1 John 3:1
Behold what manner of love the Father has given to 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.
Sermons
Behold What Manner of Love!W. Jones 1 John 3:1
How to Fertilize LoveCharles Wesley Naylor1 John 3:1
Second Sunday After Trinity Exhortation to Brotherly LoveMartin Luther1 John 3:1
Vanity of Human GloryJohn Henry Newman1 John 3:1
Whereby We Cry, Abba, FatherHugh Binning1 John 3:1
A Christian's High Condition and HopeJ. N. Pearson, M. A.1 John 3:1-6
Adopting Love of the FatherJohn Eadie, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
Children of GodNewman Smyth.1 John 3:1-6
Children of GodD. Wilcox.1 John 3:1-6
Christians UnknownW. H. Lewis, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
God's Adoptive LoveJ. Morgan, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
Slighted by the WorldScraggs.1 John 3:1-6
Sons of GodS. E. Pierce.1 John 3:1-6
The Dignity of Human Nature and its Consequent ObligationsCharles Lowell.1 John 3:1-6
The Divine Birth -- the Family LikenessR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
The FatherJ. J. Eastmead.1 John 3:1-6
The Father's Love and the Children's BlessednessM. G. Pearce.1 John 3:1-6
The Hidden LifeC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 3:1-6
The Love that Calls Us SonsA. Maclaren, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
The Manner of Love Bestowed Upon UsW. Mudge, B. A.1 John 3:1-6
The Present Relationship and Future Prospects of the FaithfulH. P. Bower.1 John 3:1-6
The Privileges of the GoodSamuel Roberts, M. A.1 John 3:1-6
The Sons of GodT. Manton, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
The Spiritual Sonship1 John 3:1-6
The Wonderful Love of God as Displayed in Human RedemptionW. Lloyd.1 John 3:1-6
The World Does not Know ChristC. Stanford, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
The World Knoweth Us NotT. Manton, D. D.1 John 3:1-6
What Manner of LoveA. H. M. H. Aitken.1 John 3:1-6
Righteousness and Sin in Relation to Children of GodR. Finlayson 1 John 3:1-12
Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us," etc.! The "behold" summons our attention to the kind of love which God has given to us. It is not the greatness of the love, but the "manner of love," that we are called to contemplate. And the nature of this love is to be inferred from its expression; hence St. John says "that we should be called children of God." God has bestowed his love upon us; not simply the gifts of it, or the proof of it, but itself. Yet of what kind it is can only be discovered from its manifestations. He has given to us not only streams of blessing, but the very fountain of blessing; yet we can know the nature of the fountain only from the streams which flow from it. Thus let us meditate upon the love of the Divine Father to us as it is exhibited in the text.

I. LOVE OF IMMEASURABLE CONDESCENSION. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!" The Creator gave his love to his creature whom he had created in his own likeness. He made him capable of fellowship with himself, and, looking upon him with complacency, pronounced him "very good." God gave his love to man. But our text does not refer to man as he was created by God, but as he was when marred by sin against him. The infinitely Holy bestowed his love upon the unholy, the sinful; the unspeakably Glorious, upon the deeply degraded. He did not give his love to the amiable, the attractive, the worthy, or the lovable. He did not bestow it upon those who were merely immeasurably beneath him, but upon those who were in active rebellion against him. "God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." His love to us, then, was not that of complacency, but of compassion; not that of admiration, but of benevolence and pity. It was "love seeking not its own," but our well-being; not rejoicing over the good and beautiful, but seeking with deepest solicitude for the salvation of the unworthy and sinful.

II. Love WHICH EXALTS AND DIGNIFIES ITS OBJECTS. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God!" He himself calls us his children. Our Lord. taught us to say, "Our Father, which art in heaven." He said, "My Father and your Father, my God and your God." But in what sense does he call us his children? Not as being his by creation, but by regeneration. The words immediately preceding the text place this beyond dispute: "Every one that doeth righteousness is begotten of him." He has created them anew. They are "born from above." They are made "partakers of the Divine nature." No new faculties or capacities are given to them; nor do they need them; for man lost none of them by sin. His powers were corrupted and perverted, but not destroyed. The true relation and. harmony and. direction of his faculties man lost by his sin: he lost holiness. Being begotten of God, he is changed from an attitude of distrust, suspicion, or aversion from God, to an attitude of love to him; and holy love is the life of the soul. "Every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God" (1 John 4:7). They are "called children of God," then:

1. Because they are sharers in his life. In some humble measure they participate in that life of truth and righteousness, purity and love, which is his essentially and infinitely, and which flows from him to all his intelligent creatures who are in union with him.

2. Because they morally resemble him. Like him in their inward life, they are also in a measure like him in their outward action. As regards both their character and conduct, they bear some moral resemblance to him. He calls them his children because they are his children restored through Christ to his fatherly heart, animated with the Divine life of love, and growing in their conformity to his perfect character. How glorious is the love which thus blesses its objects!

III. LOVE WHICH INSPIRES ITS OBJECTS WITH THE MOST BLESSED ASSURANCE. "Called children of God: and such we are." True Christians are conscious that they are children of God. They have a cheering and. strengthening conviction that they are accepted of him, not only as his subjects, but as his sons and daughters. "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God" (Romans 8:14-16); "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:4-6). We have this sacred testimony in our consciousness of the Spirit's presence and work within us. He imparts unto us the filial spirit, "whereby we cry, Abba, Father." He inspires within us holy desires and purposes, he restrains us from sin, he comforts us in sorrow, he strengthens us to produce the fruit of the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance." The presence of these things in our lives is a testimony that we are children of God. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."

IV. LOVE WHICH ENNOBLES THE CHARACTER OF ITS OBJECTS ABOVE THE RECOGNITION OF THE UNCHRISTIAN WORLD. "Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." "The world" is the same here as in 1 John 2:15.

1. The unchristian world knew not the Divine Father. "It knew him not." The "him" must be God the Father. If it refer to Jesus Christ at all, it must be as the Revelation of the Father. Our Lord said to the Pharisees, "Ye know neither me nor my Father: if ye knew me, ye would know my Father also" (John 8:19; John 16:3; John 17:25).

2. The unchristian world knows not the children of the Divine Father. "Therefore the world knoweth us not." Because they are his children and resemble him, they are enigmas to the world. By the love which he hath bestowed upon them they are so ennobled in their disposition and character, their principles and practice, that the unchristian world cannot understand them. Behold, then, "what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us"! Believe it; contemplate it; admire it; reciprocate it. - W.J.







Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God
These two verses of St. John's Epistle contain a simple summary of true religion. "If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is begotten of Him." Thus far the Old Testament goes. Israel had learned this primary lesson of true religion, that the Almighty is the Righteous Power. Knowing Jehovah, not as a national deity who would help His own people whether they were right or wrong, but as the righteous God over all, who would reject His chosen people if they did wrong, the prophets saw clearly also that only those men who do right can claim to be the sons of the Most High. The next verse contains a summary of the New Testament revelation of real religion: "Behold what manner of love," etc. It is all from God's love in Christ that we have right to be called children of God. These two words — one fulfilling the Old Testament, the other opening the riches of the New — mark the essence of real religion: righteousness and sonship. Let us first take up the Old Testament word for it. It is a solid word. The true religion is not a moral veneering of life; it is not a piece of pious ornamentation, nor an official robe drawn over an unprincipled heart. It is not an emotional substitute for conduct. The Old Testament word for religion is a word of cubic contents — righteousness, a real thing, concrete as just dealing between man and man. A present indisputable argument for belief in Moses and the prophets as holy men of old inspired of God is that they made the superhuman effort of building a nation on the Ten Commandments. They had the supernal faith to command a people to do right, and to live together in just relations in the fear of God. We do not yet dare bring our politics up to that level of the prophets. The religion which first mastered the lesson of eternal justice and made it the foundation of a state was not a faith which had sprung up of itself out of the jungle of Canaanitish superstitions. It was not found in Babylon. Assyria's power perished for the lack of it. The true God impressed Himself upon Moses and the prophets. We know that they were the appointed bearers of a Divine revelation, and the bringers of the light, very much as we might know that a highway running up to some clear mountain height through the swamp and the underbrush at its foot was never a spontaneous freak of nature, but marks the course of some intelligent purpose. The Lord God made that way of righteousness through all the superstitions and idolatries of the nations on and up to its Messianic height. The religion of eternal righteousness is the supernal fact of history. Once gain sight of the everlasting righteousness, and nothing else seems great. Observe that the righteousness which from beginning to end the Old Testament presses for is no abstraction, but concrete, solid right-doing. The preachers of righteousness in the Old Testament faced men, and threw themselves in the name of the holy God into the thick of events. They were the fearless advocates of the oppressed; they were God's statesmen amid the shifting politics of Jerusalem. They could flash the eternal justice into the covetous eyes of princes. Righteousness in the old testament is no scholar's candle flickering in an attic; it is an electric light revealing the street; all classes have to pass under it and be seen. Turn now from the prophets to the New Testament. We hear ringing clear and full through the preaching of the apostles another word for the true religion. It is sonship. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." The essence of the New Testament is in the Lord's parable of the prodigal son. So Jesus Himself opened the heart of the gospel toward us sinners. The grandest thing in the world for any man to do is really to live day and night, alike in the darkness or in the joy of life, as a son of the Most High God. Only one ever accomplished perfectly this task; and we for the most part do but succeed as yet in living here and there, now and then, as the children of the Father in heaven. But think a moment what it is to do this. It would signify within us a very genuine humility. In a life of sonship humility would have to be at times that conscious sense of evil or of wrongdoing which is repentance for sin. The humility of a life of filial dependence on God will become so deep and pure that no possible outward success or inward spiritual triumph will be able to cause the son of the living God to dwell in any other habit and atmosphere. Sonship, again, so far as this New Testament word for religion is realised by any of us, will free us from the haunting sense of strangeness in this world. It is not simply the mystery of things; it is the mystery of ourselves that baffles us. Death does not grow less strange from our increasing familiarity with it. All things are strange, and will grow stranger to us, unless we can discover some diviner thoughtfulness in them; unless, amid all the mystery of the universe, we shall know ourselves as God's children, and begin on this earth to be in our hearts at home with our God. This likewise will be the mark of true sonship, and the religion of sonship — obedience, strong, cheerful obedience. The Christian sense of sonship, so far as we receive the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father, will enable us, in short, to live the simple life of trust. It is life up on the sunny heights. Trust is final spiritual mastery of things. It is perfect poise of spirit, like the poise of the eagle after it has beaten its way up against the wind into the sky, and rests circling with buoyant wings upon the sunny air. Trust is ability of soul to live happily without Divine explanation. Faith in God is willingness to wait for explanations of things. You ask for reasons why certain event, have happened to you; why any evil, such as we may meet in the street, is tolerated for a moment in a world which has a God over it; why human life has otter proved so tragic; why death reigns; why a thousand shadows fleck the light; why in short, we mortals seem to be like wanderers in a forest, where it is both dark and bright. Now, faith is not an answer to any of these inquiries; faith does not yet lead us out with the clearing, but faith is trust in the light between the shadows trust that the light is high and eternal, and the shadows only for the moment Trust is the discovery of the soul that it can live awhile without explanations, and not be disturbed. Such trust is the confidence of sonship. Now, I am aware that men who have to meet the practical urgencies of life often find it easier to come to some determination of righteousness than it is for them to let their lives be lifted up into the assurance of sonship. It is less difficult for some of you to be Old Testament worthies than it is to become New Testament saints. You love righteousness, and you hate injustice and fraud. There you are inclined to stop. It is better for anyone to live according to the righteousness of the Old Testament than not to live at all from the Bible. The seeds of the perfect life of sonship are contained in the religion of the prophets. Nevertheless, the Christ came to fulfil the righteousness of the old dispensation. The righteousness which is by faith is out full salvation. Let one's dutiful living spring directly out of his sense of sonship, and it will become a transfigured conscientiousness. The light of love will play all through

2. To this higher life we are called. Men will finally do right toward one another when they shall learn to live together as sons of God. The present revival of right-doing will be complete when in the power of the Holy Spirit men are born anew as the children of the Father in heaven.

(Newman Smyth.)

The first verses of the third chapter are to be viewed as inseparable from the last verse of the second. It is that verse which starts the new line of thought; our "knowing that God is righteous, and doing righteousness accordingly," in virtue of our "being born of Him." Born of Him! That is what awakens John's grateful surprise.

I. In every view that can be taken of it, our being called the sons of God is A WONDERFUL INSTANCE OF THE FATHER'S LOVE.

II. AND WE ARE HIS CHILDREN: "Beloved, now are we children of God." Our being called children of God is a reality; our being born of God makes it so. The world may not know us in that character, for "it knows not God," and has never known Him. Let us lay our account with having to judge and act on principles which the world cannot understand. Let us be God's children indeed; though on that very account the world that has not known God should not know us.

III. FOR WHATEVER THE WORLD MAY THINK OR SAY, "WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD," His dear children; sharers of His Divine nature; the objects of His fatherly love. It concerns us to bear this in mind, to feel it to be true. It is our safety to do so. It is what is due to ourselves; it is what God expects, and has a right to expect from us. Let us stay ourselves on the conviction that our being God's children is not a matter of opinion, dependent on the world's vote, but a matter of fact, flowing from the amazing manner of love which the Father hath bestowed upon us. And let us be put, as the saying is, upon our mettle, to make good our claim to be God's children by such a manifestation of our oneness of nature with Him of whom we are born as may, by God's blessing, overcome some of the world's ignorant unbelief, and lead some of the world's children to try that manner of love for themselves, to taste and see how good the Lord is.

IV. AND WE ARE TO DO SO ALL THE RATHER BECAUSE THESE DRAWBACKS AND DISADVANTAGES WILL NOT LAST LONG. We are only at the beginning of our life as God's children.

1. What is set before us as matter of hope in the future life is not something different from what is to be attained, enjoyed, and improved by us, as matter of faith, and of the experience of faith in the present life.

2. When it does appear what we are to be, when that is no more hidden but disclosed, we shall be like God whose children we are as being born of Him: "for we shall see Him as He is." The full light of all His perfection as the righteous God will open upon our view; we shall know the righteous Father as the Son knows Him. Is not this a hope "full of glory"? And is it not a hope full of holiness too?

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

I. First, we are arrested by the manner in which the apostle opens the subject — "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." It is the language of adoration and wonder. Our astonishment might well be excited that God had created us that He preserved us, notwithstanding our unworthiness. But that He should adopt sinners was condescension which might well prompt the exclamation, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." What, then, is the manner of this love? It passeth knowledge. It was everlasting love, gratuitous love, and at the same time costly love. And then how rich the blessings procured by such love.

