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4501 Waller Rd E
Tacoma, Washington
INI
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
June 19, 2016
Ascension Lutheran Church, Tacoma WA
Paul Naumann, Pastor

"CHILD OF GOD" IS THE MOST REVEALING NAME OF ALL
I John 3:1-3

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. Today we will meditate on the First Epistle of John, chapter three, beginning with the third verse, as follows:

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. 2 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. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. So far the Holy Word.

In the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ, the Name which is above every name, Dear Fellow Redeemed,

English surnames can reveal a lot about a family's origin if you know a little about them. There are four basic types. There are patronymic surnames, like Thompson or Williamson ("son of Tom," "son of William"). There are occupational surnames, like Miller or Tanner, that tell the kind of work your ancestors were involved in. There are descriptive surnames, like Armstrong or Goodman, that describe a noteworthy characteristic of a particular ancestor. And finally there are geographic surnames, which tell where your ancestors came from, names like Kent, or York, or Carlisle. For a beginning genealogist, simply knowing someone's last name can reveal a lot about that person's origins.

What does your name reveal? Some names reveal a lot, some names have meanings that are lost in obscurity. But there's one name that belongs to you that is more revealing than any other. It's a name you share with every other true believer in Jesus Christ: "child of God." In our text for today, the Apostle John describes with wonder just how precious that name of yours is. So maybe your life's been a little humdrum lately. Perhaps you've been missing the fire and the vision a Christian life should have. Maybe you've been taking the name "child of God" a little bit for granted. Well, that's all about to change, because John tells us that, in the words of our theme:

"CHILD OF GOD" IS THE MOST REVEALING NAME OF ALL
I. It reveals how much our Father loves us.
II. It reveals how little the world knows us.
III. It reveals how great a glory awaits us.
IV. It reveals how pure a path He sets for us.

Scholars have often remarked how the apostle Paul in his letters seems to dwell on the doctrine of justification (how we're saved), while the apostle John particularly in his first epistle seems to dwell on sanctification, or purity in the Christian life. But these two are not mutually exclusive. In fact they're always found together - justifying faith is never without resulting good works and sanctification, while a pure sanctified life can never spring from any soil other than justifying faith in Christ. So we're not surprised when we find in our text for today the Apostle John describing a very close relationship between the faith that justifies and saves us on the one hand, and the sanctified Christian life we are to live on the other hand. In fact both those truths are encapsulated in the beautiful name our heavenly father has given us. For among the many names of this world, "CHILD OF GOD" IS THE MOST REVEALING NAME OF ALL, and the main thing it reveals is how much our Father loves us. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

In the word "behold" is a note of wonder and awe. As if John is saying, "if you want to see something truly amazing, just take a look at this!" What a profound, almost unknowable kind of love is revealed by this precious name that our heavenly father has given to us, "child of God." Martin Luther said, "to understand this verse correctly is to sink down in adoration before it. It is beyond all comprehension."

What's so amazing about it? The world doesn't think it's amazing. Not long ago I heard a U.S. senator say in a TV interview, "we are all the children of God," every human being. But that's not true. In fact, it'd be more accurate to say "we are none of us children of God," at least not by nature! Because ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all human beings are born sinful and corrupt. By nature they are the children of Satan, not of God. And such were you and I, my friends, before the Lord worked saving faith in our hearts. In chapter 1 of his gospel, John tells us who the real children of God are: "But as many as received him -Jesus Christ - to them he gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in his name."-- Jn 1:12.

You were born again and became a new creature. Through the power of the Holy Spirit working in your heart, you were given a new life and a new name to go with that life: CHILD OF GOD. When exactly did that happen, by the way? When did God "bestow" upon you this amazing name of love? That word is in the Greek perfect tense, which is like a point with an arrow attached to it. It indicates a specific event that happened at a certain point in your past but which has ongoing results that abide to the present day and beyond. What was that miraculous event in your life? Well, it was the same miracle that happened for David and Allen Day a few moments ago at our font - it was your baptism. Paul says to the believers, For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:26-27. On the day of your baptism you became a child of God. You joined the company of the saints, those saved believers from the beginning of time till now who have called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second reason that "CHILD OF GOD" IS THE MOST REVEALING NAME OF ALL is because it reveals how little the world knows us. John says, Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Unbelievers just don't get Christians, have you ever noticed that? No one who isn't a Christian himself can truly understand what a Christian is. On the outside we look the same as them, so they assume that there's no essential difference between them and us. Other than our silly superstition, they think, we're just the same. Nothing could be further from the truth - Scripture says we're not like them at all! Paul says in Second Corinthians, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new."-- 5:15. Yes, on the outside we look the same. John says it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But inside we're different. We are children of God, reborn through faith in Christ. That's a radical change! In calling us his children God has separated us out of the world. The world didn't understand Jesus, and it doesn't understand us. Jesus told His disciples, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:19. We shouldn't expect the world to understand us or love us. We're God's children, we're these new creatures. We're as different from them as if we were born in another world, which in a sense we were!

