Friendship with our Heavenly Father: 1 John 2:28-3:3

Good morning church! Hope everyone’s doing good this morning. Just wanted to welcome our friends who have joined us online via Zoom & Facebook Live & our friends who are at the church hall this morning. We pray that the service this morning encourages your heart to move toward God.

As a church we’ve been going through a series titled “Faith-filled Friendship” from the letters of 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. So far we’ve explored quite a bit on what does Friendship with God actually look like. This morning we find ourselves in 1 John 2:28-3:3 where we will try to unpack what does it mean for us to not only be friends with God but also relate with Him as our Father. Brother Saju covered a very similar topic a few weeks back so I’ll be building upon what brother Saju shared with us. Let’s look to God in prayer.

To start with I’ll piggyback on one of the themes that brother Saju asked us a few weeks back. When you and I think of God as Father, what are some thoughts that come to your mind? Do you think about God being distant and absent most of the time? Do you think God have an angry & condescending face toward you? Or do you see think about God as someone who spoils you? Many times these ideas about God come from our broken experiences with our own parents or in our own parenting.

And yet having a right perspective of God being our Father is so essential.

What if I told you that your response to temptations, fears, anxieties & pressures of life today are closely connected to what you think about God & what you think about yourself?

And I’m not referring to our Sunday declarations where we’ll sing that “God is our good Father & we are children of God”. I’m referring to our street level daily lives where we are either living as orphans or as children of God & that has a massive impact on our lives. Therefore, it’s not a small matter. We need to know what it means for us to be children of God. 3 main points from the passage:

1. We’ve been given a new NAME

By new NAME I’m not suggesting that we need to change our names, but rather to remind us that we’ve been given a new identity, a new position in the family of God. We are no longer orphans.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1

3 things about our new Name:

  • Undeserved Name – “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God”

As believers one of the things that we need to frequently remember is that becoming a child of God is an undeserving gift – it’s not something we could have earned or achieved. It’s not due to our popularity or talent or family background or potential or good looks which made God adopt us. In fact, we have more reason as to why “we don’t qualify & are absolutely unfit to be His children”.  

Ephesians 2:1-3 plainly states: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Imagine going to the most dangerous jail cell in the world where it holds criminals who have committed the most heinous of crimes and then deciding to adopt them as your family members. Most people will say that is not a good idea & yet isn’t it amazing that God in His love chose to adopt those who were once “children of wrath”. It’s an absolutely undeserving gift.  

  • Costly Name –“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God”

I love the expression of great love being “given” to us so that we can become children of God. When these bible passages are talking about love, it’s not talking about worldly love which is self-centered; where we love someone because they love us back. Biblical love is sacrificial – it’s loving someone even when the other person is not in a position to love back – it’s unconditional. And this kind unconditional love gift came at the expense of Jesus’ own life.

For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Jesus was the only man who lived a perfect life in the sight of God and then He took the punishment was meant for the “children of wrath”. He bore our sin & shame and died in our place. Three days later he rose from the dead so that whoever turns away from their life of sin & trusts in Jesus and what He did for us, they will become children of God.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

John 1:12

It’s a costly Name! The price penalty to buy this new Name came at the highest cost of Jesus’ blood.

  • Intimate Name – The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1b)

In this verse, John is telling us that the hostile, opposing response that an unbelieving world has toward God will now be directed toward us as His children.

Although this is a sad reality, but I also want to say that it tells us that our identity is so intimately tied to God’s identity in Christ, that the world responds to us in the same way as it does to the Father. In Acts 9, when Saul as an unbeliever was on an aggressive violent mission to drag Christian believers from Damascus and bring them back captive to Jerusalem, his life had a 180 degree turn when He encountered Jesus.

I find it so interesting that Jesus asks him “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Jesus didn’t say why are you persecuting the believers or why are you going after the church? No, it was a direct attack on Jesus himself & He needed to intervene. Isn’t it amazing that we as believers have the same privilege? Our name is intimately tied to God’s name.

When I was in college, I volunteered at the VISA Home for 3-4 months. Some of you know that VISA is an orphanage started by a believer called John Abraham (not the actor). During those months, I received insight into their ministry up and close.  

