As God’s child wait in pure living to be with Christ!

November 5, 2023

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

1 John 3:1-3

1 John 3:1-3

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Charles Martinet is a name most would not recognize, but the name Mario is recognized by generations. Mr. Martinet is the voice of Mario. Not knowing the name of the voice behind Mario does not make you a fair-weather fan toward his character, but not playing any of his games arguably does. A love for Mario is synonymous with a love for playing the many video games featuring him.

Being called a fair-weather fan is not a compliment. For example, there is a difference between those who are aware and sad that Frank Howard passed away almost one week ago. In the sixties, he played for the Washington Senators, which moved to Arlington, Texas in the early 1970s. They were renamed the Texas Rangers in honor of the Texas Rangers law-enforcement agency. Again, there is a difference between someone who just ripped the tags off a Rangers shirt and someone whose shirt is so faded that you can barely read it. Fans know and love their teams whether they win each season or take 63 seasons to with the World Series. There are a few more names I want to share with you this morning: Othniel, Phoebe, Jael and Gad. These are all names from the Bible. You may recognize all, some or none of them. Being a fair-weather Christian is not a compliment. It also puts you in danger as we read in 1 Corinthians 10, 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! Many examples of real people are recorded in Scripture as warnings so that you do not fall away but stand firm until you meet God face to face. Today we celebrate ‘All Saints’ Day’ to encourage us to consider those saints or people whom God has made holy and sinless who are now in heaven.

Because of God’s love, you are also a saint. In our New Testament reading from 1 John 3, we read, 1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! You have been made holy and sinless, a saint, or child of God, by God through your baptism as we hear in Galatians 3, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. You now wear Christ’s holiness, or the jersey of the winning team. This is good news, but it quickly becomes a reason for all of us to sit in the dugout and wait for the game to be over so we can go to the party in heaven. John’s first letter was written decades after Jesus died and rose. The initial human excitement of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension was waning as many realized it might be a while until Jesus returned to take all believers to be with him in heaven. John wrote against those who were spread the false teaching that what a person did with their physical body while they wait for Christ’s return did not matter.

As a child of God, you are different from the world. After John calls us children of God in 1 John 3, he wrote, 1 … The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. The world did not recognize Christ as the Chosen Savior. The worldly also do not refer to you as saint when they see you. However, you know that you are no longer worldly, but children of God. This means you no longer live as the worldly. This means it does matter what you do with your body as John wrote about in 1 John 1, 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. And again in 1 John 2, 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. Sitting in the dugout spiritually puts us in the fair-weather fan camp, and if that is the case, we might as well be sitting in the stands. Christ has not only put you on the winning team with an official jersey, not just a fan T-shirt, to look forward to the after party, but to play. While waiting to join the saints who are already in heaven there are two spots you fall into in the rotation, either thinking, “I am saved it does not matter how I live in the body” and, “I must secure my salvation by holy living.” Walking in the darkness, lusting after worldly things does not make you a child of God or teammate of Christ, but evil, empty and eager to throw up the Jesus pennant when it allows you to advance further into selfishness and sin. On the other hand, your quest to be pure, pursing righteousness at Jesus’ side and pushing what is right and moral quickly pushes Christ aside so that your own supposed purity leaves you feeling like you have a comparatively short list of sins for Christ to forgive. Pursuing evil or pushing Christ aside leaves you living as a child of the devil destined for punishment, not a party, in hell.

God is an all-weather fan for us. God knows your name, history and stats. Whether bright and sunny or darkness and raging storm, God stands firm as our Father. In our New Testament reading from 1 John 3, we continue reading, 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. As we struggle to avoid sin and serve God, our confidence remains in God to take us from the playing field to the party forever. We do not yet fully understand what heaven will be like or what it will be like not to struggle with temptation and sin. Yet, our confidence remains because God calls us his children even now. Our Old Testament reading from Revelation 7, reminds us why we have such confidence, 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The same John who wrote 1 John, wrote Revelation. God gave him a vision to record, and in this section, we see our future. Right now, we are in tribulation, we are on the field battling against the world, sin and the devil to live as God’s children. Our blood, sweat and tears though are not what has made us worthy of heaven, but being washed in the blood of Jesus. Jesus has already played the perfect game and sacrificed himself for your many errors. His blood has made you clean and you will enter heaven bright and shining like the sun with the perfect stats, the holiness of the Son, Jesus. The wonderful message of Revelation, 1 John and all of Scripture is captured in 1 John 5, 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. Your Father in heaven gave you a love letter to fill you with hope. Through Jesus, you will be walked off the field of life by angels into eternal life in heaven.

You are a child waiting to go home. In our Gospel reading from Matthew 5, Jesus uses a wide range of descriptions for the children of God, “poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted because of righteousness.” These were not written to aspire to but to describe who you are as children of God. This list gives hope to us as we live out what John encouraged in 1 John 3, 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. We live differently from the world as children of God, pursuing what the Bible calls good and avoiding the worldly definition of a good or fulfilling life. Jesus’ list assures us that as we pursue purity on this planet, it will be a time of tribulation as described in Revelation 7, but he gives us this hope as well in Matthew 5, 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Today we celebrate ‘All Saints’ Day’ to point our eyes on the prophets and those of our friends and family like them who held on to Christ with the certainty of heaven.

Lots of people are celebrating the Rangers winning the World series and rightly so. When the conversation comes up, take a swing at turning the conversation by mentioning the name of Christ. The person may be a fair-weather fan, fellow saint or have no idea what Jesus has done. No one knows how many innings are left until we are called home, so tell them all Christ has done to take away our errors and give us a jersey for the winning team, a heavenly home team, a family and a Father who loves them so much. Celebrate Christ’s championship for the world, the future celebration in heaven and as God’s child wait in pure living to be with Christ. Amen.

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