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Sermon #26 — 1st John Series
Text: 1 John 3:1
Subject: The Death of Christ for His People
Readings: Allen Kibby and Cody Henson
Tape# 1st John 26
We rejoice to know that “God is love!” Love is an attribute of his holy Being, without which he would not be God. We know that God is love because his love is revealed and made known by his deeds. Love is active. It is never dormant. Like fire, it must break out. It cannot be contained. It is known only when it is experienced, not by words, but by deeds. We know the love of God is that love that “passeth knowledge.” Yet, God’s love is revealed and made known by these six deeds of indescribable love.
Six Deeds of Love
1. The first act of God’s love was our election in Christ (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Election is not a hard doctrine. It is a delightful doctrine. Were it not for God’s electing love toward sinners, there would be no salvation (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). We would never have come to know and love Christ had he not first loved us (John 15:16; 1 John 4:19).
2. The second act of God’s love was our redemption by Christ (Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). — “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends!”
(Romans 5:6-8) “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
(1 John 3:16) “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.”
(1 John 4:9-10) “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.”
This was compassion like a God,
That when our Savior knew -
The price of pardon was His blood,
His love He ne’er withdrew!
Because he loved us, the Son of God assumed our nature, assumed our sin, assumed our guilt and died under the wrath of God as our Substitute, to put away our sins. — “The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me!”
3. The third act by which God reveals his love to sinners is his effectual saving grace (Jeremiah 31:3). Those whom the triune God loved, the Father chose to save. Those whom the Father chose to save, the Son redeemed. And those whom the Son redeemed, the Holy Spirit effectually calls by his irresistible grace to life and faith in Christ. — “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee” (Psalm 65:4).
4. The love of God is revealed fourthly in the absolute preservation of his elect in a state of grace (John 10:28; Romans 8:39). Can you imagine one who is loved of God falling from a state of grace, perishing and suffering the wrath of God forever in hell? Such a notion is worse than nonsense, it is utter blasphemy! The love of God is without cause, without beginning, without condition, without change, and without end. It is free. It is discriminating. It is indestructible. It is everlasting.
5. Fifthly, God’s love for his elect is seen in our Savior’s tender, providential care for us (John 11:35-36). Our God and Savior really is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. We really are the apple of his eye.
6. But there is one act of love that goes beyond election, redemption, effectual calling, preservation, and providential care. Great and marvelous as those things are, there is one act of God that goes beyond them all. If the climax of God’s love is our redemption by Christ, the apex of God’s love is our adoption into the family of God. That is my subject tonight — Adoption. Our text will be 1st John 3, verse1. Adoption — 1st John 3:1.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1)
By birth, we are all sons of Adam, fallen, depraved and spiritually dead (Romans 5:12). By our deeds, we show ourselves to be children of the devil, sinful, deceitful and wicked (John 8:44). By nature, we are all children of wrath (Ephesians 1:3), a people deserving the wrath of God, living under the sentence of death, living under a conscious sense of God’s just and holy anger. By grace, we who believe are the sons of God!
Sons we are through God’s election,
Who in Jesus Christ believe;
By eternal destination,
Sovereign grace we here receive!
Every fallen soul, by sinning,
Merits everlasting pain;
But Thy love, without beginning,
Has restored Thy sons again.
Pause, my soul, adore and wonder!
Ask, “Oh why such love to me?”
Grace hath put me in the number
Of the Savior’s family!
Election is the great fountain of grace. Redemption is the great mystery of grace. And adoption is the greatest privilege of grace. — “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!” This is the highest honor that any son of Adam could ever hope for. We are the sons of God. John Gill wrote…
“This is a privilege which exceeds all others. It is more to be a son than to be a saint. Angels are saints, but not sons; they are servants. It is more to be a child of God than to be redeemed, pardoned, and justified. It is a great grace to redeem from slavery, to pardon criminals, and to justify the ungodly. But it is another and higher act of grace to make them sons; and which makes them infinitely more honorable than to be the sons and daughters of the greatest potentate upon the earth; yea, gives them an honor which Adam had not in innocence, nor the angels in heaven, who though sons by creation, yet not by adoption.” John Gill
Let me try to answer four, maybe five questions about our adoption into the family of God, as it is revealed and taught in this Book.
1. Why has God
adopted us into his family?
No reason can be found in all the Bible for God’s adoption of sinners into his family except his own free love and sovereign will (Ephesians 1:4-5).
“3 ¶ Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Ephesians 1:3-5)
Adoption is experienced and known in time; but it began in eternity. We were not adopted into the family of God when he gave us his Spirit, but when he chose us and accepted us in the Beloved. He gives us his Spirit in regenerating grace, not to make us son of God, but because we are the sons of God (Galatians 4:1-7).
