The Blessings of Abiding In Jesus


The Blessings of Abiding In Jesus

56The Blessings of Abiding In Jesus

1 John 2:28-3:3

Main Idea: True believers will remain in fellowship with Christ and experience the blessings that come through communion with Him.

  1. You Will Be Confident at His Coming (2:28).
  2. You Will Be Certain You Are His Child (2:29-3:1).
  3. You Will Be Conformed to Christ (3:2).
  4. You Will Be Consistent in Your Consecration (3:3).

In recent days we have rediscovered one of my favorite gospel hymns. The words were written by a well-known Presbyterian evangelist of the late nineteenth century named John Wilber Chapman (1859-1918). The song is titled "One Day." Casting Crowns has popularized it once again with the title "Glorious Day." Telling the wonderful drama of redemption, verse 5 brings the story to its climactic conclusion with these words concerning King Jesus:

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,

One day the skies with His glory will shine;

Wonderful day, my beloved ones bringing;

Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!

Then the refrain:

Living He loved me; dying He saved me;

Buried, He carried my sins far away;

Rising He justified freely forever;

One day He's coming—Oh glorious day!

That glorious day is indeed coming and the apostle John sees it as an awesome hope for the future and a powerful motivation for the present. Because I am going to be like Him in the future and for all eternity, such a promise has a wonderful transforming power in the present. My future impacts my life today!

In 1 John 2:28-3:3, God's Word tells us we are destined to look like, think like, talk like, act like, and be like Jesus (3:2). As God's sons and 57daughters through the new birth (2:29-3:2), we have a future hope that, in one sense, cannot be put into words. John is so honest when he writes, "What we will be has not yet been revealed" (3:2). However, what we do know, as we abide in Jesus, is more than enough!

John, as a loving spiritual father, has given his "little children" (2:1, 12, 18, 28) a number of words of challenge and encouragement up until this point in his letter. He has encouraged them to find full joy in fellowship with the Father and the Son (1:1-4). He has called them to walk in the light of God and stay close to Christ (1:5-2:2). They are to do this by obeying the Lord's commands and by loving others (2:3-11). They must also know their spiritual status and not be seduced by the world (2:12-17). Likewise, they must beware of the enemies of the faith who deny Jesus is the Messiah (2:18-27). Now in the present text he adds the exhortation to abide in Christ and pursue a righteous life as they live in the hope of His coming (2:28-3:3). In other words, as Christians, what we are going to be then will transform the way we live today! In fact, such a spiritual posture will result in four wonderful blessings—blessings that are promised to everyone who keeps on abiding in Christ.

You Will Be Confident at His Coming

You Will Be Confident at His Coming

1 John 2:28

John again addresses his readers with the tender term "little children." And he continues the theme of remaining or abiding in Christ, which was a key concern in 2:18-27 and an essential protection against false teaching. The word "remain" is a present imperative. It is a word of command and calls for consistent action. Remain in union and communion with Christ. Soak in the Savior and the gospel message that you heard at the beginning of your Christian experience (2:24).

I believe both salvation and sanctification are on John's radar screen as he encourages us to stay with Jesus. And abiding brings with it a wonderful companion: assurance, which is confidence at the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Here is John's point: Christ is coming again. He will appear on this earth again officially and in full public display as King of kings and Lord over all lords. So, "when He appears" (Gk parousia), will you "have boldness" or will you "be ashamed before Him"? Will you run toward Him as a child runs to a loving father, or will you draw back and attempt to hide from His glorious, regal coming?

58Is it possible to be saved and yet ashamed when you stand before Jesus? I think the answer has to be yes. Paul seems to address the possibility in 1 Corinthians 3:15 when, at the judgment seat of Christ, he says some will have their works burned up because their foundation was "wood, hay, or straw" (1 Cor 3:12). Yes, "it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire."

But there is another question begging to be asked: Might John be addressing those who are "ashamed before Him at his coming" because they are lost? This may be what John is really saying. After all, in Mark 8:38 Jesus said,

For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

And in Revelation 6:15-16 we read these terrifying words:

Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb."

