Preached at the San Diego Rescue Mission on Wednesday morning, October 11, 2017.
We love to look forward to stuff. We need something to look forward to. Some of us are looking forward to graduation. Some of us are looking forward to getting that job, or getting an apartment. We love to picture where we will be, and look forward to it. For the Christian, we are children of God. The child of God looks forward to the coming of Christ.
When I was a child, I loved baseball. I looked forward to the baseball season. I was a New York Mets fan. I would collect baseball cards, listen to sports radio, and talk about baseball with my friend, who was also a Mets fan. I would look forward to the coming baseball season, and would know all about the new team. I seemed to have hope every year that this would be the year they would put it together. They had great talent, and that must mean they had a great team. Then the year would happen, and the team wouldn’t do as well as I hoped. Next year it will be better. I would start looking forward to next year.
We do that. We get a new job, and we are all excited. Then when we get the job, it’s not as exciting as we thought. We start looking forward to the next job. We look forward to our next opportunity. We are always looking forward.
We look forward to life. But what we don’t look forward to, is hurt, and pain. What we don’t look forward to is death. We need something bigger, something more, a life that goes on forever. We need hope, and a future. We have that in Christ. The child of God looks forward to the coming of Christ.
We are in 1 John 2:28. John tells us about the hope children of God have in the coming Christ.
When you abide in Jesus, you can be confident at His coming.
First thing that John lets us know here is that when you abide in Jesus, you can be confident at His coming. When you abide in Jesus, you can be confident at His coming. John says,
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. 1 John 2:28-29
John urges us that we must remain in Him. Now, in the moment that we have, we must remain in Christ. All we have is the present moment. Whatever happened in the past, if we are a believer in Christ, that has been taken on the cross. He has taken on that penalty, and given us His life. Now, in every moment that we have, we must remain solidly and faithfully abiding in Christ.
Sometimes we get stuck in either the past, or the future. We look back at the past, and we think, “Man, I really messed up. I’m such a failure. I’m never going to get over that.” Or we get stuck on something that happened to us. It could have been six months ago, or six years ago. But we get stuck. We end up focusing on the past, and missing the moment that we are in.
Or we look to the future, and get anxious. “How am I going to get all of that done? I have to get a job, have to get an apartment, have to get a girlfriend… I’m never going to be able to do all of that!” We focus on things that we think are going to happen five years from now, or ten years from now. We get stuck fearing something, even though we don’t know if it will ever happen.
In all of that, we end up missing what is happening right now. What is in the past is in the past, and who know what the future will hold for us? All we have is the present moment. It is in the present moment that we live, so lets make the best of it. Let’s build relationships, let’s learn about God, let’s remain in Christ right now. In every moment that we have, “let us fix our eyes on Him, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Remain in Christ right now. Let every moment glorify Christ. We build a life that God wants us to live by letting Jesus’ light shine through us in every moment we have.
We want to live a life that is confident in His presence. Living a life where you are constantly ducking and hiding is hard. Living a lie is hard. When guys try to sneak around, and do things they aren’t supposed to, it gets complicated. They have to think of something convincing to say that will allow them to do what they want to do. They have to remember the lie they said last week, so they can try to be consistent. I knew a guy that had two cell phones, one for his girlfriend, and the other for the wife. He got away with it for awhile, but it eventually caught up with him. Trying to sneak around always lands us in more trouble.
Our Christian life should not be like that. We shouldn’t be sneaking around sinning, thinking that God isn’t looking right now. God knows our hearts better than we do. We need to live confident Christian lives, one where we can be bold in His presence, living a life that gives glory to God. If we let Christ’s light shine though us in every day that we have, we can be confident in Him, and in His presence.
John talks about “when He appears.” In one sense, we can have confidence in His presence every day, as we live our lives in the power of the Spirit of God. But there is also another truth that He has in mind. There is a certainty that the Bible teaches: Jesus is coming again! There is no “if he appears,” or, “maybe He’ll come back.” There is a certainty about His coming. “When He appears,” so be ready!
In John 14, Jesus’ disciples were getting anxious. Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, had been talking about departing. It didn’t make sense. They were struggling to understand what He was saying. He was talking about leaving, that one of them was a traitor, and that Peter would deny Him. They were worried. Jesus sought to comfort them. During the Passover, Jesus told them…
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (Jn. 14:1-3 NKJ)
He said to them, don’t be troubled. Have faith, believe in God. I am going to where my Father is, in His special dwelling place. I will be with Him, and will be preparing your place, a permanent dwelling place in the security and presence of God. There is an eternal place for believers in Christ, a created place for us.