2. "We are called the sons of God." It is clear this statement must be understood in a restricted sense. All are the sons of God by creation, also by providence. The text refers to a sonship peculiar to those who are the objects of redeeming love. Adoption into the family of God is singled out as evidence and effect of His love. Nor can we wonder at this selection. Think of the work that is done when the sinner is made a son of God. It is a new birth unto righteousness. The sinner is made alive unto God. Think, again, of the change that is effected in such a work. Think of the privileges of sonship. Think, finally, of the inheritance in store for them. "If children then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ."

3. The estimate formed of the privilege of sonship by the world. "Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." It might have been supposed that all men would applaud them as the happiest and most excellent of the children of men. But, alas! it is very different. The world does not know the sons of God. The world both disapproves and dislikes the peculiarity of the sons of God. The reason is suggested in the text. "Therefore," saith the apostle. He had only said it was a blessed thing to be called the sons of God. Can it be, then, this is that which the world dislikes? This is clearly his meaning. Worldly men do not understand the doctrine of sonship. It is too spiritual for their perception. They scorn it as the offspring of spiritual pride. Unhappily, however, for their hot displeasure, there is an indisputable fact to prove this enmity of the world to the sons of God. It is quoted by the apostle. It is the rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He says of the world and of Him, "it knew Him not." This accords with the history, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Ought this, then, to offend them? Certainly not. It ought to profit them. It should put them on their guard, that they may give no unnecessary offence. It should make them thankful they are not of the same spirit.

4. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." How carefully the views of the apostle are balanced in this passage. When he set forth sonship and its high privileges he annexed a caution, "the world knoweth us not," lest any might be disappointed and injured. So again after he had given that caution he reassures them of the reality and continuance of their blessedness, "Now are we the sons of God." This might be rendered necessary by the dark suspicions of their own minds. They found much within them contrary to what they could desire or might expect. Let them not be cast down. Or it might be rendered necessary by the conduct of others towards them. They might find themselves suspected and evil entreated. Through it all let them remember they are still the sons of God. Nor should they forget what was required of them as such. "Only let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ." "Walk worthy of your high vocation." So living they might enjoy the sweet consciousness that, let the world do or say as they might, they could appropriate the assuring words, "Now are we the sons of God."

5. Their thoughts are directed to the future. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be."

6. "Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself even as He is pure."

(J. Morgan, D. D.)

I. LOOK AT THE RESULT OR PURPOSE OF THIS LOVE, AND WE SHALL BE THE BETTER PREPARED TO UNDERSTAND ITS "MANNER." What "manner" of love is this, in transforming those who were once so unlike Him? Love prompted Him to adopt them; and after they are adopted He has peculiar delight in them. What "manner" of love is this, that the fallen should at length have a place in His bosom which the unfallen can never occupy! Still more, a glorious destiny awaits them. When the years of minority are expired the children are taken home to the household on high, where the whole family form one unbroken and vast assemblage. The extraordinary love of the Father is also seen in the entire circuit of discipline which has been arranged for His children. And will not such a child be content in any circumstances? What is good for him his Father will give him. As much of temporal blessing will he get as he can improve.

II. THE SINGULARITY OF THE DIVINE AFFECTION.

1. And first, the love that leads a man to call a child his own, which is not his by natural descent, has not such a "manner" about it. For when among men a child is adopted, it is usually because the adopter thinks it worthy of his regard; because there is something in its features or character that pleases him. But no such motive could prompt the Divine affection, for we are utterly lost and loathsome before Him.

2. Again, if one adopts a child, it is commonly because himself is childless, or his hearth may have been desolated by war or disease. He longs to have some object near him on which to expend his attachment. But Jehovah had myriads of a flourishing progeny — uncounted hosts of bright intelligences, who have never disobeyed Him. But the present condition of the sons of God is veiled and incomplete. "Therefore," the apostle adds, "the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." The mission of the Son of God was spiritual, was too ethereal for the coarse vision of the world to detect, or its sordid heart to admire. Its great ones, and not its good ones, divide among themselves the world's homage. Not that the world is able to ignore Christianity. But it admires it not for itself but for its splendid results — for the beneficial effects, in the form of patriotism and philanthropy, which it has produced. It is not Wilberforce the saint, but Wilberforce the queller of the slave trade, that men admire. The dignity and prospects of the sons of God are not of a secular and visible nature. "The world knoweth them not." But should this ignorance on the part of the world dispirit you? By no means. Your case is not solitary. It did not recognise the Son of God. "Now are we the sons of God." Despite of this non-recognition on the part of the world, we are the sons of God. The reality of our adoption is not modified by the world's oblivion of it. It may be undiscovered by others, but our own experience gives ourselves the full assurance of it. But noble as is our present condition, our ultimate dignity surpasses conception. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." Even though we now revel in the Divine favour, yet such transcendent felicity is scarcely a premiss to reason from as to the glory of our ultimate heritage. There is so much about us that clogs and confines us — so deep is the shadow that earth throws over the children of God that any inference as to coming freedom and glory is all but an impossibility. Such being the present eclipse of our sonship, there is the less wonder that "the world knoweth us not." Their aim is to be as like Him as they can be here, in the hope that they shall be perfectly like Him hereafter.

(John Eadie, D. D.)

I. THE MANNER OF LOVE WHICH THE FATHER HATH BESTOWED UPON US.

1. Sovereign in its exercise.

2. Gracious in its communication.

3. Merciful in its regards.

4. Everlasting in its continuance.

II. THE CONSEQUENCES WHICH FLOW TO US FROM THAT LOVE.

1. Present adoption into God's family.

2. Future restoration to His image.

III. THE ATTENTION WITH WHICH THE WHOLE SHOULD BE REGARDED.

1. Your attention should deepen your humility.

2. Your attention should strengthen your confidence.

3. Your attention should excite your affection.

(W. Mudge, B. A.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN'S PRESENT STATE IS ONE OF RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. It implies —

1. Godlikeness.

2. Confidence.

3. Liberty.

4. It entitles us to a glorious inheritance.

II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS FUTURE LIFE ARE IN A GREAT MEASURE UNKNOWN TO HIM.

III. WE HAVE, NEVERTHELESS, SUFFICIENT KNOWLEDGE OF THAT FUTURE TO MAKE US HAPPY IN THE PRESENT.

(H. P. Bower.)

I. THE UNWORTHINESS OF ITS OBJECTS.

II. THE EXPENSIVENESS OF THE SACRIFICE.

III. THE VARIETY AND VASTNESS OF THE BLESSINGS secured to us through this adopting love.

1. Present.

2. Future.

IV. THIS LOVE IS TO BE TO US A SUBJECT OF MEDITATION. "Behold."

1. Admire it.

2. Trust in it.

3. Extol it.

4. Believe it.

(W. Lloyd.)

