Hello again, let's seek the Lord for our study time together....
"Father God in heaven above, today we will be reading in Your word about how You adopted us into Your family through the death of Your Son. My prayer is that as we read this today we will be blessed and we will feel closer to You as our Father. You are worthy of our praise and adoration.
I come before You to seek the forgiveness of sins so that I may hear from You. I pray that You will wash me clean, renew my heart, and purge my thoughts of sin. I pray that You will fill me with Your Holy Spirit to overflowing.
I lift up to you each woman reading this study today. I pray she will learn more about her adoption into Your family. I pray she will come to understand just how personal her relationship with You truly is and what you did for her. I pray that You will walk with her today and give her courage and strength as well as peace.
In Jesus' name...amen."
To Be Called Children of God
Now that we have spent a couple of lessons looking at what sin is, we will return to 1 John chapter 3 to begin our expositional study of this chapter.
1 John 3:1-3
"Behold what manner of love is this the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed,we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."
Our author, John the disciple, is now in his old age. He has lived through much and seen much, but now his duty is to write to the early church letters of encouragement. He chooses, in this chapter, to turn to the subject of the fatherhood of God.
I saw on the bookshelves at the library a book called, "The Bond". I read the book cover synopsis of the book and discovered that it is about 3 African American men raised without fathers. They formed a bond, a lifelong promise to each other to become doctors....successes....and not allow the legacy of father-lessness to continue. In the book, they discuss how their lives were greatly affected by not having a father around to teach them many things young men should know. But the book also interviews their fathers who reveal that they also did not have any relationship with their own fathers and how that affected their lives.
The topic of fathers is a very touchy one. I am often amazed at how many times, when reading autobiographies or biographies, I read about famous people not knowing their fathers and how destructive it is to their lives....and, consequentially, to our lives as well. For example:
Friedrich Nietzsche- German philosopher. Born in Prussia, his father, a Lutheran minister, died when Nietzsche was four and he was raised by his mother. He was convinced early in life that traditional morals and values represented what he called "slave morality" that created weak minds and resentful individuals who encouraged behaviors such as gentleness and kindness only to serve their interests. He denounced sin as nothing but a ruse to achieve a hold over people's souls and minds. Nietzsche calimed that new values could be formed to replace old value systems. He was the man to invent the term Ubermensch, or "superhuman race" that Hitler adopted as his own mantra for the Nazi Regime. (How Now Shall We Live?, 1999 pp. 11-12)
And we all know what happened as a result of that egregious philosophy.....
In the end, Nietzsche died in an insane asylum.
Would things have been different if the Lord had not taken Nietzsche's father when he such a young boy? Only God knows. But I think by looking at his life, we can see that this young boy lost some of his ideals when he lost his father. He lost his direction in life when he lost the only male influence in his life to direct him. For the rest of his life he seemed to be searching for something to fill his emptiness. Philosophy worked for a time, but not for long.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us....."
The translation of this verse is "Look at this!". In the original Greek this verse implies the author is saying, "Behold, what country or realm does such a love as this come?"
John is writing from a place of utter amazement that our Holy God would love us in such a way. It boggles the mind!
John is completely overwhelmed at the thought of being a member of God's own family. Now he wants us, his readers, to know and understand this same feeling.
Deut 4:37 & 7:7-8 & 10:15
God, the father of the Jews, claims that He chose them. He says that He will "uphold them with His righteous right hand" and He will "strengthen" them.
Now, we as Gentiles, are partakers in this bounty only because of the "righteous right hand" of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are no longer children of wrath, but children of God.
The idea of being adopted into this family of God through Christ is the strength and joy of every Christian. This adoption brings blessings to us because it affects our relationship with God. Our relationship now is personal.
If you look at the people of the world today, you can see how many of them are searching for fulfillment in their lives. They try to find that security that only comes from God. But they are searching for it in many other places.
God is our rock. He is our strength and our shield. It is He who does not change. That consistency is what gives us our security because everything around us is constantly changing. This lack of stability is what breeds fear among us. But when we have a set foundation....a set schedule.....a set of rules and morals that do not change, we find comfort there. We can say, "All things are crumbling, but at least I know God is still on His throne and will not be moved!"