Reflect on your reaction to seeing Jesus at His second coming. It can be very revealing in terms of your spiritual status and health. This much I do know: He wants you to have the confidence of a child jumping into the arms of a loving daddy. He doesn't want you running to a closet or cave, hiding in shame.

You Will Be Certain You Are His Child

You Will Be Certain You Are His Child

1 John 2:29-3:1

In Revelation 19:11-21 we have a full and majestic description of Christ's second coming. In verse 11 it says, "He judges and makes war in righteousness." The coming King is also a righteous King. We already saw this in 1 John 2:1. And because He is righteous, one thing is certain: "Everyone who does what is right has been born of Him" (2:29). Here, John uses what I call a root/fruit argument, noting what we see before addressing why we see it. He tells us that the fruit of doing what is right reveals that in our roots, i.e., our hearts, we have been born again.

59The new birth precedes new behavior. Being born of God has definite and abiding results ("has been born" is a perfect-tense verb). Therefore, children of God will grow to look like God their Father. Our practice is proof of our parentage. The righteous Savior produces righteous saints.

John carries this argument an additional step in 3:1, and what a step it is! He explains how the love of God the Father is the source of our privilege to be His children. Calling their attention to this wonderful truth, he exclaims, "Look at how great a love the Father has given us!" What John says could be paraphrased like this: "The love of the Father is out of this world and it is a love that will never be taken away. It is an amazing love that awes and astonishes, and it has been given for us to enjoy forever and ever and ever." Hebrews 13:5 is really true: "I will never leave you or forsake you."

This Father's love is a forever-love and its results are twofold: (1) We are now called the children of God, and (2) this is truly who we are! That we are called His children means we bear His name. That we are His children means we have His nature. Once I was a slave to sin but now I am a child of God. What an amazing truth to grasp and meditate on. What a beautiful balance this brings to my self-awareness. There is no place for either an inferiority or a superiority complex. I am who I am by gracious adoption and regeneration. That fosters humility. I am who I am as God's child. That fosters security and certainty.

Let me give just one example of how this should impact a couple of important relationships. One is dating and the other is marriage. When I was dating my wife Charlotte, I was dating God's daughter. Whatever her earthly father thought of my treatment of her pales in comparison to what her heavenly Father thought! Today, I am married to God's daughter. Although the status of our relationship changed at marriage, He remains vitally interested in how I take care of His little girl! That affects the way I love and serve her as my wife!

In almost a passing comment, John says this world doesn't understand this remarkable relationship. This truth should not really surprise us. After all, "It didn't know Him" (3:1). Therefore, it will not know, understand, or appreciate those who know Him and are increasingly becoming like Him. Jesus told us to expect all of this when He said in John 15:18-19,

If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, 60because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.

The world did not really understand Him 2,000 years ago. Don't be surprised when the world does not really understand us today. It should be expected.

You Will Be Conformed to Christ

You Will Be Conformed to Christ

1 John 3:2

Our salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ is more than a rescue. It is a complete and total renovation—or better, transformation—that transcends what any human words can describe. This becomes evident in what we can know and what we cannot know in verse 2. First, we can know we are loved ("Beloved" ESV or "Dear friends" HCSB) and that we are God's sons and daughters right now, this very moment. I am in the fullest sense the one God created me to be and the one He redeemed me to be through the new birth (cf. 2:29; 3:9-10). Second, what we will ultimately be is not completely known to us at the present time.

There is a tension in our Christian experience that theologians often refer to as the "already/not yet" of Christian salvation. We are already, today, children of God. However, we do not yet realize or experience all the benefits that salvation promises for God's children. We are still in process, a work under construction, a divine work of art that is not yet complete. We cannot even imagine the glory in store for us. First Corinthians 2:9 puts it like this: "What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind—God prepared this for those who love Him." First Corinthians 13:12 adds, "For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known."