Here, you notice, that although St. John had been learning more and more about the love of God all his days, he does not trust himself to characterise it. I believe throughout eternity we shall never find the right word for it. Even if we think that we have made some such grand discovery as to present it to us in an altogether new light, we shall still go on discovering that there is more to be said about it. Mark, the love spoken of here is the love of the Father. This text takes us right back to the source from which all other blessings flow. That word "Father!" — there is scarcely a heart in which there does not seem to be awakened something like a sympathetic thrill at the sound — even those who are most estranged from God by sin and wicked works. Does it not answer to an inward yearning of our human hearts? Orphans are we, and desolate, unless we know that within the veil we have One who not only bears a Father's name but possesses a Father's heart. Now observe, this love is represented as being definitely bestowed, with a view to a specific end, and that end is in order that we might be called the sons of God. We might hay, Deer called the sons of God in the sense of creation, without any such love being bestowed upon us, without any gift being made. There was no particular difficulty in our being placed in such a position; indeed, as an historical fact, we are His offspring. Nor, again, was there any special difficulty in the way of His adopting a certain ecclesiastical relationship to us, standing to us in the relation of Father to an ecclesiastical theocracy, which He Himself established; there was no difficulty in that. But in order that He might stand in the relationship indicated to us in this sense, as "our Father," and put us in the position indicated by the word "son" in this passage, it was necessary that He should make such a manifestation of His love towards us as He has made in the Incarnation. Now we pass on to consider this special relationship, and the first thought that strikes me is this, that in order theft you and I might attain to it the love of God had first of all to surmount a stupendous difficulty. There was a question which God represents Himself as putting to Himself, and that question is, "How shall I set thee amongst the children?" Oh, you say, by an act of God's sovereign power. But an act of God's sovereign power would not make us real children of His. The child partakes of the nature of his parent. Now, we have lost the nature of our spiritual Parent, we have inherited the nature of our earthly parent: the old Adam. We come into the world with an hereditary taint of rebellion against God. How many of us there are who, from our earliest days, have gone on living consistently with this start. Now, under those circumstances, how can God put us amongst the children? If God were to say to one of you, "You are My child," would that make you His child unless He were first to perform a moral miracle upon you? Now, God performs moral miracles, but He does it in a particular way. He so performs the miracle that in the actual performance of it our will shall be consciously cooperating with Him. "How shall I set thee among the children?" The answer is given in the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. There was only one way in which the love of God could achieve this marvellous result. It was to be done by a gift — the gift of Incarnate Love. What do we know about the love of God? I see it revealed in the human form of Jesus. What is that love of God like? I apprehend its character by gazing into the face of Jesus. What is it that the love of God actually does achieve? It achieves its very end, it achieves the end of bringing me, poor, guilty rebel as I am, into a filial relationship with God; enabling me to look up into God's face and say, "Thank God, I now am a child of God." How is this done? It is done by a new birth. How is this birth to be elected? "Ye must be born again." But how am I to pass from the old life into this new life of God? I am "born not of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of the will of God." How am I born? By complying with that will, by surrendering myself to the revealed love of God in the person of Christ. If at some great cost some boon which you very much require is brought within your reach, and if you spurn it, I venture to say it is impossible to cut your benefactor more to the heart than by such a line of conduct. Now, then, are you called a child of God? Does God call you so? Is it so? If not, why not? Don't say that God has made it so difficult. Do you think it probable that God should refuse the very boon which He has given His Son in order to bestow?

(A. H. M. H. Aitken.)

1. The privilege itself is to be "called the sons of God." Mark, not subjects or servants, but sons; and to be called the sons of God is to be the sons of God.

2. The fountain and first rise is the "love of the Father," who is everywhere represented as the first Cause of our blessedness. God's love is nothing else but His goodwill and resolution to impart such great privileges to us; He did it because He would do it; He was resolved to do it, and took pleasure in it.

3. The wonderful degree in the expression of His love, "What manner of love." The expression noteth not only the quality, but quantity.

4. The note of attention, or the terms used exciting our attention, "Behold." There is a threefold "behold" in Scripture, and they are applicable to this place; as —(1) The behold of demonstration, which is referred to a thing,, or person present, and noteth the certainty of sense (John 1:29).(2) The behold of admiration, or awakening our drowsy minds, when any extraordinary thing is spoken of (Lamentations 1:12). So here in the case of good, is there any love like unto this love? And all is that we may entertain it with wonder and reverence.(3) The behold of gratulation, as rejoicing and blessing ourselves in the privilege (Psalm 121:4).

I. THERE IS SUCH A RELATION AS THAT OF FATHER AND CHILDREN BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE.

1. It proceedeth from a distinct cause, His special and peculiar love, not from that common goodness and bounty which He expresseth to all His creatures (Psalm 145:9). But this is the special act of His grace or of His great love (Ephesians 2:4, 5).

2. The foundation of this relation is not our being which we have from Him as a Creator, but our new being which we have from Him as a Father in Christ.

3. The whole commerce and communion that is between us and Him is on God's part fatherly, on our part childlike.

II. THAT THIS IS A BLESSED AND GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE will appear if we consider —

1. The person adopting, the great and glorious God, who is so far above us, so happy within Himself, and needeth not us nor our choicest love and service; who had a Son of His own, Jesus Christ, the eternally-begotten of the Father, "the Son of His love," in whom His soul found such full complacency and delight.

2. The persons who are adopted — miserable sinners.

3. The fountain of this mercy and grace, or that which moved God, was His love: this was that which set Hts power and mercy at work to bring us into this estate.(1) This was an eternal love; the first foundation of it was laid in the election of God; there is the bottom stone in this building.(2) It was a free love: "I will love them freely."(3) It is special, peculiar love, not common to the world; yet this love was bestowed upon us.(4) It is a costly love, considering the way how it is brought about.

4. The dignity itself nakedly considered; it is a greater honour them the world can afford to us, a matter to be rather wondered at than told.

5. It is not a naked and empty title, but giveth us a right to the greatest privileges imaginable.(1) With respect to the present state; and there —

(a)He will give us the Holy Spirit to be our sanctifier, guide, and comforter.

(b)He giveth us an allowance of such temporal things, of outward mercies, as are convenient for us (Matthew 6:25, 30).(2) With respect to the life to come. Eternal blessedness is the fruit of adoption (Romans 8:17).

III. BELIEVERS OUGHT TO BE EXCITED TO THE EARNEST CONSIDERATION OF IT.

1. To quicken our thankfulness, which is the chief motive and principle of gospel obedience.

2. That we may keep up the joy of our faith and comfort in afflictions from the world. Though we be God's children, yet the greater part of the world treateth us as slaves. It doth support us often and frequently to consider the world cannot hate us so much as God loveth us.

3. That we may be satisfied and contented with our portion; if you have God to your Father, what though you be straitened in the world?

4. To stir us up to be exemplary in holiness; for if God be matchless in His love we should be singular in our holiness; our return must carry proportion with our receipts.