Dr. R.C. Sproul tells a great story about the difference between an earthly father and our heavenly Father.
When his daughter, his firstborn, was about 2 years old, they lived in a small house while Dr. Sproul worked on his dissertation. One day, he was out mowing the lawn while his little girl pranced around on the porch. Every once in awhile she would jump off the porch and walk on the grass. Fearing for her safety, her father told her to stay on the porch. She would get back up on the porch only to jump off it again and again. Stopping the lawn mower, Dr. Sproul walked over to his little girl and told her that if she jumped off the porch one more time he would spank her.
Well, wouldn't you know it, as soon as her daddy went back to mowing the lawn, she jumped off the porch into the grass again.
So, he stopped the mower and walked over to her. Then he sat down and spanked her bottom. As he held his sobbing little girl in his arms, he said, "I told you that if you jumped off the porch again I would spank you. Now do you understand why I had to spank you?" With tears in her eyes and sniffles, his daughter nodded "yes".
Then she asked, "Daddy? What's a porch?"
And with that, the knife of guilt stabbed Dr. Sproul in the heart. He hadn't realized that she didn't comprehend what it was he was asking of her!
Contrast that to what our Lord does for us. Not only is His fatherly love perfect, but He does not give us anything that we cannot handle nor does he leave us work to do without enabling us to do it. But most of all, He makes sure we know what it is He is asking us to do. His word is perfect!
Earthly father's make mistakes. Earthly fathers leave us either by choice or by death. Earthly fathers abandon their children either physically or emotionally.
But our heavenly Father is eternal. When He adopted us, He entered into that New Covenant of Grace with us and claims us as His forever. He will never make a mistake, leave or abandon us.
And if we make a mistake and try to leave Him.....He searches for us:
These passages were written for God's people, but now they include us because we are now part of His family! All because of what Jesus did.
Jesus prays that God has loved us as much as He loved his only begotten Son! Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us!!
Praise Him today for being Your Father eternal.
I had a friend in high school whose parents were still married. I was jealous because my parents had divorced bitterly and my dad left without one word to me. I wished I had a mom and dad like hers at home to provide for me during these years. Her mom never worked outside the home. They had a lovely Christian home that they provided for their kids.
My dad had left us with a mount of debt so that my mom had to work two jobs to pay the bills. There was little food in the house and at times we didn't have enough money to get things fixed.
Our once crystal blue swimming pool turned green with algae when the pump broke. One summer our air conditioner broke and we couldn't get it fixed. That was one HOT summer! It was so hard for me to see my mom working and stealing sleep when she could. It broke my heart to see her cry so much, especially when she told me we would have to sell the house to pay off the remaining debt. It had become too much for her to handle.
During all this, I rarely heard from my father.
As you can imagine, I was bitter and resentful. But I was uable to express what I was feeling and the resentment built up inside me.
It took 11 years for me to finally forgive my father for what he did to my mom and me. But the Lord showed me that even though my earthly father failed, He was there all along protecting me and providing for me even when I made ghastly mistakes too. I could have fallen into drinking and drugs as my siblings had. But the Lord spared me. He brought me to a small church family that cared for me and taught me God's word.
Now that I have released my anger and resentment, I have a relationship with my earthly father that borders on amiable. But I can see that my mother has not forgiven my dad and that bitterness and resentment has taken its toll on her life. It saddens me.
The fact that Jesus prayed for me just amazes me to no end. That He said that God has loved us believers as He loved His Son should be cause for rejoicing among us!
I can go through life now just knowing that one fact alone. I have an eternal Father who will never hurt me or leave me or abandon me.....EVER!
And that is what makes life worth living. Poor Nietzsche, he died without having an earthly father or a heavenly Father. But now he knows the TRUTH: there is a God. And He is personal.
Until next time.....
"John is writing here as an elderly man who has been a believer for more than sixty years. Yet his heart is still filled with amazement at being born a son of God. He has never gotten over the initial sense of wonder at God's fatherly love. He is still asking the question, 'From what realm does this amazing love come that has broken in upon my soul and made me a child of God?' We must meditate on Scripture if we would have our hearts burn within us."
-Dr. Joel Beeke (The Epistles of John, 2006, pp. 112-113)