One thing's for sure - we're certainly destined for another world. "CHILD OF GOD" IS THE MOST REVEALING NAME OF ALL, thirdly, since it reveals how great a glory awaits us. 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.

In 1987 the largest diamond in the world was discovered in the Premier mine in Pretoria South Africa. The Golden Jubilee weighs 545 carats and is worth an estimated 12 million dollars. What's interesting is that it's great value was not immediately recognized. Before it was cut and polished, it simply looked like a big brown rock, rather dull and ordinary. In fact, it didn't get its name Golden Jubilee until after it was cut. Before that, it was simply called "unknown brown." My Christian friends, to the world you may look like unknown brown, and they may even call you unknown brown. But that's not what you really are, for God has given you a different name much better even than "Golden Jubilee." The name he has given you is child of God. John says "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."

What a great future glory is hidden now inside our drab, human flesh! One writer put it this way, "Not yet has God made a public display of the glory that belongs to his children, the inheritance incorruptible, unstained, on fading, reserved for us in heaven. Not yet do we wear the white robes and, not yet does the crown of glory sparkle on our brow. These jewels are invisible to the physical eyes." But the day is coming when those jewels will be revealed, and the glory of God's children will be clear for all to see.

What kind of glory will the children of God have in heaven? We don't know everything about heaven, but John gives us clues to what that glory will be like. He says, we shall be like Him, like Jesus. We will have a glorified body like His. We will be righteous and holy, like Him, no longer burdened with our stubborn sinful flesh. And, perhaps best of all, we shall see Him as He is. We've all seen many artists impressions of what Jesus may have looked like, but that's merely speculation. The day is coming however when all the speculation will end, and the redeemed children of God will meet their beloved Savior Jesus face-to-face. We'll finally see what He looks like, yes, but more than that we will know and understand Him just as He has always known and understood us. For, Paul says, now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12.

"CHILD OF GOD" IS THE MOST REVEALING NAME OF ALL, finally, because it reveals how pure a path God sets for us. In verse three John says, And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

There is an unbreakable bond between our faith - our hope of everlasting life - and purity of living. Christians are called to purity. But it's really more than that - Christians are created for purity, it's part of our very nature as CHILDREN OF GOD. One writer put it in blunt terms: "You can educate a pig to stay out of the mud and eat differently, but on a hot day with fellow pigs he will resort to his normal nature and dive happily into the mud. If you could give him a new nature, say, the nature of a cat, then when the test of a hot day and welcome mud came, he would not be happy in the mudhole even if his friends urged him to join them again, for he has a new nature, new desires. He does not think he is better than them, he just does not enjoy those things anymore." Likewise, our Lord has given us a new nature, and a new name to go along with it, the name CHILD OF GOD. We can no longer wallow with others in the filth and corruption of this present evil world. For our Lord has laid a path of purity before us, and has bid us walk on it. Yes, our sinful flesh still clings to us, and sadly we often find the mud of this world sticking to us as well because of our own sinfulness and weakness. But we daily bring those sins to Jesus, and seek cleansing in His blood. And as often as we come He pardons us, and gives us His Holy Spirit so that we can overcome the world. So that we can continue to purify ourselves, as is fitting for God's children on our walk toward heaven. Paul says, Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Years ago our family lived near the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian reservations in southern South Dakota. There was much about Native American culture I didn't understand, and don't to this day. But I do remember being impressed by the beautiful and expressive Lakota names. Names like Good Crow, Iron Cloud, Has No Horse and White Lance. There was a girl on the high school basketball team whose last name was Whirlwind Soldier. How expressive and revealing those names were! But the name your heavenly Father has given you is even more beautiful and more revealing than that. For He calls you A CHILD OF GOD! On this day we rejoice in that blessed name of ours, for this name reveals it all. It reveals how much our father loves us, how little the world knows us, how great a glory awaits us, and how pure a path he sets for us in this life. May God grant each of us the grace to live up to the high calling of that precious name, CHILD OF GOD. Amen.