5. We should consider it, that we may clear up our interest the more in it and not foolishly content ourselves with an inferior happiness. The use that I shall make of it is to persuade you to put in for a share in this blessed privilege. To direct you in this, let me tell you —(1) That this new relation dependeth on the new birth, and that none are adopted but those that are regenerated and renewed to the image and likeness of God; all others, though called Christians, are degenerate children.(2) Regeneration is God's act; but repentance and faith, which are the immediate issues of it, are ours, and you must enter by the strait gate if you would enter into God's family and obtain the privileges of it.(3) If you would have the privileges of children you must perform the duties of children; we catch at privileges but neglect duty. Now the great duty of children is to love, please, and honour their father.(4) If we would enjoy the privileges of the family we must submit to the discipline of the family.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

In the words there are two things chiefly: First, what this means "Sons of God"; secondly, what this, "To be called the sons of God." First, sons of God is a title used divers ways; the son of God is either by nature, or by creation, or by participation, or by a general profession, or by adoption. Now, when this sonship by adoption is applied to those whom God chooseth, there are two kinds of it mentioned in Scripture, the former of which is but a resemblance and figure of the latter. Of it is that speech of God to Moses (Exodus 4:22), which very privilege Paul calleth by the name of adoption (Romans 9:4). By it is no other thing meant but God's choosing that people out of all nations under heaven to be His peculiar people; which, albeit it were an high favour, yet it was not properly a spiritual blessing, but a type and a shadow of that adoption which Paul calleth the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:5), which is that grace of God by which He is pleased to take us for His children in Christ, and to make us heirs together with Him of eternal glory; and this is that which John speaketh of in this place. The second thing is, what it is to be called the sons of God. It must not be so taken as though this of being the sons of God were a matter of title only without substance, as when a man hath a word of respect cast upon him only for compliment's sake; but to be called the sons of God and to be the sons of God are here all one. The general points are these — First, that the state of God's adoption is a glorious estate. Secondly, that it is an estate of which it is possible for him that is invested into it to be assured in his own soul. Thirdly, that it is an estate unalterable. Fourthly, that the alone spring and beginning of it is God's love. How the first point is grounded upon this Scripture appears by the admiration which the apostle breaks out into, wondering at the infiniteness of God's mercy, who should vouchsafe unto the sons of men such a prerogative, and provoking others to join with him therein, as though it were a matter singular from all example that we should be advanced to so great an honour to be the sons of God. I could easily collect even a cloud of circumstances for the enlarging the glory and worth of this estate; I will reduce all to three heads. The first is the excellency of the means to procure it to us. The second is the majesty of the person by whose name (through our adoption) we are entitled. The third is the prerogatives and privileges that are belonging to it. Now these prerogatives are to be distinguished thus: To be either in this life or hereafter. Touching this life I will name only two. The first is an interest into God's particular and special providence. If my wants be outward here is my Heavenly Father standing by me, He knoweth what I need, and He cannot forget me. If my defects be from within He is that God of all grace, and shall fulfil all my necessities. This privilege of God's especial providence is that river of God out of which flow these streams to make glad the adopted of God. The second prerogative in this life is the free use of God's creatures, both for necessity and for delight. This is a true saying. The charter anciently given by the great Lord of all at our first creation, touching the use of His creatures, was forfeited into the hands of the Donor by Adam's fall. It is restored and renewed by Christ, and only to those who are honoured with the adoption of sons, only the heirs of heaven are the right inheritors of the earth; all the rest are but usurpers. Now for the prerogative of the sons of God appertaining to the life to come, which way shall I begin to express it? When Haman was willed to speak by Ahasuerus, What should be done to the man whom the king would honour, he (supposing that the king had no meaning to honour any but him), said thus (Esther 6:8, 9). So shall it be to the sons of God at the day of judgment. What should now be the use of this doctrine, or wherefore hath this dignity of adoption been set before us, but to stir us all up to say in our hearts, as Christ's hearers did when He had spoken to them of the bread of life, Lord (said they) evermore give us this bread. So you, I beseech you, say everyone in the strength of your best desires. Is the state of adoption such an honourable estate? Lord, evermore give us this dignity. And now, touching the means by which those that do affect this prerogative of adoption may attain unto it. There are two places of Scripture especially by which we may be rightly informed in this matter (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12). Both put together do make this good, that the means of adoption is faith in Christ Jesus, or believing in His name. First, what kind of faith it is which makes us capable of adoption. Secondly, how it brings us to be the sons of God. Thirdly, how itself is wrought in the hearts of the adopted. Touching the first, this I say, that the believing, or faith, which maketh a man the son of God is an action of the will, whereby a man knowing certainly out of the Scriptures that Jesus Christ is the promised Saviour of mankind doth for the matter of his soul settle his heart and repose himself wholly and solely upon Him. This is properly that faith which is called justifying or saving faith. For the second, that also is necessary to be rightly opened, because some men of corrupt minds do think these speeches, faith justifieth, faith adopteth, faith saveth, to be derogatory to the glory of God, and to carry a contradiction to these, Christ justifieth, Christ adopteth, Christ saveth. Understand we therefore, and be not deceived. One thing may be spoken of divers particulars in a different sense: as, for example, God the Father adopteth, Christ Jesus adopteth, the Holy Ghost adopteth, faith adopteth; these are all true and without any mutual contrariety. God the Father adopteth as the fountain of adoption; Christ as the ground of adoption; the Holy Ghost as the applier of adoption; faith as the instrument of adoption. The third point was to show how this faith is wrought in the hearts of the adopted. The Supreme Giver of faith is God, every good gift is from Him. The second doctrine is, that it is possible for him that is the son of God to be assured in his own soul that he is so. I am commanded by my Saviour when I pray to call God Father. How is He to me a Father into whose presence I may dare to come, but as I am His adopted son in Christ? Shall I term Him Father, and have no assurance that I am His son? This were intolerable presumption. To bring us to the assurance of our adoption is the drift of preaching, the scope of praying, and the intent of our administering and receiving the sacraments: all aim and drive at this, that we may learn to apply the general sweetness of the Scriptures to our own particulars. But to cut off all mistakings: here is a necessary question to be made touching this assurance of adoption. Whether it be such an assurance which is so certain that it is never disturbed with doubting? I answer: I dare not say it is such an assurance; I know David knew himself to be the chosen of God, yet I know that sometimes he thought he was cast out of God's sight, and that the Lord would show no more favour (Psalm 31:22; Psalm 77:7; Psalm 69:3). What assurance then (will you say) is this you discourse of? I answer, an assurance striving after assurance; an assurance wrestling and combating with continual doubtings. It is the wisdom of God by this very means to settle the hearts of His chosen. It was one of the old rules of the law, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word should stand. It is therefore the wisdom of God that the assurance of adoption should be grounded upon the testimony of two very sufficient witnesses, the Spirit of God and our own spirit. The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

( S. Hieron.)

I have taken the text from the New Version, which gives us this very emphatic Amen: "And such we are." Well may the apostle cry "Behold!" as he sets forth this wonderful truth.

I. See, then, WHENCE THIS LOVE COMES. Behold what manner of love "the Father" hath bestowed upon us. Let men come to think that God is against them, and what can they do? There is nothing for it then but utter despair. But if a man only believes through and through him that God loves him — that God wants to help him — then let winds blow, let earth tempt, that man can hope; he can rise up and can come home; he is more than conqueror. But saith some timid soul, Does it not say that God is angry with the wicked every day? True. How then can He love me? Well, it is because He loves that He is angry. If I were going on my way, and heard a set of boys rough and rude and profane, I should feel sorry for them; but if I saw my son amongst them I should feel not sorry only, but angry — angry not because I did not love him, but because I did. All the meaning of Christ's coming — of His life and death and resurrection and intercession — is the story of God's love to us. All the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into the assurance of His love.

II. Let us draw near and look at THE FREENESS AND FULNESS OF THE LOVE OF GOD.

1. It does not proceed from any need in the Divine nature. That wonderful preface to the writings of St. John shows us the Only Begotten dwelling in the bosom of the Father. There is the eternal communion. There is love's satisfaction. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in eternal communion and fellowship.

2. This love of God is not mere pity. It is not that the Almighty is moved by our needs and miseries as the Samaritan of old. Pity saw the wants, and would give what it could spare; but love saw the son, and could not give enough. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us — love that takes us for His very own; love that would hold us in closest communion and tenderest relationship; love that saith, "Son, thou art ever with Me, and all that I have is thine."

