Friday, March 29, 2024

The Vision: A New Status in Christ (3.29.24)


Image: North Garden, Virginia, March 2024

Note: Devotion take from last Sunday's sermon on 1 John 3:1-6.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God (1 John 3:1a).

John begins with an exclamation, “Behold,” that holds Biblical overtones. “Behold” is what men say in the Bible when they meet angels and encounter wonders. John utters this word as he thinks about his own salvation and that of others, with wonder and awe.

Notice three things stressed here: (1) The Actor, (2) the Action, and (3) the Recipients of the Action.

The Actor is God the Father. A former Muslim now a Christian pastor in London, Ibrahim Ag Mohamed, notes that in Islam “you can know Allah’s law and will, but never his person or his character or his heart. He is a ruler not a friend” (God’s Love for Muslims, 21). Allah has slaves, but not sons.

For Christians, however, God is our heavenly Father. Christ taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Paul wrote to believers in Rome reminding them that they had been adopted by God the Father and so might address him in most intimate terms, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

The Action is the bestowal of God’s love (agape), divine affection, upon sinful men. One of the best known verses in the Bible declares, “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). The apostle John makes a similar point in 1 John 4:16, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

The Recipients are “us” (believers). John here places himself alongside all the ordinary and nameless individuals to whom he writes. The bestowal of God’s saving love is not aimless and directionless. It is not like an airplane that soars overhead and drops leaflets indiscriminately on all who are below. It is more like a letter that is purposely directed to a particular recipient, whose name is written down as the one addressed by the Father. In Ephesians 1:4 Paul says God, “hath chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world.”

When we become believers through spiritual adoption our status is changed. God’s love is bestowed upon us. We are given “power to become Sons of God” through belief in Christ’s name (John 1:12-13). We become part of the family of God. We become children of God, and we become citizens of the heavenly kingdom. This change in status was not given to us by any merit in us, and it will never be revoked.

Like, John, we too can thus stand in awe, uttering, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called Sons of God.”

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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