Jesus is saying He is departing. What does He say next? “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” He is coming again, and when He does, He will receive us to Himself. We will be alongside Him. We will know Him as He is. He is coming again for His church.
In the history of the world, God has worked in particular ways. We live in an era of time known as the church era. The Messiah came and presented Himself to Israel. God took on flesh and walked among us in Jesus. He took on the cross, and resurrected from the dead. He was seen by numerous people, and then ascended into heaven. The angel said that the same way you have seen Him leave, He will return.
The church He predicted began, and has been growing to this day. The church is not buildings. It is all the true believers in Christ. We are the church. This era of time will close when Jesus returns. Everything that needed to happen during this time has happened. The gospel is being preached to the ends of the earth. Israel is a nation again. The world is in turmoil, and ready for the return of the King. The only thing holding His return is the timing of God. At God’s perfect time, Jesus will return, and receive us to Himself. John emphasizes in first John that He is coming again, and when He appears, we can have confidence if we are abiding in Him.
Jesus is righteous, so we must be righteous. Not that we have anything good in us. Our good deeds are a result of the change that He has made in our lives. I love because He first loved me. I forgive others, because Jesus forgave my sins. The Bible is clear that a changed life will turn into action. The work that God is doing in my life, I can’t help but tell you about it. I can’t help but show you, because He is filling me with so much love. There is a hope within me, because Christ has given me hope. We can know that we are born again by the work He is doing in us, and through us. When we see that change, we can be confident that we are abiding in Him, and are ready for His return.
When you abide in Jesus, you can be confident at His coming.
Children of God are purified in Christ.
The second thing John points out is that children of God are purified in Christ. Children of God are purified in Christ.
Behold what manner of love 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. 1 John 3:1-3
The love of God is an amazing thing. He does not look at our faults or our failures. He does not see the man who struggled in his life with addiction as a drunk or drug addict. He does not see the man who lived ten years on the street as a homeless man. He does not see His people through all the labels that we put on ourselves. We like to label ourselves, but He doesn’t see us through all those negative labels. When we put our faith in Christ, we get rid of the sinful man that disobeyed God, and in exchange we get the life that God wants us to live through Christ. We get His life. We become His children.
The shooting in Las Vegas was an awful event. There is one picture from that which stand out in my mind. There is a ton of carnage all around this couple. There are bodies laid all around. This man, which looks like the husband, lays his body on top of his wife, to shield her from the incoming bullets.
God did that for us. Sin was killing us. Death was approaching, to take us to a place of eternal separation from God, a place of torment. But Jesus covered us, and took on our bullets. He took on the death that was coming for us. Because He covered us, we can now live!
If anyone who has been married a long time will tell you, when you are married, you start to look alike. You love this person, and you start behaving in a similar way. You start to wear the same colors, become interested in the same food, listen to similar music, you talk alike, and walk alike. You become like each other.
Our walk with Jesus should be like that. We should spend so much time with Jesus, that we start to look like Him. We love like Him, we forgive like Him, we have faith like Him, we become righteous like Him. We are getting better because of what Christ has done for us. He is working in our lives, and we are seeing His righteous life starting to take shape in our life. We starting to look like Him now, but we are not perfect.
Listen to what John says: “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.” Jesus is coming again! And when we see Him, we shall truly understand ourselves. In that instant, your faithfulness to Christ, or lack of it, will be obvious.
If you are a believer in Christ, the Bible says that you are not the labels the world wants to put on you. If you are a believer in Christ, you are a child of God! When He returns, you will know who you are. He will not see you as the guy who messed up so many times, who stressed out his family for all those years, that was a failure according to the way the world thinks. If you are a believer in Christ, you are a child of God. When He returns, we will know ourselves, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
Being a child of God is real hope. We know that we are His children when we see His work in our lives. Faith becomes action. We start to see His love, and His forgiveness, coming out of us, because of the work that He is doing in us. We are no longer like people in this world, whose disobedience to God is creating all of this chaos and havoc around us. We are now children of God, and His life is starting to shine through us.
When He returns, our lives will be known. We will look like Him, because we are His children.