3. Behold what manner of love — it is a righteous love. It may yearn to deliver and to restore, but there is one thing it can never do — it cannot pass by sin. It can never make light of that. And who of us could trust God's love if He did? Hereby perceive we the love of God, that He laid down His life for us. And now there meets us love that is righteous, and therefore free and full. Love that hath nothing to conceal, nothing to be afraid of.

4. Another light falls on the text if we turn it round and think of the children — that we should be called the children of God. Adoption has much in it that is beautiful and very gracious. But ours is not an adoption; we are His by regeneration. It is not a new name but a new nature which is bestowed upon us. Begotten of God, we are His children indeed and of a truth. Do not explain it away as a figure. "And so we are." Bound to the heart of the Father by the tenderest ties of relationship. Wonder at it, but do not doubt it. Claim it, in all its fullest privilege and blessing.

(M. G. Pearce.)

I. WHAT GOD'S LIVING FAMILY ARE CALLED UPON TO BEHOLD. "What manner of love," etc.

1. It is covenant love.

2. Unchangeable love.

3. Incarnate love.

4. Redeeming love.

5. Pardoning love.

6. Restoring love.

II. WHAT THEY, UPON WHOM THE FATHER'S LOVE IS BESTOWED, ARE CALLED. "The sons of God."

1. It is not a fictitious name.

2. It is a name which shows the peculiar relation they sustain to God.

3. It is a name which gives them a title to all things in the whole universe of God.

III. WHAT THE SONS OF GOD SAY OF THE WORLD. "Knoweth us not."

1. The world knoweth not the life which they live — even a life of faith on the Son of God, and a life hid with Christ in God.

2. The world knoweth not their inward conflicts; the flesh lusting against the spirit, etc.

3. The world knoweth not their doubts and fears.

4. The world knoweth not their joys and sorrows.

5. The world knoweth not the doctrines which the children of God are taught by the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive.

IV. THE REASON WHY THE WORLD KNOWETH NOT THE SONS OF GOD. "Because it knew Him not" — the Incarnate God.

(J. J. Eastmead.)

1. We are the sons of God — of the first and greatest of Beings. What noble and elevated sentiments should fill our minds! How should we rise above everything that is low and worthless to what is dignified and elevating!

2. We are the sons of God — of the purest and best of Beings. How pure and holy should be the affections which animate our own breasts!

3. We are the Sons of God. How much should we love God, our Creator, Unwearied Benefactor, who discovers His paternal relation to us by unceasing care and the most substantial benefits! How greatly should we honour Him! How devoutly should we trust in Him! How cheerfully should we submit to Him! How diligently should we serve Him!

(Charles Lowell.)

"Behold what manner of love" (what great and singular love, that is to say) "the Father hath bestowed," etc. Now this seems to imply that we had forfeited the name. Like the prodigal in the parable, we had virtually renounced our sonship and inheritance; and it was a question of agonising interest, whether God would ever again consent to stand towards us in the relation of a parent. And so when Almighty God, regarding us in Christ, declares, "I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters," we understand that His anger is turned away, that our offences are cast behind His back, and that we are restored to all the privileges which appertain to children. Such are the blessings comprehended in the promise, "Ye shall be called the sons of God." But there is still more in it. Not only had we forfeited the right to call God Father, but we had also lost the child-like spirit. And therefore when God calls us children, on the ground of being reconciled to us in Immanuel, He engages to make us so by communicating to us of His Spirit. The apostle, after this burst of admiration at the love God shows towards His people in Christ, and the honours He puts upon them, anticipates an objection. Are we indeed so great and honourable? Yet, what is our condition upon the earth? The rich, the great, the wise of this world stand aloof from us, as from persons of disturbed intellect or morose temper. are we indeed so great before God, while so little before men? It is even so. God seeth not as man seeth: and that which is vile to human judgment is precious in His sight. Was it not so with holy men and prophets and apostles of old? Was it not so with Jesus Himself? Indeed, there is much of comfort in the thought suggested by the words, "Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." If you do not resemble Christ, who was so unlike ordinary men, the world which loves its own would know and approve you. For your conscience may justly testify that therefore the world which rejected Christ refuses to know you with approbation, because it perceives in you His features and carriage. And, after all, we are sons. That is our confidence, our comfort, our triumph. And here I must remind you of the duties which flow from this relation to God — the duties of obedience and trust. If you are children of the Most High, to Him, surely, more than to any human superior, must absolute obedience be due. As a Creator, as a King, as a Master, He might have demanded, with perfect justice, the consecration of all our faculties to His service. But He speaks to us by a tenderer name: "I am your Father," He says. Try to show yourselves worthy of that noble estate by a child-like deportment towards Him. Well, then, we are actually the sons of God, through His free and abounding grace, although not yet wearing a royal diadem and clothed in princely apparel. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." The real grandeur of the righteousness is overshadowed by the hand of Providence; the present display of it being incompatible with their own spiritual welfare, and with the scheme of God's kingdom. Yet, while glorifying the grace which bestows upon us so great a privilege, forget not the duty it entails. Remember that to live as slaves of sin and the world, after God has freed you from that bondage, and brought you into the glorious liberty of His own children, would be infinitely base and ungrateful. Therefore pray for the Holy Spirit of God to enable you to walk worthy of this high relation.

(J. N. Pearson, M. A.)

I. NOTICE THE WORD "BEHOLD," with which the words of my text are introduced, which gives an item of the vast importance of what is contained in them. It is used by the Lord Himself, by the prophets, and Christ, and the evangelists on some very particular occasions, both in the Old and New Testament (Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 42:1; Zechariah 3:8, 9; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 3:20; Revelation 21:3, etc.).

II. WHAT WE ARE CALLED UPON TO BEHOLD. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." He is not here calling on us to believe the love wherewith God hath loved us; nor is he calling on us to receive the knowledge of it into our minds, that we may receive the same into our hearts. He is calling us to behold it, to look at it, to contemplate it in its original — in its spring and fountain — in its freeness and sovereignty — in the nature of it — in the manner of it — in its gifts and blessings. The love of God is a subject for the minds of God's saints to contemplate. They may well behold, survey, and take a view of it, by faith. It is the greatest thing in God Himself, which we are concerned in. His love to us is a free love. It is also sovereign love. It proceeds from Himself alone. It is a love fixed on us. It is a love of complacency and delight. It is an immutable and an everlasting love. Survey it in election, in predestination, in adoption, in salvation, in the blessedness of personal communion. It is vast glorious. It surpasseth all finite understanding.

III. THE SPECIALITY OF THIS. What in the love of the Father it is which the apostle would have these saints to take special notice of. It is this, "That we should be called the sons of God." "It is," says Dr. Goodwin, "but a title which is here expressed." "Yet," says Mr. Romaine, "God bestows no empty titles." He gives all contained in it. Therefore the greatness of the love of God is contained herein. To be heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ, in all the riches of God's communicable grace and glory, this is the fruit and blessedness which flows from the grace and royalty of adoption. God is our inheritance, and we are His inheritance.