This leads to a third observation, and one of the most amazing truths in the whole Bible: "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is." Praise the Lord! John's "apostolic ignorance" now gives way to theological amazement. We shall be like Him! As Jonathan Edwards said, "Grace is glory begun, and glory is grace completed" (Edwards and James, "Growth in Grace," 56). The perfection of God's grace will be realized in our full, complete, total, and permanent glorification. Psalm 17:15 says it so beautifully: "But I will see Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I will be satisfied with Your presence." Romans 8:29 teaches us that we are being conformed to 61the image of Jesus, and 1 John 3:2 tells us it will reach that intended goal when we see Him as He is, as the resurrected and glorified King of glory. William Alexander tells the story that when native converts came to this phrase as they were translating the Bible into their language, they laid down their pens and exclaimed "No! it is too much ... let us write that we shall be permitted to kiss His feet'" (Cook, 326). But surely it is true. We will see Him face to face, and we will be conformed to His image.

We don't know all that being made like Jesus means. What we do know is it will be better than we could ever hope or imagine, and it will be the occasion for an eternal lifetime of praise, worship, and adoration.

You Will Be Consistent in Your Consecration

You Will Be Consistent in Your Consecration

1 John 3:3

First John 3:2 is the very definition of Christian hope, and 1 John 3:3 is the natural response to that hope. Every one of us who has this hope in us, the hope of someday being like Jesus, cannot help but respond in a very specific manner. In fact we are delighted to do so. This hope is the confident certainty that God is going to conform me to the exact image of His Son, and consequently it motivates me to continually pursue a life of purity and holiness, just as Jesus is pure and holy. Eugene Peterson in The Message says it like this: "All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus' life as a model for our own."

The word pure means "free from contamination" and is used of ceremonial cleansings (John 11:55), cleansing of the heart (Jas 4:8), and even cleansing of the soul (1 Pet 1:22). Here it is used in reference to one's total life. My hope for the future enables me to pursue holiness in the present. Being heavenly minded actually makes me fit for earthly good. Paul said the same thing in Colossians 3:1-4 where he writes,

So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Pastor Sam Storms is exactly right in his understanding of how our vision of Christ ties into our sanctification: "Just as the vision of Christ in the future will sanctify us wholly, the vision of Christ in the present (in 62Scripture) sanctifies us progressively. It is our experience of Christ that sanctifies" (Storms, "First John 2:28-3:3"). Isn't it great to know, as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, that "He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus"?



I began our study with a song. Let me close with one too. It was written by Frances Jane "Fanny" Crosby (1820-1915). She was an American rescue mission worker and songwriter who penned more than 8,000 hymns. And she was blind. That is why one of her most popular songs is all the more remarkable. Its title: "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine." In the context of 1 John 2:28-3:3, stanzas 1 and 3 really stand out.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,

I in my Savior am happy and blest:

Watching and waiting, looking above,

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Just as Fanny Crosby was, in her blindness, "watching and waiting," we must likewise set our eyes on the hope we have, that we will one day see His face and be like Him. These are just some of the blessings of abiding in Christ. If this is so, why would you want to abide anywhere else but in Jesus?!

Reflect and Discuss

Reflect and Discuss

  1. Why is "abiding" important in the Christian life? How is abiding different from "getting saved"?
  2. How do you think you will react when you first see Jesus revealed in all His glory? What are some things that might cause someone to be ashamed at His appearing?
  3. What is a root/fruit argument and how is it important for the Christian life? What other passages of Scripture use similar logic?
  4. How does knowing that all Christians are God's children affect your relationship with the following: (a) spouse, (b) parent/child, (c) church member, (d) the world?
  5. 63What does it mean for the world to not know Christ? How will that affect our relationship with the world?
  6. Why is it such a blessing to know that abiding believers will be conformed to Christ's image?
  7. How can a promise of seeing Jesus inspire Christians to pursue holiness? Why is holiness the natural response to Christian hope?