St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Marvel At Our Father’s Love

Sermon on 1 John 3:1,2

Text: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Have you ever had one of the “Wow!” moments, one of the moments where your jaw drops down? It may have been something that you saw, such as when you saw the mountains or the seashore for the first time. It may have been the first time you saw the face of your child or grandchild. Your “wow” moment may have been when you heard some music at a concert or on the stereo. Perhaps, you had one of these moments when you tasted something that was so wonderful, you just had to say “Wow!” We are thrilled to have these moments and they usually stay with us for some time. This morning, the apostle John has one of the “wow” moments and he wants to share it with us. We join with his as we MARVEL AT OUR FATHER’S LOVE. 1. He Calls Us His Children. 2. He Will Crown Us With Glory.

John talks about “great love.” Often, love that is shown is on the basis of something that attracts us to it. We saw that special someone in our lives and we are attracted to them. The more that we spent time with them, the more we loved them. Sometimes, love comes with conditions. We may love a particular food. However, there are times when we really don’t want to eat that food. We may not be in the mood for it at the time. We may not be feeling well. We love that food, if it is cooked exactly the way that we like it. This is the type of love that we normally think of, when we think of the word “love.”

The great love that John is speaking of is different. It is the “great love the Father has lavished on us.” This type of love is a sacrificial, no-holds-barred type of love. It is the type of love that will go any distance. It is the type of love that will pay any price. There are no boundaries. There are no conditions. There is nothing that attracts to it. It is a choosing type of love. This is the type of love that the Father has lavished on us. It is exactly the type of love that we needed shown to us.

The reason that we needed this type of love shown to us is the fact that there is absolutely nothing loveable about us. We are born the enemies of God. We know how often we have dared to offend our holy God with our thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes. At times, our love has been conditional. We only love those who are nice to us. If someone dares to cross us, we want to get back at them. We have unloving attitudes toward people for wrongs done in the past. We say things that tear others down, rather then building them up. We do this either to their faces or, more often, behind their backs. God tells us to love those around us. Yet, we know that we have done the exact opposite. We do not deserve to have God love us. Instead, we deserve to feel God’s anger for all eternity.

Yet, God chose to love us with sacrificial, no-holds-barred love. While he would have been just in punishing us for our sins, he chose to love us, instead. He was willing to do whatever it took so that our sins would be paid for. He sacrificed his Son for us. He gave his very best for us. Jesus came to the earth to do what we could not do. He lived a perfect life full of love for all, even for those who were tormenting him, even for those who were putting an innocent man to death. He blessed them rather than cursing them. That perfect life was sacrificed on the cross to pay the debt that we owed to God for our sins. He said, “It is finished,” announcing to the world that all was complete. His resurrection announced to all that sin, death, and the devil had been defeated once and for all. God chose to love us, the unlovable. He didn’t attach any conditions to his love for us. He didn’t say that we had to do this or that before he would love us. His love moved him to do all of this for us. This fact is summed up so beautifully in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God loved us so much that he did all of this for us. If this were the extent of God’s love, we would have every reason to be filled with joy. However, God didn’t just show us this love and, then, leave us to our own devices. John shows us how much God loved us: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” God loved you and me so much that he would call us his children. This is not just an honorary title. God has literally adopted us into his family, making us brothers and sisters of Jesus. We read in Galatians 3:26, “In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” Our baptism certificates are also our adoption papers. Just as when a child is adopted, they receive a new name, so you and I receive a new name, when we were brought to faith. We are called “child of God.”

Moreover, the fact that we are called children is not a patronizing term, making us feel like little babies. God calls us his children to make us feel loved, important, and special. God has lovingly obligated to do for us what all good fathers do for their children. He is there to provide what we need. He is there to protect us from harm. God guides us through his Word, showing us the right way to do things. As our Father, he provides us with a sense of worth and reminds us how precious we are to him. God is there for emergencies, bailing us out of trouble, once again. When we pray to him, we are not addressing some stranger. We have the privilege of coming to the almighty God, the one who tells us to address him as “Father.” You are a child of God with all of the wonderful privileges that go with it.

This is that “wow” moment for John. After he writes, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!,” he continues, “And that is what we are!” John can hardly believe that it is true. What a wonderful reassurance this is for us, as well. There will be times in our lives when it feels like everyone is against us. It may feel like everything in our lives is going wrong. How wonderful it is to be reassured of this fact. You are a dearly loved child of God. No matter how it looks, no matter how it feels, no matter how often we have strayed from him, he is still your Father and he loves you with an everlasting love. That fact makes us just say, “Wow!”

John builds on that fact in verse 2, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” We are children of God right now. Out of love and respect for our Father, we will want to avoid doing anything that would bring shame to our family name. We want to live in such a way that shows that we are proud of whom we have become by the grace of God. When we sin, we come to him, and ask for forgiveness, knowing that it is ours through the work of Jesus Christ. We resolve to do better in the future. Right now, we are the children of God.

John continues by looking to the future, “What we will be has not yet been made known.” We have all of these blessings here on the earth. What will our future blessings be like? We don’t know, exactly. It isn’t that God hasn’t told us about them. Rather, they are so far above our understanding that we can’t completely comprehend them. The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:9&10, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.” However, there are some things that we can know for sure.

The first thing is this, “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him.” We will be like Jesus in his resurrected body. This means that, first of all, death will no longer be a fact for us. We will never have to face death, again. Secondly, our bodies will never have to deal with the effects of sin being in the world. Right now we have those aches and pains. We suffer with illnesses of lesser and greater varieties. When we reach our Father’s home, we will be free from all of those things. Since we face these things almost every single day, in one form or another, it is almost beyond our comprehension what eternity will be like without them. When we think about that prospect, we have to say “Wow! I will never be in pain again. My body will be perfect.”

Secondly, John writes that, “We shall see him as he is.” By nature, mankind cannot be in the presence of God. Moses, who had opportunities to be with God over the course of his ministry was not allowed to see God face-to-face. Rather, we are told in the book of Exodus, that God hid him in the cleft of a rock as he passed by, allowing Moses only to see his back. Mankind, by nature, is terrified to be in the presence of God, because of their sins. After Jesus provided a miraculous catch of fish, Peter’s first response was “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Rather than rejoicing in what he had seen and experienced, his reaction was one of fear. When we get to this wonderful inheritance that our Father has waiting for us, we will not be terrified. We will not fear to gaze upon Jesus in all his glory because we will be changed. The sinful nature, the root of evil and sin, will be destroyed. The essence of our life in heaven will be one of righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Just as Jesus is holy and sinless, so will we be in heaven. We will finally be able to serve our God without the stain of sin. We will be perfect. That is a completely foreign concept for us now. Yet, that is exactly what we will be. How can we help but say, “Wow!”?

We have all had those moments that are truly life-changing, things that we will never forget. Yet, all of these incidents can never compare to that day when God, in his love, reached down and made us his children. Because of his love, our sins have been forgiven. Because of his love, we know that he is our Father and has obligated himself to take care of us. Because of his love, we know that we will be with him forever in heaven. My dear brothers and sisters, it is good for us to remind ourselves of what has happened to us. May it never be that we never take these facts for granted. As we marvel at God’s amazing love for us, may we always have the attitude of “WOW!” Amen.