Tuesday, 14 April 2020
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. 1 John 3:2
John began the chapter with joyous words concerning the love of the Father. Because of the love He has bestowed on us we are now “called children of God.” He repeats the thought again by saying, “Beloved, now we are the children of God.” It is a statement of surety, and it is a statement which reflects the completed nature of the matter. The adoption in Christ is complete. We possess a position that has the highest dignity, glory, and honor that can be granted, because we have been adopted into the family of God.
John continues with, “and it has not been revealed what we shall be.” With a simple connecting of the two clauses by the word “and,” he reveals both the state of believers now while confirming that this state is not the fulfillment of what being children of God entails – “We are, and yet we wait for what we will be.”
As an example of this dual state of believers, we can think of someone who has completed all that is necessary for a college diploma. The courses have been taken, the achievement has been realized, and yet there still awaits the formal ceremony to complete the degree. At this point, one could say, “I am a graduate of Nolan University.” And yet, until the ceremony is complete and the certificate is received, the happiness of the bestowal, and the blessing of what accompanies that bestowal, lies yet ahead.
We can only speculate on the wondrous state that lies ahead, but it is already guaranteed to come about. However, our speculation is not without a set hope as seen in John’s next words, “but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him.” Whatever the eternal state of believers is, it will be like that of Jesus Himself.
The Greek word, translated as “like,” has the same meaning as our English word. It is to be like, similar to, resembling, the same as, etc. The change from our mortal bodies will be into bodies that resemble that of Jesus. As this is so, we can be certain that it will be beyond anything we can imagine.
If the Lord of all creation has a body suitable for all eternity, and as it lacks nothing to enjoy all that He has for Himself, and if we will be like Him, then we will be able to enjoy all of that which God reveals of Himself for all eternity. Bengel says it “suggests something unspeakable, contained in the likeness of God.”
To ensure that we are able to comprehend this, even if on a limited scale, John completes the thought with, “for we shall see Him as He is.” The thought is similar to that of Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:18 –
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
There appears to be a connection between seeing the Lord and being transformed into the likeness of the Lord. At this time, we “see the Lord,” through His word, and we are being transformed into His likeness because of it. When He comes, we will “see the Lord” in a more complete way, and we will be transformed into His likeness in a comparable way at that time.
Paul, speaking of the dual nature of our conversion (that which is and that which will be as existing at the same time), says this in Philippines 3 –
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20, 21
Our citizenship is in heaven (it is complete), and yet we wait for our transformation (it lies ahead). The doctrine of eternal salvation is written all over the thoughts of these apostolic writings. Further, like the words of John, Paul tantalizes his reader with a thought concerning this coming transformation. This state, yet to be revealed, and yet which is already guaranteed to those who believe, is also spoken of by him in 1 Corinthians 15 –
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” 1 Corinthians 15:50-54
Life application: Our present state is adoption as sons through the work of Jesus and not any meritorious action on our part. We have not personally seen Christ and we have not yet (and cannot in this life) attain His sinless perfection or glorification. However, in a lesser sense, it has been revealed.
The book of Revelation is an unveiling of Jesus Christ. In the first chapters, we behold his glory through the eyes and pen of John. At the end of the book, we see where we will dwell and what it will be like – all a foretaste for us of the glory to come. When we are made like Him, there won’t only be a physical change, but a spiritual change as well. This change involves purity, a sinless state, and the attainment of true righteousness – all spoken of in the verses ahead.
These changes, both physical and spiritual, will be fully realized at the rapture of the church. Yes, the rapture is real. It is clearly laid out in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. Even now, we are “partakers of the divine nature” as indicated in 2 Peter 1:4. However, when John says, “we shall be like Him,” this denotes similarity, not a completely identical state. To see the consistency of God’s word as brought to us by the various apostles, we can return to Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 15 where he describes what “we shall be like Him” means –
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Take time to read the entire context of Paul’s words today. They are found in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
Jesus, we simply can’t wait for the day that we will be like You. Amen.