Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1st John Chapter 3 Part 1

3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
John had just finished explaining that those who habitually practice righteousness are indeed born of God; this leads the apostle to the exclamation that begins with “behold.” This word was meant to capture the attention of the reader, so let us not just slip by it as we progress through the epistle.

The Greek word for “behold” in this instance is “eido” and essentially means “see, look or be aware.” John wants to draw out attention to the amazing reality that we should be called God’s children. The Psalmist had this same sense of wonder when he wrote: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Psalm 8:4.

It is God’s quality of love that John lauds in this amazing adoption as children of God. What manner of love is this that takes an avowed enemy of the King, washes him in the blood of His dear Son and clothes Him with a righteousness that demonstrates God’s acceptance of him? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. It is nothing mankind has done to merit this incredible gift; it is all because of God’s gracious, merciful, loving character. God chose to act and redeem our fallen race. Scripture is clear that unless God had acted mankind would be doomed, since our Creator owed His rebellious creatures nothing, Romans 9:15-16.

We have been bestowed with this adoption as children. It is something God has given us. To bestow something indicates an act of giving. No work, effort, merit, or barter was needed or even could be offered. Scripture clearly defines salvation (our adoption as children of God) as a gift of God, Romans 5:15; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8. It demonstrates God’s capacity and willingness to save and our inability. Any system of works that attempts to teach that one merits God’s grace, forgiveness and salvation run contrary and are utterly opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. One cannot earn what God freely offers; nor can anyone hope to pay the infinite price God’s Son did on the cross when He took our sin upon Himself to pay its penalty on our behalf. Jesus procured the salvation of all and the Father dispenses that salvation only through His Son, and only through faith in Him that Jesus may receive the glory and we may find the rest our Lord offers to all who are willing to “come unto Him, “Matthew 11:28-29; John 6:37.

I once heard a teacher tell me “when you see ‘therefore’ see what it’s there for.” Paul uses the word many times in his writing to stress successive points. John leads with “therefore” to teach us that the world (the world system from which the saints have been called out from) knows us not, just as it did not know Christ. Twice Jesus affirms, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world,” John 17:14, 16. Jesus was speaking regarding His apostles, and by implication all Christians thereafter, John 17:20. Paul writes that he was separated to the gospel of God, Romans 1:1. He was separated or set apart, but from what? The world, along with its endeavors and ambitions. Paul boasted once in the external, worldly things that would do well to promote him among his contemporaries, Philippians 3:5-6. But he disregarded such pride and ambition and counted it rubbish, verses 7-8.

Again, John says the world does not know us due to our heavenly rebirth as children of God. The world did not know Jesus. In plainer terms, it also did not understand Him. Today many of those who claim to be His still don’t understand Him. I would wager that it is a safe assumption to state that Jesus is the most misunderstood historical figure of all time. Why? He did not operate the way the world does, John 7:7; 15:18-19. God’s mind and will are contrary to human thought and actions, Psalm 50:21; Isaiah 55:8-9; 1st Corinthians 2:14. Since Jesus is God, His thoughts, words and deeds provoked serious misunderstanding, jealousy, contention and hatred, despite the morally and ethically sterling character He possessed. His own people, the Jews, who had been prepared for centuries to receive Him, rejected Him, John 1:11. At length they killed Him, John 19:6-7.

Christians truly living for God had principles radically different from the world. Our hearts and minds should be so altered as to create the appearance of a different person with new interests and goals, goals aligned with God’s kingdom and glory and the diffusion of Christ’s gospel to the unsaved. What the Holy Spirit begins within should manifest without. Our conduct is changed by a renewal of life within; this occurs when we are reborn through faith in Jesus. Paul was an excellent example of a Christian given over entirely to Jesus and His gospel, with the resulting hatred emanating from the world. He exhorted Christians to live likewise: “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you,” 1st Timothy 4:15-16.

Christianity was not simply a manifest religion of Jesus’ day. It was not a cultural phenomenon spawned by the ignorance of first century understanding. Anyone who reads the New Testament will quickly and clearly see (if they are willing to admit) that the gospel of Jesus Christ ran totally contrary to the times; as it has through the centuries, and as it still does today. This going against the grain, whatever grain is en vogue in our day, is further proof that the gospel and the Bible are not cultural relics irrelevant in our time: it is eternal truth that is constantly resisted by the spirit of this world. The remedy? To be born again, to be born from above by faith in the Son of God.

No comments:

Post a Comment

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

My wife and I welcome comments to our Blog. We believe that everyone deserves to voice their insight or opinion on a topic. Vulgar commentary will not be posted.

Thank you and God bless!

Joshua 24:15

All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.