When one begins to contemplate the many blessings bestowed upon himself throughout one day, he should be both mesmerized by the enormity of these gifts and humbled by their presence in his life. When one further contemplates the Creator of all the universe caring for him, it truly brings a sense of awe. As the Psalmist wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). No truer question could have ever been asked than, Who am I to receive such wonderful blessings?
It is this sense of awe that prompts within us our humility. We are humbled because we understand our weaknesses and failure to maintain faithfulness to God. We freely confess that we have fallen short and deserve nothing, but even then God continues to love, forgive, and reunite our lives with His will. We are humbled by the empirical evidence that manifest God’s love, one that is greater than any we should ever deserve. Our very being both spiritually and physically is sustained by our Father who reigns in heaven – Who am I to ever be called one of His children?
It is with this foundation of awe and humility, we want to examine these words of the apostle John – “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1). It is this love of God manifested in our lives that has forever changed not only our course on earth but our eternal destinies. We are no longer just average men but are children of God. Do we honor God by humbly thanking Him for this awesome gift? Do we contemplate what it means to be called a child of God and the rich blessings we obtain through this new relationship? Our task is to evaluate the text of John’s first epistle and to think about the rich blessings we are given through God’s wondrous love.
The first blessing of being a child of God is sharing in fellowship with the Father and Son (1 John 1:7). When we put on Christ in baptism, our motivation in life has changed from selfish interest to selfless concern. Our love and the pursuit of worldly things is redesigned to now love the Father and carry out His will (1 John 2:15-17). We have been called to walk in a manner as He walked (1 John 2:6). Our lives become a manifestation of this change, when others no longer see vain pursuits but a life given to righteousness (1 John 2:29). This change originates and continues daily because of the fellowship we share with the Father and Son.
The second blessing of being a child of God is the forgiveness of sins. Our God’s love is incomprehensible! As Paul said, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). While man struggles to forgive his debtors and to love his enemies, our God loved us while we were yet sinners and completely unlovable. This is only possible because our God is love and because in His love lies the gift of forgiveness (1 John 4:8). While God does expect us to live differently after salvation, He also continues to forgive those who confess and repent of their sins. John said, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). There is no excuse for a Christian to live with sin for John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Therefore, we must live in such a way to confess our faults and ask for God’s forgiveness.
A third blessing of being a child of God is the hope and assurance of a better life coming. John spoke of eternal life in both the immediate sense and future sense in his short epistle. John wrote in the immediate sense to encourage those Christians who were having to endure both physical persecutions and the false teaching of their day to remain faithful (1 John 2:26; 4:1-6). This purpose was further explained by John when he wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Building upon this foundation, John moved from their immediate situation by exhorting them to live with full assurance of eternal life in the future sense. As he wrote, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). John encouraged the faithful to carry on by reminding them of their future glory and home in heaven with the Father and Son.
While this list was never meant to be exhaustive, it does gives us three key blessings that transcend the centuries by continuing to encourage us in our faithfulness to God. What a tremendous thought that we will all share in the same result as our brethren of the 1st century if we remain faithful to God? Will you be found walking in the light or will you forfeit God’s richest blessings for a momentary pleasure of sin? We have been called to not walk like mere men but rather to walk on a higher plane with a new purpose. We are encouraged by John to walk in love, truth, knowledge, forgiveness, light, etc., because these are the traits manifested in our Father. May our lives continually be in awe of God’s surpassing love and humbled by His wondrous forgiveness so that we remain to be called – Children of God!
By Colby Junkin