IV. Though this be the case, that we are, and are called, "the sons of God," and this title is bestowed on us by our heavenly Father, YET THE WORLD KNOWETH US NOT, as so called, and as thus distinguished by free sovereign favour; neither did they our Lord before us. It is the same to the very present moment, yet we wonder at it, whilst there is not the least cause for it, if we but reflect one moment. How can contraries unite? The longer you live, the more you will find supernatural truths disrelished. The present day is not that in which any are persecuted for their profession. Yet it is a day when supernatural truth, and the supernatural gospel, and a supernatural profession of them, were never more heartily despised.

(S. E. Pierce.)

I. HOW REAL CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE UNDERSTOOD TO BE THE CHILDREN OF GOD.

II. WHAT CONSIDERATIONS MAY SERVE TO HEIGHTEN AND ENDEAR THE LOVE OF GOD IN TAKING THEM INTO THIS RELATION TO HIMSELF.

1. The consideration of His majesty and supreme greatness, which thus vouchsafes to make and own us for His children, notwithstanding our infinite distance from Him (1 Samuel 18:18).

2. The consideration, how early the Divine love laid the foundation of their sonship whom it pleased to recover from the common ruin, in which it saw them lie involved with others.

3. The consideration of the means ordained to make way for their adoption, even the sufferings and death of the only-begotten Son of the Father to view.(1) Consider the person given: He is the Lord Jesus Christ — God's eternal and only-begotten Son.(2) Consider what this Person is sent for, viz., to suffer, to be put to death, even by those that He came to save.(3) This love will appear all miracle if we consider the persons Christ was given for, to do and suffer all this, even for the infinitely unworthy.(4) We have reason to admire the love of God in making us His sons upon this further consideration, if we call to mind the state He finds us in when He comes to work the blessed change, and the power and patience He exercises therein.(5) The happy difference made in the relation of such as are dignified to be children of God, both from themselves, before it was made, and from others.(6) The privileges of the sons of God, negative and positive, as to time and eternity, heighten and endear the love of God to all that are called to be and really made such.

(D. Wilcox.)

I. THAT PRIVILEGES OF UNSPEAKABLE WORTH "NOW" BELONG TO THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST. "Now are we the sons of God."

II. THAT NOTWITHSTANDING THESE HIGH PRIVILEGES THEY ARE, WHILE IN THIS LOWER WORLD, SUBJECT TO TRIBULATION. "The world knoweth them not" — knoweth not their spirit, their character, their dignity.

III. THAT PRIVILEGES OF A HIGHER ORDER AWAIT THE CHILDREN OF GOD IN A FUTURE STATE. "When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

IV. THAT THOSE PRIVILEGES OF THEIR FUTURE STATE CANNOT BE FULLY REVEALED TO GOD'S PEOPLE ON EARTH. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be."

V. THAT ALL THESE PRIVILEGES, PRESENT AND TO COME, FLOW FROM THE "LOVE" OF THE FATHER. "Behold, what manner of love!"

VI. THAT EVERY MAN, THAT HATH THIS HOPE OF HEAVEN THROUGH THE LOVE OF THE FATHER, "PURIFIETH HIMSELF."

(Samuel Roberts, M. A.)

It is not so much to the contemplation of our blessedness in being sons, as to the devout gaze on the love which, by its wonderful process, has made it possible for us to be sons, that we are summoned here. Again, you will find a remarkable addition to our text in the Revised Version, namely, "and such we are." Now these words are parenthetical, a kind of rapid "aside" of the writer's, expressing his joyful confidence that he and his brethren are sons of God, not only in name, but in reality.

I. THE LOVE THAT IS GIVEN. The apostle bids me "behold what manner of love." I turn to the Cross and I see there a love which shrinks from no sacrifice, a love which is evoked by no lovableness on my part, but comes from the depth of His own Infinite Being, who loves because He must, and who must because He is God; a love which sighs for recognition, which desires nothing of me but the repayment of my poor affection; a love that will not be put away by all sinfulness and shortcomings and evil. In like manner we have to think, if we would estimate the "manner of this love," that through and in the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ there comes to us the gift of a Divine life like His own. We may gain another measure of the greatness of this love if we put an emphasis on one word, and think of the love given to "us," such creatures as we are.

II. THE SONSHIP WHICH IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS GIVEN LOVE. The writer draws a broad distinction between "the sons of God" and the world of men who do not comprehend them; and so far from being themselves sons, do not even know God's sons when they see them. And there is a deeper word still in the context. John thinks that men (within the range of light and revelation, at all events) are divided into two families — "the children of God and the children of the devil." There are two families amongst men. Thank God! the prodigal son, in his rags amongst the swine, and lying by the swine troughs in his filth and his husks and his fever, is a son. He has these three elements and marks of son ship that no man ever gets rid of: he is of a Divine origin, he has a Divine likeness in that he has got mind and will and spirit, and he is the object of a Divine love. All that is blessedly and eternally true, but it is also true that there is a higher relation than that to which the name "Children of God" is more accurately given, and to which in the New Testament that name is confined. What is implied in that great name by which the Almighty gives us a name and a place as of sons and daughters? Clearly, first, a communicated life; therefore, second, a kindred nature which shall be "pure as He is pure"; and, third, growth to full maturity.

III. THE GLAD RECOGNITION OF THE SONSHIP BY THE CHILD'S HEART. "Such we are" — the "Here am I, Father," of the child, answering the Father's call, "My Son." He turns doctrine into experience. The truth is nothing to you, unless you have made it your very own by faith. Do not be satisfied with the orthodox confession. Unless it has touched your heart and made your whole soul thrill with thankful gladness and quiet triumph, it is nothing to you. Can you say, "And such are we"? Take another lesson. The apostle was not afraid to say, "I know that I am a child of God." Do not be afraid of being too confident, if your confidence is built on God, and not on yourself; but be afraid of being too diffident, and be afraid of having a great deal of self-righteousness masquerading under the guise of such a profound consciousness of your own unworthiness that you dare not call yourself a child of God.

IV. THE LOVING AND DEVOUT CONTEMPLATION OF THIS WONDERFUL LOVE. I have but two remarks to make about that, and the one is this, that that habit of devout and thankful meditation upon the love of God, as manifested in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, lies at the foundation of all vigorous and happy Christian life. How can a thing which you do not touch with your hands and see with your eyes produce any effect upon you, unless you think about it? But remember that we cannot keep that great sight before the eye of our minds without effort. You will have very resolutely to look away from something else, if, amid all the dazzling gauds of earth we are to look over them all to the far off lustre of that heavenly love. Just as timorous people in a thunderstorm will light a candle that they may not see the lightning, so many Christians have their hearts filled with the twinkling light of some miserable tapers of earthly care and pursuits, which, though they be dim and smoky, are bright enough to make it hard to see the silent depths of heaven, though it blaze with a myriad stars. Wrench yourselves away from the absorbing contemplation of Birmingham jewellery and paste, and look at the true riches. Do not let the trifles which belong not to your true inheritance fill your thoughts, but renew the vision, and by determined turning away of your eyes from beholding vanity, look away from the things that are seen, that you may gaze upon the things that are not seen, and chiefest among them on the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not
If we were to ask worldly men what is the difference between Christians and themselves, we should suppose, from their answer, that it was very trifling and of small moment. They appear to think that the distinction between the people of God and the world has no foundation except in the self-righteous conceits of those who assert it. But is there no foundation for it in truth?

1. From Scripture language and examples we should not expect that the worldly would readily perceive the difference between Christians and themselves. Here it is expressly asserted that Christians should be in a great measure unknown in the world. Again, the life of the believer is called a hidden life: "Your life is hid with Christ in God," and the spirit of piety is called "the hidden man of the heart." And again, when we remember how Jesus and His apostles were regarded we may readily suppose that the Christian now would be unknown in the world.

