We have already seen that all who have been born of God and have believed on the Name of the SON, have been given the right by Him to take their place as children of God, and that the HOLY SPIRIT witnesses with their spirits that they are the children of God. We must now consider them in relation to the FATHER’S love. Four times in his Epistle John speaks of them in this way. John always speaks of “children,” not “sons,” as sometimes translated in the Authorised Version, for he dwells on the relationship itself.
We read, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God; therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God . . . Whosoever is born of God doth not commit (practice) sin . . . In this are manifest the children of God, and the children of the devil: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother . . . By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments.” The love bestowed upon us by THE FATHER, the right given to us by THE SON, and the witness of THE SPIRIT, unite in granting a threefold assurance to God’s children, before they reach their prepared home in the Father’s house, where Jesus already is. So it says, “Beloved, NOW are we the children of God.”
When our Lord Jesus Christ was here on earth, He told His own of the Father’s love. He knew it well. They heard Him say to the Father, “Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” In that eternal love of the Father for the Son He continued while passing through the bitter trials of time. In its changeless blessedness He dwells; as He said, “I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” The world did not know its Maker. Israel did not know its sovereign Lord and King, but He knew the Father’s holy love. Nothing moved Him from it. He abode in it at all times. There He rested amidst the world’s restless surgings. His coming brought the Father’s eternal love for the Son here. it still remains. We are invited to “behold it,” and to abide in it also. The Son was the Object of it before the world was; and He was the Object of it when in the world; He is still the Object of it on high with His Father. But His atoning sufferings and death have secured others to share in this love. He drank the cup which the Father gave Him to drink, and that He might fill our cup now with the love He knows so well. His going away did not take the Father’s love away. The Father now has others who know His love as they pass through the world to where Jesus is. For our comfort, cheer and instruction it is said, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God; therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not.”
“The Father’s love, the source of all,
Sweeter than all it gives,
Shines on us now without recall,
And lasts while Jesus lives.”
From His present place on high with the Father, Jesus brings home to our hearts the knowledge of what the Father is, giving us to know His Name, that His eternal love might be in us. Not only upon us; but dwelling richly in us. The world did not know its Maker; and the world does not know God’s children. They may be known in business and other relationships; but not as the children of God by the world. God’s children carry the secret of this relationship, and of the Father’s love with them, unknown by the world. This spring of joy is theirs and they may enjoy it constantly. The Scripture we have quoted, reads as if the world did not know the Father. That is right, for Jesus said, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” In Him the Father was expressed; therefore He also said, “They have both seen and hated both Me and My Father” (John 15:24). But He has won many out of the world to rejoice with Him in the Father’s love; and the world does not know them, for they are God’s children.
We have spoken of the activities of the three Persons of the Godhead. In regard to THE SON, we repeat, it is said, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not,” although He was “the True Light.” Of THE HOLY SPIRIT, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, we read, “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knows Him.” And of THE FATHER, Jesus said, “O RIGHTEOUS FATHER, the world has not known Thee; but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me.” Again Jesus said, “Ye neither know Me, nor My Father: if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also.” These words help us to understand better the hallowed nearness given to the children of God; for we read also, “Therefore the world knows is not, because it knew HIM not.”
We are likewise helped by them to understand the Spirit’s use in I John of the endearing “HIM”, for to those who know the Father expressed in the Son, the Unction received from Him, delights in filling their hearts with Himself through whom God is known. So we are told, the same Unction teaches us, just as it has taught them,—“Ye shall abide in HIM.” It continues, “And now, little children, ABIDE IN HIM” (1 John 2:27-28) having also previously said, ye shall “continue in THE SON, and in THE FATHER” (v. 24). THE SON is here instructively placed first, for it is by Him and in Him we come to, and know the Father.
In these days of declension; when the lying denial that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah of Israel still obtains; when the seductive teaching is spreading, which denies the Father and the Son, we do well to “abide in Him,” and thus have our confiding hearts well nourished and garrisoned in the knowledge of the Father’s love. John also says assuringly, “He who confesses the SON has THE FATHER also” (2:23). It is not put the opposite way. And to the elect lady he writes, “He that abides in the doctrine of the Christ, he has both THE FATHER and THE SON” (2 John 9). To advance beyond that is to be without God. We see then the immense importance of that oft repeated Word,—“Abide in Him.” May we do so in faith and affection, growing intelligently in the divine unfoldings which are there; responding in the power of the Spirit to the known love of the Father, which has given us to be God’s children. Blessed be His holy Name for such wonderful love.
Father, we worship, blessed in Thy love so true,—
The love that Jesus ever knew:
From every danger be our shield,—
Thyself our joy,—Thyself revealed.
Wonderful too is the hope connected with the relationship, which the Father’s love has granted to us. It cheers our souls as we abide in the present home of our faith; esteeming with deepening joy the divinely given right to be there. What a dwelling for the children of God on their way to be with Jesus for ever,—the Father’s changeless love! What a sure and certain hope is ours,—to be like the One, and see the One, who has made known that eternal love, and brought us into it! “BELOVED, now are we the children of God . . . We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Blessed is that “now” of love and relationship! Bright and glorious the hope to be “like Him” and to “see Him”—our present “hope in Him,” which soon shall be ours actually, along with Himself in glory”! To see Him “as He is” will bless our adoring gaze truly! To see Him as He will be—“King of kings and Lord of lords”—will call forth glad songs of victorious rejoicing and loud hosannas; but to behold Him “as He is” with the Father, in the deep love and blessedness of His Father’s house,—where we shall be like Him and dwell with Him—where the eternal love of the Father for the Son is ours too through Him—where our God and Father shall rest and rejoice in His love—where the designs of His heart of eternal love shall display their beauty and blessedness—where the cup is full—where Jesus, who suffered and once died for us, is supreme in radiant glory—to be with Him and like Him there—to see Him as He is—will move every heart to over-flowing worship and adoration.
The present effects of such hope in Him must be great and powerful! And indeed they are. The practical results are healthful and far reaching. Even the ultra-violet rays of the Solar centre, reaching us through this earth’s murky atmosphere, impart health-giving benefits. Much more so the sunshine of our sure hope in the Son. Therefore we read, “And every one that has this hope in Him purifies himself even as He is pure.” That does not mean we should set about trying to be purer than we are. Such self-centred efforts are useless. This sweet purifying goes on as the hope shines in—the hope which God’s children have in the Son.
Love, too, for one another will increase; for we read, “Everyone that loves Him that begat loves him also that is begotten of Him” (1 John 5:1). Hatred marks the children of the devil; love marks the children of God. Nor are we left to wonder if we really love them. Divine assurance is given to us in the Word as to this. “By this we now that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments.” Pureness, love and obedience prosper here. “His commandments are not grievous,” we are told (5:3). Grief does not mark this pathway; for John wrote, “that your joy may be full.” The “true light” shines here; the Son, “the eternal life,” is known here; the Father’s love and the liberty of the children of God are here, for the Holy Spirit gives the loving cry in the heart, “ABBA, FATHER.”
“Father, we Thy children bless Thee
For such love on us bestowed,
Source of blessing! we confess Thee
Now our Father and our God.”