From looking at an acorn would you ever imagine the existence of a great oak tree? It doesn't yet appear what it will be. From looking at a scrawny, awkward, fuzzy eaglet, could you imagine that one day it will soar with tireless wings upon the air that it will defy the hurricane and scream at the clouds? No, it doth not yet appear what it shall be.
From looking at a crawling, earthbound caterpillar, can you prophesy that someday it will lift itself from the dust upon wings of beauty multicolored and make its home among the flowers? No, it doth not yet appear what it shall be. Have you ever looked around at your life and hoped for something more? Maybe a little less pain and sorrow. Maybe less conflict and turmoil.
Maybe less sin and more holiness. When you're in a situation where all you have left is hope, that hope drowns out your trivial thoughts and focuses on what really matters most. The Apostle John wrote these words, Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. The promise in that statement is that there's something more for us, something worth hoping for.
Here's Stephen with a message called Beyond Imagination. His Italian mother named him after Mark, the Gospel writer, in hopes that he would tell the Gospel truth. When Mark, or Marco in Italian, was only 17 years of age, he began an epic journey with his merchant uncle and father that would take about 25 years. In the mid-13th century, the men would eventually travel through nations and countries like Russia, Afghanistan, Persia, over the Himalayas, eventually becoming the first Europeans to enter the vast empire of China, ruled by the Kublai Khan, his palace in what is now modern day Beijing. He became the favorite of the court of the Kublai Khan and the most powerful ruler in the largest kingdom on planet earth. In fact, for many years the emperor refused to let him go back home. Intrigued by him, kept him as a representative of the court, which effectively allowed him to explore that vast empire. He would later write of the cities that he saw, which made European cities look like roadside villages, buildings with architecture that made cathedrals look tiny, the emperor's own palace in modern day Beijing, dwarfing the castles of Europe. In fact, the emperor's palace banquet room, he claimed, was large enough to seat 6,000 dinner guests at one time, each person eating from utensils of pure gold. Marco saw the world's first paper money. He saw the use of an elaborate postal system with first and second and third class male divisions. He would write about the explosive power of this thing we now call gunpowder.
It would be 400 years before Europe would catch up to producing as much steel as China was manufacturing in the year 1267. After serving the emperor for two decades, Marco was allowed to return home. And all his belongings were loaded onto about 18 ships with about 600 people in tow. And he never recorded all the details as to why he arrived with only one ship remaining and 18 survivors, he among them.
But we do know that his journey took him nearly two years to complete. And he sailed into Venice with that one ship loaded with gold and silk and spices including the recipe of his favorite Chinese culinary invention, pasta. The Italians got all the credit for that one, but he found that in China. And many people refused to believe his fantastic tales of wealth and commerce and architecture. Many 13th century Europeans thought that he was just making it all up to sell his book, which he wrote. At the age of 70, Marco Polo was on his deathbed. Legend has it that members of his family were so concerned with the way it lied, they brought in the village priest to hear his confessions.
He refused to confess anything. In fact, we do know that as he died after whispering his final words, he went on out of this life and his famous final words were in English, I have not told you half of all I saw for I knew I would not be believed. 1300 years before Marco Polo described his explorations throughout China, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the name of john wrote of this amazing tour, he was given of heaven, the events recorded in what we call the book of Revelation, john describes sights and sounds that still to this day boggle our imagination. In fact, we can't even conceive of them.
They defy our thinking. Before this exploration tour took place john had already sent three brief letters to the believing church about the inheritance of the believer. It was still captivating even at that time the mind of john about the glory which was to come. The glory of Christ that he felt should energize and incentivize the actions and the attitudes of every believer. As we anticipate the glory of that coming kingdom and empire.
He doesn't want us to overlook anything. Go back to first john in chapter three and verse one and, and let's pick up where we left off in our last study together and notice how he's just enraptured. As we work our way through a few verses today with these thoughts, verse one, we can begin there as we start off and running. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us that we would be called children of God and such we are.
In other words, don't forget who you are. You've been chosen by the Father and born through the application of divine life. You've been adopted into the family of God by the fulfillment of divine law. And you've been betrothed to God the Son through the covenant of divine love. You are now royalty.