2. Those who are not Christians are not qualified to judge of the difference between themselves and those who are Christians. Were an ignorant and a learned man to be placed in company with each other, which would perceive most clearly their difference of attainment? Why, the ignorant man would realise perhaps that there was some inferiority on his part, but upon the whole would be very well satisfied with himself. Just so is it in the present case; no one is qualified to decide whether Christians differ from others unless he is himself a Christian.

3. The distinction between Christians and others is of such a character that it is not easily noticed by the worldly. The qualities which the world admires are obtrusive and showy, but those which religion cherishes are humble and unobtrusive, and, like certain modest flowers, prized by those who value and seek after them, but despised by the unthinking.

4. The worldly hear all the dissensions among the various denominations of Christians, and they see everything that is discreditable, but they enter not into the secret and chief blessedness of religion. Like strangers on the shore of an unknown country, who behold great barrenness and desolation, hear the dashing of the waves, and are ready to conclude it is a most dismal region, while farther in than they have ever penetrated there may be pleasant and fertile fields.

5. It is to the prejudice of Christians that the worst representatives of their profession are most prominently before the world, while the more worthy are more concealed. Is there among those with whom we are acquainted a professor who has more zeal than knowledge? — his character will be well known; his sayings will be often repeated, with the bitter remark that such things are enough to disgust one with religion. But is there one that glorifies God by patience under affliction, by striving to bring his heart and life to correspond with God's Word, by humble efforts to do good, by a life of prayer and self-denial? Ah, the attention of the world is never drawn to such as these; they pass through it unknown.

(W. H. Lewis, D. D.)

First, of the concession; and there the first granted truth is —

1. That the children of God are obnoxious to the contempt and hatred of the world: "The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not."

2. The second concession is the imperfection of the present state, by which the glory of this privilege is darkened. It doth not appear what we shall be by what we are now. The heirs of the world make a great show and noise; they may be pointed at where they go; there goeth such a prince, or such a lord's son and heir; but God's children carry no such port and state. Secondly, by way of correction; and there —

1. He asserts the reality of the privilege: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God."

2. That in the future state the glory of God's children shall be manifest: "When He shall appear we shall be like Him." That shall be the day of the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19). First Christ, and then all the rest of His children (Colossians 3:3, 4).

I. OUR GLORIOUS RELATION TO GOD, WITH THE EFFECTS AND FRUITS OF IT, IS A THING HIDDEN AND NOT SEEN.

1. It is not seen by the world; the world knoweth us not, as it knew Him not; it is hidden from the world, as colours from a blind man; they have no eyes to see them.(1) Because they are blinded by the delusions of the flesh, and cannot judge of spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14).(2) Being blinded with malice and prejudice they censure this estate perversely, and so malign it and oppose it (1 Peter 4:4, 5). But their perverse judgment should be no discouragement to the godly in the way of holiness, wherein they endeavour to imitate God, their heavenly Father.(a) Because if God be not known nor honoured in the world, nor Christ, nor the Spirit, why should we take it unkindly?(b) Their opinion is little to be valued, and therefore we should rather pity their ignorance than be offended by their censures.(c) Christians should be satisfied with the approbation of God. It is enough that we have God's image, God's favour and fellowship, and are taken into God's family.(d) It might be cause of suspicion to us if we were hugged and embraced by the world. It is better to have the praise of their hatred than the scandal of their love and approbation.(e) Those that are truly blessed in their own consciences cannot be truly miserable by the judgment of other men (2 Corinthians 1:12).(f) The slanders and mockery of worldly men should be no discouragement to us in the ways of the Lord; for God will reckon with them about their hard speeches against His people (1 Peter 4:4).

2. As our dignity is not of the world, so in itself it doth not appear during our present state.(1) The privileges float belong to our dignity and prerogative of adoption are spiritual, and therefore make no fair show in the flesh, as for instance —(a) The image of God is an internal image (Psalm 45:13).(b) The life which floweth thence is hidden (Colossians 3:3), like the sap of the tree, which is not seen though the fruit appear.(c) Their comforts are spiritual, known by feeling rather than by report and imagination: "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Jesus Christ."(d) The protection and supplies of God's providence; it is a secret, it is a mystery and a riddle to the world that must have all under the view of sense (Psalm 31:20).(2) Because it is hidden (Colossians 3:3), not only in point of security, as maintained by an invisible power, but hidden in point of obscurity; there is a veil upon it.(a) The spiritual life is hidden under the veil of the natural life (Galatians 2:20).(b) Another veil is that of afflictions and outward meanness and abasement.(c) Another veil is reproach and calumnies (2 Corinthians 6:8).(d) There is another veil: Christians quench the vigour and obscure the glory of this life by their infirmities; they have too much of Adam and too little of Jesus, and so the spiritual life is carried on darkly; the good herbs and flowers are hidden in neglected gardens by the plenty of weeds.(3) It is future: "Now are we the children of God, but it doth not appear what we shall be"; and so our filiation is not only hidden from others, but in a great measure from ourselves.

II. THE REASONS WHY THIS GLORY DOTH NOT APPEAR.

1. Because now is the time of trial, hereafter of recompense; therefore now is the hiding time, hereafter is the day of manifestation of the sons of God. Christ had his bright side and dark side, a glory to be seen by those eyes that were anointed with spiritual eye salve, and affliction and meanness enough to harden them that had no mind to see; so God hath His chosen ones in the world who keep up His honour and interest, and He hath His ways to express His love to them, but not openly.

2. Now is the time of faith, hereafter of sight; and "faith is the evidence of things not seen." Therefore in this day of faith God will not too openly expose things to the view of sense, for that would destroy faith. Now we are sanctified and justified, and live by faith.

3. That we may be conformed to our head, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came not with external appearance.

4. God hath chosen this way as most fit to advance His glory; He will give us little in hand that He may daily hear from us, and we may seek our supplies from Him, for the spirit of adoption was given us that we may cry, "Abba, Father"; and also that His power may be perfect in our weakness.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Virtue loses not its worth by being slighted by the world.

(Scraggs.)

The principle [on which He manifests Himself to His people as He does not to the world] is illustrated by some of the common facts of life. A man is present to his friend, as he is not to a stranger, though he may be at the same moment speaking to both. The light which floods the landscape with a deluge of beauty is present to him who sees it as it is not to the blind man walking at his side. Music, though it may ripple round the deafened ear, is only present to him who hears it. The discourse of the naturalist on his experiments, of the scholar on his books, of the mathematician who is talking with raptures on the beauties of a theorem, will bring things into the presence of initiated listeners which are still remote from the minds of those in the very same company who have no sympathy with the theme.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

Standing by the telegraphic wires one may often hear the mystic wailing and sighing of the winds among them, like the strains of an AEolian harp, but one knows nothing of the message which is flashing along them. Joyous may be the inner language of those wires, swift as the lightning, far reaching and full of meaning, but a stranger intermeddles not therewith. Fit emblem of the believer's inner life; men hear our notes of outward sorrow wrung from us by external circumstances, but the message of celestial peace, the Divine communings with a better land, the swift heart throbs of heaven born desire, they cannot perceive: the carnal see but the outer manhood, but the life hidden with Christ in God, flesh and blood cannot discern.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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