Intro: There were three friends rushing inside a busy airport to catch their flight after a business conference. One of the guys bumped a basket of apples with his carry on and scattered all the apples on the floor. The girl selling them was blind. None of them stopped to pick up the apples and help the girl because they would miss their flight. They barely got there on time to board the plane but one of them said, “Please tell my wife that I will take the next plane out.” He went back to the girl at the stand who was still sobbing, picked up all the apples and gave her some money to make up for the damaged apples and apologized for his friend. Then the blind girl said, “Sir, are you Jesus?” The man got home very late in the evening.
I got this story from my e-mail. I’m not sure whether this is true or not. However, I was touched by this story because it illustrates that this girl, though she was blind saw Jesus by faith because of what this man did. Isn’t this what God has predestined us to be? To be conformed to the likeness of His Son? Isn’t this what God saved us for? So let us ask this question.
“Am I becoming like Jesus?”
“How great is the 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. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who have this hope in himpurify himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3
When a baby is born, isn’t it that our first observation is whether he or she looks like either the father or the mother. No doubt there will be a similarity. And who would have the joy to welcome this baby? Family members, close relatives and friends. The world does not care because it neither knows the father and mother. This is also true when a sinner is born again in the spirit. Only those who are already in God’s family rejoice over one who is saved.
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10
What caused God to save this sinner that resulted in all the angels rejoicing?
“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Eph. 1:4c-6
This is victory for Jesus that another child is added to God’s family by adoption. The adopted child gets full rights as though he were natural born.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Rom. 8:17
Isn’t this the most amazing and the greatest thing that can ever happen to anyone? To a sinner who deserves to spend eternity in hell? We sing this hymn of His “amazing love” that God would die for sinners such as you and me. So now that we are loved what is our response to His love? To love Him for this very reason, “We love because He first loved us.”
We already took up last Sunday that God saves sinners to conform them to the likeness of Jesus Christ and this should be something every Christian should examine and test himself whether this is happening. This is the predetermined purpose of God. However on our own we cannot make ourselves like Christ. When Jesus Christ became flesh He had the nature of God. Unlike all humans when one is born he or she inherits the nature of our first father Adam. Adam when he was created was pure but his nature was marred and infected after he sinned. After Cain was born who did he look like? Like his father Adam. He inherited the sinful nature of his father and not long after as he grew up, he became disobedient and rebellious against God and committed the first murder. What drove him to kill his younger brother Abel? Jealousy, envy resulting in hatred that made him do what he did. Did we not have these same feelings before we got save and sometimes still feel the same way. We all inherited from Adam his sinful nature but after one is born again he now has another nature, God’s divine nature. This nature is spiritual after God gave life to our dead spirit. This is what Jesus referred to as being born again in the spirit. It is again because after our physical birth our spirit died the moment we sinned, it died just as it happened to Adam. That’s why Jesus requires this as a must. A spirit that is dead cannot become like Him, although one can imitate, talk and even preach the Word but in the end they will fail and are exposed. Here’s what Jesus said about this to warn us so we are not deceived because there will certainly be True and False Prophets and how we can tell one from the other.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” Matt. 7:15-20
Likewise, there will also be True and False Disciples. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Matt. 7:21-23Now, what did John mean from our text when he wrote “what we will be has not yet been known.” I believe he is referring to a future calling in ministry and the work of service that God has prepared for us. After I became a Christian I did not know that one day my Lord Jesus Christ would call me to preach and be a missionary. This was the work God planned for me and He has a plan for everyone He saves to serve God in His kingdom. This He will reveal as we grow up in knowing God through His Son and seek God’s business what to do in the Church and outside in the world.
We grow in our spiritual life by knowing Christ as we read and study His Word. Then as we become obedient to all His commands we will become more and more like Jesus. Becoming like Jesus does not happen overnight. It is a process of getting to know Christ and the will of God. There will be growth because there is life, the spirit that has been made alive.
“This is eternal life; that they may know the true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3
And this is the first sign of life, a love for Jesus expressed by a heartfelt desire and action to worship Him. The next will be a hunger for the Word to feed the spirit that is now alive. Spiritual growth will come in stages and phases. So John wrote this for us in his letter to see and evaluate where we are in our spiritual life and to press on to what God has predestined.
“I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on the account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him from the beginning. I write to you,young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:12-14
Just as we grow in the physical life this is also how our spiritual life will grow. Jesus Himself did not start his ministry when he was a child even as a young man. He had to grow both in his physical and in wisdom by studying the Word of God. He worshiped and learned from the teachers of the law as a child, just as we have Sunday school for all ages. And at the right time God called Him to do what He came to do. I have already shared this before but we need to be reminded and challenged in our spiritual growth not to remain as children even as young men but aim to become mature as fathers. So, where are you in your spiritual life? Everyone who has been born again is in a certain level. Our lifetime goal should be to become like Christ. This takes a lifetime to become mature in the faith that’s why it is very important to be a part of a body of Christ, a church whose head is Christ for this is God’s will according to His plan that everyone matures spiritually.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for work of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph. 4:11-13
This is God’s will to achieve His predetermined purpose. For whose glory and benefit? To the praise of His glorious grace resulting in…
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Eph. 4:14-16
Today, there are no more apostles and prophets. They have accomplished their purpose. The Bible is complete and Paul was the last of the apostles.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” Eph. 1:1
He was also a prophet who was given revelations of what is to happen and future events like the rapture. The last of the prophets was John, who had the privilege of seeing the future that has not happened yet, and then told to write down what he saw. So what is yet to come is a replay of what has already happened as God has planned it written in the book of Revelation.
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw – that is the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Rev. 1:1-2
So now, what is left by God for His church are evangelists, pastors and teachers. The evangelists seek the lost by telling them the good news. Once they are saved, God combines them to a local body of Christ, His church.
“God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it… In fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” 1 Cor. 12:24b, 18.
I purposely cut the verses in parts to highlight the work of God in the church He gave to His Son. For those God has chosen to be adopted as His sons, He gave them to His Son to save and to build up in His body.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours: you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” John 17:6-10
After Jesus resurrected and sent the Holy Spirit He promised His disciples, they preached the gospel with boldness and the first evangelistic crusade harvested many souls who received Christ.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to the number that day.” Acts 2:41.
Added means God knew who are His to give to the church. This was the birth of the New Testament church. Is God’s plan continuing to this very day? Yes, and this is happening in the body of Christ. And one day,“we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” What does this mean? Will we look like Jesus as they painted him with a beard and long hair? No. Because we are becoming holy in our walk we will see our resemblance of Him in His glory. When we see Jesus we will know and recognize Him just as John did.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Rev. 1:17-18
The blind girl said, “Sir, are you Jesus?” No. I can never be Jesus, there’s only one, but you and I can become like Him. Is this possible? Yes, when we grow up in knowing Him and purify ourselves. How?
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
This is why God saved us for, that we live for the glory of God as we are being conformed to the likeness of His Son. He is the firstborn and we are His offspring, brothers and sisters to participate in God’s divine nature produced in us by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.
And this is only true when one is born again. Have you been born again?