And you can translate the opening phrase in verse one, look at this, would you look at this? We are children of God. We are royalty.
Would you look at that? I watched with some fascination this past week is the second son of the Prince of Wales came to visit America for seven day visit pictures just kept showing up on my iPhone and my AP news app. So I finally dug into one of the articles and find out the reason for the fuss and he's being photographed with Senate leaders. Everybody kind of wanted to get a picture next to him. He visited with the president's wife, attended special events.
And as I read it, it occurred to me that there really wasn't anything official in his visit. It wasn't because he had a message from his grandmother, the Queen of England, not because he had anything to offer our situation as you know, former colonies of Great Britain, which had never gotten over. It really came down to the fact that he was a member of the royal family and he was treated rightly so with royal respect as a guest of honor. Not because he had some official something to say, but simply because of the family to which he belonged. And people lined up everywhere to get a picture.
Everybody wanted to see what a prince looked like. John adds this idea at the end of verse one after declaring who we are royalty. He says the world does not know us. That is they don't recognize who we are.
Just as, he writes, the world did not know him, Christ. Nobody's lining up to take your picture, are they? They have no idea who you are. In other words, they have no idea that when they walked by you, you were a member of the divine royal family with a future reign that you will engage in. They had no clue when they brushed past you and maybe they didn't even return your greeting that they were snubbing a future shining immortal prince or princess of royal pedigree who will one day sit upon a throne as co-regent with the eternal creator God the Son. They don't know who you are.
And so they're not going to line up to take your picture. God's not so worried about the world, by the way, overlooking who you are. He's concerned that we are overlooking it.
That's what he's concerned about. So what John will do in these next two verses, which is a little about how far we'll get, is effectively deliver two convictions and three reactions. Two convictions and three reactions. The first conviction is a conviction then about who we are. If you look at verse two, he basically repeats what he's just said, but he adds a little emphasis, Beloved, now we are children of God. And he throws in that little word now translated here.
It's as if John says, I've already told you this truth before, but I want to say it again. You are a child of God. Don't forget what family to whom you belong. You are related to God.
And notice you're related to him now. You are royalty now. Don't wait for your robe and crown to act like you are. Don't wait for your assignment of the coming kingdom to revel in the glory of God given to us whereby we are called his children, which we are. Don't wait for the kingdom to recognize your status even now because that kingdom is going to be here before you know it. John briefly described this kingdom and then the eternal state afterward. And you would have to admit if you studied with us for that three year period, the book of Revelation, you'd have to admit you get to the end of it. And we were not told half what John saw in his coming kingdom and that glorious global empire with Jesus on the throne. But the Apostle John wants us to develop this inner conviction that translates into an outer attitude and bearing.
Don't forget your royalty, your royalty, whether the world recognizes it or not. We are right now children of God. This is the amazing conviction then of who we are.
And that's just the beginning. The second conviction is all about who we will become. John sort of presents this now and not yet concept. Notice, beloved, now we are children of God and it has 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. By the way, if you have your little pencil or pen out, you might just underline the certainties of John. We know that when, not if, he appears, we will be like him.
We will see him. We know this. That's why John is called the Apostle of Certainty. We know these things by the Spirit within us according to the truth of God's revelation. John uses a verb translated here, we know for perceptive knowledge to the point of conviction. That knowledge produces backbone, so to speak. It produces the very fiber of our soul.
It gives us assurance. He also uses an interesting word here for we will see him, seeing him. It's a rare form of a verb that prefers not only to seeing him with our eyes, with perception and recognition. He's not just talking about some physiological experience, oh, I'm going to see him. He's actually using the form of a verb that refers not just to recognition, but, and I love this implication, appreciation.
I'm so glad for that. In other words, built into the coming glory of Christ by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit of God within us, we will immediately, not just see him, but we will appreciate him to a depth we've never attained in life and we wished we had, right? We're going to immediately at that moment magnify and exalt and appreciate and glory in the worship of the one true and living deity embodying son of God. We're going to know it's him when he appears.
And again, this is a reference, a subtle reference, not to his advent, but his appearing in the clouds, a reference to those who are alive when Jesus comes for his beloved. In other words, we're going to be raptured and immediately glorified if we're alive at that point in time. And when we see him, we're going to be like him. Notice, we will be like him. Here's the long awaited end to our sanctification.
