1 John 2:28-29
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence…
I. First observe TO WHAT HE URGES THEM — "Abide in Him." By this he meant one thing; but that thing is so comprehensive that we may better understand it by viewing it from many sides.
1. He meant fidelity to the truth taught by our Lord. Abide in the truth which you received from the beginning; for in your earliest days it wrought salvation in you. The foundation of your faith is not a changeable doctrine; you rest on a sure word of testimony. Truth is, in its very nature, fixed and unalterable. You know more about it than you did; but the thing itself is still the same, and must be the same. Take care that you abide in it. You will find it difficult to do so, for there is an element of changeableness about yourself; this you must overcome by grace. You will find many elements of seduction in the outside world. Let no man deceive you with vain words, though there are many abroad in these days who "would deceive, if it were possible, the very elect." Abide in Jesus, by letting His words abide in you.
2. Next, he means "abide in Him" as to the uniformity of your trust. When you first enjoyed a hope, you rested upon Christ alone. Depend today as simply as you depended then. If you have some idea that you are hastening towards perfection, take care that you do not indulge a vain conceit of yourself; but even if it be true, still mix not your perfection with His perfection, nor your advance in grace with the foundation which He has laid for you in His blood and righteousness. "Abide in Him."
3. Moreover, abide in the Lord Jesus Christ in making Him the constant object of your life. As you live by Christ, so live for Christ. If you are in health, live for Christ earnestly if you are bound to a sick bed, live for Christ patiently.
4. Surely, we should also understand by "abide in Him," that we are to persevere in our obedience to our Lord. "If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is born of Him." What your Lord bids you, continue to do. Be precise and prompt in your execution of His commands.
5. Continue in spiritual union with your Lord. All the life you have is life derived from Him; seek no other. You are not a Christian except as Jesus is the Christ of God to you; you are not alive unto God, except as you are one with the risen Lord.
6. "Abide in Hint," in the sense of being at home in Him. Do not go to Jesus one day, and to the world another day; do not be a lodger with Him, but abide in Him. What a comfort to have our Lord Himself to be our chosen dwelling place in time and in eternity! Why does the apostle urge us to abide in Christ? Is there any likelihood of our going away? Yes, for in this very chapter he mentions apostates, who from disciples had degenerated into antichrists, of whom he says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would, no doubt, have continued with us." "Abide in Him," then, and do not turn aside unto crooked ways, as many professors have done.
II. Secondly, notice UNDER WHAT CHARACTER JOHN ADDRESSES THESE BELIEVERS. He says, "And now, little children."
1. This indicates the apostle's love to them. He could not wish them a greater blessing out of the depth of his heart's affection, than that they should faithfully abide in Christ.
2. Next, by this he suggests their near and dear relation to their Father in heaven. Because you are little children, you are not of travelling years, therefore stay at home and abide in your Lord.
3. Does he not hint at their feebleness? Even if you were grown and strong, you would not be wise to gather all together and wander away into the far country; but as you are so young, so dependent, so feeble, it is essential that you abide in Him. Is He not your life, your all?
4. Does not the apostle also gently hint at their fickleness? You are very changeable, like little babes. You are apt to be hot and cold in half an hour. Surrender yourself to Him by an everlasting covenant never to be cancelled. Be His forever and ever.
5. Did not this remind them of their daily dependence upon the Lord's care, as little children depend on their parents?
III. We shall consider BY WHAT MOTIVE JOHN EXHORTS US TO THIS PLEASANT AND NECESSARY DUTY OF ABIDING IN CHRIST. Look at that little word: it runs thus, "that we may have confidence." The beloved John needed to have confidence at the appearing of the Lord, and confidence fetched from the same source as that to which he directed his little children. How wisely, and yet how sweetly, he puts himself upon our level in this matter!
1. Notice, further, that the motive is one drawn from Jesus. John does not drive believers with the lash of the law, but he draws them with the cords of love.
2. The motive is drawn from our Lord's expected advent. Notice how John puts it. He uses two words for the same thing: "when He shall appear," and, "at His coming." The second advent may be viewed in two lights. First, as the appearing of one who is here already, but is hidden; and next, as the coming of one who is absent. In the first sense we know that our Lord Jesus Christ abides in His Church; according to His word, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Yet, though spiritually present, He is unseen. The spiritual and secret presence of Christ will become a visible and manifest presence in the day of His appearing. The apostle also uses the term, "at His coming," or, "His presence." This is the same thing from another point of view. In a certain evident sense our Lord is absent: "He is not here, for He is risen." He has gone His way unto the Father. In that respect He will come a second time, "without a sin offering, unto salvation." He who has gone from us will so come in like manner as He was seen to go up into heaven. John pleads the glorious manifestation of our Lord under both of these views as a reason for abiding in Him. As to our Lord's "appearing," he would have us abide in Christ, that we may have confidence when He appears. What does he mean by having confidence when He shall appear? Why, this: that if you abide in Him when you do not see Him, you will be very bold should He suddenly reveal Himself. Before He appears, you have dwelt in Him, and He has dwelt in you; what fear could His appearing cause you? The word translated "confidence" means freedom of speech. If our Divine Lord were to appear in a moment, we should not lose our tongue through fear, but should welcome Him with glad acclaim. The other point is, that you should "not be ashamed before Him at His coming." That means, that having regarded Him as being absent, you have not so lived that, if He should suddenly be present in person, you would be ashamed of your past life. What must it be to be driven with shame away from His presence into everlasting contempt!
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.