Meditations in 1 John : 30 : Yet to Come
1 John 3:2 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.
For some twenty plus years I have preached, “God loves you exactly as you are, but he also loves you so much that He has something better for you than what you are at present.” John hints at this same thing. In his distinguishing Christians from the world and from the antichrists, he has noted that we are actually children of God, we are the ones who have a living relationship with the Father in heaven, by means of the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross.
Yes, we are actually children of God now, this very minute. We won’t have to wait for some future date or experience to be made children of God; He’s already made us that – but what we are at the present is not a finished work, but a work in progress. There are a number of hints at that in the New Testament.
One of the most obvious ones, in the light of our present verse, is from the apostle Paul: “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:15-18) Paralleling our experience with that of Moses whose face shone when he met the Lord in the Tabernacle, Paul says we are being changed bit by bit, more and more, as we too encounter the Lord. Notice the phrase “ever increasing glory”. That speaks about ongoing change.
Later in that same letter Paul speaks of, “as your faith continues to grow.” (2 Cor 10:15) His expectation is that not only will we grow older but we will also grow in faith. To the Ephesians he wrote, “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 4:15,16) The growth he speaks of there is growing up into Christ, presumably becoming more like him, and that in turn will build and strengthen the Church.
The apostle Peter spoke similarly: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1 Pet 2:2) His point was that if we yearned for the truth, the word of God, we would grow up spiritually. At the end of his second letter he expressed his hope that his readers would, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet 3:18).
So there we have it: the Christian life is to be a life of growth and change as word and Spirit and the very presence of the Lord change us. We grow in faith and we grow in grace and we become more and more like Jesus as we serve the Lord. This is an ongoing process that will continue until the moment we die and leave this earth, or Jesus comes back.
And that brings us right back to our verse today. The end product of what we will become has not yet been made known. We may think we have an idea but the reality is that we really don’t know what we are going to be like as the ‘end product’ beyond saying we shall be like him. And why will we be like him? The answer, according to John is because we shall see him as he is. That will be the culmination of that process that Paul referred to in 2 Cor 3 where we are changed in ever increasing glory because of our contact with him.
So, to put it right back into context, we are distinguished from the rest of the world because we are children of God who have embarked on a wonderful God-led life where we are being constantly changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ and that means we will be exhibiting his character and doing, and been seen to be doing, the same things he did. These are the realities that distinguish us; this is what the Christian life is all about.