See God’s Love for You

December 26, 2021

Pastor John Hering

1 John 3:1-3

1 John 3:1-3

See the kind of love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are! The world does not know us, because it did not know him. Dear friends, we are children of God now, but what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he is revealed we will be like him, and we will see him as he really is. Everyone who has this hope purifies himself just as Jesus is pure.

The Angel Gabriel told Mary, 31 Listen, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end (Luke 1:31-33).  Then Mary said to the angel, How will this be?” (:34).  Jesus said to Nicodemus, Amen, Amen, I tell you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God! (John 3:5).  Then Nicodemus said to Jesus, How can these things be? (:9). When the angel told the shepherds, Do not be afraid. For behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all people: …. 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward mankind (Luke 2:10-14).  Just like the shepherds, people hear the Christmas Gospel ask the same question: How can these things be?”  We are amazed by his birth, by the answers of 12-year-old Jesus in the temple, by his miracles, by his love for sinners, by his death, resurrection and Ascension into heaven!  We sit here amazed at the words and works of Jesus.  Today the Apostle John gives the answer to our amazement of the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ.  May the Holy Spirit guide our hearts and minds to

See God’s Love For You

To Be Called God’s Child

During the Christmas season it is thrilling to come here to God’s house all decorated for Christmas.  But, I want you to answer this question: “Why are you here today?” We just had Christmas Eve & Day celebrations, enjoyed the hymns and recitations.  I hope you haven’t forgotten that the heart of Christmas is not what we do for Christmas, but what God has done for us.  That is the heart of John’s message: See the kind of love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God.

My whole ministry I have tried to repeat this theme by asking the question, “What’s the best reason for doing what you do?”  And the answers are many.  Children say, “I listen to my parents so I don’t get into trouble.”  Good answer.  Others say, “I help others because I love Jesus so much.”  Good answer.  But the best answer is the one St John gives us today: Because Jesus loves us so much!  So, we might ask, “Why did you celebrate Christmas?  Because I love to hear about the angels.  Good answer.  I love to hear about the shepherds and the wisemen.  Good answer.  But, there is a motivating cause behind it all.  The angels knew that, so their announcement starts out, Glory to God in the highest!  Why? Because the greatest reason to celebrate this season is God’s Love For You!  Jesus left the glory of heaven, endured living on this earth like a sinless strawberry in a sinful bowl of blueberries, died on the cross and rose again so that God declared you not guilty of all your sins.  Then the Holy Spirit gave you faith to receive what God’s love had to offer so that we should be called children of God.

This is the most amazing result of God’s love!  Jesus did it all!

“He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death”

2nd Art Apostles Creed

No longer are you a child of the devil due to your sin-nature, but you are declared a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ!  May the reason we are here every Sunday be to listen to the account of Christmas that begins the amazing plan of God’s salvation for mankind in the manger, to hear about Jesus in the temple growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.When we see Jesus we See God’s Love For Us to be Called God’s Dear Children!  And as God’s children God gives us the goal of our faith—

To be Called an Heir of Heaven

St John give us this wonderful assurance in these words. Dear friends, we are children of God now, but what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he is revealed we will be like him, and we will see him as he really is. We know Jesus was revealed the first time in the manger of Bethlehem.  We know his purpose for coming the first time was to save us from the curse of sin, death the power of the devil.  But, how sure can you be of this?  How many times have you asked someone, “Are you a Christian?” or “Do you know what’s going to happen to you when you die?” and you hear these answers: “I hope so” or “I suppose I am.”  Is this a satisfying answer?  If someone asks you, “Are you an American?” so you say, “I hope so” or “I suppose I am”?  No!  You are an American.  You were born here.  You have a birth certificate that says you are.  There’s no doubt about it.  So, shouldn’t a person know if they are a child of God?  You have been born again in your baptism.  Through faith you have received the blessings of forgiveness of sin, deliverance from the devil, and what John said, Dear friends, we are children of God now, … We know that.  When the Old Testament man Job was asked, he said, I know! (Job 19:25).  Peter said, To be sure, we were not following cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the powerful appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty(2 Pet 1:16).  How can you be sure? God has so Loved You to Call You an Heir of Heaven because Jesus died on the cross for you.  Therefore, you know!

Yes, we know, but there are some things we don’t know about this blessing. “but what we will be has not yet been revealed.”  Yes, we know heaven will be wonderful in the presence of Jesus’ glory.  But, we cannot fathom the full glory and happiness of eternal salvation.  But, those who have gone before us know.   While there are plenty of things we can’t know, there are things we do know. “We know that when he is revealed we will be like him, and we will see him as he really is.”  Maybe I need to sing a song from our New Christian Worship Hymnal: 798 vs4

I long to be like Jesus:
Meek, loving, lowly, mild;
I long to be like Jesus,
The Father’s holy child.
I long to be with Jesus
Amid the heav’nly throng
To sing with saints his praises,
To learn the angels’ song.

Let me put this song into a story.   There was a beggar in downtown Dallas who lost his sight.  One day a famous eye surgeon with a heart of gold stopped and asked if he could take a look at his eyes.  He told the blind beggar that with a simple operation he could fix his eyes. The man agreed.  The operation was a success and after several days of having his eyes wrapped that day came to take off the bandages.  He could see!  They asked him, “Who would you like to see first?”  He said, “My mother!”  But, giving it a little thought he said, “Wait!  I love my mother very much, but I want to see the surgeon God used to give me my sight back first!”  My parables aren’t as good as Jesus’ parables, but did you see the point? When we get to heaven it will be a great joy to see our relatives and friends, but our greatest joy will be to see him as he really is—the Great Physician of body and souls and to thank him for eternity to coming to save us. 

The thought of being in heaven amazes us.  Today St John gave us the answer to the question: How will this be?  It all because of the Christ-child Jesus who was born for you and for me.  It’s amazing, humbling, and fills us with hope, peace, joy and love.  But, the final sentence today tells us that there is a practical application here to our lives. Everyone who has this hope purifies himself just as Jesus is pure. This reminds us that Jesus not only came to purify us FROM something—SIN, but also to purify us FOR something.  Jesus made us pure through his blood, and now we are called to purify ourselves—not to get into heaven, but because we are on the way to heaven!

Students of the Bible know that St John hates cheap grace (that I can just call on God’s forgiveness and then live any way I please).  God’s grace is free, but it is tremendously expensive—it claimed the life of Jesus to give it.  We say, “Faith receives what God has to offer.”  Through faith we receive forgiveness, and along with that forgiveness we also receive God’s rightful demand of our life—not to pay for sin, but because our sin is paid for.  John just gave us the Christmas message that we are God’s children, and now he challenges us to act like God’s children.  (This is the connection between justification [God’s verdict of “not guilty”] and sanctification [the way in which we live our lives for God]).  Justification cost us nothing.  Sanctification costs us everything.  In regard to justification we say, “I can’t.”  But, in regard to sanctification we say, “Yes, I can!”  The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to give us saving faith, and he works through that same Word to change our lives and attitudes.  In the words of John Every Child of God has hope in Jesus,” and every Child of God purifies himself.”  How can this be?  It does not mean we reach perfection on this side of heaven.  It means Jesus has destroyed sin—its guilt and grip on our hearts and minds, and as his brothers and sisters, we hate sin, too.  We refuse to get comfortable with it.  We declare war on sin!  How can this be?  Ask Mary and the shepherds.  They can tell you.  Simply kneel beside the manger and See God’s Love For You.  There God Calls You His Child.  There God Calls You an Heir of Heaven.  That’s how.  Amen!

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