This is where we will have that completion and our transformation into the likeness of Christ at that face to face encounter. We'll still learn. We're certainly going to grow in our knowledge, but we will not grow from unholiness to holiness. We will grow from holiness to holiness. We will be like him. This doesn't mean we're going to become little gods.
Heresy is always abounding on that little thing, that little untrue. Omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. Now, those are not attributes communicated to mankind ever.
They belong to God alone. But it does mean that our glorified bodies will be immortalized, perfected, like Christ having nothing corrupt, no longer corrupted by sin, never corrupting through acts of sin. This was the longing, by the way, of the apostle Paul. When you read his personal testimony in Romans chapter 7, who, he asks, he longs, he groans, who will deliver me from this body of death, the sinful flesh.
Well, John writes here, this is what is going to happen. When he appears, we will be instantaneously, immediately like him. We're no longer going to be bound to decaying, depraved, sinful flesh. No more sin clouding our minds and thoughts. No more self-centeredness distorting our motives. No more pride binding our spirit and heart. No more lust and covetousness diverting away our worship. No more discontent and greed muting our praise and our thanksgiving for where we are and what God is doing and what God has done. If we are alive when he appears to rapture the church, and if not, moments after we die and we're ushered into his presence, John informs us that when we see him, we will not only recognize him, but our love and appreciation for him will be what it should be and what we longed for it to be and what we grieved when it wasn't and what we groaned for it to become.
What is John convinced of? There is a lot more coming. We don't know the half of it, and we can't even fully describe what we're told. From the brief descriptions we've been given in the New Testament, we've been told that every believer will one day have a resurrected, recognizable, perfected body, 1 Corinthians 15. We're going to retain the uniqueness of our personalities. We're not going to sort of be one big blob chanting some undiscernable whatever before the throne forever. We're going to be uniquely who we are, only perfected.
You're not going to become like me, which is good news for you, and I'm not going to become like you. We can also observe that in heaven, we retain memories on earth. We retain memories on earth, of life on earth. You're going to recognize your spouses, your children, your extended family, those that you disciple together with, those that you study with, those that you worship with, and you think, well, how could we with memories ever enjoy heaven?
Our memories will be perfected by godly wisdom and holy justice and the perspective of our sovereign, eternal Lord, whom we will talk with face to face. We know that our bodies are going to enjoy food, which you're going to be able to enjoy in about an hour and a half, just as Jesus ate fish. Remember he ate fish? I love it. I love Luke chapter 24, they gave him fish and then he watched them. Were you going to see it go down?
No. Body, he ate. We're also informed that God will have designed the tree of life to bear different fruit along the river of life. Probably these trees are orchards. Bearing fruit, Revelation 22 says, every 30 days, which then has to restructure our rather shallow thinking of heaven. There are months. Every 30 days, there are years. There's the passing of time, not withstanding so many gospel songs that we sing. Even that little clue of our future home, by the way. Again, it just kind of fries our imagination, doesn't it?
Wait, what did he say? But even that idea of fruit, different fruit every month. New Testament scholars can't quite figure out what John is describing because of the language he uses. They're not exactly sure if it's the same fruit every month, a fresh crop, or if it's different fruit on the same tree every month, like some kind of glorified Harry and David system.
You get a different fruit every month. From other passages we know we're going to communicate and learn, we're going to worship, we're going to serve, travel, explore. Much of what we know about heaven is what isn't going to be there. Whenever we get sick, weak, we're never going to again weep in sorrow. I believe we will weep in joy.
That's a wonderful emotion. Never in sorrow. Never in guilt. Never hang our heads again in shame. Never again anguish over sin. Never again wish, I would love to talk to the Lord about that one personally, and hear his answer. Frankly, the Bible doesn't really tell us even half of the glory of our eternal state when we are in the presence of Jesus Christ.
But I love the way John puts it here in the text. Look there. It doesn't yet appear what we will be. I love that.
It doesn't yet appear. Well, we had a little clues, but listen, it doesn't yet appear what we will be. Don't let appearances fool you. You see, you might think you're sitting next to just anybody. You're not. You're sitting next to an immortal, a prince, a princess who will one day be kings and queens reigning with Christ.
