These studies look at the overwhelming goodness of the Triune God. Depicted by Andrei Rublev's icon of The Holy Trinity.
 

1 John 3:1-3

1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

In the immediately preceding paragraph, John encourages his readers, whom he calls "little children" to abide in Jesus so that when he appears "we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming." He goes on to say that as we know Jesus is righteous we can know that whoever "does right is born of him." As I said in the last study, John is saying that the way to not be ashamed when Jesus returns is to remain in Him, draw your life from Him, wait on Him, turn your life moment by moment over to Him. In other words, live as if He is your source of life and identity and you will grow in your confidence that this is indeed the case. This doing right that he mentions in the next sentence must refer again to this abiding in Jesus. Our actions should come out of our abiding in, resting in, and counting on Him to be present and active in our lives. We can only "do right" as we act out of a counting on Him as the righteous One.

Now John develops these thoughts about abiding and waiting for His appearing in these next three verses. He begins by exclaiming that they "see" or "behold", which means consider, dwell on, direct your attention to, this fact about the love God has for us. Isn't it amazing John says, that we are called the children of God. God looks at us and He calls us His daughters and sons. And he goes on to say, this is not just a label, we really are the children of God. This indeed is a truth that we need to see, focus on. It is so easy to slip right by this and on to the next point. We belong to God as His children, not just as His creation. To be His children means to be born of Him, to be of His "flesh and bones" so to speak, to truly belong, to be welcome as one who really is part of the family. God is not ashamed to call me daughter, to identify me as one who truly belongs to Him. Can we let this truth sink into our minds and hearts?

The intimacy of this truth is staggering. We all have different experiences of being the children of our earthly parents. For some of us, it was not easy growing up to sense being cherished and welcomed over and over by our parents. But what John is saying here is that our earthly experience is not as deep as the truth that we are truly children of God. We have come home, to our real home in God, the home we were always meant to one day know and enjoy. God heals our past as He not only says we are His children, but makes us truly His children in His son Jesus.

This truth is not easy to hold onto and John goes on to deal with this fact. There are so many competing voices in the world, ready to tell you who you are, as we have discussed before. The world will not treat you as one who is already a daughter or son of our heavenly Father. The world will not confirm the goodness of who you are or be able to already knowing who you are. The media in fact wants you to constantly question who you are and to be discontent with yourself--that is how they hope to sell you their products.

John knows that his readers are facing hostility rather than confirmation of the truth. He assures them that the reason the world cannot see and acknowledge the truth is because the world did not recognize Jesus. In our fallen world, there is grasping for power and influence over one another because human beings are seeking to know themselves as worthy of respect, admiration of, and attention from others. They themselves try to give themselves life. When Jesus came, He came already knowing who He was as the Son of the Father. He lived here, as He did and now does in Heaven, receiving moment by moment His life and identity from the Father. This made no sense to the fallen world. They tried to tell Jesus who He was and to manipulate Him to be what they wanted him to be for their own ends. We deal with these same pressures since the world is still so distorted.

Now I love this next verse [number 2] John knows that his readers are looking at their lives and thinking "But it is not obvious even to me that I am God's child." The world does not recognize my true identity, but I am not sure that I see evidence of it either! So he assures them that they are God's children now, but that this truth is not completely manifest yet. We don't reject the truth of who we are just because we cannot see it completely in our lives here and now. John says we are becoming, and we cannot yet see the end result. But we can know that when Jesus, the Son appears, we shall be like Him, we shall be inside and out, the children of God. And we will know we are like Him because we will be able to see Jesus as He is. You cannot really see someone else's heart if you have no sympathy for them. To be like Jesus is to be His sister or brother, to enjoy, appreciate, know His heart. I am becoming one who will be able to have true intimate fellowship with the triune God who made me and now is transforming me into a daughter who belongs with and to Him.

John's last point in this section is that "every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure." As I hope in Jesus to make me like Him, and therefore more truly the person I was created to be, I become more pure as He is pure. Jesus is pure--the same inside and out. There is no darkness or deceit in Him, as John stated in the first chapter. I am still broken, there are still parts of my life that are muddy. I do not act out of a whole heart. I am so grateful that the triune God can be completely trusted to be the light that He is. But to think that He is making me the same is truly wonderful. God's deepest desire is to separate us completely from the sin that distorts and destroys, to make us His children all the way down to our toes. And this is not just a potential John says. God has made us His children truly, really in Christ. We are now His daughters and sons, and while it is sometimes painfully obvious to us that we are still not living in that truth completely, we can set our hope in His completion of this work He has started in us. John wants to remind His readers of this awesome truth to encourage them to abide, live, obey out of hope in the greater work of God in our lives and in the lives of others.

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