1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 NASB 1995 update edition)
1. Amazement, awe, surprise, wonder at the great love of the Father that we should be called children of God. We ought to feel John’s breathlessness, his reverence. He reaches out from the book to grab us by the blouse or collar: “See!” “Look at this! Wonder at it! Be amazed!”
2. Assertion of the reality. And such we are. Not children in name only but in fact. We are not just called children of God; we are His children.
3. Our remarkable status not generally recognized by the world. Having made such an extraordinary assertion about us, John must explain why we don’t enjoy recognition by those around us. We receive the same reaction Jesus received. Though we shall rule over the new creation, now we look like anything but rulers.
4. We actually know very little about the future. But John repeats what we do know: his assertion that we are now children of God. Will the laws of physics apply in the new earth? Will there be a second law of thermodynamics, ever increasing entropy? If not, according to Stephen Hawking there will be no time. If there is no time, there is no sequence and if no sequence, no language. And if everything tends toward increasing order, time will run backwards. Given time we could come up with hundreds of questions about the new heaven and new earth. We just don’t know very much. But we do know something more important about today–now. We are children of God.
5. We also know that we will be like Christ. John supports this with a premise: we will see him as He is. The proposition that we will be like Christ is a conclusion. Many expositors will appeal to 2 Cor 3:18, “ But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit,” as though they are supplying a missing premise: seeing Christ transforms us. This isn’t necessary. John merely appeals to the certainty that we will see Christ to conclude that we will be like Him. Holiness and purity are the necessary condition for seeing God. “Pursue peace with all men and the holiness without which no one will see God.” “Blessed are the pure for they shall see God.” These are just two verses, but the promise of the beatific vision, seeing God, is made to the holy throughout Scripture. “Who shall ascend God’s holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1) Therefore, if one is certain to see God, then it must be that he is certain to be holy. That’s John’s argument. We will see Christ glorified; His divine glory will no longer be hidden. We will see Him as fully God, as well as fully man. Therefore we know we will be holy and pure.
6. Certain hope leads to action. Some traditions seem to believe that uncertainty motivates the pursuit of purity–certainty leads to complacency and ought to be dissuaded. One catechism curses such assurance, calling it anathema. But here John says that an assured hope of purity motivates self-purification. Whoever has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself. Assurance leads to action. Knowing that we will be pure in the future motivates our pursuit of purity now. And, hope is all important. Hopelessness is the friend of sin and the enemy of holiness.