“1 ¶ Now I say, [That] the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:1-7)
The only distinction there is between the children of God and the children of wrath is the distinguishing love and grace of God (1 Corinthians 4:7); and this distinction was made by God in eternity.
2. By what power do
sinners become the sons of God?
Were it not for the perversions of religious tradition, this question would be redundant. Man, by nature, is enmity against God. He cannot become one of the sons of God because he so chooses. No preacher has any power to make men the sons of God. No church has power to make men the sons of God. We certainly cannot make ourselves children of God by works we perform or by the exercise of our wills (Romans 9:16). The only power that can translate a sinner from the family of nature into the family of grace (Jeremiah 3:19) is the power of God (John 1:12-13). Adoption is God’s work and God’s work alone. No child of Adam shall ever become a child of God, but by the choice, power, and grace of God.
3. What is the
method of God’s adoption?
We must never suggest, imply, or imagine that God must do anything, or that he must do anything in a specific way. God is totally free and sovereign. He can do whatever he is pleased to do. And he can do it however he is pleased to do it. However, God has revealed his method of grace in adoption in his Word. — “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Here John tells us three things about God’s method of grace in adoption.
First, the Lord God drops the life of grace into the soul (v. 13). Those adopted by grace in eternity are “born of God” at the appointed time of love. This work of grace, the new birth, is God’s work. This adoption of grace differs greatly from civil adoption. God gives his Son’s his name and his nature. This gracious gift of God is altogether the work of his free and sovereign grace in Christ. Grace does not run in any mere man’s family bloodline. It is not a family heirloom, passed from one generation to the next. It does not come through our parents’ “blood.” Grace does not come to sinners by the will of friends and relatives, “the will of the flesh,” no matter how sincere, earnest and zealous. Neither does the grace of God come to sinners by their own will, “the will of men, but of God.” Grace and salvation, all the blessings and privileges of adoption, come to chosen sinners according to God’s purpose of grace in predestination by his power.
Second, as soon as God drops life into the soul, the regenerate sinner receives Christ, believing on his name. To believe on his name, the name of “the Lord Jesus Christ,” is to receive him as Lord (Master), Redeemer and Savior. It is to bow to him as my rightful Sovereign and trust him for all righteousness, sanctification and redemption before God.
Third, as soon as a sinner trusts Christ, God gives him the right, the power, the authority, the privilege of being his child. This power, authority and right of sonship is the assurance of sonship conferred upon believing sinners by the Holy Spirit. That person who trusts Christ alone as Savior and Lord knows that he has the right in Christ to speak to God almighty as his heavenly Father. Adoption is given to faith and faith is the evidence of adoption (Hebrews 11:1).
4. Why are the children
of God so misunderstood
and misrepresented by the
people of this world?
If you are born of God, if you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, if you live in this world as a child of God, the men and women of the world will never be able to know you. You will be misunderstood and misrepresented. Your doctrine, your devotion to Christ, your desires to serve and honor him, are all things which mere worldlings find confusing. The reason for this misunderstanding is quite simple. — “Therefore, the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”
5. What are the
blessed privileges of adoption?
I have already told you that the greatest privilege of grace is adoption. Now, let me show you that that statement is true. Being the sons of God, ours is a blessedness beyond comparison.
1. We have an assured interest in God’s infinite, everlasting, covenant love (Romans 5:11; John 17:23-26).
(John 17:23-26) “23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
“24 ¶ Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
2. We have the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:6). God the Holy Spirit has been given to us, bequeathed and bestowed upon us by Christ our Lord. He has been given specifically to comfort us by teaching us the things of Christ, and as the pledge of our heavenly inheritance with Christ.
(Romans 8:14-16) “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 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. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
3. As the children of God, we have been brought into the discipline of our Father’s house (Hebrews 12:5-11). Our heavenly Father’s chastening rod is a blessing of grace by which he proves, strengthens and purifies our faith, and by which he graciously weans us from this world.
(Hebrews 12:5-11) “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
4. Being the children of God, we are assured of our ultimate, perfect conformity to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).
(Romans 8:28-30) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.”
“29 ¶ For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
(1 John 3:1-2) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
5. And our adoption into the family of God makes us the heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17).
(Romans 8:16-17) “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 ¶ 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 together.”
Our inheritance is an inheritance of grace, an inheritance of pure, free grace in Christ. We were predestinated to it (Ephesians 1:11). Christ has purchased it and claimed it for us (Ephesians 1:14; Hebrews 6:20). Grace has made us worthy of it (Colossians 3:12). It shall be glorious (Revelation 7:16-17).
(Revelation 7:16-17) “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
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