Seven Wonderful Truths About Genuine Believers
1 John 3 - Genuine Believers Will Be Like Christ When He Comes!
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 7/18/04
We have been studying the little letter of 1 John. In our study of chapter one we saw seven priceless possessions of born-again believers. In the second chapter we studied the seven comforting portraits of Christ our Savior. Last week be began to look at chapter three and the seven wonderful truths about genuine believers.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
1 John 3:2-3
As we begin to examine 1 John 3:2, I turn your attention to a phrase in the middle of the sentence which says, when he shall appear. The word appear is the Greek word is efanerwyh – ephanerothon (fan-e-ro-thon) which means "to make visible that which is hidden." In addition, it carries with it the idea of revealing the true character and nature of something. So, the natural question is, since Jesus Christ is hidden, where is He.
First, you will recall that Jesus Christ has a very real resurrection body! In John 20 our Lord invites "doubting" Thomas to put his finger into the nail holes in His hands and reach his hand into His side. Thomas refuses, and believes that Christ arose from the dead. You will also recall 1 Corinthians 15 says that Christ was seen by more than 500 people. Dr. Luke, the beloved physician wrote - "… he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:" Acts 1:3. My point is simply this: A very real Jesus Christ showed that He was very much physically alive to hundreds of people. Then, at the end of 40 days He literally and physically ascended to Heaven. Turn to Acts 1:8-11 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." As I speak, the Lord Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:32-36; Romans 8:34; 1 Peter 3:22).
There is another very important point that is made by the little phrase when he shall appear and that is the Jesus Christ is coming back for His own. This is a phrase of expectancy. Christ told His disciples that He would return. Turn to John 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." The writer of Hebrews echoes this same message - Hebrews 9:28 "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Now, in every year of this present Age of Grace there have been skeptics who doubt that our Lord will keep His promise to return. We read in 2 Peter 3:3-4 "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." However, I would remind you that "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
If you are a believer, Christ is coming back for you! That brings me to the next logical question –
I turn you attention to the phrase "it doth not yet appear what we shall be…" I turn your attention to the little four letter word what. This is the little Greek word ti (tee) which is a neuter singular predicate nominative, which suggests something unspeakable, contained in the likeness of God" Therefore this phrase is saying, It has not been fully revealed what we shall be when Christ returns but it is something unspeakable. it could not be revealed so that we could understand it, because that heavenly state will be so unlike our present state, that no words would fully convey the conception to our minds. But, you can be sure that the glory pertaining to our sonship is going to be extraordinary.
Having said that, John says that there is something that believers can know about what will happen. "But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him…" But, what does it mean "we shall be like him?" I believe the answer is revealed in Philippians 3:21 "[Christ] shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Our body will be fashioned like to his glorious body, in immortality and incorruption, in power, in glory, and spirituality. It will be free from all imperfections, sorrows, afflictions, and death; and in our soul we will have perfect knowledge of divine things. We will be free from the presence of sin and be completely holy.
But, how will this transformation take place? As our text says, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." This verse clearly indicates that there will be an influence in beholding the Savior as he is, which will tend to make us like him, or to transform us into his likeness. Just looking on the our glorified, immortal Savior will change us! I like the way David of old put it - Psalms 17:15 "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." Think about it Christian friends; genuine believers will be like Christ when they see Him!
Turn to verse 3, "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1 John 3:3. The particular thought here is, that the hope of being like Christ, and of being permitted to dwell with him, will lead a genuine to earnest efforts to become holy. Under the influence of this hope of being like the Savior, a genuine believer puts forth an honest effort in struggling against sin, and in overcoming his evil inclinations, which are necessary to make him pure.
I am looking forward to the return of the Lord Jesus
Christ, what a great time it will be. But, if you are not a Christian, if
you have not repented of your sins and believed on Christ, be afraid for
what’s next on the timeline after the Rapture is the Tribulation! And I
can tell you, you don’t want to go there. Trust Christ today.