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The Blessings of Abiding In Jesus

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:

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,

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

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

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,

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"?

Conclusion

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

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