Once I remember, one of the kids received a note from the school. I glanced over and saw that it was addressed to the child and I was amazed that the surname of the child stated “John Abraham”. At that point I realized what a big deal that was. These were children whom he met at Railway Stations in Mumbai. When he met them, they didn’t have a home, they didn’t have a loving family, no safety, no food and no education. He brought them home & then adopted them as his own giving them his own name. Whatever the child did from that point on – good or bad, he was taking the responsibility on himself by becoming their father.

For me that was such a beautiful picture of the gospel right there. When we were lost as orphans with no spiritual protection, impoverished & dying, dirty in our spiritual mess, God reached out to us through Jesus Christ, picked us up and made us his children by giving us a NEW NAME. The day we put our faith in Jesus, he declared “You’re no longer an orphan; You’re mine”.

And one of the struggles that many of us go through in some form or the other is the craving for the approval & validation of others. It could be our parent’s approval, or it could be the approval of our spouse, it could be the approval of our boss or teachers, or the approval of our pastors, or it could be the approval of friends.

We know it’s a problem when our security and joy is dependent on the appreciation or criticism of others. And the gospel frees us by telling us that we’ve received a NEW NAME.

The gospel gives us the security telling us that we are fully and completely accepted and approved in Jesus. The one whose opinion truly matters (God) has given His approval.

2. We’ve been given a new LIFESTYLE

29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:29)

What John is telling us is that if we truly have become children of Holy God, then holiness would become part of our DNA. Why? Because God’s Spirit in us produces a heart that desires holy living.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet 1:14-16)

And as I was reading through this and evaluated my heart, I realized that when I think about “holiness” or “set apart”, I can be selective about the areas of holiness in my life. But that’s not how God sees it. The passage from 1 Peter says “be holy in all your conduct”. Therefore, setting apart of our lives is all-encompassing.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1)

But does practicing righteousness and holiness mean sinless perfection? No, it means that if we are children of God, we can’t be okay if our relationship is not right with God.  Life is not okay for us if we are not experiencing joyful fellowship with the Father. Remaining in unconfessed sin isn’t a trivial thing for us that can be overlooked.

Just take a look at how the Psalmist describes his life when he was in sin:

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away

    through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;

    my strength was dried up[b] as by the heat of summer.

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,

    and I did not cover my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”

    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:3-5)

It’s miserable to be in sin but the true believer longs to confess and be right with God. If the relationship with God is real and genuine, then someway or the other repentance will be sought because the relationship matters.

Let’s take a moment to pause for a minute – If you had to think through what are some places where you see selective holiness in your life right now? Or selective unholiness? What would true repentance look like for you?

3. We’ve been given a new HOPE

2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

As children of God, we are in a WIP mode (Work In Progress) – the end goal is to become fully like Jesus. But let me clarify that being like Jesus does not mean being identical to Jesus. Jesus is 100% God and 100% man so we can never be Jesus identically. But being like Jesus means that when He returns our perfected humanity will match his.

Brothers and sisters, being made like Jesus is a wonderful thing – because that will fully be reversing the effects of the Fall. When Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, their physical and spiritual lives got corrupted with sin.

Aging bodies, sicknesses & diseases, physical death & spiritual brokenness are all the disastrous results of the Fall. But here’s the amazing thing – through Jesus all the broken effects of the Fall are being reversed. Which means that our perfected body which we will receive when Christ returns won’t age, won’t experience sickness, won’t experience death & decay and moreover will be fully cleansed from the presence of sin!

And that’s the hope for us brothers and sisters – maybe right now is a season when you’re experiencing the frailty and weakness of the physical body, you need to know that the finished product when Christ comes again will be totally free of that.

Maybe right now you’re in a season where you’re despondent over your patterns of sin, you need to know that the finished product when Christ comes again will be pure and perfect without an iota of sin. Without knowing and believing this truth, our lives will be hopeless and purposeless especially when we see the brokenness of our current lives.

This past week I heard a story of a woman went to the silversmith. Not sure if it’s a true story but I thought the illustration made a lot of sense. The silversmith held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’ He smiled at her and answered, ‘Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.’    

Similarly, God is so serious about His commitment in this relationship as a Father that He won’t stop until Jesus Christ is fully seen & made in us. He gives us a New Name, He gives us a Brand New Lifestyle and He gives us a New Hope.

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