Don't let appearances fool you. There will be similarities, but there will be remarkable differences in who we will be. One author whose books I enjoy out of print and he's along with the Lord generation or so wrote it this way when he commented on this text. From looking at an acorn, would you ever imagine the existence of a great oak tree? Doesn't yet appear what it will be. From looking at a scrawny, awkward, fuzzy eaglet, could you imagine one day it will soar with tireless wings upon the air that it will defy the hurricane and scream at the clouds? No, it does not yet appear what it shall be. From looking at a crawling earthbound caterpillar, can you prophesy that someday it will lift itself from the dust upon wings of beauty multicolored and make its home among the flowers? No, it doth not yet appear what it shall be.
That's good. This is the conviction of the apostle John. You and I are only shadows, we're only whispers of what we will become. The apostle Paul in fact simply describes it as going from earthy, I love that word translated literally, we're earthy, we're going to be heavenly. Our mortality will be exchanged for immortality. You have to fill in the blanks with an imagination that can't really go that far.
We haven't seen anything yet. I love the way one theologian wrote a parable from this text commenting on it, imagining a conversation between twins in a mother's womb, a boy and a girl. They're having a conversation and the sister says to her brother, I believe there is life after birth. Her brother protested, no, no, no, this is all there is.
It's a dark and cozy place, we have nothing else to do but cling to the cord that feeds us. The little girl insisted, oh, there's got to be something more than this dark place, there must be something else, a place with light where there is freedom to move. She could not convince her twin brother. After some silence, the sister said, I have something else to say but I'm afraid you won't believe that either. I think there is a mother, a mother, her brother shouted. What are you talking about? I've never seen a mother, have you? You haven't. Who put that idea into your head, this place is all we have, why do you always want more?
This is not such a bad place after all. The little girl said, but don't you feel those squeezes? Every once in a while, they're quite unpleasant and sometimes even painful.
I thought this would be a great story for Mother's Day. Yes, he answered, but what about them, these squeezes? Well, the sister said, I think these squeezes are getting us ready for some other place, much more beautiful than this where I for one believe we will see our mother face to face. Two convictions, the first is a conviction about who we are, the second is about who we will become and frankly each of these convictions rests upon the flimsiest of imaginations, conceptions and understandings, but this is what excited the Apostle John because he says now out of these convictions will come three reactions. In other words, if we truly believe that we are the children of divine royalty, if we truly believe there's more out there, the coming kingdom, the appearance of Christ, then we ought to be pursuing three ongoing reactions, so to speak. Look at verse three, everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself just as he is pure.
Now let me unpack these three reactions. First, we need to continually redefine our ambition and everyone who has this hope fixed on him, capital H, it can be translated subjectively, the hope that we have in us or in him, little h, the believer, it can be translated objectively in the hope we have placed upon him, capital H, we're not sure where John was going but both work. The word, by the way translated hope, is used by John typically in the hope of the coming of Christ, he uses that eschatological, he uses that with the hope of these prophetic events taking place, eternal life in his presence. Who put that idea in his mind? Where did mankind have the idea placed in his mind that there's something out there, there's something more, there's something eternal? I've learned in my study that Australian aborigines pictured an eternal future as a distant island beyond the western horizon.
Early Finns thought it was also a distant island but in the far away east. Mexicans, Peruvians, Polynesians believed that they would either live forever on the sun or on the moon after death. Native Americans believed that their spirits would live forever hunting the spirits of buffalo. The Gilgamesh epic from ancient Babylon believed in a resting place at a tree, a tree of life. The pyramids of Egypt are testimonies, simply testimonials to the belief that the deceased would resurrect, they would have maps placed carefully by their sides of powerful pharaohs and politically connected families in order to guide them to their future eternal world.
Romans even believed that they would one day lounge in Elysian fields with horses grazing nearby. Although these eternal places and eternal ambitions change from culture to culture, there is this unifying theme in a deeply religious world literally around the globe emanating from the heart of mankind that this world is not all there is. This message isn't done but we're close to the end of our time today. We're going to continue exploring this truth tomorrow when we bring you the conclusion to this message.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 00:17:24 / 2022-12-28 00:27:07 / 10