This Week’s Focus Passage: 1 John 3:1 ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.’
This Week’s Focus Passage: 1 John 3:1
‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.’
The entire pericope should be set before us here, in this week’s comments;
Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet manifested what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.—1 John 3:1-2.
Joel Beeke, president and professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, editor of Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, president of Inheritance Publishers, and vice-president of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society. His P.H.D. is in Reformation and Post-Reformation theology from Westminster Theological Seminary, in his commentary upon 1 John, has titled his chapter upon the third chapter of this first epistle of John, Our Glorious Adoption. Surely, and without question, the adoption of sons, which is not referenced under that title, is necessarily and unmistakably resident in the words of the apostle.
And, we believe that it must be stated, such a thought may have never invaded the minds of men, that is, that we should be called children of God. And, it may well be, that we would certainly never have possessed the boldness, to assert that any of us would ever be taught to understand, and such we are. But, the apostle John, here in this wonderfully grand epistle, has solemnly declared that very thing. We are, that is, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only Savior of Sinners, are indeed, by the grace of God, His precious children; His adoptive sons and daughters. Who would ever have imagined that such could ever be the case? And yet, John, in no uncertain terms, that such we are. Such simple words, such we are. Yet what amazing and profound realities are expressed in these three little words, such we are.
Actually, the entire concept that Jehovah God; God Almighty Himself, would deign to ‘adopt’ any from among mankind, is beyond the capacity of simple human minds to comprehend. We are compelled to run to the words of the psalmist in the eighth psalm, when he cried out, and we do definitely believe that he cried out with this ‘ultimate question, ’What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him? How is it that God would ever ‘adopt’ sons of men to be His own children? And yet, we learn, again and again, from the pages of the Word of God, that such has been His design from before the foundation of the world, Yea, He has told us, through Jeremiah the prophet, that He has loved us with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness he has drawn us to himself. It is only fair to aver that, likely, most prospective, adoptive parents enter into consideration of doing so, with some sort of plan to turn the children they may adopt, into their own, over time. Do we not read, in the writings of the apostle, Paul, that such is the design of our heavenly Father? Has He not inspired this apostle to the Gentiles, to write such a description, in the letter that he penned to the church in Rome? In the eighth chapter, in that famous pericope containing the exceptional language of verse twenty-eight, And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose; in the very next verse, we may read an expansion upon this truth, when the apostle adds, For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son. The design of our sovereign Father in heaven, is that we shall be conformed unto the image of his Son, or, in other words, that we might be conformed to the family appearance.
John, appears to underwrite, or support this very concept, when he goes on in his first epistle, following our focus verse, by adding, Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Paul has made reference to this designated adoption, in more than one place in his epistles. In Romans 8:14ff., he has informed his readers, hopefully, the children of God, that as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.
Does not the idea of the promises here extolled, strongly import that those adopted, being heirs, and joint-heirs; heirs of God (with Him; with Christ) that we are also, along with suffering with Him, and ultimately glorified with Him; that we are, in all these ways and manners, being conformed to His image? And, therefore, Paul continues, in verse 23, of this eighth chapter of Romans, to give us something of as advisory of things to come for the adopted ones, when he says, And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. In Galatians 4:1-7; bringing to us again this theme of son-ship through adoption, and reminding once and again of the reality that, as sons, we are heirs through God.
That this has been the design of our Father in heaven from ‘before the foundation of the world,’ is the emphasis addressed in the very beginning of his letter to ‘the saints that are at Ephesus.’ We may enjoy contemplating the end from the beginning, when we read these glorious truths regarding the design of our Father in heaven, for His children; the children of His love. The emphasis, in the portion of the Word of God, from Paul, is largely upon the common design of the children of God, that being conformed unto the image of His beloved Son, we shall echo, as it were, that commonality; that beautiful commonality, commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ, when He reminded us, as He prepared to part from His disciples, He wished to remind them, in John 15:12, This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. This love that binds together, in a loving commonality, is spoken of by the apostle in the Ephesians epistle, when he has written of His design for the eternal fellowship of His people, vss. 4-6, Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.—Ephesians 1:4-6/
Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
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