminding us that we are going to struggle to realize who we have become as the children of God, both Paul and John then talk about our lives.  John tells us,

“3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

While Paul defines it a little more,

3:8 But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, (improper) passion, and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips. 9 Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old self with its habits 10 and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself. Colossians 3:8-10 (TEV)

I added in Paul, because otherwise we are challenged to know what this word “pure” or holy is about. It sounds like at first it is a standard of behavior, a what not to do list. Part of that is because of the translation, and it sounds like we were most active in this, that being holy depends on what we do.  Yet it is talking more about what has happened to us, when God calls us to be His children, and cleanses us of all our sin in Baptism.

But it is that promise of God’s renewing, or better translated – renovating or transforming us into the image of Christ to which I would call your attention.  That transformation started in your baptism, as God cleansed you of every sin, and every bit of unrighteousness that was part of your life – even those sins you will commit next week, or the sins these kids will commit when they are their grandparents’ age!  That renovation, that transformation continues every time we hear God’s word, as the Holy Spirit uses it to cauterize our wounds, to heal our brokenness, to give us the strength to love God and love and serve others. It continues as we come, called to this altar to share in Christ’s body and blood, broken and spilled that we would know the depth of His love, as He gave up His life, to give us life.
To make us his co-heirs.

To bring us the promise of living eternally with our Father, the one who has made us his children.


1 Cor 2:9-0
John and Paul both tell us, that when we see Jesus return, then we will full grasp how much He has transformed us, when we see Him, we will fully know, even as we are known.  When we realize what God has done to purify us.  There is one verse I would leave you with, that will help you look forward to that day… even more.

2:9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

Know you are His beloved children.  And therefore know His peace.




About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on November 4, 2012, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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